Not a Replacement

We do not support Replacement Theology.

The Covenant of Moses was unique, a singular example of God choosing one nation as His sole representatives on earth. Their mission was to exhibit His revelation, to breathe life into it by living it. The covenant came with promises that were an extension of Noah’s Covenant, but added in a special status that granted them the best and most direct revelation of God and His ways. This covenant was restricted to this one nation.

The Covenant of Noah was not exclusive. It does offer the same basic promises of shalom, but there is no special family status with God. There is no promise of direct revelation and the bar is higher for maintaining a claim on the promises of shalom.

Israel had a special advantage in that, while their covenant was most assertively conditional, their status with God as family made it much harder for Him to sever ties. Nonetheless, the covenant flatly states those ties could be broken. Israel did so; the final break was rejecting the Messiah. Jesus’ execution symbolized the vast chasm separating them from God, that they had moved so very far away that they were no longer His family.

The New Covenant in Christ was unlike either of the two primary Law Covenants. Instead of an identity that was rooted in this world, the primary source of the Covenant is otherworldly. It has nothing to do with politics in that sense. There can be no “Christian nation;” it perverts the meaning of “Christian.” Instead, there can surely be nations who embrace Noah’s Covenant as their Law, which is subsumed under Christ. But Noah merely manifests Christ; it is not Christ.

So it’s not possible for Christians to replace Israel in terms of earthly status. We belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Some Prophetic Insight

See the bigger picture.

Consider Romans 9:14-24 and Jeremiah 18. God is the Potter; His plans and motives are inscrutable to us. But His moral character is fully revealed. If we see that a country is not obeying the Covenant of Noah, then we know it is doomed. We can analyze that country in detail and see why it is doomed, and can usually discern how the doom will come. That is, we know that God typically allows nations enough rope to hang themselves; their doom will be consistent with their sin.

From our perspective, it doesn’t matter much how a particular country came into being. God grants them all a certain space for repentance. At what point has the US ever turned to God? At what point did America repent according to Biblical Law and strive to obey? I’ve seen no evidence of it, either.

So the Lord has called me to prophecy to America of her sins and to warn of the coming doom. I will contend that what I see is not unique to me; whatever wisdom and vision I have is hardly special. All of it could and should be obvious to anyone who seeks a genuine heart of faith and conviction. Granted, an awful lot of believers are blinded by a Western bias about faith and revelation, but the remedy for that is easily found. All that I’ve written against Western intellectual assumptions can be found in other works by better writers who knew more than me. I’m hardly the only Christian scholar who knows this stuff.

On top of that, there are a great many very intelligent minds who can see that doom from an entirely secular approach. All you have to remember is their secular motives that color how they address the topic. Most of them are trying to sell something, so it’s not a matter of prophets but profits.

There is no sin in trying to profit from America’s demise. However, keeping it clean before the Lord means keeping track of how He does things. If you obey Biblical Law, then part of the shalom He has promised includes a measure of prosperity. If you are living according to His calling on your life, then by all means, exploit this situation for His glory, for therein is much profit, both moral and material.

By no means should you resist what God is doing. Try to understand what’s happening and pray accordingly. God’s wrath is upon America and she will not return to her former power and glory. Never mind what Trump says about “make America great again” — it ain’t on God’s agenda. But there are some other things God has in mind for Trump to do as a vessel for wrath. At a minimum, his election has provoked the end game. I can’t suggest to you any kind of time table, but there is no turning back. Something in this conflict between his supporters and his foes will forever destroy the system.

If you understand Noah’s Covenant, then you probably understand that centralizing government control is inherently evil. Biblical Law rests on protocols and layers of dominion. The US as it currently exists even within her own borders qualifies as an empire. In the Bible, emperors are not permitted to make laws that dig too deeply into the daily life of subjects. We see from examples on the Old Testament that a good emperor can demand tribute and some amount of direct service, to include a military draft. If he has any sense, he stops at around ten percent. In return, the emperor must provide protection from both external and internal enemies. But he cannot set detailed policy for daily life. He deals only with the existing leadership of the people — ideally kings and tribal leaders.

Thus, policy is limited to keeping trade peaceful and fair between vassals. Translate that into our context today. There is justification for education policy at all, and no justification for any kind of inheritance tax or physical property tax. There is no justification for corporations as persons to limit individual liability. There can be no impersonal shareholders, no stocks and bonds. There can be no government bureaucracy making rules and regulations, only executing them. Everything must be personal; all property must be owned under the name of an individual. And we haven’t even mentioned the issue of respect for Creation. Those are just a few examples; do you begin to see how it deals with greed and lack of accountability?

So it stands to reason that our screwed up evil system is what will implode. That’s how God’s wrath works: Whatever characterizes an evil empire as peculiar sins is what will eat it alive, and it’s what God’s wrath will correct. Thus, we should expect that there will be a catastrophic decentralization of US political power. And because the US has done so very much evil to other countries, there will be further complications too numerous to mention here.

If you understand what draws God’s ire, you can estimate where His wrath falls. There are people and agendas that will fight tooth and nail to keep the evil centralizing going, trying to make it even worse. Those will suffer. So for example, Trump’s presidency will open the path for the destruction of both the globalists and imperialists. Within your calling and mission from God, if you see a chance to exploit and profit from that situation, jump right in. Otherwise, try not to stand too close to any of it when it implodes.

I reiterate my personal conviction that we need not fear an apocalypse. The national system can break down without destroying everything you know. It will be rough in some ways — it has to be. But there’s no reason to think life support will come to a screeching halt. Your local and state governments will vary widely in their response to the way stuff changes, so you’ll have to stay nimble. Make certain in your own heart that you are already where God wants you, then pray and keep your eyes open for what comes.

Faith Does Not Compute

Here we take a short tour through the history of Western Christian theology. Our attention is focused on the business of fallen nature and human reason.

First, we have to understand that Hebrew Scriptures assume a wholly different anthropology from what is common in the West. On the one hand, both use figures of speech, but use them differently. In ancient Hebrew culture, human nature is divided up differently and associated with different parts of the body as mere symbolism. When it comes to understanding human behavior, it really didn’t matter whether the mind was literally rooted in the brain — there were too many other factors in human nature that affected how the brain worked. In other words, Hebrew culture downplayed the importance of intellect compared to the Western image of it.

Second, there was a radical difference in cosmology, too. While the particulars varied among the multiple Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) civilizations, of which Hebrew is one, there was a common thread of belief in a distinct and separate spirit realm that was invisible to the senses. We cannot overemphasize how radically different this is from the Western assumption that this universe is all there is. The Greeks had no trouble with the idea that deities and demons were invisible, but such beings were still confined to this universe. Greeks honestly believed that it was possible to find a physical entrance to both the homes of the gods and the abode of the dead.

So deeply does this stain Western thought that you can discern the influence in Western Christianity. Early in Church history we find the official church teaching that human reason is not fallen.

Let’s see how the ANE viewpoint is expressed in Jeremiah 17. Starting in verse 5 God is castigating Judah for departing from the Covenant (the Northern Kingdom was already long gone at this point). In particular, He refers to the “heart” as the center of one’s will, the seat of commitment or faith. There is a specific reference to the kidneys as the seat of human motives, and it’s often translated in English as “reins” or “mind.” His point comes right up front: cursed is the man who trusts in human capabilities alone. Blessed is the man who humbly trusts in God for moral truth. Without redemption, the heart of commitment is wicked. In that state, no one can subject their lesser faculties to the higher faculty that should be in the heart. There is no sense of conviction, so the heart is effectively just as fallen and broken as the rest of such a man.

This is echoed in Romans 3, particularly in verses 9-18. Paul indicates that a covenant identity never kept Jews from being just as wicked and sinful as the worst of heathens. Paul goes on to assert that without redemption, there is nothing good possible arising from human capabilities. It was always a matter of divine grace. Western Christians are completely mistaken in thinking Jesus introduced a new concept in John 3 when He spoke of spiritual birth. We can find references to that symbolism throughout ANE religious writings. Without “a spirit of the gods” within us, we are doomed. Nicodemas as so Hellenized that he had completely forgotten the mystical roots of Hebrew culture. For him, there was no separate realm of the Spirit; everything was confined to his universe. Redemption was merely to earthly Jewish identity.

Even when we find Western church teachings about spiritual birth, we find that the net effect it is merely a changed mind. Somehow being more spiritual means nothing more than a different cerebral track. It’s a conversion of mind only, in the sense that religious leaders are looking for symptoms of orthodoxy. We find them saying in effect that “Jesus in your heart” equals “right belief and practice.” And that right religion always seems to look like the one that the present leadership espouses. “If you don’t believe and act like me, you ain’t born-again.” For non-evangelical traditions, it’s more like, “We are the arbiters or what God says, so if you don’t agree with us, you haven’t heard from God.”

This is precisely the fatal flaw in Judaism, and it goes all the way back to Jeremiah’s prophecy. Judah was at that time facing Babylon’s rampaging conquest. The Judean leadership insisted that, since the Temple inside the walls was God’s House, they were safe. Would God allow heathens to dirty His carpet? Was not this Hebrew nation God’s Chosen? Jeremiah was telling them that it didn’t matter where the Temple stood. It also didn’t matter their proximity to it; the nation had moved too far away from God’s protection in their hearts. Their faith, their feudal loyalty, was in something other than Jehovah.

In Hebrew thinking, spiritual birth does not change what you are, but who you are. It opens the door for a personal communion with our Creator so that His power can mitigate the Fall. Thus, spiritual birth is not some magic that changes the ideas in your head; it changes your heart — it registers as a sense of identity and commitment. You aren’t buying into a different package of human identity, but leaving all of that behind for an identity rooted in the Spirit Realm. Christ said His kingdom is not of this world. There can be no earthly kingdom of Christ; there can be no Christian nation. In this world there can be only provisional associations of fellow believers, acting like family in an eastern feudal setting. We as Christians are brothers and sisters with no earthly father. We are away from Home working together in a foreign realm. We don’t colonize; we offer adoptions out of this world.

Meanwhile, the only people who actually understand this world are those who belong outside of it. The only people who hold a valid assessment of human nature are those who denounce and renounce it. Only when we are linked to the Spirit Realm do we find communion with the rest of Creation. We still face the same natural world, but now are friends with it, not alienated from it in some god-forsaken mythology of something must be defeated, tamed and enslaved to our will.

Reason cannot be reformed. It can be properly subjected to faith, but you won’t see that often in organized Christian religion. Instead, we see the whole matter of “faith” as better belief and action, and “spirituality” as mere education and training. Theology is data; faith is much more.

The Nuclear Option of Faith

When your heart belongs wholly to Christ, and you strive to walk by that heart of faith, you will inevitably encounter resistance from a sinful world. We must always keep before us that our real enemy is Satan and his demons. It is grammatically appropriate in English to capitalize that as a title: our Enemy. He’s the only enemy that really matters. Our difficulty in this life is chiefly humans who serve his purposes, knowingly or not (Ephesians 6:10-20).

We would prefer people to repent from serving our Enemy’s purposes, and to escape his dominance in their lives. That’s our hope, even as we keep in the mind the warning of our Lord that most people will not repent. Indeed, we should be quite happy just to get them off our backs, most of the time. There is that sense of dominion from God that says: As long as they aren’t hindering my mission, they aren’t my problem. The majority of those we encounter in this life will remain a part of the broader background of fallen humanity. Significant they are while we share space with them, and worthy of tearful prayers for redemption, but we know to let God decide something He didn’t put into our hands.

Repentance is required for redemption, and repentance itself is a divine miracle. We have to prepare our minds to understand that most will pass in and out of our lives with neither repentance nor redemption. Further, we know that a great many folks we encounter are somewhere between initial repentance and a deeper understanding of heart-led submission to the Spirit, such that they may need repentance from of lot of things still keeping them tied to Satan’s schemes. These people merit a special effort, because we are obliged to presume they are family already, but still struggling to find their place and not at peace. Such are we all in one way or another.

We humbly ask others to pray for us as we confront the demons in our own lives. Those demons have found a bit of home ground in us on issues that we haven’t conquered. This is where we get the higher meaning behind Deuteronomy 7:22-23, as Paul noted 1 Corinthians 10, particularly verse 11. The Conquest stands as a parable of how God works in our lives to drive out demonic forces. We don’t conquer the external world, but conquer our own human existence and occupy it for God’s glory.

But there is another tactic in this war against sin.

First we need to refresh in our minds that this is a time of tribulation, a time of God’s wrath falling heavily upon this world. In such times as these, we are intensely aware of what biblical curses mean. The sword of God’s power on this earth is revealed in His Law Covenants as blessings and curses, two edges of that same sword (Hebrews 4:12; Genesis 3:24). We emphasize blessings a lot, but the same event that blesses His children can be a curse on those who reject His revelation. We can talk about the difference between curses and blessings, but in many ways, it’s all one thing.

Indeed, there is a sense in which pronouncing a curse can result in a blessing, particularly if the sorrow from the curse brings repentance. We must never fail to understand that the ultimate goal of the Law of God is repentance, leading to redemption. This means that the curses and blessings attached to biblical law all have the same redemptive end.

This is where I insert the comment about how there are several Hebrew words translated as “curse” in the Bible. We aren’t talking here about the spiteful condemnation that belittles someone. That kind of curse is what we see in Exodus 22:28, a command that you not “curse” a ruling official or king over you. It’s paralleled with the command that you not “revile” God, because it’s all the same kind of mistake. The point is that you render due respect to roles of authority, even if you find the person in that role despicable as an individual. This is not the kind of curse we are referring to here.

When we talk about a lawful curse, we mean calling someone’s attention to their evil. There is a critical element here in testifying to God’s Word. How can they repent if they have not heard? You have been sent to make them hear, so testify faithfully of God’s revelation. At some point in your dealings with your fellow humans, they will give evidence your heart can discern that they are hardened in some particular grievous moral error. They need to know about it. There might be any number of ways you can tell them, but uttering a curse is one of those ways.

You’ll have to let your heart tell you when you are up against the wall of someone’s hardened sin. I can’t offer you a memorized formula for this; we each have to come up with our own rituals for expressing divine truth. However, I can tell you that I would try to find a way to say something along these lines:

May God curse everything you do, may demons infest every corner of your existence, until you repent or die.

And then you pray that what you said comes true, because you would have been praying about this kind of thing, if not this specific confrontation, for a long time already. You would be standing on firm moral ground and genuinely expect that troubles and sorrows would sprout and bear fruit aplenty in their personal existence. That’s the kind of thing we saw in the Ten Plagues on Egypt, where God shattered Pharaoh’s confidence in everything he thought he knew. In many cases, you will be dealing with someone who has a human legal authority to afflict you, trying to compel you to conform to something you know is sin, so you are looking for God to let that fool know who is God.

And it ain’t you. It has to be done with confidence and humility. You have to make sure the ground is plowed and watered with your carefully considered, heart-led response to everything involved before you come to that point. The same seed of obedience will bring forth a harvest of blessing and curse, and the difference is in the soul of the person who walks into that field.

By the way: It’s protocol to keep your distance from someone you’ve cursed on the grounds that you have full faith it’s going to happen and you don’t want to be close enough for the destruction to fall on you, too.

Why Noah’s Law?

It’s a matter of faith: We stand ready to die for the name of Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer just me living in this fleshly body, but Christ lives in me, too. Now the life I live in this fleshly body is a life of faithful service to the Son of God, who willingly sacrificed His life for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Does that mean anything to you? We were told to take up our own crosses (Matthew 16:24-26). While it has turned out to be literal at times for some, it is symbolic of a life purchased at great cost, wholly owed to the Son of God.

Many Americans, Christians in particular, struggle with the where to draw the line between parable and literal meaning. I use the term “Two Realms” to point out a teaching that is greatly needed in postmodern Western Christian thinking, because mainstream Christian religion confuses parable and literal teaching. Thus, most mainstream Christians tend to take parables literally, and dismiss as parable what Scripture meant literally. They pull Christ down to an earthly regime, and push biblical law off into “a spiritual thing.”

This is a major struggle for people trying to recover a genuine biblical view of this world. If you show up at our parish, you may stumble over that issue. You may find yourself frequently missing the point on things because of that long history of improperly mixing the Two Realms. We owe that to the Judaizers. They succeeded in subverting the mystical approach in the organized church hierarchy by the end of the First Century.

Jesus spoke of mystical truths, but then taught people how to use that mystical approach to understand the Law of Moses. The Torah is a mystical document; all the specific concrete requirements represent a much higher mystical truth. The Jews had forgotten that. By mixing Hellenized logic into their ancient Hebrew Law, they became legalistic and pushed mysticism off to the side. Mysticism was there, but not taken seriously as the primary proper approach to understanding the Scripture. So Jesus had a running battle with Jewish leadership about how to read Moses. He taught Moses, as Moses was intended, against their “traditions of the elders” (eventually formalized in the Talmud). Jesus was restoring the ancient Hebrew faith.

As the gospel spread across the Mediterranean Basin, it first went among Jewish communities planted all over the place. We call that “the Diaspora” — Jews living in a Gentile world outside their own kingdom. There were plenty of Gentiles attracted to the Jewish religion, but when they heard the gospel correcting it, they embraced it quickly. And while plenty of Jews also embraced the gospel, there was a natural tension in the whole process. Jews still suffered from that legalistic instinct, so the Apostles had to find a way to put out the fires of conflict.

In Acts 15 they made it clear that one did not have to become a Jew first to become a Christian. On the one hand, if Jews wanted to follow Christ, they could drop the Talmudic stuff and stick with the mystical truth. If they embraced Moses as Jesus taught him, then it meant no legalism and life was much simpler. Jesus pointed out how certain provisions of Mosaic Law weren’t even applicable outside of the more ancient historical context. With the sacrifice on the Cross, whole swathes of ritual were gone. What remained was the core of ancient Hebrew moral values.

Gentiles had their own brand of mystical law covenant: Noah. The list of prescriptions in Acts 15 was an echo of that more ancient law. The Apostles left out those parts of Noah that were covered under Roman Law and focused on what was left, the parts that were demanding enough on Gentiles from a broad range of pagan backgrounds. And for a deeper understanding, there was an expectation that churches would generally study the Old Testament Scripture to provide an expansive explanation of what Noah meant. Moses was a more explicit and particular application of Noah. The promised blessings and warned curses of Moses were inherent in Noah.

For Jewish Christians it was, “Christ in your hearts, Moses in your hands.” For Gentile Christians it was, “Christ in your hearts, Noah in your hands.” You could lie about having Christ in your heart, but you couldn’t easily lie about what you did with your conduct and your habits of life before the church. Your fellow church members knew to treat you as a fellow Christian because you had the good sense to walk and talk according to a mystical law covenant as applicable.

You have to understand that mysticism from those ancient times was not “mysticism” as commonly understood today, particularly in the West. That business of heart-led wisdom was well understood and widely discussed in literature going back into pre-history. It was their normal intellectual climate, an assumption taken for granted. It’s utterly foreign to us; we have to learn it from them. We have to learn how normative the heart-led mode of life is, and how it works when examining our own conduct, as well as that of the folks who share our household of faith. Thus, we are not legalistic, but strive to discern the heart of the matter — by taking that “heart” business rather literally.

For us, that call to crucify the flesh is a matter of keeping the intellect subjected to the heart-mind. Not just in those “spiritual” moments, but all day long. That way those spiritual moments aren’t just a matter of ritual, but they strike us with the power of God whatever it is we do. We place the initiative to act and respond to all external events within the heart. We test each moment by our convictions.

Because we need some kind of structure for the mind to obey the heart, we refer to the Law of Noah. If you prefer a Jewish approach, then it’s Moses — but it’s Moses as taught by Jesus, not by the Talmud. That phrase, “under grace, not under the law” refers to the Talmud as “the law,” a burdensome legalistic pile of nonsense. Jesus cut through all of that (Matthew 22:34-40). The difference between Noah and Moses turns out to be no more than a matter of ritual behavior.

Kosher was no longer law but a matter of personal preference, as Peter learned in his vision of the sheet (Acts 10). Ritual separation from Gentiles was never meant to be an excuse for racist hatred, but a way to call the Gentiles to a higher moral standard. The business of eating with someone had long been a matter of declaring peace, so eating with believing Gentiles was never a sin. Gentiles could not be held to the Law of Moses unless they wanted to become a citizen of Israel. They were held by Noah, instead. While Jews didn’t share in Gentile food (“sharing a table”), they could share their food with Gentiles. They also could associate with Gentiles socially long before the rise of the legalistic perversions of the Law. So Jews in the churches could continue being fussy about food, and even Gentiles should avoid pagan ritual meals, but that arrogant spite about “unclean people” was just plain wrong. What mattered was a circumcised heart.

In our parish today we refer to the Law of Noah, understood in light of the Law of Moses, which in turn is understood through Christ’s teaching, as the visible manifestation of an obedient heart.

The Norm of Miracles

Before anyone starts to ask the questions, the answer is mysticism.

We can wrap our answers in reason, but the fundamental issue remains, “Thus saith the Lord” who made all things and determines how reality works. Further, He has not been silent; there is a massive record of His dealings with humanity. But that record is opaque to the human intellect. It makes sense only when you read it with your heart. Without that heart-mind awareness, reality isn’t supposed to make sense.

Thus, we start with revelation and build out an understanding. Yet we also assert that no two of us will build the same understanding. We deny that there is an objective reality. The expectation that we could produce a consistent answer that fits all of us is just another deception of the fallen human reason. We answer that it’s utterly impossible to agree on everything and therefore a sign of healthy fellowship when there are at least some minor differences. We don’t school each other on the particulars, but encourage each other in the commitment to our convictions and our faith to trust in God.

It’s not that we use no reason at all, but that we use our reason as the means to dragging all the noise around us back to our faith. We submit everything to that mystical union with God Almighty and with the whole of His Creation. Because of that divine clarity of the heart-mind, our reasoning capacity is actually far better, at least potentially, than the sharpest minds of those who rely on reason alone. That doesn’t mean we can break through their moral blindness, but that we need not fear the power of their ideas. Our spiritual truth is greater than their best and brightest logic.

Again: The demands of faith are imminently unreasonable. We make no bones about it. At the same time, we have the all justification in the world we need to take this path because our God reigns and pours out His blessings so abundantly we have to leave stuff lying on the ground. He’s not wasteful, just generous.

It also means that in order to catch as much as we can, we discard a lot of things that He says aren’t necessary. The discernment is not a matter of reason and human need, but His glory. His glory is our ultimate good. There is nothing that can compete with that.

How many miracles does the Bible tell about? How often has God shown that He offers exceptions because there really aren’t any hard-n-fast rules? We know that, under most contexts, you don’t grab a poisonous snake with your bare hands. We also know Jesus promised that, when it serves the Father’s glory, we can do that anyway (Mark 16:18; Acts 28:1-6). It’s not that we would fling a challenge in God’s face and dare Him to let us die in the middle of our calling and mission, but that we simply allow Him to decide such things. We take our own demise in stride.

But when the time comes, we cast out demons, heal broken bodies, call fire down from heaven, walk on water, instantly move great distances without traveling, turn the clock backward in time, fill thousands of bellies from a handful of food, and all kinds of things we can’t even imagine. But we don’t do it casually as if we are somehow so very special and virtuous. It’s not frivolous and we don’t test it out just to prove a point. We receive these things when His glory shines, and we also don’t receive them for His glory at other times.

Learn the Law of God; learn how Creation works. Make Creation your best friend. No two of us will ever know exactly the same things about Creation, but we can all testify that God is not constrained by our human grasp on what’s “normal.”

The Fear of Fools

Think about it for a moment. Contemplate and clear out the old garbage.

God’s Word tells us about Creation. Right there in blunt terms in Genesis 1:31 tells us that God saw all that He had made and it was very good. It still is. Notice the way the Curse of the Fall is explained: the ground is cursed by our fallen nature (Genesis 3:17-19). Paul goes on to explain how Creation was not directly cursed, but subjected to futility because of the curse on our fallen nature (Romans 8:20-21). Creation did not choose that path; God did. God is the one who subjected His Creation to the management of humans back in the Garden. Under the Curse, it was no longer manageable in the same way, but He planned to redeem us so that we could regain that lost communion with our best ally.

Creation itself is our ally, and we are supposed to be managers. Satan didn’t steal control from us in the Garden; he does not own Creation and has not usurped our management role. All he has is some limited authority to seduce us the way he did in the Garden. If we return to God and His ways — if we pass through the Flaming Sword of Truth — then we can return to something we lost in Eden. Stop eating the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and go back to eat the Tree of Life. We who are redeemed are not threatened by Creation.

Granted, there are things in nature that will still hurt us. When we begin to cultivate the heart-mind as the anchor for our decision-making in this world, we are led to study that nature is a blessing and how it is a blessing. Some things we find in nature aren’t for us directly, but are there as a part of the larger whole. So we don’t hang out where biting insects will swarm us; we don’t go into places with too many thorns and contact toxins; we don’t typically approach animals who think of us as food. We leave them to play their part and go where nature welcomes us.

Yes, there are times when God will show His glory by having us do things we wouldn’t normally do. So Elijah called fire down from heaven and didn’t have to actually die, but rode Home in a chariot with angels. Jonah was eaten but no digested. Daniel was not eaten by the lions, and his pals were not burned by the fiery furnace. And Jesus walked on the water and healed thousands. The heart knows when those moments come; it’s all about God’s glory.

From what I’ve seen, there aren’t many places in the universe we can go safely outside Earth. This planet was designed to protect and provide. We have gone to the moon and some are planning to visit Mars, but it’s terribly expensive in resources and there’s been precious little direct payoff from it. But that’s not a reason in itself to stop trying; it’s just something we have to keep in mind as we evaluate our priorities. And one of the biggest issues we face is the massive torrent of deadly radiation out there. Recent efforts to sample what’s out there farther indicates the radiation levels climb radically. Space faring requires we bring with us just about every element of what nature provides here on Earth, and we are still learning what that includes every time we bring people back from a trip.

There is some hope we can find ways to move across large distances in space without directly traveling through it. Yep, folks are poking around at ways to cut through the space-time limitations that are part of the Curse. Let’s presume for a moment that God allows people to keep poking until they discover a way to move something by stepping into, say, another dimension of existence, and then coming back out somewhere else. There is only one way to escape time-space constraints: You have to enter the Spirit Realm. There is no other “dimension” of existence. And if you aren’t welcome in the Spirit Realm as a citizen, then it will be Hell for you. You cannot enter God’s house without His invitation and expect things to go well. It’s a case of going somewhere you don’t belong, only it’s a lot worse than being hurt or eaten alive. It will destroy your soul, yet leave you in full awareness of it for eternity.

We deduce this from a large collection of hints in the Bible. You can dispute the specifics, and I’m not going to list a ton of references. The Bible wasn’t written like that, so you can’t read it like that. Only when something is directly addressed can we try to make sense of some topic. The Scriptures provide a bunch of historic contextual incidents, and in most cases something in the text indicates the proper moral discernment of what matters. You are supposed to absorb the broader awareness of God as a Person and how He does things. Not with your head, but you learn to understand with your heart. And it’s pretty clear that there are no shortcuts in redemption and no shortcuts against the Curse of the Fall. If you read the Bible with your heart in the lead, I am confident we won’t dispute much.

But one thing becomes obvious to all of us: Virtually the whole genre of horror fiction conjures nightmares based on suppositions contrary to revelation. It presumes on a fundamental level that nature is full of unknown threats. It’s rather schizophrenic: You are warned against poking around in some things, then taught to fear not poking around because you might miss some moment of personal glory. You gotta be special to get away with it; you gotta have special talents and/or pay your dues, etc. The entire approach to understanding reality is twisted and perverted. Nature is not like that, and there aren’t any special domains where Satan rules. The horrific evil is inside each of us already, so we need redemption to escape the false understanding and false desires that take us places where we’ll get hurt.

If God calls you to poke around, do so with the knowledge it could end your life. But the only way anything can destroy your soul is if you fail to get into redemption where you can know His calling. You can’t answer His call if don’t make Him Lord. Horror fiction reflects the world of people who reject redemption. It reflects man asserting his mastery against the instinctive assurance that he is not master. Mankind rejects the humility of repentance arising from revelation, but cannot gain any peace and assurance without it. The only reason horror fiction sells is because it reflects and freaking insanity that mankind carries in the soul. It’s a morbid fascination that knows instinctively we are fallen, but refuses to accept the one path back to Eden — we must embrace the Sword cutting into our own souls.

Don’t fear nature; understand God’s will and share in His glory through proper communion with nature.

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.

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.