(John 1:29; 12:1-7)
Six days before the Passover Feast, YAHSHUA made a trip to Bethany to the home of Lazarus; six days before His death a supper was prepared for Him; Lazarus was at the table with Him, Martha served and Mary anointed Him for His burial, setting Him apart for His death as He represented the Passover sacrificial Lamb and in essence He was the true Lamb of God that takes the sins of the world (John 1:29). He was set apart four days before His death as it was commanded that the lamb for the sacrifice would be set apart on the tenth of the month, and be killed on the fourteenth, (four days after being set apart) Exodus 12:3,6. YAHSHUA lived those last days focused on what was to happen in His Father’s plan to redeem mankind. Behold, the Lamb of God! John Baptist’s cry to call the nation of Israel to repentance and acceptance of the Lamb of God- YAHSHUA, Who had come to be the Passover Lamb. While many were busy getting ready for that very important Passover event, YAHSHUA was quietly fulfilling His role of Lamb of God, when Mary anointed Him, not knowing the meaning of her action. But He knew and defended her at the criticism of Judas, who later betrayed Him.
(I Kings 18)
The days of Elijah foreshadowed today’s day in the increase of apostasy, immorality and idolatry. When Israel was under the control of evil kings, including Ahab and Jezebel, who reigned its northern kingdom, they persecuted and killed God’s prophets. They were intolerable of anything related to the Living God. Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, was a Phoenician princess, a prostitute and a killer. She worshiped Baal, the god of fertility, practiced in her native land, Tyre. Her name, symbolic of shame and wickedness, was visible in many aspects of her life. The name Jezebel remains alive and active today in its synonymous with evil.
In those days, God raised up a prophet called Elijah, who confronted both Ahab and Jezebel for their wickedness. A prophet filled with power and determination against the evil Ahab and Jezebel was on display. To start with, he killed all Israel’s 850 false prophets and prophetesses in a single day. A courageous prophet for the hour, at the time when darkness was abundant in the nation of Israel, for the nation had lost the sense of their true God in their worshipping of Baal, Jezebel’s god, and other gods as well. We find the report of Elijah’s amazing courage in I Kings 18, when he confronted all 850 of Baal’s false prophets and prophetess and challenged them to a test in which to prove YAHWEH to be the only true God. As a result, the slaughter of those false prophets took place, cleansing the nation of idolatry. A necessary cleansing for the nation to be blessed once again.
Where there are leftover roots of evil, good cannot prevail. Elijah, under God’s anointing, destroyed the root causes of the nation’s idolatrous evil. When the people who had come to the meeting Elijah organized at Mount Carmel, saw God’s consuming fire coming down over the offering on the altar, they repented and turned to the Lord by falling on their faces, and saying, The Lord, He is God, He is God! (I Kings 18:39b).
(John 11: 39-43)
Lord, by this time he stinks, said Martha. Take away the stone, was the command of YAHSHUA to the crowd. So they did. And Yahshua lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that you have heard Me (vs.39, 41).
YAHSHUA lifted up His eyes and prayed after the stone had been removed. This is an important observation to be noted. Even though YAHSHUA could have removed the stone just by a command, He told the crowd to do it. For that, it required faith and obedience, for Lazarus had being dead four days. Martha’s word and of those of the crowd expressed doubt but YAHSHUA ignoring their unbelief, confronted Martha with the question Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God? (vs. 40) YAHSHUA, before entering the place where Lazarus was, He assured Martha of Lazarus’ resurrection; He assured her that He Himself was the Resurrection and the Life… (vs. 25). Lazarus was dead, yes, but that did not matter in the scope of Whom YAHSHUA was and what He could do. He wanted Martha to believe Him in spite of the reality of her brother’s death.
“My people perish for lack of knowledge.” These are words of profound and consequential meaning, as we read in Job 36: 12: But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword and die without knowledge. The rejection of knowledge is a dangerous attitude to have. For it is hearing, but not listening, hearing but not perceiving; hearing but not understanding; seeing but not discerning. It is being deaf and blind spiritually. For God speaks not only once, but more than once, even though men do not regard it (Job 33:14). The spirit of unbelief is very predominant in the world today in spite of all the information being available in every avenue of life. Words found in the book of Job 33:15 seals the matter that men hear God’s voice in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men while slumbering upon the bed. Then He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction. The Prophet Daniel experienced dreams and visions and interpretations by angels. The entire chapter seven of the book of Daniel reveals the three visions he had and the interpretations of them. Those visions served to warn the world of yesterday and of today’s what were and what is going to happen in the future because our God desired and desires that none of us should perish.
God’s time line is in no way our time line. He acts in the sphere of eternity, in His all-knowing, all seeing before even anything takes place, to the time when all begins. In fact, before there was time, He was. Hard for a limited human mind to comprehend such reality. Where there is no beginning and no end, it just floats around our mind, without settling in our understanding. But that is the way it is. For our God is not in the frame of our understanding, being Who He is. This is how the Apostle Paul describes Him: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable are His judgments! And how untraceable are His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has ever been His counselor? … For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-34, 36).
The word goodness carries a strong connotation of its meaning. It is the goodness of our God that showers us with blessings. God’s creation in its varies aspects of life depend on His goodness to survive. Psalm 104 beautifully describes the goodness of God toward His creation: O Lord, how many and varied are You works! In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your riches and Your creatures, these all wait and are dependent upon You, that You may give them their food in due season. When You give it to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand and they are filled with good things. When You hide Your face, they are troubled and dismayed; when You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When You send forth Your Spirit and give them breath, they are created, and You replenish the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His work (vs. 24,27-31). Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems you live from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth with good so that your youth, renewed is like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:1-5).
Just before His trials and ultimately death, YAHSHUA spent time alone with His disciples preparing them to face the world without Him and at the same time warning them of things to come, including persecution. After His last supper with them, He washed their feet with the purpose to teach them humility. In chapter 14 He promises to return to earth to gather His own for Himself and blessed them with His peace; He presented Himself as the only Way to the Father, the Truth that will set man free; and Life. He is the only source of life physical and eternal. In chapter 15 He emphasizes sanctification. Here, He presented Himself as the Vine and the believers as the branches. Apart from the Vine there is no life. He calls their attention to love one another, for it is a commandment that summarizes the entire law – love for God and for others. in chapter 16 He promises the Holy Spirit; He details the nature of His ministry; and gives details concerning future persecution coming against them and encourages them to endure, for He had overcome all for them. He concludes it by saying: In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer! For I have overcome the world (vs. 33).
The tribulation YAHSHUA mentioned was not concerning the great tribulation, as many Christians think, but it referred to persecution from the world which embraces all those who are enemies of God. If you belonged to the world, YAHSHUA said, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember that I told you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15: 19-20a). Persecution is a sign that the believer is not of this world.
How much can happen in the speed of a twinkling of an eye? I Can’t think of anything besides the twinkling of an eye itself. What will take place in that short space of time that will be supernaturally magnificent? The hope of glory radiating a beautiful glow, as God brings to life those who were dead in Him and those of us who are still living, when will experience a transformation from corrupt to uncorrupted body, at the sound of His trumpet. That is called our hope of glory. Paul, in his writings to the Corinthian church says, Take notice! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (I Cor. 15: 51). How fast it will all happen? He said, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Paul probably thought that day was going to come in his lifetime. The Christians of those days embraced this hope then more than we do today, for the fact that their lives were constantly under severe persecution for their faith. The Thessalonians thought they were already into the great tribulation, so great were their sufferings. But Paul assured them saying that for the tribulation to happen, the rapture had to come first, or the “departure” of the bride of Christ, of which they were part of. It seems to me that for many, persecution will have to happen in their lives for they to desire the Lord to come in an earnest desire, permeating their inner being.
The direction in which the eyes take us is the place where we will end up. Sometimes in a ditch, when our eyes are focused on the phone or something else while driving, walking or running. As a result, death happens on many occasions when it happens while we are behind the steering wheel. It is a responsibility that weighs on each of us when we get in our vehicle. Our eyes, the light of the body, must be in tune with the brain to perform in the way that is safe. Distraction before disaster is a sure thing, as “pride is before one’s fall.” How many times do we utter this phrase, I wasn’t thinking when something happened that didn’t have to happen? The mind, the most precious body’s utility, is the master-in-chief of all decisions we make in life. In hearing bad news having a personal affect, it takes the mind hours and days processing the whys of circumstances, reasoning the facts which in many cases, were in part, results of our bad decisions. The whys flow in the gray cells without stop, robbing us of peace, all because we are setting our mind in a horizontal position, while the Bible tells us to set it vertically, for it is from above that help will come. Paul instructed us to do so, if in fact we have been raised with Messiah YAHSHUA, through our new birth in Christ. Why then should we lose our spiritual position when we are confronted with trials? Has our Lord forgotten us in our most needed time? Where are we spiritually positioned when all seem to fall apart, why can’t we remain with Him, and why is it so difficult to do so?
Reasonable questions must have answers to re-direct us to where we must be at all times. Psalm 91, well known to all seemingly Christians, gives us the foundation of the answers we are looking for. For us to benefit from the promises this psalm offers, we must be seated with YAHSHUA Who is sitting at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly sphere (Eph. 2:6). It is as the psalm states, He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (vs. 1). From there, we can testify that the Lord is our refuge, our fortress, therefore in Him we will trust (vs. 2). Spiritually or physically, we will be affected one way or the other, depending where we find ourselves to be when facing our troubles. Be found in His shelter is the sure way to be the recipient of His protection from all harm, even in our own trials. If we are in Messiah for reason of the new birth, then we must fix our mind on Him not only in times of our struggles, but at all times. That’s the only way our faith will not falter. Paul told Timothy, constantly keep in mind YAHSHUA Messiah. When we experienced the new birth, we died for the world, and our life is [now] hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3) (paraphrased). To be hidden in Christ, it is to dwell in the secret place of the Almighty (Ps. 91).