A significant event occurred during the fourth month on the Hebrew calendar that should be a warning for all of us. The event broke the first commandment given by God to the Israelites. "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) While Moses was on the top of Mount Sinai receiving God's commandments, God's people neglected to remember and review the miraculous events of the past 2-1/2 months. They closed their eyes to the truth and said to Aaron, the priest, "...Make us a god who shall go before us..." (Exodus 32:1 – The Hebrew Bible, 1945) They collected their gold earrings to use in the making of an idol cast into the shape of a calf. Then they told themselves a lie: "This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 32:4 - The Hebrew Bible, 1945)
Does this behavior seem familiar? In my opinion, the Church has allowed our country's leadership to rewrite history. We have forgotten that our nation was founded upon a Judeo-Christian foundation. We now worship the idols of money, sex, self-indulgence, laziness, and materialism, to name a few. Our golden calves, so to speak, have taken over our lives, and we worship at our human-made altars.
We can learn much during this fourth month called Tammuz. The religious Jews of today are particularly mindful of the sins of their past and the repercussions that have ensued. They have designated the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av (the fifth month) as a time to fast as they recall the tragedies that beset the Jews because of idolatry. These three weeks of sorrow are called "bein ha-Metzarim" or "between the straights." On the web site, "Hebrew4christians.com" there is an explanation of why the fourth month is called Tammuz. Apparently, this is the name of an idol that was worshiped in the Ancient Near East. They write, "Sages tell us it was deliberately chosen (the name Tammuz) to remind the Jews of the judgment that comes from idolatry. It eventually led to the destruction of the Temple."
Idolatry led to the destruction of the first and second temples on the same day (the ninth of Av) in different years. Here is a lesson for all of us. As we worship idols, we destroy our temples. "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
We should use this month of Tammuz to recall the goodness of God throughout the years. The antidote to idol worship is the worship of our One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us step away from the idols that ensnare us and join together in a chorus of blessing to honor our Lord.
Can we agree that God used King David to inspire several generations? He continues to touch generations through the Psalms that he has written. I wonder, however, if he had in mind saving the Psalms as an encouragement for his children and a legacy for generations to come. Although most of them demonstrate praise and worship, there are also those that talk about pilgrimage, petitioning God, or confessing a lament. They are a picture of David's relationship with God that shows us transparency and honesty. Psalm 139, for example, was written when David was contemplating God's love for him in the way he was made. He expressed contempt for God's enemies, and yet realized that he could have had sin in his own life. So, he invited God to search and know his heart. "...Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting." (Verses 23-24)
When David was coming to the end of his life he appointed his son, Solomon, to be king over Israel and to oversee the building of a temple for the Lord. He gave a charge to Solomon: "...Be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to Him, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep His promises to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their hearts and souls, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.'" (1 King 2:2-4)
In David's desire for his son to succeed, he spoke words of advice directly to Solomon and left the Psalms for him to read. Because he asked God for wisdom, Solomon became the wisest man on earth; however, he had a soft spot that would become his undoing. 1 Kings 11 tells us that he loved many foreign women. "They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, 'You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.' Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love." (1 Kings 11:2)
The Bible reports, "So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely as David his father had done." (1 Kings 11:6) Solomon's behavior was so offensive that God raised up adversaries against him so that the end of his life was fraught with battles. When he died, his son, Rehoboam, was appointed king. What kind of legacy did this father leave for his son? There is the written legacy through the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, but his actions did not agree with his written words. His legacy was one of idol worship; the demonstration of his love for God was not obvious to Rehoboam. When he began his reign over Israel, the Kingdom was torn from his hands because he followed the wrong path of leadership. Rehoboam lost the loyalty of ten tribes of Israel. Idol worship became the trademark of his day.
We could continue to look down the family line of David to see how each successive son behaved. Needless-to-say, the legacy of a father can impact generations for good or bad. Our prayer for our fathers and men who have influence on subsequent generations should be for them to develop a heart like God's. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians, "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His Kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) Paul's heart toward those he visited was like God's heart of love toward us. All of us can develop this kind of heart as we connect with the Lord in greater intimacy with Him to leave a legacy of love.
What we believe is directly related to how we behave. That is why, in my opinion, one of the most important Scriptures in the Bible comes from 2 Corinthians 10:5. We are told by the apostle Paul, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." (NIV) The language in The Passion Translation is much more graphic. "We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One."
Of course, those from the demonic realm understand the importance of the above Scripture and attempt to place false information into the minds of Christians so that they act in a way that confirms agreement with the wrong kingdom. Satan wants us to believe that we are in chains. Those chains can look like the inability for us to get out of the cycle of addiction, illness, poverty, or shame, to name a few. In essence, when we are caught in an ungodly cycle of belief, we will not take the steps necessary to release the chains that bind us, so we are free.
How many of us honestly believe the truth of God's promises and act accordingly? I will confess this is a challenge for me, and yet, I am determined to declare God's truths and walk in them. An exercise we are encouraged to do in the inner healing ministry I belong to is this: Draw two boxes. In the first box write any lies or ungodly beliefs that you may have. Draw a wide frame around this box and write in it the behaviors that have resulted from the lies you believe. In the second box, write the truths that God has given to you. Draw a wide frame around it as well and write the behaviors that result from the truths on it. What is written in the second box is God's desire for your life.
Now, I would like to share some truths and promises from Scriptures for you to meditate on. All of these are from the NIV.
John 8:36 - "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Ephesians 1:4-5 - "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will."
2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
Colossians 1:13-14 - "For He has rescued us from the darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Deuteronomy 28:13 - "The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom."
Romans 8:37 - "No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."
The above truths will help establish a good belief system in our minds. Remember, if we believe that we do not have the power to break the chains of the enemy, we will continue to live in those chains. The truth is what sets us free. As we meditate on these truths, we unlock freedom, joy, and power.
"Timing is everything!" This phrase has been spoken to me multiple times by the Holy Spirit. The truth of this statement was played out for us last week. We visited a peony farm in Long Valley, New Jersey that is only open two to three weeks a year. The owner of the farm has this short span of time to harvest his flowers and prepare them for shipment to florists in the New York City area. How delightful it was for us to walk through the rows of plants and feast our eyes on the various shapes and shades of red, pink, white, coral, and yellow peonies! Many were still in bud, but even these golf-ball size buds attracted our attention. Workers in the fields were carefully cutting stems to be taken to the refrigerator.
We learned that the ants attracted to the peony buds actually assist in their opening. The stems are cut when the bud feels like a marshmallow or when it is just beginning to show a small amount of color. After being cut, the flower buds are dunked in buckets of water to remove the ants. Then the stems are bundled together, wrapped, and placed in the refrigerator. They can stay there for as long as a month. Our visit to the farm was not complete until we purchased a bundle of peonies in white, pink, and rosy red.
What amazed us the most about our peony excursion was the dramatic transformation of the stems after they were plunged into water. I recut the bottom of each of them at an angle so that the stems could absorb a maximum amount of water. Three hours after the peonies were placed in the water, the flowers were open. The next day these gorgeous heads were fully open, and we were enjoying their sweet scent. Life was quickened in these peonies as their cells were filled with water.
We, like the peony stems, will also come to life and reflect the beauty of God as we take in what Jesus calls "living water." In John 4 Jesus is having a conversation with a Samaritan woman who came to collect water from Jacob's well. He told her that He would give her living water. (Verse 10) He further explained, "If anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied. For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life." (Verse 14 - TPT) Again, at the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit is like water. He said, "'All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that river of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like Scripture says!' Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that Believers were being prepared to receive." (John 7:37-39 - TPT)
The Lord has made the Living Water/Holy Spirit available to all who believe in Him. His desire is for us to grow and blossom and spread His fragrance wherever we go. Micah 3:8 makes a declaration that we should confess: "But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord." We can expect that we will grow in the strength and beauty of the Lord as we remember that we are filled with His Spirit—that Living Water that continuously flows within us.
Joan E. Mathias