Nehemiah’s Battle With Fear

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid–Nehemiah 2:1-2

 

 

 

 

 

Nehemiah wasn’t just “afraid”. Nehemiah wasn’t just “much afraid”. Nehemiah was VERY-MUCH-AFRAID! This emotional reaction of fear is a clue for us! This statement is packed with background information just waiting to be dug out for the purpose of revealing liberating truth. Let’s investigate!

“I was very much afraid”. Nehemiah was actually terrified, and I believe he was literally afraid for his very life! We will see that both his actions and words towards Artaxerxes had the potential to put his neck on the chopping block.

WHAT CAUSED NEHEMIAH TO BE SO SUDDENLY GRIPPED WITH FEAR?

1) Members of the King’s Court were expected to maintain a cheery disposition in the King’s presence. Anything less was not tolerated. In the Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, he states, “The exactions of Persian monarchs would not endure any independence of conduct in their presence. Everybody was expected to reflect the sunlight of the king’s majesty”. This was a line of conduct that you didn’t want to cross. It could result in a death sentence.

Here’s something even more interesting…

2) Years before, King Artaxerxes had received a letter about Jerusalem saying, you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates!”–Ezra 4:15-16

What was Artaxerxes response to this letter? Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order!”–Ezra 4:21. Artaxerxes clearly considered Jerusalem to be a rebel enemy (Ezra 4:19). By the order of Artaxerxes, the walls continued to lay in ruin. Therefore, Artaxerxes was responsible for the condition that Nehemiah was grieving over. Nehemiah’s grief could be viewed as being in direct opposition to the King, and seen as the actions of an enemy.

Now back to the story:

So, was Nehemiah now being called out by the King? When the King says, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart”, is he being compassionate? Maybe the King is worried that the wine is tainted and has had a negative effect on Nehemiah? Or is the King making a case that Nehemiah was breaking the rules? If the King was speaking in sympathetic tones, then why would Nehemiah be suddenly sore afraid if the tone was simply compassionate? You have to look at cause-and-effect. Nehemiah was “very much afraid”; so, it makes me wonder if the King was calling him out for looking depressed in his court and wants an answer.

The facts: Nehemiah was caught red-faced disobeying the rules of conduct in the court, and he was about to ask the King to overturn his previous decision about stopping the restoration of the walls. It was a double death sentence! Are you beginning to understand the dire circumstances that Nehemiah was facing? Are you beginning to catch the emotional strain of this situation? Are you beginning to see why he was VERY-MUCH-AFRAID? It may be good to stop reading for a moment and let it sink in.

BEING SORE AFRAID WAS NOT THE END OF THE STORY FOR NEHEMIAH!

Nehemiah was sorely afraid. Do you know what this means? It means that what Nehemiah did next was highly courageous!

“I was very much afraid, BUT I said to the king…”

Nehemiah does something so bold and courageous. I imagine Nehemiah emotionally calculated that he would likely die ( a sound reason for being sorely afraid), but steps out and does the unthinkable. He openly confesses his sorrow in spite of the rules of the court. He doesn’t hide it but decides to be real about his feelings, regardless of the outcome! He states openly that he is sad about the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Everyone knows that Artaxerxes let the walls stay in ruin, and Nehemiah is complaining directly to the King. Nehemiah is now expressing grief over a city that the King had written down as being a rebellious enemy! Please understand that Nehemiah speaks very respectfully, yet assertively. It is one of the gutsiest confrontations in the bible. Without God’s favor upon Nehemiah (which resulted in a trusted relationship with the King), the next words in scripture would probably be, “Off with his head”.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather requires fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of your fear.”– Michael Hyatt

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”–John Wayne

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”–Nelson Mandela

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along”–Eleanor Roosevelt

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”–King David of Israel

What was the direct result of Nehemiah’s courageous act? It lead to unbridled, unhindered, and massive provision. The most powerful man in the world at that time turned to Nehemiah and said these impactful, empowering words: WHAT WOULD YOU REQUEST?

Nehemiah just went from being “very much afraid” to winning the lottery! Nehemiah laid his very life on the line for the people of God in Jerusalem and came away with an abundant outcome. I reminds me of something that Jesus said:

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Posted in Bible, Nehemiah, Theology | Tagged , , ,

Nehemiah, Wine, And My Sin

I was cupbearer to the King. And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence.–Nehemiah 1:11b-2:1

Nehemiah was the cupbearer and his job required him to swallow enough Persian wine to determine whether or not it was poisoned. It was his tongue that was ultimately responsible to be discerning enough to prevent the king from incurring sickness, death, and to also insure that the King and his party would not receive an inferior or distasteful product. Make no mistake, the wine of the Persian Kings wasn’t watered-down grape juice.

Nehemiah was not a drunkard, but he wasn’t a teetotaler either. Does Nehemiah appear to abhor his job? Does it appear to bother his conscience? Did this prohibit him from leading God’s people? Did it appear to hinder his standing among the Jews? Did it bother God that Nehemiah drank wine? Did God stop Nehemiah from returning to this practice 12 years later?

Nehemiah would not be accepted for a leadership position in many of our churches today. As a young teen, I went to a church that viewed the drinking of any alcoholic beverage as being sinful. As a young man, I attended a church which frowned strongly upon alcoholic beverages. I went to a college and a seminary that forbid any alcoholic beverages. Most of my adult life, I attended churches that continued to follow this pattern. Sermons against those who partook of alcohol were often preached with a sense of disgust, fear, and loathsomeness.

I adopted the position of these institutions, and I developed a negative view towards the Nehemiah’s of God’s Kingdom. We teetotalers often viewed believers who sometimes drank as being “worldly” or prone to being carnal, or somehow less spiritual. We would say things like, “that brother loves the Lord, but he does like to keep beer in the fridge for occasions. Just thought you should know”. This type of religion kept me sober, but it also blinded me from being able to equally embrace the wine-drinking Nehemiah’s that served my God with a free heart.

For some, being a teetotaler is freedom from bondage. To this, I say amen and stick to it. For others like me, being a teetotaler was a sinful attitude. To this, I say woe is me.

One day I met a Southern Baptist pastor who asked me to have a beer with him. I was puzzled! We talked a long time about the scriptures that spoke for/against alcoholic beverages. We talked about scriptures that said do not look upon the wine when it is red, and how wine is a mocker. We talked about whether the wine of the Jews was mostly water, grape juice, or diluted wine. While we were at the bar, he was able to buy a man a drink and fervently witness to him. I was amazed. We prayed in the bar. He was reaching people with the Gospel. He had a discipleship group that met at the bar.

Through this pastor I was able to see other positive scriptures which instruct us to do the following,

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.– Ecclesiastes 9:7

The Psalmist recognized that it is God Himself who gives us a drink specifically designed to gladden the heart and affect the mood:

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.–Psalm 104:14-15

In God’s economy, wine was a blessing of restoration and not a curse:

I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.–Amos 9:14

I could not deny the scriptures. I had to repent from my evil attitude and ways. Self-righteousness is insidious and unable to be seen by the one who possesses it. My religious practice would have caused me to hesitate from freely receiving wedding wine that had miraculously changed from water. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would make an alcoholic beverage that could lead to drunkenness. That’s as stupid as believing that Jesus didn’t multiply bread and fish for fear that people would commit gluttony. Clearly, there was enough food leftover to commit gluttony. I’m sure that some overate. Food and wine are simply amoral agents. We are the abusers.

So how do we reconcile the scriptures which speak against wine with the scriptures which promote wine? We can learn by observing the differences in Samson and Paul concerning hair. Continue reading

Posted in Theology | Tagged , , , , ,

What Did Nehemiah Tell God 7 Times?

The full question is , “What unusual request did Nehemiah pray for God to do 7 times?” You are about to discover one of the strangest prayer habits in Scripture. Let’s begin!

In the previous posts we discussed that in Chapter 1, Nehemiah received devastating news that brought him into great sorrow. He wept, he fasted, and he prayed vigorously.

There are many great things that have been written about the Chapter 1 prayer, but the thing that really stood out to me this time was the fact that in verse 8 Nehemiah dares to ask a non-forgetful, always-mindful God to “remember”. I find it strange to think that anyone would need to ask a completely faithful God to remember. Further research into the Hebrew Interlinear Bible showed me that Nehemiah went beyond merely asking God to remember; he is actually begging God not to forget! I BESEECH THEE TO REMEMBER!

I beseech thee, remember the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, Ye will transgress, and I will scatter you abroad among the people.–Nehemiah 1:8

When the Thief on the Cross asked Jesus to “remember me”, he was asking Jesus to “include” him. That is NOT what is happening here! Nehemiah is not asking God to  simply”include”, he is pleading with God to not forget and turn away.

Nehemiah’s theology and beliefs about God may be very different than mine or yours. Do you think that it is a “stretch”to believe that a great prayer warrior like Nehemiah might truly entertain the idea that God may need reminding, and that God is somehow capable of forgetting and removing things from His thoughts? Then consider these words that Nehemiah took the time to write down.

Nehemiah 13:14–Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and DO NOT WIPE OUT my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

When he says “Remember” in the verse above, he is not passively asking God to simply take notice. He is not just asking God to “include me”. He is urgently asking God to not have this wiped out! The tone expressed is “Do not ever forget, and do not wipe it from your mind.” Again, do not make the mistake of passing over Nehemiah’s urgent plea as being poetic or just a figure of speech. Nehemiah is very serious about the need for asking God to be sure that He doesn’t forget!

Asking God to remember is Nehemiah’s #1 prayer habit. Nehemiah asks God to be certain to remember 5 more times! Nehemiah 5:19, Nehemiah 6:14, Nehemiah 13:22b, Nehemiah 13:29, Nehemiah 13:31. Altogether, that is 7 times that Nehemiah pleaded with God to remember and not forget. Someone joked with me and said, “If God acts forgetful, then this answers the question of why the New Testament says that you need to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. It also explains the parables of the Friend at Night and the Unjust Judge!”.

It may be easy to excuse this by saying something like, “Nehemiah didn’t really believe this way. He was just being real with his emotions and said things in the heat-of-the-moment.” The only problem is that Nehemiah didn’t just say these things…He wrote them down…later…and offered no explanations or corrections to his theology.

What can we learn from this?

1.Perfect theology is not a prerequisite for powerful prayer.

Nehemiah is not the only prayer warrior to misrepresent the character of God in his prayers. The Psalmist accuses God of sleeping and never backs away from it.

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.–Psalm 44:23

Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord.–Psalm 35:23

They actually sang, “Why do you sleep?”  The Psalmist was not rebuked for writing and singing such things.

It becomes much easier to conceive that Nehemiah  believed that God needed to be asked to remember, when you consider that the Psalmist accused God of needing to be awakened.

2. God was not offended that his servants either said or believed that He was sleeping, was possibly forgetful, or needed to be asked some things continually.

He is not offended that these statements or beliefs were written down. I think that maybe God prefers an honest, error-filled, heartfelt plea for help over a theologically practiced and memorized mumble.

God loved Nehemiah’s prayers! He wasn’t upset with Old Testament ignorance. Guess who has the longest prayer in the Bible? Nehemiah! You’ll find it in Nehemiah 9: 5-38.

3. We are often more offended than God is by incorrect theology.

What if the Psalmist or Nehemiah was our pastor today and began yelling in the pulpit, “Hey God, wake up! Why are you sleeping? Stop taking a nap and help us! Do you remember what you said? Do we need to keep asking, seeking, and knocking till you either remember or wake up?” That pastor would probably be voted out by the church board before the service was over.

We will break fellowship over differences in end-times doctrine. We will have church splits over whether we baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, or if we baptize in Jesus name. We can’t worship together if someone speaks in tongues and interprets, and we don’t.  We would vote out the Psalmist and Nehemiah over bad, outrageous theology while God made sure their prayers were included in scripture.

Summary: Once again, Nehemiah’s words have brought me comfort and enlightenment.

Posted in Nehemiah | Tagged , ,

Nehemiah And Jesus Wept (Chapter 1:4)

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven–Nehemiah 1:4

“Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”–John 11:34-36

Nehemiah wept. Jesus wept.

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Nehemiah means “Jehovah Comforts”. Jesus (Yeshua) means “The Lord is Salvation” or “Saviour”.

It can seem ironic that these men who were noted as being great comforters of others, should suffer such emotional affliction themselves. Yet, what may appear to others as weakness was actually the engine room of their strength.

People weep for different reasons, but all forms of non-chemically related sorrow come from one root. All sadness comes from identifying with a sense of loss. Now the actions you take once you have reached a place of emotionally identifying with a loss can determine whether you are weeping from a place of weakness, or from a place of strength.

These men were not weeping from a point of feeling helpless or weak, or feeling sorry for themselves. On the contrary, these men were weeping from a place of strength, of being able to carry the burdens of others, and feel the loss of those around them. These men weren’t wallowing in self-pity, but were weeping from a mindset of understanding the cause and depth of the pain, followed by a desire to rise, help, and heal others. Now Nehemiah may have initially felt crippling sorrow for his own loss, but at some point his sorrow was channeled towards positive action. Sadness can either be used to bring us into spiraling, grinding weakness, or deeply compassionate strength. Nehemiah and Jesus chose the path that leads to strength.

Nehemiah and Jesus were restorers. By their example, we see that the first step in restoration is being able to identify the loss and have a burden to do something about it.

What happened after these men wept, and took the road of compassionate strength? Nehemiah went forth and saved lives by having men place stones together (Neh. 6:15). Jesus went forth and saved a life and had men roll stones apart (John 11: 41-43). Can you see it? In either case, compassion moved boulders, and faith moved mountains! Compassion and faith work together.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He didn’t just weep, He was moved with emotion TWICE! Look at the second time: So Jesus, AGAIN being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.–John 11:38

What else did Jesus do? Look at the following verses: Continue reading

Posted in Nehemiah | Tagged , , , , ,

Defrosting Nehemiah Chapter 1:1

Nehemiah was having a bad day:

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, 2that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.”4When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days–Nehemiah 1:1-4

Look at those words: distress, reproach, broken, burned. Can you identify with that? This kind of reminds me of how I felt when I first returned to New Orleans to see my old school, college, church, and former home left in ruin by Hurricane Katrina. It can overwhelm you with emotion.

When we begin to read Nehemiah it can be easy to get caught up in observing what Hanani says, what Nehemiah does, and the grieving over the condition of Jerusalem. But we must not forget to ask this question: What was God doing?

Does the first verse give us a clue? Is there a mystery waiting to be searched and revealed? It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.–Proverbs 25:2. God enjoys creating mysteries, challenging us to think with parables, and concealing matters for us to search out. So, let’s start digging!

Nehemiah 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol

Nehemiah? Hachaliah? In the Hebrew culture, it was believed that names had meaning and prophetic implications. There was a sense where names were thought to be spiritually empowering. What could these strange names mean, and what message might they convey? Could God be saying something through them?

As we look in the Hebrew Dictionary, we find that Nehemiah means “Jehovah comforts”, and Hachaliah means “Jehovah enlightens”. Whether intended by Nehemiah or not, it is interesting that the meanings of these names in the first verse may appear to give us clues for the tone of the book.

Let’s look at the first verse again with the meanings of the names included.

Nehemiah 1:1 The words of Nehemiah (Jehovah Comforts) the son of Hachaliah (Jehovah Enlightens). Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol

What was Susa? Susa was the grand Winter Palace of Persian Kings. Look at the picture below and ask yourself this question: What lasted longer? Was it the Winter Palace, or the words of Nehemiah? The words of Nehemiah would outlast empires.

(The ruins of the Palace when it was first excavated)

It’s time to add everything up. When I look at the first verse, along with the names, their meanings, and the physical setting, everything begins to defrost and appear more clearly. I begin to see what God was doing. I think He inspired the parents to name their kids Hachaliah and Nehemiah in that time. As a result, the name “Nehemiah son of Hachaliah” carries a foretelling, a bearing, that a messenger of comfort and enlightenment would come through in the midst of despair.

We look at the verse and begin to see that in the midst of distress, reproach, brokenness, and burnout, the words of Jehovah through Nehemiah will bring “comfort” to those who are “enlightened” by them. That is indeed what happened!

Jehovah comforts those whom Jehovah enlightens! That is what the names appear to tell us. God will provide enlightenment and comfort in the midst of ruin. For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.–Psalm 18:28. God was not going to leave His people in darkness and ruin.

Jehovah comforts those whom Jehovah enlightens! That is a true statement!  As I read the book, I do indeed find the words of Nehemiah to bring comfort and enlightenment, and I hope you will too.

Posted in Nehemiah

Why Did God Want To Change King Solomon’s Name?

(I know that I had closed Defrosting Windows but I felt I needed to share this. We’ll see what happens.)

There is something very striking about Solomon’s birth to me. I wish we completely knew what caused God to feel the way He did about Baby Solomon. As far as I know, it is the one and only time in scripture that God looked at a newborn infant and said, “I love that baby”.  There is no greater adoration than to be adored by God. And in this case, God adored a baby!

And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved the child.–2 Samuel 12:24.

Wow, what a great way to start life. If God ever acted to demonstrate sovereign favoritism, then this would be such a case. If you don’t think that God’s declaration of love for this baby was a big deal, then consider this: God marked this occasion of His love for Baby Solomon by an event that had only occurred three other times before. God gave Solomon a new name! That’s a BIG deal.

and He sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah (which means “beloved of the LORD”), as the LORD had commanded.–2 Samuel 12:25

Look at those words again and let it sink in: that they should name him Jedidiah. They were supposed to do this!

In the Old Testament, a name change was a game change. When God gave a new name, it stuck.

  1. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham.

No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.–Genesis 17:5.

As a result of this name change, Abraham was able to grasp His God-given identity and fulfill God’s intentions for him. He went from being simply “father” to “father of many nations”. Identity matters.

2. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah.

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.–Genesis 17:15

As a result of this name change, Sarah was able to grasp her God-given identity and fulfill God’s intentions for her.  She went from being simply “my princess” to “absolute Princess over many”. Identity matters.

3. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.–Genesis 35:10

As a result of this name change, Israel was able to grasp his God-given identity and fulfill God’s intentions for him.  He went from being an undermining supplanter to “One who prevails with God”. Identity matters.

Solomon means “peace”,  similar to Shalom. True peace is a result of embracing grace. Throughout the New Testament the term “Grace and Peace” is employed many times. Grace always comes first and peace follows as a result. This alignment is no accident.

Like Abraham, Sarah, and Israel before him, Solomon was uniquely blessed with a name given by God. God gave him a new name of Jedidiah, but it appears that this name was not embraced in the way that the others before him had done. We know the new names Abraham, Sarah, and Israel, but did you readily recognize who Jedidiah was??? Probably not. The God-given identity of Jedidiah appears to have been sidelined and forgotten. It appears that perhaps this name was never used again in Solomon’s life. Instead of this becoming his new name and identity, it simply became relegated as a token memorial of his birth. Almost like a middle name…It’s there, but you don’t use it.

Did Solomon hold fast to God like Abraham, Sarah, and Israel before him? Unfortunately no.

As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.–1 Kings 11:4

How did this happen? Verse 2 gives us the tragic answer: Solomon held fast to them in love.

Do you see what happened? Held fast means to “cleave, attach, identify with”. Solomon lost his God-given identity of love  and began to love and identify with the ways of his wives and worshiped their Gods.

I wonder if Solomon’s life would have been different if the God-given, prophet-declared identity of Jedidiah had been utilized? Would a man who is continually reminded on a daily basis that he is Jedidiah, “The Beloved of God”, be so strongly drawn to seek out other loves and idolatry when he is made so aware of God’s love for him? Solomon had a peaceful reign (Solomon means peace). Yet, peace without fully embracing God’s love is like a lovely, tranquil- looking pond with no fish or life. This is vanity, and Solomon knew vanity.

Your identity in God is very important. The person who is continually reminded that they are a “New Creation in Christ Jesus, where old things have passed away, and all things have become new” is not as likely to be easily drawn to habitually embrace the old ways. The man who embraces and  is continually reminded on a daily basis that he is “the beloved of God”, is not so likely to seek out other loves as Solomon eventually did.

If you belong to Christ, then you are a new creation with a new identity. You are the beloved of God!

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you!–1 Thessalonians 1:4

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.–Colossians 3:12

Years ago, my wife went through a deep, severe battle with clinical depression. The right drugs with the right dosage were able to control the symptoms and bring the brain chemicals back into proper alignment. Yet, the entire ordeal had either revealed or had brought about a fractured identity. The psychiatrist prescribed scriptures for her to read, memorize, and speak to herself while looking in a mirror. In addition, myself and other significant people were picked to physically embrace her and remind her of these same truths daily that she was a beautiful, beloved child of God and that these other voices/feelings were lies. She could no longer rest merely on the identity of being a sinner saved by grace. She had to declare further scripture that she is a saint of the living God, more than a conqueror, and able to do all things through Christ who strengthens her. She had to know, experience, and abide in the reality that she was the beloved of God. She is restored and flourishing.

Embrace your identity in Christ and surround yourself with others who will remind you as well. God demonstrated His love for you that while you were a sinner, Christ died for you. Now that you are a saint, how much more readily are you able to embrace His love?

So was the name Jedidiah set aside forever? No, If you are in Christ, you are the Beloved of God. Read 1 John. The Bottom Line: YOU ARE JEDIDIAH. That’s right.  There is no greater adoration than to be adored by God. And in this case, God adores you! Declare today that YOU are Jedidiah, and don’t ever forget it.

Posted in Theology | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Did Jesus Consider Gentiles To Be His Kinsmen?

Why is this an important question? Because it seems that very few are asking this, and instead have turned a blind eye to this question and its consequences. In one set of circumstances, theologians answer “no”. But, given another set of circumstances, theologians answer “yes”. Yet, the Bible answers this question very clearly, as you will soon see.

If you do a Google search for Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer, you will find thousands of articles which state that Jesus Christ is the “Kinsman-Redeemer” of all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles. Although the Laws of Kinsman-Purchase in Lev. 25 state that those particular rules were to be carried out strictly among Jewish families, none of that seems to matter anymore. The Church only concerns itself with the laws of Kinsman-Purchase and puts both Jews and Gentiles under that one umbrella to the exclusion of the Gentile-Purchase rules. Because Ruth is a Gentile, they use that as justification for placing ALL Gentiles under Kinsman-Redeemer rules, forgetting that she had already been married into the Jewish family, making Boaz her Kinsman. So, no one pays attention to the laws of Gentile purchase/redemption. Today the Church is ignorant of the Old Testament scriptural basis for Gentile purchase/redemption. We have abandoned a huge portion of our spiritual identity. How is that justified?

After taking several weeks to pour over these many articles, I can sum up the position of most theologians by saying this: “By virtue of His humanity, we were all Jesus’ kinsmen when God sent Him in the flesh to save us”. They believe He became our Kinsman by the mere fact that He joined the human race. That is what most theologians believe. That is how they justify placing ALL of us under Kinsman rules. It sounds wonderful, except for one important question: Did Jesus consider Gentiles to be His Kinsmen?

Upon arrival, Jesus did not consider Gentiles to be “His own” people. He didn’t claim any kinship to Gentiles. When He arrived, they were not “His people”.

He came unto HIS OWN, and HIS OWN received Him not…But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

Who are the people that Jesus considered to be “His own”? It was his fellow Jews. They were His Kinsmen. They had already qualified as being God’s own possession (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 135:4). They were the chosen people. From Jesus point of view, the Jews were “His Own”, His Kinsmen. Gentiles could clearly become children of God AFTER receiving redemption, but they didn’t qualify as Kinfolk before. Only the Jews qualified as Kinsman.

Just like Jesus, The Apostle Paul (known as the Apostle to the Gentiles) also makes the clear distinction that his kinsmen are the Jews even though he was sent to the Gentiles.

For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh (NIV: Those of my own race)”.

Greet Herodion, my kinsman (NIV: my fellow Jew). Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.

Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen (NIV: my fellow Jews).

Jesus came unto “His own”. If we were ALL His Kinsman upon His arrival, as the stubborn theologians say, then why is there a distinction between those who were “His own”, and those who were not? If both Jews and Gentiles are all “His own” Kinsman by virtue of our humanity, then who are the others that are not “His own”? Little green men from Outer Space?

Why does the Bible make this distinction? Because Gentiles were not His Kinsmen or even the first priority of Jesus!!! Jesus defines “His own” by stating to whom He was primarily sent. Jesus told the Gentile woman, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. Do you think Jesus was lying or playing a trick? The woman insisted that Gentiles could get the leftovers, the bread crumbs. She was right, and Jesus was telling the truth!

Jesus clearly had a preference, an order in which groups of people were approached. He had kinsmen who took precedent. Jesus told the twelve disciples, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message”. We sometimes forget that even though “God so loved the world”, that there were distinctions of priority within that world.

Does that mean that Jesus completely excluded Gentiles and Samaritans at all times? No, not at all. Jesus took steps to deliver the message to the Samaritans. But even in doing so, He made it clear that things still originate first with the Jews. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “Salvation is of the Jews”. He said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. Theologians forget that Gentiles are not part of the original plant, but are grafted into the plant (Romans 11).

Jesus came first for the Jews. He came first unto “His own”. He came first for His own Kin, His fellow Jews. He came with a distinction of preference. How was the Gospel preached? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”–Romans 1:16. It is for the Jew first, Gentiles come second.

In what order will we be judged or rewarded? There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism. Did you read that? We think that having a preferred order or being part of a chosen race is favoritism…Clearly it isn’t. Continue reading

Posted in Theology