The Place of Honour Part 2

I started writing about how Yahweh honoured Ezra and the connection to his spiritual heritage. More broadly I want to look at what the scriptures tell us about the concept of honour.

7  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Romans 13:7 (NKJV)

This verse tells us that honour is important, yet an interesting inference here is that not everyone deserves to receive honour. Paul’s statement above comes across as a command rather than a suggestion and it follows in a tradition of another command.

12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)

2  “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: Ephesians 6:2 (NKJV)

We are commanded to honour our parents and we are to honour them because Yahweh has delegated authority to them and when we respect His delegated authority in our lives the Lord honours the respect we give to them. When we walk in honour we release something in the spirit realm and position ourselves to receive. So while we have the command to honour our parents the command illustrates the principle Paul expressed. We are to honour those to whom authority has been given.

In context we can see how important Paul’s exhortation is when we look at his lead in to Romans 13:7.

1  Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Romans 13:1 (NKJV)

Paul was writing to Christians in Rome who lived under a brutal emperor. Didn’t he make a mistake here? Well no he actually took it further in Ephesians. In addition to telling us to honour our parents he said the following.

5  Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6  not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7  with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8  knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9  And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. Ephesians 6:5-9 (NKJV)

When Paul said bondservants he was referring to slaves. His point is that whatever authority we have over us in our lives we are to treat that authority with honour and respect because it pleases our Father. There is one out, we are not to honour or submit to authority when it is clearly in opposition to the Lord. When Peter and John were brought before the High Priest and leaders in Jerusalem they knew what Paul later taught, the Hebraic concept of honour. Knowing that, when they were commanded to obey these authorities in opposition to what Jesus had commissioned them to do (Matt. 28:18-20, Mk. 16:9-20) they responded in the following way.

19  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” Acts 4:19 (NKJV)

Peter, John and the rest of the young church continued to obey Jesus. It later meant further persecution, the martyrdom of Stephen and the scattering of the church (which led to the spreading of the gospel).

So, seeing something of the principle of honour from the perspective of scripture how are we doing with the supervisor at work, the mayor, the Premier, the Prime Minister? Are we interceding or criticizing?

The Place of Honour Part 1

Ezra is well known as an effective leader and manager. He was instrumental in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in the first return from captivity in Babylon as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10-11) and interceded for by Daniel (Dan. 9:1-19).  This means that what Ezra took part in regarding the rebuilding in Jerusalem was the fulfillment of prophecy brought about by intercession.

So that leads us to looking at Era and why he was chosen. When I read scripture I have a tendency to gloss over genealogies. Numbers is not the first book I think about reading in the Old Testament! Yet the Holy Spirit inspired these passages for a reason and there is some very important information in the passage below.

1  Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 2  the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 3  the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 4  the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 5  the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest – 6  this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. Ezra 7:1-6 (NKJV)

In reading this we see that Ezra was a scribe, but he was also a priest (Ezra 8:1-2, 9), albeit without a temple to serve in. Ezra’s priestly qualifications came from being a direct descendant of Aaron, Phinehas and Zadok. Aaaron was the first high priest of Israel, Phinehas was his grandson who was jealous for the Lord. Zadok was a priest under David and remained faithful when the nation abandoned David.

A key point is that Yahweh is faithful to honour those who are faithful to Him. We see the background that led to Ezra’s role in the passages below.

10  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 11  “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12  Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13  and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ” Numbers 25:10-13 (NKJV)

15  “But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood,” says the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 44:15 (NKJV)

In Ezra’s lineage, tracing his family back to Zadok and Phinehas, we see that he was put in a position to be instrumental in the restoration and rebuilding at Jerusalem because of the faithfulness his ancestors had demonstrated. The other side of this coin is that I believe Ezra’s being chosen was also connected to his faithfulness to serve Yahweh wherever he was. There were others with the same lineage who were not chosen. Our Father is an efficient historian who has eternal purposes in keeping records.

16  Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. Malachi 3:16 (NKJV)

12  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13  The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12-15 (NKJV)

20  Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (NKJV)

So what is my point in all of this? Yahweh is recording the good things we do to honour Him and they will not be forgotten. In addition He seeks to bring forth good things from our family line. If we don’t have a godly family history to draw from then let us start an honourable one that our descendants may draw from ours. It can be be as simple as handing out water. After all what did Jesus say?

42  And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 (NKJV)

Obscured Vision

I have been slowly going through the entire bible. I started in January 2017 with a plan to read through the bible in a year. This has shifted to my current plan to instead get through it in two years, which I will do. I have been reading through it slowly. I don’t follow some well known plan but do have my own method. I treat the Gospels and Acts as a section and the rest of the NT as a section. So I have gone through those sections more than once in this timeframe. For the OT I started Genesis forward and Job forward. I am now at Ezra and the last few of the Minor Prophets. In addition I have been reading through Proverbs every month. I could have crammed and completed this in a year but I have been focused on going more slowly and thoughtfully. I find I get more out of the scriptures using this approach. Small bites are easier to chew and digest than big ones.

Going through this process I saw something in 2 Chronicles. I never saw in previous readings that Uzziah never again sat on the throne after his transgression with the incense and that Jotham reigned while Uzziah lived out the remainder of his life primarily in isolation. I am going to look at two passages, 2 Chronicles 26 and Isaiah 6. You may find the connection between them interesting.

The ‘he’ in verse 16 below refers to Uzziah. Uzziah was a good king in Judah up to this point. Isaiah was an advisor and probably his friend. Isaiah had a decades long ministry and prophesied across the reign of four kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Is. 1:1)

16  But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 2 Chronicles 26:16 (NKJV)

19  Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar. 2 Chronicles 26:19 (NKJV)

When Uzziah was seeking to burn incense and the priests opposed him he lost his temper and refused to back down. His transgression, rooted in his pride, resulted in the Lord giving him leprosy until the day of his death. In Kings he is referred to as Azariah. Once he became a leper he dwelt in an isolated house and his son Jotham sat on the throne in his place until his death (2 Kings 15:15, 2 Chron. 26:21). There is a spiritual principle. If the enemy cannot oppose our work for the Lord, which he could not do with Uzziah, then he gets behind us and pushes us beyond the boundaries the Lord has set. He whispers in our ear and appeals to any root of pride or insecurity in our hearts and speaks to what we could or should be doing. In this case the reign of Uzziah had been blessed but here he presumed he could take on an office that was not his, the priestly role.

His vision was obscured by his pride. What of Isaiah?

1  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3  And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” 4  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5  So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” 6  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7  And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” Isaiah 6:1-7 (NKJV)

I have mentioned this before in my writing. This was not Isaiah’s prophetic call. He was already functioning in the prophetic office. When he had this encounter with Yahweh he realized that his vision was also obscured. Lepers were required to cry out ‘unclean, unclean’ in public so no one would have contact with them. King Uzziah would have suffered this indignity. Isaiah and the nation knew of Uzziah’s pride and failure but he was now gone and a new era had begun (Proverbs 14:34) and Jotham was a godly king. Yet when the veil between the natural and spiritual realm was removed something that was obscuring Isaiah’s vision and perspective was also removed. Here Isaiah saw the one on whose behalf he was speaking. How did he respond? Isaiah saw himself and the nation as being people of unclean lips compared to the transcendent holiness he encountered and recognized the need to be cleansed. His pride was consumed by the coal from the altar. It didn’t; burn Isaiah’s lips, it burned away any confidence in himself.

What of us? Do we see the problem as ‘out there,’ the Uzziah’s in life? Is the problem our political leaders? Our supervisor at work? These issues are real but even more real is our need for cleansing like Isaiah, having a coal from the altar touch our lips and cleanse our hearts. If we have had a cleansing encounter we are ready to speak with authority and power as Isaiah did. Perhaps Isaiah had other encounters he never recorded. I do not know. I do know I can remember where I was driving in my car decades ago when I began to pray for the fear of the Lord in my life because I saw it as a lack. I still need it.

The Living Word Part 2

How do the scriptures come alive in us as a ‘living word?’ That the scriptures are living and powerful is an established fact, more real than the ground we stand upon because He said it is true.

12  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

Sit with this fact. God’s word is living and powerful.

Given this truth we need it to live in our experience. We do that by actually believing it and declaring the truth of His word until we experience the life of His word moving in us. One example is the song below. The song begins saying, “I am no victim. I live with a vision. I’m covered by the force of love. Covered in my Saviour’s blood.” While I would prefer that the words say the ‘power of love’ the idea is the same. Jesus, out of love shed His blood on the cross. His blood paid the price for my transgressions and was poured out on the mercy seat in heaven (Heb. 9:12, 20-28). The scriptures say His blood is able to cleanse our consciences from dead works (Heb. 9:14). Speaking of a new and deeper encounter with His living word.

Here are more words from the song, “I am who He says I am. He is who He says He is. I’m defined by all His promises. Shaped by every word He says.” Are our lives defined by His promises and shaped by His word? If yes, then no matter how we feel any given day or moment we have His Word living in us.

I Am No Victim by Kristene Dimarco.