Saturday, November 23, 2013

Beyond the Narrow Gate

No matter how much tolerance is shown, no matter how inclusive love is, until tolerance and love are pressed through the narrow gate, their expression is threadbare and misguided.  Christians are often accused of being exclusive or narrow-minded, and some, no doubt, are so in the wrong way, but there is a right way, a way that is, indeed, VERY narrow.  BUT on the other side of that narrow gate is a table-land of understanding, a place of abundant nourishment: of wide, rich, and expansive pastures in which to graze and freely roam about.

The paradoxical truth is that that which is most refined, that definition which is most resolute in its stubborn refusal to deviate a whit from its exact meaning, and is the most populated with pixels (resulting in the best resolution—the best and brightest depiction of truth in pictorial form) is the clearest and most expansive knowledge.  All definition narrows to a point and thereby sharpens the understanding which in turn broadens the perspective.  Though it is true that to focus too hard and too long on one tree fades the forest from view, seeing many trees in the proper bounds of their sharp and true relief populates the forest.

When Jesus Christ is defined as the narrow and only way, the only gate by which one might legally enter the presence of God, and when He is described as the complete embodiment of all wisdom and knowledge and understanding, He too is paradoxically representing both stricture and boundlessness.  Another way this paradox is expressed is in those who choose the wide road to destruction.  Whereas the narrow and dark path of sorrow on earth leads to the wide and full effulgent plain of joy in heaven, the broad and riotously and raucously expansively gay spirit way on earth leads to the narrow, dark, and confining prison cell of hell.         

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jericho: the Heart (part 8 of 8)

The Aftermath

After they captured and subsequently destroyed Jericho, “Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, ‘Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates’” (Joshua 6:26, NASB).  Then, about 500 years alter:    

In his days [wicked king of Israel Ahab’s days] Hiel [“God lives”] the Bethelite [a person who lives in the house of God] built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram [“father of loftiness”] his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub [“elevated”], according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.  (1 Kings 16:34, NASB).

It is noteworthy that Abiram is also the name of the mountain or range of mountains from which Israel descended from into the plains of Moab before they crossed the Jordan to enter the Promised Land.  It is also from where the Promised Land could be seen in its entirety from an overviewing perspective, and where Moses died.  It is also noteworthy that the city of Jericho (as defined by its walls and gates only) is what God and Joshua seemed to have meant by it not being rebuilt; its existence today and in Elisha’s day (as evidenced by Elisha and a school of prophets which lived there [2 Kings 2:15-22]), suggest that it had only to do with its former form or construction, i. e., about those manmade high and thick walls.  Indeed,

But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.  FOR IF I BUILD AGAIN THE THINGS WHICH I DESTROYED, I MAKE MYSELF A TRANSGRESSOR.  For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God (Galatians 2:17-19, emphasis mine, KJV).

In the end, Jericho existed without walls and without limits, with eternally sweet waters that nourished all the land of its area.  From here Joshua continuously went in and out using it as the base of his operations, the place where he planned his strategies for conquering the rest of the Promised Land.  Thus what began in seed form, God’s still small voice spoken into the heart of man, is expected to echo and escalate in volume in the soul, and eventually reach the pitch of a scream to the five senses of the body.  Jericho must enlarge and fill the entire Promised Land.  The miracle of a breathing moon, a fragrant moon, is about a moon inextricably tied to its source of emanation, Jesus Christ.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jericho: the Heart (part 7 of 8)

The Battle for Jericho

“Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in” (Joshua 6:1).  And such is often the case with those whom God is calling; they are afraid to be vulnerable.  Even if they don’t have a cognizant reason for protecting their heart, they intuitively know there is an impending destruction of all that they think and believe coming after them.  While in this state, they do not come out, nor does anyone come in.  But God stands at the door of their heart and knocks; indeed as the Captain of the Lord of Hosts he persistently and insistently pleads, and as the psalmist said:

Open up [Lift up your heads], you gates.  Open wide [Be lifted up], you aged [ancient] doors and the glorious King [King of glory] will come in.  Who is this glorious King [King of glory]?  The Lord, strong and mighty.  The Lord, the powerful warrior [mighty in battle].  Open up [Lift up your heads], you gates.  Open wide [Be lifted up], you aged [ancient] doors and the glorious King [King of glory] will come in.  Who is this glorious King [King of glory]?  The Lord All-Powerful [of Heaven’s Armies/Hosts]—he is the glorious King [King of glory].  Selah [Interlude].  (Psalm 24:7-10, Expanded Bible).

Just as God hovered over the surface of the waters in the time of Creation before a declaration of light was made, so God hovers over the heart and woos it till it is time to enlighten it.  Likewise, God, as represented by the ark being carried by Joshua’s priests, circled or hovered around Jericho six days (representing man); then on the seventh day, they circled the city seven times (representing spiritual perfection) and then the whole of Israel shouted, the walls came down, and they conquered the city.

Thus they encircled the city 13 times total, and 13, according to E. W. Bullinger (“Number in Scripture,” 1967, p. 205) “stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea.”  Ed Vallowe (1984, p. 102), in his book “Biblical Mathematics,” also associated 13 with depravity.  Thus the human heart, in Jericho is judged, and for the most part destroyed thoroughly; the 13 is the primary thrust, but not of primary importance: that belongs with the spiritual perfection represented by that sliver or thread of hope found in Rahab and her family. 

When the trumpets blasted and the people in unison shouted, the walls came down flat, and they went straight into the vulnerable stronghold.  Their message was without ambiguity, straightforward, as is the gospel message.  The 6, 7, and 13 numbers associated with Jericho was about man, the spiritual perfecting of man, and judgment against his evil deeds.  The ban Joshua (representative of Christ) made concerning the things of value held inside the confines of Jericho (representing the human heart) were now either completely destroyed by sword, fire, or confiscation (to be placed into the Lord’s coffers).

Anything animated by flesh was thrust through or hewn by the sword, all precious metals, already refined and/or purified by God’s processes was confiscated and placed into the treasury of the Lord for the maintenance of His house.  Finally, they burned the city with fire thus eliminating all flammable remains and purifying the city for a better inhabitation.  In the years to come a school of prophets resided in Jericho and Elisha the prophet finalized the cleansing process by sweetening the last vestiges of its bitter water ways.

Thus even after conversion the perfecting of the saints continues, and most often by the corrective and instructive words of prophets.  The bitter and sweet waters running together through one faucet that James speaks of, is unfortunately, the experience of many Christians.  But God ever works, sending us prophet after prophet to correct and perfect us, until he sends one powerful enough to accomplish His ends in us, to sweeten our embittered souls, and fit us indeed for His kingdom.