The New Cart

The New Cart

From worship to discernment of the Word, through and through, the modern American church has taken God’s perfectly designed plan and exchanged it for its own. We have exchanged Abel’s good sacrifice for Cain’s. We are in the process of giving our birthright away for a bowl of stew. Our spirits starve while we feed our bellies and we are dying inside and most of us don’t even know it. God is about to change all of this by shaking us awake. I don’t know how He is going to wake us up, but I know that He is working on us this very hour to get us to open our eyes. Behold, the modern church as portrayed by none other than the man after God’s own heart and the nation which followed him, King David:

“And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: and let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.” 1 Chronicles 13:1-4

A leader who follows Jesus Christ will indeed seek guidance and counsel from elders of the church and there is nothing wrong with that. God places us amidst those whom He so chooses and sometimes their purpose is to provide needed course adjustment in our lives. However, God does not want to be left out of the picture. He may choose to use those nearest to us, but He will never place their relationship with us over His own. He wants to be our dearest and closest friend and confidant. He is our Creator God, Who created us to praise Him, to worship Him, to honor Him, and to fellowship with Him.

He is very much so a jealous God, and His greatest desire for each of us, after salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, is that we will speak with Him and listen to His still small Voice. We must, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, come to the Lord with all of our requests even how we do church. (Philippians 4:6-7). Though David acknowledged things should be of God, he did not enquire God directly to ask if whether this endeavor was of Him.

Notice with me in the passage so far two things.

1. King David consulted all of the leaders of Israel, but did not consult the priests and Levites while making this plan. They were sent for afterward.

2. To all those who were consulted, and including David himself, this decision was right in their own eyes.

Spiritually ignorant, they moved forward in what looked right to them. This is exactly what the majority of the American church is doing today. Most people are so Biblically unlearned that they have no idea that they are being misled in just about every aspect of their church experience. This is to include the “ordained of man” masses of leaders, pastors, preachers, and teachers who have learned from others who were misled how to grow their church and have made it a game of numbers and finance without discerning whether God is even in the building with them. They do right in their own eyes, which is to say, the eyes of the world, because they have exchanged the operation and movement of the Holy Spirit for business models and financial planning. The problem should be evident in that these churches actually do grow, and do so exponentially, but if we could see the spiritual side of things, we’d most likely see more tares than we would wheat among the members.

“So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.” 1 Chronicles 13:5-7

The Levites should have known they were the ones responsible for carrying the ark. It did not belong on a cart, new or otherwise. It especially was not to be moved by mere animals. Man was created by a holy God Whose holiness demands our respect and honor. It is man who is responsible for carrying the ark, and moreso, those men ordained by the holy and righteous God, the Levites. Moses had given them this charge long before King David chose to move the ark, and they should have spoken up because to carry that ark was a reserved honor, just as teaching and preaching the Word is today. Man does not ordain, God does. Yet, we see two men, whom were are not told whether or not they are of the tribe of Levi, driving the cart, completely unaware of the grave seriousness involved, and the Levites remained silent. We know they are there, for the scripture reads, “And David went up and ALL ISRAEL.” So, they either lost the knowledge of who they were and what their responsibility was or they lost the fear of the Lord in taking it seriously.

“And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.” 1 Chronicles 13:8-10

King David led this assembly. Look at the entirety of what was going on. They were dancing and singing and playing music to the best of the ability. They gave it everything that was within them to give, playing before the Lord, as they were moving the ark. This is what our modern worship looks like within the church. We bring out everything that we currently know and we mix in the things of this world. It is a very worldly based worship, akin to a concert. In a lot of churches, modern music, the same music that is played over our airwaves, is being brought in. The church leaders claim they are trying to reach the youth by drawing them in with the type of music they are attracted to outside of the church. In reality, there is not much difference at all between the church and the world when it comes to music.

It’s no wonder people have become disenchanted with Christianity. They don’t see a difference, and this truth is displayed in statistics that show the same rate of divorce in the church which is outside of the church. Children are growing up in the church and, as they enter adulthood, abandoning her in droves. The world says to believe its science over God’s Word and those who teach it are very convincing because, though we have brought the kids up in church, we are failing to lead them in how to follow the Spirit. The truth of the matter is that most of us are not following the Spirit ourselves, because we haven’t been taught how to either. And how can we lead if we cannot follow? For that matter, how can we follow without a God ordained leader? (Romans 10:14-16)

When people are not properly led, or when they do not properly follow the Word of God, they die. They die in spirit, because they are not living in spirit nor in Truth. Look at poor Uzza. Uzza can be both the church pastor and the church goer in this scenario. In either case, what did he do wrong that upset God so much? He mishandled the Word of God. He did so out of ignorance of how to handle the Word of God.

Okay, I know you are looking at the scripture again. You are thinking, he placed his hand on the ark, where am I getting that he mishandled the Word? To see this, we must understand what the ark is.

The ark of the covenant is called the ark of the covenant because within the ark is the book of the law which Moses therein placed. There is also the staff of Aaron and manna from their time in the wilderness. Each has its own purpose and meaning, but it’s that book of the law which we must look upon to see the Word of God. The law was given by God to Moses. God spoke to Moses. Those laws were what God said. Secondarily, the Old Testament is also referred to as the Law by Jewish scholars and by Saint Paul in the New Testament. If there is within the ark a book of the law and the Old Testament is called the Law; then, within the ark is the Old Testament, or the Word of God.

The Word of God is so vitally important, so holy and perfect, that God Himself would allow, only once a year, the high priest to come before Him where He would be found between the golden cherubim upon the ark within the holy of holies, His very Presence standing upon His own Word. Only the Word of Almighty God could be the firm foundation upon which everything holy and righteous, namely the only One True God Himself, could stand. Yes, Uzza mishandled the Word of Almighty God, the price for which, apparently, is death.

When the church and the church leaders are going down a good looking wrong road, they will ultimately come to a place where God will have had enough of trying to gently call His children back to the old paths. He will cause heavy trials of faith and tribulations in spirit to get His children to turn away from their wrong choices, and perhaps we will see more of the Body of Christ sick and dying physically. Look around. Don’t we already? How many of us have cancer? How many have addictions? How many struggle every day, without joy and victory in the small things? Where are the gifts of the Spirit in operation?

The leaders who are bringing the church down the wrong path seem oblivious to this truth. Their churches are filled with people who are struggling and starving in spirit but are too afraid to speak up and ask for help because everyone is wearing a mask to fit it. Ladies and gentlemen, the church is not for the perfect. There are none who are perfect anyway. (Rom 3:10 & 23)

The church is not a social club for the who’s who of Christianity. The church is a hospital for the sick. We all need healing. We all need help. We all are imperfect and in need of a righteous, holy Savior in our everyday lives, and though many have accepted Him for their salvation, most walk their own way and try to sanctify themselves apart from what God says and from what He, Jesus Christ, has already done.

Imagine the carnage that would have been left behind him, had David not stopped the parade to Jerusalem that day. When Uzza was struck down, imagine David ignoring it and continuing to dance down the lane, leading all Israel the wrong way. How many more would have touched the ark as the cart crossed the threshingfloor of Chidon and died? God takes very seriously the proper handling of His Word. Praise God that David saw his own error and knew he could no longer bring the ark in such a manner to Jerusalem!

“And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me? So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had.” 1 Chronicles 13:11-14

So many leaders are not following David’s example. They are not stopping to consider those whom they are leading, and many of us who are following blindly are falling by the wayside. The new cart upon which we’ve placed our faith to bring forth the Word to the church and the world is not a good cart. The way we’re going about it is all wrong. It’s not about the number of people in the seats every Sunday.

It’s about the number of people who are growing in their walk with God. It’s about their relationships with God and with those around them flourishing. God has a very specific plan. It is a very simple plan for us. Like sheep led to water, we are to go to the Cross for salvation. That same Cross brings us sanctification. It brings us blessing. It brings us victories over the world, the devil, and self. The Cross is the means by which God does everything. It always has been, since before the foundation of this world.

It is by grace we are saved, through faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Only grace can cover our mistakes and guide us to the right way, but we must come back to the Cross to continue to receive His grace. There is more than enough, but we must not forsake grace by the forsaking of the Cross.

We all should take a step back and sit down. We must rest from our own personal efforts and re-evaluate whether or not God is leading us in whatever we are doing or wherever we are going. We must ensure that wherever we walk, we are walking in the Spirit. If we are not, we must repent and turn back to God, to His Cross, and ask for new direction.

King David did this. The Bible says he went back and researched the right way to do things. He discovered that the Levites were the only ones charged with moving the ark. He discovered that even they were not to touch it, instead using staves to carry it upon their shoulders. David corrected the situation, and found favor once more with God. The ark was brought home, but it was handled with reverence in the process. Will we do the same?

May we humble ourselves this day, and truly seek the Lord. His will for us is plainly written in His Word for us to find. This is why He says, if we seek Him, we shall find Him. I pray we listen to Him and stop playing church in our own way, and go back to His Way.

It’s about Jesus Christ crucified and God’s mercy. It’s about our sin and our resulting need of His sacrifice because God is righteous and just, too. It’s about the Blood covering our sins and God’s grace to guide us, to strengthen us, and to move us in the direction He desires. It’s not about money or numbers. Jesus already told us that there would be few of us who would find the true Way. So, I pray, may we look upon our ways and consider whether they are of Him.

Heavenly Father, we thank you today for being righteous and holy, just and perfect, merciful and loving. In all of Who You are, we see Jesus. Thank You for sending Your Only Begotten Son to us to show us Your character displayed in human form that we may know You better and understand just what it means to be children of a living God. Praise be to Jesus for His perfect example and His perfect sacrifice on our behalf! Father God, may we seek Your Face and Your will for us in Your Word. Lord, may we follow in Your footsteps, in Your way, as difficult as it may be, and learn how to be more like You in all that we say and do. May we listen for Your still small Voice guiding us. May we follow the given Counselor’s urging to move toward You this day and each day hereafter. Give us ears to hear Your Spirit and eyes to see the path plainly before us. Wake us up from our deadened slumber and prod us once again to move toward the prize which is You. You Alone causes us to have faith, and You alone increases it within us. Thank You, Lord God, de Your mighty work within us. Thank you for the Cross. All the glory and honor and praise be Yours now and forever. Amen.

SDG

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The False Prophet

“…they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:” Acts 13:6

There is a good reason why the apostle Paul forewarned us of false prophets and ministers in the church. Not only did he witness such first hand, as in this passage, but it was something that had been happening since the garden.

Let us remember that the enemy of our souls was once an angel and, having been one, knows how to portray one brilliantly. The Devil will come after us, not usually in direct assault but, through guile and deceit. What better deceit exists than through the tares sown throughout the Body of Christ?

He simply took the Word of God from the very beginning and twisted it into something that sounds more attractive to our own ears. That is how this whole curse of Sin was initiated, through deceit.

It worked so well that the Old Testament is filled with prophets who “spoke for God,” and yet God says He never spoke such to them. Few and far between were the true prophets and they were not liked because they spoke out against the false teachers, saying what the Lord instructed them to say.

Bar-Jesus, or Elymus, was one such false prophet. It’s interesting that the Bible gives us the full description of who this guy was, that we might see what was really happening.

He was a sorcerer.

This means he was a magician, much like those which served Pharoah in Egypt. He was either using slight of hand or true magic given to him spiritually through the powers and principalities of evil. In any case, from the very onset, he was a deceiver, never really working in truth or reality, having to either lie or bring about things unnaturally. It must be noted that, just as the sorcerers in Pharoah’s court, sorcery works directly against the plans of God.

He was a false prophet.

To be deemed a false prophet, only one thing ever prophesied by an individual must come to pass in such a way as to prove the prophet wrong. This holds true even if the prophet explains it away through a secondary meaning to his original prophecy. If one thing spoken was a lie, everything else spoken is also considered a lie. Now, we aren’t given that particular wrong prophecy, or if there were more than one. All we are told is that he was a false prophet. So, anything he said was to be considered a lie.

He was a Jew.

Interesting throughout history just how many of God’s people have been turned to and swayed by darkness. God chose them, just as He chooses us today who choose to believe. Yet, they would fall for deception because of the promises of power, or position, or prize. This world is not our final destination and the treasures of this world will perish right along with it. When we pass on, it all stays here to rot. It’s disgusting how many of us so easily forget this. Jesus said,

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Since our treasure is where our heart focus is, it is easy to see that when a pastor, a preacher, teacher, or spiritual leader is focused on financial gain, their hearts are far from the Lord. If we are not following someone whose sole focus is Heaven, then we are not heading down the right road. It does not matter how well they speak. It does not matter how good we feel after we hear them. It does not matter if they have motivated us to do good deeds. There are plenty of worldly leaders and motivational speakers for that. What matters is, did they turn our attention to God? Did they inspire us to share our faith that others may come to know Jesus? Did they cause us to refocus on the finish line of Heaven?

If the Blood is not ever mentioned… if repentance and grace are not commonplace in their teaching… if the Cross is considered offensive and therefore eliminated… then, that person is leading down a wrong road of spiritual dryness and very possibly death. It’s that serious.

So, as a Jew, he would have known the scriptures. By the age of 13, he would have been able to recite them word for word by memory. There was no excuse for him not to know Who God is. Yet, he chose not to believe and instead used what he knew of God to benefit himself, with no regard or anyone else.

His name was Bar-Jesus.

This may very well be the nail in the man’s coffin. The Bible does not say whether or not he accepted Christ. However, Bar-Jesus can be translated to “Son of Jesus,” meaning he could have been claiming to be saved by name. We already know he was a deceiver, like his father, the Devil. But, could it be that he had infiltrated the ranks of Christianity as a tare, having heard of the Way before the arrival of Paul and Barnabas? If this were so, then that means he was using Christ Himself to do much of the deception. We can only theorize to this point, but Luke (by the Holy Spirit) felt it necessary to give us this information. He could have simply called the man Elymas, since he also gives us this name in the passage, but he did not. He gave us Bar-Jesus, letting us know the name by which this sorcerer was called. So, to me, this man was very much preaching a false Christ. Nothing much has changed in 2,000 years.

It is flat out awesome that Paul calls the man out. Paul tells him all of these hidden things about himself because Paul was led by the Spirit, and the Spirit caused a curse of blindness to come upon the man, that he could no longer lead by deceit, but instead searched for someone to lead him by the hand.

As a Holy Ghost baptized and filled, tongue talking, disciple of the One True God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, I am telling the church Body right now, look at Jesus. Does your church look like Him? Does your leadership point you consistently to Him? Is the focus on Him or on what the church does? If not, run. Run to a church that preaches Jesus Christ crucified. Run to a church that preaches Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever.

There are most definitely false prophets out there. It would not be a stretch to say that the majority of churches are deceived and deceiving. Jesus said,

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13&14

If few find the Way, how then can there be so many claiming Christ? Beware, friends. False prophets abound. Chase Christ and not men. Leave those who mislead to be dealt with by the Lord, and find true anointed leadership.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15

Consequences

“The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:

I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.

I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.

Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.

What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt Thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back. For the grave cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.

The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known Thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord.

Isaiah 38:9-20

King Hezekiah had been warned by God through the prophet that his days were ended and that he would die. Desiring life over death, the Bible says that Hezekiah wept sore and pleaded with God to spare him his life. This account is documented in the book of Isaiah, by the prophet himself, and in the book of II Kings. Both accounts support one another, fleshing out the story.

Hezekiah knew to whom he owed his life and his kingdom. According to his own words, when he prayed them allowed, he walked before the Lord in truth and with a perfect heart, having done good in God’s sight. Apparently, God agreed because He healed the king and blessed him with fifteen more years of life. God even gave him the choice of a sign to prove Himself, and then miraculously turned back the shadow of the dial of Ahaz (some sort of sun dial, apparently). It’s a beautiful account of the mercy of God upon His beloved children. Yet, there is more to the story.

In both accounts, the king of Babylon sent him letters when he heard Hezekiah was ill and had recovered. Hezekiah, after having been granted fifteen more years and being healed arrogantly walked Babylon’s emissaries through his entire household, showing them all of the riches held therein. Pride had swelled in the heart of the king. The sickness he had just experienced did nothing to humble him permanently.

How quickly do we do the very same thing in our own walk with the Lord? We experience trials and tribulations and we plead with our Abba Father to help us. We come to Him in tears, asking to be delivered from our circumstances when the circumstances were designed or allowed in order to bring us closer to God. Successful in the short term, but once God faithfully brings us through, we are soon returned to our own strength or talent as if to say, I’ve got it from here, Lord.

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, though there is no longer condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and who love God and are called according to His purposes, there should be humbleness. Always. We should be ashamed when we go our own way and try it on our own because the whole reason Jesus went to the Cross was so that God and man, each individual man, could have the relationship which we were designed and created to have. If we are in relationship with God, we should entrust our lives, in both good times and bad, to Him. Even when it seems mundane, we need to bring every detail before our Creator God and seek His Face. We were created to praise the Lord in all things.

So, the king was delivered from one problem and brought into another. Because of his pride and arrogance, God told him all that he had, including his sons, would be taken to Babylon. We know that is exactly what happened.

Here’s the thing: King Hezekiah heard everything the Lord said. The Lord told him that the kingdom would be delivered from Assyria and that he would add years to his life. Hezekiah knew that, though there would be consequences for his actions, God would not remove his promise from him. The issue, however, is that someone else paid the price. All of Hezekiah’s sons were made eunuchs. Hezekiah’s bloodline would end with them.

You see, when we don’t do what we are supposed to do, we are, in fact, acting selfishly. When we act selfishly, God does not remove His gifts. God does not retract His promises, but God is still a just God. There will be a price that is paid. Sometimes, other people die because of the decisions we make. ¬†Perhaps not physically, but spiritually, even if only a little. ¬†Our lives affect others.

King David experienced this, too. When he committed adultery and killed Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, the baby was lost. When he tried to move the ark of the covenant without consulting God, Uzza died. Time and again, David would make selfish decisions and, as a result, people died.

I’m not trying to scare anyone into obeying the Lord for fear of losing loved ones. God forbid. I am, however, concerned in the very same manner as was the Apostle Paul.

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12

Pride and arrogance are easy traps wherein we can fall. We must handle this walk with great care, knowing that God is merciful and provides abundant grace. We should also remember that God is just and righteous. He looks for the very best from His children and when we choose to go astray, there will be a price paid.

May we pray as Hezekiah, David, Jeremiah, and all of the Old Testament icons did, but may we walk humbly in good times as we do in bad times, always revering the Lord, always knowing there will be consequences when we don’t.

SDG

Sweet Smelling Savior Jesus

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the valleys.” Song of Songs 2:1

Several years ago, a gospel singer and song writer by the name of Steve Richardson wrote a song called “Daystar.” It has since become one of the most popular gospel music songs in churches across the southern United States. For me personally, it speaks volumes to my spirit; and, as The Holy Spirit has given to me through this beautiful, anointed work, I share now with you.

Lily of the valley, let Your sweet aroma fill my life.
Rose of Sharon, show me how to grow in beauty in God’s sight.
Fairest of ten thousand, make me a reflection of Your light.
Daystar, shine down on me and let Your Love shine through me in the night.

In Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon), the courtship of two lovers is documented as a portrayal of the Love of God for His church and the reciprocating of that same love for Him as He woos His bride. It is truly a beautiful book that is sure to draw even the hardest of hearts to tears, but for we who are new creations, our soft hearts simply bound with joy as we read how He loves us and we identify with his beloved as we love Him just the same.

To demonstrate that this is, indeed, Christ courting His bride, The Holy Spirit inspired a lot of imagery which points to Jesus.

“I am the Rose of Sharon” speaks of the Love of God. Scholars mostly agree that the word translated to rose is more likely a tulip-like flower, but I must point out that The Holy Spirit gave way to allow the translation into the KJV, and that has significance. A red rose is the symbol for love, but also, it is used to symbolize martyrdom. Who was the greatest martyr of all time, but Jesus? He came here to die for our sins. He came because God so loved the world that He provided a Savior in Christ.

He is also the Lily because Lilies were symbolic of virginity. He was sinless and pure, chaste as a virgin. The Bible does not say He took a wife and it does not say He had children. Therefore, we cannot say He was not a virgin. At any rate, we know He was pure and without Sin, else He could not be our substitionary Sacrifice. Yet, the imagery of Christ being the bridegroom does not stop there.

“While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.” Song of Songs 1:12

Spikenard is an oil commonly used as a perfume in the Middle East and as a skin tonic. It was precious in the time of Christ. In fact, it was the very oil deemed a waste by Judas when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet. Mary used Spikenard upon the precious feet of the King of kings.

“A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.” Song of Songs 1:13

Myrrh was akin to the spikenard in that it was one of the oils used in burial to cover the smell of death. Myrrh was also brought by the wise men to Jesus as a child. It was most importantly the anointing oil of kings. Keeping him all night between her breasts is a symbol of the church holding Christ closest to their hearts, even in the darkness of the night.

“My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.” Song of Songs 1:14

Camphire is more commonly called henna today. Henna is a dense, thorny hedge which is used even today by the Israelites to surround the choicest vineyards to protect them from animals in search of easy vegetation to eat. In the symbolism of the New Testament, the church is shown as the sheep, and Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This parallels the symbolism of the valuable crops being protected by the hedge. The sweetest part of the henna is that, not only does it provide protection, but it blooms with the most fragrant of flowers, giving us the very idea of the aroma of Christ. (Eph 5:2)

“The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.” Song of Songs 1:17

If Christ builds the church, which we are, then the house which is ours is us. Yet, we cannot be the house of God without Christ. The beams are the support structure of the house. Being made of cedar harkens back to the temple. The temple was to be made out of cedar. Cedar is a sweet smell to man, but unsavory to insects and to snakes. It disorients snakes because it is so strong and they generally avoid it because they cannot smell anything else, like prey. If they cannot smell the prey, they cannot find the prey. This reminds me of what Paul wrote about being hidden in Christ. (Col 3:3) Christ is a sweet smell to us, but to Satan and to the world, He is quite the opposite. In their eyes, nothing is to be found in Christ, so the world turns away from Him and Satan wants nothing to do with Him. Christ is the foundation of the church, and He is the support structure of the church.

The fir is a type of pine and it, also, is a sweet smell to us. In fact, our homes are oft filled with this very smell in the form of Christmas trees and wreaths at the time of year in which we celebrate Christ’s birth. So, He is the foundation, He is the support structure, and He is the rafters, the roof, the crown, the very Head of the church.

All this symbolism just for the sweet aroma of Jesus to be known through this book. The truth is, Christ is in every part of the Word, not just Song of Songs, but from Genesis to Revelation. The good Book is all about the Son of God and God’s redemption plan for mankind. This is why He has that sweet smell, that something attractive about us that the worldly just cannot put their finger on. He draws them in. This brings us to the second verse of “Daystar.”

I see a world that’s dying wounded by the master of deceit.
Groping in the darkness, haunted by the years of past defeat.

You see, this world is in darkness, and it’s the eleventh hour. It is only getting darker. But, as they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.

But I see You standing near me, Lord, shining with compassion from Your eyes.
I pray, Jesus shine down on me and let Your Love shine through me in the night.

The only thing able to light the way to freedom from darkness and the guilt of our past is Jesus.

“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:16-17

The song is beautiful in that it describes to us, utilizing scripture, the sweet smell of Jesus and the purpose of God using us, as redeemed men, to demonstrate Him to the world who needs Him. They may turn away from Jesus, but that never stops Him from loving them, or us, one bit. He loves all mankind, each and every one and Who He is is so sweet, He will draw people to Himself. He came here and died because He loves us so much. He rose again to prove He is Who He said He is and to overcome completely all of our enemies, including death.

Jesus is the Daystar, even outshining the sun. He is all of the things written in Song of Songs, and more. He is the redeeming Savior, shining down upon His beloved. We love Him because He first loved us. We are His beloved bride and He is our beloved bridegroom, Savior God.

“My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” Song of Solomon 5:10-16

SDG

The Wrath Of God

“For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” Colossians 3:6

The wrath of God is a very serious thing. One cannot separate God’s wrath from Who He is. God is Love, says the Word, but God’s wrath comes upon those who will not accept His Love.

“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:35-36

Yet, God’s wrath is downplayed in the modern church. All that is told to us is that God loves us, but with the caveat of God accepting us just the way we are. There seems to be no mention of a changed life through repentance. It’s all about getting blessings from the God Who loved us so much that He died to give us “stuff.” It’s a sad state we find ourselves in where few churches are speaking the Truth, the entire truth.

God did not send Jesus to the Cross to provide us a larger house, a faster computer, a higher end vehicle, money in the bank, etc. God sent Jesus to the Cross to give to us something far more precious to us than any “stuff” could possibly be worth. He gave us salvation. He gave us the gift of freedom from the choice of sin, not just the penalty. He gave us the gift of relationship with Him through Christ. Ladies and gentlemen, the reason no one can get to the Father, and therefore Heaven where He resides, except through Jesus, is because Heaven is a relationship forever with God!

You may say, Marcus, we understand that; so, why mention God’s wrath?

Let me describe for you a dream I believe God shared with me, that I could help bring this message to you who need to hear it, whether not yet saved or backslidden.

In this dream, I found myself walking in a meadow. It was filled with all sorts of flowers and wildlife. Life abounded. On the edge of the meadow, was a wood line. As I crossed into the woods, I saw all sorts of water features, streams and ponds, which supported the life therein. There were large trees making up the forest, but they were spread so that light filled the spaces between them and smaller plants grew everywhere. Deer pranced through and knelt at the waters to slake their thirst. It was utter beauty. Perfect.

Then, I was whisked away to deal with bickering and arguing in a meeting where I tried to mediate peace to no avail. I was saddened, but not disheartened by it. Yet, in the midst of this, I was taken back to the woods.

The woods had changed. It was all but destroyed. The water was being redirected by a brick dam of sorts toward the meadow. The plants were dying and the animals were now absent. As I followed the water to the meadow, I witnessed the meadow, too, destroyed. It was replaced with concrete, metal, and all sorts of hard materials in a complex system of homes and businesses. Not quite what I would call a town or a city, but alike to it. There were water fountains and waterfalls all made from building materials. It was entirely a work of men’s hands. What was once beautiful had been destroyed and replaced with someone else’s idea of beauty.

I was filled with anger at what I witnessed. I must tell you that, even in a dream, I have never before been so angry, so anything. I was so infuriated, that when I awoke, both of my hands were clenched in fists. I believe God wanted me to get a taste of why His wrath was kindled in the first place.

You see, God created Heaven and Earth and all that is therein and called it good. He even made man and he, too, was called good. But, man was corrupted and with his self corruption, Adam corrupted the entirety of the world God had created. God foreknew this would happen, but His wrath, justifiably, was kindled as a result. His children had become disobedient.

The saddest part about the whole thing is that Adam knew this. He knew this and it is the very thing which we seem to forget today. He hid himself, he and Eve, from God when they realized what they had done. They knew they could no longer be in His Presence, for their shame and their sin was worn upon them like a yoke around their necks. And it wasn’t so much the destruction of His creation that brought God’s wrath. It was the jealousy over what He lost. For God lost His relationship with man as a result of man’s fall, and every decision we make that chases self promotion, self satisfaction, self pleasure, self, self, self draws us away from Him and brings upon us His wrath.

This is why we were given Jesus. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the wrath of the Father, so that we wouldn’t have to. Upon that Cross of Calvary, for each and every one of us individually, but simultaneously and totally, Jesus took the punishment. For the punishment of sin is death, and for that, Christ died.

All we have to do is believe it, and repent of our selfishness. We have to choose to follow Jesus. In accepting His sacrifice as ours, God the Father sees us as He sees Jesus: righteous and holy, blameless and spotless. We are once more brought into right relationship with God. And His wrath toward us is satisfied through Christ. It is no longer there towards us.

However, my friends, if we do not believe and we refuse to repent of our ways, the wrath remains because we become again subject to the law. The law could not save us from His wrath, for it was designed to show us we couldn’t be righteous on our own.

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

The one point in which we’ve all offended, even before we were born, is what we share in our father Adam. His offense was disobedience and through him, we all offend because we are innately selfish due to his fall, and disobedient even as ignorant of the law.

So, there it is. The wrath of God does not change, just as God does not change. But, neither changes the Love of God for the same reason. God does not change. It’s one or the other: the full wrath for our sin if we stand alone or the full Love if we stand with Christ. It’s all our choice. Choose wisely.

SDG