In the King James Version of the Bible the word marrow is used for rich food. Psalm 63 expresses the deep longing of David when he was in the desert. He is earnestly seeking the Lord and proclaims that his soul thirsts for the Lord. He has seen the power and glory of the Lord so nothing else will satisfy him. He writes, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips." (Psalm 63:5 - KJ)
When I think of marrow I think of the dog that I grew up with. Frisky was a black Collie-mix, mid-size dog with white paws and a white blaze on his chest. My dad used to go to the butcher to get bones for him to chew on. His favorite were the ones filled with marrow. Once Frisky got one of these bones he was off limits for us. He jealously guarded his bone until every ounce of marrow was gone. Only then would he walk away from it.
The field of dry bones that Ezekiel describes in Chapter 37 is meant to demonstrate the condition of the people of Israel in captivity. They were scattered and daily living was without "marrow and fatness." But it was God's intention to restore the nation and bring new life to them. That is why He told Ezekiel to prophesy: "O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them." (Ezekiel 37:12-13)
There was no marrow in the bones laying in Ezekiel's valley. No life could be found there. Marrow is the spongy tissue made up of fat, blood and stem cells inside of bones. It is important for producing blood cells that carry oxygen to tissues in the body and fight infection and platelets that help blood to clot. Healthy bone marrow is needed for life. Ezekiel's prophecy brought the marrow back to the bones.
The prophetic population in the Church seems to be in agreement about this season being one for the return of the prodigals--those who have dry bones. Jane Hamon explains that the term dry bones comes from the convergence of three Hebrew words: shame, confusion and disappointment. These three conditions work within the prodigals to keep them from hope. Their spirits have been crushed which dries up their bones. (Proverbs 17:22) The dis-appointment cuts them off from their appointment with their vision for the future. Proverbs 29:18 explains: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (KJ)
The prodigals are in need of courage to renounce the shame, confusion and disappointment that is keeping them from moving forward. Let us pray that they will cry out to God for help in forgiving those who have wounded them. Let us pray that they will invite Jesus to fill them with His breath of life so that marrow will come into their dry bones. And let us pray for ourselves, that God will continue to fill us with His breath of life.
Proverbs 3:6-8 says, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It is health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." (KJ) Next week we are entering the first of 12 months (Nissan) on the Hebrew calendar. It is a time for us to set the order of our lives for the rest of the year and to focus on walking toward the destiny that God has ordained for us. He will direct our paths as we acknowledge our need for Him. He will restore lost vision and bring us back to the mountain of His Presence.
The Lord gave His people several promises in Isaiah 25 that we can agree with: "On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food (marrow) for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth." (Verses 6-8) Amen!
Surrounding the Next Generation
When my sister came to stay with me while I recovered from foot surgery I suggested that we spend one afternoon visiting the site where what is called "The Columbus White Oak" once stood. An engraved plaque sits in front of the remains of the base of the tree disclosing the dates of its life: "Circa 1482 - 1999." A poem is also inscribed on the plaque: "For years it graced this land...Majestically it touched the sky...A testament to nature's good. For once a tree in this place stood."
It had been a few years since I visited the Columbus White Oak site in Solebury Township. I was excited to see it so I could find out if the acorn from the Columbus Oak that had been planted in 2008 in the heart of the rotted tree base had grown. In 2009 the acorn had sprouted and produced a seedling oak that was about 30" tall, with a trunk about the width of one of my fingers. The seedling had been covered with a metal, mesh screen to keep predators away from it. I wondered if the seedling was still alive and, if so, what it looked like.
My heart jumped for joy as we drove up to the site of the Columbus White Oak. The seedling had not only grown but it appears to be thriving. It is now a small tree, about five feet tall, with multiple branches that are covered in the dried leaves of a White Oak. The huge root system of the original tree still surrounds its offspring to nurture and protect it. The little tree of promise is firmly rooted in the soil of its parent plant and is growing with the help of the sun and the rains from heaven.
The Lord reminded me that the next generation will root in the ground that we prepare for it. The soil that we leave has a direct impact on the way they grow. The Lord is a generational God who wants to see increase in subsequent generations. The Church has a responsibility as the "parent" to prepare a rich soil for them. It may mean that we must die to self, but our call is clear. The Psalmist articulates our responsibility: "...We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done." (Psalm 78:4) "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself." (Psalm 89:1-2)
The protection and nutrition for the small White Oak has several dimensions. Likewise, the next human generation: Family and the Church have a responsibility. Of course, the Lord is always watching over the children to provide what they need to grow into their full potential. A great picture of God's intervention for His children is painted in the words of Deuteronomy 32:10. "In the desert land He found him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye."
What are we doing to prepare the soil for the next generation? Are we ready to protect and guide the children that mean so much to the Lord that He told His disciples, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these?" (Matthew 19:14) Psalm 125:2 says, "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore." Are we encircling the next generation with the full armor of God, as talked about in Ephesians 6, so that they grow strong and reach the destiny God has ordained for them? Let's surround them and help them to grow in "wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52) just like Jesus did.
Reversing the Curse (Purim)
2017 is the year of divine reversals. So says Jane Hamon, Senior Pastor at Vision Church in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. She points to Esther 9:1 that says, "On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred" or "it was turned to the contrary." (NAS) The Hebrew word for reverse is haphak which means to turn around or transform. The same word is used in Deuteronomy 23:5. "The Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned (haphak) the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you."
Sadly, those who would curse God's people have remained throughout history. Recently, the news has been ripe with reports of anti-Semitic incidents. In the Philadelphia region a Jewish cemetery named Mount Carmel was desecrated by individuals whose intent was to curse the Jewish people. Praise God for the members of different faiths who rose up to combat anti-Semitism. They came to the cemetery to change what had happened. Trash was removed, leaves were raked, and broken headstones were lifted up and repaired. Shoulder-to-shoulder they stood with the Jewish people as they turned the curse into a blessing.
The life of the apostle Paul (Who’s original name was Saul) is a perfect picture of a divine reversal. He was obsessed with persecuting those "who belonged to the Way." (Acts 9:2) On his trip to Damascus to arrest Believers he had an encounter with the One True God. As he fell to the ground, a voice from heaven asked, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4) The Lord blinded him for three days. During that time he came to know the truth and became God's "chosen instrument" to carry the Lord's name "before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." (Acts 9:15) As we know from reading the New Testament, Paul explains God's plan of redemption (reversing the curse) for all nations in the books that he has written.
Paul writes about his ministry in the book of Romans. He is grieved that his own people are not walking with the Lord. "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious...I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them." (Romans 11:11, 13-14)
God allowed His chosen people to fall away so that the Gentile nations could become part of the family of God. That means every Gentile Believer has a responsibility to show God's love to the world, but especially the Jewish people. God's desire is for "the apple of His eye" to return to Him. The gospel is meant to be shared. Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first to the Jew and then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)
The love of Christ was demonstrated to the families whose loved ones were buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery. We as Believers must continue to demonstrate God's love to the Jews. We must provoke them to jealousy through our actions and by showing them the awesome, loving relationship we have with the Lord. The celebration of Purim is occurring right now. The book of Esther is being read in synagogues around the world. Four verses will be highlighted: Esther 2:5, 8:15-16 and 10:3. These verses describe Mordecai, Esther's cousin, and how he rose to a position of honor after being targeted for murder. Mordecai (representing the Holy Spirit) guided Esther (representing the Church) so that the actions she took reversed the curse that was decreed against the Jews. The Holy Spirit is still standing by us today to guide us in all truth and to encourage us to be living examples of the Lord's love that draws the Jews home to their Messiah. Are we listening and hearing and responding? We are meant to be part of God's plan to turn the curse into a blessing.
Endure and Reign
John the disciple paints a picture of heaven with his words in the book of Revelation. Worship of the Lord never ends in heaven. We read that the four living creatures and the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb. "And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seal, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’" (Revelation 5:9-10)
We, as Believers, can look forward to the time when we will reign as kings and priests alongside of the Lord. Here is what the apostle Paul told Timothy. "If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him..." (2 Timothy 2:11-12) Paul told the people of the church at Colassae that he was praying for them, that they would be "growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that they might have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:10-12)
Our inheritance with the Lord is glorious; our responsibility is clear. Consequently, we will find ourselves in situations that require us to endure. The word endurance includes long suffering, tolerance, courage, perseverance, fortitude and guts. We are being trained to reign during our time here on earth. Jesus told His disciples what to expect in life. He said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
During the past six months the Lord has been consistently drawing my attention to Jeremiah 12:5. "If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near Jordan?" I have observed how the Lord has trained and raised up individuals who are meant to reign with Him. Their life circumstances have been difficult and have required them to persevere through extreme hardship. Every trial will raise them up and train them to endure and prevail during end times.
Jeremiah came before the Lord to present a question to God that we might ask Him today. "You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your injustice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?" (Jeremiah 12:1) As we see in verse five, God's answer to Jeremiah is in the form of a question. He is reminding Jeremiah that the circumstances that are difficult have a purpose. They are meant to strengthen and train a person so that they will prevail during even more difficult times. For those who endure there is a reward that includes being part of the Lord's end-time army. It means reigning with Him as we receive our glorious inheritance.
The times we live in present many challenges. We who know the Lord personally are up to the challenges! As we face them, God will use them to build us up and draw us closer to Him. The day will come when we will reign victorious with the Lord. In the meantime, let us endure, and "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)
Joan E. Mathias