Sunday, May 31, 2009

In One Accord

Today the Christian world observes Pentecost, which means "Fifty" and comes from Acts 2:1 when the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Lamb, the Messiah, was poured out on His disciples. Yeshua, or Jesus, had sent them specifically to Jerusalem to await the outpouring of His indwelling Spirit.

The reason behind calling this outpouring "Pentecost" may not be so clear to most Christians. It is because it is according to what God commanded Israel in observance of the Feasts of the Lord. These three Feasts are appointed by God to prophetically portray the seasons of the salvation of Israel.

Pentecost - Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks - in the scheme of God's appointed Feasts for Israel was to be determined by counting 50 days after the Passover. The counting began the first day after the first Sabbath (which begins at sundown on Saturday night) following Passover.

According to Lev 23:15-16 - "You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath (after the Passover), from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord."

The scripture Christians relate to the observance of Pentecost is Acts 2:1-4. The apostles and some of Jesus closest disciples, some 120 people, were gathered "together unanimously" in the upper room, as the translators say in "in one accord".

It is interesting that "there were two competing views at the time of Christ on how to calculate the day of Pentecost. For the Sadducees, Pentecost always fell on Sunday, while the Pharisees had it on various days of the week."

It is interesting to me because the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, but the Pharisees did. "The difference was that the Sadducees started counting 50 days after the first weekly sabbath and the Pharisees started counting 50 days after the Yearly Sabbath, ie Passover."

In other words, the Pharisees regarded "Passover" itself as the 'annual Sabbath' so they counting began counting days the next day. Since Passover was calculated on the lunar calendar it could come on any day of the week, so the Saducess would not start counting 50 days until the day after the weekly Sabbath.

I don't want anyone to fall down the rabbit hole of the complication of these countings, but only wanted to point out that it was interesting to me that the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection from the dead regarding the Passover as a special Sabbath, and the Sadducees who did not believe in a resurrection did not regard the Passover as a special "Yearly Sabbath" so they did not believe the counting of 50 days should begin the on the day after Passover.

Also, lest any of us grumble at how complicated everything is in the Hebrew scripture, let us remember these counting instructions were given by God. The Jews did not invent these instructions, God did, so He must have a good purpose for having do so.

Seeing how early in church history the date of observing "Easter" was changed so it would never fall on the same day as "Passover" to distance Christianity from its Jewish foundations, this may be a perfect example of the spirit of the law which forbids changing your neighbor's boundaries. (Deut 19:14 and Prov 22:28)

Yesterday, part of my Bible reading schedule had me reading in John 4, where Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well (she is not Jewish and the Samaritans are looked down in Jewish society). Jesus told her,

John 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Anointed Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

I was struck by what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, that the Samaritans worshiped what they did not know and, speaking as a Jew, He told her, "we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."

This morning as I consider what it would mean for the worshipers of the Father to gather together before Him in one accord, I believe it means that we could not disregard that it was Jesus who said that what the Jews knew about the Father was important because "salvation is of the Jews."

The apostle Paul later wrote, Romans 9:3-5 (just before explaining the plan of God as it relates to setting aside Israel temporarily to extend salvation to all the nations)

" brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

In the Christian celebration of Pentecost, we are much like the Samaritan woman to whom Jesus said, you know not what you worship. We observe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1 based on a holiday we have named after a number of days that we don't really know the significance of.

We don't have to get hung up on Judaism to acknowledge and know where we come from and how we are organically related to the foundation of our faith which God laid in a people He chose for that very purpose. Like in the 1970's epic movie, ROOTS, which connected Black Americans to their African heritage, all Christianity has a heritage that is rooted in the foundations God laid in Israel.

We are are organically rooted in and related to Israel of God and there remains a coming together of Jew and Gentile in the Messiah that is written of even in the New Covenant scriptures. Instead of denying the significance of our roots, we should embrace this heritage and seek to know it.

My prayer today, this day of Pentecost - the Jewish observance of Shavuot having been observed last Thursday night through Friday night) - is that we really would come together in one accord.

If we would cease all the arguments between the Jewish and Gentile members of the Body of the Lord - which is nothing less than the disciples as they are walking with Jesus arguing which of them would be greatest in His kingdom.

Today my prayer is that we go past the "in one accord" of former days and begin to reach into the "one new man" in Messiah that is our destiny.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Drinking the Kool-Aid, and another lesson In the Wilderness

Over the past week, two men and a woman of God that I have the highest respect for sent out articles that I believe are right on target with the season we are in right now.

The first was Francis Frangipane writing,
Time to Learn Righteousness is now. Whether on Wall Street or in the ranks of the most celebrated of the Church, "The sense of privilege, that one can live without accountability either to God or to the law of man, is being judged by the Lord. There are no special people who are exempt."

Francis writes, "...if we submit to God, our economy and culture will turn a corner into a time of renewed blessing. However, if we resist, if we persist in deceitful ways, we should not expect God to bless us. Thus, it is imperative to discern this season. We are in a time of increasing judgment. The world and its structures are in a collision course with the Kingdom of God."

That is what all this is about, the Kingdom of God. We are all excited about the manifestation of the kingdom in our world but the price for that manifestation are vessel sanctified (purified) enough walk in the glory of that kingdom. We can fool the people, but we can't fool God. If we are going to walk in the glory of the kingdom, then we better get real.

The second article was actually a prophetic dream recorded by Asher Intrater of Jerusalem and written in an article titled, Dream: Drinking the Cup of the Harlot.

In his dream, Asher saw a large gathering of Christians and Jews who were all drinking from cups containing a spirit of immorality that manifested in different ways with different people.

Asher writes, "All this 'spiritual adultery' was connected deeply with a spirit of 'deception.' The deception worked this way: When someone would drink the liquid, their face would be shiny; they looked good; they were smiling, attractive, positive, energetic, and prosperous. It all seemed so good, almost wonderful, like it was an 'anointing' of the Holy Spirit or some kind of charismatic gift. Yet it was demonic. That spirit deceived people, causing them not to see their sin and spiritual adultery. Almost everyone was caught up in it, so there didn't seem any way to correct the situation."

Sound familiar? There are a lot of people drinking the Kool-Aid these days, but God is committed to purifying us from those tendencies. We fool ourselves if we think God is okay with the exaggerations we indulge in to make ourselves appear more 'glorious' than we actually are.

Asher wrote of his dream, "There was a call to repent and to be delivered. The effect was like an explosion or an earthquake. Most of the people responded positively when directly confronted and were powerfully delivered. They had been 'caught up' in all the spiritual deception but hadn't intended to be. However there were a few people who had planned and worked on the distribution of the cups. They were selling them, and had done it on purpose....they refused to repent, and some of them dropped dead on the spot."

This is important, there are a lot of people caught up in spiritual deception that hadn't intended to be. God is not trying to destroy us for making mistakes, but He is committed to transforming us into the likeness of His Son.

Most of the people in Asher's dream did not want to be caught up in spiritual immorality or deception. Most jumped at the chance to be free when confronted with the truth. It was only those who were intent on personally profiting from the distribution of the little 'Kool-Aid' cups of deception who did not want to be set free.

Nevertheless, we should heed the example of a man who even though he had already been anointed by the prophet of God to be king over Israel, refused to put out his hand against the man who stood in that office currently. If you read through David's experience in the wilderness, he had many opportunities to destroy his enemy, King Saul. He did not because even though he had been anointed to be the next king of Israel, he knew it was God's business to take down the current king, not his.

We have to be very careful what we do in similar situations. There is a big difference in confronting spiritual immorality and deception, and trying to tear down and destroy those who are caught up in these things. We have biblical instructions for dealing with such circumstances, although many feel justified to push way past those instructions. They are deceived, as well, and will face their own calling to account by God.

The kingdom of God does not come by self appointed enforcers, it comes our hearts being prepared to carry more and more of the governing of the Spirit of the Lord.

Scripture says of Yeshua/Jesus that God gave Him the Spirit without measure, meaning an unlimited measure. (John 3:34) We, on the other hand, have been given a limited deposit - an earnest - of the Spirit towards the glory we hope for. That is why John the baptizer said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

So, our sanctification in the simplest terms is the transformation process that happens in us as the Spirit of the Lord increases in us. The apostle Paul explained this process as crucifying the old man - decrease of our ways - so we can "put on" the new man, the increase of the government of Jesus in our being.

Isaiah 9:7 says, "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of armies will perform this."

For His "government" to increase without end, that means His government over the lives of individuals must increase. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation....For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

For the kingdom to come, the kingdom has to come forth within us. This means far more than healing miracles being performed, it means the people of God being truly given over to the governing of Jesus within their own hearts. We do that in limited measure, but a measure than grows in proportion to the increase of His glory within us. His glory comes into the places that are purified, sanctified and made ready for His presence to occupy.

Yeshua/Jesus made a very telling comment in John 14:30, "...for the prince of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me."

Jesus had the Spirit without measure - there were no hidden pockets of darkness in His heart that prohibited or limited the degree of the glory He could carry. We are not in that place. We have been given a deposit of the Spirit when we entered into relationship with God through faith in His Anointed.

This deposit of the Spirit is like the parable Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 13:33 “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

To understand the kingdom of God, we must let His 'kingdom' remove the dark places remaining in our hearts, flooding every recess with the glory of His Light. Be prepared to hold back nothing if you desire unlimited measures of His glory and presence.

The final article I took note of last week was a vision given to Victoria Boyson, also a long time friend of Francis Frangipane. Victoria's article, titled My Beloved - A Vision, speaks of how the enemy's pursuit is driving us toward a radiant light that creates a glorious transformation in us.

Victoria writes,
"The enemy is desperate to own, possess and use you for His own purposes. He will stop at nothing to deter you from your destiny in God - from your purpose and from oneness with your Beloved. He will use anyone or anything, even your own desires to keep you from Christ.

"The wounds the enemy inflicts and the dangers, which surround us, must bring us to desperate longing - we must run to Him believing He has something for us. When surrounded by darkness, we must not lose hope. Trust that He loves you and wants you for His own. He does."

Whatever place we happen to be in at this time, the Lord has a kingdom that He greatly desires we enter into fully. Whatever else we do, let us seek to enter into the things He has for us fully and in all truth.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We all have our moments.

2 Cor 1:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

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2 Cor 1:9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

We have just about convinced ourselves that if we ever have fears that it is a failure. We shouldn't live in a spirit of fear, but we should notice that even the great apostle had life situations pop up that can only be described as fear.

In the Psalms, David also cried out in despair of his situations. Some have looked down their nose at the words of the psalmist in a super-spirituality that just does not jive with how scary real life can be at times. Life can get fearsome - especially when you are the anointed of God and the enemy is nipping hard at your heels. There are times when if fears don't rise up in you, you may already be dead!

Let's get real. In the psalms I read cries of great despair, then a confession in the faithfulness of God in the next breath. Is this double-mindedness? I think it is just human. We are just humans on the path of eternal life. To be a genuine or authentic person of God, we can not discount either our spiritual destiny nor our humanity.

Take heart Israeli Body of Messiah. Our trust is not in ourselves or even our own faith, but our trust is in Him.

A word I share with Israel

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine

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When I was a little girl I was disappointed by a prayer that went unanswered by God. My relationship with Him over the decades to follow was tumultuous. So, when I was thirty, I discovered the God I had instinctively expected in my 12-year old heart. I found the real God, who is not faraway and alienated from us in our troubles. I was seeing the God that actually heals in answer to prayers of faith. I rejoiced to finally be on track of the real God, my real Father in Heaven.

I knew that there must have been a reason that He did not answer my prayer that caused me to become so disillusioned with God when I was just a little girl, so I threw myself into reading the Bible over and over. I read it like my life depended upon knowing it, and in fact, it does.

My favorite book of the Bible became Isaiah, because I could relate with the tumultuous relationship Israel had with God. Every promise I saw from God to Israel, rang in my own heart as also a word for me.

This is one of the verses that leapt off the pages of my Bible in those early days of finally - at long last - beginning to discover who God really is. A God who is faithful to His covenant with us, even when we have been unfaithful for a multitude of reasons. He looks on our weakness, and considers our frame.

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior
(yasha - salvation - deliverer)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prophetic Intercession

Here is something that for years I have pondered and I don't know what I believe, really. What is Prophetic Intercession really?

Now, here is one thing that I have wrestled with: Many intercessors say they take on the pains of people with physical diseases they are in prophetic intercession for. I have always wondered if that was really from God, or whether in our openness to thinking it was 'prophetic intercession' we were actually opening a door for the enemy to mimic the symptoms upon the intercessor?

Now for me, I don't want any pain that I don't have to carry - certainly not any pain the enemy is 'letting me share' with those I pray for - even though I am willing to carry whatever pain God gives me the grace to carry in intercession. I am willing because when you know the pain or stress of the people you pray for from experience, I believe it gives you more compassion for where they stand.

Real pain is what I see the prophetic intercessors in scripture bearing for the sake of those they are interceding for with their lives and with their prayers. Peter wrote that when we suffer for our own faults that there is no glory for us to take it patiently, but if we suffer for righteousness' sake, then we are not to be "afraid of their terror, neither be troubled," but rather be "happy".

As Paul explained it, we not only know "the power of His resurrection", but also the "fellowship of His sufferings". The combination of these things, Paul said, are necessary in attaining the resurrection from the dead. Not one or the other, but both. That mindset is far from what I have mostly heard called "prophetic intercession" these days.

Recently during one of my daily scripture readings I jotted down a thought, that many Christian believers have a strong revelation these days of "the inheritance of the saints", but that the Israeli believers have a strong revelation of "the fellowship of His sufferings." They do what they sacrificially for the sake of sharing the gospel with their nation.

According to Paul both the power and the sufferings are what make us attain the resurrection of the dead. If is not an either/or choice, but they go hand in hand. As I see it, this is how as the Body of the Lord we are supposed to pour from vessel to vessel so we have everything we need, not just part of what we need.

This is one of the key reasons it is a mistake in the churches who are operating at a high level in the inheritance revelation to assume that the increasing salvation among the Jews is of no consequence to them. It is of great consequence because one will not get to the goal line without the other.

In scripture the prophets certainly underwent hardship to carry the messages they carried from the Lord - Jeremiah is a good example of one who was kept in a horrible cesspool until the national leaders were carried away into captivity. This guy really suffered for seeing what the rest of his nation did not see.

Another example is Daniel who went into exile and captivity with Israel, and from that place prayed in identification with the sins of his people - although he himself was innocent. He still loved his people enough to confess their sins before God seeking God's pardon on their behalf. Moses did the same thing. Every great and godly leader of Israel took that same position to stand between God and the people to intercede for God's mercy.

Even the apostle Paul - the example of a New Covenant apostle/prophet - carried out a distinctly prophetic act when he took the contributions gathered from all the churches he oversaw back to Jerusalem for the persecuted saints.

All along the trip back to Jerusalem the prophetic people were coming to Paul saying, 'Don't do this! They are going to lock you up - we've seen it!'

Paul answered them, 'Don't make me cry. I am bound in the Spirit to do this.'

He was saying, This is bigger than me, I'm not the first priority to consider, but this prophetic act has to be carried out. It was a prophetic act not just for the sake of the first century churches, but for the sake of the generation to come when God would begin to re-graft the natural branches (Jews) back into their own olive tree - right alongside all the wild branches (Non-Jewish Christians from the nations).

After Paul carried out his mission, returning to Jerusalem with the contributions from the churches for all the persecuted believers in Israel, he was indeed arrested. Then from Rome where he was taken to bear witness of the gospel - while standing trial - he explained the underlying understanding he had that caused him to continue forward past every prophetic warning that he would be arrested in Jerusalem.

It was simple. The church simply could not act as if the trials of the Body in Israel had nothing to do with them. If one member of the Body suffers, all suffer - whether they feel it or not; whether they are cognizant of it or not.

So Paul wrote in the letter to the Romans (9-11), spelling out what he knew by revelation God ultimately intended to do: removing the scales of unbelief from the eyes of the Jewish people so they might be able to receive their own Messiah in faith.

There is no record that the churches continued to do this thing that Paul paid such a high price to model for us. In fact, it is clear from church historical records that if they continued to materially support the believers in Israel it had completely stopped by 325 A.D.

Paul invested in the generation who would see what he had done prophetically, and would follow him as he had followed Christ - even to the Christian care for the Body of the Lord in Israel. We see them again in Israel in our generation, but we have yet to see what Paul modeled prophetically for us in the churches to do about the rock and hard place they stand in for the sake of the gospel.

I believe the prophets have assignments that bring them into conditions that I would term as prophetic intercession. I see it in scripture and therefore believe it is something that continues to happen today. It is not an extra-biblical manifestation, so all the debate over whether it is from God or from the devil does not even apply.

Mostly what I have seen in terms prophetic intercession is not something I see an example of in scripture, so I'm not sure about those manifestations. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. I am not chasing down anyone in a witch hunt to prove they are wrong, nor chasing them down to participate in it either.

I realize the scripture says that the Spirit makes intercession within us for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. That word groanings is stenadzo. It is also used 2 verses earlier and is descriptive of how we pray when we are in dire straits and don't even know how to put our prayers into words: "to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly:—with grief, groan, grudge, sigh." Hannah prayed in groanings when her lips were moving and not a word came out of her mouth.

I have seen all sorts of things called prophetic intercession - and I don't want to make a judgment on that, except to say if that was prophetic
intercession, it did not resemble at all the prophetic intercession I see in the scriptures.

When Paul told the Galatians, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you," I seriously doubt he was talking about mimicking labor pains while praying. Rather, he was laboring in instruction and modeling the way they were to walk out their faith as the non-Jewish (Gentiles, which means nations outside of Israel) believers, or Christians as the unbelievers in Antioch took to calling them.

The Galatians were being enticed to go through the process of Gentiles being converted to Judaism and the apostle Paul - who was the apostle to the Gentiles - was laboring with them through re-instruction how that was not necessary. Paul wasn't assuming the birthing position in the prayer meeting, he was going over the same ground in teaching - instruction of the faith - as many times as it took for the Galatians to get it settled into their spirit.

Paul was saying that the important thing was, and the thing that he was sacrificing himself by interceding in their lives with his life - was for the Messiah to be formed in them. That is what he was teaching them and modeling to them.

(The "Messiah" which means the "Anointed" of God, is "Christ" in the English, from the word "Christos" in the Aramaic/Greek. This does not need to be an issue that distracts from the greater issue of "Christ in us, the hope of glory.)

He was saying - we have a greater concern than going through a process to convert to Judaism, which is only a shadow of the process of transformation we all have embarked on in Jesus being formed in us.

In the Old Covenant, the Spirit of God - the Anointed - would only come to rest on those holding the office of prophet, priest and king. These offices are all representative of the office of Jesus, God's Anointed, or Messiah....or Christ. Each of those words meaning the same thing: Anointed.

The regular people of Israel did not have the Anointed Spirit resting on them except for a few who were a foreshadowing of the anointing that would one day indwell all in the faith. This foreshadowing is recorded in the camp of Israel in the Exodus, when the Spirit rested on the 70 elders chosen to help Moses judge the people.

The 70 elders, of course, are representative of the 70 nations - it is a symbolic number to represent all the nations of the world and pointing to the time when the Holy Spirit would be given to all who followed in the faith of Yeshua-Jesus. Until Jesus died and rose again, the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers, but only came to rest on those in the offices that represented the Messiah Yeshua - Prophet, Priest & King.

The indwelling of the Spirit is better than a mere resting of the Spirit, on an office. Jesus had the Spirit without measure - He was indwelt by the Spirit without measure because the devil had nothing in Him. There was no darkness in Jesus as the Son of Man, so the Spirit had full access. As we are transformed to the likeness of Jesus, what is actually taking place is the areas of darkness in us which the devil has been owning, are being crucified and in that place the Spirit of God is taking ownership. So we are not seeking for the Spirit to "rest" on us, but to indwell us more fully - without measure, as the Spirit indwelt Jesus.

What is prophetic intercession at its highest level? Do we need to have symptoms or suffer the same stresses as though we are prophetically interceding for? Are prayer rooms filled with intercessors writhing in what appears to be birth pangs real, or missing the intended point?

These are questions that I have wrestled with for many years, and still do....especially during times of suffering.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Warfare as Netanyahu Faces Obama

Notice an increase of warfare? The atmosphere is pretty intense?

Part of the warfare is because the Body is not properly connected together. By that, I mean the connection that should be in play between the followers of Jesus on both sides of the aisle - the Jewish believers and the Christians from the nations (Gentiles).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't Fear the People

Seems fitting for the controversial ground we cover.

Blue Oyster Cult Undergoes a 'Faith Upgrade' thanks to the Christian parody group, ApologetiX. The video was made by a group of kids at a church camp.

A couple of months ago, Wellington Boone prophesied over me saying, "I see you speaking and people think you're mad at them. But that’s because God is angry. And I see you sometimes talking out of the heart of God and people will feel how God feels when you’re talking, and saying what God says. Don’t be afraid of their faces. In the name of the Lord." [transcript]

This is for all the prophets out there, and for the believers who are standing for the work of the Lord in Israel.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Whoso keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof

Proverbs 27:18 is a clear promise of not only natural food but also spiritual food for those who "keep the fig tree." In scripture, the fig tree is symbolic of Israel.

I only have one fruit tree on my property and it is a fig tree that my father-in-law in Delaware gave me before he died a few years ago. My husband is Italian and I don't think there is anyone native to the Mediterranean Sea region who does not hold a special place in the heart for the fig tree.

My father-in-law certainly loved his fig trees. He had about 200 small fig trees on his normal-sized residential home in Wilmington. It was labor-intensive, but a labor of love to keep all those fig trees in Delaware where winter could mean snow on the ground from Thanksgiving to the end of May.

To winterize his trees, PopPop would dig some up, pot them and store them in his garage after all the leaves began to fall off. Some he would dig a trench beside, lay them down horizontally in the trench and then cover over with a mound of dirt. Then in the Spring he would upright them, replant the others and off again they would grow.

My father-in-law was one of the most meticulous gardeners you could ever meet. He poured out a lot of tender, loving care over his fruit trees. He told me not to ever use commercial fertilizers because it would be too much for the trees, but use manure only. He also carefully pruned the trees each season because, he told me, "The fruit only blooms on new wood." A tree might get taller and taller, but it was only the new wood each season that would bear fruit.

Of course the secondary reason he kept them pruned back was that he needed to keep the trees a manageable size. Unless he went to great lengths to winterize the trees they would not survive Delaware winters.

He would tell me of his boyhood memories in Italy of climbing into towering trees to get up to where the fruit of the fig tree had blossomed. There he would eat figs to his heart's content. In his late Seventies he was again eating fig trees to his heart's content - now only from many, much smaller trees. It was physically hard work for a man in his late Seventies, so as he entered his Eighties, my mother-in-law made him start giving away his fig trees to family, friends and neighbors. That's when I got the fig tree I now tend in Dallas.

Tending the Spiritual Fig Tree

Many Christians who don't believe that Israel holds any special role anymore in the plan of God among mankind often point to the scripture passages where Jesus cursed the fig tree. They believe this was the symbolic cursing of Israel forever.

One of the things that I believe they fail to grasp is that the cursing of the fig tree was a demonstration of "mountain moving" faith. They also miss a very important statement in one of the gospel accounts, Mark 11:13 "When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs."

There is a season for the "fig tree" to bear fruit, as the apostle Paul later explained in Romans 9-11.

The cursing of the fig tree was not the symbolic cursing of Israel "forever" from bearing fruit. What would that say about the justice of the LORD? What Paul explains in Romans 11 certainly speaks of God's justice better than the explanation of so many in the Church that Israel was cursed forever by Jesus.

In Romans 11:1, Paul addresses this idea directly, "I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!....God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew."

In verses 7-8 Paul begins to explain the situation to the Romans,
"What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written:
“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.”

In verse 11, the apostle reveals that Israel's God-spoken blindness to the awaited for Messiah is all part of the plan, to open salvation to the nations (Gentiles).

In verses 19-20 Paul says to the Romans, "You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.' Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear."

The fig tree that Jesus cursed was a demonstration to His disciples about faith. In Romans 11, the apostle Paul is telling the Gentile Christians that Israel was broken off because of unbelief.

Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4 which both explicitly say: "Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day."

Is this some kind of cruel joke God is playing on a people that He called out to follow Him as His "chosen people" as it seems some Christians believe? I don't think so, but rather believe that Paul explains that it is a mystery - the plan of God that has been hidden from understanding throughout the ages.

God answers that question Himself through the prophet Isaiah (45:19):
"I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right."

The Mystery of the Plan of God

Paul tells us in Romans 11:25-26, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written..."

Blindness is the allotment that has befallen Israel, until the completion of the Gentiles is entered into.

In Job 41:15, we are told that Leviathan's scales are pride. It is the scales of pride that fell off of the apostle Paul's own eyes when Ananias laid hands on him to return sight to his blinded eyes.

The warning of Paul to the Romans is "Do not be haughty, but fear", or don't fall into pride about being grafted into - because it is this same kind of pride that blinds us to God's truth.

Most of this writing I have been speaking of the down side of these issues but there is an upside, which is the one I started with. He who keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof.

The Lord wants us to understand His plan, or He would not have given the apostle Paul the understanding of it to include in his writings, especially Romans 9-11 where he speaks most comprehensively about it. But there is also a timing involved for the fig tree to bear its fruit in season. That time is before us according to the answer Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 24:3,

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

Skipping to verses 32-33: Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."

Remember, the fruit of the fig tree grows only on the new wood. Today there is not only tender leaves on the new wood of Israel's branches but there is first fruit growing, as well.

Those who tend the fig tree of Israel, watching over it, keeping it so that it bears much fruit in its season, are those who are interceding for the fruit already ripening on the fig tree and the fruit that will continue to form in this due season.

The scales of pride will keep us from seeing God's intentions for Israel to bear much fruit, but for those who gladly receive that God is going to do a mighty work of salvation among His people, Israel, those have the promise they will partake of that fruit.

Even as pride is the blindness that keeps us from entering into the powerful promises of God by faith, Jesus said in Matthew 13:11-15,

“Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears Bare hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I £should heal them.’

The fruit of tending the fig tree today is being given more understanding of the mysteries of the kingdom. With this rather lengthy introductory explanation, this is the purpose of this blog, to share the spiritual fruit of one who tends the fig tree.