2 Samuel 6:1-5 and 12b-19 – Placing God where He wants to be

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

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This is an optional Old Testament selection from Episcopal Lectionary for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 10. It will next be read aloud in a church by a reader on Sunday July 15, 2018. This is important it shows the ark’s presence in Israel is symbolic of God’s presence in one’s heart, thus worthy of celebration by songs, dance, and sharing the blessings that come from offerings to the LORD.

In this reading it is important to realize that David has been King of Israel for over seven years. He has taken the stronghold of Jebus from the Jebusites and renamed it Jerusalem, with his area called the City of David. He has then made arrangements for this stronghold to be the home of the ark. One can presume some time took place preparing a location for the ark to rest, as well as preparations for moving the ark (a new cart, minimally), so at least six months has passed since Jebus fell.

The ark was under the control of Levites in the “house of Abinadab,” as well as in Gibeon. While the ark was in Kiriath Jearim, the ancient tabernacle was kept in Gibeon. The Levites would have overseen the consecration of all priests who would attend to the ark. Uzzah and Ahio are called “sons of Abinadab, but “sons” (“bə·nê”) were “descendants” of that “house” (“mib·bêṯ” as “family”).

The ark had been moved there after the prophet Eli’s death, as Samuel became the judge of Israel and shortly before the elders of Israel asked Samuel for a king.

After seven months, the Philistines had been punished enough for having the ark and they left it on a rock in Beth-Shemesh so it was up to the Israelites to deal with. It caused 50,070 to die there, so they asked for it to be removed. It was then taken to Kiriath jearim.

The ark stayed in Kiriath Jearim for twenty years (1 Samuel 7:2), when Saul ordered the ark moved, without permission (1 Samuel 14:18). One can then presume the ark was returned, after God stopped answering Saul, in an attempt to make amends. By the time David went to move it to the City of David, the ark had been back in Kiriath Jearim around thirty additional years (fifty in all).

When the translation says, “gathered all the chosen men of Israel,” the operative Hebrew word is “bā·ḥūr,” which leans one to “young men,” even “vigorous young men.” Thirty thousand is a symbolic number that states the importance David saw in this move. The youth factor was so all those accompanying the ark would be energetic and enjoying the festivities surrounding God being moved.

The name Uzzah means “Strength,” while the name Ahio means “Brotherly,” or “Brother/Friend of the LORD.” The place named as the “house of Obed-edom,” can also be read as a family residence named for a “Servant of the Red One,” or “Servant of Edom,” where Edom was a kingdom south of Judah. This can equally be read as “Servant of Strength,” where it held the strategic advantage of height on a hill. It is believed the path of the ark was forced to shift to an easier path downhill.

The omitted verses address the near fall of the ark from the cart. Uzzah attempted to stop its slide and was killed. The symbolism there could be no human strength can force its will upon the power of the LORD. Because of the death of Uzzah, David turned the cart around and returned to the “house of Obed-edom and left it there for three months. During that time, the family at Obed-edom was blessed by the presence of the ark, so David returned to continue the move of the ark to his city.

[Back to the reading]

When we read, “he sacrificed an ox and a fatling,” this was a priestly act performed by David. After the ark was returned to Israel by the Philistines, Samuel had become elevated to the judge of Israel and he made burnt offerings to the LORD also. This says David was more than the King of Israel, as he was also the one who could perform holy ritual. By doing this after the ark carriers had walked six steps into his city; he sacrificed an ox and fatling as the head of the family that was the house of David. This is then repeated when we read, “They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord.” Finally, David “blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts,” which was a priestly act.

David danced and rejoiced mightily as a sign of his complete devotion to God. His displays, as well as those of the Israelites, were to show their happiness to have the LORD welcomed with fervor into their midst. That celebration was followed by more ceremonial burnt offering, which had to have been enough for thousands of Israelites. We know this because we read how David, “distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.” This act of blessing and feeding a multitude would much later be seen by Jesus.

To myself, the element of this reading that sticks out and stays in my mind is when I read, “As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” When David and Michal were younger, when David was living as an adopted member of Saul’s royal family, “Michal loved David,” and Saul “was pleased” to hear that news. Saul planned to use that love to get David killed by Philistines. Because David was poor, Saul set the dowry as “a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” David brought back two hundred and was given Michal as his wife. However, soon after, Saul forced David into exile, trying to kill him.

David and Michal were then separated for many years. After Saul was dead and his son Ish-Bosheth was King of Israel, David sent a demand to send his wife Michal to him in Hebron (he was then King of Judah). Ish-Bosheth forced Michal from her husband to go to David, while David had taken on other wives while in exile and they bore him children. Still, this story tells how Michal “despised [David] in her heart” because he acted in an unroyal manner before the ark. Her “contempt” shows how she had been coddled as a princess and seeing David playing the fool before God disgusted her.

As a reading option for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to the LORD should be underway, the lesson is to fear the LORD and only Him. That was the commandment stated in Deuteronomy 6:13 and it was restated in 1 Samuel 7:3, after the ark was returned by the Philistines. The fear of the ark was the fear of God, and the lesson of this reading is delight in that power.

The ark had remained in one house on a hill for the most part of half a century. It was not in the tabernacle Moses had the Israelites construct, which could be taken down and moved in their travels. David prepared a tent for the ark in the City of David. The entire time Saul ruled over Israel, the LORD did not have a proper place to rest; and, in return, Israel did not benefit from the power of the LORD. This story is about how David returned that power to a proper home.

The symbolism is the struggle that one of faith has in mistaking a fear of the LORD as the fear one has to find a proper home for God. A minister to the LORD has prepared a place for God to reign, which is the tabernacle-tent covering one’s heart. Many people have difficulty making the sacrifice that makes one appear publicly foolish, as that has the effect of bringing contempt and disdain from those who see the rewards of the world come freer and more frequently when they act in ways that attract wealth. This means Michal, whose name means “What’s God Like?” questioned how God could bless anyone as wildly foolish as David. A minister to the LORD is no longer worried about how the self is seen by other human beings, as the only eyes that matter are God’s.

It can take many years of one’s life to dare to move the ark of God from some external resting place (like a church building, a religious denomination, or a surrogate minister) into one’s heart.

 

There may be setbacks, like the death of Uzzah and the testing of the presence of God in another (like David leaving the ark at Obed-edom), but one needs to see how God being kept external does not save one’s soul in the end.

The marriage of David to Micah, when David was too poor to pay a dowry, symbolizes one’s marriage to the world and the inheritance of worldly goods. When Micah saw David had chosen God, she saw him as returning to earthly poverty, even though he was the king of all Israel. Her love of a young, self-assured David, who had so much potential for capturing the booty and spoils of war, dissipated to nothing, once she saw his Spiritual choice. So too does the world reject a high priest, a holy judge, and a servant to God. Just as did Michal turn on David, a minister can expect to find the same rejection of past friends and business partners. Simply by changing from self-promoting, soul-selling, run-of-the-mill typical people, those people who one was just like feel disdain being around someone so changed. When one has fallen in love with God and married into His house, then there can be no turning back – because one sees the true love of God and the false love of those too weak to sacrifice immediate gratification for eternal peace.

The lesson in this optional Old Testament reading is ministry requires one become a Brother of Jesus Christ, just as Ahio led the ark in its return. To be a Brother is to become a reproduction (a rebirth) of the Son of God. A Brother comes in both male and female human bodies. As Christians, who profess to have the Strength of the LORD at their beck and call (the spirit of Uzzah), that consecration as a high priest of the ark leads one to think you can control God. One’s lineage and pedigree makes one thing one can reach out and touch the LORD whenever one pleases. While omitted from today’s reading, we find that Uzzah’s attempt to keep the ark from coming off the cart was not seen by God in his favor. Instead, we read, “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:7)

That lesson says to be careful that one does not think God obeys one’s commands. That is irreverent and causes God to burn such selfish souls from anger. One has to fear the power of the LORD and bow down before that magnificence. Bowing down might be seen as foolish and weak; but foolish and weak is much better than fried to a crisp, having God raised God’s ire.

Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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Mark 6:1-13 – Prophets seen with dishonor

Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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This is an Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 9. It will next be read aloud in a church by a priest, on Sunday July 8, 2018. This is important as it shows how Jesus was rejected by the Jews of Nazareth, just as were his disciples faced rejection in their appointed ministries. This is seen today in the fight among Christians to cast out anyone who offers wisdom without some degree of approved divinity, such as that handed out by professors of scholastic religion.

This is Mark’s version of the same story told by Matthew (13:53-58) and Luke (4:14-30), with Luke’s more detailed about Jesus being rejected in his hometown. Mark then followed with the commission of the twelve, which Matthew told of in his tenth chapter (the whole chapter) [slightly before Jesus was rejected in Nazareth] and Luke told of in his ninth chapter (verses 1-6) [well after Jesus was rejected in Nazareth]. Luke told the story of Jesus being rejected in Nazareth with much detail, well beyond what Mark wrote; but the inconsistencies of the chronology makes certainty of when each event occurrences difficult to pinpoint.  Still, there is purpose to the order of presentation that is found here in Mark.

There is no mention of Nazareth specifically in either Mark of Matthew, but Luke does make that specifically known, with Mark telling that the people in the synagogue knew his father was a carpenter. One can assume Joseph died before Jesus began his ministry, certainly before he moved to Capernaum, because there was no mention of Joseph at the wedding in Cana.

By knowing all of the surrounding stories of the same events, a three-dimensional view of Mark’s story emerges. When we read, “Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him,” we know from Luke that Nazareth was one of several synagogues that Jesus taught in, after he “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” (Luke 4:14a) This means that Jesus did not go to his hometown solely for the purpose of showing off his teaching talents. The synagogue of Nazareth welcomed Jesus because of the “news about him [had] spread through the whole countryside” and “he was teaching in [multiple] synagogues, and everyone praised him.” (Luke 4:14b-15)

When Mark wrote, “On the sabbath [Jesus] began to teach in the synagogue,” Luke makes a point of stating, “he went into the synagogue, as was his custom” and “he stood up to read.”

This means each Sabbath in the Hebrew calendar calls for specific readings to be read and discussed. Luke quotes the reading as being that of Isaiah 61:1-2a. In the “Calendar of Torah and Haftarah Readings,” for 2015 – 2018, the schedule for these two verses (plus verses 3-11) comes up in the reading for October 29, 2016 [27 Tishri 5777], which is called the “Blessing for Cheshvan” [Cheshvan = “Eighth Month”]. The same reading was also scheduled for September 9, 2017 [18 Elul 5777].

In the verses recited by Luke (Isaiah 61:1-2a only), the words from the verses include: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me;” and “He has sent me to proclaim.” Some English translation versions place a title on this chapter that comes from verse two-a, which is “The Year of the Lord’s Favor.” This portion of Isaiah 61 announces an unnamed prophet to come, which is not Isaiah but a prophecy of one who will bring freedom to those in captivity. Jesus stood and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21)

While Mark did not address this specific reading as what Jesus “began to teach” about, this is what led the Jews of Nazareth to be “astounded.” The use of the Greek word “exeplēssonto” means “astounded,” which might lead one to think Jesus impressed the Jews of Nazareth, as if he “bedazzled” them or “amazed” with his words. While Luke’s use of “ethaumazon” implies “wonder, marvel, and admiration,” it actually in a statement of “surprise.” Mark’s word most clearly shows that Jesus’ words had the effect of “striking them with panic or shock.”

This view is supported by seeing how those in attendance in the synagogue took this proclamation by Jesus as an insult. It led them to question his credentials: “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!” Those questions did not in any way infer that what Jesus said was believable.

The question that asked where Jesus saw Isaiah foretelling of him was one asked in the tone of “What gall!” The use of “sophia,” as “wisdom,” misses the hint at “cleverness,” where a rabbi should teach the “intelligence” that comes from the standards of education, and not unfounded “insight.” The “deeds of power,” from “dynameis,” hints at a stunt proclaiming to be a “miracle.” The addition of “by his hands” is then meant as a preconceived “plan,” which is the art of shysters, made-up by Jesus only.

When the next question was, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” they concluded that Jesus was just the boy down the lane who was the son of a carpenter. Growing up in Nazareth meant Jesus was from another poor family of Jews. His relatives were of no importance … pretty much like everyone from Nazareth … so the same expectations should be placed on Jesus. They let him teach out of respect for his being from Nazareth and some gossip that said, “Give him a chance,” but that sermon (in their minds) was a colossal failure.

To ensure that no one missed that point, Simon-Peter told Mark to be sure to write down, “And they took offense at him.” The Greek word written, “eskandalizonto,” is rooted in “skandalizó,” which in Latin is transcribed “scandalizabantur,” a word that is associated with the etymology of the English word “scandalous.” The “offense” caused was “disgraceful; improper or immoral.” The Nazarenes felt like they had fallen into a trap that had been set by Jesus, snared up quickly from their peaceful Shabbat Jewish selves and forced to become angry and wild in an attempt to free themselves.

Their anger led Jesus to say, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” As a true prophet of the LORD, such that everything Jesus said was the Word of God flowing through his mouth, the “honor” that comes to all “Prophets” (capitalization is purposeful, showing a divine connection, although the capitalization is from the paraphrase of translation) is the presence of God within.

Because a relationship with God requires many years to build up, into a marriage where a Prophet submits his (or her) personal will to the dominant Will of God – the Husband – even Jesus, as a child, was seen as no different as other children his age. Even though God spoke to Jesus daily, from human birth to human death and beyond, Jesus was free to express his personal opinions (albeit God-led) at all times prior to his Spiritual baptism, when the dove lit upon his spirit in the river Jordan, with John the Baptizer. That period of Jesus talking, rather than God speaking directly through Jesus, was not part of any written Gospel. The Jews of Nazareth, therefore, saw Jesus as a little more than an impudent human, one who (as far as they knew) was ordinary.

When we then read, “And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief,” this says that the rejection of Jesus was so great that the Son of God could do little to reach through that refusal to accept holiness. It says that “unbelief” (“apistian”), which is a negative form of “faith.” It means “unfaithfulness” and “distrust” is the power of “disobedience” that pushes those professing “faith” away from God.

This makes Nazareth become a model for all of the Israelites, in particular those who maintain Judaism today, denying Jesus as their Christ. When the scope of definition for “Israelite” is broadened, to be seen as the children of God who do follow the promised Messiah that is Jesus Christ – Christians, Jewish and Gentile – then the same sense of “astonishment” and “taking offense” can be seen when so-called “believers” reject someone who is truly filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  When Saints are seen as extremely rare, then the appearance of one teaching about Scripture in ways only God could know, it seems natural that those not in a relationship with God will fail to recognize one who is.

The same “unfaithful” (“offended”) have become led by people like them, who teach an ordinary message, so they set expectations for all substitute teachers – they must teach the same faithless message. Just as were the Jews of Nazareth so “disobedient” to the Lord that they ran Jesus out of town, with few being healed by his hands, Christians today are just as closed-minded to the truth.  It is a knee-jerk reaction to reject the unknown, even when it scandalously slaps the truth in their face.

The message that so many fail to hear, and fail to learn, and fail to teach is that message that is repeatedly written in the Gospels and Epistles that says, “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Christians sit in pews and believe they should believe “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Christians believe they should be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Christians believe they should pray “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Christians believe Jesus Christ is in Heaven with the Father, listening to prayers and placing check marks by the names of Christians who believe “in the name of Jesus Christ,” just like the Jews of Nazareth sat in pews in the synagogue and believed in the name of Isaiah.  They all believed in the prophecies of Isaiah, but they all believed they would never see the day when any of Isaiah’s Saviors would come to town. Therefore, if a Christian stood up in a church on Sunday (or Saturday) after a priest or reader said the words “in the name of Jesus Christ” and loudly proclaimed, “I am in the name of Jesus Christ!” those Christians would (for the most part) be greatly offended.

Anyone who would hear that claim and come to Jesus Christ, in the person who knew he or she had been reborn as that Christian who proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor has come!” then he or she would benefit. A few of the whole would only amount to a few sick people who could be cured or have demons cast out of them by Jesus reborn. In that process, those few would have the torch of the Holy Spirit passed onto them, due to their faith. However, the many would shun that person, run him or her out of town, spread ugly gossip about him or her in that wake, and blacklist him or her from ever coming back to that church. In short, a Christian today would treat a reborn Jesus Christ just as the Jews of Nazareth scorned Jesus.

This means that when Jesus said, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house” that paraphrases as, “Persons gifted at expositing divine truth [true Prophets of Yahweh – “prophētēs”] are not despised, except when surrounded by those not filled with the Holy spirit [not also Prophets of Yahweh],who are not taught by persons gifted as expositing divine truth, thus who are not led to ever be expecting to meet one person gifted at expositing divine truth, much less ever become a “Prophet” themselves.

As such, “hometown” and “own house,” in today’s vernacular, represents one’s specific denomination of Christianity, in a specific church building. The version of Christianity that one holds dear leads one to go to a place where one feels at home. The church one goes to most regularly is then personal, as one’s own house of worship. This means “own kin” are all the others who go to the same church, in the same town, and (in the cases of the devout that adhere to the tenets of Christianity) it has been this way for generations.

As for Jesus, who was a Great Prophet who only spoke the Truth of the Father, his disciples were his “house” [“a church being wherever two or more gather in my name” – Matthew 18:20]. That included his mother, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles who were all followers that would become “in the name of Jesus Christ” following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.  The became his church, gathered in his name when Jesus Christ returned on Pentecost Sunday (the day after he ascended).  They were strong supporters of Jesus as the Christ, who would continue his work when they also became Jesus Christ reborn. All honor and glory was given to Jesus of Nazareth  by all who felt the presence of God in and surrounding him.

The Jews of Nazareth, those of Jesus’ hometown, did not bestow any honor onto Jesus, as they did not embrace him as the one Isaiah prophesied. Instead, they saw Jesus as a black sheep who had turned away from their simple mindset of belief … themselves as God’s chosen people … where all were chosen equally, with none to ever rise to the level of being truly righteous and responsible for the well-being of their family of Judaism.

This truth has to be seen in order to then understand why Simon-Peter told Mark (his Gospel writer), “Save the story of Jesus sending us disciple of Jesus out to minister in our hometowns, in the synagogues when we were raised, where the Jews who knew us before we were “in the name of Jesus Christ” could reject us also.”

Peter had Mark write about the commission of the twelve immediately after Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, because (in the imagined words of Peter), “We too were Jesus by extension, through God’s Holy Spirit being our authority.” Therefore, Mark’s story of the sending out of the twelve disciples then becomes the story of every Apostle who ever ministered Jews and/or Gentiles as Jesus Christ reborn. Matthew and/or Luke could chronologically state that event, with the same higher meaning intended to be found; but Mark’s retelling was for the purpose of understanding the future growth and spread of all true Christianity.  The commission of the twelve was the commission of all Saints in the name of Jesus Christ.

When Mark wrote, “He called the twelve,” the most basic meaning is the twelve named disciples of Jesus, as of that time in Jesus’ ministry. In Matthew 10:2-4, amid his story of the commission of the twelve, Matthew named each disciple. This included (last and least), “and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed [Jesus].”

That inclusion of Judas and the disclaimer that will forever go along with his name is what makes the sending out of twelve guys from Galilee, around 30 A.D., be the least intent of this commission. We can assume Judas Iscariot went, like the others; but one has to ask, “Did he and his partner obey all the instructions and cast out demons?”

That makes the number twelve stand out as the eternal condition for those who would forever be “called” by Jesus Christ AND fully comply with those commands. This means that the number is symbolic, more than literal.  Its use intends more than a number of physical disciples be discerned.  It implies that twelve is the state of being that must be reached by all who heed that call … with Judas Iscariot failing to meet that requirement (as the note beside his name by Matthew implies).

Rather than attempt to teach a course in numerology, here is one of many web pages that explain the symbolic meaning of the number twelve. It is this symbolic nature that forms the core explanation as to why Jesus had twelve disciples, when he actually had many more followers and believers. Luke wrote of a commission that included seventy (or seventy-two) that were appointed in pairs. (Luke 10:1-20)

The number twelve represents a spiritual elevation, so the self is no longer controlling the soul. Twelve ‘boils down’ to a three (12 => 1 + 2 = 3), but is a special number that is like a “master number” (11, 22, 33).  The number three represents “initial completion,” whereas twelve (as 12 => 1 + 2 = 3) is a number that represents “final completion.” We see this in the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve tribes of Israel.

A three is then representative of the self, while a twelve elevates the self by submission to God. Still, oneself can reject that elevation and reduce a twelve back to a basic three, which is symbolic of the free will the self maintains. In this regard, Jesus symbolically named twelve disciples to be those who assumed roles that were elevated above his other base followers. However, the inclusion of Judas Iscariot reflected how a title of respect does not guarantee complete subjection to God, as some will always choose self over becoming Jesus Christ.

When this concept of twelve is seen, it allows one to see the eternal potential of the commission of Jesus Christ into the world, through subjects that never knew him as the human being that was Jesus of Nazareth. They were then, are now, and will always be the ones sent out “two by two, given authority over unclean spirits.” That “authority” (“exousian”) is less about being a power over others, as it is more important as the power of the Holy Spirit, which rejects the presence of anything spiritually unclean to enter into an Apostle (i.e.: Saint).

This means that when Mark wrote, “They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them,” it was the power of the Holy Spirit that had the effect of “anointing oil.”  This has to then be read as more than olive oil that has somehow been blessed by a Saint.  The use of “oil,” where the Greek word “elaion” means, “(figuratively) the indwelling (empowering) of the Holy Spirit,” means this has more power in a Spiritual sense, rather than a physical pouring of oil on one’s forehead.  It becomes synonymous with baptism by the Holy Spirit, where physical water has no effect on a soul.

By realizing the power given to the disciples (elevated to Saints) was not self-generated or self-willed, but the power of God’s Holy Spirit passed onto them, we can then best understand Jesus’ instructions. When Peter told Mark that Jesus said, “Take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics,” those instructions apply today as well as they applied then, because Jesus spoke in ageless metaphor.

In general, Jesus told the Saints who would be in the name of Jesus Christ, “Go into the world as ordinary looking people, with nothing about you hinting at piety.” In other words, Jesus said, “Go and make it so only the truly faithful to God will be positively drawn to you.”  As a fishing analogy applied to fishers of men, Jesus sent them out fishing with just a line and a hook, but no pole, no net, no bait , no spinners, and no lures.

The Greek text of Jesus’ instructions actually states, “Nothing they should take for the journey,” where “hodon” says (in addition to “journey”), “path, road, and way.” This then becomes the path of Jesus, who said, “I am the way (“hodos”) , and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB) “Nothing” more is required, when one walks as Jesus Christ reborn through the Holy Spirit.

This makes the exception of “a staff” be not a walking stick (or crutch to lean on) but the authority of the Holy Spirit. It is like the invisible “rhabdos” that is the “scepter” of Christ the King.  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36) but when his subjects are the souls within the realm of their flesh, his staff of sovereignty appears as just another human being.

To have his Saints carry “no bread,” this is more than the him demanding they deny the physical necessity of food (fasting), where taking a “loaf of bread” would be viewed as a lack of faith, as if there would be an unwillingness to depend on manna from heaven. More than a demand to physically restrain one’s bodily needs, the symbolism of “bread” is relative to the symbolic presence of matzah is the Passover.

At the Seder meal (the “Last Supper”) ceremonial bread was broken (a ritual breaking, called the Yachatz) and the disciples were told to eat in remembrance of him. The Yachatz is actually hidden and must be found, so it can be eaten as a dessert. Children are the focus of this exercise; and Jesus called his disciples, “little children.” (John 13:33)  As such, one is asked to seek and find Jesus Christ, who is hidden in the “bread” that is the Word of God. Scripture must be consumed to begin a journey that, when found, requires one be stripped of self.  To reach that point of sacrifice, one must see the prophecies of Jesus in the holy text first.

As an instruction to the holy priests of the LORD who are sent out to teach the truth, “take no bread” means to take no prepared Scripture lessons to teach. A prepared lecture or sermon requires the intelligence of a brain, which cannot withstand questions the brain has not been prepared to answer. When one is without “bread” due to faith, then the manna from heaven will be sent to one.

Trusting Saints are sent unprepared so they can then receive the knowledge of the Mind of Christ that is promised to come, as needed. It comes so that not only will one be fed spiritually, but so too will one’s whole family be fed spiritually. All questions will be answered without conscious thought required, through teaching by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When we hear the instruction, “no bag,” this goes beyond the literal meaning of “a sack, wallet, or leather pouch for carrying provisions.” The intent here is like a quiver that holds a supply of Biblical arrows or Scriptural quotes that are intended to wound or defend one’s position. It means (to Jews) not to be lugging around a selection of Torah scrolls to read for Jews to hear. To a Christian, it means not to carry a copy of a Holy Bible to read to others. This means “no bag” is akin to thinking outside the box, where everything written in scrolls and Holy Bibles is relative to translation restrictions or pronunciation choices. It becomes an attempt to put God in “a bag” that limits Him and the truth of His Words spoken through prophets.  Without that bag, God is free to enlighten an unfettered mind.

The requirement that says, “no money in their belts,” where “zōnēn chalkon” (literally “belt money”) can be read as “money belt” or “purse,” was stated at a time when “money” meant minted coins of precious metals. Still, when “belt” and “money” are seen as separate words, where “belt” means “girdle” or “waistband,” such as a leather strap tied around one’s mid-section, and “money” means coins of “brass, bronze, or copper,” the implication is not to go into the world displaying an underlying support (girdle) that is wealth-driven (money). It means not to travel like the scribes of the Temple, with an entourage of support encircling them; and it means not to go public in clothes that say, “Only I can afford this suit.”

“Every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.” ZZ Top

While such a restriction set by Jesus can easily be noticed in the television stardom of televangelists who plead for contributions to buy another $54-million private jet for ministry, it still applies to all mainstream organized religions, where priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes wear fancy costumes as if those clothes (hats, belts, miters, and staffs) deem them as holy.  Further, many churches revel in ensuring their pastors live in nice homes and drive fine cars. The people tend to associate their piety in a figurehead deemed as their reflection.  However, Jesus’ order means all of that flash and glitz only distracts from God’s message of sacrifice, causing others to focus on the outward appearances of others and not their own inner needs.

When Jesus said to “wear sandals,” that fashion statement does not means shoes cannot be a footwear replacement. A “sandal” is a piece of leather worn under the sole of the foot, as an invention for the purpose of human beings being able to walk boldly over rocky and sandy soil. It is protective clothing in that sense, which any modern version of footwear that is designed for outdoor walking can match. Still, by Jesus giving an order to wear sandals it has to be seen as symbolic of keeping the feet prepared to walk wherever the Lord sends one. The use of “sandals” is then akin to being a messenger, as God prophesied through Malachi: “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

Finally, when Jesus said “not to put on two tunics,” the number two must be grasped. Two reflects the duality of humanity, which is the physical body joined with a spiritual soul. To “put on” or “be clothed” with “two tunics,” where the word “tunics” (“chitōnas”) implies “undergarments” or “shirts worn under a robe,” there is a hidden element that underlies the apparent. This should be seen as an instruction not to retain one’s self-ego under the cloak of righteousness. One can only be a messenger of God when one is wearing the robe of Jesus Christ and no one else. This is why a Prophet of the LORD is merely a nameless “mortal,” whose response to all God’s questions is, “LORD you know.”

With that state of being seen, we then read how Jesus said to the disciples, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them,” this should be seen as relative to the story Mark just told about Jesus being rejected in Nazareth.  One should see how this connects to the “house” of worship (the synagogue in Nazareth) Jesus had just been rejected from, where as a messenger of God he was shown dishonor.

The symbolism of “dust” (“choun”) is as “earth” or “soil,” which relates to the physical and not the spiritual. God told His Son Adam, “For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19f) In Ecclesiastes we read, “All came from the dust and all return to the dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20b)

Therefore, the rejection of a Prophet of the LORD means the messenger (sandals) has been refused and the punishment means reincarnation on the worldly plane, not the reward of faith – eternal life in Heaven with God.

Mark then summed up Simon-Peter’s memory by stating, “So [the twelve] went out and proclaimed that all should repent.” The Greek word “metanoōsin” states the conditional, such that the recommendation is to repent, so one should repent; but one is free to do as one chooses. This means one must fully grasp the meaning of “repentance,” such that the Greek word “metanoeó” (the root verb) means, “change my mind, change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God); properly, “think differently after,” “after a change of mind”; to repent (literally, “think differently afterwards”).” When “repent” is understood to basically mean, “to change one’s mind or purpose,” this becomes a recommendation to surrender one’s big brained ego (self) so the Christ Mind can be born within one’s being. A Saint’s purpose is then to recommend that one should make such a change of mind.

As a Gospel selection for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to the LORD should be underway – one has truly repented – the intent should be to see the standard of rejection. In most cases, which can be seen in the story of Saul being transformed into Paul, rejection begins within one’s self. Saul stood holding the cloaks of those who rejected the messenger Stephen, so the persecutors’  hands would be free to stone a Saint (in the name of Jesus Christ) to death. They rejected Stephen just as the Jews of Nazareth rejected Jesus. Saul stood by and watched the rejection, not raising a hand to stop the mindset that bears the responsibility for neglecting everything Jesus ordered his disciples not to wear.

The ones who reject a change of mind hold their hard loaves of unleavened bread high, hoping the lack of yeast (the Holy Spirit) will punish those they swing hard at.  Instead, that bread breaks and crumbles, unlike bread that was allowed to expand its basic ingredients into a tasty, life-giving softness. The hands with stones have bagged God as their personal slave, whose words say what they want them to say. They have transformed the exclusivity of being God’s chosen people into a lucrative businesses that caters to intellectual giants. The ones throwing the stones that killed Saints pretended to be upholding the Laws outwardly, while they are led by the fears of responsibility denied inwardly. These are the ones a minister of the LORD is called to confront.

Luke wrote of the people of Nazareth being so angered at Jesus that, “They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.” (Luke 4:29) They could not harm Jesus, as Luke continued to say, because “he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:30)

As Stephen was dying, “Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59-60) That was Jesus again going on his way, because Stephen touched Saul on his path that led him to encounter Jesus Christ.

This says that all ministers of the LORD begin as those who have played their part in rejecting Prophets who have suggested a change of mind and the subjection of self-ego to the LORD. Ministers have been there, done tha;, so when they see others rejecting their transformed souls as being the old insolent human beings they were before, ministers then see themselves in reflection. This leads them to pray for God to forgive them all for being ignorant for so long, while really wanting to be saved.


Aside F.Y.I.: Deleted from this reading is the verse that is marked as an aside [in parentheses] that is a long ending to verse 11, following “a testimony against them.”  It states “(Truly I say to you more tolerable it will be for Sodom and Gomorrah in day of judgment  ,  than for that town.)  This means rejecting a Prophet of the LORD calls for eternal damnation, assuming repentance does not come before the day of judgment.”


Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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2 Corinthians 12:2-10 – Boasting about weakness

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

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This is an Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 9. It will next be read aloud in a church by a reader, on Sunday July 8, 2018. This is important because it places focus on the weakness of the individual who is filled with the Holy Spirit, meaning the only strength one can boast of possessing is one’s ability to withstand the tests and temptations of Satan, which are painful tortures.

This reading skips over verse one, which sets the theme from which this reading flows. It states, “Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.” (NASB) However, the literal translation from the Greek says (noting spaces to highlight punctuation marks), “To boast  ,  it should not be profitable to me  .  I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord  .

Regardless of Paul’s denial of brag, the vital words in verse 1 are “optasias” (“visions”) and “apokalypseis” (“revelations”). Those words can also translate as “supernatural appearances” and “unveilings.”  It should be understood that Paul was not introducing normal sights and discoveries that he had seen, during his travels, to the Christians of Corinth.  He was turning his letter’s purpose into Spiritual things the Corinthians should then know.

When we read, “I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up,” this unnamed “person in Christ” can possibly be identified by Paul’s epistle to the Galatians (believed to have been written 1.5-2 years prior to this letter).  There he wrote, “Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.” (Galatians 2:1) As the Book of Acts speaks in detail about Paul and Barnabas, during the early phase of Paul’s ministry, it makes more sense to see Barnabas as the one Paul was referring.

When Paul followed that knowledge of “a person in Christ” by stating, “And I know that such a person,” this is the identification of Paul.  By reading slowly, in both cases Paul said “I know” (“oida“), which is a statement of personal knowledge.  When Paul followed the first “I know” with “a man” (“anthrōpon“), he next followed “I know” with tontoiouton anthrōpon,” which more accurately says, “I know this like the man.”  As such, Paul and his partner in ministry both shared a similar experience, most likely at the same time.

The translations that says “caught up,” which appears twice (once as harpagenta and then as hērpagē) is rooted in the Greek verb harpazó, which means, “seized, snatched away.” This means Paul was not referring to some event where he and Barnabas went willingly into a situation that overwhelmed them.  While they experienced times of trouble and persecution as Christians, some which became intense, this cannot be read as the meaning here.  Paul had probably discussed old time prior, while in Corinth; so this reference is to an untold experience where he and his partner were “suddenly and decisively taken by an open display of force.”

One such experience could be the one written of in Acts 14:5, while the duo was in Iconium and “some Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, decided to make trouble for Paul and Barnabas and to stone them to death.” They escaped that plan by leaving town.  However, it could have been while they were in Lystra, where Acts 14:19 states, “Some Jewish leaders from Antioch and Iconium came and turned the crowds against Paul. They hit him with stones and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.”

This certainly tells how Paul and Barnabas were suddenly and decisively overcome by force, but importantly in a way that could have separated their souls from their bodies.  Such an event probably would have been told prior; but Paul is now adding a new twist to the story by writing here (in remembrance), “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.”  If Paul did not know if he was in body or not, then he was near death.

The focus is now on a version of death that is referred to as an out-of-body experience (OBE).  This is vivid memory that is retained, seemingly when the soul is free to leave the body at death.  People reporting these events have told of visual experiences (“optasias”) that are vivid and realistic, yet their minds realize a transcendental departure had occurred that is closer to a dream state.  This can then be seen as Paul confessing a period in his life that could have been like sleep, which matches those Gospel comparisons to death-followed-by-resurrection as sleeping. Paul then indicated one who was “in Christ” went to a place only the soul can visit, while out of its body.  Paul called it “third heaven” (“tritou ouranou” – lower case).

The translations of the Greek text do not capitalize this place Paul and his companion were “snatched to,” but this reference has become magnified over the centuries as “Third Heaven.” This reference is then dovetailed into the second and third books of Enoch, the Talmud, the Qur’an, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and ancient Hindu texts that refer to “seven heavens.”  All of this, as a “Christian” perspective, is then projected upon this one verse of Paul’s second letter to the Christians of Corinth, as supporting all the other references of faith.

This then leads one to recall the Divine Comedy and Dante’s trilogy that projected a satirical view of the Church’s support of a layering of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. In Dante’s mind, the lower levels of hell and purgatory were filled with popes and cardinals, as well as the governors that supported them.  His spheres of Heaven were much like the Judaic Seven Heavens, where planets and celestial orbs each symbolized a tier (Third Heaven was influenced by Venus in both models).  By Dante calling his heavenly realms “Paridiso” (Paradise), there is then a link to Paul’s statement, “was caught up into Paradise” (“Paradeison” – capitalized).

In the Wikipedia article entitled “Third Heaven,” (capitalized), the information posted refers to elements from the Second Book of Enoch, which alludes to a contrast between the third level of Heaven and Paradise. The article states, “Third Heaven is described as a location “between corruptibility and incorruptibility” containing the Tree of Life, “whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise.” [Reference: Chapter 8, Second Book of Enoch]

This goes on by adding, “In contrast with the common concept of Paradise, the Second Book of Enoch also describes a Third Heaven, “a very terrible place” with “all manner of tortures” in which merciless angels torment “those who dishonor God, who on earth practice sin against nature,” including sodomites, sorcerers, enchanters, witches, the proud, thieves, liars and those guilty of various other transgressions.” [Reference: Chapter 10, Second Book of Enoch]

This certainly paints a sinister picture of “third heaven,” which forces one to look closer at the Greek word “Paradeison,” which is translated as “Paradise.”  The Greek word (capitalized) means, “Paradise, Grand enclosure, Garden, Pleasure-ground,” and the “Upper reaches of the heavens,” which is a view that saw outer space (as we know it) as the first heaven.  “Paradeison” is even a reference to the Garden of Eden, as well as “that part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection.” This last view of “Paradise” is then more comparable to the Purgatory of Dante, rather than the Judaic association of Seventh Heaven being where God is pure light.

7. Araboth (ערבות), The seventh Heaven where ofanim, the seraphim, and the hayyoth and the throne of the Lord are located. (Wikipedia article: Seven Heavens).

It does not make sense that Paul could write about out-of-body experiences for both he and a partner, such as Barnabas, especially if one went to the “third heaven” and the other to “Paradise.” While both could have been two places together, it makes more sense that they saw the same place differently, and reported their feelings to one another afterwards. Still, even more likely, Paul knew his partner was seeing the same as him, as both were “in Christ.”  The two were “snatched away” into a near-death state, simultaneously, mesmerized by “visions and revelations” while in God’s total care.

When realizing “Paradeison” can be the same place as Dante’s “Paradise,” akin to the Judaic Sheol, that would make “third heaven” capable of being a dark place.

The tone of the remainder of this reading supports that assessment.  The association to Eden and the word etymology visualizing a Garden brings to mind recall that the serpent caused so many problems for Adam and wife there. Therefore, it is not hard to see how misery can be a reality, while in a place whose illusion is of something wonderful.

In this regard, “third heaven” becomes a trick of Satan.  Paul and partner were forcibly taken to “a terrible place” with “all manner of tortures.”  First impression could have been the lure and illusion of something wonderful; but as the letter proceeds, there were pains that one would not expect a spiritual self to experience.

Getting this picture in mind makes it easier to understand how the “revelations” or the “unveilings” (stated in 2 Corinthians 12:1) that were discovered by Paul’s soul in Paradise were then stated as: “[I] heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.” That implies Paul saw things they were astounding, but the voice of God explained the truth behind the “visions.”

It was at this point in the letter that Paul wrote, “On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.” This should be seen as the duality of one man – Paul – who was both alive in Spirit (a truth worthy of boasting about), while still in a body (his weakness) that was with him, or not – God knows.

Paul then wrote how filled with elation he was in this state of “visions and revelations.” Still, he wrote, “to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.” That can be seen as the “pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming” axiom.  Feeling the pain meant Paul still was connected, in some way, to his body.

The “messenger of Satan” (“angelos Satana”) can also be read as “an angel of Satan” or “messenger of the Adversary.” As an “angelic adversary” (another translation possibility), one can see the thought that reads like The Revelation of John (Apokalypsis) – remembering verse 1 set the theme of “optasias” (“visions”) and “apokalypseis” (“revelations”).  One can grasp how John also had a view of “third” and “heaven,” which is consistent with Paul’s revelation to the Corinthians.

In chapter 12 of The Revelation, John wrote, “And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (Revelations 12:4a).  Common analysis by Christian scholars interprets that as a reference to “a third of the angels” or “a third of the heavens.” In The Watchers of Enoch, we know of a rebellion among the angels, where a portion, led by Lucifer, refused to serve Adam (Holy Man).  The story of the serpent and Eve in Eden is then symbolic of that rebelliousness.

John’s Greek words written are, “triton tōn asterōn tou ouranou,” where Paul wrote, “tritou ouranou.” The “stars” are then synonymous with the “angels,” which are “the Watchers” of Enoch. The “angelos Satana” were the “third heaven” thrown into the earth, which occurred when Adam and wife were banished from Eden.  This means “Paradise” was the “Enclosure” (translation possibility for “Paradeison“) that is the Earth and its limitations.

The “thorn” (“skolops”) Paul felt then brings about physical pain, as Paul wrote it “was given me in the flesh,” by the “angel of Satan.”  This acts as a view of the future, similar to John’s chapter nine in The Revelation (9:10), where scorpions are said to come from within the earth and be attacking. John wrote there, “They have tails like scorpions, and stings,” where “scorpions” in Greek is “skorpiois.”

Because John wrote of a dismal end time, the comparative terminology found here in Paul’s words should be seen as prophetic.  Paul had stated that God told him not to repeat what he saw.  This instruction was not disobeyed because Paul, like John and all prophets of the future, write of visions and revelations symbolically.  This can be seen as why Jesus taught in parables, rather than giving the world a clear view of the future.  God-led metaphor is required to prophesy the future, and the language of God (spoken by all His Prophets) is not easily understood.

This use of “thorn in the flesh” is then Paul speaking metaphorically about the reality of his experience, which he had said “no mortal is permitted to repeat.” John’s use of thick metaphor is then his inability to clearly state the reality of an evil presence on earth – then as now.  That is forbidden from being expressly stated.  However, that evil presence is nonetheless real and within the depths of planet earth.

The feel of the thorn was so great and real to Paul (remembering that he could not state for sure if he was alive in physical body or alive only in Spirit), he wrote, “Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

The number “three” is then stated in a word that means “three times” (“tris”).  Three is a number that is always significant as it represents a statement of “initial completion.”  Three is life, where soul (1) and body (1) are joined (1), with the union point representative of “three.”  Three times three (3 x 3) is then a holy octave that is the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are joined as one.  In this sense, Paul wrote of “three times” he “begged” or “appealed” (“parekalesa“) God for his spirit and flesh to “leave, withdraw from, or to go away from” (“apostē“) the “third heaven,” where the pains of sins were part of his flesh.  By begging “three times,” Paul used a word that is all-inclusive of the “times” of eternity: past, present, and future. Paul could not leave his vision of the past, which led to the present state of Christianity, and then the pains shown into the future.

By God stating “His grace” (“charis”) was enough, the presence of the Christ Mind in Paul, making him the resurrection of Jesus Christ (“God’s grace”), was enabled by the weakness of Paul – his sacrifice of self. Therefore, it was the submissive ego of the old Saul that cried out for help, because the pain of his past sins was being felt.

That pain, coming from his mortal weakness, was what led him to love God and be surrounded by God’s Holy Spirit, as the rebirth of Jesus Christ. The pains inflicted by sin endure through all times; but Redemption, through sacrifice of self, is the cure beyond the flesh.

That realization is why Paul then wrote to the Christians of Corinth, “So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Without the grace of God, as the rebirth of Jesus Christ, the sins of Paul’s past would be forever mounting, with new pains in the present and assured pains in the future. The pains of an earthbound body cannot be escaped.  The weakness of the flesh and the ability to be able to retain the pains that led to penitence then becomes the motivation to remain devoted and submissive to God’s Will.

Relief from pain is not the Spiritual answer, as relief represents capitulation to the tests sent by Satan’s angels. The answer is to show strength in the face of pain, which is why Paul wrote, “Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

As an Epistle reading selection for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to the LORD should be underway, the message of Paul is not to expect ministry to be an easy road to follow. In this day and age, the thorns ready for one’s flesh are closer to the intent of the ancient symbolism that was used by the prophets Paul and John.  We have entered the the beginning of the End Times, in bodies that are always liable to be “snatched away.”

When one sees the element of pain and understands that worldly pains represent the punishments of sins, one cannot help but see the world has reached a state of global pain. This is not simply the standard anger between nations, the typical angers between religions, and the ordinary angers between races; but it is the anger now dividing nations, destroying religions, and  blending the races.

We know these pains because of the visions of cable and network media. Television and the Social Media have snatched away our bodies and souls, so we feel the thorns of pain of others as if it is our own.

Please, o Box, show me my next anxiety and pain.

For example, the issue of abortion can bring news of violent protests and attacks.  We see or hear of this problem, so we feel a pain that may not be relevant to some. Still, anger acts like an angel of Satan, making us feel like we should act violently because that specific sin exists in the world.  The media becomes a demon that pierces the flesh with thorns, sending our fantasy selves into a “third heaven” realm of visions and revelations where we visit a world of hurt.

Ministry seems to some to be a spiritual necessity to stand before a congregation and preach against the evils of the world. The pulpit has long been filled by the fire and brimstone warnings that plant the seeds of fear in minds, so those fears will prevent sins from happening. In the same misguided view of ministry, political philosophy has taken hold on churches as a platform for social reforms, where guilt is planted in the minds of congregations, because somewhere in the world people suffer. Some preachers actively preach the overthrow of the evils that have become common within one’s society. However, that is what Paul wrote the Corinthians to advise against.

The role of a minister is to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, the perfect manifestation of the Trinity on earth.  The mission of an Apostle is to teach, both by words and works.  This means a minister must be the resurrection of Jesus Christ on earth, for the purpose of leading the lost sheep to themselves become Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, so many love a Jesus on the cross, so the popular opinion is to “Crucify him!”

Instead, the Jews shouted, “Free Barabbas!”  This was because the people would always rather be insurrectionists, than teachers.  It is easier to lead others to slaughter, than to be held responsible for one’s own self-sacrifice for salvation.

The message that God sends a minister into the world with is stated here by Paul.  A minister must recognize his or her own weaknesses. Asking God to make all the sins of the world go away will have the same response as God gave Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

The world we live in today is the “third heaven” that is “a very terrible place.”  It comes with “all manner of tortures” in which merciless angels torment “those who dishonor God, who on earth practice sin against nature.”  The world has long been a Paradise Lost.  A religious philosophy cannot change the world, simply because the philosophy of Christianity is the equivalent of the philosophy of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Socialism, and any and all -isms.  They are ideals, not realities.

The reality is Christians (like all the others philosophical sects) turn on each other every hour of every day, just as “some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium” stoned Paul until they thought he was dead.  The rabble-rousers of the world are the ones who are so bold as to stand in front of an audience and promote anger.  This is not the role of a minister to the LORD.  If the government is messed up today, it is a sign that the government has always been messed up, is still messed up, and will always be messed up.

Get over it.  Don’t let the messenger of Satan thorn you to anger.  Don’t fall for the illusion that you can change the world of hurt.

A minister must have a personal relationship with God, where God speaks through one’s own heart, to a brain that should have been surrendered already to the Will of God. If one is asking God “three times” as an appeal: “Please God, give me the power to make the world see the error of its ways, so it can stop its insanity and become a Paradise for your servants.” – Then, there is still that ego within that silently wants the elation of having brought the world peace … in your name, not Christ’s. You still want to boast of the strengths God has given to you.

This lesson of Paul is not to be tricked by the angels of Satan and become snatched away from serving God.  If that happens, then one returns to serving self and the thorns of pain come flowing back. The Devil wins that battle when you boast more about what you think you should do, forgetting God’s presence is the only power necessary.

A minister admits, “I am weak. Thanks be to God for Him being my strength to withstand this world.”

A minister has to learn the lesson of Ezekiel and other holy prophets. They hear the voice of God ask the questions and they only say, “You know LORD.”

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As a reading that is this dark and with a content that can go much deeper in meaning, I can assure the reader that no Episcopal priest will spend his or her 12 minutes of sermon time touching “third heaven” or “messengers of Satan.”  Likewise, most avoid talking about The Revelations.  In this regard I had much more that I could have written about this and how it applies to future prophecy.  However, at this time I am tabling that plan to write more for now.

If I do make an addition, it will be on another blog; but I will announce it here.

Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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Ezekiel 2:1-5 – Knowing a prophet has been among them

The Lord said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

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This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 9. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in a church by a reader, on Sunday July 8, 2018. It is important because it states the truth that a prophet of God is His creation, through His Holy Spirit.

This short five-verse reading option from Ezekiel is fairly straightforward in the translation above, stating that God filled Ezekiel with His Holy Spirit. Once filled with the wisdom of God, Ezekiel was sent to prophesy before the wayward Judeans, before their exile to Babylon and after.

Ezekiel was called Buzi (beyond being the the son of Buzzi), “because he was despised by the Jews.” (Ezekiel: Wikipedia article footnote: Radak – R. David Kimkhi – in his commentary on Ezekiel 1:3, based on Targum Yerushalmi). The name “Ezekiel” means, “God Strengthens” or “Strengthened By God.” He was of the priestly lineage (Kohen: “a member of the priestly class, having certain rights and duties in the synagogue.”), believed to have been descended from Joshua. The words Ezekiel spoke to the children of Judah, as read in the Book of Ezekiel (regardless of who wrote them onto scrolls of parchment), proves God’s statement, “Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.”

As for a few observations of the actual Hebrew text and the translations English-speaking Christians recognize, whenever Ezekiel is said to hear God speak to him, with a reference to “O mortal,” the reality is Ezekiel wrote, “ben-adam” – “son of man. The translation as a “mortal” human being is relevant to being one of “mankind.” As a male human being, all male human beings are “sons of man.” This means the address is to the physicality of being human, which all human males are.

In the way that Jesus of Nazareth addressed himself as “Son of Man” (such as in Matthew 18:11, but many others) where the capitalization is an application of translation and not what was written (“huios tou anthrōpou” or “υἱός τοῦ ἀνθρώπου”), the assumption that comes from the capitalization is that Jesus addressed himself as the Son of God, in the form of Man. Beyond that, one can assume Jesus (as the Christ Spirit) was the Son of God, whose soul was that of Adam – the Son of God. However, both Ezekiel and Jesus were stating they were both males of mankind, which is ordinary, normal, and typical – not special.

Le Fils de L’Homme (Son of Man) – Magritte

While Jesus was divinely conceived, always to be holy, he was to be born of a woman.  That made him a son of man.  Likewise, Ezekiel was a son of man born into a holy lineage, predestined to become a prophet.  The specialization and uniqueness then comes when ordinary men are transformed by the presence of God’s Holy Spirit; or as Ezekiel wrote: “A spirit entered into me.”

This realization means it is ordinary, normal and typical to read the Holy Bible (or have it read to one) and see Ezekiel like one sees Jesus – as special, as those blessed by God for holiness. It is this failure to see how Ezekiel and Jesus were just like all other men (and women) of the earth. They became special by welcoming the God into their hearts, so they could hear His voice through the Mind of Christ. They became special because of their sacrifice of self (God did not say, “O Ezekiel”) so the Holy Spirit could enter into them. They became special because they heard the voice of God speaking directly to each, such that each responded to what God said (“speaking” = “’ā·mar” = “commanding, advising, designating, and giving an order”).

Normal mortals are like Cain was when his sacrifice to the LORD was not shown favor. Normal human beings often get angry and let their faces become downcast (from Genesis 4:6-7), where “face downcast” or “countenance fallen” is derived from “nā·p̄ə·lū p̄ā·ne·ḵā”.

Those words of Hebrew literally translate to state “lie down before,” where one’s emotional outbursts when things do not go one’s way are like a child throwing a tantrum, lying on the floor and screaming. If children do this ordinarily, normally and typically, so too do mere sons of mankind, no different than Cain did. This is how one should see the statement here by Ezekiel, that God “set me on my feet.”

In the first two verses of this reading selection, we read how God told Ezekiel, “stand up on your feet” (verse 1) and then how God’s Holy Spirit “set me on my feet.” The same word, “amad,” is the root used in the translations “stand” and “set.” It is then important to see how “standing” is the opposite of “lying before,” such that a righteous prophet of the LORD must “rise up” from the ordinary, the normal and the typical and become “upright” before God. Because Ezekiel did this while he was a mere “son of man,” a simple “mortal, then so too can all human beings do the same. However, that requires a willingness to hear the LORD speaking AND it means releasing oneself from the rebelliousness, impudence, and stubbornness that makes life seem so much easier to transgress than to comply with what the LORD says.

In the heritage of Ezekiel, where he was descended from Joshua, who was a true servant of the LORD, as an assistant to Moses and subsequent leader of the Israelites. Joshua also was a prophet of Yahweh, just as was Ezekiel and Jesus. This unique stature was not among mere mortals, as much as it was among the children of God. All gods have their priests and prophets, in the same way that all nations have their kings and presidents, and all humankind has its teachers and guides. Ezekiel, as Joshua and Jesus, stood up among Israelites, Judeans and Jews, because it was those, chosen by God to serve only Him as His priests, who refused to be extraordinary, because they wanted to be ordinary, normal, and typical – like the people of other nations.

The humble bow down before the righteous.

Ezekiel, as Joshua before and Jesus afterwards, was a prophet that told the warning spoken by the LORD to His chosen priests. The Book of Ezekiel was not lessons of righteousness spoken to the whole of mankind, as it was the Word of God to those who had fallen into the gutter before their LORD. The lessons of the Gospel were likewise not to stories of Jesus being sent to save all the sons of man. He came to warn the Jews that they had also fallen into the gutter before their God. The message was to “Arise! If you want to be a priest of Mine, then you best become like Ezekiel, Joshua and Jesus; or you will become mere sons (and daughters) of man and lose the right for eternal life.”

As an optional reading selection chosen for presentation on the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, in the season of Church time when ministers (prophets) to the LORD should be well along the paths God has sent them to travel, the basic lesson here is to stand tall among mere men and women. A ministry then means being a pillar of strength in a cesspool of worldly beings. One is called by God to rise from that muck and be a standard-bearer of righteousness, so the rebellious, the transgressors, and the impudent can see that hope of salvation remains alive.

The English word “transgression” is defined as, “An act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense.” (Google Dictionary) Seeing this as a legal term, where the Law of Moses came from God to the Israelites, as the Covenant between their service as God’s priests, with the agreed rewards as God’s chosen people being eternal salvation, the prophets of the LORD have always only been sent to warn those who profess belief in the One God, and not anyone else. This means a transgressor is anyone who has sworn allegiance to Yahweh (Jews and Christians), expecting the reward of Heaven for simply believing in that God, but who have laid down with the non-believers, going against the Laws of Moses, the rules of Jesus of Nazareth, and the code of conduct that makes one truly a priest to the One God. Such acts by other sons and daughters of humanity do not constitute breaking those laws and covenants, because they serve the gods of the world – the gods of money, sexual stimulation, war, artificial means of transcendence, and any other worship of the physical, rather than the Spiritual.

This reading then focuses less on being sent into the world to right all the wrongs, as God told Ezekiel, “Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.” This says one who refuses to hear will still know that a prophet of Yahweh has come into the world simply because he or she stands among those who wallow in emotional instability. If one wants to hear what a prophet has to say, then that one will rise to ask questions, like, “What has the LORD said to you?”

This means a ministry today is no different than ministry was for Joshua or Ezekiel, as they had to rise above the level of being sons of man, mere mortals, so they could hear God speak. A minister has put oneself in a position so that the Spirit can enter one’s being and strengthen one’s upright position. Once standing, a minister can hear the voice of God speaking words that explain the meaning of Scripture. A minister then radiates the joy of that enlightenment, so the others of mankind can know that God has come near.

When we read in Ezekiel today, we can apply ancient words to today’s reality. We can see how this Scripture can state: “[God] said to me, [son of man], I am sending you to the people of [faith in the One God], to a [religion] of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day.” What was truth then is still truth today. Jews who have rejected Jesus as their promised Christ are doing nothing more than pretending to obey the Law are transgressors to this day. Christians who have entered the churches as political activists and apologists for sins against the Law are transgressors to this day.

The Hebrew word “pasha,” which translates as “transgressed” and “rebelled,” also infers “to break away (from just authority).” This means the plethora of denominations and sects of Judaism and Christianity, evolving over the millennia, are by definition “transgressors” of the true purpose of one’s original faith in God. Thus, ministers are sent by God for the purpose of replacing the lost with those found, as beacons that others can see.

This makes a minister be an example of the truth, so those who have fallen, like God came and spoke directly to Cain.  God speaks through His prophets indirectly, so they speak as symbols.  Thus, a minister can make it known that it is possible to do what is right by example, rather than words. The sight of a risen prophet shows the world it is possible to rule over sin, rather than have sin rule over a mere mortal.

Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 – Becoming the King of Israel

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inwards. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

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This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 9. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in a church by a reader, on Sunday July 8, 2018. It is important as it points out how the Israelites admitted their mistake in choosing a king that was not anointed by God, beginning a new forty-year period under a recognized a true judge.

In this reading, the most significant statement it contains is: “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” This is significant because this is the only statement that says anything about David’s age.

While we read on the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, “Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep,” we know David was the youngest son of Jesse.  On the fifth Sunday after Pentecost [optional selection] we read, “Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy,” we can be confused when some translations change “young boy” into “young man.”  An Internet search of “How old was David when he killed Goliath?” returns a common sense that he was “about sixteen.”

In reality, we do not know how old David was when he was anointed by Samuel.  Thus, we do not know how old he was when he slew Goliath. There is nothing written in 1 Samuel that states how much time elapsed between David’s anointment by Samuel and when he was sent by Jesse to take food to his brothers, who were sent to fight against the Philistines and Goliath.  David could have been anointed at age ten (a Numerological 1 [1 + 0 = 1]).  The number one indicates new beginnings.  David could have killed Goliath when he was twelve (a Numerological 3 [1 + 2 = 3]).  The number three is symbolic of a significant initial completion.

Last Sunday [the sixth Sunday after Pentecost], we read [optional selection] of David being told of Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths, to which he wrote a song and had it placed in the Book of Jashar. At that time, David was in Ziklag. No indication was made that David was a king then; but now we read, “All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron,” and “All the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron.” Here is a map of those locations:

In my interpretation of the sixth Sunday after Pentecost reading option, I mentioned that Saul and three of his sons were killed at the battle of Mount Gilboa, with their mutilated bodies disgracefully hung at a holy place in Beth Shan. Allies of Saul, from Jabesh Gilead, reacted to that desecration and recovered the bodies, burned them, and then buried the remains properly. At the time of that defeat of Saul, David was avenging the sack of Ziklag by the Amakelites (Arabian nomads), who took all of the wives there.  The King of Gath had given David Ziklag, but the Amakelites  destroyed the city while David and his men were making raids.  As the spoils, the Amakelites took all the women of Ziklag, which were the wives of David and his six hundred soldiers (Judeans). This implies that David might have been treated like the King of Judah, only not based in Hebron, but he was not made King of Judah until after Saul’s death.  Judah remained loyal to David, rather than be ruled by Saul’s heir, Ish-Bosheth.

The statement that “David was thirty years old when he began to reign” allows one to be able to time this change with the reign of Saul and his son Ish-Bosheth. Saul reigned for 42 years; and after his death, Ish- Bosheth reigned for two years, before he was murdered. Because the three other sons of Saul died along with him at the battle of Mount Gilboa, the murder of Ish-Bosheth ended the line of Saul. Since there were no other issue to whom the reign of Israel could be given, the elders of Israel sought David.

When one knows that from the time the elders went to Samuel and asked for a king, “to be like other nations,” forty-four years elapsed and David was only thirty years of age. This means that Saul reigned over Israel fourteen years before David was born. Because we are told that Ish-Bosheth was forty years of age when he took over rule of Israel following his father’s death (2 Samuel 2:10), one can assume that he was Saul’s first-born male heir (born in the second year of Saul’s reign), with Jonathan his last born son. Jonathan would then have been born three or four years before David’s birth, which would have made him fifteen or sixteen when David was ‘adopted’ by Saul, assuming David killed Goliath when he was age twelve. That closeness in age would explain the bond that took place between Jonathan and David. Jonathan saw David as his younger brother, whom he had to protect.

When we read the Hebrew word “na-‘ar” in 1 Samuel 17:33, which was when David said he would respond to the challenge of Goliath, but Saul refused, saying, “For you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth,” the meaning is “boy, lad, youth, or child.” The implication is that David was not a mature male.  He was biologically incapable of reproduction. While the word means “male child,” one that has not yet reached a level of maturity that would change his status from boy to young man, this says that David was under the age of thirteen when he faced Goliath.  The teen years generally signify when boys physically change from innocent males to fertile young men.  A Jewish bar mitzvah is when a male turns thirteen.

In 1 Samuel 18:2 we read, “Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house,” which occurred when the souls of David and Jonathan bonded as brothers. Between that ‘adoption’ at age twelve, until we read, “So it came about at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David” (1 Samuel 18:19), four years’ time had passed and David had turned sixteen. With this sense of timing, when we later read, “So Saul gave him Michal his daughter for a wife,” (1 Samuel 18:27c) David was probably seventeen by then, having led men into battle to kill two hundred Philistines in order to pay the dowry (100 foreskins of Philistines).

It was at this age that David was banished from Saul’s house, causing him to go into exile. From the age of seventeen to twenty-eight (eleven – twelve years), David eluded Saul, fought for the Philistine king in Gath, spared Saul’s life twice, and was given the ‘border town’ Ziklag (between Philistia and Judah), because he had assisted the Philistines so they could war with Saul. Saul died when David was twenty-eight and David heard that news in Ziklag.

When this reading selection says, “At Hebron [David] reigned over Judah seven years and six months,” the six months were prior to Ish-Bosheth being murdered. That means David was named the King of Judah a year and a half after Saul died. This is stated at the beginning of 2 Samuel, where verse one says, “Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” So David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” That means David was twenty-nine and a half years of age when he first became King of Judah, and when he became King of all Israel he was thirty.

When we then see this timing element, it is understandable to see that David reigned as king in Hebron after the elders visited his and asked him to be the King of Israel – all the twelve tribes. He remained in Hebron as King of Israel for seven more years, before he moved to Jerusalem. That move required David lead soldiers to defeat the Jebusites of Jebus, whose stronghold had existed since the days of Genesis, when the place was called Salem. Joshua could not overthrow that stronghold, so they lived among the Benjaminites. David, however, “captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David,” (2 Samuel 5:7) which was held by Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6). David renamed the fortress the City of David and then built the city of Jerusalem around it.

When we read, “David built the city all around from the Millo inwards,” the Hebrew word “ham-mil-lō-w” is given proper name status in translation as “Millo.” The lower-case spelling, as “millo,” refers to “earthwork, mound, rampart or terrace,” with the website Abarim Publications stating the name meaning of “Millo” comes from the verb, “to be full or be filled.” Still, no one is sure what the word truly means, making its presence in this verse confusing.

In my mind, as a reason why Joshua could not defeat the Jebusites was there was more than a stronghold carved into the natural rock slope of Mount Zion. The elevations of Jerusalem are generally lower than the heights of the surrounding mountains (Mount Scopus – 2,710’, Mount Olivet – 2,710’, and the Mount of Corruption – 2,451’).   Because Mount Zion (place of the City of David) has an elevation of 2,510’ and Mount Moriah (where Solomon would build his temple) is at 2,520’, a fortress built on lower ground is strategically difficult to defend. The Romans would later demonstrate the advantage of controlling higher ground, as Jerusalem’s walls were easily overcome by catapults situated on the surrounding higher mountains (Mount Scorpus in particular).  This military weakness makes the millo a significant asset that David would discover and utilize.

One way of reading “millo” is as a “natural rock formation,” which was then further enhanced by man-made construction that built what was natural into a purposeful fortress or stronghold. Still, that rock wall has to be realized as an outward barrier that poses problems to those unwanted. The “inward” (“wā-ḇā-yə-ṯāh.“) building is then not what buildings were raised behind that enhanced natural barrier, but those within the rock itself.  The Hebrew word bayith” means “beneath,  below, armory, tomb, and turned inwards, as well as indicating “a shelter for animals” (where stables were usually natural caves).

This means the digging out of natural caves, which created man-made tunnels within the rock. It is well known that an ancient tunnel acted as an aqueduct, where water was a necessity for soldiers defending a citadel.  As a “millo” is sometimes read as “a storage place,” such as an armory, tunnels could be used to “fill” them, so tunnels could store food, arms, and people.  With the entrances sealed or covered, attacking enemies could not find those in hiding. The tunnels could also provide escape passages, as well as traps for those not familiar with their design and purpose.

This was a pre-existing asset in Jebus, which David discovered when he and his men conquered Jubus.  Once discovered, David utilized the engineering of the Jebusites in the building of Jerusalem; and Solomon would further utilize tunnels in the building of the Temple of Solomon. This means “Millo” is stated as an important characteristic of Jerusalem, both ancient and still today.

As a reading option for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to the LORD should be underway, one should see this reading personally. The elders of Israel should be seen as one’s body (“Look, we are your bone and flesh.”) being in need to be ruled divinely. The reign of Saul means a body ruled by all the fears and anxieties of trying to stand strong in a world that is a never-ending challenge, offering one battle after another.

Saul overcome by evil gods.

The death of Saul means oneself has reached a point of decision, where the ego (the elders) has surrendered to God. When you want God to become your King, then you become Jesus Christ, as the root from Jesse that was David.

To reach that state of commitment, one has to have done some things good and been rewarded. The self has “led out [one’s body] and brought it in” to the cheers and admiration of others. One knows what is right and good, but one has bowed down to the gods of evil (“elohim rū·aḥ”) on many occasions, because they say, “Serve self, not God,” which is so much easier to do. Leading a parade of warriors, like David, or leading a band of disciples, like Jesus, is so hard to do, as it requires special talents. It is the talent Saul lacked, which is what all righteous leaders have. One has to commit to marriage to God, so He sits on the throne of one’s heart, commanding the brain that sits at the head of the body.

The palace of self is where one has ruled and is where one has become comfortable, but God will call the self to seek Jerusalem within, the City of Jesus Christ. Hebron can be seen as one’s church, where one becomes active as a leader, but one needs to conquer the Holy City of Jebus and make oneself a fortress that serves the One God above. In that development, one will take the natural formations that exist and strengthen them inwardly. New paths will open before oneself, which one needs to fortify and dig deeper to explore where God wants one to develop.

Three times ten represents the potential for a higher level of basic three: God’s love, devotion to righteousness, and spiritual union.

Both David and Jesus began their official ministry at the age of thirty, but that is not the physical age requirement for ministry to the LORD. Thirty is three times ten, which is a higher level three Numerologically (as 3 + 0 = 3), the number of the Trinity. The symbolism says that one has to be more than a son (or daughter) of a man (a basic 3). One needs to become King of Self (a third ten) as Jesus Christ the King reborn.  As Christ resurrected within a body, the Son is resurrected, with the soul cleansed by the Holy Spirit, while the presence of God is in one’s heart. When that perfection is complete, then one has turned a “holy thirty.”

Ministry to the LORD means one develops as David reborn on earth, as Jesus Christ resurrected. It means being the Good Shepherd for the people in one’s life.  When that reign begins, “Oneself becomes greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts.” That greatness is because the same God that “was with [David]” is with one married to the LORD.

Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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Mark 5:21-43 – Your faith has saved you

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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This is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 8. This will next be read aloud in church by a priest on Sunday, July 1, 2018. It is important because it tells how faith is the power that heals, in more ways than one.

In this Gospel reading selection there are two healings. One is planned and one seems accidental. One is the daughter of a named man, Jairus, and the other is an unnamed woman. One character is a leader of the synagogue, while the other is a follower in the crowd. This contrast shows that faith is the common denominator linking both healings, not one’s position or standing in the world.

In other readings prior, the stories have mentioned Jesus traveling by boat across the Sea of Galilee. We read here that “Jesus had crossed again,” which means “the other side” was across from Capernaum. While it does not state the day of the week this travel by boat occurred, it becomes likely that Jesus, as a rabbi or teacher, set up his synagogue to be not a building, but the grassy land by the sea. This would accommodate Sabbath services, without conflict, if Jesus welcomed gatherings regularly when travel was permitted.  In an open space Jesus could teach the meaning of the written text (from divine memory) and address the meaning with the crowd of Jewish followers, who would not be intimidated to speak by Pharisees and envoys of the Temple.

By looking at this map above, which lists the places of harbors and anchorages of ancient Roman times, and realizing the need for a harbor to dock a large fishing boat of the type in which Jesus traveled, one can then see how Jesus chose a site of meeting that was not in Galilee. In the map above, one sees the land along the sea was in Gaulantios or Gaulanitis. That land was under the tetrarchy of Philip (Herod Philip II), the half-brother of Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee and Perea. Samaria and Judea (to the south) were under the governorship of Pilate. Further to the south where Jesus sailed, Hippos was one of the ten autonomous cities in the region known as Decapolis. This means Jesus sought a place that was not where the Romans were openly persecuting the Jews and where the Temple in Jerusalem had little influence.

The element of Jewish cities can be seen in the listing of Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Magdala as places where synagogues would have naturally been. This map below shows how Bethsaida becomes the likeliest place from where Jairus would have been a leader of a synagogue. The crowd of people would have known where Jesus would preach, so they would have left from Capernaum, traveling through Bethsaida, where others would join the trek.   The distance from Capernaum to Bethsaida about 6 miles, and it was about that much distance from Bethsaida to the place of meeting (near a harbor). These distances would indicate Jesus met to preach on days other than the Sabbath, which could indicate Sunday sermons; and Jairus could have easily made it there in time to bring Jesus back quickly (within 4 hours total).

When we read that Jairus was “a leader of the synagogue,” it is important to know what that means. According to the meaning associated with the Greek word “archisynagōgōn” (“rulers of synagogue,” in the plural number), Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says of “archisunagógos”, “It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.” This means that Jairus had previously chosen Jesus as the teacher for Sabbath service.

Because we know that Simon-Peter, his brother Andrew, and Philip were disciples of Jesus from Bethsaida, it makes sense that Jairus was an elder of their synagogue. Jairus knew the healing power of Jesus from having witnessed it, perhaps when Jesus told the man with a withered hand to “stretch out your hand.” All of this would explain how Jairus knew where to go find Jesus, when his focus was on the health of his daughter.

It is also important to know the meaning of the name Jairus, as named characters in the Gospels are not to have their name’s meaning overlooked. According to the Abarim Publications website, “Jairus” means: “He Enlightens, One Giving Light, He Will Diffuse Light, He Will Enlighten.” This meaning can imply “Jehovah Enlightens,” although there is nothing in the lettering of the name that states “Jehovah.” The name’s meaning is rooted in the Hebrew verb “jair” (אור), which means, “To be light, to give light, to shine.”

This name meaning should then be applied to the character of Jairus, as it shows he was a man who appreciated the truth of the sacred Hebrew texts and sought to shine the light of that truth onto the members of the synagogue he oversaw. He, therefore, recognized the truth and light that Jesus brought into the world, which led him to believe in Jesus as having been sent from God.  Because Jairus sought out Jesus at a time of utmost need, one should assume that Jesus and Jairus had a good working relationship.

When we read how Jairus came to Jesus and “fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live,” this was a plea from a trusting friend and associate, more than being a demand or test from an elder prostrating himself before one who proposing to be holy. While some Pharisees would scorn Jesus by demanding he prove his piety, even under the pretense of trying to trick Jesus, this plea by Jairus shows sincerity.  That emotional plea for help was made from the heart of Jairus, for love of his little daughter and faith in God that he would be led to the true Son of God for salvation.

This should then be seen as why Jesus dropped everything relative to addressing a crowd of nameless Jews and went with Jairus. He went to save his little daughter for the glory of God. God enlightened Jairus to seek Jesus, so God could be proved through the Son.  God likewise enlightened Jesus that this was an important call in his ministry.

As Jesus left to follow Jairus home, the crowd did not know why Jesus was leaving the meeting site, so they pressed in close to follow him. This is where the story exposes a woman who is among the crowd. We are told that she “had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.”

The Greek wording, “rhysei haimatos,” says, “a flux [or flow] of blood,” which should be understood as a continual state of menstruation. While not stated, it should be assumed that the woman did not have normal periods upon her maturation from childhood and then began to have feminine problems. I do not see this as a problem experienced by an older woman.  Instead, I feel that she went from childhood’s immaturity to a state that transformed her at puberty.

This naturally occurs around the age of twelve in girls (give or take), so the timing of twelve years means she has not stopped hemorrhaging since she her first period began, meaning she was then twenty-four years of age; and had suffered for as long as she was a child, prior to becoming mature.  I sense this because the number of twelve years is stated twice in this reading, which makes that number significant.

The cycle of Jupiter is twelve years. It is thus a period of time that reflects the growth and development of human beings.  Jupiter is also the ruler of religion (the Archer) and faith (the Fish).

One has to grasp how a Jewish woman is deemed to be unclean when she has her period, such that she is banned from the synagogue until her period is over and she has completed the ritual cleansing. This means this particular young woman had been forbidden from partaking of any official lessons and rites other Jews were allowed to attend, and she was unable to be presented as a wife for a husband. She could not have children, making her barren. Her dowry had been spent on doctors who could prescribe nothing to correct her problem, and most likely her family had forced her out on her own, as a rejection of a daughter that had somehow sinned and was being punished by God. By seeing this state of being, it becomes her faith that sought a miracle cure, because she remembered the days of her childhood and the joy she felt being a chosen child of God. Her love of God then drew her to find Jesus.

It should then be realized that this woman’s having been banned from the synagogues, due to being unclean, also forbade her from having contact with a clean Jew. Because her bleeding was contained and mostly secret, she could join with a crowd and be unnoticed. Contact with others who had hidden sins and covered abnormalities made her one more in the crowd of the great unwashed. However, he unclean state forbid her, by Jewish law, from touching one of clean status, especially one who was a teacher of the Jews; but touching the hem of Jesus’ garment was her way around that rule.

We then read, “She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” This says that the woman had placed her faith in doctors, giving all the money she had, but her condition had only worsened. She had never seen Jesus before, only hearing others talk about his words and deeds. Her faith led her to believe Jesus was the one sent by God to save her, so she would not directly come and prostrate herself before the feet of Jesus, pleading her case while being unclean. Instead, she would come from behind, hidden in the crowd, and secretly touch one of the knotted fringes of his prayer shawl [Tallit] or his robe or tunic. His body would not be made unclean by personal contact.

When she did this, “Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” The Greek word “euthys” means, “immediately, soon, at once, shortly, straightway, directly and forthwith.” There was healing the instant the woman touched Jesus’ outer garment. At that same moment that the woman knew she was healed, Jesus was “immediately aware that power had gone forth from him,” as the same Greek word “euthys” is again written. The woman “felt in her body that she was healed” at the same time Jesus was “aware that power had gone forth,” causing one to be healed.

Knowing “immediately” means Jesus did not have the foresight to heal.  Healing happened with the woman knowing more than Jesus.  The two were instantly joined through faith.  It was that connection that was made between Jesus and the woman that was her touching God with her faith, such that Jesus felt that touch when the power of God passed through him to the woman. Jesus did not know who the power had touched, but he wanted to know who was in the crowd following him that had such faith in God. Therefore, Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  He asked that question as if he had sensory organs sewn into the fabric of his clothing.

When we read of the disciples replying to Jesus’ question, saying, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” that meant there was plenty of incidental contact present. That meant Jesus was probably closely surrounded by his disciples, as they cleared a path for him to travel, meaning it was quite probable that one of them had touched Jesus, if not once, then multiple times. If not them, then any number of people in the crowd could have touched Jesus out of their admiration.

Still, Jesus knew there was one whose touch caused God to reward their faith. So, Jesus “looked all around to see who had done it.” His inability to see who it was means Jesus was not the one who purposefully sent out healing power from his being.

We then read that “the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.” In this statement, we have a parallel positioning made before Jesus that was made by Jairus. Jairus had done that as a clean Jew, begging Jesus to come save his little daughter. The woman then did it also as a cleaned Jew, whose body had been cleansed by the power of the water that is the Holy Spirit. More than being ritually cleaned, she had been filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, when Jesus heard her tell “the whole truth,” he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease,” which was a blessing spoken to the woman by God, through His Son.

When Jesus addressed the woman as “Thygatēr,” “Daughter,” where the capitalization should not be discounted as being merely to denote the first word of a statement, the woman had just been made a Saint. A “Daughter” is then the equivalent to a “Son,” which Jesus of Nazareth was, in relationship to God the Father. The woman had just been announced as one with the same faith as Jesus. The use of the Greek word “sesōken,” translated as “has made you well,” more importantly says, “has saved you, has preserved you, has rescued you,” in more ways than simply being “healed” of a physical disease causing hemorrhaging. She was then sent out into the world with the “peace” of righteousness, which she would spread to all she would come in contact with in the future.

Still, while this title of “Daughter” was bestowed by Jesus to a woman who had been mature for at least twelve years, the dual meaning relates that woman with the “little daughter” of Jairus, who was near death and in need of Jesus’ help. We are told that Jairus’ daughter was twelve years of age, which means as long as she had been alive the woman just saved had been hemorrhaging. Add to that the possibility that the woman began her torment when she too was twelve years of age, then she becomes a reflection of Jairus’ “little daughter.” Both had neared death when they reached puberty.

Like the doctors that took all of the woman’s money, rewarding themselves for her troubles, while giving nothing of value to her in return, Jesus reached Jairus’ house and found the daughter surrounded by people wailing and causing a commotion. While Jairus was a reflection of “enlightenment,” he was surrounded by those who would cloud that light. The people sent to him and who stayed at his home lacked faith. They went to tell Jairus, “Your daughter is dead.” They only saw one diagnosis with no cure.  They laughed at Jesus for being weak of mind.

On the other hand, when Jesus told Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe,” Jairus maintained his faith in Jesus. Thus, when the people in Jairus’ house to whom Jesus said, “The child is not dead but sleeping” laughed, they were told to leave. The clouds that blocked the light were dispersed.  The light of truth was clear to shine.

With the disbelievers away, we read that Jesus “took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.” Those who were with Jesus were his disciples Peter, and James and John of Zebedee. They loved Jesus and had faith in his works. Jairus and his wife loved their daughter and had faith in the works of Jesus as well. Surrounded by those drawn to the light of truth, Jesus took the girl “by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about.” The girl was only sleeping.

The use of the Greek word “euthys” again appears, such that there was an instant connection made between God and the daughter when the words uttered by Jesus touched her being (her soul’s presence). More than his laying on hands, Jesus spoke the Word of God that healed.

Just as Jesus would say when news reached him across the Jordan that Lazarus had fallen ill, Jesus had said, “Lazarus is only sleeping.” However, when Jesus returned to Bethany, where Lazarus had been dead and buried after four days, the touch of Jesus’ voice to Lazarus’ being, “Come out!” had the same effect. Lazarus also “got up and began to walk about.”  It was the Word that brought Lazarus back to life, just as it was the Word that raised Jairus’ daughter.

The symbolism of sleep-to-death and wake-to-life are seen again in this story. Death is a state of sleeping, whereas life is a state of wakefulness. The soul is the eternal spirit that gives life or death to a body. Life is more than a body that breathes air and death is more than a body that ceases to breathe air. The soul can only remain in a body of flesh that is capable of supporting human life. When the body has reached a point when a body is kept living, but not alive, the soul hovers near the body. This is a state of sleep, in a metaphysical sense. Should God restore the flesh to life, then the soul can return and a sleeping body (one said to have been dead) can again be alive. Therefore, when Jesus touched the hand of the little girl, her flesh was made whole and able to support life.

When Jesus said, “Get up!” speaking for the Father, the soul was rejoined with the rejuvenated body and she rose. This is a rebirth.

This awakening of the soul occurs in each reincarnation, where the Father tells a soul to be reborn anew. In one who has been eternally saved by the Father, the death of the body means the soul “Gets up!” in Heaven, leaving the body of flesh behind. Still, when this little girl got up after she had a body that was once no longer able to support life, just as when Lazarus rose from a longer death (when the ‘silver cord’ connecting the hovering soul to its body is severed after three days dead), and just as Jesus was resurrected after three days dead, she had been reborn for a Spiritual purpose in the worldly domain.

When we then read that Jesus “strictly ordered [the parents and his disciples] that no one should know this, and told [the parents] to give her something to eat,” this was because everyone present in that girl’s room knew she had risen from her deathbed. Jesus knew by the Mind of Christ that telling people, “Jesus raised my little daughter from death” would cause evil to raise its ugly head. A plot to kill Lazarus would surface after news spread that Jesus had raised him. The little daughter needed to be fed Spiritually by her parents to live for God – taught the Word sent by He Who Gives Light.  Therefore, Jairus and his wife and daughter were told to keep this truth within them; and all would do so, as all were made Saints by the presence of the Holy Spirit, which came upon them all due to their faith.

As a selected Gospel reading for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to the LORD should be underway, it becomes vital for one’s faith be as strong as was Jairus’ and the woman whose hemorrhaging had kept her faith from being a blessing for others for half her life. One who has faith desires to be in touch with God.  A minister to the LORD must know the value of having died of self, so one can be reborn as an extension of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The innocence of a child must be returned for one’s faith to be put to use.

We read the request of Jairus, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live,” and think Jesus had a healing touch that was a gift of God. However, we never see see how Jesus laid his hands on the woman who was healed. Jesus told her, “Your faith has made you well.” Jesus held the hand of Jairus’ daughter when she got up, but Jesus was not holding the hand of Lazarus when he came from his tomb. It was the voice of God that spoke, commanding their souls to act with faith. Without faith in the one seeking healing, having someone lay on their hands will have the same effect as going to a doctor: you spend all you have and get no better.

The real meaning of the request by Jairus, which was heard by God and known by Jesus, was, “Come and make my daughter be your hands on earth, so that she may be saved and alive with faith.” This is the prayer a minister has to make to God, when one offers him or herself to God as His bride (regardless of one’s human gender). We have to die of self so that our flesh can be renewed in the hands of Jesus Christ.  Jesus must lay his hands within ours, while we step aside as servants to God.

A ministry to the LORD then means that no matter how overcome with amazement one becomes, witnessing the miracles of God that occur around one, one is not to become boastful and proclaim, “Look here at what I have done!” A miracle is a private and personal matter. A miracle uplifts one’s faith.

Still, to God a miracle is just another day’s work done through one of His servants. People of faith simply “Go in peace” to serve the LORD.

Thanks be to God!

Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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2 Corinthians 8:7-15 – Eagerness to serve God

As you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,

“The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.”

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This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 8. This will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, July 1, 2018. It is important because Paul delves into the benefits of having received the Holy Spirit and become one with Jesus Christ.

In verse 7, the Greek word translated as “you excel” is “perisseuete.” The root verb, “perisseuó,” more readily states, “I exceed the ordinary (the necessary), abound, overflow; am left over,” which makes “excel” an acceptable substitute. However, “excel” can be read as a form of personal achievement, brought about by natural talents and a devotion to perfect one’s mastering of some desired action; but this personal achievement cannot be read into this word penned by Paul.

To read the intent as Paul stating to the Christians of Corinth as him stating, “You exceed the ordinary in everything,” the explanation is then the gifts that have been allowed them all by God. The level of “excellence” Paul knew the Corinthians displayed was the same as that coming from the talents that God gives to all His Apostles. Therefore, he could list them specifically as 1.) Faith; 2.) Speech; 3.) Knowledge; and 4.) Eagerness (as far as this translation allows one to see).

In the Greek written, the end of this list states, “and in the (ones)  from us to you  love  that also  in this the grace  you should abound.” The presence of marks of pause and reflection (commas) then makes it possible to add to the list: 5.) A brotherhood of Saints; 6.) God’s love; and 7.) The gift of the presence of Jesus Christ.

The Greek word written, “chariti” (like “charity”), means “grace, favor, kindness,” where its use in the New Testament implied such “grace” “as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness.” It is this “grace” or “favor” that binds one Apostle to all Apostles in the brotherhood of Jesus Christ, where all Apostles (males and females He made them) are reborn Sons of God. The unity that binds is God’s love, and this union is not from practice, desire, or aptitude that is achieved through personal will, as it is only possible as a gift of God. This list of Paul is, therefore, the rewards of one’s soul being married to God through the cleansing of the Holy Spirit, all of which is gained after the dowry of marriage has been paid in full –the sacrifice of one’s self will in obedience and submission to God’s Will.

The next verse does not state that Paul was “testing the genuineness of your love against the eagerness of others,” but instead Paul wrote from afar, with the personal experience of a true Christian. This means he admitted he was not commanding anything of the Corinthians, but simply stating some facts that become apparent through the Mind of Christ. This Mind knew the “eagerness” of all Apostles to please God.  As such, Paul was stating how he knew this love of God within the Christians of Corinth would prove itself as genuine, through their acceptance of new disciples, just as Paul had accepted them. Less than a “testing” by Paul, the presence of Jesus Christ within the Corinthians would be “proving the genuineness of their love” to others.

Paul then stated, “You know indeed the grace of the Lord of us Jesus Christ,” which stated the Christians of Corinth, just like the Christian Paul and his Apostle companions, knew the presence of Jesus Christ was one with their beings, due to “the grace” (“charin”) Jesus Christ brought them as their personal “Lord.” That presence is sent upon all of God’s lovers in marriage, because God will accept no less than perfection in His brides (males and females He marries His brides). That presence of Jesus Christ as the Lord of an Apostle is “for the sake of them,” due to their human actions of devotion and commitment to God.

When we read the translation above that says, “That though [Jesus Christ] was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,” the meaning is an Apostle, as a human being, is impoverished by sin. To cleanse a soul of sin, one must sacrifice the self-ego, which then leaves a human body with only a soul. The riches of the world have been turned aside, placing one into a vow of poverty. This is the dowry a human being must make in order to accept the proposal of marriage with God. Therefore, when one has become poor, then Jesus Christ comes from the richness of Heaven, entering the soul of the cleansed.

When Paul then finished this thought by writing, “so that by [Jesus Christ’s] poverty you might become rich,” this says that the coming of Jesus Christ within one’s being is so one can “become rich.” These riches are not measured in material means, but in Spiritual gifts: faith, speech, knowledge, eagerness, brotherhood, love, and the presence of Jesus Christ as one’s identity.

Still, Paul added his advice to the Corinthians, about this presence of Jesus Christ within, and how their vows of poverty could be “profitable for you” (“hymin sympherei”). The translation above – “for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something” – misses the point Paul made about “thelein,” which is a direct statement about the sacrifice made a year ago, which was that of personal “will, wish, desire, intend, and design.” Instead of Paul referencing the Corinthians’ “desire to do something,” as if he made a suggestion to rekindle their personal egos, but he instead advised they “now finish doing it.” The Greek word written, “epitelesate,” means Paul recommended the Corinthians “complete, accomplish, and/or perfect” their submission to God’s Will.

Paul then explained this “completion” by writing, “so even as there was readiness to the will [of God to submit to], so also the [readiness] to complete.” He then continued by saying, “if indeed the readiness is present, as if he might have acceptable, not as not he does not have.” The translation above says this as, “For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have.” The meaning is to submit completely to the Will of God, without question and without any personal desire for more gifts of God, seemingly brought on by the eagerness to serve God, but in reality as a personal quest to be ranking higher among the men of God. A total commitment does not keep up with what other talents other Apostles possess. A total commitment to God releases all personal desires and accepts what God allows.

The translation above that states, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you,” the focus is on one feeling pains by not being able to help another, due to the limitations of God’s gifts bestowed. An Apostle is still feeling personal ego pains when they feel such pressure to perform as self, rather than as Jesus Christ reborn. The literal statement coming from the Greek words written by Paul say, “not indeed to others ease, but for you affliction; but of equality,” where “isotētos” means, “equality, equality of treatment, and fairness.” One still bearing the weight of self-ego is equal to the one who has yet to sacrifice his or hers, such that one is attracted to another for the purpose of seeing one’s shortcomings before God, more than being able to see one’s self as God on earth.

This makes the advice of Paul to the Corinthians to be a recommendation to further their commitment to God, rather than as a way to see the inequalities among the Apostles as a measurement of one’s piety before God. One must thank God for all His generosities and see His equal treatment of all His wives (males and females He takes human wives). Anything less than seeing this means more self-sacrifice is required.

This is the purpose behind Paul writing, as translated above, “it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.” This is then based on “the present time” (“en tō nyn”) of the epistle’s writing, which is always the “time” of relevance, where one’s personal “abundance” from God, to meet the needs of others, is always relative to the needs of others being to a reflection of one’s own needs, where the equality exposed is in how one retains the sins of the world, rather than release them through completion of sacrifice.

The issue of equality is then found in Paul quoting from Exodus 16:18, stating, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” This is relative to the gathering of manna that was sent by God and the instructions given to the Israelites by Moses. This quote by Paul is then reference to the surrounding story in Exodus 16, where we read:

———————————————————————–

“Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.”  (Exodus 16:15b-20)

———————————————————————-

This then becomes applicable to the talents and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as sent to God’s wives just as God sent manna to the Israelites.

Paul was recommending that the Apostles in Corinth see the value of being given the food of Jesus Christ, which is sent to be gathered in portions and measurements that equate to those who will be fed by it. All that comes through the Holy Spirit is to be used. None can be wasted. The only waste is found in those who still retain self-ego and seek more than needed.

As an epistle selection for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for God should be underway, this tells one the talents one should already possess: faith that peaks from personal experience in Jesus Christ; the ability to speak in tongues and explain Scripture; the knowledge that comes from the Christ Mind; the eagerness to serve God as Jesus Christ; the need for a brotherhood of Saints in a true Church of Christ; the love of God that confesses one’s soul has been married to God via the Holy Spirit; and the grace of having become Jesus Christ reborn from above. Those characteristics define all ministers of God, which deems them Apostles and Saints.

Still, this message tells all who have submitted to the Will of God not to retain even the slightest sense of self-worth, as all value one has comes from God. It is not up to oneself to determine what one needs, in order to serve others. One serves God, not others; so God will send you what you need and no more. This means a new minister for God still needs to search one’s soul for how one can give more to serve God.

In a ministry for the LORD, one will attract those who one should feed. The nourishment God gives is the Word of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures then act as the body of Christ and is the manna from Heaven. One gathers what is needed daily, with the day before the Sabbath being the only time more than one’s day’s food is necessary to gather. A minister to the LORD feeds those sent to him or her the meaning of God’s Word, until they are matured and can gather their own manna from Heaven.

A minister sees equality in the sins of the world, not in the talents of the Holy Spirit. This means one cannot pass judgment on sinners, as one is also a sinner without being married to God. Therefore, all who profess to point out sinners in the name of Jesus Christ are those who have gathered too much, with their words full of maggot and stinking to high hell.

A minister for the LORD sees the sins of the world reflected upon his or herself.  That sin is not to be condemned or one condemns one’s marriage to God and the rebirth of Jesus Christ.  One forgives the sins of others by repentance before God and Christ.  This makes ministry for the LORD the service of caring for other Apostles, so they do not mistakenly judge others wrongly.

Text copyright by Robert Tippett

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