God never intended for His people to be too secure in one place. He knows that it is through the journeys of life we will grow in our trust and understanding of Him and closeness to Him. The forefathers of Christianity written about in the Bible were always moving. The first journey we read about is one that was inspired by God. "The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'" (Genesis 12:1-3) Abram was faithful and went to the land of Canaan, as the Lord led. Here, Abram’s life of trusting in God grew.
And God proved Himself trustworthy by miraculously allowing Abram (now called Abraham) to impregnate his wife Sarah in her old age. Sarah bore a son who they named Isaac. When Isaac matured and was ready to start his own family, Abraham sent his senior servant on a journey to find Isaac a wife. Abraham told his servant that God would send His angel before him to help in finding the proper wife. (Genesis 24:7) Isaac's son Jacob also went on a journey to find a wife. He set up a pillar at a place where he rested in the city of Luz and called it Bethel—"The House of God." He promised to serve God and return to Him a tenth of everything that God gave him. (Genesis 28:18-22)
Joseph, the favorite of Jacob's 12 sons, took an unexpected journey to Egypt because his jealous brothers sold him into slavery. God was faithful to Joseph, pouring His favor upon him so that he was placed in a position of leadership and influence just under Pharaoh. During a time of great famine, Joseph's brothers came to him to purchase grain. This journey led to the restoration of their relationship with one another and to a new homestead for the family of Jacob (Israel). The family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob grew, producing fear in the Egyptians, so that they took them as slaves
After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God set into motion a plan whereby Moses would lead his people out of Egypt on a journey to the Promised Land where they established homes but forgot their God who had led them to freedom. God's plan for another journey formed long ago when the sin of Adam and Eve paved the way for all mankind to be separated from God. His chosen people were still sinning when God ordained that the ultimate journey would take place! The Son of God was to leave His heavenly throne to come to earth and live among His people. His life on earth would end with His death on a cross to satisfy the wrath and holiness of Father God. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God who came to become a sacrifice for our lives so that we could have eternal life with Him.
We think of another significant journey that took place as we remember the Christmas story. Wise men from the east—probably Persia or present-day Iraq—may have been reading Daniel's writings that identified the time of the coming of the Christ child. As they studied the stars, they found the Lord's star and took a journey to Bethlehem to worship this King.
It is God's desire that we become people who search and move in His direction. Psalm 84 is a great encouragement for us in this regard: "Blessed are those who strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage." (Verse 5) We see how those who followed the Lord and journeyed with Him received amazing blessings. I believe that during this season we too should be setting our hearts on pilgrimage so that we come closer to the King that we worship.
A sentiment on a Hallmark Christmas card has touched my heart, and I would like to share it with you:
Christmas reminds us we're all on a journey...toward meaning, toward hope, toward love and lasting peace.
As we journey through this season, I am asking God to give us those things that touch our hearts, renew our spirits, and bring blessings to our world!
May our celebration of the birth of Christ take us to new places of revelation of His great love for us!
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2) It was the Word released in the breath of God that created the universe.
To the Jews, God's involvement in the world is the meaning of the "Word." We see in this verse that God planted Jesus on the earth to be His personal presence. It was through the parable of the sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8) that Jesus explained how the Word ("Good Seed") would produce a large crop when it is planted in good soil. Seed receives life and nourishment from the ground in which it is planted. Likewise, the Word planted in us comes to life, grows and multiples when we give it room. The enemy of our lives wants to sow bad seed into us. Just as seed uses up what is in the soil, so the enemy's "seed" depletes us if we allow it to root. How do we give enemy seed room to grow? This happens if we allow unforgiveness, bitterness, judgments, fear or lust, etc. to dwell in us.
Let's think about this in relation to the season that is upon us. The next four weeks are called "Advent"—a time for us to prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Christ child. In fact, one of the Christmas carols we sing reminds us to do this: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing." We must remember that the birth of Jesus is the season for the coming of the Good Seed—God's Word—being planted into every heart that will receive it.
In preparing for the planting of the Word, first we should recognize our need to do so. Earthly passions must be set aside so that we focus on our Savior. The Shunammite woman written about in 2 Kings 4:8-17 demonstrates how to prepare room for a carrier of the Spirit of God. She recognized that God's Spirit lived in the prophet Elisha. Desiring more, she spoke to her husband: "I know this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let's make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us." (Verse 10)
See how the woman prepared for every need that Elisha might have by providing a place for him to rest, eat and study? Elisha, of course, stayed with the Shunammite on several occasions and was so touched by her generosity that he wanted to give something back to her. She had few physical needs because she was "well-to-do." However, she had no son. Elisha called to her and said, "About this time next year you will hold a son in your arms." "The next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her." (Verse 16, 17)
Elisha demonstrated the heart of the Lord in his gift to the woman. When we prepare for the Word and give place for it, the Lord gives back to us in ways that are "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." (Ephesians 3:20) Now is the time to prepare the soil of our hearts to receive the Word, the Living Christ. We cannot allow the distractions of season to interfere with our preparations. We want the Word to be deeply rooted within us. I believe that as we do this the Lord will reward us with treasures from heaven far beyond what we can imagine.
The Lord's appointed festivals are first described in the book of Leviticus, Chapter 23. The Feast of Tabernacles is particularly unique because it last for seven days and God's people are instructed to live in temporary shelters for seven days as their ancestors did when they were brought out of Egypt. Leviticus 23:40 tells us, “On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees--from palms, willows and other leafy trees--and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days." Here is how Deuteronomy 16:15 describes this joyful festival: "For seven days celebrate the festival...for the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete." Reading through the Old Testament, one can see how faithful the Israelites were to follow the law when it came to celebrating the feasts. The exiles who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple settled in and "began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it..." (Ezra 3:2) In the seventh month they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. (Verse 4)
In my opinion, the most interesting reading concerning the Festival of Tabernacles occurs in Nehemiah 8:14-16. "They found written in the Law...that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month...'Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees to make temporary shelters'--as it is written." The unique part of the festival celebration with Nehemiah is that they cut branches from the olive tree and the wild olive tree. What a picture of the apostle Paul's dissertation on grafted in branches!
Israel is frequently referred to as an olive tree. The people of Israel are the branches. Paul recognized that many of his people did not receive the good news of Jesus as Lord. (Romans 10:16) Because of it, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear..." (Romans 11:8) "Because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Romans 11:11) Paul uses an analogy, describing the Jews as olive branches and the Gentiles as wild olive branches. "If some of the branches have been broken off, (Jews) and you, though a wild olive shoot, (Gentiles) have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourselves to be superior to those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (Romans 11:17-18)
One day the olive tree will flourish with the natural branches and the wild branches both grafted in. We read in Ephesians 2:15 that God's "purpose was to create in Himself one new man..." Jew and Gentile will live together in peace, both reconciled to God. As the Jews in Nehemiah's day laid the branches of the olive tree and wild olive tree on the top of their temporary shelters they would have been looking up at a picture of the future. One day Jew and Gentile together will worship the King of kings during this festival. (Zechariah 14:16-19) When and how this will come to pass is unclear. What is clear is that we will be worshiping The Lamb together in joyful celebration. What a day this will be!
The journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years is recalled during the celebration called The Feast of Tabernacles, Ingathering or Sukkot. That celebration will begin at sundown tonight and is the greatest harvest feast of the year. The Jews build and dwell in temporary shelters called sukkahs or booths. The tops are open and covered with tree branches that allow those dwelling in the booths to see some of the stars in the sky. For seven days they have their meals or sleep in these temporary shelters. The Jews are taught to pray that God will send rain for the coming year since none falls between May and October.
In Israel, the borders of the Sea of Galilee have shrunk because of drought. Much of the land is desert and, its inhabitants are keenly aware of their need for water. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles the Temple priests performed the Water Libation or Pouring Ceremony. During this time, impassioned prayers were lifted to God by worshipers for abundant rain. It is significant that water was collected from the Pools of Siloam (meaning sent or sending forth) and brought to the Temple in Jerusalem where the priest would pour it out, along with wine, onto the altar. While this pouring was taking place, the people and the priests sang Isaiah 12:3-6. "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say, 'Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.'"
For those of us who know Jesus as Savior, this Scripture is particularly meaningful. Yeshua is the Hebrew word for salvation. For us to have the abundant life that He offers we must draw deeply from the "wells of Salvation." The wells of Yeshua will never run dry. In fact, here is what He proclaimed: "Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds--'All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!' Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive..." (John 7:37-39 - TPT)
Just as the Israelis cry for the physical rain, we must use this season to cry out for the rains of the Spirit to saturate us. Yeshua has already poured out blood and water from His side as He hung on the Cross. He was poured out like a drink offering so that we could have eternal life. He wants us to draw deeply from Him for deep calls unto deep.
We were designed to go from strength-to-strength (Psalm 84:5) and from glory-to-glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) God's desire is to release blessings into our lives so that we can grow in our understanding of who we are as His children. Growth happens in cycles, which is one of the reasons God ordained for us to follow His Biblical calendar. As we align ourselves with the Lord's timing and purposes, we will grow to be more like Him. The cycles God set up are meant to lead us into greater intimacy with Him and higher levels of blessing.
Psalm 84:5 says, "Blessed are those who strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Holman's Dictionary defines pilgrimage as "a journey, especially a religious trek to a site at which God has revealed Himself in the past." In the Old Testament we can see how the Israelites went to Bethel, Gilgal, Shiloh, Beersheba and Mt. Horeb in their quest to find God. After David relocated the ark to Jerusalem, it became the place to go to commune with the Lord. Three times a year adult male Israelites were required to appear before the Lord for the major feasts. (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:18-23, Deuteronomy 16:16) These three journeys to Jerusalem are known as the "pilgrim feasts."
Those who have traveled to Jerusalem know that the City sits on a high elevation. In the journey to honor God one had to go up. This is called "Aliyah" or "the going up." In every year, season and circumstance of our lives, we are called upward. We must always choose the higher path as it leads to greater strength and greater glory.
The three pilgrim feasts in the calendar year include Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. A transaction and growth occur as we celebrate each one, and the journey mirrors the walk through the Tabernacle. At the first stop to the Outer Court we meet with the Passover Lamb who redeemed us and cleanses us so that we are ready for the next stop. Without the atonement and cleansing there cannot be the anointing by the pouring out of the Spirit of God. The second stop in the Holy Place is where we receive provision for our journey and empowerment by the Spirit of God. Now we are ready to travel to the most blessed season of our journey. It is the time when we get to come into the Presence of God—to tabernacle with Him in the Most Holy Place and to celebrate with joy the glory of the Lord.
Tonight, Jews will begin celebrating the three fall feasts—The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. This month is one of great celebration for God's people as they blow the shofar 100 times in their worship service. This is a season to celebrate what God has already done and to rehearse what has been promised. (Believers recognize that Passover and Pentecost have been fulfilled, but the fall feasts remain to be fulfilled.)
The blowing of the ram's horn during Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) is done as a call to repentance. Genesis 22 is traditionally read in synagogues—the story of God providing a substitute atonement for Isaac after Abraham placed him on the altar of sacrifice. Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, the most holy day on the calendar is celebrated—the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. Even though the Jews read about the substitutionary atonement provided for Abraham, many do not understand that the ultimate sacrifice was already made on Passover through the blood of Messiah Yeshua.
All of us need to set our hearts on pilgrimage so that we can grow closer to God. As vessels that carry God's glory, we carry the light of His love on our journey so that we bring others into God's Kingdom. One day the Lord will return for His Bride, the Church, to the sound of the trumpet. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) We want to be ready!
If we were to study the growth cycle of different kinds of plants, we would be in awe of the systems that God developed for them to mature into beautiful specimens. Such is the case for the sunflower. Have you ever driven by a field of sunflowers with their golden heads all facing the same direction and wondered why? There is an internal mechanism in these plants that enables them to turn to the sun. The scientific term is "heliotropism"--"helio" meaning sun and "tropism" meaning turn. This is also called "solar tracking."
The sunflower only has a single blossom so its goal is to grow a head that can produce as many seeds as possible. Inside the green parts of the plant is a hormone called "auxins" that are sensitive to light. The auxins migrate to the shaded part of the stem and behind the bud head to stimulate cell growth so that the shaded side of the plant grows longer and faster than the rest of the plant. Then the flower head follows the arc of the sun. At night, it repositions itself so that it is east facing and can begin the process of following the sun all over again in the morning. Note that even on a cloudy or rainy day the sunflowers still follow the sun.
By turning its face toward the sun, the sunflower takes full advantage of the light for photosynthesis, the process whereby it obtains energy for growth. Once the flower matures, it no longer tracks the sun but faces east all the time. By facing east, the flower is warmed by the morning sun and attracts pollinators, primarily bees, who travel from head to head and fertilize the centers so that they produce seeds. Is this not fascinating?
I see a correlation between the sunflowers and our growth as Christians. First, God planted each of us in the ideal place for relationship with Him. "...He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." (Acts 17:26-27) Then, He placed within us the desire to worship. Everyone has their own "auxins," so to speak. David recognized this and expressed it in Psalm 27. "My heart says of you, 'Seek His face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek." (Verse 8) In Psalm 105:4 it says, "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." Even when we go through dark times and the Lord is not so visible, we need to turn toward Him to help us in our time of need.
As we seek the Lord and find Him, we will be growing in the likeness of Him. God delights in watching us produce the fruits of His Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) It is through our growth in the Spirit that we will begin to plant seeds in others so that the Lord will have a magnificent harvest. When seed is planted in good soil it "produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:23)
One day the Lord will return for His harvest. Scriptures tells us He will come from the east and all of us will face toward Him, our Lord and Master. Matthew describes how it will look: "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthews 24:27) What a glorious day it will be! We must keep facing the Son to be ready for that day.
Did you ever ask God about your reputation in heaven through your worship on earth? Tommy Tenney, in his book Finding Favor with the King - Preparing for Your Moment in His Presence, suggests that we do so. He asks, "What would happen if the church established a reputation for extravagant excellence with her King and Bridegroom?" "Is God eager to suspend the schedules of His Kingdom to attend our worship services, or does He rarely show up in His manifest glory?" Tenney continues: "Nothing attracts God's presence and His intervening power like focused and single-minded worship...When you focus your attention on the wrong thing, you are actually worshiping it...Worship is never more important than when the enemy launches a plot to destroy your destiny! Learn to worship with the enemy at your table...If you have the heart of the King, then your enemies become His enemies and your problems become footstools for Divine Solutions."
The enemy's plan is to distract us from worshiping the King. He knows that worship is the gateway to intimacy with our Lord. We are told in John 15:7, "If you abide in me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (NKJV) In an article by Patricia King in April 2006, she writes about this subject. "Intimacy—this is the battlefield. This is what the enemy desires to steal more than anything! If he can steal our intimacy with the Lord, he gets everything..." She discovered in her desperation that she carried unbelief. "I was hoping to be intimate, but was not believing I could be." Pat recalled Hebrews 11:6. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must first believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." "I began to worship from a different perspective. Instead of hoping to be intimate, I believed I was. This was not based on what I felt—it was based on what was true."
In Psalm 23:5 King David wrote, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Tenney tells us that our worship must focus on the King alone. "If you learn to worship while the enemy sits across from you at the same table; if you learn to pay such close attention to the King that you forget about the enemy staring you in the face...Then you win." No matter how we feel, and no matter what we are facing, we must give the Lord our highest worship. Mary demonstrated this when she poured out the entire content of her alabaster jar to anoint Jesus. The crowd that had gathered witnessed Mary's selfless act of love, but they were offended by her lavish devotion. Jesus told them, "I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Matthew 26:13)
Some characteristics of highest worship include the following: It is all-consuming, it is humble, it is done in brokenness, it is sacrificial, and it costs us everything. We see this in the relationship that Jesus had with His Father. While on earth, we have opportunities to give the Lord the highest worship. This happens when we give him the sacrifice of praise in the dark night of our souls, amid loss, sorrow and pain. Jesus said that Father God seeks worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) Our sacrificial worship has a fragrance that is different from any other. It rises above the worship of heaven.
Remember that God is the one who placed a yearning for His Presence within us. He wants us to be overwhelmed with the desire to run after Him with all that is within us. We must say like the Shulamite in Song of Solomon, "Draw me away!" "Set me as a seal upon your heart." And saying these things, we must be prepared to give it all. Jesus gave it all for love and His intercessions are prompted by love. We have a promise from God that we must embrace: "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
Like a city of refuge talked about in the Bible, the sixth month of Elul is considered a "haven in time." As we enter this month on the Hebrew calendar, we should be going after the blessings of God for it. One of the reasons Elul is such a blessing is that it is a time when God extended forgiveness and mercy to His people. During the previous two months, the Israelites fell into significant sin, the sin of worshiping the golden calf and the sin of unbelief by the 10 spies and the rest of the tribes of Israel. Not only did God forgive His people, but He made a way for them and us to have special accessibility to Him.
During Elul God spoke to Moses and said, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain." (Exodus 34:1-2) Moses climbed to the top of the mountain, and the Lord passed in front of him proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sins..." (Exodus 34:6-7) In addition, the Lord gave Moses instructions on how the people should live to have favor with Him. Here is part of the covenant He made on the Mountain: "I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God." (Exodus 34:24)
Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai and returned carrying the radiance of the Lord on his face. This meeting was the first of many times when Moses would speak with the Lord face to face. In these subsequent meetings, the Lord instructed him about the Sabbath and told him how to build the Tabernacle and its contents, how to clothe the priests and how to set up the Tabernacle. Upon the completion of the Tabernacle, "the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34)
God's desire has always been to dwell with His people. This is one of the reasons He has ordained times of resting, feasting and celebrations during every week, month and year. The Jews know that this month of Elul is a time of preparation for the "High Holy Days" of Tishrei--the seventh month. God so delights in having us draw near to Him that He cannot wait until the seventh month. He wants to be part of our everyday lives and to share special intimacy with us now. He demonstrated this when He sent Jesus to earth to dwell with us. Dwelling is a word for Tabernacle. This is what the Bible says about Jesus: "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." (John 1:14) Jesus lived in the flesh for 33 years. Though the Lord set up specific times during the year when we are to prepare to meet Him, He also enjoys showing up in unexpected times and ways. Elul is the month when the Jews say, "The King is in the field!"
Let us use this month to seek the Lord more diligently and expectantly. Let us make Elul a time of devotion to Him where we purposely seek Him. Remember that in a haven people are able to rest, regroup, find peace and prepare for the future. Perhaps the Lord will honor us with His manifested Presence in a unique way as we wait upon Him. We are giving Him extra special time in order to pursue His extra special blessings!
It is such a treat to be able to ride on a new highway! Usually the road is smooth and well-marked and gets us from one location to another more quickly than traveling on older roads. New highways are planned to help us get to our destinations more easily.
Isaiah talks about preparing a highway for the people of God. "Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up; build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: 'Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your Savior comes! See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him.'" (Isaiah 62:10-11) The Message says, "Tell daughter Zion, 'Look your Savior comes, ready to do what He said He'd do, prepared to complete what He promised.'"
The Lord always looks to partner with someone on earth to accomplish His purposes. He continues to look for willing vessels who want to bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth. We can play a part in building a spiritual highway for the Lord. It is a "highway" built from revelation, and that highway brings us and others closer to Him. How do we do this? We must be attentive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, listening and watching for the stream of thought that comes into our heads. We must allow the Holy Spirit to take us on a journey in our quiet time with Him. We can build spiritual paths with the Word of God so that we "prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3)
You may ask how this happens. Quiet time with the Lord is essential. We must wait upon Him to bring us a word. When I get a word from the Lord, I begin to travel through Scriptures with Him. I look for common themes and words throughout the Bible. I connect one passage with another. This is building a spiritual highway. God's Word always takes me on a journey. One verse leads me to another which leads me to another. I am unearthing revelatory treasures along the way and laying the foundation for the highway that is being prepared. Through organizing the revelation and learning the lessons of Scripture that are repeated in several places, I am building a highway that leads to a deeper understanding of the Lord and increases my intimacy with Him. Once I have completed my own path, I can share the revelation with others so that they too can travel the highway into a more intimate relationship with the Lord.
Here is my prayer: "O God, help me to be a good road builder." May we all be willing to wait upon the Lord and travel with Him, the One who Scripture calls The Word. (John 1:1)
"Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (Psalm 81:10) This is the Scripture that came to my mind as I looked at a video posted by Franklin Graham, leader of Samaritan's Purse. Every summer this organization invites wounded veterans and their spouses to a three-week stay at their camp in Alaska. It is a time for these vets to enjoy the majestic surroundings of Alaska, heal from pain and trauma of their past, and draw closer to God. One of the groups of vets came across a wide, fast-moving stream with a bear stationed right in the middle of it. A multitude of salmon were jumping up stream. As the bear opened his mouth a fish jumped right into it.
Let's look at the context of Verse 10 in Psalm 81, a poetic Psalm written by Asaph. There seems to be four streams of thought in this Psalm. It begins with a note of celebration. I like the way The Passion Translation describes what is happening: "Lord, just singing about you makes me strong! So, I'll keep shouting for joy to Jacob's God, my champion. Let the celebration begin...Blow the jubilee trumpet to begin the feast...For God has given us these seasons of joy." (Psalm 81:1-4)
Next, the Psalm reminds God's people of what He has done: "He has given these feasts to remind us of His triumph over Egypt." (Verse 5 - TPT) God says through the Psalmist, "You called to me in your trouble and I rescued you...I came down to save you." (Verse 7 - TPT) Then comes a warning from God interspersed with instructions and promises. "Hear, O my people, and I will warn you--if you would but listen to me, O Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (Verse 8-10 - NIV)
The problem that the Lord presents next is that his people were not listening to Him or following His ways. They were being put down by their enemies because they had not followed the ways of the Lord. God was telling His people that if they would obey Him, their enemies would be subdued, and they would be rewarded. The last verse of Psalm 81 says, "But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." (Verse 16 - NIV) Now let's look at Verse 16 in The Passion Translation: "But I will feed you with my spiritual bread. You will feast and be satisfied with me, feeding on my revelation--truth like honey dripping from the cliffs of the high places."
The interpretation of Verse 10, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it," is further explained in Verse 16. It is interesting to note that the New International Version seems to have a physical bent, while The Passion Translation has a spiritual one. The Lord is a god of more! He wants to fill us with riches from heaven that come in the form of physical needs (e.g. wheat and honey) and spiritual truth that builds us up and gives us the strength we need to overcome, and the desire to worship the Lord as described at the beginning of this Psalm.
What is required of us? Listen to the Lord. Have no other gods before Him. Follow His ways. Then, we must station ourselves in the strategic place of worship and wait for our mouths to be filled with delicacies from heaven.
Joan E. Mathias