Saviour

sumatran-tiger-518771_640Isaiah 19:20: It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. (ESV)

We need a saviour because we have fallen into the pit of sin, and every attempt at righteousness makes the pit deeper, in an endless cycle of sin, shame and death, just as Adam and Eve experienced (Genesis 3).

The bible says that our righteousness, attempts at doing right, are as filthy rags, giving off a putrid smell, far from being representative of the holiness of God (Isaiah 64:6). So if we needed anything, it was to be saved from our own efforts. The very hands that tried to do things well are soiled, polluting everything we do.

We need to be made a new. We need more than pity. The bible speaks of healing the wound of God’s people slightly (Jeremiah 8:11). We do not need that. We need something deep and total. And Jesus said that he has been anointed to bind up the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18).

He saved from sin, he saves us from our fruitless self-efforts by the gift of his righteousness (2Corinthians 5:21). He had attained the height of righteousness on our behalf. He was tempted in all points yet without sin. He has fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17).

And the bible says that we are complete in him who is the head of principality and power. He saves us from demonic dominion (Colossians 2:10).

The saviour that is meant to be sent from God in the focus verse was an individual, just as David as an individual broke the neck of the nemesis of Israel at that time.

He was saviour, he saved the neck of the army of Israel with one strike at the forehead of Goliath, with a stone thrown from a sling (1Samuel 17).

Goliath believed they David was beneath him, and he promised to feed him to the birds of the air. He was already cutting him with his word, but it was not to be.

The devil similarly would have felt amused at the form of Jesus, the one sent to deal a death blow on him  (Revelation 12:7-9). He remembered the blow Archangel Michael dealt him in heaven when he was kicked down to earth, so Jesus coming in the form of man, and not an angel, really puzzled him. That was why the bible says that the foolishness of God is wiser than man (1Corinthians 1:25).

Jesus said to the Pharisees, an evil and an adulterous generation seek for a sign, but none shall be giving to him except the sign of Prophet Jonah, and that as Jonah was in the belly of for three days and three night Jesus would also be three days and nights in the belly of the earth (Matthew 12:38-40).

That must have been puzzling to many and even to the devil. He was going to be saviour in an unusual way. That was why Isaiah asked: who has believed our report (Isaiah 53:1)? God told Haggai: I will do a work in your days; that you will not believe even if you were told (Haggai 1:5).

Even those who prophesied about Jesus did not know the full picture of who Jesus is, that is why the bible says that those who have gone before will not be made perfect without us (Hebrews 11:39-40). It is fulfilling for them (though they are in heaven now) to experience God on the earth as saviour. And Paul said that the things about Jesus was hidden in time past but has been revealed now through the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:5).

Once you realise that you need saving then you must look for a saviour. But do not look further than 2000 years ago, to the cross, where Jesus was crucified.

But many people get confused about to whom they should go to save them. Some think they are their own saviours. But there is no amount of self-improvement that will get us there.

There is another issue, which is the need for us to define what we need to be saved from. The ultimate thing we need to be saved from is eternal damnation, hence the bible says that for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). God made the ultimate sacrifice to set us free from our predetermined evil end, our ultimate nemesis.

Because it is appointed for man to die once and after that is judgement, we need to be saved from eternal damnation, we need to be saved from the second death, eternal separation from God.

We need to be aware of what happens when we breathe our last. Is it a journey to the nirvana, into nothingness, or we will come back here in another form? Or is it as the bible says, eternity either heaven or hell?

But the truth is, as mentioned before, it is appointed for man to die once and after that is judgement (Hebrews 9:27). The judgement is the final decision on the eternal direction because on your decision for Christ or not.

Because the sin of man has been judged in Jesus, it does not mean that is the end of it, we still have to hear the gospel and believe it (Mark 16:15-18).

But since the devil wants company in hell, he blinds the eyes of people lest they believe the gospel (2Corinthians 4:4). The blindness manifests when we chase everything to feed the flesh and are driven by the lust of the flesh, the pride of life and, full of the love of the world.

Jesus rebuked someone for not being rich towards him (Luke 12:15-21). Jesus said certain people did not come to him that they may have life (John 5:39-40) since there is no life in any other, they remain spiritually dead.

Paul said that the children of Israel were working hard to establish their own righteousness when the only righteousness that counts is that of Jesus (Romans 10:3). That goes to show that you cannot save yourself you need a saviour and his name is Jesus.

Since what we need to be saved from is death that means what we need is life. And Jesus said that until we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we will have no life in us (John 6:53). Those actions are deliberate.

The life will not just come into you without your active involvement. It is not up to God to get you saved, it is up to you to know the truth and to embrace it to be free (John 8:30-32).

And eating the flesh and drinking blood is something shameful. That means if we cannot reject the shame associated with coming to Jesus (Hebrews 13:13), which may have to do with being mocked, and persecuted, for being involved in something that is against popular culture, or even social norms, we can count ourselves out of his life. Jesus said if we are ashamed of him in the world, he would be ashamed of us before his heavenly father (Mark 8:38).

Prevailing prayer

praying-306777_640Isaiah 16:12: And when Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself on the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail. (ESV)

Prayer is an attempt to do the impossible. It is the means to shake the heaven and the earth and activate the presence of God. Jesus taught us to pray some lines of prayer which revealed the possibilities that are locked up in the act (Matthew 6:9-13).

Our father who art in heaven

This shows that prayer is the means for us to connect with the father in heaven. In the Garden of Eden, man lost connection with God, but Jesus restores us back to God. But the extent to which we maximise that connection varies from person to person and is linked to our prayer life.

When we pray, the more we pray, we affirm our relationship with God. When we draw near to God, in that sense, God draws near to us (James 4:8). In constant prayer, God becomes to us, not just a name in the bible or a faraway Spirit, but someone close by.

We know that God is Spirit (John 4:24) and in prayer we chose to yield ourselves to the Spirit of God, to be touched by his presence, to access his grace as we approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Hallowed be thy name

When we pray we acknowledge the greatness of God. We recognise his holiness. In prayer, we affirm God as special to us.

In prayer, we set our gaze on the father, and as we look to him we are transformed into who he is. The bible says that we should be holy as our heavenly father is holy, but we cannot be holy apart from him (1Peter 1:15).

For Isaiah, becoming clean was not something he can achieve on his own, he needed not only to be confronted with the holiness of God, before which he felt helpless, but he also needed to be helped  in the holiness lane by the touch of the fire of God on his tongue (Isaiah 6:1-7). The holiness that is in God, was transferred into him in the place of spiritual contact, and that is descriptive of prayer.

Thy kingdom come

When we pray we welcome the kingdom of God into our lives. Nothing should be more important than that. The kingdom of God is about his peace, power, presence and purpose activated and in full-swing.

In the place of prayer, we actively chose to conform to his will. If we do not choose to pray, it means we are not seeking the presence or the rule of God.

Prayer is an avenue for change, and praying means we are willing to change, to lose control to have God control you the more. Prayer becomes the conduit for the establishment of the kingdom of God in our lives. It is a place where we shift gear, from following our own ways to following the ways of God, from choosing our own path to choosing the path of God.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

In this phrase, Jesus expands the scope of the impact of prayer to all the earth, which shows that nothing should be seen as being out of reach of prayer, nothing at all, no matter how knotty it looks, once we are praying according to the will of God, alignment with the preference for the rule and dominion of God, as revealed in his word. That was why the phrase we are considering is preceded by “thy kingdom come.”

Man was given dominion on the earth, but the expression of that dominion was not to be in isolation from God, and now in the place of prayer, we connect with God to expresses his dominion on the earth.

If the will of God can be done without our prayer then there is no need to pray, but it is clear from this phrase that prayer is needed and is linked to what God will do or won’t do, as the numerous testimony of scriptures show.

And if we can’t believe the scriptures, what can we believe?

Nothing on earth is beyond the reach of prayer. Every situation is amenable to, yields to, prayer attack.

Give us this day our daily bread

This immediately shows that prayer should be a daily thing. David said: morning afternoon and evening will I pray and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:17). God can never be tired of listening to us.

A life of prayer does not make a good logic for the ordinary human being, the carnally-minded, the spiritually dead, but for the Christians it stands for fellowship with God. It is a symbol of the relationship of love that we have with God.

Since in prayer we say to God: “give me”, it is, therefore, an acknowledgment of weakness that you do not know all things and cannot do all things. We acknowledge our need for God, we express our need for a daily dose of his physical and spiritual sustenance, a daily dose of grace. As mentioned earlier, we draw near God with the understanding that by so doing, he will draw near us, according to the promise of the scriptures. And he draws near us with his sustenance.

Forgive us our trespasses

In the place of prayer, we receive forgiveness. It is not advisable to wait for a special time of prayer before we confess our sins. We should not sweep sin under the carpet even for a moment, and the first step to making amends is to confess our sins, immediately, as soon a particular one is brought to our consciousness (rather than pray something general).

When we do that, we are opening up ourselves for the cleansing work of God in our lives, otherwise we open ourselves to hardness of heart. John wrote that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:7-9).

Lead us not into temptation; deliver us from evil

When David wrote that he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty, it was a reference to prayer (Psalm 91:1). Jesus said prayer is something for the secret place (Matthew 6:6).

He said: when we want to pray, we should go to God in the secret of our room and the God who hears in secret will reward us openly. We gain divine protection in the place of prayer, it is there we put on the whole armour of God as recommended by Paul and we are able to wrestle against principalities and power, and push back the wiles of the devil, and the fiery darts of the enemy in prevailing prayer (Ephesians 6:1-10).

Resting in the works of Christ

jesus-558429_640Isaiah 14:3: When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, (ESV)

The plan of God is that we all enter into rest. He made man to enjoy rest. Even his work in the Garden of Eden was to be marked by rest but when he sinned his portion was changed. He moved from rest to distress as it was declared that in the sweat of man’s brow shall he eat (Genesis 3).

Before the fall of man his main focus was pleasing God, living for him and maximising his divine possibilities. But afterwards his life was reduced to that of an animal which is about eating. Man becomes limited in scope, in vision, he was subjugated.

The place of rest is the place of control, but because of sin, the devil began to rule over man with the power of death, being the judgment over sin (Hebrews 2:14). And God said man was going to return to the dust, after a toilsome life.

However, in Jesus God pressed reset in his relationship with Man, and he came back into his favour.

The first step was to stop Man from stressing himself out, from working so hard, sweating it out, to come into favour with God.

The blood of Jesus qualifies us to come to the presence of God from where Adam and Eve were chased in the first few chapters of the bible. The bible says: we can now draw near to the throne of Grace to find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). A man who received help from God without cost is at rest.

Man’s restlessness in seeking the favour of God manifests in his setting up different gods for himself, and creating layers of rituals for their worship, in an attempt to connect with what was lost in the real connection with God, which he was not made to live without.

Jesus told a woman: the time is now when those who worship God will worship him in spirit and in truth, and by journeying to a mountain or Jerusalem (John 4:19-24); that speaks the restful worship of God, the stress is out of it. It is stressful to worship without the assurance of divine response. But Jesus opens the gate for us to worship God truly.

Only in Jesus can we really be sure that our sins are forgiven, and we get a new heart for a brand new start with the past buried and forgotten (Ezekiel 36:26). We do not have to start over really, that our history is wiped off and replaced with the history of Jesus and therefore God can legitimately pour on us his blessing, favour and grace and glory.

We rest from our own works and get the benefits of the work of Jesus on the cross. That is why the bible says he was bruised for our transgression, we have no more payment to make for our sin; by his stripes we were healed (Isaiah 53), that repercussion of sin is removed from us and we have, shining on us, the beaming smile of God, as light filling us with the divine pleasure.

What you focus one either gives you rest or distress. Jesus said that the heart of men will begin to fail them because they will be looking at those things that are coming upon the earth (Luke 21:26).

Those who wait upon the Lord (which is another focus) the bible says, will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:28-31); that means they will live as if not expending any energy whatsoever, they will always be refreshed as we connect with the endless reservoir of God from where the divine initiative and ability continue to flow to us.

Paul said it this way that: God has through us spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God (2Corinthians 2:14); God is the one doing the work, we are just channels. He said that we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the Excellency of the power will be of him and not of us (2Corinthians 4:7). So we work in rest; he works in us in connection with the Holy Spirit.

John said that Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14-17). That is the key to our rest, as we are the infusion of the grace of God and line up with his truth, on the street paved by his grease.

When we are at rest, we can think straight, our mind uncluttered by fear worry and depression (2Timothy 1:6-7). Rest shows we are trusting in God and the bible says that those who trust in God will be like Mount Zion that can never be moved (Psalm 125:1); rather than being moved you will move things. Jesus said that if we have faith as small as the mustard seed we will say to a mountain be uprooted and be thrown into the sea and it shall obey us (Matthew 21:18-22). Faith is rest, trust in God.

Those words of Jesus show that the divine ability is activated when we stand in faith. When the disciples were not able to cast our a demon from someone who was brought to them for the purpose of deliverance, Jesus said it was because of their lack of faith; without faith, it is all effort and no result, they sweated in the process of setting the captive free (Matthew 17:15-20).

Being at rest means we are working with the Holy Spirit. Things were smooth in the ministry of Jesus because he was working with the Holy Spirit. He said the Spirit of the Lord is on him because he has anointed him, to do things for people (Luke 4:18-19). The anointing is the oil that reduced friction, overcomes our internal and external opposition to the flow of the divine will and power; that is the right path the right choice, the route to victory.

Following the word of God is also the path of rest. When Paul was persecuting the church, Jesus told him in an encounter with him on the way to Damascus that “you are kicking against the pricks (Acts 9:1-7).” Any attempt to move against the will of God is to injure ourselves, the move against the flow of divine energy is to deplete your own energy, lose your own ability; become entrapped by the antics of the devil who is the prime enemy of all things God including the will of God.

Who is Jesus?

jesus-284414_640Isaiah 9:6: For a child has been born for us; a son has been given to us. And the dominion will be on his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (ESV)

Those words are prophetic and interesting. He wrote of an event that was yet to happen as if it has already happened.

The bible says that God calls those things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). He does this because he is beyond time, but in the incarnation, he chose to be subject to time for the suffering of death. It is the same timelessness of God that made what was said many years ago in the scriptures, powerful enough to connect with us today, as God communicates to us through it.

Isaiah said: a child has been born. He presents a point of view of God who speaks of things that be not as though they were.

He does that sometimes to hide from man the intent of his word, so that hearing they will hear, but will not understand (Isaiah 6:9-10). He does that to hide things in plain sight. And the bible say: it is the glory of God to conceal a thing but the honour of man to search it out (Proverbs 25:2).

If you have not met Jesus, it will be difficult to interpret the words of the focus verse. How would a child be born that will be called Mighty God? It does not make sense.

Jesus told the Pharisees: ye search the scriptures for truth, but until you realise that they point to me you will not get it (John 5:39-40). We have to start with him and work backwards. We have to read into words of the Old Testament the reality of the person of Jesus as revealed in the New Testament, even though that may not tally with the best methods of hermeneutics.

And to understand our days now, we have to start with him and work forwards. He must be the centre, the fulcrum, everything revolved around him. If you cannot see him you are not seeing well, it does not matter what point of view you espoused and how esoteric it is, regardless of who taught you.

Paul said he was a Pharisee, the son of Pharisee (Acts 23:6), having been taught by one of the greatest teachers of the law (Acts 22:3), and he was also more zealous than most (Galatians 1:14), but he said that he regarded what he knew as dung in order to gain Christ (Philippians 3).

The phrases used to describe Jesus in the focus verse are instructive. He is wonderful. His birth was a thing of wonder. He is man formed from just the egg of Mary and the infusion of the Spirit of God, he put on flesh but his origin was eternity. John spoke in great wonder of him saying: we beheld his glory as that of the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth (John 1:12-14).

In another place Isaiah said a virgin will conceive and will give birth to a child who will be called Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14). That and the focus verse do not seemed directly related on the face of it. The prophecies were made at different times.

But when we see how everything lined up, how they fit together in him (Jesus) (Colossians 1:16-17), the two verses fit well.

The identity of Jesus was pretty hidden and it takes revelation to know him, which was why he said no one can come to me without my father drawing him (John 6:44). When we are drawn, it is to the Prince of Peace, and receiving him we have peace with God. As prince of peace his dominion is marked by peace. As he brings the presence of God near to us, he shapes us and corrects in the area where we are dysfunctional.

He is both mighty God and prince of peace, both everlasting father and counsellor. The question now is: how can one be born who is at the same time everlasting. In human experience, what is born comes to an end.

That Son would doubtlessly be special, one of a kind. He was going to be the bridge between heaven and earth, he will reshape our view about who God is, rather than we trying to get to heaven to be equal with God as human being did when they attempted to build the tower of babel, Jesus came down to becomes like us and through the Holy Spirit which he baptises us with, God comes to stay in us, in his heavenly presence.

The child is born for us, the son is given to us: that is a statement of how important you are. It shows how important you are that you are not forgotten, God who gave his only begotten for us, how much more will he, together with him, freely give us all things (John 8:, 1Corinthians 2:12).

The giving of his son whom we should receive should start us on the journey for receiving other spiritual things from God, the endless unveiling of the possibilities in Jesus, the acknowledging of the good things in us in Christ Jesus, the spiritual blessings we have been blessed with (Ephesians 1:3).

The Lord becomes our portion in the land of the living (Psalm 142:5), where before then we have spiritually dead.

From the focus verse, we learn that dominion will be on the shoulder of Jesus. That brings to mind the dominion which was the portion of man when he was created (Genesis 1:26-28).

But the plan of God will not be thwarted and there was another Adam now made a life-giving, who came from the dead (1Corinthians 15:45).

That is Jesus, who was set on the earth and who by sacrifice got back the dominion on the earth. At the end of it all, he said: all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. He got the dominion back, and it is now packed in his name.

The bible says that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is lord (Philippians 2:5-11).

With the manifestation of Jesus through our words and action, the bible says we destroy the works of the devil (1John 3:8), we get to know God as never possible before by the Holy Spirit whose mission is to reveal Jesus, cause him to be manifested in his ability his passion, his commission, his life, all lived out through us by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The virgin

mary-140553_640Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (ESV)

Only one woman qualifies to be called “The Virgin” in the whole of history and that is Mary the mother of Jesus.

Since she became the vehicle for the son of God to come into the earth. She is seen as special. But Jesus did not speak of his mother as extra special. More than the care of a son for a mother, he definitely did not hint that she should be deified. Someone called out at Jesus: blessed is the womb who bore you and the breasts you sucked. To which he answered: do not get unnecessary excited about that, rather say: the people who do the will of God are those who are truly blessed (Luke 11:27-28).

That the bible was silent about much of the life of Jesus’ father maybe in order to prevent people from worshipping him.

He was a carpenter, which was not prestigious. So not many people can get around making Joseph such a big deal, especially when he was revealed to be such a normal human being when he was suspicious and almost put away his fiancées when he learnt that Mary was pregnant.

We see God intervene by speaking to him in dreams. We see that he was not so special, he could make errors of judgment and could not have been able to stand against Herod’s murderous intention against the child if he were not guided through a dream about what to do.

But Mary was different. There is a greater risk of worshiping her than there is of worshipping Joseph. For starters, it is not every day a young girl gets a visit from angel Gabriel. And there is the fact that she actually carried Jesus in her womb and some people mistakenly used that to call her Mother of God, while Paul said that we are should not judge Jesus after the flesh (2Corinthians 5:16). Those who did not follow that injunction, could not come to the right conclusion about him and even about Mary, who was associated with him physically.

Jesus asked: who do men say that I am (Matthew 16:13-20)? The apostles mentioned different prophets of old, but they all got it wrong. They wanted to associate him with something physical and they got it wrong. It was only Peter who speaking by revelation (divine enlightenment) said: you are the Christ the son of the living God. That was not connected with anything in their previous experience or learning.

Many till today continue to mistake the identity of Jesus. But every attempt at understanding Jesus, by jettisoning revelation knowledge as contained in the bible, will always fall short of who he is, it will be erroneous.

But there is another error, which is about exalting man (created) too much.  It is only God that cannot be exalted too much, but not man. Paul warned that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to (Romans 12:3). We should not exalt others more than we ought to, forgetting that every one of us is dust (Psalm 103:14).

We should not embrace a purported revelation which contradicts that truth in the written revelation of scriptures. Jesus said the scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35), you cannot cut and paste on it. You cannot take anybody’s word for it, you have to be guided by what is written, anything else is deception especially when it borders on hero worship, idol worship and deifying of any human being, e.g. Mary.

The problem comes after people say something that contradicts the scriptures but for the purpose of saving face, they refuse to backtrack, so they continue an illusion, and because of the many people, followers, who have bought into the lie, who we do not want to lose, the lie is perpetuated.

However, there is something to be said for the Mary. To accept to be the one to bear Jesus, she risked many things: her reputation, her future, and her fiancés, Joseph.

How will it sound to be pregnant out of wedlock and to say an angel did it? It might be termed as blasphemy and you might be stoned if you were living in the time of Mary. So the best thing was to shut up.

She carried a heavy burden of his (Jesus) birth, she also carried a heaven burden in his death when her son was brutally killed for nothing.

His son suffered rejection, and Mary shared the same. No wonder Jesus made sure his mother had somewhere to stay, somewhere protected, when on the cross he said to John and Mary, mother behold you son, son behold your mother (John ). In that moment, he, for all intent and purpose, divested his right to be called the son of Mary to John.

He knitted the heart of Mary and John together in filial love. While it is historically accurate to call Jesus the son of Mary, it is functionally erroneous.

The church did not give Mary an undue recognition. For starters, she was not among the twelve apostles, and it was they who assumed the leadership of the church after Jesus rose up from the dead and ascended to heaven.

There was practically no role for Mary to play. It was not in the plan of God. Even while Jesus was alive, before his death, he tacitly disowned his mother when at an occasion he was told that his mother and brothers were looking for him, he said: who is my mother, it is those who do the will of my father in heaven (Mark 3:32-35).

Just as it was part of his commission for him to come and lose his life, to gain a higher spiritual life, he also came to lose his natural relationship to gain higher spiritual relationship with those who do the will of God, which is to believe in him.

The bible was largely silent about Mary after she was mentioned in the first chapter of the book of Acts (Acts 1:14), and we should not make a noise about what the bible is silent about.

In the book of Corinthians, Paul warned against making any apostle to something special (1Corinthians 3:21-23) and in that in the church it is first the apostles (1Corinthians 12:28) and not Mary. He said no apostle died for you so you cannot make any of them into demi-gods.

It is carnality for some to say: I am for Paul and for another to say I am for Apollos, when they are just tools of God to get his work done in the church, Mary did not even have such role. While we are not to disrespect her, we should also not elevated her more than we ought. We cannot allow our emotions for her take us to the wrong conclusion because the scriptures cannot be broken. There is no other way given among men by which we can be saved, except the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).

Covering

siegessaule-565376_640Isaiah 4:5: Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. (ESV)

In the focus verse, the covering is for protection. It is the manifestation of the presence of God to prevent any harm, by any means, from coming to his people.

Jesus is that covering, he said that he has given us authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the powers of the enemy and nothing shall any means harm us (Luke 10:19).

The blood of the lamb prevented harm from coming to the children of Israel in the land of Egypt when the firstborns died at midnight (Exodus 12); that is strongly parallel to the reality that we have in Jesus when because of his shed blood (he is the Lamb of God [John 1:29]) we have life, we have passed from death to life, while death remains the portion of every else who does not believe.

A judgement of death was decreed on humanity in an irreversible manner, and there was no way out except for us to get someone pure and innocent to take our place (Genesis 2:15-17; Genesis 3). We need a spiritually pure vessel, of the same nature as we are, and that person was Jesus, who stood in the gap for us, his blood made intercession for us. Our fortune was changed forever.

Knowing we are covered, that we are protected means we can live without fear of man without the fear of what man will say. A psalmist says: I put my trust in the Lord what can man do to me (Psalm 118:6)?

Abraham said he has lifted up his hands to God in the area of provision, and he was well supplied (Genesis 14:22). When Jacob was moving to a new territory he was met by God who promised to keep him throughout his stay and bring him back. Decades later he affirmed that God had kept his word (Genesis 28, 32:10).

On his return journey, he said that he went into the new place with only his staff, but when he came back, he had increased greatly. He was rich in possession even though Laban the man he served there did everything to frustrate him.

He had the divine cover, which was the promise of God, and that assured him victory against the evil machinations of Laban. God gave him a supernatural edge. If not for God being with him, he would have come back empty handed, the same way he went there.

The bible says if our father and mother forsake us, God will take us up (Psalm 27:10). The brothers of Joseph set out to kill him to not achieve his destiny, but he was delivered from their hands.

And though the road was rough he came out on the other side, he got to his destined height, without the odour of slavery and imprisonment, to which he was subjected, on him.

When Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, it was meant to be their end. Nebuchadnezzar had asked that the temperature of the furnace to be increased many multiple fold, but by the time there was thrown into the fire and they came back by God’s supernatural intervention, the odour of the fire was not even on them (Daniel 3).

The focus verse speaks of different kinds of covering; there is the cloud, fire and canopy. That gives the picture of the kind of protection that the children of Israel had while they were on a journey from Egypt, the house of bondage, through the wilderness to the Promised Land, which parallels our journey through this earth when they are saved (from bondage to sin) with the blood of Jesus.

Remember that after the children of Israel shed the blood of lambs in the land of Egypt, it marked the end of their punishing and seemingly endless stay in that place. Their experience is a picture of the fact that we Christians have been taken from the devil’s kingdom of darkness into freedom.

When Ezra commenced on a journey from a foreign land back to Jerusalem with a group of people, he fasted and prayed for protection (Ezra 8:21-23).

He refused to take the practical step of asking the king to release a detachment of soldiers to protect them, because he had boasted about how great his God is to him.

Along the journey he called on God and God became a cover for him though not as visible as the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud which the children had as their cover as they moved across the wilderness.

The Israelites were protected from all the harsh weather conditions that affect others, they live in conditions that were supernaturally created by the presence of God.

The cloud and fire shows that different times require peculiar protection. In the desert where Israel went through, the night it is very cold and there is the pillar of fire at that time, and in the day it is the extreme of heat, that has caused heat stroke but the pillar of cloud protected the people.

Therefore God is manifesting as one sufficient for all situations, there is no problem he does not have an answer to, that he has a provision for every need. He is not frozen in time and by extension his word is fitting for all situation. If it guided the people of yesteryears, it is a guide for us now, in whatever situation we are in.

The word feeds us and we are strong (1Peter 2:2), it shines on our path as the light (Psalm 119:105), breaking darkness, it falls on us as rain causing us to bring forth the right result (Isaiah 55:10-11), it is the seed generating the flow of life in us (1Peter 1:21), it is a hammer to break down the rock of opposition (Jeremiah 23:29). We are covered all round.

Jesus is the Word and so he is not static. He went about helping people and healing those who are oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). Those who came to Jesus came with all manner of issues and they got the solution, they went back happy, he is everything.

A remnant

goose-178143_640Isaiah 1:9: Except Jehovah of Hosts had left a remnant for us, a few, we would be as Sodom; we would be as Gomorrah. (LITV)

Jonathan, Saul’s son, said that it is nothing with God to save with a few or with many (1Samuel 14:6-15). And he went into the camp of Philistines, with his armour bearer, just the two of them, with that understanding. Definitely, he was a man of strong faith.

He did not wait to get permission, to get a consensus, he did not call for volunteers and he caused such a commotion. After killing a few in direct combat, God sent an earthquake to back up his audacious initiative.

In the time of Gideon, God told him to go and deliver Israel as one man, but he thought he was very small (Judges 6-7). He thought he was the least person in Israel that should be considered for that job. Eventually with only a few hundred people he led the people to strike the enemy. God said he did so that Israel will not think that she made it happen by her own strength and so become puffed up.

David as one man defeated the army of Philistine (1Samuel 17). Goliath has put himself forward from among the them are a representative, as a champion, and asked that someone from Israel come forward for a one-on-one battle, instead of the full armies confronting each other. He was so sure of himself, sure of his war experience, sure of his big spear and his giant stature.

But David showed up as someone without those credentials. But he came fully kited with trust in God and at the end of his encounter with Goliath, David stood with his cut-off head in his hand and the remaining army of the Philistine fleeing, not believing their eyes.

The one in whom they trusted was downed by a young lad barely weaned from his mother’s breast milk. They did not know that out of the mouth of babes and suckling God has ordained strength to silence the enemy (Psalm 8:2).

God used a young man, with only a stone and a sling, with virtually no experience on the battlefield to give Israel victory at that time over their perennial enemy, cause to flee the battlefield in total disarray.

God is not so enamoured by the crowd as he is with the state of people’s heart. He sees the heart and not the appearance. He said though many people call him lord, lord; he only regards those who do what he says (Luke 6:46). Many may shout Jesus is Lord, but a few live it.

He said there are two roads, one to life and the other destruction. The one to destruction has popular appeal, it is a broad road, many find it; it is the place for the crowd. But the road that goes to life is narrow, and a few find it. It is the path to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). The high calling is highly costly. Few can pay the prize.

God asked a question: Who shall I send, who shall go from us (Isaiah 6:1-8)? Isaiah answered: here am I send me. He decided to choose what God chooses, leave his own preference to embrace God, to speak the words of God, while others speak their own words, he chose to represent God while other represent themselves. He represents the remnant. And God told him not to fear what the people fear nor come to their ungodly conclusion (Isaiah 8:12-13).

The bible says, everyone do proclaims his own goodness, but a faithful man who can find (Proverbs 20:6)? Those who look out for themselves are many but those who look out for the things of God are few.

David prayed, help lord, for the godly man ceases and the faithful perish among the sons of men, i.e. they are going into extinction, getting fewer and fewer in number, those who hold to moral values are diminishing in number (Psalm 12:1). They are a remnant, rear breed and hard to find.

Paul wrote that in the last days the Spirit expressly says that many shall become lovers of themselves; abandoning the love of God (2Timothy 3:1-2). But there will be a remnant. Will you be one of those who stay true to the end? Jesus said he who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

When in the wilderness and the children of Israel fell into idolatry, Moses was angry and the wrath of God was burning against the people. And Moses called out: who is on the Lord’s side (Exodus 32:20-35)?

And the tribe of Levi stood up to be counted. Though one of the tribes of Israel, that day they began to journey to distinction in that nation.

Moses asked them to do something dangerous, something that will make them hated by men, hated by their brothers. Moses said they should take up dangerous instruments and kill their brothers and sisters from other tribes. And they obeyed. They chose relationship with God over relationship with their brothers, obedience to God over social expectations, similar to what Jesus said that if you do not hate your brothers and sisters you cannot be his disciples (Luke 14:26).

On the discipleship gate, there is no sign saying: everybody qualifies. Everybody is called but not everybody is accepted, not everyone qualifies (Matthew 22:14).

When Gideon blew the trumpet, in the time of the Judges, over thirty thousand showed up for war, but when the screening was done, only 300 were left.

These passed the test of fearlessness and the huddle of inner dispositions which was reflected in their physical posture when they wanted to get water from a river. You will think you have more chance of victory with such a crowd when you want to defeat an enemy, but in God’s calculation, having a crowd is not always linked to victory.

That means when you want to go forward in the will of God, you cannot act based on consensus, it is not about who agrees with you or who does not, who supports you or who does not, who sees things from your point of view or not.

When Jesus said he was going to die on the cross, his best pal, Peter was firmly against it (Matthew 16:21-23). Jesus did not say that he will go and think about it. He was harsh to Peter, telling him: get behind me Satan. He surely did not walk based on consensus but the will of God.

Similarly, when God asked Noah to build an ark to prepare a remnant when he planned to send a flood to the earth to destroy every living thing (Genesis 7). The only people saved were Noah and his family. Jesus revealed what happened at that time will repeat itself, in which people will continue in their previous lifestyles and normal social engagement when a major catastrophe was coming on the earth. The majority were blinded from the import of the moment while Noah and a few people member of the family was saved. Only a remnant was saved.