We’ve Got Work to Do

You need not take me seriously when I insist that reality has shifted. If your heart doesn’t verify it, don’t worry about it. You have to walk your own path. However, I need to explain where my head is so you can gauge your filters accordingly.

I’ve been contemplating this for some weeks now; for me, the shift in reality became noticeable after the collision back in April. I now believe that the huge spiritual moment for me back on the bridge over Crooked Oak Creek, just before the collision, was a moment to confirm that I was ready for whatever God wanted to do.

Some of you have been hanging around this blog long enough to remember that I had proposed a big change in our ministry last fall. For once, I requested donations directly. I wanted to host more of my ministry here at home. I got enough money to buy a respectable machine. That was before the bike wreck and the shattered knee cap. I’m still using that machine because it’s very powerful and runs demanding software quite easily. It’s not wasted, but I still use my laptop for most writing like this because the posture is much more comfortable for long periods. I can sit in my recliner and stay focused. This has become increasingly important.

Much of what I was anticipating in my heart shifted along with reality after the wreck. God is a real Person; He’s not some collection of logical principles that you can nail down with theology. His nature is complex and ineffable. It’s not like He never changes His mind. Further, He stands ready to handle each of us according to our personal moral development. When we cross certain invisible thresholds, He changes what He will do with us. Drawing closer to Him in desire and commitment changes what we see coming from His hand. And sometimes, just like any other person, He decides that a new opportunity for showing His glory has opened up and He can move things along another track.

This reality in which we live is fungible. It’s more than just a matter of “perception = reality.” I’m convinced that God has shifted things around both past and present. And it’s totally up to His whims whether everything is changed to match. It could well be that God in His divine wisdom didn’t change every single trace, so that archaeologists keep finding stuff that actually doesn’t mean anything at all. Does God play head games with humans like that? You betcha, because our heads are untrustworthy in the first place. He runs this reality according to His own moral character, and you cannot understand it with your head. If you learn how to reason from the heart, you realize none of this is scandalous. It’s just His way of demanding that we shift back into the heart-mind. Nothing can require Him to make reality rational, and I’m utterly certain reality is not supposed to be rational.

Feel free to blame me if you think I was misleading you about all those plans for how this ministry would explode. In the context of that moment, I was utterly certain of it. I wasn’t wrong when I suggested that was where things were headed; it’s just not heading that way any more. We were approaching apocalypse, but God changed His mind. I cannot shake the feeling that the change is actually toward something more glorious, and that it rests at least in part on my willingness to invest the much greater effort. Not so much more work, but more dangerous work. And some of you are sensing that shift in reality with me because you have also accepted the mission. So because I was morally ready to face the huge injury and the year-long recovery process, and you were ready for whatever extra demands God might make on you, we are on a new path. We are blessed to see and grasp the nature of this shift and not go insane the way a lot of other folks are going.

Granted, it took awhile for me to gain an awareness of it. There was the huge distraction with my broken body, and another distraction with my heart acting crazy (and no more caffeine!), plus a lot of preparatory thinking, but I eventually caught onto it. For several weeks, I was consumed with just getting to ride again and take lots of pictures, but now there’s a whole new range of stuff dawning on me.

For example, we will still tribulate. However, God has allowed things to take a different course and the tribulation will take a different shape. I no longer see a massive economic crash coming. Banking crash, yes, but I sense God has plans to keep things working so that we can ride out the shock of that. It’s not just here in the US, but a lot of people are now in place with a mind to keep things working despite a general failure of the credit banking system. There will also be some social shocks that vary widely in different places.

I now honestly have hope that America will withdraw from the empire building. That in itself will be a sea change here in the US; perhaps you can estimate how it will affect other countries where some of you live. We are unlikely to see the police state pull back any time soon. On the contrary, it’ll probably get worse in some ways. I believe the right-wing backlash will face less resistance, which will change the character of what drives it, and the character of the results.

And if it turns out I’m totally wrong, it’s about time I learned what kind of fool I am so maybe I can recover and do something else. I’m ready to face that prospect, as well. Right now, my faith has been consistent for weeks regarding how the election will turn out. As previously noted, it’s not because I like any of the candidates (five have made the news); the issue is what kind of tribulation we are facing with each one. I’m preparing myself to handle the brand of sorrow we get with one particular candidate. If that fails, all my expectations are wrong and I’ve been misleading everyone else. But my heart can do no other.

Instead of piling up canned goods and hand tools, I’m investing in cyber defenses. I still believe we’ll see some crap from the Zionists, but I can’t guess what it will be. We will see plenty of ugliness and warfare, but nothing like where we were headed before. Indeed, I’m convinced that computer networking stuff will be the main battle line, though not the only one. The stage was set when the US finally let go of controlling the Internet naming system. This opens the door to all sorts of mischief we can’t imagine. Not that the US was doing such a fine job, but the surrender of control changes how big shots think about all of it. Actually, the US still has indirect control over the most of the current physical infrastructure of the Net, because US companies still own and host most of the backbone traffic hardware. Still, because of how it changes the perception folks have, it will disrupt the status quo in a big way. I’m expecting more trouble in computer networking than almost anything else I know about.

And with that disruption comes a whole boat-load of cascading disruptions in other areas of human activity. We will tribulate; get your head ready for it. For most of us, it’s too late to consider moving to another place. I’m hoping you have obeyed your heart and sought out where God intends to plant you for the coming mission. I’m quite certain I’m where I belong. Still, the worst that happens with a sudden change in residence is having to discard stuff that I like. I keep reminding myself that it’s just stuff and God can provide everything, but it’s much easier to face the mission if you sense that what you have is only what God has provided for your mission. Before that changes, a lot of other things would have to change first, I truly believe. So for now, my heart says just hang on through the winter before giving it any thought.

I’m not worried about who’s going to win the election. There are too many follow-on events that could change everything in ways we’ve never seen before (electoral college, rioting, assassinations, etc.). My convictions have granted me a broad general expectation of where it will all end up, never mind the names and faces. Those same convictions suggest I’ll see less bloodshed near my door in favor of other kinds of social disturbance. Most of the world has no clue that God has changed His plans, and those changes have to do, in part, with a fresh new requirement for living heart-led. This whole thing rests on our willingness to spread the message of subjecting the intellect to the heart-mind. If we are faithful, then the world will have no excuse for clinging to human reason. We’ve got work to do.

The Failure of Evil

The problem with great evil is that it always rests on human frailty.

Review: God created all things according to His own moral character. Reality itself is consistent with God’s personality. Second, He created a universe that rests somewhere within Creation as a relatively small part. It also responds to His moral character. Then He created us humans as the agents of management with a built-in awareness of His character, same as the rest of Creation.

Somewhere in our response after everything was established, we chose to rely on our human intellect and talents. Granted, we were given these things to help us obey, but the ultimate question of what is and is not morally right is beyond the intellect. Only the heart-mind can handle this question, and whatever it was we get from the narrative of the Fall, we must understand that mankind made a choice to assert intellect over the heart. Sadly, that means the heart becomes silent and mind is left to face the task of living and making sense of our fallen existence, and it cannot possibly discern the true nature of things. So relying on human reason is, by definition, a rejection of God’s character.

With the intellect alone, it is virtually impossible to grasp that Creation is alive and is imbued with a moral quality from God. While great efforts have been made to reawaken some higher consciousness, the mind cannot make much sense of things without a heart directly connected to the Creator. Thus, we can go back into human history and dig up all kinds of records indicating people did have some awareness of the superiority of the heart-mind, but the answers they record from their efforts in that direction are all mutually inconsistent. There is a certain similarity across these various attempts, but each one contains noticeable flaws that leave the practitioners powerless at critical moments.

The failures are manifest in all flavors. One of the most significant failures leads people to attempt pulling their fellow humans under one centralized rule. In the Bible, individuality is not central, so that’s not the answer. The answer is the family, branching out across ties of kinship and covenant. We note in passing that the Bible makes it plain that covenant takes precedence over blood kinship, but that the ideal is to have both. However, it also requires keeping family stuff within the family. More authority over more people must of necessity mean less detail. It should be obvious even to those with mere intellect that a proper daily life of peace and stability requires keeping things on a manageable scale.

But mere intellect cannot see the ultimate value of social stability, and demands social conformity instead. It’s easier for the intellect to handle ruling that way. The problem is that without a heart-led awareness, the mind imagines all kinds of things it might accomplish, mostly things that the heart would know could never work. The intellect cannot understand peace and stability the way God promised to grant it, so it imagines efficiency and centralized control — such control has never worked. Whatever it is you want to make of the narrative about the Tower of Babel, you should at least understand that empires grate on God’s moral character. It’s not that He makes no allowance for them to rise, but He always ends them sooner or later with horrendous wrath, and totally humiliating the rulers. The empires with the best historical records are those that remembered there were limits to central authority. They allowed the folks closest to the subjects to make decisions that affected them the most, and always assumed an Eastern feudal social structure.

We don’t have space here to dig into all the details. The Law of Noah remains binding upon every government until there are no more rainbows in the sky. I’ve written whole books exploring that Law; what matters here is that we realize they apply as a formulation written to the heart, not the intellect. Without the heart-mind in the lead, you cannot really obey Noah; you cannot possibly get it right. That means every government lacking a presumption of heart-led moral orientation is, by definition, evil. It matters not what the rulers think of themselves; they are evil who rule outside the heart-mind.

Even when those who conspire to rule embrace that moral judgment for themselves, they are unable to keep it all working for very long. Whatever it is they do will always be crippled by the lack of heart-led moral conviction.

It is utterly impossible for any human to actually personify the Antichrist. Satan doesn’t work that way; he is not permitted to pull that stunt. The heart-led truth of the Bible means it’s all parable, metaphor and symbolism. The biblical image of Antichrist is an influence on fallen human nature, not a literal individual figure. The antihero is a legend of the West, not from the Bible. You can easily read such imagery back into the Bible if you ignore the vast wealth of Ancient Hebrew intellectual traditions of mysticism, but you’ll get the wrong answers. Someone determined to be evil has already bought into the lies of Satan, and they cannot come up with a plan to take over the world that would actually work. Satan doesn’t work that way; he doesn’t lead people to some diabolical truth about universal power in this realm of existence. They have to be heart-led to understand it, and turning to evil means you don’t get it.

So the visions of a literal or semi-literal Apocalypse are just Western fiction. What really happens is that God sends some tribulation now and then, and the classical Apocalypse is merely a symbol of what it’s like. And here we sit in our day and time facing a very real threat of people who think their human wisdom makes them fit to rule over the whole world, but it will never happen. It may even start to look like it, but it won’t really work. The only people who really understand how it all works are people who have no interest in ruling.

That’s you and me, along with a bunch of other folks out there who remain unknown because that’s an element of divine wisdom. Just how much attention do you think we get here at Kiln of the Soul? We have no idea in our heads, but I’m willing to bet your heart tells you there are lots of folks who are heart-led, either consciously like we are, or who somehow manage to stumble upon it as some of us did before we tried to make it conscious. And the only reason we have this much is because God called us to it. We aren’t better, wiser or more talented; we are available.

Meanwhile, the desire to rule is proof of an evil moral nature. It’s not the same as ambition, by the way, but ambition can be bad or good. Most of the time, ambition falls somewhere in between, perhaps ranging back and forth some in the human soul. Some ambitions are clearly much less dangerous than others when you see it with the eyes of your heart. And your heart will tell you not to fear some satanic evil ruler taking over some major portion of the world, because even if they succeed for a time, we aren’t tied to this world in the first place.

And because we are tied into Heaven, there is an awful lot of audacious prayer requests that God will answer. That includes some of the most radical shifts in human political trends. Think about how much God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for just a handful of righteous souls (Genesis 18). You and I as heart-led servants of God qualify as “righteous souls” by God’s definition, and the definition Abraham used in his intercession. Because living heart-led makes us humble, we struggle to imagine the massive things God will do when we find the faith to ask. So take a good look with your heart at the current situation in which you live and let faith dare to ask for great and mighty things no mere man can do.

Great evil always fails because it cannot see its own weakness.

Psalm 119: Vav 41-48

The psalmist shows us a Life without Shame. The emphasis is on what the New Testament refers to as our witness before the world.

We start off with a picture of a servant’s petition for God to permit His Covenant loyalty — mercy and kindness to His vassals — to come and rescue him from human spite. He notes this is what God promised in the Covenant. This will help him answer those who pick at him according to human wisdom. He can offer calm words of assurance that his path, though seemingly fruitless and silly to some, will bring him the rich provision of his God. The psalmist pledges to demonstrate to all his trust in God’s promises.

Indeed, he prays that God not allow His Word of Truth to escape from his mouth, but to keep it locked in his heart. Then he reverses the image: In the grip of this Truth, the psalmist has stood ever ready for some command to carry out God’s whims, just hoping to be a part of His glory. He wants a part in making the Law of God persist in this world as a constant challenge to others.

In this way he can walk with princely self-assurance, as if nothing could stand in his path as he goes about seeking opportunities to act as God’s emissary. With such a commission, it’s entirely natural to promote God’s interests from the lowest to the highest of human authorities. Are they not all subject to the will of God?

He holds the Word of God as his dearest friend, a companion so delightful he can’t get enough of it, gazing with rapt attention and deep affection. He refers to a ritual act of lifting his hands, roughly equivalent to demonstrating some total dependence and devotion to someone, for the revelation of God is as much of His real Presence as we can bear. This ritual is performed with glowing pride, utterly shameless. He feels like there’s never really enough time in his days to give due consideration to the implications of what God has commanded.

Not Competing

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who attends, and loves, Life Church. She was attempting to play the evangelism card, but of course, that doesn’t amount to much with Life Church folks. I confirmed my faith in Christ and, picking up on verbal cues, noted that I had been ordained to the ministry since 1984. That meant something to her and stopped the conversation from going in a senseless direction.

At one point I mentioned my impression that Life Church is organized as an entertainment franchise. I hastily added that for a lot of folks, that’s enough. Not everyone needs much more than that, and Life Church does it quite well. We aren’t competing for those folks here at Kiln of the Soul parish.

In fact, I’ll be the first to warn you that our target audience is quite small, and likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. The folks who attend Life Church aren’t bad people; they simply aren’t our kind of people. My prophetic ire is aimed at the way our culture has virtually eliminated any serious effort at digging deep into the murky places of the human soul. And when it has attempted to do so, we have ended up with even worse showmanship with all kinds of wacky and bizarre heathen ritual “magic” with Bible verses pasted on the outside. They attack the right problems with the wrong weapons.

Nor do I proclaim that we have the answers, but that we strive to reduce the clutter so that you can find God and His answers.

That appeals to a very narrow audience. Most people are so deeply conditioned to expect everything neatly packaged when they show up, that they cannot imagine the dire necessity of coming face to face with God the way we do here. They simply aren’t ready to build up their faith through a heart-led awareness. Instead, we end up with a lot of people were traumatized by the neatly packaged systems. If not that, then they have at least been carrying around a profound sense of unmet need. That indicates people who were already sensitive to their hearts and didn’t have the language or concept for it.

So this lady is not one of us in the first place, because her heart seems sound asleep. When we discuss the business of the heart with the world around us, it’s not going to ring a bell with a lot of folks. Unless Our Creator has awakened them in some way, our words fall on deaf ears. This is the reality with which we live. At the very least, we have to prepare the ground for such a discussion by demonstrating the power to live that comes from surrendering to the supremacy of the heart.

Most people know that I am some kind of believer. Living by the Law of God in your heart and harvesting the blessings He promised makes it pretty obvious to almost everyone. It’s not that we have no sorrows, but that we handle sorrow differently.

Psalm 119: He 33-40

Here we have a prayer for conviction. The psalmist cries out for God to build a desire and sense of divine necessity. The initial mention here of teaching uses a Hebrew word that paints a picture of pouring out something, to make an obvious splash that changes the color of the ground. The psalmist asks that God make things more obvious to him. For his part, the writer promises that the last thing anyone will see of him will be walking that path. Indeed, he commits himself to investing his whole being in making certain that at least this one person shall consistently demonstrate what God says He wants for us.

Indeed, the heart-led life is such a delight that the psalmist asks he never get lost and wander from it. He prays that his inclinations are bent toward the divine revelation of what life is supposed to be like on this earth, and not to get lost in any desire for plundering from others.

How much better is life when we find it painful to look on things that drain the moral fullness of the heart! Let us fully experience the joy of walking God’s path for us. We should long for that living truth to grow up and consume our being so that we lack nothing in our commitment to serving Him.

If there is one thing the psalmist rightly fears, it is moral disgrace. He begs for the Lord to evaluate his commitment and reveal the weaknesses, because correction from God is better than reward from any other source. Indeed, he longs passionately for a clear grasp on reality as God defines it. The breath of life is the revelation of the moral character of God.

Pray to Prophesy

“Is Saul among the prophets, too?” (1 Samuel 19:19-24)

Take note here that Samuel the prophet and High Priest was hosting a School of the Prophets. In 2 Kings 2 we learn that Elijah later revived the academy for prophets. You have to understand that in Hebrew, the expression “son of” covers more territory than just literal progeny; “sons of the prophets” was a reference to the students in the prophets’ academy.

So what would be the curriculum of such an institution? You can look it up on the Net and get a lot of different answers, many of them vociferously denouncing each other. But it should be obvious if you first understand that Hebrew culture specifically, and the Ancient Near East (ANE) in general, presumed a heart-led awareness. Not that everyone lived by it, but that it was written into the very language of daily conversation with references to the heart rightly overruling the reason.

Once you accept the implications of that, you understand that moral discernment was the chief goal of all education, including the School of the Prophets. It was an in-depth study in soaking your mind in the revelation of God as a Person with a revealed moral character. This was hardly any different than training to for a staff position with any ANE feudal lord — you had to understand what the lord was like as a person and what it took to please him. A School of the Prophets would be founded on a curriculum of making sure your mind understood the ground rules of what God expected, and how He acted in human affairs on this earth.

Granted, that was a common expectation in Hebrew education as a whole. See Deuteronomy 6:6-9, and in that context, Jeremiah 31:33. The idea was not the literal memorization, but using that written expression of revelation as the gateway to a deeper moral awareness. Your brain can do only so much; it requires the backing of the heart where the fires of conviction burn. Inform the mind and it has some idea what to expect from your convictions. The School of the Prophets was a more concentrated form of this training, and included a lot of prophetic experiential lore, stuff that wasn’t written the Scripture.

One of the things you can discern from Scripture is that God doesn’t always enforce His Word as we might if it were our law. Most of the time, He grants people enough rope to hang themselves. If you don’t want to know Him, you don’t have to. He’ll let you pretend you understand from your human reason and walk pretty far down that path. So we read in 2 Chronicles that the Lord eventually enforced His commandment about sabbatical years on farming, but it was too late for the people to enjoy the blessing from that. That’s how God rules in this world. If you won’t listen to His prophets when they bring a word that provokes your heart, then you’ll face catastrophe in the long run. God is very patient.

Thus, we discover that prophecy as a calling is founded on knowing God’s moral character and His ways in general. On top of that, there must come a move of the Spirit to speak that truth to some audience. That’s something that comes entirely at God’s whim. That’s why Saul and his troops were overcome by the power of the Spirit. Do you suppose they took any joy in that powerful moment? Anyone can prophecy at the whim of God, but few are called to live the life of the prophet. There is a certain sense in which that preparatory study is required of everyone so that you can share in the full blessing should God choose to use you that way. We are all broken vessels, but the study of God’s truth heals the damage. If you absorb the healing truth, then you aren’t discarded once your usefulness has past. He keeps around the vessels He has healed.

This is what’s behind Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that prophecy is a more desirable gift of the Spirit. He implies prophecy is also God’s preferred gift to give, if you dare to ask. Study for this gift, because all the others work better with that preparation.

Mission of the Heart

(This article is intentionally cross-posted on both my blogs.)

I’ve always been a missionary. Everywhere I’ve gone, every job I’ve performed, was always a cover for my real mission in life.

In my personal experience, there have been three missionary journeys so far. The first was my first military enlistment, a near-total failure in mission terms. I did see people come to Christ, but that had more to do with God using me despite my weaknesses at that time. Isn’t it good to know He does that? The second mission was much more redemptive; of course, it was another stint in the military. My wife and I had a very noticeable impact on folks. The third mission was to mainstream churches, and it simply proved that I didn’t belong in that environment because they aren’t ready. It was painful but fruitful in a different sense.

I still have at least one more mission in me. I’m still burning and yearning for one more shot at taking the message into some context that is ready to hear it. While I can’t pretend to know whether it will be under yet another secular sponsorship or something more openly religious in nature, I do know beyond all doubt that I’m not done yet. I’m still an arrow in the quiver, held for yet another battlefield.

On the one hand, it would be easy to find distraction in pursuing the excitement of prophetic anticipation. It’s real, but it’s beside the point. Just because I know that the battlefield is somewhere in the near future, with a fairly significant rise in social turmoil we haven’t seen before, it’s no excuse for getting wrapped up in the ability to see it coming. That’s just a tool for preparation; the mission is not in the visionary gift.

On the other hand, there will be no mission unless we come up with some thing that grabs human attention. One of the most important take-aways from the Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30) is that you cannot have a movement of faith without folks who don’t really belong there. If we plant the crop, there will always be a mixed harvest. The mixture is not harmful to the fruit of the Spirit; let God sort them out in His own time. But we must plant those seeds and let them grow together, because that’s how the fruit comes.

While I am personally most comfortable with Radix Fidem as the general shape of our religion, and even more so with our specific Kiln of the Soul ministry, I know those things aren’t the thing that carries our broader mission. It’s just the results of something which is more likely to provide the substance of our thing that we should use to grab human attention.

The fundamental issue — quite literally the foundation (fundament) of our work — is the shift from cerebral awareness to heart-led awareness. You probably can’t carry it too far without mentioning how it marks Western Civilization as a death trap, but that’s secondary. It’s something we can’t avoid discussing eventually, but it’s unlikely to be the starting place in most contexts. Everyone has to find their own path and the degree of sanitizing against Western culture is a matter of individual calling. Our main point is simply calling people to regard the heart as the seat of a higher consciousness that is most certainly not just another level of intellect.

This is the thing we show to the world, the one gift we have in our hands that really does need our efforts on the human level to spread. We can trust God to take care of what follows that transition in their lives; heart-led is the essence of faith. While we may still represent Radix Fidem as a religion and even Kiln of the Soul as our parish, those things can easily pass into the grave with us. The one thing we have to offer that will outlive us is faith itself, and we are convinced faith without that heart-mind awareness is not really faith. This is the thing without which we have nothing to offer.

And by now you surely know that I’m not interested in having my nifty little books about this stuff pushed on humanity. I’d much rather you simply grab the ideas in them and take off on your own expressions of faith. Write your own books, and poetry and songs and other artistic expressions of faith. If this same fire does not burn in you, then I’ve accomplished nothing in the first place.

Join me in this mission.

Psalm 119: Daleth 25-32

In this octet is the Way of Strength, as the word for “road” is used repeatedly. The psalmist complains of a human frailty he finds all too obvious. The first line refers not to some kind of desire, but that he cannot avoid wallowing in the dust from which he is made. Without the breath of God in His soul, there is no life. He confesses that his fallen existence is loaded with false desires, and he knows the Lord has received his confession and repentance, and now he eagerly awaits instruction.

He is altogether certain that, once his fallen mind begins to grasp the logic of conviction, it will settle into his soul like the most brilliant answer to every question. With such power and conviction, who could remain silent? Not just his eyes with tears, but his very core of awareness weeps like melting ice in the fire of grief over his sin nature. Only God by His revelation can build him up to a useful life.

All too well does he know the road of deception; he pleads with God for deliverance from it. He knows he cannot obey God’s Laws without the mighty grip of grace. Divine truth is his choice. It’s the only level ground on which we can stand in this world.

He clings to the revelation desperately and pleads that he not stand before God ashamed. He is driven like a whirlwind, ready to jump and run at God’s behest. He longs to live in the grand tabernacle spread wide in his own heart.

Kingdom of Joy

I continue revising my book about the Gospels. In regards to Matthew 9, one of the things I wrote was:

Why should the Lamb of God neglect the observance of ritual fasting? The Law of Moses called for one annual fast, but the Pharisees had pressed the Talmudic tradition of fasting Mondays and Thursdays. This was probably on one of those two days. But never mind the Talmud legalism; addressing the bigger question of Mosaic Law, Jesus answered with a bit of humor, referring to this lavish occasion as a wedding feast. In a spiritual sense, it was a wedding, for this was Christ seeking His bride. For Jesus, His whole ministry was a spiritual wedding feast. It was as if to say this partying was fully appropriate, for it signaled a new beginning. As ancient Eastern royalty often did, the vestment of the royal heir took place at the prince’s wedding. Such a wedding was marked by passing the symbolic rule of some small portion of the kingdom, up to that point held by an appointed viceroy about to retire. In this case, the Law of Moses was being retired. The personal stamp of this Messiah Prince would replace the customs of the viceroy, Moses, over the Chosen Nation. Therefore, this celebration at Matthew’s home was the beginning of such changes, a new and invigorating rule marked by joy. This joy could not fit in the old forms of Mosaic rituals, which had reached retirement.

The Pharisees had perverted the Law. The Covenant of Moses was a standard suzerain-vassal treaty with God portraying Himself as an Eastern nomad sheik. Eastern feudalism was all about family; your sheikdom was your kinfolk. God adopted Israel as His own kin; this shifted the expectations dramatically from what they would be were He simply a conquering emperor. They weren’t merely a source of tax revenue, but beneficiaries of all His wealth. And when such a ruler raises up an heir whose whole life was spent under the impression these people were his very literal blood kin, you can bet his attitude toward them would be even more familial. This nation of people are His inheritance, His true wealth and power. The Pharisees forgot all of that, having pulled in the rational objectivity of Hellenism.

For them it was quite reasonable to live in terror of God, while at the same time objectifying Him. God was no longer a person for them, but some body of rational principle. You cannot play on your blood kinship with cold reason. So their legalism was dreary and devoid of life; this was entirely rational. Having a good time was inherently sinful, so everything had to be smothered in ritual — mechanical and fake — penitence. Here was this wannabe rabbi Jesus breaking all their rules and customs. He dared to claim the authority to forgive sins and then wallowed in giddy partying with sinners.

So against their stiff legalism and sending messages inside, rather like wrapping notes around a stone and tossing them through the window, Jesus responded with what must of have been a hilarious parabolic response. Why, this is a wedding party! It was about the only occasion when brooding Pharisees would relax and smile. Except, He pointedly said that His ministry was the wedding of a new heir to the Kingdom of Heaven. It wasn’t a legal confession that He was the Messiah, but it was indicative of where He was taking things. So many times during His disputes with the Pharisees, He indicated He was the Messiah without saying it in terms their legalism could seize upon. It was like a game. He dared to make Himself out to be the Son of God, and was obviously enjoying it entirely too much.

We were created to be His family. Sure, if His own kin folks have the gall to intrude on a wedding feast with some refusal to give due regard to His wishes about something, He can spare a moment to pour out some wrath and even taunt them in the process. But He won’t allow anyone to ruin the wedding day of His Son, so His face won’t be darkened very long. Meanwhile, He has a lot of patience with the little kids who just don’t quite understand everything and make bumbling mistakes.

The wedding feast is just getting started and we are the New Israel — we are the Kingdom of Heaven.

Psalm 119: Gimel 17-24

The psalmist rejoices in his past experiences that confirmed the revelation of God. As one who has experienced it aplenty in the past, he calls on God to deal with him in such a way that he can thrive and devote himself to establishing the truth of God’s Word. He wants to continue in the divine enlightenment that allows him to discern the immense value and power of what lies behind the words of the Covenant.

He admits that he is little more than a visitor, a sojourner in God’s domain, begging the merciful handling God had commanded in His Laws for strangers passing through. But instead of mere life support on his journey, he wants to find the moral sustenance of revelation. He confesses that his soul is crushed by longing for a word from Jehovah that would disclose His divine moral character.

Surely God as rebuked the arrogant souls who felt competent to judge right and wrong from their own reasoning. He begs that the Lord not let him fall into their contemptible errors. He has done his level best to give the Word precedence in his thinking.

People who gain political power tend to talk a lot, but the psalmist would rather keep his mouth shut and devote his attention to what God revealed as the way to live. Human wisdom is hardly on a par with the delight of examining what God says is true.