The Counselor

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

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.

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.                                        John 16:13.

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.

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.          Isaiah 30:1.

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.

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!                            1 Corinthians 6:1-8.

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).

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

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”.

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.                                                                                                                          1 Peter 4:15.

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:

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.        James 3:17.

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

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.
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.  2 Tim 1:9.

The Father is able to work out every detail after the counsel of His own will.
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.
Ephesians 1:11.

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.                                               Acts 11:23.

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.

Thus are 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.     Hebrews 4:13.

Even as the Holy Spirit spoke through Zacharias:
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.                     Luke 1:74,75.

And again from Ephesians:
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. Ephesians 1:4.

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

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.
Isaiah 1:26.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my brethren walk in Truth.  3 John 4.

A Lover of Hospitality

Be a lover of hospitality. Titus 1:8.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9.

For many people the mention of hospitality calls to mind Martha Stewart more than the gospels. While it is worthy to mention the value of opening your home to others, there is a bit more being conveyed in these words. The word being translated hospitality actually means loving kindness to strangers. And the word strangers refers to resident aliens, minorities, and sojourners in the land. In other words, these scriptures are dealing with the age old problem of ethnicity, prejudice and racism. Do you really think that will ever be properly dealt with outside of Christ?

To demonstrate this truth, let’s start with a narrative from Luke 17 where Jesus is met by 10 lepers seeking their healing. He orders them to go show themselves to the priests. As they departed they discover that they have been cleansed and one of them returns to glorify God in giving thanks before the Lord’s feet, and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus comments “there are none found that returned to give glory to God, besides this stranger.”  Luke 17:18.

The Samaritans were the despised people living among the most despised people in history, and are enshrined in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ by the words “Good Samaritan”. These strangers stand out among the members of society by whose treatment the Lord will judge the nations. Matthew 25:31-46.

So what does the Law and the Prophets have to say about this thorny topic? Let’s consider this survey:

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.   Exodus 22:21.
Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.    Exodus 23:9.
The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.          Leviticus 19:34.
One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.    Numbers 15:14, 15.
He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.          Deuteronomy 10:18, 19.
Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak saying “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”       Isaiah 56:1-8.
Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.  Jeremiah 22:3.
The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.      Ezekiel 22:29.                        And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.  Malachi 3:5.

So we see beyond the prophets condemning society’s injustice, a Law given to Moses that was acutely concerned for the rights of strangers. How then did this wall of separation come to exist that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians?
At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians  2:12.

How could this be true when the Law of Moses had made every accommodation for the foreigner who desired to seek the Lord? In verse 15 he says that the enmity was created by the law of commandments in ordinances: nomos entole en dogma. This expression refers to what Jesus referred to as the traditions and rules of men undermining the Word of God. Because of the mutual hatred and distrust that existed between the Jew and all of
the neighboring societies, no Jew would even sit at a table and eat a meal with a gentile. This is something that even the apostle Peter was called out on by Paul, the apostle for the gentiles. In contrast, Jesus always ate with publicans and sinners.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was  to be blamed; before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”      Galatians 2:11-1.

Even though he had fully embraced the gentile as a fellow believer when the Lord had given him a vision that corrected his views in Acts chapter 10, his fear of men resulted in hypocrisy.
Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful (Pharisee) it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Acts 10:28.
And finally he concludes: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:34, 35.
As an elder of the first church in Jerusalem, Peter was very familiar with the complications of a Jewish/gentile fellowship. When he wrote in his letter to show hospitality without grumbling, the word used is more often translated murmuring. This grumbling or murmuring began early on in the church.
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Acts 6:1.
Note the clear racial overtones to the situation at hand. The solution the apostles came up with to deal with the problem was to have the congregation choose for themselves seven men to appoint over the administrative duties.
The apostle Paul recalls for us in 1 Corinthians 10 how murmuring and complaining was the “original sin” of the congregation in the wilderness. The people had just passed through the Red Sea and witnessed a great deliverance when they soon were murmuring against God and Moses.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink? Exodus 15:24.
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: Exodus 16:2.
Now in their defense I would point out that they had traveled three days in the wilderness and not found any fresh water. Most Christians have murmured and complained about far less. The point is that this is far more serious than most give consideration.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11.
When Paul says that this is the issue where the ends of the ages meet, he was ushering in the end of the age of justification by works of the Law and bringing in the age of justification by grace.
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.
But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 1 Corinthians 10:5, 6.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:14-19.

In other words, regardless of the covenant, grumbling and complaining are an offense to God and will be considered an act of unbelief. And now we can look to Abram to complete the picture and find the purpose.
Paul taught that Abram was the father of justification by faith, for when he was told his offspring would be as the stars of heaven, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. James pointed out that Abraham later proved his faith by offering his son Isaac in obedience to God. But in Hebrews we are reminded that the first great act of faith, without which nothing else would have followed, was his departure from his home land.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went…he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country…for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:8-16, highlights.

James wrote that true religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world. James 1:27
Why then does he not mention strangers along with widows and orphans as the Law of Moses and the prophets do so often? Because we are called to be the stranger, the pilgrim, the sojourner in this world. We cannot conform to this world and expect to be translated into a heavenly homeland. A community church may compromise to be inoffensive and socially acceptable, but any individual who hopes to go from the called to the chosen, or elect; must be willing to step outside that comfort zone. To set hands on the plow and not look back until you have completed your course and remain faithful.
Here is how:

Do all things without murmuring and disputing, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16.

 

Expressing Concepts of Time

Concepts of time are expressed in the New Testament in as wide a variety of ways as in the present day. The unit of time most frequently used in Greek is hora. While it is translated hour, the meaning is dictated by the context.

1. At that instant.

Then Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you. And his servant was healed that same hour. ( And his servant was healed at that moment. NIV.)    
Matthew 8:13.

But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (literal). You will be given at that moment what you are to say. (NAB).
Matthew 10:19.

2. Circumstances.

In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus suggests that there will be clues to the
time and circumstances as to when He will gather the elect, but then He
states:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but
My Father only. Matthew 24:36.

While day and hour sounds like a redundancy, the expression is understood
from the context, (Mt. 24:32-44.) to mean the exact time and circumstances.

When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But
this is your hour, and the power of darkness.                                                                                . Luke 22:53.
A reasonable or effective period.

When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?   Matthew 26:40.

Jesus didn’t say ‘wait here, I’ll be back in one hour’. He said, Remain here and keep watch with me. We don’t know how long Jesus was gone, but a reasonable period of time for them to remain in prayer would have been ‘until He got back’.

An imminent event.

Shortly after His passionate prayers to the Father, Jesus tells His disciples:

Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.  Matthew 24:45.

A life event, whether desirable or undesirable; sought after or predestined.

In Mark’s account of the passion we find these words from Jesus.

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, he said to them. Stay here and keep watch.  Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.   Mark 14:34-36.

Jesus shows how completely He identified with the trials and sufferings of humanity to the point of making a final plea to be spared, while fully submitting to His Father’s Will.

When His mother asks Jesus to rescue an awkward situation He first resists.

And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, They have no wine. Jesus said to her, Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, Whatever He says to you, do.   John 2:3-5.

While Jesus insists that it is not yet time (the hour) for public miracles, Mary insists, as is a mother’s prerogative, and so He acts.(see 5th commandment, which Paul describes as the first commandment with  promise. Eph. 6:2).

So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.  John 7:30.

He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the temple area. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.  John 8:20.

Man cannot alter what God has predetermined.

Approximate times of day

Even as we use expressions like lunchtime, dinnertime, tea time..etc..to express times of day, we find the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour…etc..as similar approximations.

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. (noon to three,  NIV). Matthew 27:45.

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, we also see the times of day that the landowner passed through town, and hired more workers. Then we see a statement that comes close to an actual hour of time.

And on receiving their pay they grumbled against the landowner,  saying, These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.   Matthew 20:11,12.

Dinner time!

And when the hour was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and the (dinner) hour is already far passed (literal); Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.               Mark 6:35,36.

Showing a relationship to consecutive statements in a narrative.

In that hour (at that very moment NAB) Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. Luke 10:21.

Jesus rejoicing seems spontaneous, but the narrative wants us to know that it is directly linked to the conversation He just shared with the disciples.

An Immediate Reaction, without hesitation

But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. Galatians 2:5.

The Time has already begun.

Besides this, knowing the season, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first came to trust.                               Romans 13:11.

An ongoing condition versus a temporary condition.

To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 1 Corinthians 4:11.

And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 1 Co. 15:30.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for an hour.                                        2 Corinthians 2:8.

 

Prophetic words and fulfillment

Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  John 4:21-24.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,  and has given Him authority to execute judgment also,because He is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice  and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.  John 5:25-29.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  John 12:23.

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.   Revelation 3:10.

 

 

 

Two Words, One Root

When we consider the words believe and faith, we sense intuitively that a relationship exists between them. For a belief to operate in the power of faith there must be trust, without doubt.
And whatever things you ask in prayer believing, you will receive.
Matthew 21:22.

The very thing that you put your trust in will in the end stand in judgement of you.

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses in whom you trust.
John 5:45.

Where you place your trust defines your hope for the future and eternity. The Greek translated trust is also almost equally translated as hope.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For
who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we
wait with endurance.
Romans 8:24 & 25.

To express this from a negative form, faith is belief without doubt.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Mark 11:23.

In this is our blessing:
Jesus said to him, Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.
John 20:29.

So then what is the common root for both faith and believing? The answer is the primary verb “to persuade”. This word appears 17 times in the book of Acts alone.

Here are two examples of Paul converting souls by the faith of Jesus Christ.

And he was debating every Shabbat in the synagogue, trying to persuade
both Jewish and Greek people.
Acts 18:4, (TLV).

He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with
persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:8, (NAB).

This is why the Gospel must be presented in the pure, original form, that those who hear are persuaded by Grace from the God of Love, as expressed through His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul expressed his intentions clearly:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

There are many other ways to persuade someone, such as this first time the word appears in the Gospel.

The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas, but to destroy Jesus.
Matthew 27:20.

This persuasion was probably accomplished through intimidation, as the people would not want to oppose the leaders who accused the Lord before Pilate. Barabbas was a thief, a murderer, and an insurrectionist who was set free on the occasion of Christ’s trial before a Gentile. This is to say that a common way for people to be persuaded is through some claim to authority. The Apostolic teachings were constantly being opposed by false teachers who claimed to have authority from Jerusalem.

In Galatia and many other Greek locations, new believers were being told that they must be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses.

Here Paul opposes this doctrine in his letter to the Galatians.

Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Galatians 5:7-9.

After insisting that they not be persuaded by these instructions from those
who claim authority to add to the Message, he uses the analogy of leaven.
Even as Jesus warned His disciples to beware of “the leaven of the Pharisees”.              Paul instructs us using the same imagery.

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore
purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are
unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore
let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and
wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

To walk by faith is to trust exclusively in the Grace of God, without the need
for the leaven of scientific proof.

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are
sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as from ourselves, but our
sufficiency from God.
2 Corinthians 3:5.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you always
having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8.

Spiritual Principles of Memorial And Remembrance

There is some confusion of meaning between the words memorial and remembrance as they are used in the Old and New Testaments. This confusion is magnified by an inconsistency of translation for the Hebrew words that are used in the Old Testament to convey these two ideas.

Let’s start with an easy example from the New Testament to further illustrate before attempting a deeper study in the Old Testament, while also clearing up some discrepancies in translation. In Acts chapter ten, we read an important event in the life of a gentile and Roman named Cornelius. He received in a vision the message of an angel who informs him that “your prayers and your almsgiving have come up before God for a Memorial.”  Acts 10:4.

In accordance with the angel’s instructions, he calls for Peter to hear his words. Peter has already been informed by the Holy Spirit to respond to his request and go to him. After preaching the message, everyone present at his home receives the Holy Spirit. Cornelius testifies that his prayer was heard and his alms have been “had in remembrance in the sight of God”           Acts 10:31.

In other words, God has acted on his behalf and his entire household. A Memorial before God has resulted in a Remembrance in His sight.

In Exodus chapter 17, we read of the event where the children of Israel are attacked by a hostile people called the Amalekites. Joshua leads his warriors out to confront them, while Moses intercedes from a mount overlooking the battle. After Joshua prevails, the Lord commands Moses: write this for a memorial in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.                        Exodus 17:14.

We can clearly see that words recorded in a book are kept as a memorial on earth for man. In Acts 10, the memorial was before God in heaven. The perspective is very important for a right understanding.  The use of the word remembrance in the same verse implies that Amalek has no expectation to ever call upon the Lord and be acknowledged. In other words, Amalek has no memorial in heaven.

The Hebrew word used in the first instance is zikrown (H2146), derived from the root zakar (H2142) -to remember and is translated in the KJV 17 times as memorial. On six other occasions however, it is translated remembrance, showing an inconsistency in translation and a source of confusion.

In the second instance of Exodus 17:14, the Hebrew word used is zeker (H2143) and is also derived from the same root word zakar. This word is translated 11 times as remembrance, but on five occasions is translated memorial, showing the same inconsistency and confusion.

Having introduced the Hebrew for memorial and remembrance, we can now look at an instance where this inconsistency of translation distorts the implications of the passage.

In the prophet Malachi we received this word from the Lord:

then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another and the Lord hearkened and heard and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name.                                                       Malachi 3:16.

In this verse the Hebrew word zikrown is used and should have been translated memorial for consistency. The choice also reflects the idea of words recorded in a book as a memorial.

In Acts Ten we read that Cornelius had established a memorial before God for his righteous prayers and alms-giving. We can now add to that the godly conversation of believers to what Jesus referred to as treasure kept in heaven. This is why Christian fellowship is so valuable and righteous conversation stands in clear distinction from common socializing.

For our conversation is in Heaven, from where we also look for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                              Philippians 3:20.

As He who has called you is holy, so be you also holy in all manner of conversation.                                                                                                                     1 Peter 1:15

Jesus is much stricter: but I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.                      Matthew 12:36 & 37.

Jesus also stresses the importance of the books written in Heaven:                   notwithstanding in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because you names are written in Heaven.                                                                              Luke 10:20.

Whoever offers praise glorifies me, and to whomever orders their conversation aright I will show the salvation of God.                                                                     Psalm 50:23.

We find the dynamics of memorial and remembrance in this same Psalm:  Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay your vows unto the Most High, then call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.                                                                                                        Psalm 50:14&15.

 

The Memorial of Passover for the witnesses of Israel

In Exodus, the Lord designates the month of departing from Egypt a beginning of months for the witnesses of Israel, and implements an annual observance of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread.                                                             Exodus 12:1-3.

Verse 14 says: and this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.

The feast commemorates the night before the exodus when all the first born males of Egypt, both man and beast, were slain; but the children of Israel were passed over, because of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels.

This feast as a memorial is vital, for the commandment connects this event in the history of Israel with the first of three testimonies from the Word of God concerning their first patriarch Abraham. Just prior to the judgment of Sodom the Lord says this:

for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do judgment and righteousness; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.                                                                                  Genesis 18:19.

Notice that Cornelius in Acts 10 received the same positive review, as a man who not only looked to his own salvation, but his family and household.

Returning to the Lord’s instruction for the Passover in Exodus 12:

and it shall come to pass, when your children shall ask you, what mean you by this service? That you shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.                                                                                Exodus 12:26 & 27.

The Hebrew word zakar-to remember, that provides the root for both memorial and remembrance, includes the aspect of passing on all things vital, be it worldly wisdom or divine instructions.

This is particularly emphasized for parental instructions to children. This includes the need for elders and leaders of the church to pass on the full gospel apostolic instructions. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

the things that you have heard of me by many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.                           2 Tim 2:2.                                                                                                       In short, the apostolic teachings exist as a Memorial for the church.

And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.                                                                                                   Exodus 12:29.

God’s most severe judgment against Egypt results in Pharaoh acquiescing to Moses and Aaron, and the Exodus begins with urgency.

It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.                                                    Exodus 12:42.

I mentioned previously the testimonies of the Lord concerning Abraham. Before going further let us quickly look at the others

God makes this testimony concerning Abraham: For he is a prophet and he shall pray for you and you shall live.                                                        Genesis 20:7.

This is the first time the Hebrew word nabi-for prophet occurs in scripture and is applied to Abraham, because he stepped into the gap on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first principle of the Old Testament prophet is to be an intercessor.

The third God-given testimony concerning Abraham is spoken to his son Isaac. The Lord tells Isaac that He intends to perform the oath which He swore unto Abraham, saying “because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”             Genesis 26:5.
Isn’t it amazing that five centuries before Moses is given the Law, God claims that there was a man who had fulfilled them! Abraham was truly a friend of God. We also can include the words of the angel who stayed Abraham’s hand from slaying Isaac on Moriah, saying “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me. Genesis 22:12.

God then swore an oath by Himself to fulfill all His promises made to Abraham.

Praise be to God that He gave His only begotten Son for our Salvation!

 

The Memorial of Passover for the strangers and servants

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all the males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers.

Paul resolved the issue:                                                                          for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.                                                     Romans 2:28 & 29.

Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to “in the spirit and not in the letter”. But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God. When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul:

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.                                  Galatians 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts.                              1 Thessalonians 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts”. Granted, He certainly does do this, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God. This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.” The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, let them that glory, glory in the Lord is a paraphrase of a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is not so much attempting to teach a lesson here, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance.

By mentioning this he is calling to mind something he no doubt taught on extensively while in Corinth. Why do I say this? Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts:                                                                                  he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:4.

Then he receives from the Lord in a vision by night “be not afraid but speak and hold not thy peace, for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you, for I have much people in this city.”                                                  Acts 18:9 & 10.

And then verse 11 tells us that he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.

So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.                                            Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians:

for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.                                                                              1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text?

Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.                                    Jeremiah 9:25&26.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word. Even as  Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

even unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.                                                                                              2 Corinthians 3:15-17.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel.

This will be an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God Paul speaks about:

let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.                                                                                                          1 Co 4:1&2

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.                              Romans 11:25.