The Counsel of God

Psalm 73:24.    You shall guide me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory.

The counsel of the Lord is one of the “great themes” of the Bible and highlights the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The counsel of the Lord provides a covering for those who walk in obedience to His living Word of instruction. We may look to the Bible for guideposts to living, but by the Holy Spirit we receive personal counsel.

John 16:13.  When the Spirit of Truth is come He will guide you into all truth, for He shall not speak of himself but whatsoever He shall hear shall He speak and He will show you things to come.

The Holy Spirit fulfills the word of Isaiah 9:14 regarding the Christ when he refers to Him as Wonderful Counselor. The Holy Spirit testifies to the Truth of Jesus Christ and is therefore the Spirit of Prophecy. (Revelation 19:10.)

It comes as no surprise in reading the words of the Old Testament that the people of God are condemned in not seeking and heeding the counsel of the Lord. This counsel revealed the work of the Holy Spirit among the children of Israel.

Isaiah 30:1. Woe to the rebellious children says the Lord, that take counsel but not of me; and that cover with a covering but not of my Spirit that they may add errors to their error.

The idea of counsel first appears in the Bible in Exodus 18:13-26; when Jethro the father-in-law of Moses, advises him on sharing the burden of responsibility for providing judgment to the people. While the modern world has evolved into an elaborate system of courts for both criminal and civil matters, the idea of judgment in the Bible is concerned with settling disputes between individuals, and ultimately between man and God. This system of able, experienced men to provide wise counsel later evolved into the royal advisers beginning with David and commented on extensively by his son Solomon in the book of Proverbs.

The ability to resolve matters of disagreement is vital to the health of the body of Christ. We see this immediately become an issue in the early church.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8.    Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?

If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge. I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

This is a difficult passage to read and consider, but we are all aware of the problems that develop between individuals that must be resolved wisely to avoid conflicts that destroy fellowship. This is why every single member must seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit and contribute their gift to the congregation. (1 Co 12).

James 3:16.   For where envy and strife exist, there is confusion and every evil work.

Consider this verse while thinking on the terrible sin that is able to rise up within a congregation. Infidelity, embezzlement, even murder. James says it begins with the problems we often refer to as “petty”. Gossips and contentious people are often referred to as petty. Minor criminal acts are referred to as “petty crimes”.

1 Peter 4:15.   But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

Notice Peter mentions busybodies along side murderers, thieves and other evildoers. Busybodies are often thought of as petty persons, but they are actually trying to play God in another person’s life in Christ. This is idolatry. In the kingdom of heaven, there can be no petty crime! This requires mercy, and the wisdom that comes from above:

James 3:17.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

1 Co 10:23.  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

These are problems that can only be resolved by the Spirit of Truth. We ease one another’s burdens by providing words of knowledge, wisdom and comfort from the throne of God. This is the manifestation of our first love and the gifts of the Spirit. The first principle of a covenant relationship with God is that all things must be done according to His purpose.

2 Tim 1:9. Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

The Father is able to work out every detail after the counsel of His own will.

Ephesians 1:11.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

Acts 11:23.  Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

What is meant by this expression “purpose of heart”?
This word translated purpose is also used in the New Testament for the show-bread that was laid out before the Lord in the Temple Sanctuary.

Hebrews 4:13.   Thus our hearts must be laid open before Him; And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Even as the Holy Spirit spoke through Zacharias:

 Luke 1:74,75.  That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.                    

And again from Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:4.  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

The Presence of the Lord

1 John 2:28.  And now, little children, abide in him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him in His presence.

Isaiah 1:26. And I will restore your judges as at the first and your counselors as at the beginning; afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.

3 John 4.    I have no greater joy than to hear that my brethren walk in Truth.

Perpetuating Memories

Exodus 17:14.  Then the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial (zikrown) in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance (zeker) of Amalek from under heaven.                                                            

While a memorial (zikrown) exists to help perpetuate a memory (zakar); a remembrance (zeker) refers to the effect the memory has on a person, or people. For example, the memorials of the Confederacy continue to be controversial in the South. Statues of Civil War heroes have been removed. The Confederate flag, the most visible memorial of that period, has been banned from flying over municipal and state buildings. This has been necessary, because the remembrances associated with them are polarizing to society. Ideally, memorials should unite the people in a society. For the Memorials found in the Torah, the purpose is to bind the people to God.

Notice the verse states that this memorial exists for the sake of Joshua. The incident with Amalek occurred shortly after passing through the Red Sea. So God intends to settle this issue later, by the hand of Joshua. This ultimately will not take place until much later.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19.    Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.  Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.                  

Now forty years later, Moses addresses the next generation on the steppes of Moab in preparation for entering the promised land. The older generation who came out of Egypt has all passed away. The text says “zakar Amalek”, and the translation implies that the people are being instructed to remember this incident. This would not be the case, for the narrative of the Exodus would have included this as a part of the stories told by the adults to the children they were raising. The stories involving Amalek were not just about a merciless attack, but also a rousing tale of Joshua and a group of valiant men who went out against them. They could not prevail unless Moses held his staff above them on the overlooking mountain. The correct translation, therefore, would be ‘you have been perpetuating the memory of Amalek’. With this story comes the concern over the remembrance of what the Amalekites did in attacking the weakest of the people. God is dealing with bitterness, hatred and the desire for vengeance.  This is the remembrance which must be blotted out. 

The avenging of blood is one of God’s priorities and the Law of Moses required the establishment of sanctuary cities for a man to flee to if he witnessed an accidental death. If he feared that he would be held accountable for the death by a family member; ‘the avenger of blood’ would seek to slay him.  (Deuteronomy 19, Joshua 29).

Vengeance is Mine, and recompense…Deuteronomy 32:35.

The avenging of blood has to be handled only in accordance with God’s instructions. Once the vengeance has been granted, the remembrance must be blotted out.

The final word of the text in Deuteronomy 25:19 is ‘shahach’ and means ‘forgotten, to become oblivious to’, and yet the translator decides to translate into the exact 180 degree opposite, saying ‘Do not forget’. Thus the instruction becomes, ‘do not ever let go of that bitterness, that hatred. No! That is not God’s Will for the heart of man, and especially His people. The instruction is shahach, Let it be forgotten!. Blot out the remembrance. This was not a plan for genocide, this was a plan for healing the hearts of man. This is God’s heart for man, not vengeance.

Friend or Foe?

James 4:4b.   Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Man must accept responsibility for the fact that his nature has corrupted the world.

Genesis 6:11, 12. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all mankind had corrupted his way upon the earth.

The spirit of the world is common and familiar to the human spirit. We must be sanctified to serve the Lord in newness of life by the Spirit of Truth.

1 John 2:15-17.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing  away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.

All creation groans under the burden of man’s fall from grace.

Romans 8:19-21.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

Jesus Christ restores our relationship with God, that was severed by sin.

Isaiah 59:1, 2.  Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Man’s nature is hostile to the divine nature, which must be received as a gift of God.

2 Peter 1:4. Thereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

To be delivered from that nature, man must be separated from the world into the Kingdom of God; to experience deliverance from corruption.

Romans 5:10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The divine nature is not obtained by genetics, personal improvement or education.

John 1:12, 13. As many as received Him, He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Life in Christ by the Will of God separates us to be useful to His purpose. Many have placed their hope in the Grace of God, but grace without purpose leads into error.

2 Timothy 1:8, 9.  Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

We must be born from above by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit to truly love God, and one another.

The Message: God Is Love.

1 John 4. 

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Set Free from sin, set free to Love

 

The Spirit of Meekness

The Spirit of Meekness manifests when the human spirit is yoked to the Holy Spirit, in obedience. To be directed by the Voice of the Lord.

The Gospel is unto the Meek

Isaiah 61:1.  The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.

Psalm 22:26. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: your heart shall live forever.

Psalm 25:9. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

Psalm 37:11. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalm 76:8 & 9. You did cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.

Psalm 147:6. The Lord lifts up the meek: he casts the wicked down to the ground.

Psalm 149:4. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation.

Isaiah 11:4.  With righteousness He shall  judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.

Isaiah 29:19.  The meek shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

The Apostle Paul and the Spirit of Meekness

2 Corinthians 10:1.   I entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

Galatians 5:22 & 23.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 6:1  if anyone is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore them in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you be tempted.   

Ephesians 4:1-3. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Colossians 3:12-14.  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a quarrel against one: even as Christ forgave you, so also do.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.

Titus 3:2.  Speak evil of no man, be not a brawler. But be gentle, showing meekness unto all.

1 Timothy 6:11. Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life.

2 Timothy 2:24-26. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

We can only serve like Moses in the spirit of meekness.

Numbers 12:3.  Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. 

Psalm 45:4.  In your majesty ride victoriously, on behalf of truth, meekness and justice.  Let your right hand display awesome things. 

Zephaniah 2:3. Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.

Meekness in the Healing Ministry

Hebrews 3:1-6 compares the Lord Jesus Christ as the High Priest of our profession to the faithfulness of Moses in shepherding Israel through the wilderness. Quoting the Lord in Numbers 12, Moses is said to have been “faithful in all My House”.

Hebrews 3:5 & 6. And Moses was truly faithful in all His house as a servant for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.                                                                                                   

Statements with the word “if” are not the most popular among many believers but Jesus himself said:

Matthew 24:13.  But he who endures unto the end shall be saved.        

The admonition is then repeated: 

Hebrews 3:14. for we are made partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.                                   

Hebrews 3:15  While it is said; today if you will hear his voice harden not your hearts as in the provocation. 

Now quoting from Psalm 95 and again comparing the body of Christ to the “church in the wilderness”.

When Hebrews 3:5 says that Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, a unique Greek word is used, and translating as “a servant” clouds the importance of this statement.

The word doulos is used over 100 times in the New Testament to convey the idea of being a bondservant or purchased slaves of Christ. This one time the word therapon is used which means an attendant. This is the word from which is derived therapeia and the English word therapy. As the therapon to the church in the wilderness Moses attended to the needs of the people, in particular, to maintain a right relationship with the Spirit of the Lord.

To have a zeal for the church and body of Christ, we are being called like Moses to be faithful in all his house. The significance of this statement is only understood from the visitation of the Lord in Numbers 12.

Numbers 12:6-8. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all My house. With him will I speak face to face, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

Hebrews goes on to say that now we all can come boldly before the throne of grace. We have the same access, the same opportunity to come into the Lord’s presence. After spending time in the sanctuary of the Lord we can speak without presumptuous error and offence. We can be faithful in all his house. Consider now the application of this word study to a correct understanding of this teaching of Christ Jesus.

Luke 12:42.  Who then is a faithful and wise servant whom his lord will make ruler(?) over his household (therapeia) to give them meat in due  season?

To properly understand Jesus when he teaches on stewardship we must always remember his statements “the words that I speak to you are spirit and life” and “the flesh profits nothing”.

The concern here is not flesh, Jesus said:

John 4:32-34. I have meat to eat that you know not of, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me.                                                          

Jesus is seeking elect stewards like Moses who can be faithful in all his house, to see to the spiritual health of the congregation. To be a therapon to provide therapeia (healing) for the body of Christ.  As the two other uses of the word therapeia in Luke 9:11 and Revelations 22:2, where the word is translated healing. Does the Lord want us to rule people or heal people?

Luke 9:11.  And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received  them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. 

Revelation 22:2.   On either side of the river was a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.