When a new year is about to take place, do you look to the past to see what has happened and then to the future to determine what you could accomplish? I think the practice of setting informed goals helps us in being able to chart the course for our lives. Perhaps this is what God was thinking when He established a yearly cycle for His people beginning with Nisan. This first month was planned for the deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians and victory in taking the Promised Land where freedom would be theirs.
Presently, we are at the beginning of the month of Nisan. If we look at the book of Exodus during this time period, we see how God was showing the Israelites His power by sending plagues and natural disasters upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians. We can relate to some of those plagues. East Africa and South Asia are battling billions of locusts that are destroying their crops and livelihoods. And, of course, thousands have died around the world from Coronavirus. The disease is taking its toll on our physical bodies, our economies and our way of living life.
When God was about to send the plague of the death of the firstborn throughout Egypt, He told His people to begin a new cycle of life. Nisan was to be the first month of the year for them. He told Moses the following: "Tell the whole community of Israel that on the 10th day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household...The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the 14th day of the month, when all the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs… This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord's Passover." (Exodus 12:3, 5-7, 11)
After the Isralites selected their lamb, slaughtered it on the 14th of Nisan and spread the blood on the door frames, they were to stay in their homes until morning. They would be protected by the blood of the lamb. The destroyer would pass over the doorways covered by the blood; the Lord would protect them. After 430 years of bondage in Egypt, the children of Israel were set free to begin their journey to the Promised Land. A Passover meal has been celebrated ever since this first one. Jesus celebrated it with His disciples before His crucifixion. Today Christians call this meal communion.
I would like to suggest that the quarantine that we are now experiencing may have the unexpected outcome of bringing us freedom from the bondages of our age. God's people are meant to be different from the rest of the world. This time alone is a time of rest where we can repent of our worldly lives, remember the Lord's deeds for all humankind, and look to Him, our Redeemer, to lead us on paths of righteousness and to a life filled with purpose. When we accepted Jesus as our Lord, the blood of the Passover Lamb (Jesus) was placed over our hearts. And Jesus demonstrated and admonished us to practice taking the meal called communion so that we remember Him.
My husband and I have come to understand how important our daily practice of taking communion is to our relationship with the Lord and for our protection and healing. Daily we remember the Lord's benefits by declaring the beginning of Psalm 103. "Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Then we remember that Jesus is our Passover Lamb and that "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) The Lord wants to set us free from the bondage of this world and lead us into our promised lands. Let's use this time of seclusion to draw closer to Him and watch as He leads us triumphantly out of bondage and into a life of victory and Kingdom authority.
Extensive thought has been given to what I am about to write. I have been challenged by a particular Scripture. After much study, I have more questions than I do answers. But I decided to post my dilemma in the hopes that one or more of you may have some revelation. "...In a multitude of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs 24:6 - KJ)
How often have you read or heard 2 Chronicles 7:14? "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Frequently, I am sure. Yet have you looked at the context of this verse? Solomon had just successfully finished building the Lord's temple. He asked that the Lord come to His resting place at the temple. The Lord appeared to him and said, "I have heard your prayer and chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people..." (2 Chronicles 7:12-13 - NIV) The King James version says, "If I shut up heaven," and NLT says, "At times I might shut up heaven."
Knowing what is going on in our world today (droughts, locusts and plagues) I began to wonder if these things were sent by the Lord. The crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross was a gift from God to cover our sins. I know God as compassionate, loving, merciful and altogether wonderful. Would He send such a destruction and death to the earth? I also know Him as completely pure and holy, worthy of worship. He is a jealous God, wanting our affections and honor. How do we reconcile these characteristics?
We are battling a pandemic in the world called Coronavirus or COVID-19. It is overwhelming the medical community, affecting the economy and changing our lives. Though medical scientists are rushing to find a vaccine to stop the virus it maybe too little too late. I read about a church in France where 15 people came to know the Lord because of their fear of death. Could this virus come from Him in order to bring many to salvation? Is this what we need to humble ourselves and call out to God for mercy?
In the midst of all the chaos, I wonder: Does God still send plagues? Other Old Testament Scriptures sound somewhat like 2 Chronicles 7:13 including 2 Chronicles 6:26-31, Deuteronomy 11:17-18, Ezekiel 14:19-21, Amos 4:7. Wise King Solomon wrote, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34) The United States is a nation in sin. Chuck Smith calls it a national sickness caused by forgetfulness, neglect and rejection. We are guilty of idolatry, sexual immorality, killing the unborn and neglecting the Lord’s Day. Are we being disciplined by God? Has He reached the end of His patience with us? Is He using instruments of judgment talked about in Jeremiah 14:12 (sword, famine and plague) to redirect our course?
If we look back in the history of our nation we find that in the summer of 1623 there was a severe drought in Plymouth, MA--so severe that the native Indians had never seen anything like it. The settlers called for an assembly of all of the people. They humbled themselves together before the Lord with fasting and prayer according to Edward Winslow's book The Light and the Glory. For one day they stopped all work and gathered to acknowledge God and repent of their sins. Before the day was over the rain clouds blew in and it began to rain. The rains lasted for 14 days.
Sometimes we need to look back in history to chart our course for the future. Past presidents, including George Washington in 1789, John Adams in 1799, and Abraham Lincoln in 1863, called for national days of fasting and prayer to ask for repentance for past transgressions and mercy from God. Here is my conclusion. It does not matter where Coronavirus came from. It does matter how we respond! The future of our nation is at stake. Thankfully, our president has seen the need to call our nation to prayer. He said, "It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15, as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these...No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!" The Church must lead the way in this call to prayer. Let us get on our knees and call out to God for mercy and revival. May I also suggest that you read Psalm 91 aloud every day.
In the final chapter of Isaiah, the Lord asks a key question: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" (Isaiah 66:1-2) The glory of the Lord comes wherever He rests and brings with it revival.
When we look back to 1 Chronicles 21 and 22, we see that King David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite so that he could build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice burnt and fellowship offerings on it to stop the plague that was killing the people of Israel. As he sacrificed, "The Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering." (1 Chronicles 21:26) After this, David said, "The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel." (2 Chronicles 22:1) David made extensive preparations for the construction of the temple because his son, Solomon, called a man of peace and rest, was the kind of person God wanted to build His house.
All the officials of Israel were summoned to assemble at Jerusalem where David announced his plans. Solomon was commissioned to build the house of the Lord and to lead God's people in His ways. First Chronicles 28:12 tells us that David "gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind." The temple was built on Mt. Moriah, where the Lord appeared to David. There was great rejoicing and a spirit of unity with the people of God as they gave and gathered all the supplies needed for building the temple. On the day when it was dedicated "fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple." (2 Chronicles 7:1-2)
The temple made with hands was eventually destroyed. But God had a plan for a new type of temple. Paul explains it: "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." (Acts 17:24) He told the Corinthians, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16) In Chapter 6, Verses 19-20, he gives more details: "...You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." The Spirit of the Living God took up residence in the spirits of His people. Wherever the Spirit dwells there is glory and potential for revival. For this to happen our souls must bow to our spirits so that the Holy Spirit has priority and we follow His leading.
Around the world there are churches contending for revival and wondering what it will take for God to dwell in their presence. Sid Roth, in his book The Incomplete Church, asks some interesting questions: "What would the church be like today if we started from scratch and just followed the Scriptures? What would happen if we removed all tradition from Judaism and Christianity, and Jews and Christians came together as one? Let me introduce you to the Glorious Congregation--the emergence of the One New Man--Yeshua!"
God is looking for a house where He can come and dwell. He is looking for a people who will dwell in unity. (Psalm 133) "For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of two, thus making peace...In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit." (Ephesians 2:14-15, 21-22) Sid Roth says, "His objective is to 'gather together in one all things in Messiah.' (Ephesians 1:10) When the wall between Jew and Gentile is removed, the spiritual temple, God's dwelling place, will be restored, and this One New Man will release resurrection power to the Church that Paul calls 'life from the dead.'" (Romans 11:15) As we worship together in unity, God's glory will return. How I hunger for such a day! Will you join me in prayer for God to knit us together as One New Man so that His glory can be released in our midst?
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!
Although God intended the fifth month of Av to be a time of yearly celebration of His goodness, the sin of unbelief by the Israelites caused a complete change in what would happen. According to the Hebrew calendar, on the 9th of Av the children of Israel chose to believe a negative report instead of the promise of God. The voice of faith spoken by Caleb and Joshua was ignored and the voice of unbelief was embraced. Caleb said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." (Numbers `3:30) The ten spies reported: "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." (Numbers 13:31) This is a vow that led to a curse that is still in place today.
We are now at the beginning of Av. A yearly cycle of cursing occurs because repentance of past sins never took place. Unbelief was repeated when Jesus walked the earth. Though the Jews heard God's words of truth through Him and saw the miracles He performed, they did not receive their Messiah. They crucified the Promise.
Jesus came as a Redeemer with the intent of rebuilding everything that Satan has destroyed. He requires us to repent and make a choice to walk in freedom. We must be extremely careful who we agree with. Any time we agree with Satan a bad root develops and gives him permission to operate in our lives and those of our descendants. When we are overwhelmed with what we see we must listen to the voice of truth. Truth trumps what we see. The promises that God placed in the Bible are for us to stand on. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so, through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 1:20)
In Deuteronomy 11 God's instructions to the children of Israel were written down. He was letting them know the importance of His words. He said, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your foreheads. Teach them to your children...Write them down on the door frames of your house and on your gates so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers...If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Every place where you set your foot will be yours...No man will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as He promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go." (Verses 18-28)
We have a choice today to agree with the blessing or the curse. As God said in Deuteronomy, curses come to rest on our lives when we agree with the wrong kingdom; blessings come when we obey the Lord. We are warned in Hebrews 3:12: "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." If we discover that we have made an agreement with the kingdom of darkness, we can repent, rebuke it and declare the truth. We must declare that our alliance is with the Lord. He is the one who will restore what has been stolen and help us rebuild what has been destroyed.
In his book, An Appeal to Heaven, Dutch Sheets writes about synergy and calls it "multiplication of power through combined effort." Synergy operates in both the physical and spiritual realms. By following God's decrees and obeying His commands, the Israelites could experience this multiplication. Here is what the Lord told them: “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you." (Leviticus 26:8) God desires for the generations to connect with one another (Psalm 78:4-6 and 145:4) and promises to bless unity (Psalm 133). Dutch encourages us to put ourselves "into the story line God is writing" because this "allows us to tap into the strength and life of what He did years ago." It is critical for us to connect with our past to find our future.
As we can read in Scripture, God partnered with the children of Israel to help them establish a godly nation that honored Him. He told Moses, “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you." (Exodus 34:10) I believe that God partnered with our founding fathers as He did with Israel. The intent of the pilgrims was to establish a country "for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith." (Mayflower Compact, 1620) It was His delight to bless those who first came to American with a godly vision.
On July 4 we will celebrate Independence Day--a day that came about because of the courage of our forefathers to take on the British to battle for freedom. General George Washington, commander of the troops during the American Revolution, spoke about our dependence on the Lord for success in the fight for independence.
The battle for our nation still rages, but it now comes from within. As Dutch says, "The dream of our forefathers "to partner with God to release the light of His Word to all nations" has been perverted by our cravings for "money, possessions and pleasure...We are no longer feeding on the dream; the dream is feeding on us...Giants in our land--abortion, violence, racism, numerous addictions and sexual perversions--all are strongholds ruling and destroying America...Many of our leaders now deny America's true history and oppose her Creator."
You may ask, "Is there hope for our nation?" I believe that there is if the Christians of this nation would band together in unity, agreeing in prayer and connecting and building on the foundation of previous generations. In his book, Dutch asks us to join in an appeal to heaven and to take our place in the synergy of the ages. He encourages us with these words: "If we return to a faith that God and His redeeming power are bigger than our weaknesses and failures, we will defeat the over-fed giants of our day. If we can believe that through the blood of Jesus, God's mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13), and that He who began a good work in us can finish it (Philippians 1:6), we'll prevail...If we return to covenant with the God of our fathers, embracing the destiny He planned for us, Olam (Everlasting God) will deliver us from the spiritual giants robbing us of our calling and inheritance."
Dutch admonishes us: "Never discount the power of God's redeeming love." The transformation of our nation will come as we obey God's Word in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear them from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Sivan, meaning bright, is a significant month on the Jewish calendar primarily because the second major feast of the Lord occurs on the 8th and 9th day of it. Seven weeks the Israelites traveled from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, the place where God would define His covenant with them and give them the Ten Commandments. The feast of Sivan is called Shavuot which means weeks. (The Greek word for this feast is Pentecost for 50 days.) "In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai." (Exodus 19:1)
At Mt. Sinai, God swore an eternal oath to the children of Israel, consequently, Shavuot also means oath. Jewish sages compare what took place to a wedding between God and His people. When the Israelites accepted God's commandments, they became His chosen people. Moses was instructed to give them a message from God: "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation..." (Exodus 19:4-6) From these verses, we can discern how important this covenant was to God. The children of Israel agreed to keep covenant with God, so Moses was given the Ten Commandments. This is known as Matan Torah—"The Giving of the Torah."
Look how God took His people from the barley harvest of Passover to the wheat harvest of Shavuot. See how His people went from slavery to liberation so that they could know and celebrate being chosen by the God of their fathers. As they committed and dedicated themselves to God, they were to show the world the goodness of God. The Lord had set into place a way for the entire world to be won to His love and mercy. His plan was for the nation of Israel to shine forth His glory for everyone to see.
A day would come when God would enact a new dimension of His plan by sending His Son, Jesus, to earth so that everyone could come to know Him personally, and He would redeem us from the curse of destruction and death and give us eternal life with Him. Through the disciple Peter, we see in the New Testament words that are like the ones God declared over His people when He met them at Mt. Sinai. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are a people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)
The God of Israel not only made an unbreakable covenant with the Israelites but made a way for us to be a part of that covenant. We enter the month of Sivan tomorrow evening at sundown. Use this month to worship the Lord and give thanks for how He made a way for us to be part of His royal priesthood and holy nation. Let us give thanks for the giving of Torah and for the harvests in our lives and declare the praises of the One who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light!
It has been written that Susanna Wesley is "the mother of Methodism" even though it was her sons John and Charles Wesley who started it. Methodism was an offshoot of a club that the brothers oversaw called "The Holy Club." The men in this club adopted rules for right living. In a book titled Wesley Gold. Pure. Refined, Ray Comfort compiled information about the Wesleys and the way they lived. He says this about the people who belonged to The Holy Club. "They divided their time into exact hours for study and for religious duties. They allotted as little time as possible to sleeping and eating, and as much as possible to holy devotions. They fasted until 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, received Holy Communion once each week, studied and discussed the Greek New Testament and the Classics each evening in a member's room, and methodically brought all their lives under strict examination by each other. Because of this, it wasn’t long before they were being called The Holy Club by other students to mock their emphasis on devotion and righteous living. The precision with which they regulated their lives caused one young man to say, 'A new set of Methodists have sprung up.'...John Wesley, in his English Dictionary, defines a Methodist as 'one that lives according to the method laid down in the Bible.'"
When we investigate the details of the way of life established for the men of The Holy Club, we can trace their beginnings to the way Susanna Wesley raised her children. She was definitely a woman of influence where her boys were concerned. As a woman with strong devotion to her faith and family, and with a passionate love of the Lord, she taught her children disciplines that would stay with them for their entire lives.
It was at his mother's funeral in 1742 that John shared her advice on how to raise children. Here is some of what he shared:
I thought it fitting that we give tribute to this godly woman on Mother's Day. She was known as a woman of prayer whose petitions to the Lord had their intended result and a woman of uncompromising devotion to the Lord. Her strong faith and the impact it had on her children and others should be an inspiration. Susanna's life is a perfect example of a Proverbs 31 woman. "A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30) One day all of us will appear before the Lord. We cannot stand before Him empty-handed. Let her life be like a pattern for all of us to follow.
Before taking the children of Israel to the Promised Land, God wanted them to come to His holy mountain, Mt. Sinai. When Moses met God, He told him this: "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:12) God determined that this would be the first destination for the children of Israel after leaving a life of slavery. He had much to teach them about Himself.
Exodus 16:1 tells us, "The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai on the 15th day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt." God's greatest desire is to have intimacy with His children. During the days from Passover to their arrival at Mt. Sinai He would concentrate on introducing Himself to the Israelites. On their trip, God began to show them who He is through several miracles. The bitter, undrinkable waters of Marah were healed when a stick/tree was placed in them and they became sweet. The Lord announced, "...I am the Lord who heals you--Yahweh Rapha" (Exodus 15:26) Food called manna, quail and water from a rock were provided by Yahweh Jaira--The God who Provides. "...Then you will know that I am the Lord your God." (Exodus 16:12) Victory was given to the children of Israel in a battle against the Amalekites. They learned that victory comes through praise, as Moses held up his hands. "Moses built an alter and called it The Lord is my Banner or Yahweh Nissi. He said, 'For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord...'" (Exodus 17:15-16)
The Israelites started to have a more personal relationship with God through getting to know him during the second month of the year, Iyar--sometimes called Ziv--meaning radiance. The second month of the year is linked with light or increasing revelation. During this month of transition from slavery to identity as a child of God, they were coming into a new level of intimacy with Him. It was during this month that God revealed the details of His covenant with His chosen people. The letter from the Hebrew alphabet that is linked to it is VAV which means connection. As they came to understand the goodness of God, they drew closer to Him. This is the month when we should do likewise! I see the Lord as a many-faceted diamond where there is always another facet of Him to know. This is a time to press into a deeper relationship with the Lord. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (things to eat, drink and wear talked about in Verse 31) will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you..." (Matthew 13:11) As we become more intimate with the Lord, we shall see more of the manifestation of His Kingdom.
The tribe of Issachar is associated with the month of Iyar and is known for their understanding of the times and seasons. They are linked with prosperity, intercession and blessing and show us how important it is to seek the Lord for deeper manifestations of His personality. We should make it our quest for the next 29 days to seek a greater manifestation of the three characteristics of God that He introduced during this time frame. God wanted His "kids" to know these characteristics before He gave them Torah in the third month. I believe there is a greater grace for healing, provision and victory as we celebrate the anniversary of what God demonstrated. (Iyar begins at sundown tonight.)
We have been grafted into the family of God (Romans 11:17-24) and are part of the covenant He made with the Israelites. It is time for us to pursue a deeper understanding of the God who loves to pour out His gifts, those introduced on the journey to Sinai and others such as mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, unconditional love and peace. Perhaps we will discover another facet of Him that we have not experienced before.
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Scripture is clear that we must have faith in God in all circumstances. Faith is the currency of heaven. It helps us to have hope where a situation may seem hopeless. God's promises are what empower our faith, and real faith unlocks the anointing for us to carry out our God-given assignments.
Let's look at Jacob's son, Joseph, who is written about in the book of Genesis. Here is a man that was sustained by faith and successfully completed his assignment to provide for his family and speak to them about their future. Joseph's assignment came about in a painful and unexpected way. At the age of 17, he was having dreams that gave him clues to his future and also put him in the position of being hated by his brothers. They hated Joseph so much that they sold him into slavery. He landed in Egypt and prospered until the wife of the captain of the guard of Pharaoh had him unfairly thrown into prison where he remained until he was 30 years old.
The dreams that Joseph had may have been what sustained him all the years he was in prison. We read that God's favor was with Joseph in every season of his life. His release from prison came when he was able to interpret Pharaoh's dream and develop a plan to keep the people of Egypt fed while Pharaoh prospered. During seven years of abundance, Joseph collected and stored grain so that during the seven years of famine the Egyptians would have food. In addition, Egypt supplied grain to the surrounding nations.
Imagine Joseph's feelings when he saw his brothers, who sold him into slavery, come to purchase grain! Joseph revealed himself to his family, and they all came to live in Egypt. Though this foreign land became a haven for some time, Joseph knew that Egypt was not to be the permanent home of the children of Israel. He remembered the promise that God gave to his ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and knew that God had a promised land for him and his descendants. He recognized that God had ordained for him to be in Egypt during the famine so that he could save his family. (Genesis 50:20-21) His faith in the promises of God actually took him beyond his life on earth. At the age of 110 he prepared to die. Here is what he told his family: "'I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, 'God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.'" (Genesis 50:24-25)
Unless God told him, Joseph had no way of knowing that his descendants would be in Egypt for 430 years under the cruel task master of slavery. All he knew for sure was that God made a promise and that He kept His promises. His faith was empowered by his belief in God's Word. As the children of Israel were preparing to leave Egypt, they made good on their promise to Joseph. "Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, 'God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.'" (Genesis 13:19)
We must do as Joseph did—meditate on God's promises. As the Word says, All the promises of God are "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:20) We must feed our faith by renewing our minds with the truth of God so that it roots in our hearts. It is faith that brings provision from the heavenly realm. It is time for us to march out of the bondages of Egypt into our promised lands. If we do so by faith, we will see the fulfillment of the promises of God.
Joan E. Mathias