Monday, March 16 2020
LIKE A BRIDEGROOM COMING OUT OF HIS CHAMBER… The whole world has been yanked from its appointed timetable and put in physical quarantine because of coronavirus. Coronavirus’ name is Latin, and "corona" means "crown". Just around the corner is the anniversary of the death and resurrection of Jesus, mockingly crowned by man as "King of the Jews". Now is the time for us to begin to understand that God has a calendar in place for HIS crowning on this earth of JESUS AS KING OF KINGS. According to Him, this year will begin its official closing on March 16, 2020. In spiritual imagery, what follows looks “like a Bridegroom coming out of His chamber…” on His way to the Bride.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other...” Psalm 19:1-6.
But mere observation and recognition of God’s appointments does not deliver the spiritual understanding for which they were created. To understand the imagery of the Bridegroom coming out of His chamber as Jesus leaving the throneroom, and heading to earth, we must be able to view the heavens in the Spirit, not with the wisdom of the world. “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit… But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-14,16.
The ancients had one important thing in their favor which enabled them to easily understand the spiritual lessons in God’s creation: TIME. Back then, plenty of folks lived almost a 1000 years, and without electricity, had eons of time to sit, night after night, month after month, year after year, century after century, and observe the constellations as they progressed across the sky, the sun as it rose and set, the moon as it appeared in its four quarters. And remember, they had not-too-distant ancestors who had come to know God in the Garden of Eden, and after, and passed their wisdom down. Though these folks didn’t have God's written word to guide them, they understood and depended on Him as Creator, and eagerly received and celebrated His Word expressed to them in the vast expanse of the world He had created.
Right this very moment, God is giving us the gift of the ancients. No more excuses that we don’t have time to receive God’s Word by sitting at the feet of our teacher, Jesus. The whole world has been removed from its perceived time schedule and placed under quarantine because it is infected. See this as a spiritual truth, as well as a physical one, and you have received wisdom from the Almighty. And this is occurring for us at the exact time that God’s created world is beginning a brand-new year. This is an extremely important time on God’s calendar, and it should be on ours, too. Under the full moon of the very first month of God’s year, Jesus sacrificed His life so that the world would not perish from the pestilence of sin.
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." Genesis 1:14. Jeremiah 31:35 and Psalm 136:7-9 state these lights are the sun, moon and stars.
God’s Word says the light of the sun is used to mark a year. On March 16, 2020, the day and night hours will be exactly equal, marked as the Vernal Equilux. Here in Fontana Dam, NC the sun rose this morning at 7:44am and will set this evening at 7:44pm. The physical circuit of the sun in the heavens will be completed as appointed by the Almighty. After this point the daylight hours begin to outweigh the dark hours, and the sun can truly be said to have begun another renewed cycle, or year.
Some look to March 19, the astronomical point called the Equinox, at which the center of the sun’s disk crosses an imaginary line in the sky called the celestial equator. The equinox is in a shifting process called "precession of the equinox" due to the wobble of the earth on its axis, causing the equinox to drift backward in time, and can’t be reliable on its own to gauge God's completed circuit of a year in our century. But it can help us to be on the watch for the beginning of the first month of the new year, using the stars for confirmation of the year cycle, as God’s Word states He appointed them for this, also.
Our Creator formed the stars and their specific, named groupings in the constellations. (Genesis 1:14; Job 9:8-9; Job 26:13; Job 38:31-33; Amos 5:8). “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Job 38:31-32
The Pleiades is a star cluster approximately a 400 light-year distance from Earth near the constellations of Orion and Taurus in the night sky. The cluster includes seven bright stars that are easily seen with the naked eye, gravitationally bound together. One can only imagine how Job knew that. Every year the star group appears in close proximity to the newly visible crescent moon -- just after sunset, in the Spring, at the beginning of the FIRST biblical month. "Seek him that made the seven stars and Orion, and turned the shadow of death into the morning, and made the day dark with night: that called for the waters of the sea, and poured them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name …” Amos 5:8. Go to Beckstrom Observatory for a printable March Evening Starmap. http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/…/March-2020-Basic-Even…
In ancient Israel, the importance of the Vernal Equilux, which is the equivalent of the ancient Vernal Equinox, is that it heralded the appointment of the next new moon as the beginning of a New Year. Every month started with the rising of the new moon, “hodesh” in Hebrew, marked as the first day of the month, and lasted until the next new moon, 29-30 days. It was a simple and effective way to mark time as God ordained it. The years did not have a continuous cycle of weeks but instead the cycle started over with each new moon. New Moon day was a worship day followed by six working days, with the first seventh-day Sabbath on the eighth of the month, then on the fifteenth, and in succession of 7 days, as first recorded in Exodus 16. (Exodus 16:1, 23. Numbers 28:11-15; Psalm 81:3-5; Isaiah 66:23) A reckoning of God's calendar superimposed on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, along with a lost of all bibilical appointments https://fontanacommunitychurch.org/like_a_bridegroom_2020_c…
We have been given the sun and its hours of light to help define the length of our year and the stars to specifically identify the beginning of the first month, in conjunction with the moon's cycle, a simple and effective way to keep up with time as God ordained it. It required diligence and patience from the ancients to observe the heavens often during each month. That explains why the observation-based calendar given by God was gradually replaced in 70-1178 AD by the mathematically calculated one, that did not vary according to the heavens. That is the calendar used today by the Jewish nation. So, on our Gregorian calendar, God’s appointed Days may vary by date depending on which method is used. Also, the way most calculate the Sabbath is based on man’s appointed calendar, counting by 7’s. By doing so, years are marked in advance, instead of waiting and watching for God’s perfect timing through the heavenly appointment of the sun, moon and stars.
The Jewish philosopher Philo, who lived at the time of Jesus, also understood the importance of the language of the heavens.( Remember that our Vernal Equilux is the equivalent of the ancient's Equinox.) “Moses puts down the beginning of the vernal equinox as the first month of the year, attributing the chief honour, not as some persons do to the periodical revolutions of the year in regard of time, but rather to the graces and beauties of nature which it has caused to shine upon men . . . Accordingly, in this month, about the fourteenth day of the month, when the orb of the moon is usually about to become full, the public universal feast of the Passover is celebrated . . ." (Philo, On The Life Of Moses II, Section XLI (41) (222-224).
Eusebius, a Greek historian of the 3rd century AD also wrote, "… it was also known to the Jews anciently, and before [Messiah], and was chiefly observed by them, as we may learn from Philo, Josephus, and Musaeus; and not only from these, but also from those still more ancient, i. e. the two Agathobuli, commonly called the master, and of Aristobulus, that most distinguished scholar, who was one of the seventy that translated the holy scriptures from the Hebrew. These. . . say that all ought to sacrifice the Passover alike after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month." Ecclesiastical History Popular Edition. p. 313
So now we should be able to understand more fully, why this physical time of the year is so important. The first month of God’s New Year heralds the coming anniversary of the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one identified in John 1: 1-3 as Creator alongside Almighty God! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…” John 1:1-3. We anticipate that God's New Year will begin on the evening of March 25 2020, with the sighting of the crescent new moon.
In the New Testament, we clearly see that God reveals Himself through creation to give us the chance to come to know Him. "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20. The heavens signaled the birth of Jesus, leading the wise men straight to Him. When Jesus died, the daylight sky turned dark. Isaiah said in 13:10 that in the coming day of the Lord, “The stars of heaven and their constellation will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” And for many Christian scholars, the ministry of Jesus can be seen in Revelation through the imagery of heavenly constellations themselves.
Indeed, it is not foolishness to see the Bridegroom, Jesus the Christ, in the refracted rays of sunlight at the appointed time, spiritually stepping forth from His chamber in the heavens, making His way to the Bride, whom the apostle Paul likens to the Church at Corinth. "I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband." 2 Corinthians 11:2.
The whole world now has an opportunity understand this, having been brought to a standstill by a virus which means “crown”. Jesus also said this to the church at Smyrna through John in Revelation 2:8-11: "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer... Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." “Smyrna” is a Greek word used to translate the Hebrew word for myrrh, a resin used as a perfume for the living in Matthew 2:11 and the dead in John 19:39. Myrrh was produced by crushing the plant, causing it to give off an overpowering fragrant aroma. Hence the analogy of the church at Smyrna, who would be crushed by persecution, with the end result of being a fragrant aroma of faithfulness to God. It was Jesus telling the church at Smyrna that it was about to undergo intense persecution and tribulation.
Yes, we have many questions and much to discern. But we do know for sure that the coronation (corona-tion), the spiritual crowning of Jesus Christ, will occur immediately before He returns the second time to rule His kingdom on this earth! Revelation 11:14-18 says this will take place after the “second woe.” Daniel 7:10 records the crowning of Jesus Christ as King of Kings as God's judgment begins.
We close today's lesson with the words of Jesus: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
"LIKE A BRIDEGROOM COMING OUT OF HIS CHAMBER"
Monday, March 16 2020
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN… Our Good Father. Our Perfect Father. Our Loving Father. Be merciful to us for we have sinned. We have sinned against you, and are no longer worthy to be called Your children, bearing Your image.
There isn’t a one of us that hasn’t transgressed mightily against you. We've seen our image in the mirror of godly works and now worship ourselves and our religious identities. We pridefully glorify ourselves and what we've accomplished, using your name as a byline to achieve our earthly and spiritual aspirations.
What an affront to You, Father, to use Your Word as a tool to validate our accomplishments. We’ve spent centuries caught up in biblical doctrines that were espoused to meet the needs and service the contemporary “Christian”. We gave little thought or credence to the actual intent of Your Word as it was given by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit to the saints of old. What one of us is now willing to chuck it all, and start all over, truly learning at the feet of our Rabbi Jesus?
Even now, we gather in Your Name across this land to ask You to deliver us from the hand of pestilence and chaos. Like petulant children, we want what we want, and never give a thought that our Father is looking for children who will simply bow to whatever His will is for His Kingdom on this Earth.
When will we understand that you truly hold the world and everything in it the Palm of Your Hand? We’ve heard it said over and over. “The Lord gives.The Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” But we don’t have a clue. We haven’t an inkling of Your Omnipotence and Your Kingship, nor of the humble, childlike trust you desire.
But that’s changing, right this very minute. As the world comes to a standstill, Your Word has already spoken Your Will. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Our Father in Heaven, blessed is Your Name. YOUR Kingdom come. YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We ask for nothing else on this day except Your Name be glorified through Your Son, Jesus, throughout the entire world!
Monday, March 16 2020
Coronavirus is on every one's mind right now, one way or another. It seems that some are of the opinion that the whole thing is much ado about nothing, and that what is occuring now is the result of panic and widespread fear.
While it's certainly true that some reactions are being prompted by fear, there is much more to consider. The adrenaline response fear can provide is hard-wired into our being from the Almighty. It helps us respond quickly and decisively in life-threatening situations.
Can it get out of hand? Sure. Can we be apathetic and naive? Sure. But this much we do know. A storm is coming, and storm warnings have been issued. Now the warnings are being ramped up, saying this may be the storm of the century, and we need to prepare for it.
Of course, how we respond is up to us. Perhaps we need to consider that God Almighty is warning us right now to seek physical shelter from this predictably insane storm of life, and find our much needed spiritual rest quarantined with Him for awhile...
"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."
Sunday, March 08 2020
GOD IS WITH US..."Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand, For God is with us." Isaiah 8:10 has been sung for millennia at this time of the year to celebrate the deliverance of Purim, the salvation of a nation scheduled for total annihilation by their enemy.
This is what the Lord says to me
With His strong hand upon me
Warning me not to follow
The way of this people.
Do not call conspiracy
Everything this people calls a conspiracy;
Do not fear what they fear,
And do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one
You are to regard as holy,
He is the one you are to fear,
He is the one you are to dread.
He will be a holy place;
For both Israel and Judah he will be
A stone that causes people to stumble
And a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem
He will be a trap and a snare
Many of them will stumble;
They will fall and be broken,
They will be snared and captured.
Bind up this testimony of warning
And seal up God’s instruction
Among my disciples.
I will wait for the Lord,
Who is hiding his face
From the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.
Clearly, the Almighty is speaking through the prophet Isaiah to remind ALL God’s chosen people on Planet Earth that our biggest threat during any perceived enemy conspiracy is our own fear and dread. Indeed, it will only serve to detour and distract us from God’s plan for our salvation. The appointed and anointed Rock, Jesus the Christ, becomes nothing more than a stumbling stone, offending us when we pridefully try to step right over Him as "the way, the truth, and the life". The result is inevitable. “They will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”
Today’s lesson, appointed on God’s Calendar for the 13th, 14th, and 15th of Adar, March 8, 9, and 10 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, is a prime example of another nation threatened by those whose sole intent was to wipe them from the face of the earth. “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” Esther 3:13
A lot, "pur", had been cast by the evil, scheming Persian, Haman, to select the date for slaughtering every single Jew living in Persia. The Jewess, Esther, ("Hadassah" in Hebrew), who was chosen to marry the Persian King, heard about Haman's plan. She was encouraged by her cousin, Mordecai, to intervene in the affairs of her betrothed monarch, King Xerxes. Mordecai sent her a letter penned with the immortal words: "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther spent 3 days fasting and praying before she stepped forward and appeared before Xerxes without being summoned, an offense punishable by death. She revealed her hidden Jewish heritage and begged for mercy for herself and her people. She successfully interceded, and not only secured the lives of the remnant Jewish nation, she also set a trap for the evil Haman, and he was executed by the King.
The end result was after only 2 months, an edict authorized by King Xerxes that had previously doomed the Jewish nation to death, was reversed and that very same King gave the Jews the royal right to defend themselves and to pay their enemies back. God intervened in the affairs of mankind, bringing his chosen servant, Esther, to the place where she would glorify Him by trusting Him with her life. As a result, the remnant of Israel defeated their enemies in only 2 days, and Esther became Queen of Persia, the largest empire on the earth during her lifetime.
Mordecai sent letters to all Jews telling them to always remember God’s deliverance in the face of their enemies by celebrating Purim every year on the 14th and 15th days of Adar. “And they were also to celebrate that month as the month when their sadness was turned into joy. It was a month when their crying was changed into a day of celebration…Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.…And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants." Esther 9:22,26, 28
Purim should slay us Christians in America with its double-edged sword of truth. Satanic lots were cast against a nation with the sole intent of annihilating every last soul. What saved them from their enemies was not a physical wall of protection, a calculated political maneuver, or even a show of military might. It was the power of God Almighty triumphing over Satan and his schemes through two people who simply trusted Him for their deliverance and that of their country.
Rightly so, these two people will continue to amaze and confound humanity for all time. The hero of the story is a single woman thrust into the limelight when she was chosen to reign as Queen over the largest empire in the entire world. She should have retreated in fear and dread, but instead she stepped forward in faith and trust in God, willing to put her own life at risk for the sake of her people.
And there’s her mentor, a man whose job as cup-bearer not only required that he serve and guard the King’s cup, but regularly lay down his life by tasting the contents to assure that it was not poisoned before serving it to the King. So trusted was the cup-bearer that only a select few were recorded throughout all of history!
One can only hope that we Christians will begin to understand that the Lord God DOES have a global picture and plan in place, right this very minute. He reminds us of exactly that through this powerful lesson. Esther 1:2 documents that King Xerxes ruled from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa. Both Daniel and Nehemiah also spent time in Susa during the Babylonian captivity. King Cyrus of Persia also ruled from there, becoming an instrument of God’s will to deliver Judah back to Jerusalem. Biblical Susa is known today as Shush, Iran, and is recognized as the birthplace of that very nation. King Cyrus is recognized in the annals of history as the Father of Iran.
Moving forward along God's big timetable of history, we should be prepared to be continually be amazed by God's hand. The Persians of Susa, known then as Parthians and Medes, along with others, like "the Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs", were “declaring the wonders of God” in one tongue during Pentecost over 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:9-11)
Yes, along with Arabs, Egyptians, Libyans and many other foreigners, folks from Iran received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, just 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. From that time until today, Christianity has been a continuous presence there, even though the Muslims arrived around 600 years later. In fact, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus is still spoken today by ethnic Assyrian Christians living in Iran. It is also believed by many that two of the disciples of Jesus, Jude and Simon the Zealot, ministered in Iran following Pentecost, and were buried there in a church erected by St. Jude himself in 66AD.
Today, the Jewish presence of Esther and Mordecai continues in the biblical town of Susa, known today as Shush. It is part of a growing spiritual revival in a country that is thought to house the fastest growing Christian church in the entire world. "More Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior.” https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/1265659453514241
It’s high time we Christians were humbled by God’s global plan for mankind. He is calling to Himself the direct descendants of the anointed Twelve Tribes of Israel, in blood and faith, as well as many other unbelieving Arabs and Middle Eastern people. And He is using the very weapons that are being hurled at these people to convince them that they need to throw themselves at the mercy of Jesus Christ, and believe in Him as the only way to true salvation and life everlasting.
The punchline for this eternal lesson reaches far beyond mere words. Christians all over the world should be totally humiliated by our fear and dread that the conspiracy of Islam could EVER be a threat to Christianity. Clearly we are focused on the wrong thing. “This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread…”
Our faith in God Almighty is the only weapon that will EVER bring down our enemies. Now we can truly begin to understand why Isaiah 8:10 has been sung for thousands of years to celebrate the ancient deliverance of Purim.. Indeed, we Christians in America should be shouting this scripture all over the universe about right now.
"Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand…”
FOR GOD IS WITH US.
Wednesday, March 04 2020
INSTEAD HE WITHDREW…“Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.” John 11:54.
After raising Lazarus from the dead, last week's lesson: (https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2784833521596819) Jesus retreated to the village of Ephraim. That village is believed to be the same one known today as Ephraim-Taybeth. 1400 people still live in this picturesque mountain town. The video “Snow in Taybeth 2/3/2012” by former resident Wizam Khoury is absolutely the perfect setting as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus during the last winter of His life. Our thanks to Mr. Khoury for his permission to post it here. Follow this link to his photo: https://fontanacommunitychurch.org/wizam_khoury
The Arabic Christmas hymn in the audio background, “TALJ, TALJ” (SNOW, SNOW), is sung by the Lebanese singer Fairuz. The English translation of the lyrics is absolutely mesmerizing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w037ftzOZRg&feature=emb_share&fbclid=IwAR2-LjzhF3Serhz8dACd3OP1RZMkBZ4VX-wWYFIyYUsjUc4h0XeWPNQ0SFw
"Snow, snow is falling on the world, snow
The stars are perplexed
And the flowers along the roads are shivering
Snow, snow is falling on the world, snow
The clouds are weary
And on the hills tents are illuminated
There is a baby awake in the cave
And his sweet eyes are full of love
Snow, snow is falling on the world, snow
Every heart, every meadow has flowered with love like snow
The shepherds are coming from abroad
Tonight is the night we have wished for
Snow, snow has brought prosperity and love
To every heart and every meadow
Friendship, prosperity and love
Are falling like the snow.
The history of the village of Ephraim-Taybeh (pronounced Tie-bay) goes back 5000 years. The site, first settled by the Canaanites, is mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 18:23 as a town of Benjamin, called Ophrah. Later, it was renamed Ephraim. Located just 25 miles driving distance from Jerusalem in the biblical land of Judea and Samaria known as the West Bank of Jordan, it is currently under Israeli occupation. It is believed to be the only all-Christian Palestinian community in the entire Holy Land.
Situated on the eastern side of the highest mountain range in biblical Judea and Samaria, the town has always been known for its panoramic views of the Holy Land. During daylight hours, there are magnificent views of the Dead Sea, the Jordan valley, Jericho, and the mountainous desert of Judea. At night, the lights of Jerusalem sparkle like diamonds in the vast expanse of the southwestern desert, while the lights of Amman, Jordan, can be seen to the north. On a moonlit night you can even see the contour of the edges of the Dead Sea in the southern distance. No small wonder that Ephraim-Taybeh has been known for millennia as the “village of retreat”.
The last phrase of John 11:54 “…where He stayed with His disciples" tells us this was not a quick unplanned visit by Jesus. He took His disciples there to prepare them for His coming death. He went there to sit with them on a mountain top on a crisp winter night and gaze down upon cities who claimed to know The Almighty and serve Him, but refused to even acknowledge the Son of God when He walked among them.
Jesus seemed to favor retreating to the mountainside to gain clarity and peace. These were always followed by extremely productive spiritual times. In fact, He chose the twelve disciples after He spent the night on a mountainside in prayer.
There are many other biblical accounts of Jesus’ withdrawal from crowds. After He was baptized by John in the river Jordan, “... the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1:12-13. The Mount of Temptation is only 13 miles from Taybeth-Ephraim. The cave below is traditionally known as the place where Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness fasting.
In Mark 6:45-52, Jesus went to a mountainside to pray. That evening, He saw His disciples out on the Sea of Galilee, struggling against the wind. He went out to them by walking on the water. It was then that the disciples first began to understand that the One who had called them out of the world was the true Son of God.
Jesus also sought solace through retreat after healing a man covered with leprosy in Luke 5:12-14. The account ends with these words in verses 15-16. “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Finally, who can forget the poignant account in Mark 14:32-42 of Jesus and His disciples in Gethsemane the night of His betrayal, when Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” Then He took Peter, James and John further, and shared His sadness with them. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…Stay here and keep watch.” Then Jesus went alone to say to His Father “Abba, Father…everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus would leave and return to His disciples 3 more times, and every single time He would find them sleeping. Returning the third time, He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Like the disciples, many of us are busily caught up in following Jesus’ leading as much as we can. But we really haven’t learned how to focus on why we’re doing it in the first place. It should be because we just love Him enough to follow Him and stay awake. But when our priority becomes “saving the world” or “standing for right”, we can get caught up in the politics and physical struggles of this world. Instead of simply following the Master into the Garden for a time of reflection and prayer we wear ourselves out trying to accomplish the impossible. And you know what happens when you’re physically or spiritually depleted. You go to sleep. Jesus is speaking to us, right now repeating His phrase, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!”
Even if the Words of Jesus are getting through to us right now, the first thing we’re probably going to think about is how to forge ahead up the mountain of our glorious Christianity, against all obstacles, save the world and achieve power for our brand of Christianity. Without realizing it, we have entered the unholy realm of politics, defined as: “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power”.
We need today’s reminder that retreating from the way of the world is not a choice. Our “Ephraim” is an absolute necessity to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Because when we choose to withdraw from the ways of the world with its ideals and focus, there is room to move closer to Him. We are able to see His Word with more depth and clarity than we ever thought possible. Then and only then, can we see that the only truth that really matters has been right under our nose the whole time! Everyone in this world has a common bond. We all desperately need Jesus!
Even though Jesus was born into the middle of a country full of prejudice and longstanding religious boundaries, His ministry far surpassed man-made national borders, governing politics and religious creeds. And it still does to this very day.
Retreat now and draw closer to Jesus, and YOU will receive His perfect gift, falling on us ALL. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
“Friendship, prosperity and love
Are falling like the snow.