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Hope in Trials (Standing Watch) 13 min video

Why did Jesus spit? (Morning Companion)

Jesus healed the sick. Sometimes he would pray for them. Sometimes he would heal them with words. Sometimes he would lay hands on them. He even, at least one time, healed from afar.
And there were three times when he healed with his saliva. (Mark 7:31-33, Mark 8:22-23, John 9:11). Why did Jesus use such an odd medical procedure?
Why did Jesus spit?
We get a hint of the answer from the context of the three accounts of such healings we find in the Gospels. We’ll examine specifically the blind man in John 9, because there we get a hint of the context behind the practice.
The immediate context of this healing is a discussion (argument?) in John 8 between Jesus and the religious leaders about who exactly Jesus was. The leaders accused him of demonic possession, of being a Samaritan, and of being of illegitimate birth.
Several times during this exchange Jesus subtly uses two words (“I am”) when referring to himself (“I am the light of the world”, “I am from above”, “I am not of this world”, “I am he”, “Now I am here”, “You will realize that I am he”), and in due time he is not so subtle (“Before Abraham was, I am”).
These words raised the hackles of his listeners, because it is an echo of how God describes himself from the burning bush, where Moses was told the name of God: “I AM WHO I AM”, and “I AM has sent me to you”. (Exodus 3:13-14)
By the end of Jesus’s “discussion” with the religious leaders, they knew exactly what Jesus was implying about his identity, and they attempted to stone him to death for such blasphemy (John 8:59).
Jesus escapes their wrath and immediately encounters the blind man whom he heals with a paste made from dirt and his saliva.
So why did Jesus spit on the ground and put mud in the man’s eyes?
The answer might be understood in terms of the religious leaders own tradition. This act of Jesus was to reinforce his argument that everything he had said about himself was true.
Quoting from the Talmud, which represents the religious traditions and teachings of the rabbis of the day: “There is a tradition that the spittle of the firstborn of a father is healing, but that of the firstborn of a mother is not healing.” (Bava Batra 126b)
Let’s see how this fits the context, particularly in the previous chapter of John 8. Jesus repeatedly refers to his Father (verses 16, 17, 19, 29, 38, 42, 49). The religious leaders, who knew a bit of Jesus’s history, couldn’t resist reminding Jesus of their suspicions around the circumstances of his birth (“We are not born of fornication. We have one father – God. Verse 41), thereby insinuating that his birth was illegitimate.
When Jesus healed the blind man with mud mortared with saliva, he was (beg your pardon) spitting in the eye of his enemies. In effect he was saying, “I am who I say I am. I am the firstborn son of my Father, whom you claim to know, when in fact you are sons of the devil.
This event illustrates not only the lesson Jesus was trying to teach, but it also reveals how an understanding of the religious and cultural milieu of the day can enrich your understanding of the Book.
It also answers that beginning question, “Why did Jesus spit?

The Day of Atonement: it's not about us (Sabbath Meditations)

The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. An incredibly joyous occasion.
There is so much to celebrate that will occur on this day, yet future. The Saints will have risen to meet their returning Lord in the air and will descend with Him on the mount of Olives. All who come to make war with the returning King will have been vanquished. Satan, that old serpent, the devil, who enslaves the whole world will himself be bound and cast into darkness, no longer able to lie and deceive mankind. All who have lived will, at last, have opportunity to enter into At-One-Ment with the Father through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The events this day pictures are wondrous.
I have to admit, though, that in all the years I've observed this day, there is one aspect of it that has caused me confusion. If it's such a joyous occasion, why are we afflicting our souls? For me, it just doesn't seem to follow.
I understand the explanation that says we fast as a means of humbling ourselves, so that we might recognize our dependence on Him, our need for His atoning sacrifice. On one level, I get this line of thinking. Fasting is a powerful reminder that we are human, that we need a Saviour. But on another level, something about the idea of fasting on this day to remind me of my need for His sacrifice just didn't seem to fit. Why?
Those of us who observe both the Spring and Fall holy days recognize that the two seasons are pointed toward two distinct groups of people whom God is calling; They point to two distinct phases of His plan for salvation.
The Spring holy days are directed toward those who are called during this present age. They are the Firstfruits, part of the early harvest. It is toward those who are called now, placed in His body, the Church, that the typology of the Spring holy days is directed.
The Fall holy days, in contrast, represent the great harvest to take place after Christs return, when the vast majority of those who have lived will be resurrected and have their minds opened to understand the gospel. They will be given the opportunity, as you and I already have, to know and enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Saviour. It will be an awesome time.
So, if this Day of Atonement pictures salvation being offered to those who have not yet been called, why then would we, as Christians already called, already in this relationship, fast as means of being reminded of our dependence on Him? Haven't we pictured that lesson already during the Spring holy days?
In Isaiah 58:6-9 we read, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’.”
Fasting is about the breaking of bonds. It's about recognizing the helplessness of man apart from God and beseeching Him for deliverance from oppression and heavy burdens. It's a yearning plea to our God for healing, for deliverance and for renewal. Sometimes we fast on our own behalf. But often, as is the case here in Isaiah, we fast on behalf of others who are in bondage, that they might be free and made whole.
So, in the context of these Fall Holy Days, for whom then are we fasting? For us? For our own deliverance? Or, are we fasting for those who are still in bondage to the god of this world? Isn't that the true reason why we are fasting on this Day? Aren't we fasting, beseeching our God for that day to come, when His Son will return, Satan will be bound and the vast majority of mankind will finally have their chains removed? Isn't this fast about them and not about us?
You and I have already experienced our freedom from bondage haven't we? Every year we commemorate that freedom we have been given during the Spring holy days, at Passover. This day, the Day of Atonement, looks forward to the time that Passover sacrifice will be made available for all of those who have not yet had opportunity.
So, to those of my brethren who are fasting on this day, I encourage you to focus your prayers, focus your heart, not on yourself, but on a world still waiting to taste the freedom you now enjoy. Pray for those who do not yet have the awesome relationship you have with your God and Savior. Pray for your co-workers, your neighbors, your family and friends. Pray that He would send His Son quickly to a world that is in suffering, in desperate need of deliverance. Fast and pray to break the bands of wickedness, that all who are oppressed might go free.

The Last Trumpet (Children of God)

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Corinthians 15:52)
The Day of Trumpets pictures war – world war. We are living in a fool’s paradise if we believe that awesome, terrifying war is not on the horizon. Humanity at Jesus’s second coming will be almost totally destroyed. Jesus Christ said that it will be such an overwhelming war and cause such distress that there would be no survivors – “no flesh saved alive” – unless He personally intervened to cut short the hostilities. (Matthew 24:21-22)
Why is God’s wrath coming against the entire world? Trumpets will be the time of God's wrath against rebellious mankind (Revelation 6:17). The purpose of the Trumpet plagues is for all sinful men to repent. Armies now possess nuclear devices capable of setting the world ablaze. What events and circumstances would bring about their use – resulting in such a terrible conflagration? What has the entire population of the earth done to provoke such a great rage from God? Jesus said that it is the time of “Jacob’s trouble” – a time like nothing else the world has ever seen.
“The Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of triumph, or shouting for joy, with trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:23-25, KJV) Jewish tradition states that silver trumpets and a ram’s horn or shofar were blown on the first day of the seventh month.
The Last Trumpet is the time when man’s rule on the earth will give way to the rule of Jesus Christ over the Kingdom of God.
Years ago in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve decided they did not need God’s guidance and protection. They decided that they could ‘go it alone’ without God’s help. The ultimate result of that erroneous decision will become apparent to the whole world during the Day of the Lord. Unless we understand the significance of the Day of Trumpets – and are keeping it as a sign of our obedience – we will have no protection from the horrible destruction just ahead!
We live in a world that is anti-God. This world hates everything about God’s way, truth, law, peace, and happiness – in short, this world hates God. The Day of Trumpets pictures Christ’s conquest over this world – and over all evil and lawless men. It pictures the terrible time of total world war just ahead, and the intervention of Christ to save the living from total annihilation. Who will be counted worthy to escape the coming total devastation?  (Luke 21:36)
How will the last war begin? It can be one incident, or a series of incidents that can plunge nations into all out hostilities. Does God expect the world to receive an advance warning of the coming Kingdom of God? “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14) God's true ministers are sounding a warning – reminding people that, before the coming of God's Kingdom, there must come wars and rumors of wars, ending in the most horrifying world war this world has ever experienced (Mark 13:7).
We are so privileged to be able to see how God is going to work it all out. This world – that seems to be on top of everything – is going to be brought down to nothing by Jesus Christ.
The world cannot see what we in God's Church see, because they do not believe God and they will not observe His Holy Days – which would open up the meaning of the plan of God to them, if only they were willing to observe them. But now, they are blind to the tremendous plan of God – it is hidden to them.

Sitting as a Queen and not a Widow (First Century Christianity)

“To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’ “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.‘” Revelation 18:7-10
The ‘all capitals’ in the verses above is not my doing. The translation I use makes note of when the New Testament cites the Old Testament by putting the words in all capitals. In this instance, John is referencing Isaiah 47. In fact, a whole lot of the book of Revelation references the Old Testament.
I am bringing this up because I want to ask the reader a question: from where does a queen derive her power? This is a much harder question to answer for those of us in the Americas than for those on the European continent, because we largely lack monarchies on this side of the world. A queen derives her power from a king. In order for a woman to ascend to the throne of a country, her husband must have died or her father died without having male children.
In a recent sermon, I spoke about identifying Babylon and how to come out of her. The congregation of true believers is analogized as a pure bride by the Apostle Paul and others, but even in the book of Revelation itself we can see that the congregation of those who remain true are referred to as a chaste bride clothed in white:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:7,8.
The contrast we have here is a congregation of faithful and obedient believers being identified as a chaste bride clothed in white and the congregation of syncretic and disobedient believers being analogized as a harlot clothed in scarlet. This is a pretty easy distinction to figure out.
However, the identifier of the Babylon of the end times being a queen and not a widow gives us a little more insight. That means this Babylon character is a power that believes it derives its power from itself without the need of the husband that is Yahweh. There are a couple groups that fit this category, but which country or culture do we see today that has been historically faithful, blessed beyond comprehension, and yet has decided to push any reference to the Almighty from the public square? Western culture as a whole has been pursuing secular agenda for quite a while, but the United States today is remarkably pushing God out of the public square. We have had the world’s most powerful military and economy for quite a while and have lived in almost universal peace and safety for over fifty years. This degree of security and prosperity for such a length of time makes us start to believe that we will never see mourning, especially nothing like the hard times our forefathers endured to build that peace.
There are a whole lot of things lining up recently that look end-time-ish lately. Is this the end, birth pangs for the end, or just another cyclical change in the power structure on planet earth? Only Yahweh knows for sure. But it is intriguing to explore the parallels between the USA and the Babylonian end-time power. While this nation has sinned a lot historically and has never kept the 4th commandment, it was founded by those seeking to have the religious freedom to worship the God of the Bible as they saw fit. As our country has prospered immensely in the last 50 or 60 years, our culture has turned more into a more secular humanist society. This means we, as a nation, have decided to lean on our own works and reject the Almighty. Our culture has also very rapidly been promoting the mixing of belief systems under the guise of ‘tolerance’. These things add up to fitting the idea that America is starting to believe that she is a Queen who needs no husband and that is a dangerous place to be.

World in Transition (New Horizons)

It feels like we are on the brink of a new age—but an age of chaos, of barbarism, of hate. The brave new world supposed to follow the end of the war in 1918 has melted in the spilled blood of millions since.
Endless international conferences, focus groups, public institutions, meetings of Heads of State—even a so-called ‘united nations’ organization—have failed to deliver. And our leaders flounder without answers. As wrote the Hebrew prophet: ‘For the wisdom of their wise ones shall perish, and the understanding of their intelligent ones shall be hidden’ (Isaiah 29:14).
‘Wise’ might have been written tongue-in-cheek—for our politicians, our business leaders and even the religious leaders betray an abysmal ignorance of the true source of wisdom. For when it comes to solving social, economic, family, religious challenges the prophet speaks again ‘...Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (ch 5:20).
Wise heads are few, but increasingly nations are ruled by how the prophet sees them: ‘He will let children and babies become your rulers’ (Isaiah 3:4).

Certainly, as the apostle Paul writes, ‘the love of money is a root of every evil’ (I Timothy 6:10).
And we see that clearly portrayed by avaricious bankers, business tycoons, Parliamentarians, corrupt despots - and also mankind in general. Our national and personal indebtedness reflects a disregard for a guiding principle for a stable economy: ‘...You shall not covet’.
Money, however, is but one root. Throughout history religion has spawned countless deaths, untold misery. It began with the murder of Abel and concerned the rejection of the true faith by his brother—and ever since!
More recently the Inquisition, the ‘Thirty Years War’ in the early 17th century, the IRA in Ireland, the current Islamic Sunni and Shi’ite struggles. Mixed with politics and the struggle for power and supremacy, religion is a potent force for evil.
In sum, human greed, humanly devised religions, technology, power-hungry politics have, for six thousand years, failed our world. Human solutions have crumbled in a surging tide of fallen human nature.
But we are in transition. For the one and only God sees our desperate plight—and has a plan. There is hope!
Thousands of Christians worldwide are now preparing for the Day of Trumpets. It is a day that highlights the self-destruction of mankind and the return of the Messiah, Jesus, to take over the reins of world government. A surviving remnant of mankind—of all nations, all races—will be repentant and be reconciled to God, at one with Him through Christ and his sacrifice. The universal malign influence of the ‘god of this world’ will be removed.
Jesus picks up the reins of government over all of mankind—portrayed within the imagery of the seven day Festival of Tabernacles. All human government will be subject to His benign rule for a thousand years as He implements His divine laws (Isaiah 2), administered by the risen saints:
He shall not judge according to the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears, But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and shall decide with uprightness for the meek of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His heart. Also the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.' Isaiah 11:3-9
The prophet Zechariah tells us that Tabernacles will be observed annually by all mankind (ch.14:16) - persuaded, if necessary, by the One who controls the weather (v.17-19)! No more false religion. No more corrupt self-serving government. Just what man desires—universal peace and prosperity. What better way to understand this plan than to live it by participating in God’s festivals!