Now, we’re getting ready to enter “the kingdom years”. But first some commentary to keep things in perspective.
It’s interesting to note that during the time of the Judges, when it seems everybody was living in disobedience, that God had His own “game” going, in that He pulled out of the midst of this backslidden nation three people, one a gentile woman and another a woman of the tribe of Judah, and a righteous man (he must have been lonely), in order to keep His way alive and ticking. So, He sets up the ancestry, and then, at just the right time, He raises up a prophet, the first true prophet of the kingdom years. The man is a Nazarite, and is named Samuel, meaning, “heard by God, asked of God, and anointed of God”. He is turned over to Eli the priest as a very young boy, to serve God all his life as his mother vowed. He is separated (sanctified, made holy) from the wicked world, having nothing to do with it. He is really a type of both Elijah and John the Baptist. He is to “prepare the way” for the anointed one, and to do the anointing. In Acts 3:24, Peter notes Samuel as the first in a line of Prophets that were to foretell the Christ.
It’s also interesting to note that after the period when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (much like today), the people begged for a (man) king to protect them and to rule over them. They knew things were bad, but they wanted a man to straighten things out for them. (Look out for the Antichrist!) They didn’t trust God to do it. In their eyes, God hadn’t been “with them” (because they had gone out of the way). So, Samuel goes and picks out a “good looking guy,” and the people, who liked his “tall stature and good looks,” said, “We want him to rule over us!” So, Samuel anoints Saul, and it’s not very long after Samuel dies that the pressures of being king (in his own strength) drives Saul to seek out the famous “witch of Endor (actually En Dor)”, a lady who “channels” familiar spirits to call back Samuel from the dead. Bad move. So Saul, who before had been anointed, and had prophesied in the Spirit, and everything (does that mean he was once saved always saved?), this same Saul becomes the plaything of an evil spirit, whose job it is to get Saul to kill God’s “true anointed”, who God has waiting in the wings. And whose job is it to play soothing music to calm the evil spirit in Saul? Why, David’s, of course! In all of this, David could have “taken Saul out”, but he didn’t, even though Samuel had anointed him to take Saul’s place. David walked in faith, and was obedient to God’s Word concerning Saul’s position, and he waited for God’s appointed day.
After Saul’s “suicide”, David does well (aside from two big foul-ups), and as king is ordering God’s people and His land pretty well, seeking to accomplish what his predecessors had (disobediently) not accomplished: killing the Nephilim (giants) and their cohorts. But David’s big foul-up produced Solomon.
Solomon is an intriguing study. He takes over the role of king, and he asks for, and is given, abundant wisdom, and as a bonus, vast wealth. But keep in mind that he was the offspring resulting from David’s murder of his friend, as well as of the adultery that David was trying to hide. Despite all this wisdom and God’s blessings, Solomon follows his own flesh. Concerning women, he is incorrigible. And instead of repenting, he takes up idolatry. Now, Solomon had become (because of God’s blessings) the wealthiest and most powerful (in worldly terms) king in the world, and, note this for study, the only person outside of the Revelation associated with the term 666! Remember that Solomon also built the famous Temple and had all the kings and queens of the earth coming to him and paying tribute to him. Not coincidental, I think. Also, he built his house to be grander than God’s house.
Did Solomon eventually repent and write Ecclesiastes? I hope so, for his sake. But he caused much damage to Israel. Now we’ll return to the study of the way.
Now, after the way has been hidden for some time because of the disobedience of the people, it pops up again as “the straight way”, when some cows, turning neither to the right or to the left, are returning the arc of the covenant to Israel. At least the cows could be obedient, along with the earlier donkey! Cows, of course, are “dumb beasts”, and donkeys are stupid and stubborn, but they’re more obedient than we are! They know Who feeds them!
The next time the way comes into play is when Samuel is prophetically exhorting the people in I Samuel 12:20-25. After affirming that they had done wickedness in asking for a (human) king, Samuel exhorts them to not turn aside from following the Lord, and that he will teach them “the good and right way”. Ahhhhh. What a breath of fresh air after centuries of the way being forsaken! Part of his “speech” to them involves this lesson: “And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.” Have we who claim to be believers in our day and age “stored up for ourselves” things that “cannot profit or deliver”, things that will perish with the world? We should look around our homes. I suggest some house-cleaning. God won’t overlook those things because of grace. Grace (the operations of the Holy Spirit) operates within the confines of the Word of God. Let’s start those “heavenly bank accounts” before the hour comes upon us like a thief! No, that is not legalism. It’s God’s Truth.
In I Samuel 15, the Lord tells Saul, through Samuel, that He will destroy those Amalekites who attacked Israel on the way from Egypt. (How much also those who persecute those who follow The Way, His Son!) The Lord then instructs Saul to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites. But Saul only does most of what God has instructed him to do. Saul spares King Agag (possibly a Rephaim or a Nephilim) and also wants to keep all the “stuff”, but God had said, “utterly destroy.” God’s answer? “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, …” So Saul goes crying to Samuel, and says, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, … which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God …” You see, first Saul disobeys God’s complete instructions, then he says he did follow the way, then he blames the people, then he makes an excuse for them, then tries to butter up Samuel, as well as denying that God was his God. Saul was not only greedy and disobedient, he was unrepentant. Then, after Samuel, in verse 22, tells Saul how much trouble he’s in, Saul “repents” (says he’s sorry), and, still blaming the people, he says, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words (they were all God’s words), because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”
Okay, pastors and teachers. I seek your ears, and your minds. I’ll leave your hearts to the Lord. How many of us, in fearing the people, in wanting to keep our “stuff” (ministries, etc.), make excuses for ourselves and for the people of our congregations, not exhorting them to follow the full and entire way, the only good and right way, the commandments and counsel of God and His Son? We know who we are, so I’m not pointing fingers.
And, people of the congregations, how many of us set a pastor up as “king” over us, knowing that we’ll go elsewhere if he doesn’t tell us what we want to hear instead of the full counsel of God? How many of us don’t follow the way as demonstrated by God’s Son and as dictated throughout the entire Word? How many of us do part or most of what God commands us to do, and leave His grace to “cover” the rest? Don’t think that we, as well, won’t be cut off for disobedience. Thus says the Lord, not I.
Don’t take my word for it! Read what follows the above in I Samuel 15:24-34.
God’s way comes up again in II Samuel 22:31. “As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust Him,” as well as, “God is my strength and my power; He makes my way perfect.” Remember, “be you perfect as He is perfect”? In other words, “put on Christ (self-denying, unselfish love)”.
At this point, I’m going to take you on a step “aside” into the Psalms and the Proverbs. Why? Because almost all of what David and (arguably) Solomon wrote concerning the way of the Lord is written in these books, and is concurrent with the period of Israel’s journey that we are now entering.
The Psalms and the Proverbs are so abundant with references to the way that it is hard to choose what to include and what to leave out. There are references to the “good and right way, the Lord’s way,” etc., as well as the “wrong” way(s). The Psalms describe what “righteous” means, in terms of staying on the path, and of caring for the afflicted, the widow, the stranger, the orphan, and those less well off than ourselves, whether with “material” goods or with the word of God. They describe who the wicked are in terms of not obeying the way, of storing up worldly things for themselves, and of denying the needs of those around them who have need, and who think they’re “covered” by their religion.
Another thing. I have a grievance with somebody. Forgive me, Lord, if it’s with You. The Book of Psalms was given the wrong name. It should have been titled, “The Holy Spirit Inspired Book of David the Prophet, with Holy Spirit Inspired Commentaries by Moses, Asaph, the Sons of Korah, and perhaps Solomon and Maybe a Couple of Other Guys.” Maybe a long title, but that’s what the Book of Psalms is. The title “Psalms” makes the average reader think of it as a book of cute poems and songs, as well as of David’s personal complaints. Our churches sing many “praise songs” that have taken two or three lines out of context and put them to ‘70s music. They then repeat them over and over like a mantra and raise their hands and close their eyes. This often produces a “feeling of spirituality” (I’ve been “there” myself!), and therein lies the danger. What “spirit” are they feeling? Are we praising the Holy God, or the “good feeling”, and calling it “the Spirit”?
The Psalms are so much more. They contain numerous prophecies of Yeshua ha Messiach. They contain what will happen after The Kingdom is established. They show how God made the earth. They contain the history of the end times. They show who will be saved and who won’t. They designate between Israel and the Saints. They describe the righteous, and they describe the wicked. They instruct us on how to pray. They instruct us in what to do to please God. Most of Yeshua’s teachings can be found in them. Yet, people “read” them as a daily or otherwise periodical “devotional” because they “should”. Study them!!! Dig in them as if for silver and gold!!! They contain an unbelievable amount of treasure!
I used to read the Psalms for comfort when I was down, until they convicted me. Once they convicted me, God used the Psalms for my “true salvation”. Before, I had been “just a believer”, delivered by “the sinner’s prayer”. And I was well on my way to perishing with the rest of the wicked. When, at my lowest point, I prayed to God to show me “why?” It was in the Psalms, and the Book of Hosea, that He showed me that my previous repentance and religion were false. The answers as to what to do about it were also in the Psalms. And the answers about what to do after that, and…
David was a “man after God’s own heart”, and in this he was very much a type of Yeshua, as well as being a king and a prophet. In fact, many times, at first glance, when one thinks that David is writing about himself, it is actually the Spirit of Yeshua ha Messiach, the Spirit of prophecy, writing through him. Other times, it’s the Saints who are rejoicing on that Day writing through him, by the Spirit. It is incredible! The very Spirit and Heart of The Way is fully revealed in the Psalms.
The very culture, the mindset and belief system of the people, was quite different in the days in which the Psalms were written, and while the translators have managed to convey the “word meaning” in their translations, they have not managed, in many cases, to convey the “heart meaning” of many words, words that it is completely necessary to understand the meaning of before we can understand the Psalms. These are words that many of us today “take for granted.” So I will attempt to convey what these words meant to the writer and the culture. (Please examine my sarcasm below, but I won’t apologize. I do it purposefully to help you to think!)
1a) “Psalms” righteous – someone who fears God, obeys Him in all that He says to do, and trusts Him without faltering. In the culture of the Psalms, a righteous man would do his utmost best to obey the Law, he would pray persistently, he would pay his tithes, make his offerings, and take care of those less fortunate (anyone who had need), he respected the authorities as God’s anointed where “public law” was concerned (unless it violated the Law of God), he wouldn’t accumulate wealth, but would use it to do the Lord’s will, and he wouldn’t “join the crowd” in disobeying God or slandering God’s spokespersons. He was also known as “just”.
1b) “righteous” today – 1. Someone who goes to church, sometimes twice a week, reads their bible almost daily, prays, dresses neatly, and keeps their house clean and in order. Or, 2. Someone who does all of #1a above, only he knows his continual covering is the “offering” that Yeshua ha Messiach made of His Blood, and that we should no longer “tithe”, but instead should give everything, and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. We are not permitted by grace to disregard the rest, contrary to false doctrine (also known as “Eternal Security by the Sinner’s Prayer”).
2a) “Psalms” wicked – wellll…., someone who doesn’t do all of #1a above with all his heart, all his soul, and all of his strength. The ungodly. Also, “worthless”.
2b) “wicked” today – Osama bin Laden, Marilyn Manson, Saddam Hussein, Ozzie Ozborn, Boy George, Hilary Clinton (ok, Bill, and Rush Limbaugh too.) Everybody who looks or acts nice, or goes to church, or carries a briefcase, or all three, is naturally exempt. (hey, buddy, ya’ wanna buy some land?) The wicked today are actually all of those who don’t fit in category #1b2.
3a) “Psalms” trust, believe – to put all one’s reliance upon, never doubting, and despite troubles, continue in the Way.
3b) “trust, believe” today – 1. “If you wish upon a star, makes no matter where you are … your dreams come true.” 2. “I trust you until I don’t get what I want, or something doesn’t go my way, or you fail me in any way whatsoever. And then I’m writing you off, and you’d better look out because I’m gonna tell everybody!”
4a) “Psalms” prosperous, prosperity – (Actually, there are two opposite meanings in two opposite categories.) 1. Those whose prosperity is in the Lord and in His promises concerning The Kingdom 2. The wicked, who want their prosperity in this world. Those who store up and withhold material goods or God’s Truth or either or both from the poor, needy, strangers, widows, fatherless, and afflicted.
4b) “prosperous, prosperity” today – 1. The wicked (same as above) 2. Those who say they have wealth because they’ve been a “good steward” of what God has given them. (If Yeshua is our master, and we’re to be about our master’s business (righteousness), what, in that case, should we be doing with our wealth? WWJD? The Master would be about the business of giving it away or selling it to help the afflicted, and not buying more stuff.) (Luke 12:42-43,47)
5a) “Psalms” The Way of the Lord – see #1 above, and all of what follows below. Obeying His commandments, the good and right way, completely, and trusting Him all the while.
5b) The Way of the Lord today – #1b and #4b above. (But most people today think that the sinner’s prayer, and not death to self in Yeshua, covers us. Check Luke 14:33)
6a) “Psalms” Grace – God’s hand, Spirit, or Word, leading you to Him, then, after our obedient response, God’s outpouring of His Approval. (“grace for grace”)
6b) “grace” today – We can pray the sinner’s prayer, then do anything we want, as long as we’re sincere and keep going to church, continue tithing, pray for what we want, and make some sacrifice every so often. No true dying to self (repentance) is necessary, as long as we’re sorry, because that’s legalism, and Yeshua did it for us so we wouldn’t have to (Check Luke 6:46, Hebrews 5:9). We can keep all our stuff, as long as we make a place for Jesus in our heart. And remember, keep “assembling together” on Sundays and for home bible studies.
7a)“Psalms” vow – A promise made that could not be broken, no matter what. Your reputation, name, and very acceptance in the community were gauged by your adherence to your vows. A vow could not be broken, especially one before God.
7b) “Vows” today – 1. So sue me. 2. “I’ll see you in (divorce) court! I’m having a bad hair day, and you made me mad, so I’m going to wreck your life and everyone else’s’ who even knows us!”
Ok, I was sarcastic on some of the above, but it’s true sarcasm. Take a look around us, and then check it in the Word of God. Grace and The Truth never contradict each other, and they always speak of each other. Let’s go ahead in to the Psalms, the “Holy Spirit Inspired Book of David” (with some added commentaries by the Holy Spirit through some other writers) and find the Truth.
(You may want to use the next section as a study guide, and read the provided verses in context with the entire Psalm!)
Psalm 1 starts out by describing the godly and the ungodly, separating the sheep from the goats. It ends by saying, “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Ok. Simple enough. The next one is very interesting. In Psalm 2, it says, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way.” Wait a minute! If we’re in the way, how is it that we can perish? You may want to read everything in this Psalm that preceded that. Remember that “Kiss the Son” is an act of homage. Also, we’re reminded in verses 8 & 9 that everything has been given to Him, and belongs to Him. Are we about our Master’s business? Next, read Psalm 4:1-5. Verse 5 says, “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness (make our bodies a living sacrifice), and put your trust in the Lord.” Then, in Psalm 5:8, David writes, “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight.” What does the Good Shepherd do? He leads His sheep. In what way? In His righteousness.
Moving on, Psalm 9 shows a definition of the wicked. “The wicked shall be turned into sheol, and all the nations (Gentiles) that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” What did the wicked do? They forgot the needy. Also, Psalm 10 is all about the wicked. What is God’s will? Verse 18: “To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed.” Now, Psalm 11:3 is very informative. It states, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” What are the foundations? The Apostles, with Yeshua ha Messiach being the chief cornerstone. What was Yeshua? The Way. What was the teaching and lifestyle of the Apostles called? The Way. MY own interpretation of this verse is, “If the very Church is not living The Way today, what are the (few) righteous to do?” Read Psalm 12. It has the same interpretation. Psalm 15 then tells us who the wicked aren’t. In Psalm 16, he continues, “You, O Lord, are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;” and, “You will show me the path (or way) of life”. What does it say concerning the wicked in Psalm 17:14? They “have their portion in this life”, and, “They are satisfied with children, and leave the rest of their substance for babes.” It’s more than questionable that in today’s church, it’s considered “wise” to build up an inheritance of mammon for our children, as well as a “retirement account”. The Word expressly forbids this, and warns of the consequences of doing so.
In Psalm 18:20, David continues defining what pleases God. “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord.” In verse 25, he says, “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful”, and in verse 30, “His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Well, of course, God is perfect. But He doesn’t expect perfection from us, does He? Read on. Verse 32 says, “It is God who arms me with strength; and makes my way perfect.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Christ, the very spirit of Christ, is to die to self in Him. That is His way, the Way, to His perfection and His strength.
In the “famous” Psalm 23, he declares, “He leads me in the paths (ways) of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Now, just to show you I have license to substitute ways for paths, read Psalm 25:4. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” See? Same thing. And he continues, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He teaches sinners the way.” Do you remember when Yeshua asked the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me Good?” Because the rich young ruler had called Yeshua, “Good Teacher.” But for the wrong reasons. He hadn’t diligently searched out the Truth in the Scriptures, or he would have answered, “Because I know who You are.” Remember that Jesus didn’t respond by commending him for his faith. And we all know what Jesus taught that rich young man. He showed him that, though he had been obedient to the letter of the Law, he had no faith. Verse 9. “… and the humble He teaches His Way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant (this is the Blood of My covenant…) and His testimonies.” Now, look: “And they overcame him (the Adversary) by the Blood (covenant) of the Lamb, and by the Word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Verse 14: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.”
Psalm 25 is, needless to say, all about Yeshua ha Messiach and The Way. I could even say that this Psalm contains the entire Gospel, but one would have to dig through the Scriptures to see it.
In Psalm 27 he repeats himself, again, by writing, “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, …” And again in Psalm 32: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;” At this point, you may want to take a look at Psalm 34:11-14. I won’t type it out, but it may be helpful to you.
Now, in Psalm 36, he reminds us about wickedness: “ He sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not abhor evil.” If we don’t abhor the world and worldliness and worldly things, we may want to do a self-examination to see if we’re “in the faith”.
Now, for those of us who think that our prosperity in this world is from God and therefore we’re to keep for ourselves, we may want to study and pray about Psalm 37. First, verse 7: “Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.” Next, verse 14: “The wicked have drawn the sword and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, …” And then, “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” And verse 21: “…but the righteous shows mercy and gives.” Then verse 23: “The steps (ways) of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” And, finally, verse 34: “Wait on the Lord, and keep His Way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.” There can be no doubt that a “good man’s” way and “His (the Lord’s) way” are to be the same way. Who are “the transgressors” and “the wicked” (verse 38) who will be “destroyed, cut off”? The ones who aren’t doing what the “good man” is doing. They’re not in “His Way”.
In Psalm 44, we hear the cry of a writer that is apparently not David. They have been heavily afflicted, but they have not gone out of “His Way” (verse 18). Just a note: The writer says that they have been afflicted in the “place of dragons”. Do you remember the “fiery flying serpents” that afflicted Israel while they were in the wilderness? Some translators have taken it upon themselves to translate “dragons” as “jackals”. The last I looked at “The nature channel”, I didn’t see anything so fearsome about a jackal in comparison to a dragon (as described in the Book of Job). Better keep an eye on those translations. They’re slipping up. There’s at least two, and possibly three or more, types of dragon recorded in the Scriptures. If they never existed, then these translators are calling God a liar.
In Psalm 49:13, it refers to the way of the foolish, or, those who don’t fear God. It goes on to say, “Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend with him. Though while he lives he blesses himself; for men will praise you when you do well for yourself; he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.” Now, I don’t know about you, but as for me, I’m never seeking or keeping any riches again! If God does give some to me, I’m giving ‘em back! I fear God and want to “see the light!”
I used to seek riches. I knew a lot of well-to-do “believers” in the insurance industry, so I figured I’d pursue that. I wanted to “do well for myself”. After all, Abraham and Job and David and Solomon were rich, right? (You’d better check those stories and their relevancy real close!) I also started writing a novel, and had positive feedback that it would sell very well. But the Lord, in His grace and mercy, had different plans. If the devastation hadn’t come, I would have died in my sins. He gave me a wake up call I couldn’t miss, and I will be, literally, grateful for the age of His Kingdom if I am found acceptable. His wake up call to me? “Deny yourself.”
Psalm 67:1-2 is very much about Yeshua ha Messiach. It says, “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” Well, the light came into the darkness, and the darkness knew it not. But He still showed the way of salvation to the nations.
Psalm 77:13: “Your way, O God, is in holiness;” Now, there is another one of those “modern definition” problems. You see, “holy” means “set apart”, as in “set apart from this world” or “not of this world”. It often carries the same meaning as “sanctified”. Yeshua, since He was holy, was “not of this world” while He was in the world. He showed us that we, too, could be holy by being “in the world but not of the world”. He emphasizes the fact by saying, “Be holy for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16). He showed us the way to do it. Most people, however, say that He did it for us because we couldn’t be holy. Actually, He came to show us how to be holy, and to set an example for us, and then He told us to follow it. To follow the Way. “Separate yourself (be holy) from the world as I am separate (holy) from the world” (author’s paraphrase). And though He had all our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), He was in the world without being of the world, and therefore remained without sin. He knew He had to deny himself to accomplish this, thus His “temptations in the wilderness” and His walk and His death on the Cross, and He taught us to do the same thing (“you must deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Me). In fact, the very word agape’, for love, means to deny yourself. And if we don’t agape’, we’re as sounding brass or a clanging symbol, no matter how much “good stuff” we do (I Cor. 13:1-3). To have Christ in us means that we have died to ourselves; our agendas, our lifestyles, even our families, as “unloving” (from phileo) as that may seem, and that we’ve been washed in the covenant of His Blood, and then filled with His Spirit. The truth is, we can’t obey His commandments to agape’ God and our neighbors until we’ve completely died to ourselves, have been washed in the Blood of His covenant, and have had our lives replaced by His Spirit.
That fact is apparent, with proper study, in the risen Lord’s conversation with Peter (“…Do you love (agape’) Me?” “Lord, you know I love (phileo) you…) When did Peter receive the agape’ that he went on to feed those sheep with? At Pentecost. The grace of God had sought Peter out and led him to belief. Yeshua’s prophesied gospel and death and resurrection had turned Peter’s belief into faith, which in turn produced the work of obedience (death to self and following the way), thus establishing Peter’s side of the covenant. Then the Blood, the life of Christ (“for the life is in the Blood”) combined with the self-death made Peter righteous (the old wine and the wineskin were no more), and God responded in approval with grace (the indwelling of Peter by the Holy Spirit), which in turn produced works of righteousness (via gifts of the Holy Spirit) that had been prepared for him since the beginning (Ephesians 2:10) for Peter. Do you see?
Grace to grace, via The Way. Peter was now made holy, sanctified, set apart from the world and worldliness, by the grace of God, the Blood of Christ, faith, and the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit. So no one can say that we can’t be holy, or we make God out to be a liar. Peter was made holy by the Spirit of Yeshua ha Messiach, the spirit of death to self in him, which couldn’t have happened unless he had obediently died to self and so had separated himself from the world. This is the very gospel of how to have peace with God. And there is no other Way. Period.
People tell me, “Well, God never said we can’t have possessions or wealth. In fact, He say’s He’ll bless us with wealth.” Is that so? (Check Luke 14:18-20) It’s kinda hard to explain the Acts church, or the statements of Paul in I Timothy 6, then. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” He then goes on to the horrors of having and keeping “wealth” for ourselves. Yeshua says to leave everything, even your own lives, behind. For those who diligently seek Him, the concept is found cover to cover in the word of God. But in order to see it, we have to want God more than we want our families, our houses, our lands, our stuff, even our own lives, or we’re not worthy of Him (Luke 14:26). One might answer, “Well, I do want God more than all that. But that doesn’t mean I have to give them up!” No, we don’t have to; we can keep ‘em. But if we know The Truth, then why would we want to hang onto the world? Wouldn’t the obedience of faith please God? Or are we concerned with pleasing our selves? It’s all going to burn! Where’s our treasure? Where are our hearts?
He’ll give you back what you need for eternal life. Himself. The grace of agape’.
If you’re one of those who have been told that the sinner’s prayer is sufficient for your salvation, I have to tell you that the Word says that you’ve been mislead. Period. That’s the “doctrine of men and demons” that the Word warns us about. Be not deceived.
- I got the preaching out of my system (for awhile). Where was I? Psalm 77:13? Yeah, that’s right. I was preaching about “holy”. But I’m writing about The Way.
Now, any doubt that we’re to walk in the Way that Yeshua walked is put to a fast and final, brutal, and irrevocable death when we look at Psalm 85:13. “Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. But the Holy Spirit can, through David. Psalm 86:11: “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your Name.” What about the famous Psalm 95? “Today, if you will hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts … It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways. So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” For those who think that verse is “just for the Jewish people”, look at the wake up call in Hebrews, where it’s brought up three times for those believers. “Yeah, but they were Hebrew believers!” Gimme a break! Read the text! If they were left dead in the wilderness for disobedience, who were of God’s chosen people, who do we think we are, having been grafted in (Rom. 11:19-21)? Remember, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Don’t let that pastor and those self-help books get away with telling you not to fear Him! (Psalm 118:8, the very middle verse of the whole bible!)
Now, one last Psalm. Psalm 119. No, don’t worry, I’m not going to type out all 176 verses of Psalm 119. But I’ll give you a strong clue. The word way is mentioned 11 times in the first 37 verses. No, I’m not going to type out all 11 verses. But I’ll give you some more clues. Six of those eleven times it’s the way (and one of those is path in the NKJV). Two of them are Your ways. One of them his way. Two of them are my ways. Five of the six the ways are referring to the Lord’s way. Both of the Your ways, of course, are speaking of the Lord’s way. Both of the my ways are the writer declaring that he wants to do things the Lord’s way. The one exceptional the way is the writer begging the Lord to remove the way of lying from him. And the his way is the writer asking advice for a young man who’s in need of cleansing. In short, if you truly desire the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength, take a good, long look at Psalm 119:1-40, and then look again at Psalm 25. And keep an eye out for the Way of Yeshua (The Way).
Well, I’m gonna take a break, and when I come back, we’ll move on to Proverbs. What was Solomon thinking, anyway?
The first seven verses of Proverbs tell us the purposes for which they were written, as well as giving us some clues on how to study them. I’d like to concentrate, to begin with, on verses 5,6, & 7. “A wise man will hear, and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” First, let’s look at that riddle thing, as it is quite important.
It wasn’t until the Lord showed me the True Way, through His Word, that I began to understand the Proverbs. Previously, they had seemed to contradict each other, or many times to just make no sense at all to me. The reason for this is that many of the Proverbs are riddles. In fact, they are riddled with enigmas! What one takes them to mean at first glance is not at all like what they mean after one digs through the Scriptures, in prayer and diligence, for their meaning. That particular “clue” to the riddles is in Proverbs 2:1-9.
This is the “instruction manual”. He says if you:
- receive my words
- treasure my commands within you
- incline your ear to wisdom
- apply you heart to understanding
- cry out for discernment
- lift up your voice for understanding
- seek “her” (wisdom) as silver
- search for her as for hidden treasures
…then, “you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”
So, once one fears God, then one can begin to find the knowledge of God. Now, we follow these eight steps to learn the fear. OK. Simple enough.
Many doctrines today teach that the “fear” of God is really an “awesome respect, or reverence” of God, and that because of the Cross, we no longer have a reason to fear Him. That is just plain ludicrous, and no, I won’t apologize. Anyone who has sincerely searched the Word with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, knows that we must fear God or, as the Proverbs say, we’re fools. God’s judgments are righteous judgments, and so I fear Him! And the entire Word shows quite clearly that if we won’t fear Him, we can’t expect His mercy. That is His Way.
“Oh, but that was just before the Cross!” Buzzzz. Wrong answer. Take a look at the Book of Acts, and see the Saints’ response to the Presence of God. They never respond by saying, “Gee, God, I really respect Yew! Yuurr so awesome!” I have a suspicion that that was Ananias’ and Sapphira’s approach. No, they had “great fear” (Acts 5:11). In other words, if we don’t fear God, or don’t seek to fear Him, we may as well use the pages of the Proverbs for some other (less dignified) purpose, because it’s all the same to Him.
The first time the way is used in this book is in 2:8, where he writes, “He guards the paths of judgment, and preserves the way of His saints.” The next is in Proverbs 2:15, as a warning not to walk in the way of sinners. In 2:31, it says that they’ll “eat the fruit of their own way”. For a quick side note, let me point something out. The words path and way are often used in tandem; picture it like you’re on your way up a path. If you weren’t on the path, you probably wouldn’t be on the way, and visa versa. They’re not always exactly the same, but it’s kinda like water without wet. You can’t take a swim and stay dry (though many of us in the churches today try to do just that!).
Proverbs 2 is full of “avoid the bad way(s) so you can stay in the good way(s)”, as are many of the Proverbs. So, I’ll try not to repeat the same concepts over and again, though the writer in His wisdom was told to do so by the Holy Spirit.
One of the most “famous” Proverbs is found in 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” What that doesn’t mean, as many think it does mean, is that we’re to say, “Hi there, God! I know You’re up there watching! So, bless me when I go my way.” No, in fact, it means quite the opposite. It means to walk in His ways, and He’ll direct your paths. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out in the entire context of the Psalms and the Proverbs, and compare that with what Yeshua says repeatedly.
Now, the writers of the Scriptures use a few different terms to describe way and path. One term, derek, means: a road (as trodden; figuratively; A course of life or mode of action.) It can be compared to the way of the apostles’ doctrine, or, way of belief. It is also the same way as to the tree of life. Another word, orach, means: a well-trodden road (literally or figuratively, sometimes as in one or several following), as in a practiced or familiar way that one is accustomed to, good or bad. There are a few other ways and paths used not as often, but these two are sufficient for the point. Meditate (selah) on these verses to see their meaning. No! I don’t mean “get into a yoga position and Ohmmmm.” I mean deeply consider, prayerfully and thoughtfully, in fear and trembling before the Lord, what these verses are saying, with all your heart. Dig as you would for silver and gold when you know it’s there! It very well may make the difference in your eventual destination!
Intermixed with all these many Proverbs about the way are also many proverbs on what a “fool” is and what “wicked” is, what “righteous” is and what “just” is, and isn’t. Also are many about riches and possessions, and these one must consider very carefully to see their true meaning. “Poor” isn’t always as we think of poor, but can be someone who is “poor” in the knowledge of God’s ways (“My people die for lack of knowledge”). “Prudent” isn’t always “wise”, except that the “prudent” person thinks he is at the time; later, he finds that his “prudence” caused many to perish. “Wine” is very interesting. Sometimes it refers to drunkenness, but other times it’s “new wine”, the Gospel and the Spirit combined. “Oil” is used two ways also. Sometimes it’s indicative of a person’s wicked, selfish lavishments on himself. Other times, though, it is the Holy Spirit! Sometimes, any of these things can mean both or either, depending on which way one is following. These are truly riddles! Many times, if one doesn’t know the Torah, and the prophets, and the Gospels, there’s no telling what they mean. In this we make our gravest error, and we use conjecture. We guess. Bad move. Dig!
Now, there are two kinds of “wisdom” that are brought up in the Proverbs that have feminine connotations. One is true wisdom (“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, …” Proverbs 3:17-18) This represents a type of the Spirit-filled redeemed Bride of the Messiah (chapter 8, especially verses 22&23). Ruach ha kadesh is the “Old Testament” term for the Holy Spirit, and also has feminine connotations. Also, if you look ahead to 6:23-28, 7:10-27, and, in this case, 9:13-18, you’ll see the counterfeit version, the harlot. She says, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”; and as for “him who lacks understanding”, she says to him, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” And she’s speaking to those who go “straight on their way”! She is truths. She is cunning. She is beautiful to behold, and she is the opposite of The Truth and the Knowledge of God. She meets all of our fleshly and worldly desires. She is a false “angel of light”. Run away from her, and don’t look back! All her paths lead to death!
Now, I’m going to “back up” to Proverbs 3:9-10. Although the words way and path are not used here, these verses are important to note for context. “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty (the Holy Spirit), and your vats will overflow with new wine (the Word plus the works of the grace, or gifts, of the Holy Spirit).” Remember Yeshua’s words about “storing up in barns”? Remember the “new wine in new wineskins”? Keep an eye open; the Gospel turns up constantly in this Book of Proverbs.
One that really opened my eyes to my pride is Proverbs 10:17. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses reproof goes astray.” Not the reproof of men, but the reproof of the Word of God. Often we go to men or women for counsel, or they offer it on their own, and we (may) end up on the “counseling couch” or, maybe worse, assimilated into their particular doctrine. The only counsel any counselor should ever give, and the only counsel one should ever receive will be directly from the full counsel of the Word of God, in context, with nothing added and nothing deleted. This is the only way to avoid personal and wholesale spiritual tragedy. Proverbs 10:17 is the story of Israel, the story of our individual walks, and the story of the church in apostasy. Along the way there was much bad counseling going on by counselors, priests, and “prophets”, and each and every time it lead to sin, death, and destruction. What they were saying might have sounded good, or it might have been real close to the Word of God, but if it’s not fully the Word, “her paths lead to death”.
In Proverbs 12:28, it says, “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” All throughout Psalms and Proverbs, “righteousness” means to fear God, obey His (Yeshua’s) voice, take care of the poor, afflicted, strangers, widows, orphans, etc., and to speak His Truth. 13:7 says, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” Treasures in heaven, huh? By the way, that particular Proverb is a good example of a two-edged Sword. Study it carefully. It’s not as “simple” as it looks!
In chapter 14, we see a familiar one, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”, and, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Then, in chapter 16, there is one we all need to consider. It says, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits.” And in verse 17, “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul.” In 19:16, we are told, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless in his ways will die.” And again, in 21:16-17, “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the congregation of the dead. He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” Talk about your “double meanings”!
In 23:19, it says, “Hear, my son, and be wise; and guide your heart in the way.”
Now, if you go and look at everything Jesus Christ said about the way, and return to Psalms and Proverbs to dig for the meanings, I’ll guarantee, if your heart is set and right, poor and seeking (and you know it), that you’ll be blessed with the Wisdom of God, if you’re one of His sheep.