The Heavenly Calling, Conduct and Conflict of the Church by T. Austin-Sparks

eph 1

The Heavenly Calling, Conduct and Conflict of the Church
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 – The Calling

We turn to the letter to the Ephesians, not for an exposition of the letter in any detailed sense, but for the message of the Lord, and at the outset I specially want to underline a phrase which occurs some five times in this letter.

“…Has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

“…He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at his right hand in the heavenlies…” (Eph. 1:20).

“…Raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

“…That now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

“Our wrestling is… against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies” (Eph. 6:12).

So the message is that concerning the heavenly calling, conduct and conflict of the church.

The calling covers the first three chapters, and is that to which the apostle refers in Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called”. The calling is that of which he has been writing up to that point.

The conduct goes on with Ephesians 4 as far as Ephesians 6:9.

Then the conflict comes in at Ephesians 6:10.

These three things represent a revelation – a calling is a revelation; an exhortation in relation to the revelation, and then finally a challenge by the powers of evil to the revelation, the calling, and the conduct of the church.

This letter to the Ephesians, so-called, (which we must always remember was an encyclical letter, that is, it was sent to a considerable number of churches in Asia) is a grand summary of all the Divine thoughts from eternity to eternity. It reveals the greatest things that have ever been disclosed by God to man. They are the things which are gathered into the small compass of this letter.

Here we have, for instance, the unveiling of God’s comprehensive eternal intentions, getting behind His acts, going further back than history into the very spring and fountain-head of all the doings of God. There we have the intentions of God from the very beginning. Then we have briefly, but very forcefully shown, the place of His Son in those eternal intentions. Further, we are made by this letter to understand the meaning of the cross, that is, the death, the resurrection, the ascension and the exaltation of Christ in relation to those intentions of God. Finally we have set forth the place, the nature, the vocation and the destiny of the church as the Body of Christ. These are not small things, but immense things crowded, as we have said, into a small compass of words, but everybody who has read this letter knows quite well that the outstanding characteristic of what is called “Ephesians” is the superlative element. The apostle in this letter more than anywhere else, is found to be moving in the superlative realm. We know some of his great superlatives: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever” (Eph. 3:20-21). That is superlative language, but only a specimen of what is in this letter.

Now, the one thing which governs all that in this letter, is that everything has to be apprehended in the light of God’s eternal purpose. That is, nothing is merely personal, nothing is merely for the moment, and nothing is just a thing in itself. Everything is related, and is related to the eternal purpose and what the apostle takes pains to emphasise is that everything has got to be apprehended in that way. The saints have got to take hold of everything in the light of the eternal purpose; every detail has got to be set in that light, seen in that light, and acted upon in that light, and there are many details. That all-governing purpose of God embraces all the details of our lives as God’s people, and there is nothing in His mind which can be or may be regarded by us as lying outside of a relationship to His purpose, as lying outside that realm where it can affect that purpose or be affected by that purpose. We shall see that later when we come to speak of the conduct of the church which, as you know, has to deal with many things in the ordinary life of believers.

What is that all-governing purpose in the light of which everything in our lives has got to be apprehended? Well, briefly, and this has to be very much enlarged as we go forward, briefly, it is this – a reigning and governing one new Man in Christ. Christ and His members are here set forth as the one new Man, the collective Christ, and what is true of Him is true of His members, and the purpose purposed concerning the Christ is here seen to be concerning Him as Head over all things to the church which is His Body, and the Body, the members therefore, are called, chosen in Him unto the very purpose which God has eternally determined concerning Him, the Son. The purpose is one in the Head and the members, in the Son and in the sons. And the purpose is reigning, governmental administration in God’s universe in heaven and in earth. That is the calling in brief, that is the eternal purpose. That is no small thing to contemplate. You and I would never dare to contemplate a thing like that, if God had not revealed it to be His eternal intention – not just His thought, but His intention – and, mark you, not just the fruit of His grace, but the intention of His will – grace comes in afterwards. It is going to be. You and I may or may not be in it according to our response to God, but it will be. He will have a corporate Christ; He will have a Head and members in oneness who will govern this universe in heaven and on earth. Grace finds us in that, but before grace, is the counsel of His will. Everything is settled finally in the will of God. Well, that purpose sees that eventually – a Body, of which Christ is Head, in governmental authority in God’s universe. This is the calling.

But then, you see, when you have recognised what the calling is, you have to come nearer and see that this is a present, as well as future, expression; that this has to come to realisation in a way and in a measure now, and it is not something only for a coming age, or the ages of the ages. We are in the operation of God’s eternal counsels now. We are in the realm of the fulfilling of His will now, and we are now in the line of the spiritual accomplishment of that purpose.

These various matters mentioned in this letter to the Ephesians are dealt with more fully in themselves in other parts of the New Testament. There they relate to phases and stages of the Christian life and spiritual history. In the book of the Acts we have a large revelation of the Holy Spirit and His activities as in a general way, mainly in relation to the church as His instrument. In the letter to the Romans and the letter to the Galatians, we have a special emphasis upon the cross; that is, the cross related to certain special things in spiritual life. In the letter to the Corinthians we have resurrection brought out in a very full way, and so in Colossians we have ascension, the meaning of Christ’s ascension, underlined and stressed. In Philippians we have the exaltation of Christ – “God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name”. So, in the other parts of the New Testament, you have things mentioned specifically in relation to certain spiritual stages and phases of experience.

But in the letter to the Ephesians, you have all of these brought together in relation to the eternal purpose, the purpose of God concerning Christ and His Body, and all with one object in view – that is, administration. I use that as one of several alternatives. In one translation, the word is “stewardship”. In another, it is “dispensation”. It is the same word in the Greek, and simply means or refers to the administration of a household, the dispensation or arrangement, the scheme of things which obtains as governing everything for the time being. We speak of a regime. One person comes in to take over control and administration in an establishment and under their regime certain things obtain. You may, under their regime, do certain things and you may not do certain things. It is the present form of government. Another person comes along and takes their place and, under the new regime, an entirely new order is set up. That is the meaning of the word “stewardship” here. It is that form of government which obtains for the time being, and in this letter you have to place in the time being the ages of the ages. That will be the time being. Unto the ages of the ages there will be an administration and that administration will be in the hands of Christ and His members as one Body.

It is administration, then, which is in view here and which lies behind this phrase – “in the heavenlies”. Let me go back a step and repeat. It is in the light of that that everything here has got to be apprehended. That is, we have got to see the cross in the light of administration, every aspect of the cross: the death of Christ, in the light of administration; the resurrection of Christ in the light of administration; the ascension of Christ, the exaltation of Christ, all in the light of administration, and the point is this – not only that they are related to that, but you and I have got to lay hold of them in relation to that. That is, we have got to come into the good of these things in the light of the purpose of them, which is administration. If you like to change the word “administration” for the larger definition and say that everything, the death, the resurrection, the ascension and the exaltation of Christ, have to be made good in our experience in order that we may reign – that is what it means – having a life in ascendancy with Christ in a spiritual way.

Now, the keyword of this letter is the word “together” – a most interesting word, I think, in the Greek language. Here, in this letter alone, we are seen to be –

Gathered together (Eph. 1:10, A.V.).

Quickened together (Eph. 2:5, A.V.).

Raised together (Eph. 2:6, A.V.).

Seated together (Eph. 2:6, A.V.).

Framed together (Eph. 2:21).

Built together (Eph. 2:22).

It is this ‘together-ness’ which is the key, and the ‘together-ness’ is twofold.

It is ‘together-ness’ in Christ, and it is ‘together-ness’ with one another as His Body. It is an identity of experience with Christ on the part of the church. What is true of Christ is true of His members in every phase of His experience, and nothing is apart or a thing in itself.

Then the unique feature of this letter is this phrase – “in the heavenlies”, showing exactly where and what all this is, this ‘together-ness’ and this purpose and all that is the common life of the members with the Head. We shall come back to that again later. Of course, this does not mean in heaven in the full and final sense in which we use the phrase “in heaven”. Here it is referring to a sphere or realm where Christ is –  heavenly in nature, heavenly in privilege, heavenly in function. But even this is seen in this letter to be divided into two parts. He is seen to be far above all rule and authority, all principality and power, seated in the heavens, and we are seen to be there in Him. But later we find another ‘heavenlies’ in which principalities and powers, and world rulers of this darkness and hosts of wicked spirits are found. They are not the same, identical realm, but they are both called ‘heavens’. If we were to recognise the difference we would understand the nature of our vocation and conflict perhaps a little better. That remains for our further consideration of the conflict aspect of things.

May I just say here in passing that the great effort of the adversary is to get us down into his heavenlies and out of our heavenlies. Our heavenlies is “seated in Christ far above all rule and authority”. His heavenlies is a lower realm than that, and his effort is always to try and get us down into his own realm, to bring us into his realm of things. It is always the downward pull or enticement – in some way to dislodge the church from its spiritual position, and if that means anything, it means this, that you and I have got to recognise and maintain our position as superior to those evil principalities and powers. Acknowledge for a moment that his position is equal to ours and his power is equal to ours and we are done; hence he will demonstrate in such a way as to make us, if he can, accept his “superior” power.

You will notice that men of faith, in both Old and New Testaments, when there has been a great demonstration of an undoubtedly mighty enemy, have very quietly, in the secret place, maintained their place of absolute tranquillity, and that has been the secret of their victory. Hezekiah, when there is a demonstration going on round about on the part of the hosts beleaguering, says, “Answer not a word, keep quiet, don’t argue, don’t debate, don’t answer back, keep quiet”, and into the sanctuary Hezekiah goes and spreads the matter before the Lord. Well, it is victory, deliverance. The demonstration was not taken on. Whenever the enemy has been able to create panic by his demonstration, the panic itself has been his victory. It has been a ‘walkover’ after that. “Stand still“, says the Lord to Israel on the shores of the Red Sea, “stand still and see…”. And perhaps that is what the apostle meant when, in the matter of the conflict, he says three times – “Stand… stand… stand“. It is a mighty thing to stand before the terrific onrush, seething demonstration, churning up, disturbing, when everything shouts of the power and fury of the enemy. That is the time in which to stand. That will be borne out and our ascendancy will be mainly based upon our ability just to stand. “See that ye be not shaken”, for to be shaken is to be lost. Well, all that came out of dividing between the heavenlies, seeing the upper heavenlies of our position, and the lower heavenlies in which our conflict takes place.

In the heavenlies“. What does that term really mean? What is it intended to mean to believers in the heavenlies? I think so few of the Lord’s people have grasped the significance and value of that phrase. It is so abstract, so unreal, so remote. ‘In the heavenlies’ – very few people have any real interest in that – it must be outside of practical life! We are going to see, before we are through, that it is not outside of practical life by any means. Some of us know that already. But, in a word, what does this phrase mean to believers? It means this, that what is now true of Christ as Head and Representative, is to be of full avail and account to His members. He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He has sat down on the throne in the heavenlies, which means that He possesses complete administration and authority. It has been given to Him in heaven and in earth. He, as Head, has been filled with all God’s fulness for administration, which means that all the resources of God are at His disposal for His administrative work. That is what it means: “Has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ”. God has filled Him as Head with every necessary resource for His heavenly administration.

Now all that is true of Him as Head. And we cannot entertain the thought, the idea, of a head without a body. Headship just involves the body; it means, it implies, the body. There is no sense in talking about a head without conceiving of a body. No, as Head and as Representative (for He is there in a representative capacity), all that is true of Him thus is available to His members and is to their account. That is what it means to be ‘in the heavenlies’. What does it matter whether we are here on the earth in the flesh or there, if all that is true of Him is as much for our account here as it would be if we were there? It does not matter. We are in the heavenlies in that sense, that all that is true of Him is available to us, but remember – not for our use, not to be made a personal thing at all, notto be applied to peculiar and particular circumstances as such, but in the light of the purpose. And we shall only find resources which are ours in Christ being made effectual as we come into line with the purpose. And what is the purpose again? It is the expression of His supreme Headship in the church, through the church, or is the manifestation of His Lordship in this universe by the church. It is the glory of God in the church by Christ Jesus. As we come into line with the purpose, that we are called of God in union with Christ to govern, then we find our resources.

If you and I are going to seek the riches of Christ for some little personal Christian life and some little bit of personal Christian work, something that is quite a private affair, something that is ours and of interest to us, something down here on this earth that we want to get going, preserve, develop – we are not going to find the Lord comes in in fulness along that line at all. That is why there are so many struggling, but ever-defeated Christians, and that is why there is such a poor sort of church here; ineffective. It is trying to live on far too low a level with far too small a vision. If you and I and the Lord’s people were to come to see the tremendous significance of the calling – administration in Christ in this universe, spiritual authority in Christ over the evil powers which rule this universe, and now that, back of flesh and blood, back of things seen, there is the throne which we share in a practical way spiritually, then we would discover what our riches are, what our ‘every spiritual blessing’ is.

Some of us never really discovered the greater fulnesses of Christ until we came to see that we are not Christians just to live a good life more or less, we are not here just to do this or that or something else for the Lord of what we call ‘Christian service’, but when the Lord revealed to us that we had a heavenly vocation back of all things and that our real significance was not in the realm of things seen, but it was back there behind things seen, it was then that we came to see our riches, our wealth, the greater fulnesses of Christ, our resources, and this is what the church needs today. Speaking in general terms, the church is fighting a losing battle. It is in weakness and defeat. There is very little reigning on the part of the church now.

Hence the Lord would speak to us at this time and show us that it is a higher spiritual level that is wanted. It is another realm of things that is needed. It is that which is meant by ‘the heavenlies in Christ’, which is, let me repeat, the availability, the accessibility, the effectiveness, of all that is true concerning Him now for the church in a spiritual way against all the spiritual enemies of Christ and the church. That is our calling. It is the upward calling, the heavenly calling.

Oh that the Lord would give us the ear within to hear in these days that call anew, and that, as the result, there may be a registration upon those forces of evil of the impact of that throne through the church, and on our part a new knowledge that we are not intended to be a crushed, trampled-down church hardly able to hold its own, wriggling and writhing under the heel of the adversary. On the contrary we are called to the place where that initial thing concerning the Head has to be made good in the church. “He shall bruise thy head” and “God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”. That is what we are called to. We never forget that dear old apostle had a way of putting that. Whenever we come to that, his words come back to us where he represents the Lord Jesus as saying to His Bride, “Come, My spouse, and put your heel where I have put Mine”. Well, that is a graphic way of putting it, but that is what it means, that we have to occupy the place that Christ occupies so far as the powers of evil are concerned, for the administration of this universe.

The Lord strengthen us unto that!

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Jesus, The Heavenly Man

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Jesus the Heavenly Man by Joanne Panettieri

Jesus Christ is the Heavenly man and the Lord of a heavenly kingdom. 2,000 years ago the nation of Israel was a material reality, and it was to this earthly reality that the man Jesus Christ came. Jesus was the firstborn of a new creation, being fully human, being born of a woman, and also fully divine, being conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Col 2:9 “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”

Jesus was the Heavenly man: God came down from heaven and inhabited his creation.

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word WAS God”……..“ 14 And the Word (Logos) was made u flesh, and dwelt (Tabernacled) among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

“That Son who is God from everlasting took upon himself mans nature, so that one and the selfsame might be both God and man, who manifestly appeared to many witnesses that saw him, amongst whom he was conversant and unto whom by sure and undoubted arguments he showed both of his natures.” 1

Colossians 1: 15 – 20  “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence. 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.”

Phil 2: 6 – 8

Who, existing in the form of God,

did not consider equality with God

something to be grasped,

but emptied Himself,

taking the form of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

He humbled Himself

and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross.

Jesus himself shows his followers proof of this at the transfiguration in Matthew 17: 1-8 

The Natural First, Then The Spiritual

When God chose to invade our time and space as the man Jesus Christ, the nation of Israel was an occupied territory. The Romans had conquered them and they were under the thumb of Caesar. Many Zionist zealots rose up at that time with the hope of liberating the holy land from under the control of a pagan government. Even Jesus’ own disciples thought he was going to restore natural Israel.

Acts 1:6 “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The Jews at that time were anxious for deliverance from Rome and during Jesus’ trial called for the Zionist zealot Barabbas to be released, rather than Jesus the Messiah. (See my post “Give us Barabbas”)

But as the Bible tells us “God’s ways are higher than our ways”! Jesus came not to restore natural Israel, but to elevate it to the heavenly. To restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden. He came to restore man’s relationship with God the Father by ushering in his glorious invisible Kingdom:

“Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17: 20-21

In restoring that relationship between man and his creator, Jesus connected heaven and earth again. In the popular Hymn of the reformers, the Gloria Patri they sing:

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning (in Eden) ever shall be, world without end. Amen”

Jesus came to restore what was lost through the fall of man. It shall ever be! God’s plan is complete, it is finished, as Jesus cried on the cross! He came as the last Adam to redeem us from that fall and reunite heaven and earth.

1 Cor 15: 46: And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening (or life giving) spirit”

“That is called a natural body, which is quickened and maintained by a living soul only, such as Adam was, of whom all we are born naturally: and that is said to be a spiritual, which together with the soul is quickened with a far more excellent virtue: to wit, with the Spirit of God, which descendeth from Christ the second (Last) Adam unto us. 2  Adam is called the first man, because he is the root as it were from which we spring: and Christ is the latter man: because he is the beginning of all them that are spiritual, and in him we are all comprehended. 3  Christ is called a Spirit, by reason of that most excellent nature, that is to say, God who dwelleth in him bodily, as Adam is called a living soul, by reason of the soul which is the best part in him.” 2

The order of God is that the natural comes first and then the spiritual:

1 Cor 15: 46-47 “The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven”

“The kingdom of God is spiritual, in the second place, in that its life and power are the life and power of the risen, exalted Jesus Christ. In His resurrection, Jesus has passed into a new life and has received hitherto unknown power, the highest life and greatest power that man can possess and wield: immortal, eternal life! life-giving, death-overcoming, irresistible power!” 3

You MUST Be Born Again:

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus and told him that you “must be born again”, Nicodemus was astonished and asked the Lord, “how can one enter again into his mother’s womb?”

John 3:3 – 8 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

To be “born again” literally means “to be born from above”. (See Greek Interlinear) Unless one experiences the heavenly birth, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is still only an earthly, carnally minded person. When we are born again and filled with God’s Holy Spirit we are changed into a new creation. We are still earthly and human, but we are also now heavenly as well, as we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. The new creation man is the divine connection between heaven and earth.

Paul, the apostle tells us: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”

The ministry of reconciliation that is given to us, God’s new creation people, is in the sharing of the gospel to a lost word, telling the of the good news that through faith in Jesus Christ God forgives their sins and does not count them against them! 2 Corinthians 5:19

Galatians 5:15 “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.”

Jesus Christ Translated Everything at the Resurrection! The Natural man, the natural city and the natural nation are changed, translated, and transformed to the Spiritual or Heavenly!

Col 1:13 – 14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, through whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

When we are born again or born from above, we are transferred from one realm to another. We are transferred from the earthly to the heavenly. This word transferred is the Greek word: meth-is’-tay-mee and it means “cause to change its place, move out of its place; I translate, transfer, remove.”

The book of Ephesians tells us that Christ has raised us and seated us with him in heavenly places. Eph. 2:6 and Colossians 3:1 goes on to say: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”

1 Corinthians 15: 49 “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall
also bear the image of the man of heaven”

“So real is the kingdom of God to us who have been translated into it by being begotten from above, so that we now have the spiritual sight of faith to see it, that the kingdom of God is the solid, substantial reality, whereas all earthly kingdoms are frail, fleeting shadows.” 4

Notes: 

1 Geneva Study Bible Notes https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/geneva-study-bible/john/john-1.html

2 1599 Geneva Bible Notes for 1 Corinthians 15: 45

3 The Kingdom of God by Prof. David J. Engelsma http://www.reformedspokane.org/Doctrine_pages/The%20doctrine%20of%20the%20church/Church%20%26%20Kingdom/Kingdom_of_God_DE/The_Kingdom_of_God4.html

Ibid

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The Israel of God by T. Austin Sparks, Pt. 1

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The Israel of God
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 – The Principle of Travail

The seed plot of this series of meditations is found in a little fragment at the end of the letter to the Galatians:

“And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God”(Galatians 6:16).

We will put alongside of that some other passages.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:10,11).

“Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? shall a nation be brought forth at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8).

“Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the residue of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel” (Micah 5:3).

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And… we ourselves groan… waiting for… adoption… the redemption of our body ” (Romans 8:22,23).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:20,21).

“My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19).

Now let us bring together particularly that phrase from Galatians 6:16: “The Israel of God”, and the fragments in Isaiah 53:10 and 11: “He shall see his seed”; “He shall see of the travail of his soul”. “His seed… the travail of his soul”.

We have before us a very full, deep and far-reaching matter: nothing less than that of the producing, securing, training, and using of a spiritual seed — a new spiritual Israel. We begin with a brief consideration of a principle, found in a word occurring in all but one of the above passages — the principle of travail.

Let us first of all remind ourselves that this is a law which God established after the fall. There is an established law of travail. You will recall what the Lord said, first to the woman, and then to the man, as recorded in Genesis 3:16-19. He there linked this law in two realms with production and reproduction: in one connection with children; in the other connection with the earth. And in these two connections of the law of travail we find three things.

Reproduction, and Hence Travail, the Justification of Life

First of all, the very justification of life is in reproduction, in multiplication, in a seed. Life is never intended to be an end in itself. Its only justification, according to God’s law and principle, is that it reproduces. And so the law of travail is linked with reproduction. That runs through the whole realm of grace, and through a large part of the realm of nature. But if there is no reproduction without travail, then the travail becomes the basis of the justification of existence. That is something much deeper than perhaps appears. One might put it like this, quite bluntly: If we are without travail, there is no justification for our existence. We shall come back to that later.

That was implicit in what God said to the woman. Then He turned to the man and spoke about the travail of his labour — of the ground bringing forth thorns and briars, that it would be by the sweat of his brow that the ground produced, and that this was the preservation and sustentation of life. This was the justification of life: the preservation and sustentation of life on the principle of travail.

And then, of course, in both cases the issue is a triumph. That is made perfectly clear in both connections. Paul puts his finger upon that, you remember, in his letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:13-15). Yes, travail, but triumph. God will see you through in spite of it. It is the triumph of life in both connections — the children and the earth; it issues as a testimony to something having been overcome, a victory over forces at work which would prevent or make it infinitely difficult. Travail, you see, is God’s law by which He is not defeated. That is where the test comes always for us: HE is not defeated. Out of the adversity, out of the difficulty, out of the suffering, something stands as a great testimony to triumph, to victory.

Travail Implies Something Costly

Now note the implication of this principle of travail — and there are many connections in which the law of travail operates: just go through the Bible and see the great number of connections where struggle and conflict and pain and anguish presages the emergence of some tremendous new thing of God. But note the implication of such a law. What did God mean by it? I think simply this — and perhaps much more, but certainly this — that nothing was going to be easy and cheap. To put it another way: that God was really establishing the tremendous value of everything. He was saving man from regarding things as being of little concern or value, forcing him to recognise that this thing is costly because it is valuable. Surely this is the offset to the whole tendency of man’s nature to get things easily and cheaply, not to pay a price for them, to escape suffering, to escape labour, to get it all without any cost. And God has written in the universe this law that anything that is of Him, whether in creation or in grace, has a price attached to it, is a costly thing; it is infinitely precious and valuable, and worth suffering for!

Note, it is intended to bring the soul in — “the travail of his SOUL”; “My SOUL is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” — to bring the soul into relation with things; and when we say that we mean love. What we get cheaply and easily we do not really love. But that which costs binds our hearts to it — it becomes a matter of the heart, of love. And so by travail the soul is saved from lightness, carelessness, frivolity, cheapness, and brought to recognise that there is something here that is infinitely precious. How far-reaching is that truth and that law! What a lot of ground it covers! God is not going to let the creation off in this matter. This is the explanation of so much. And nations and peoples that just give themselves up to frivolity, to cheapness, to escapism and all that sort of thing, are on the high road to a bad time in their history. It will not be too long before they pass through some fiery ordeal, in order to bring back the preciousness and the seriousness of things.

And if this is true in the realm of nature and the world, how much it explains in the realm of God’s spiritual things! Oh, the infinite tragedy of trying to make the things of God cheap and easy — even salvation, and the Christian life! — appealing always to the pleasure side of men, trying to eliminate the cost. The Lord Jesus never did that. Salvation is something of infinite cost: everything to do with salvation is infinitely precious, and there is not one fragment of all that is of God which is not of surpassing and transcendent value. It is not just going to be had willy-nilly. “Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Yes, suffering is attached to anything of value, and that is particularly true of spiritual things.

At that very point, you and I need to have our minds “converted” — we need a tremendous change of mind. Unless you recognise that, unless that has become true for you, there are some things in the Bible you cannot understand. They sound flippant, garrulous; they sound as though they are just words, words, words… Listen: “Our light affliction, which is for the moment…” (2 Cor. 4:17). What are you talking about, Paul — “our light affliction”? Well, listen to his catalogue of sufferings! Listen to him as he tells us of all that he had to go through for the Gospel’s sake, and read the much more that Luke tells us, that Paul never mentions personally. What that beloved servant of God went through for the Gospel’s sake —! And yet he talks like this: “Our light affliction which is but for a passing moment”. You cannot talk like that in the presence of suffering unless you have seen the infinite preciousness of that toward which God is working and bringing you. “Though now for a little while… ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, yet… ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory…” (1 Pet. 1:6,8). Now look at the context of that: fiery trials. You cannot get through, understand, endure the travail, unless you have some sense of the value of things.

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Taming the Wild Horse


Thanks to Pamela for permission to share this teaching!

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Taming the Wild Horse

By Pamela Mcdonald

Sep 8, 2018 at 7:32 PM

Today while lying here thinking about taking a nap I couldn’t clear my mind. I kept thinking about the work of the Holy Spirit and the LORD Jesus. As I had just drifted off to sleep I was interrupted a few times by Kathryn coming in my room, asking questions or looking for things. I kept my cool and even hushed any thought of aggravation that tried to enter my mind. Then closing my eyes the YouTube music of Christian Saxophone instrumentals would freeze, then the phone rang. It was a mirage of interruptions and I was still trying to keep my composure and just relax.

I laid back down and something I had said Tuesday to someone came in my mind.

The LORD looks at me like a wild horse that needs tamed.”

Then in my spirit, I heard, “study what it is like to tame a wild horse compared to your walk with Christ.”

Now mind you I am still wanting to nap, so I thought, I will look that up when I wake up. Immediately the study I did yesterday for someone, came flooding in my mind about grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. I quickly sat up and began to search out taming wild horses. What I have discovered is amazing and a huge eye opener when I look at myself and my walk with Christ.

A wild horse is “meeked” when tamed, and I do not believe that is worded by accident. Being meek is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and to get a better understanding of what that word means go to the Strong’s Concordance not the Webster Dictionary.

Strong’s Concordance

praus: mild, gentle

Original Word: πραΰς, πραεῖα, πραΰ
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: praus
Phonetic Spelling: (prah-ooce’)
Short Definition: mild, gentle
Definition: mild, gentle.

HELPS Word-studies

Cognate: 4239 praýs (also listed as 4239a/praupathia in NASdictionary) – meek. See 4236 (praótēs).

This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.”Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.

[The English term “meek” often lacks this blend – i.e. of gentleness(reserve) and strength.]

This same Greek word “praus” is used when taming a wild animal.

In the New Testament language of Koine Greek the word for humble was ‘praus’. Borrowed from the military, praus related to horse training. The Grecian army would find the wildest horses in the mountains and bring them to be broken in. After months of training, they sorted themselves into categories: some were discarded, some broken and made useful for burden bearing, some were useful for ordinary duty and the fewest of all graduated as war horses. When a horse passed the conditioning required for a war horse, its state was described as ‘praus’. The war horse had ‘power under authority’ or ‘strength under control’. A war horse never ceased to be determined, strong and passionate. However, it learned to bring its nature under discipline. It gave up being wild, unruly, out of control and rebellious. A war horse learned to bring that nature under control. It would now respond to the slightest touch of the rider, stand in the face of canon fire, thunder into battle and stop at a whisper.” Robert I Holmes of Storm-Harvest Ministries

A wild horse never loses its passion it is born with, nor does it lose its strength, but instead learns how to control itself under the authority of its trainer. The horse must learn to trust the trainer.

When a trainer begins training a wild horse, they must show themselves to be trustworthy. A trainer will get the attention of the horse to look his way, when he is sure it is looking at him he will be as calm as possible to show the horse he is not a threat. He will also extend his arm out gently and slowly, so the horse can get used to his scent. When the horse looks away he will scare it making it run away keeping his distance. The trainer will do this several times teaching the horse when it looks at the trainer there is calm when it looks away it gets scared. This causes the horse to trust the trainer and eventually allowing the trainer to approach the horse.

A horse must always feel safe with the trainer. When the trust is established the horse will do whatever the trainer asks of it, because there has been established a level of trust. The horse will be transformed from a wild horse doing as it desires, and become a tamed horse doing what the trainer desires. The horse does not become weak in this process but becomes meeked which is not weakness. The horse now has its power under authority, and its strength under control. A trainer that is consistent and faithful will have the ultimate companion and a bond will be very strong between them.

A horse was created to run, and boy do wild horses enjoy running in open fields and meadows. Even the trained horses enjoy the freedom of running, because that is how God created them. Therefore, we place bits and bridles on them to help control that urge to take off. If a horse is walking in the woods where there is moss covered rocks, tree branches, and big logs, the rider needs to use the reigns to keep the horse from running and possibly slipping and injuring themselves. A horse that is injured would be hard to get out of the depths of the woods and would probably end in destruction to the animal. When the opening of the woods appears, and the open field is in view the horse will take off at full run to enjoy running freely.

When we come to the LORD and are born again we are a new creation in Christ, yet there are things that remain in us that need to be tamed. It does not mean we are not truly born again, it means we need to be reigned in like a wild horse and be tamed, learning not to lean on our own self anymore but to lean on Him.

I am a very passionate person when it comes to the LORD and His Word. At times I sadly allow my passions and zeal to run away from me, and get argumentative, harsh, all the while trying to tell people that Jesus is love and is forgiving! Well, that doesn’t get received very well with an unbridled passion.

I am like a wild horse taking off at full speed and the LORD is using the Holy Spirit to tame me. I can only be of limited use to the LORD in my wild and untamed stage in my life right now, and the LORD is showing me it is time to “let go and let God.” While breaking me during this time of taming, I must let go of my own ways, self-will, being headstrong, selfish and unpredictable. By doing so I will embrace His Will, obedience, allow the Holy Spirit to bridle my tongue and be fit for the Master’s use. My walk in Him will be strengthened and faith will increase as I submit myself to Him. I have been that horse taking off in full speed in the woods and have stumbled and injured myself. But thankfully the LORD did not let destruction overtake me and helped me up leading me to an open field to run for a while.

My passion will not fade during this time but will be harnessed in a Godly manner instead. By allowing the Holy Spirit to be my guide, where He tells me to go I will go, when He tells me to stand still I will stand still.

It sometimes varies the amount of time this will take considering we are all different. Some people are fully trusting and embrace this quickly, while some like myself have been hurt often and been betrayed, so it has taken a bit longer. Even though I am not relying and trusting on another person but on God Himself, believe it or not it is hard to simply let go of my will and follow His Will which is perfect.

But He has been showing me in prayer, through His Word and other Believers He alone can be trusted and He is faithful.

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Tamar and the Praise Breakthrough

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The Story of Judah and Tamar

Gen 38:1 “It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

12 In course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheeps hearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord
and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.
19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.”

In this account Judah, the son of Jacob marries a Canaanite woman, whose father’s name Shuah means “wealth”. She bears 3 sons: Er,whose name means awake, aroused, stirred up and excited. Onan, whose name means strong and vigorous. And lastly, Shelah, whose name means petition, request, demand and thing asked for. Shelah was born at Chezib which means “false”, from the root word meaning “to lie, to deceive, to disappoint, to fail”

This story about Judah and his sons has important implications for us. His first son marries Tamar, but he is wicked (ra) and dies without a descendant. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word ra (Strong’s No. 7451) which is translated wicked in this verse can also be translated wrong in certain cases. It is possible that this might be the better translation in this case. It could be that Er was wrong to be an ancestor of Jesus Christ and that is why he was removed.

This story happens many years before the law of the kinsman redeemer is given to Moses. (Leviticus 25:48) According to the Israelite law of levirate marriage (from the Latin levir, meaning “a husband’s brother”), the brother of a childless dead man is required to raise children to his dead brother’s name by marrying the widow. Therefore, Judah then gives his second son to Tamar to produce an offspring for his dead brother, Er.

The meaning of the custom is explained in Deu. 25:6: “that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.” Secondary economic factors are also present. The widow cannot inherit her husband’s property. Only her children can, so she is reliant on them. If she has a child by the levirate custom, the property of the deceased then passes on to that child.

This is God’s principle of the kinsman redeemer

The Hebrew word redeemer is: Ga’al gaw-al’ meaning to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman by marrying his brother’s widow to beget a child for him,

The nearest of kin had the responsibility of redeeming his kinsman’s lost opportunities. If a person was forced into slavery, his redeemer purchased his freedom. When debt threatened to overwhelm him, the kinsman stepped in to redeem his homestead and let the family live. If a family member died without an heir the kinsman gave his name by marrying the widow and rearing a son to hand down his name (Deuteronomy 25:5; Genesis 38:8; Ruth 3-4).” (2)

The Story of Ruth and Boaz

boaz

The book of Ruth is a story about Naomi’s Goel (Kinsman redeemer). Naomi (PleasantOne), a picture of Israel, had wondered away from Bethlehem (house of bread). he was the poorest person in Israel, but her kinsman was the richest man in Israel. Because of the death of her husband, Elimelich (God is my king), and two sons Mahlon (sick) and Chilion (pining), she and her daughter-in-laws lost all income and their homestead. Naomi was living in a foreign land and sensed the loss of her homeland and relatives. She became bitter. The secret of all her daughter-in-law Ruth had was in her union with Boaz (In him is strength). The nearer kinsman had the first right to the property and Boaz came next after him. If Ruth’s closer relative would not redeem or purchase it, Boaz was prepared to  do so. The man who was nearest of kin agreed to redeem the piece of land until he found out there was a young widow involved. He raciously backed out because it would mar his own inheritance (Ruth 4:6)! That left Boaz as the rightful nearest of kin who had the privilege of redeeming her land and her with it. The Moabitess and the Jew became one. 

Boaz was nearest of kin to her deceased husband (Ruth 2:1). He was able to redeem by paying the price of redemption (2:1), and he was willing to redeem the land (4:4).” (3)

In Numbers 35:19 this same Hebrew word is used as for the word “avenger” in “avenger  of blood”, who is a near kinsman.  Therefore the kinsman redeemer is also the avenger  of blood. The Jewish law gave the right of redeeming and repurchasing, as well as  of  avenging blood, to the next relative, who was accordingly called by this name. To theHebrews this meant that the kinsman redeemer was one charged with the duty ofrestoring the rights of another and of avenging his wrongs. 

Boaz represents Jesus Christ in his role of Kinsman redeemer and avenger of Blood! Jesus has gone before us and broken through the breech where we can enter in by his blood! He has made the way for us to be fruitful!

Onan Refused to Be Tamar’s Kinsman Redeemer

Gen 38:9 “But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother.”

Onan, knowing that this son with Tamar, will not be his heir refuses to impregnate her and makes a decision in his own strength to spill his seed on the ground. The Lord considered this to be wickedness and put Onan to death also. We can only imagine how Judah felt by losing his first two sons, and we can also only imagine how he felt about Tamar!

Gen 38:11 “Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.”

Tamar puts on widow’s garments and goes back to live with her father. The word widow in Hebrew is also translated “desolate house”. And connotes being forsaken, from the root word meaning to be bound! The widow’s garments identified her as one who was forsaken, desolate, and bound. Widow’s were specifically protected under the law of Moses. The book of Isaiah in chapter 54:4 states that widowhood was something that disgraced and shamed a woman and caused her to feel reproach.

The Bible does not say how many years Tamar waited; but after a considerable time, Shelah grew up. Remember that Shelah’s name means “petition”. It now becomes apparent to Tamar that her father-in-law has no intention of granting her “petition”! It is more than likely that he felt that he would lose that son also as he did the other two.

At that point, Tamar faced a dilemma. Should she just forget the whole thing? Or, perhaps even marry into a completely different family? Or should she take matters into her own hands and do the right thing by trying to perpetuate Er’s family line? Tamar does the later – she will procure for herself her right to have a son from husband’s family.

Tamar

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Let us now consider the name Tamar and what it means. Tamar’s name means “Palm tree”! She is a tree and her destiny is to bear seed and reproduce! Specifically her names refers to the date palm.

It’s trunk is straight, tall and unbroken, terminating in a crown of emerald-green plumes, like a diadem of gigantic ostrich-feathers; these leaves are frequently twenty feet in length,….The palm is, in truth, a beautiful and most useful tree. Its fruit is the daily food of millions; its sap furnishes an agreeable wine; the fibres of the base of its leaves are woven in ropes and rigging; its tall stem supplies a valuable timber; its leaves are manufactured into brushes, mats, bags, couches and baskets. This one tree supplies almost all the wants of the Arab or Egyptian.– Bible Plants.” “Perhaps no point is more worthy of mention, if we wish to pursue the comparison, than the elasticity of the fibre of the palm, and its determined growth upward even when loaded with weights.” (4)

What a fitting description for this woman, Tamar. Another aspect of the palm tree is that it thrives in the hottest and driest places (persecution and adverse conditions), and is perpetually green (always spiritually alive and productive).

The palm tree is a symbol of the nations of the world being fed by Israel. James B. Jordan in his book “Through New Eyes” states that the70palm trees represent the nations of the world when the nation of Israel camped at Elim. (Ex. 15:27 and Numbers 33:9). The spiritual water from the 12 water jars (the twelve tribes of Israel)were to nurish the nations of the world and grow a new nation of Palms to replace the counterfeit Jerico (“City of Palm Trees”) which was destroyed.

Once the counterfeit City of Palm Trees was destroyed, God began to grow His own. Fittingly, Deborah judged Israel under a palm tree (Judges 4:5). When finally grown, the true City of Palms was the Temple, which was frescoed with palms all around inside (Edenic motifs) representing God’s arboreal host (1 Kings 6:29; Ezk 41:18-21; Psalm 92: 12-14; cf. Psalm 52:8) (5)

Tamar Refuses to be Barren


Judah, as a representative of the nation of Israel, refuses to water Tamar (his palm tree) causing her to remain barren, therefore she takes matters into her own hands.

Gen. 38:14 “And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.(Gen. 38:15) When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.”

Having heard that Judah had become a widower, she deceives him into believing she is a prostitute. Not recognizing her, Judah requested her services and paid her with a pledge:

Gen 38: 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.

These were symbols of authority and marks of identification. The seal, cord, and staff were the insignia of a prominent men. “The signet ring or cylinder seal is used to sign contracts; the staff has markings carved on it which are particular to the owner.” (6) The seal was carried on a cord around the neck and used by rolling it over a soft clay document.

With his signet ring or seal and staff, it was possible for her to identify with certainty the father of her child, but when Judah sent his friend back with the goat as a payment, and instructions to retrieve his belongings, the woman could not be found. In fact, nobody had even heard of her. Much to Judah’s chagrin, he had to let the whole matter go, “lest we be shamed” (38:23). (To cover his OWN sin)

Three months later Judah learns that Tamar is pregnant and thought it could only be because she had played the harlot, since he had not provided her a proper husband. Judah decreed that she be put to death. When Tamar appeared for the execution she produced Judah’s seal and staff and said, “Do you recognize these?” Immediately he owned the items along with his responsibility and said, “She is more righteous than I am because I would not give her Shelah my son.”

Her righteousness was to be found in the duty she performed for her dead husband, to raise up offspring to perpetuate his name, something Judah had failed to accomplish. Tamar does this at great personal risk!

Gen 38:27 “When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.”

Tamar gives birth to twins

Perez, whose name means “breach”: to breach, gap, bursting forth bursting forth, outburst ;breach ; broken wall, from the root word: Parets which means: gap

Her second son’s name was Zerah which means “shining” and is from the root word Zerach which means “dawning” and “shining” “to rise, come forth, break out, arise, rise up, shine”

Perez (the breakthrought) become an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus. (Matthew 1:3)

Jesus, The Lord of the Breakthrough

Micah 2:13, “One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the LORD at their head.”

Micah is telling us the Jesus Christ will come and break open our way!  He goes up before us and breaks through our gates (or obstacles).

1 Chron 14:8 “And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them. 9 And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. (Giants) 10 And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand. 11 So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim.” (Which means “lord of the breaks”)

Job 38:8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

When we give birth our water must break first! This happens during labor!!

This story about David in the Valley of the Giants where he is faced with an attack by the Philistine army, is in direct opposition to the story of the Israelites when facing the giants before entering the promised land. (Numbers 13 and 14)

Some of us are in the valley of the giants! We are facing obstacles that are overwhelming and causing us to be unfruitful or unproductive. God desires that we be tenacious like Tamar and not give up. Remember the story Jesus told about the widow and the unjust judge? He granted her petition because of her persistence!

For Tamar it was seed time and she was a fruitful tree who refused to be barren!

Interestingly, both Tamar, who played the role of the harlot, and Ruth the Moabitess, both Gentile women, are named in Matthew in the lineage of Jesus Christ:

Matt 1:2 “Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.”

Jesus is our redeemer in blood! Tamar did whatever she needed to do, even to the point of looking like a harlot, and she became intimate with Judah (whose name means Praise!) and gave birth to one who would be the ancestor of the Messiah. When we become intimate with praise miracles will happen!

When we become intimate with PRAISE the Lord goes before us and breaks through to our SHINNING DAWN!

Psalm 34: 1“I will bless the Lord at ALL times, his praise will continually
be in my mouth!”

Psalm 71:8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.

It was a result of her intimacy with praise which caused her conception and she gave birth to twins (a double portion!) The seed of praise impregnates us with hope and gives birth to a breakthrough and a shining dawn! So arise and shine for your light has come and your breakthrough is at hand!!

FootNotes:

1. “Trees and Thorns Studies in Gen 2 -4″ by James B Jordan pg 10

2. zoechristiancenter.org/Kinsman%20Redeemer.doc

3. Ibid

4. Smiths Bible Dictionary

5. “Through New Eyes” James B. Jordan pg. 91

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The Breaking of the Waters (Re-publishing)

ed8595a9fe8009f438b743951eb18b5d

by Joanne Panettieri

For the past several days in prayer I have been hearing the Holy Spirit saying “Breakthrough, breakthrough, breakthrough”!

This brought to my remembrance the story of King David when he defeated the Philistines:

 2 Samuel 5: 17:   When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold.  18  Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim;  19 so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”

20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

The term “Baal Perazim” literally means Baal “the owner or lord” of the perets, “breaking forth or breach” or literally the “Lord of the Breakthrough”. We use the term “breach” in English as a noun in referring to a “breach in the law”, a “breach of contract” or a “breaking of the law”. As a verb it means “to make a gap in and break through” as in “there is a breach in the wall”. David saying “as the waters break out” is a term referring to a child coming forth from the birth canal and is a reference to birthing and new life.

“During pregnancy, your baby is surrounded and cushioned by a fluid-filled membranous sac called the amniotic sac. Typically, at the beginning of or during labor your membranes will rupture — also known as your water breaking.” 1

This same term is used in Genesis 38 when we look at the story of Tamar and Judah.

Genesis 38: 27  When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28  As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29  But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.   30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

In the story of Tamar we find out that her husband, the son of Judah, dies. Judah then gives her his second son as a husband to have children in his brother’s name, as a kinsman redeemer. He refuses to impregnate her and the Lord also kills him. Tamar is then left to live as a widow, while she waits for Judah’s third son. When Tamar releases that Judah is not going to give her his third son to bring forth a child in her husband’s name, she seduces Judah and becomes pregnant with twins.

When the midwife says “So this is how you have broken out” she uses the same word “perets” that David used in referring to the Lord of the Breakthrough, because God was giving  him victory over his enemies.

Tamar, a barren woman, impregnates herself by Judah, whose name means “praise”. She then gives birth to twins, a double portion. The first one she names “Perez” or breakthrough. The second one Zerah, which means “to rise”, “come forth” or “to shine”.

This same word in verb form is zerach and is used in Isaiah 60: 1 referring to the glory of the Lord “rising” or “coming forth”.

Isaiah 60:

1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you

and his glory appears over you.

As I write this today, it is the first day of the 3 part Feast of Tabernacles. The first part of that feast is called “Yom Teruah” or the “Day of Shouting” and the “Feast of Trumpets”. The blowing of the trumpets is a call to attention, to remind the people that the day of atonement, or repentance, is near. For the Christian, this is a reminder that we are to stay in a constant state of repentance before God. We can shout the victory because of the complete atonement that we have by the blood of Jesus.

During the Feast of Tabernacles there was also a breaking forth of water in the Temple. This was known as the “water libation ceremony” and it took place at on the 8th or “great day” of the feast. In Hebrew it was called Nissuch Ha-Mayim. During this ceremony the priests would bring a procession to the pool of Siloam (living water) and fill golden pitchers with water, which were then poured out on the altar in the temple as the priests and congregation recited the “Hallel”  or praise Psalms 113 – 118,  giving thanks and reminding God of his promises. It was at this juncture we read in John 7:

 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

The “rivers of living water” are the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which breaks out through the believer as the water of life, and is an essential part of the new birth.

The Feasts of the Lord are holy convocations and were required to be attended by all the males in Israel. They are all connected through water. In Passover we pass though the waters of baptism, and go from death to life. In Pentecost we are filled with the water of the Spirit, as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4 “whoever drinks of this water will never thirst”. And in Tabernacles the water of the spirit breaks forth from out of us into the world to bring forth the harvest. Let us always strive to keep the eternal feasts of the Lord in our daily lives!

Leviticus 23: 41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

1 Cor 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of
malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

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A Scriptural Look at Leviathan

Destruction_of_Leviathan

A Scriptural Look at Leviathan  by Joanne Panettieri

Today I would like to take a look at a very misunderstood creature in the Bible, Leviathan (also known as Rahab). Having spent almost 30 years in ministry of some sort and about 18 of those years as missionaries, we have run across many demonic strongholds. We have encountered this one in particular, as he is called “the king over all who are proud” Job 41:34. In our ministry to the Chinese we saw this as the dragon, the national symbol of China and pride is a major personality characteristic of Asian people. I have seen Leviathan’s operations as a ruling spirit as well in the State of New York (the Empire State).

Who or What Really is Leviathan ?

According to scripture Leviathan is a sea monster or sea dragon, who is slain by God during the creation. In relating the story of creation in Psalm 74 the writer Asaph personifies the churning sea as a Leviathan, a mighty sea monster whose heads are broken in the waters.

Psalm 74
12 But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.
13 It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
15 It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
16 The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon.
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.

Because the sea was an uncontrollable force, the ancients considered it a monster, but one that God was able to control and dominate in creation. Michael Heiser give further insight into this:

“The reference to God breaking “the heads of the sea monster” and crushing “the heads of Leviathan” has led many on a desperate study of Old Testament zoology. But this, along with many other confusing Old Testament images, has a cultural context.
In the ancient world, the original (“primordial”) chaotic conditions of creation were often portrayed as a monstrous dragon. This is reflected in stories from ancient Babylon and Israel’s closest neighbor, Ugarit (ancient Syria, just north of Israel).
In the literature of ancient Ugarit, the god Baal battles Yamm, who is portrayed as a chaotic, churning sea and a terrifying sea dragon named Tannun or Litanu. These terms are equivalent to the Hebrew words in Psalm 74:13–14: “You divided the sea (ים, yam) by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters (תנינים, tanninim) on the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan (לויתן, liwyatan)”.”1”1

Psalm 104 confirms Leviathan as a sea creature, but one that is tamed by God

Psalm 104:

24 How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. 26 There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

Here we see Leviathan described as a tamed sea creature frolicking in the ocean. Nothing in all of creation is beyond the power of God to subdue and control. “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea– the LORD on high is mighty.” Psalm 93:4

 
When we look further at other references to Leviathan in scripture we see that he is mentioned in this Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 27:

Deliverance of Israel:
1 In that day,
the Lord will punish with his sword—
his fierce, great and powerful sword—
Leviathan the gliding serpent,
Leviathan the coiling serpent;
he will slay the monster of the sea.

The Hebrew Bible actually calls him the “torturous” serpent::
“In that day the LORD with His sore and great and strong sword will punish leviathan the slant serpent, and leviathan the tortuous serpent; and He will slay the dragon that is in the sea”. Isa 27:1 2

We see from this verse that some of the characteristics of this spiritual entity are that he is a coiling and gliding serpent. “The name לִוְיָתָן‎ is a derivation from the root לוה‎ lvh “to twine; to join”, with an adjectival suffix ן-‎, with a literal meaning of “wreathed, twisted in folds”3

By definition the name Leviathan is a “mourning wreath” which is a coiling or twisting of branches and commemorates a death. The nature of this spirit is to twist and bring confusion by the twisting of words and miscommunication. His goal is spiritual death. The book of Job goes into greater detail about the characteristics of Leviathan, and we will discuss these a little later.

This chapter in Isaiah, goes on to say that after Leviathan is defeated, the altars of the idols will be torn down and the people will gather to worship the Lord on Mount Zion (The Holy Mountain) in Jerusalem. It was through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that all satanic power was defeated. (Col 2:15) We are now, both Jew and Gentile, one new man called to worship God on Mount Zion in the eternal city, Heavenly Jerusalem. (see Hebrews 12:18 – 29).

Now let us take a look at several other references to Leviathan, but this time where he is called by the name Rahab.

Psalm 89: 8 – 10
8 Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.

“In medieval Jewish folklore, Rahab (splendour) is a mythical sea-monster, a dragon of the waters, the “demonic angel of the sea”. Rahab is also seen as a deity in the text. Rahab represents the primordial abyss, the water-dragon of darkness and chaos, comparable to Leviathan and Tiamat. Rahab later became a particular demon, inhabitant of the sea, especially associated with the Red Sea.“ 4

In Psalm 89 Rahab takes the personification and meaning of the primeval, chaotic, multi-headed sea-dragon Leviathan.

In chapter 30 of the book of Isaiah, the Prophet clearly correlates Rahab with Egypt:

Isaiah 30
1 “Woe to the obstinate children,” (Stiff necked and stubborn.)
declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine, (going your own way on the Sabbath Isaiah 58)
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, (false covenant or unholy aliance)
heaping sin upon sin;
2 who go down to Egypt (the world or world system)
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,
Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace……..
Through a land of hardship and distress,
of lions and lionesses,
of adders and darting snakes,
the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs,
their treasures on the humps of camels,
to that unprofitable nation,
7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless.
Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing. (The world can NOT save you!) Isaiah 30: 1 – 7

Youngs Literal translation states verse 7 thus:

7 Yea, Egyptians [are] vanity, and in vain do help, Therefore I have cried concerning this: `Their strength [is] to sit still.’

Rahab then becomes identified with insolence and pride and a false sense of security and strength that can not help. To go to Egypt (the world or world system) for help is utterly useless and vain. It causes people to form UNHOLY ALLIANCES and this manifests in their stubbornness (the people were stiff necked). In Egypt we have the devouring lion and adders and darting snakes. Egypt (the world) is filled with false riches and false security that will ultimately destroy you.

The main point of Rahab being identified as Egypt is that Leviathan is a Ruling Spirit. Egypt was ruled over by Pharaoh and this spirit prevents or blocks true worship! (“let my people go that they may worship me”). This spirit enslaves God’s people and puts them under hard labor (a works based religion).  You will always see pride manifest in people who are in works based cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses (they have the “truth” and you don’t) We see the same manifestations as mentioned earlier, as Pharaoh was the King of Pride (Egypt) and was stubborn and controlling.

Now lets look at Job 9:13

13 God does not restrain His anger; the helpers of Rahab (pride, blusterer) cower beneath Him.

Job 26: 12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
13 By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent.

According to the Jewish encyclopedia definition of Rahab:

“Originally a mythical name designating the abyss or the sea; subsequently applied to Egypt. Job 9: 13 and 26:12 indicate that it is an alternative for “Tiamat,” the Babylonian name of the dragon of darkness and chaos;
Ps. 89. 9 also indicates that “Rahab” is a name applied to the sea-monster, the dragon. According to a sentence preserved in the Talmud, “Rahab” is the name of the demon, the ruler of the sea (“Sar shel Yam”; B. B. 74b). It is used as a designation for Egypt in Ps.87:4 and Isa. 30:. 7. Similarly, in Isa. 51:9, which alludes to the exodus from Egypt, the destruction of Pharaoh is described as a smiting of the great sea-monster Rahab or the dragon Tannin.

The juxtaposition of “Rahab” and “Tannin” in this passage explains why “Rahab” was used as a designation for Egypt, which was otherwise called “Tannin” (see Ezek. 39:. 3, Hebr.). It must be noted that the Jewish exegetes deprived the word “Rahab” of its mythological character, and explained it as merely an equivalent for “arrogance,” “noise,” or “tumult”—applied both to the roaring of the sea and to the arrogant noisiness and proud boasting of the Egyptians (comp. Abraham ibn Ezra on Ps. lxxxvii. 4 and lxxxix. 9).” 5

We see the characteristics of this spiritual force looking at the definition of the name Rahab. The Name Rahaḇ, means “blusterer” and is used in the Hebrew Bible to indicate “rage, fierceness, insolence, pride and arrogance” which were all characteristics of Egypt’s Pharaoh. (see quote above from the Jewish Encyclopedia)

The prophet Isaiah clearly points out in Chapter 51 that the Lord God defeated Egypt and Pharaoh at the Red Sea. The defeat of Pharaoh and his army is symbolic of Jesus’ victory at the cross. (See Numbers 13 and 14)

Isaiah 51:

9 Awake, awake, arm of the Lord,
clothe yourself with strength!
Awake, as in days gone by,
as in generations of old.
Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,
who pierced that monster through?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over? (the Exodus)
11 Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Cor 1: 1-2 that water baptism is symbolic of crossing over the Red Sea:

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. “

The crossing over the Red Sea and entering the promised land is a pattern of our salvation. We cross over from the world (Egypt, or death) to Canaan, the promised land (the Kingdom of God and eternal life) and it is symbolized by our being buried with Christ in water baptism and being raised to new life.

Lastly, I want to take a look at the description of Leviathan in the book of Job. I believe Leviathan is a ruling spirit, but he is the KING over ALL who are proud. We can not deliver someone from a ruling spirit, but people can repent of and be delivered from pride and come out from under Leviathan’s control. Be advised that this is a battle that is not easily won and requires much humility and deep and sincere repentance.

Job 41:

1 “Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
3 Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?

Man can NOT tame the Leviathan!

4 Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?

Man can not control it or tame it. Leviathan will NOT enter into covenant. It is the spirit behind strife and divorce. Because pride is a main characteristic of this spirit, Leviathan will never submit to another.

6 Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?

Man can not go to war against it!

8 If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?

“When roused, he grows ferocious, no one can face him in a fight” (the Jerusalem Bible)

This is a ferocious spirit. Men who attempt to subdue it will be greatly injured. Only God can subdue Leviathan.

11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.

Leviathan is protected by his many scales! Leviathan is able to shield himself with other spirits. When you encounter people who are manifesting pride you will also see other demonic forces at work to protect him.

18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
2 1Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.

Leviathan is ruthless in its attack. Deliverance from pride is the hardest fought battle, and for someone to get free it is like peeling the layers of an onion. You may have to cast out the protecting spirits before you get to the strong man.

22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
2 3 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 I ts chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.

Leviathan manifests as one who is stiff necked. Depression and dismay can also manifest.

26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.

There is no human weapon that can defeat Leviathan! The way into battle with this force is complete humility and prostration before the Lord. THIS BATTLE IS THE LORD’S!!

31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.

Leviathan will stir up trouble for you to distract you from your course. Remember that the closer you are to the target the fiercer the battle will become.

34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

Leviathan RULES over those who are haughty and proud!   When you see someone wanting the preeminence know that this spirit is at work. 

How to defeat Leviathan

THE GREATEST WEAPON AGAINST LEVIATHAN IS HUMILITY. This battle is the Lord’s.   Stay in a place of humility and service to God.   He must become greater, and we must become less.  We must humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and satan will flee!   

 

Footnotes:

  1. https://blog.logos.com/2017/10/bible-say-god-battled-sea-monsters-creation/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=whydoesthebible&utm_campaign=heiserq42017&fbclid=IwAR0Pf5UForCNc_PZFXaUaQK4YE2FiYbDzLTo3E7Io_5Gq3RaEPsjUnlRXSk 
  2. https://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1027.htm#1
  3. Wilhelm Gesenius, Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (trans.) (1879). Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahab_(Egypt)
    .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ourselves under God’s mighty hand and satan will flee.

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