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Hosting Shane Willard 2008 - Hell/Ghena

Shane Willard

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Hosting Shane Willard 2008 - Hell/Ghena (Shane Willard)

Session (1 of 4) Hell (Shane Willard)
We are not called just to go to heaven one day, but to be a minister of the power of the kingdom of God, to everyone you come into contact with. Sometimes the greatest miracle is someone who is angry, and now they're peaceful. You can bring a miracle of kingdom power to your home tonight, by being calm.

Session (2 of 4) (Shane Willard)

Session (3 of 4) (Shane Willard)

Session (4 of 4) (Shane Willard)


Session (1 of 4) Hell (Shane Willard)  

Wed 16 Apr 2008 « Back to Top

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We are not called just to go to heaven one day, but to be a minister of the power of the kingdom of God, to everyone you come into contact with. Sometimes the greatest miracle is someone who is angry, and now they're peaceful. You can bring a miracle of kingdom power to your home tonight, by being calm.

Session (1 of 4) Hell


First of all, we have to be springs, and not bricks. What I mean by ‘bricks’ are, people who think they've already figured it all out; so they've got their theology worked out - and that's it - we're not willing to grow. We're going to be springs okay, which means we can stretch. We can grow. We can expand. We can do all of this stuff.

The second thing is, we've got to be okay about being challenged. Let me make one rule about being challenged: I am not the big guy up here, who's figured all this out. I'm simply someone on a journey with God, and God's challenging me; so I'm inviting you to join in on this challenge with me, because it's miserable being challenged alone!

Main Message

I want to talk to you tonight about the topic of hell, and I want to challenge us with some major questions. There are no right or wrong answers to this, it's just: where you are?

Where have we embraced a cross that saves us and forgives us and heals us; but we've neglected the cross we've been commanded to pick up every day?

Where have we been guilty of living a Christianity that's all about getting to heaven someday, versus bringing heaven to earth here?

Where have we wanted mercy for ourself, but justice for everybody else? Where have we wanted mercy?

We love to embrace this cross that saves us and forgives us and heals us - because Jesus bore it for us; but we neglect the cross that Jesus commanded us to pick up, which says things like: don't gossip about people - that's a serious thing. Don't slander; don't worry - just let stuff go. It's a glory to overlook offences, versus living offended.

Where have we been guilty of embracing this and not embracing this; that actually the main call of God on our life is not to go to heaven one day - although we're all for that right? Come on, like heaven/hell, let's go to heaven right? And that's real - and if it's a choice between heaven and hell, let's go to heaven okay. And if that's all it was, then it's all still a pretty good deal - but its way bigger than that!

Isaiah 49:6, and I'm paraphrasing, says: it is a light thing for me to forgive you, and restore you back to the land; but I'm going to go one step further than that, and I'm going to make you a light to the gentiles. Isn't that something? It's a light thing. This is God, talking to the nation of Israel, and He says: it is a light thing. It is a light thing.

Forgiveness, being brought back - how big is that? God is saying: compared to the plan I have for you, to bring heaven to earth - it's a light thing. It's a light thing.

Psalm 115:16 says “the highest heavens belong to God, but the earth He's given to man”.

Later He was teaching His disciples how to pray, and He said things like this: when you pray, say: your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is already is in heaven.

The highest heavens belong to God, but the earth He has given to man. In other words, it is not just our responsibility to go to heaven one day; it is our responsibility to bring heaven to earth - today.

Does the girl at KFC know that you're saved - even if she messes up your order? If someone cuts you off in traffic, do you point your finger at the sky, because they didn't get the memo that where you're going is more important than where they're going?

Does your husband know you're saved - even if he leaves a wet towel on the floor? I'm a counsellor by trade. I have had women in my office who were seriously degrading the intelligence of a man, that they would expect to die for them if need be - over a wet towel on the floor.

I mean for us men, come on, pick up your towels; but really if we leave it there, is it that big of a deal? Is it worth degrading the intelligence, and being disrespectful, to a man that you would expect to die for you, if an intruder came in the house tonight? Does your husband know you're saved, even if he does something stupid - because we need to know that.

Does your wife know you're saved even, if she disappoints you; or do you withdraw, and not talk for two and three days at a time? So a woman who's supposed to be the love of your life, that you want to do life with forever - you punish her because she disappointed you, and she has no idea what she's done. Does your wife know that you're saved, even if she disappoints you?

The alternative is that we live a life where we're on our way to heaven some day, and there's this some day, some day… the lion and the lamb; some day… the no sickness, dying, crying, sadness.

There’s this some day aspect to salvation, and if we're not careful, as Christians we paint this picture of salvation as: hey, get saved, and one day you get to die, and it'll all get better. We don't want that!

No, a far better calling would be to be known as a group of people who are bringing heaven to earth to everybody they come in contact with now! That we are to be ministers in this kingdom - the kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; that the kingdom of God is not up and down, or this way and that - the kingdom of God is actually in the last place you looked for it, which is inside of you. We are called to minister that.

So I was sitting around with a group of people, and we were brainstorming about: how can we bring heaven to earth. This brainstorm we had all kinds of answers, all the typical Pentecostal answers you know, like ‘press in’, ‘break through’, ‘pray more’, ‘fast more’. All those are right - not right or wrong - but in my infinite creativity, this is what hit me: the best way to bring heaven to earth, is to avoid hell.

The best way to bring heaven to earth, is to stop bringing hell to earth.

So I started doing this study on hell, and I realised that when I just looked at what Jesus said about hell, that I had it all wrong. Can I share it with you? No one's going to get mad at me?

Like there are three different words for hell - three different words that translate ‘hell’.

1) One of them is fairly irrelevant to us - it's the word Tartoro. That word is only used one time in the whole Bible, and that's in 1 Peter. Tartoro was a Greek mythological word, about a place the Greek gods created to punish disobedient angels.

Jesus only used two words for hell. He said the word ‘hell’ 18 times, and there were two different hells. The first hell was called ‘Gehenna’ and the second hell was called ‘Hades’.

2) Now Hades was only used by Jesus three times - and this is the hell you really, really, really want to avoid okay! Hades was the hell ‘in the unseen place’, like it was the hell of the grave. It's the hell you go to after you die. This is the hell that gets thrown into the lake of fire.

In Revelations it says: “and death and Hades gets picked up, and thrown into the lake of fire”. So this is the one you don't want to go to, because this is the one that ends up in the lake of fire. This is a bad plan. This is in the unseen place.

Jesus only used that word three times. The first time He says: “woe to you Capernaum, how can you escape the condemnation of Hades”?

The second time was, He had His disciples at a place called Caesarea Philippi, headquarters to the goat god Pan. They had built a temple to the goat god Pan on top of this mountain, on top of this like rock. It cracked - the weight of the temple cracked the rock, and it went all the way down. It made a hole where the rock and the road met, and then it cracked the road. 24hrs/day, 7 day/week, there was steam coming out of this hole, and they called it ‘the entrance and exit to Hades’.

So Pan was a goat god, and he received worship through people being intimate with goats. So 24/7, there were people on the street, around this mountain, being intimate with goats, in order to keep the goat god Pan from opening up the gates of Hades and swallowing them into it. They didn't want to go there, so they would do this all the time.

Jesus took this group of people there - and He has to refocus His guys. I mean you can imagine that? He takes them into a city where everybody's being intimate with goats, and He says: hey Peter, who do you say that I am? Peter says: You're the Christ, the Son of the living God. He says: that's right, and upon this rock we can build a church, and not even the gates of Hades will prevail against it.

He's standing over the gates of hell saying: this doesn't have any power. Everybody around here was being intimate with goats to keep this thing from swallowing you up; but now it’s: I am in charge - you don't have to do that anymore.

3) The third time He used the word ‘hell’ was, there was a rich man who overlooked a poor man - and that guy went to hell, Hades.

There’s only three times Jesus used it, and we're going to talk about the rich man and Lazarus, and what it meant Hebraically; because when it's the only time that Jesus uses the word Hades, in terms of somebody going there, we might need to know what it meant - that's pretty important.

So out of 18 times Jesus only says ‘Hades’ 3x; the other 15x was all ‘Gehenna’, ‘Gehenna’.

Gehenna was an actually place in Jerusalem, and the origins of Gehenna comes from 2 Chronicles 28:3. Let me give you some history there…

There's this evil king that takes over the place; and he says: we're going to start sacrificing children in the fires of Gehenna. Gehenna just means the ‘valley of Hinnom’, so we'll just call it Gehenna because it's easier to say.

2 Chronicles 28:3 – “He burned incense in the valley of the Sons of Hinnom, Gehenna, and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations who Jehovah has cast out before the sons of Israel”.

So there's this evil king, and he instituted child sacrifices, in a place called Gehenna. I think (if memory serves) you had to sacrifice your first born son at the age of 10; so the picture is: you've got very reluctant 10 year olds, being dragged behind their father, to be thrown into fire, in a place called Gehenna. Now this goes on for years and years and years and years and years - it becomes a way of life, until somebody steps in and stops it.

In 2 Kings 23:10, there was a king named Josiah; and Josiah steps in and he stops all the child sacrifices. Now why does he do that? Because he was eight!

So he becomes king when he's eight, and this isn't going to work out too well for him… So what he does is, he has the sages search the annals, and he finds out that they actually come from a lineage of people who believed in a God called Jehovah, who wrote a book called Leviticus to teach them how to live.

In the Book of Leviticus, it says: it is unlawful for someone to throw their child in fire; so he says: we're going with that. Mm, this is going to work out better for him…

So he takes the army of Israel out to Gehenna, and he rips all the place down. He makes a royal decree: from this day forward no one, no one, will sacrifice their children in the fire of Gehenna, ever again.

In 2 Kings 23:10 it says: “and he defiled Topheth”, which means ‘the place of burning’. He defiled the place of burning, in the valley of Gehenna, so that no man might make his son or daughter pass through the fire of Molech again.

So this King Josiah comes out and he defiles Gehenna; so for years and years and years and years and years they've been sacrificing children in a place called Gehenna - and he rips it down.

Now what's the problem with that? If you're the king, and you go and you defile a place where they've been sacrificing children, what dilemma are you left with? The dilemma is simply this: now the land is worthless.

What are you going to do with it? You've been sacrificing children there for say 100 years; what are you going to do with that land? Okay, so you've made it impossible to sacrifice children there, but now you still have a piece of land that is spooky!

Are you going to build houses on it? Hey, would you like to buy a house? It's Poltergeist Acres!

It has this ‘Children of the Corn’ feel to it doesn't it, like it's just odd. To this day, this place is spooky. It has a spooky feel to it. You wouldn't want to live there, and so what did they do? What do you do with a piece of land that is now worthless because of a sin that you guys have committed?

They made it the town garbage dump! So everybody in Jerusalem took their garbage to Gehenna, and to keep the smell of the garbage out of the city, they had to keep the fire going. So they'd keep the fire going all the time to keep the smell of the garbage inside Gehenna, instead of outside Gehenna.

It was also a place of crying, because anybody who could not afford a tomb, they would have their funeral at Gehenna. So if you couldn't afford a tomb, your loved ones would take your body, and they would throw it into the fire of Gehenna to burn you up there, because you couldn't afford a tomb to be properly buried. So all the time in Gehenna, garbage was being burned up and there were people standing around crying, because they had to throw their loved ones on the fire.

Also when you've got a big open garbage heap like that, all the stray animals from the area would come around, and they'd scavenge for food. So you had animals, foxes and wolves and all kinds of things; you'd have them scavenging for food everywhere, and they'd be fighting, and they'd bite each other. They'd be barking.

So the people in Jerusalem called Gehenna “the place where the fire doesn't die, and there's weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

So any time Jesus used the phrase “the place where the fire doesn't die and there's weeping and gnashing of teeth”, or if He used the word “Gehenna”, no one thought: that's where we go when we die. Everyone thought: that's the town garbage dump.

I had this whole belief system built around hell, and Hell was a place that people go when they die. Who goes there when they die? Not us! It's always somebody else is going to hell, in the future, for something they're doing now. That's how we think about hell, and we use phrases like that all the time: oh, I hope they get that straight, because they could go to hell for that one day.

Hell was always about: YOU will go to hell for something YOU'RE doing. That's how we talk about hell; but as I looked at what Jesus said about hell, He never used it that way.

He only used the word ‘Hades’ three times, so in terms of somebody going to hell one day, He only used it that way three times. Two of them are euphemisms; only one time was He talking about: hey, there was a rich man, and he overlooked a poor man, and that guy went to hell.

Out of all the sins He faced - He met someone caught in the act of adultery - He let her go. He met a lady who'd been divorced five times, and was shacked up with the sixth one - He offered her a drink of water. He lets this thief on the cross into heaven. Like the people who killed Him, He's like: yeah, forgive them too. We're talking about all kinds of things: murder, thieving, dishonest business practices, divorce, adultery, fornicating, like all kinds of things like this, and Jesus was just kind, and He's like: hey, can I help you? Can we get this straight?

But He said: there was a rich man who overlooked a poor man - and that guy went to hell.

That's kind of telling isn't it? I mean, the people who put nails in His hands, He's like: yeah, forgive them, forgive them too. You say: yeah but Shane - they didn't know what they were doing! Listen, isn't the sin of all mankind: we don't know what we're doing? If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn't be where we are. Isn't that true?

Like anybody besides me fall in love in high school? Everybody falls in love at high school right? 999 times out of 1,000 - what happens? We love God, and we get all broken-hearted in high school, and we're like: why God? Why God? Why God? Then you go to your 20-year reunion, and you're like: THANK YOU. Thank You God!

There's this Garth Brooks song that says: and I thank God for unanswered prayer. How many of you thank God for unanswered prayers sometimes? Yeah, like you think you know what you want but you don't.

Jesus was kind to all these people, and He only used the word Hades three times; and the one time that it was with a person, it was a rich man who overlooked a poor man. The rest of the time, He only ever said the word ‘hell’ was this word ‘Gehenna’, the town garbage dump.

I found a couple of things and I'm fixing to read you all the times Jesus said Gehenna. I'm going to read them all to you right? I took out all the repeats and I'm going to tell you every single time Jesus said the word hell, then let's see if they line up but there's a couple of observations before we do:

1) Every time Jesus said the word ‘hell’, He was talking to followers of Christ! When we say the word ‘hell’, we're always talking about 'them' - those people, not us. When Jesus said the word hell, 100% of the time, He was talking to people who were followers of God.

2) There is a sense that hell is ‘one day in the future’, but 15 of 18 times, 87% of every time Jesus said ‘hell’, He was talking about now.

I had always made hell about somebody else in the future; but Jesus makes hell about me today. Hell to Jesus was a present reality, with future implications: Gehenna. It was the place where the fire doesn't die, and there's weeping and gnashing of teeth - it was the town garbage dump; so with that as the backdrop let's look at what Jesus said…

Matthew 5:21-22, this is the first mention of hell - Gehenna. Hades is something else; this is Gehenna. It says: “You have heard it said ‘do not kil,l and whoever shall kill will be liable for judgement’. But I say to you, that whoever is angry with his brother, will be liable to judgement. And whoever shall say to his brother ‘Raca!’ shall be liable to the Sanhedrin, but whoever should say ‘you fool!’ will be liable to be thrown into the fire of Gehenna.”

We like the big sins: you could go to hell for that… that's how we talk about hell.

Jesus is mentioning hell for the first time, and He says: how's the anger in your heart? Let's not talk about them. Let's not talk about the people not like us who like to blow themself up. Let's leave that to God. Let's not talk about them. Let's talk about your anger problem…

When was the last time you called someone an idiot? Let's talk about that. Let's talk about your tendency to be critical and judgemental when people don't do things exactly the way you think they should be done. Let's talk about your self-righteousness, in other words. Let's talk about your anger problem; your self-righteousness; and your tendency to be critical when your husband leaves a wet towel on the floor!

When was the last time you called someone an idiot, when they made a weird traffic move? So inside your car, with the windows up, you scream: you idiot! As if they can hear you - so really who's the one with the intelligence problem?

Anger is not an emotion you can afford to have. You lose 25% of your IQ when you get angry - which would make you retarded! Yes. Most people can't afford that. If you're here tonight and you're married, and you get in an argument and both of you get angry, you've got two mentally retarded people trying to solve a problem.

Has anybody here ever said something you've regretted when you were angry? Do you remember anything you've said that's smart, when you're angry? Why? Because you don't even have the capacity to think. Any man - don't raise your hand - any man in here ever put your flesh and bone fist into a brick wall or something?

Jesus is saying: if you want to talk about hell, let's talk about hell. Let's talk about hell. Let's talk about you today. Let's talk about the anger in your heart and why that's keeping you from being a minister of the kingdom power. Let's talk about your tendency to be judgemental, and critical, and self-righteous; and call someone else a fool just because they don't do things the way you think they should be done, as if you've cornered the market on truth. Let's talk about that, because that is putting your life in the garbage dump.

Some of us are going: man, I wish such and so was here to hear this! That hell is never about such and so. Hell is about you, and your heart attitude.

Are you bringing heaven to earth; or are you bringing Gehenna?

Are you bringing heaven to where there's Gehenna, or are you perpetuating the Gehenna, by perpetuating an anger problem, or a self-righteous, critical attitude? Jesus makes hell a whole lot more challenging for us.

2) The second mention of hell is in Matthew 10:26 (and again in Luke).

Matthew 10:26 – “therefore do not fear them”.

The Romans were ruling the world at that time. They had this thing where they could just come in your house, and they would tell everybody to get their coins out. So everybody would take out a coin, and on the coin it would say: “Caesar is Lord”.

Now if you're a good Jew: Jehovah is Lord, and there's no God but Jehovah. So these big Roman soldiers with spears and swords and shields and armour, they'd come in your house and they'd say: get out your coin. You'd get out your coin, and they'd say: can you say that? And if you would say that, they would make you a slave; but if you would not say that, they had five men outside nailing a cross into the ground, to put you on, in front of your neighbours.

There was one Roman general named Varus who went into a town called Sapphirus in 14AD. This entire town of Sapphirus decided: we're not going to say what's on the coin, we're not going to do that. Varus decided to make an example of them, and he crucified 2,000 people in one day, at one time, in 14AD.

Who was 14 years old in 14AD? [Jesus.] Where did Jesus grow up? [Nazareth.] Sapphirus is only about 800 metres from Nazareth; so Jesus, when He was 14 years old, would have heard the screaming of 2,000 people being crucified in a day, and Jesus says: do not fear them.

“Do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and nothing hidden which shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear, proclaim that from the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill your soul. But rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.”

In other words, if you want to talk about hell, let's talk about hell on earth. Let's talk about your anger problem. Let's talk about your self-righteous, critical attitude, and let's talk about your tendency to fear men instead of fearing God. That is Gehenna.

3) The next time He mentions hell is in Matthew 18:1. It says: “at that hour, the disciples came to Him, saying: who's the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Verse 2 says: “and Jesus called a little child to Him and set him in their midst. He said truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever shall humble himself like this little child, this one is greater in the kingdom of heaven.”

It's always about humility - not thinking you're better than other people. Jesus was very hard on people who thought they were better than other people. There's this one place where Jesus goes into a village in Galilee, and this group of people from this village come up to Him and said: “Rabbi, are only a few people going to be saved?” Jesus gets mad at them!

I thought: why would Jesus get mad at them; until I realised that in that region in Galilee, there were a bunch of strict Orthodox Jews. They thought that they were the only ones going to be saved, because they were the ones keeping the Torah the best. They actually called themselves the Elect, like the true bride of Christ or something. Jesus shows up, and they say: are only a few going to be saved?

Have you ever been asked a question by someone who wanted to know the answer? That's vastly different to being asked a question by someone who already knew the answer, and they just want you to agree with them. Totally different. They said: are only a few going to be saved? Jesus says: (I'm paraphrasing) just the nature of your question tells me you're not.

He says: at the marriage table, many will come from the north, the east, the south and the west; but you who actually think you're in, will actually be shut out. Why? Because they thought they were better than other people. They thought they were in, and everybody else was out. Can we find ourselves in that story anywhere? Pride.

He keeps going… In verse 5 He says: “and whoever shall receive one such little child in My name receives Me”.

Matthew 18:6 He says: “but whoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for him that a donkey's millstone were hung around his neck, and he be cast into the depths of the sea. Woe to the world, because of offences, for it is necessary that offence comes, but woe to that man by whom the offence comes. So if your hand or your foot causes you to offend somebody else, cut it off and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than have two hands or two feet and be cast into Gehenna.”

In other words, living in such a way, that it doesn't matter if what I'm doing offends you - you'll have to deal with it, it's my freedom. I have the right to act however I want to act; and if it offends you, too bad for you. Jesus says: with that heart attitude, your life will end up in the garbage heap.

So to Jesus, Gehenna was all about my anger problem, my tendency to: be angry; to think my way is the best way; to fear man instead of fear God; to be proud, and to offend people. That's what Gehenna was about that to Him.

We can keep going… “If your eye offends you, pluck it out and throw it from you”. So He says two different stories. He says: if your hands or feet offend you do that; and also if your eye offends you, or causes you to offend, throw it away from you.

This is not a statement about looking at sinful things. You can make a case for that in a lot of other places; because for a First Century Hebrew rabbi to say: “if your eye is offensive”, it meant if you were greedy. To have an “eye full of light” meant to be generous; to have an eye full of darkness meant to be greedy - so to have “an eye that blesses” meant to be generous. To have an eye that offends meant to be greedy.

The word was yetzer hara, or yetzer tov. Yetzer hara meant “the eye of evil”; yetzer tov meant “the eye of light”. It meant “the way you look at things”; that the way you look at things actually leads people to completion, or it unravels completion - and greed unravels completion.

So Jesus says: if your eye is offensive, cast it from you. It's better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, and be cast into the fire of Gehenna.

Let me give you two more… Matthew 23:13, it says: “but woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against man, for you neither go in, nor do you allow those entering to go in”.

Verse 14: “woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and then pray at length as pretence”.

In other words, you come to church, you raise your hands, you shout, you sing, you go through all the motions - but when you walk out, you would take a widows' home right out from underneath her, because of your greed. Therefore you will receive the greater condemnation.

“Woe to you, you scribes and Pharisees, for you compass land and sea to make one convert, and then when he is made, you make him twice the child of Gehenna that you are”. Gehenna.

The only other instance He says ‘Gehenna’ is in Matthew 23:33, same chapter, just way at the bottom. He kind of summarises it by saying: “you serpents, you offspring of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of Gehenna?”

That is every single time Jesus ever said Gehenna - every time Jesus said ‘hell’ was right there. You are now complete theologians on Jesus' theology of hell; and let me ask you a question:

Did you find other people in there; or did you find yourself?

Is hell more about them, then; or is it about us now?

My first question, as we start this whole series of meetings is this: are you committed as a child of God, not to just go to heaven one day - are you committed to bringing heaven to earth now? To bringing heaven instead of Gehenna today?

You say: how can I do that? We can start by dying to our anger problem. Quit being retarded - it's just not worth it!

The Book of James says that “anger never ever leads to righteousness”. So if something will “never lead you to righteousness” we may as well just die to it.

The problem with anger is it's one of the few sins, where the Bible does give us one ‘out’ with. The Bible says: “do not even associate with one easily angered”. It says all these horrible things about angry people; and then there's this one scripture that says that it's possible to ‘be angry, and not sin’.

So then, what people have done through the ages is this, is any time they're angry they think: its righteous anger! Why? Because we always think we're right!

What is righteous anger? Being angry at the things God would be angry at: poverty, injustice, oppression, slavery, things like this.

It's not: a wet towel on the floor. It's not: the girl at KFC messed up your order. That's not righteous anger - so how can we bring heaven to earth? We can die at our anger. We can die to our critical, judgemental, self-righteous spirit, which thinks that it’s okay to call other people fools, if they don't do things the way we think they should be done.

We can develop a fear of God, instead of a fear of man. We can develop humility. We can be generous. We can be forgiving.

To the Hebrew people, it was all about their smell. They wanted to smell good before God - you see this all through the Bible:

“Let our voices rise like incense; let it be a sweet perfume. Let our praises fill the temple.”

It was always about fragrance; so to a Hebrew person, God was constantly smelling their life. They wanted God to smell their life and go: aah! They didn't want God to smell their life and go: what did you eat last night?

They wanted God to smell their life, to the point where there was this festival called the Feast of Tabernacles. It was the last feast of the year; and on the last day, of the last feast of the year, at exactly three in the afternoon, everybody in the whole nation would break incense at one time.

You're talking millions of people breaking incense at one time, and the priest would say out loud: “my God, at this very moment, would You smell our lives as it smells right now, regardless of what we've done”.

What the rabbis said, at three o'clock in the afternoon, on the Feast of Tabernacles, was the greatest moment of faith for the entire year, for the Hebrew people, because everybody believed that their life smelled good before God, and they could approach Him. It was all about smell.

So when Jesus talks about Gehenna, this is what He's saying: if you're constantly offended, and you can't forgive people, then your life actually smells like hot garbage; if you've set yourself up as better than other people, your life smells like hot garbage; if you're so set in your ways that you ruin another person's journey, your life smells like hot garbage. If you pray for pretence, and yet you overlook deeper issues like kindness and generosity, then your life smells like hot garbage. If you live a life of fear of the wrong things - if you're a man-pleaser, a worry-wart, a person consumed with fear, its hot garbage. If you're greedy, it's hot garbage. If you are the most important person in your world, it is hot garbage.

Closing Prayer

I bless you, and I challenge you with these thoughts: that you are called not just to go to heaven one day. You are called to be a minister of the power of the kingdom of God to everyone you come into contact with today; starting with the girl at KFC; starting with your husband, wife, children; starting tomorrow with the guy at work, that you wish God would just go ahead and take to heaven - that guy.

You are called to be a minister of the kingdom power that we're talking about, and the only way to do that is to come to an awareness inside yourself, that we make a decision tonight: I will bring heaven to earth, and not hell.

Sometimes the greatest miracle is someone who is angry, and now they're peaceful; that you can bring a miracle of kingdom power to your home tonight, by being calm. You could bring a miracle of kingdom power to your home tonight, by being peaceful. You could bring a miracle of kingdom power to your office tomorrow by ministering forgiveness, kindness, generosity and peace; instead of anger, contention, criticism, judgementalness and self-righteousness. We can be a minister of kingdom powerm with just what is in our grasp to do, starting tonight.

I bless you tonight to know that God believes in you, more than you believe in Him. I bless you tonight to know that you're called to be a minister of kingdom power, and it starts with making a decision to avoid hell, and bring heaven. Where can you bring heaven to Gehenna? It's easy to see the faults in others, but how are you being the light of the world?

Application Questions:

1) How are you being the light of the world tonight? Where can you bring heaven to Gehenna?

2) What is ruling your life right now, that smells like hot garbage?

Jesus only spoke of six things would send your life to Gehenna, and it's not the things that we think it is, but the things we overlook - the small things. What's ruling your life right now and it smells like Gehenna?

3) Will you make a decision tonight, to journey with us over the next two weeks, to learn how to be a minister of the kingdom of God, no matter what it takes? I promise you it'll change our life forever, if we get our heads around what Jesus said about Gehenna, and avoid it at all cost.

Session (2 of 4) (Shane Willard)  

Wed 16 Apr 2008 « Back to Top

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Session (2 of 4)

You won't open your Bible and find the word ‘Gehenna’. You'll find ‘the Valley of Hinnom’ (which is Gehenna); but in the New Testament in particular, you'll find the word ‘hell’. They translate the word Gehenna as hell; and they also translate Hades that way too.

Exodus 3:7 says: “And the Lord said: I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt, and I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering, so I have come down to rescue them”.

The word ‘rescue’ there is the same word we get the word ‘salvation’ from, or ‘saved’.

“I have come down to save them from the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land.”

So there's this guy named Abraham, and Abraham was a sun-worshipper, very wealthy. God shows up to him, at like 90 years old or something, and He says: I want you to leave everything you've worked your whole life for, and I want you to go someplace. Abraham says: sure, where am I going? God says: I'm not telling. You're just going to go.

Abraham says: well, is there anything You can tell me You want me to do? God says: yes, as a matter of fact - I'm glad you mentioned that. I want you to circumcise yourself with that rock! Which would have lost me right there! Like, don't miss! Which would have probably, at the end of it, been gracious; because can you imagine, they're like 100 okay.

If you look at a trek of where they walked, it was like 2,000 miles? Imagine 2,000 miles on the back of a camel, with a 100-year-old wife. How many times would she have said: are you sure Abraham? Yes, I'm sure. Are you sure, you're sure? Yes, I'm sure I'm sure. How sure are you? Woman, I'm so sure - I circumcised myself with a rock! Well, you win.

So this guy ends up some place, and he has a son named Isaac, and then God tells him to kill that son. Then God spares the son, and then that son had a son named Jacob; and so three generations later, the promise that he would be a great nation is still only one person - which is a good principle: God's not in a hurry. Aren't you glad that God's not in a hurry? Sometimes we want God to be in a hurry, but if God was in a hurry, because He doesn't change, He'd have to be in a hurry all the time. If God was in a hurry with you, we'd be a disaster, and if God was in a hurry with me - thank God He's gracious and kind and patient.

He is the compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love God. Thank God He isn't in a hurry. Thank God He can choose people called: James and John, the sons of thunder - you don't get that nickname going to Sunday school - and He moulded them into something.

Thank God that He chose people like Moses, who was a premeditated murderer: “I look this way and that, and seeing no one, I killed the man, and hid him in the sand”. The problem was, the next day the sand shifted, and this guy's leg's sticking up out of the sand! God used him to write the Torah.

God uses messed up people. Isn't that good? Why is that good? Because we're all messed up. No perfect people allowed! If you read the heroes of the faith from Hebrews 11, it's like everybody, to be a hero to God, you have to be really jacked up beyond all recognition at one point in your life, don't you?

Abraham gave his wife to Pharaoh's harem - and he made it in that list. If CNN, and the internet would have been around back then, what would you have said about Abraham? How could he be saved, and act like that - yet he was the hero of the faith. If Abraham actually was available to preach here next Sunday, would you let him - or would you talk about his past?

Isaac did something similar; David committed adultery, he gets the woman pregnant, decides to kill her husband to cover it up. He kills 17 men in one day trying to cover up one thing. God said: you'll do. If David was available to preach here next Sunday, would you let him, or would you talk about what he did? If CNN and the internet would have been around back then how would you have responded to a man who already had 700 women at his disposal, taking the one that wasn't his? What would you say about him? Would you say: mm, there's a man after God's own heart; or would we say something else?

Samson was sleeping with prostitutes on his wedding night, because he got depressed, because his best man stole his wife. Those are the kinds of people God chose, so God is not in a hurry with us. So Abraham ends up with Isaac, and Isaac ends up with Jacob, and Jacob has 12 children, so now we finally are getting some multiplication here. Those children sell one of their brothers to Egypt, and then there's a famine. They end up in front of him, because they need food, and so they come down; and Joseph is now a powerful person. He gives his family the best land in Egypt, and then they multiply, because there was no prescription birth control back then.

They multiply and multiply and multiply and multiply, until the point where they intimidated Pharaoh. So Pharaoh decides to do something horrible. He decides to kill all the baby boys, and he decides to enslave them; so for 430 years, they were enslaved to this man named Pharaoh.

They were just living where their brother had given them the land; so they cry out to God, because all of them were in a covenant with this God named ‘God Almighty’. His name was ‘El Shaddai’, God Almighty. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The problem with ‘God Almighty’ was, He wasn't doing anything about it. Finally in Exodus 3 He says: “I'm hearing the suffering of My children in slavery in Egypt. I'm going to come down and save them”- but in this story it's just the beginning. It's not the end.

For us to get saved, to get moved out of slavery and into freedom; it's not the end of the story. It's just the beginning.

In this story, which is about us, it isn't just about people who were slaves, and now they're free. This is about the start of our journey from slavery to freedom. Our journey from slavery to freedom only starts with an encounter with God; it ends with something far, far broader than that.

Exodus 19:3-6, the same group of people, and God is talking to them. He says: “then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called him from the mountain and said: this is what you are to say to the house of Jacob, and you're to tell the people of Israel: you yourselves have seen what I did in Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you obey Me fully, and keep My covenant, then out of all the nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests”.

In other words, you're not just going to be saved. You are going to be a kingdom of people who shows the rest of the world what God looks like.

Isaiah 49:6 – “It is a light thing that I have forgiven You. I will go one step further and make You a light to the Gentiles”. God's biggest idea was to have me and to have you be replications of Him to the whole world.

In Romans 12:1-2 it says: “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is holy and acceptable unto Him.”

Now Paul, who wrote Romans, was a rabbi; so Paul would get his connotation of a “holy and acceptable sacrifice” from the Book of Leviticus. In the Book of Leviticus 1, 2 and 3 it says: “for these are the sacrifices which are holy and acceptable unto God.”

Three things had to happen for a sacrifice to be holy and acceptable: 1) their head had to be cut off; 2) their legs had to be cut off; 3) their inner parts had to be clean.

So Paul, who had memorised Leviticus by age six, is saying: I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice - to have your head cut off, your legs cut off and your inner parts clean - for this is a reasonable act of worship. Wow!

The ‘function’ of having your head cut off, what is that? The function of someone's head is their thinking, their authority. If I was to say: you're the head of your house, it doesn't mean you have the largest head in your house - it means that you are the authority there. So Paul is saying: I beseech therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you lose your authority, and grow up into Him, who is our head. Ephesians 5 - that we all as one body grow up into Him, who is the head.

This is all about me and it's all about you becoming replications of Jesus Christ. The only way to do that is to lose our head and take on His, take on His. Jesus talked about this in one scripture. He talked about His head. He said foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head. Foxes do not sleep in holes. Foxes have babies in holes. Birds do not sleep in nests. Birds sleep in trees. The only thing a bird does in a nest is lay eggs, so Jesus is saying foxes have a place to reproduce themselves. Birds have a place to reproduce themselves, but as of yet the son of man does not have a body to put his head on in order to reproduce himself. See this is not about just you getting saved. There's this song I heard recently. I think it was written by Joel Osteen's guy, can't think of his name - having a brain moment.

Anyway Joel Osteen's guy, you know Joel Osteen right? You're a champion, God loves you! [Laughter] Yeah, you don't let that devil get in your head and get you all negative. You tell him to go on back to hell where he came from. Me 'n Victoria, we's talkin' the other day about what daddy used to say about y'all. [Laughter] Anyway, okay so - he's got the biggest church in America. I just love him. [Laughter] But he wrote this song called Say So and the words to the song go like this. What does it mean to be saved? Is it more than just a prayer we pray, more than just a way to heaven? What does it mean to be His, to be called in His likeness, to know that we have a purpose, to be salt and light to the world, to be salt and light to the world. For let the redeemed of the Lord say so. In other words the best way for the redeemed of the Lord to say so is not necessarily to get a bunch of tracts and go out and tell people they'll go to hell without Jesus.

The best way for the redeemed of the Lord to say so is to actually meet people's needs first - and then it gives us credibility because we're replications of Jesus Christ, to grow up into Him who is the head; that we are called to be a kingdom of priests. God is using us to replicate Him. We are the flesh and blood message to the world. This isn't anything new. Exodus 4:16, Pharaoh - God tells Moses you will be like God to Pharaoh. You'll be a God-like one to him. In other words you're going to be My voice, you're going to be My mouth, you're going to be My hands, you're going to be My feet. I could do it Myself but I'd rather use you. God's plan hasn't changed. The girl at KFC, who is the hands and feet of Jesus to her? You and me. The girl at Subway making your sandwich, who is the hands and feet of Jesus? Who is the hands and feet of Jesus to your husband? Who's the hands and feet of Jesus to your wife? Who is the hands and feet of Jesus to your co-workers? It is us, for we are called to be the body of Christ, a part of God's biggest idea; to be replications of Him to the whole world by bringing heaven to earth instead of hell. That's what we are called to be.

I think in that there's a couple of movements. There's a couple of transitions that we have to make, that as a body of Christ we have to transition from doctrine. Doctrine is good. All of these things I'm writing are good. Doctrine is good. It is good to know your word. It is good to know what it says. It's good to have doctrine, sound doctrine. But we have a real problem when doctrine turns in from doctrine into a statement that says I know everything that you don't know. Doctrine misses the point if it ends at doctrine; that we have to move from doctrine to yoke. There's a huge difference between doctrine and yoke. A yoke was a rabbi's way of life. It was his way of interpreting scripture. It was his doctrine lived out. It was a rabbi's teachings on how to talk to your wife, how to talk to your husband, how to discipline your children, how to give, how to receive, how to worship, how to walk a daily walk out, how to respond in adversity.

A rabbi's yoke was his way of living. One rabbi came along and he said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. He was a rabbi with shmeka which meant that he could make up his own yoke. A new rabbi with shmeka, the word would have gotten around and he would have drawn crowds of say 5,000 to 10,000 people in a city without any cars or roads or things like that like we would have. People would have come from all over the country to hear this new rabbi's yoke because maybe his yoke was easier to live than the rabbi they were currently under. It wasn't just doctrine. It was a way of life - two totally different things. How many of you realise that it is perfectly possible to believe in something that you do not care about? We cannot do that as a body. It has to be yoke, but you cannot care about something that you don't believe in.

Like let me say it this way. How many of you believe with all of your heart - I'm not tricking you, this should be all of us. How many of you believe with all of your heart that God has forgiven you of every sin? Sure, we believe that with all our heart. What's that called? Doctrine. That's called doctrine and that's good, we should believe that. But how many of you who believe that God has forgiven you of every sin, how many of you have felt guilty in the last week? So you mean you believe you're innocent, but you still feel guilty. [Laughs] What's wrong with that picture? Because how many of you know if you feel guilty you'll act guilty? If the truth is innocence then the truth is innocence. How many of us would believe - don't raise your hand to this. This is a rhetorical because if you know your Bible this is - yes. How many of you would believe that Jesus honours taking care of the poor? Of course we do right? We believe that with all of our heart. That's called doctrine.

But how many of us have a yoke that honours taking care of the poor first with all of our finances? That's the difference between doctrine and yoke. How many of us believe that Jesus said don't slander and say false things or true things about other people that aren't edifying - as a matter of fact Jesus said things like don't let any corrupt communication come out of your mouth. In other words everything that comes out of your mouth edify. Jesus actually said it one more way. He said if it would hurt you don't do it to somebody else. That's called what? Doctrine, but yoke is living it out, actually caring about what Jesus said, actually living it. That's what will give the church credibility. Wasn't it the Dalai Lama that said that he liked Christ but he didn't like Christians? That is the difference between doctrine and yoke. It is perfectly possible to believe in what Jesus said and not live it.

How many of you believe that Jesus looked at someone caught in the act of adultery and said I do not condemn you? In John 8 it says it. Jesus, dealing with someone caught in the act of adultery; I do not condemn you - but how many of us could look at somebody and say I do not condemn you? It's the difference between doctrine and yoke. How many of us believe - there's 100 examples to this - how many of us believe that Jesus said do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will have enough worries of itself? Ha ha. How many of you believe that, but how many of us have a worry problem? [Laughter] Is it doctrine or is it yoke? How we respond to people, is it doctrine or is it yoke? Jesus was the compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love God. What we believe in terms of doctrine and yoke will determine what we bind and what we loose.

Let me be very clear about this. I am a total believer in deliverance. Folks have demons and it needs to go, absolutely. In today's language to say I bind a devil is perfectly appropriate, because that's English and that's how we use it and it's used appropriately. In First Century Hebrew culture binding and loosing didn't have anything to do with devils. Jesus was the king devil caster-outer guy. Like Jesus - I got to sit on a plane with a rabbi from LA who is an expert in Kabbalah okay and I love this kind of stuff. So I'm just sitting there with him and he goes you follow Jesus? I said yes. He said He was the greatest Kabbalist ever. Now I don't have to agree with him to have a conversation with him. I said oh, tell me about that. What makes Him that way? He said that guy went around and built a reputation for setting people free. I said yes, how did He do that? He said He threw devils off of people. He said do you realise that in those days very few people would even attempt that?

That's why Jesus ran across people who'd been demon-possessed for 18 years and stuff, and He's just going oh yeah, that's enough of that. Jesus mastered setting people free. I am all for that - but binding and loosing had everything to do with yoke. Binding and loosing had to do with what you allow in your yoke or what you forbid in your yoke. Jesus said whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. So what does that mean? If you think about this what we bind is what we forbid people to do. What we loose is what we free people to do, and that is based on our yoke okay. And what we bind on earth does bind people's consciousness in heaven. It does, but let me prove it to you. My granny. My granny is a godly woman who grew up in just a wonderful weird system.

My grandmother has never cut her hair in her life. She's 80 - I think she's like 108 or something, but she's never cut her hair in her life. It's all pulled up into a bun that pulls all the wrinkles out of her face. [Laughter] She's never worn slacks in her life. Like to my grandmother to cut your hair meant you would go to hell, so hell, hell, hell. Remember hell's about somebody else, to them it's - yeah. To colour your hair is like a different level of hell. [Laughter] My grandmother has never worn slacks, never worn jewellery, never worn make up, never cut her hair in her life and never went to the movies. Like if I go to the movies to this day she'll pray the whole time I'm in there that Jesus would not come back while I'm in the movies, because He would never go into a movie theatre to get me out of it. [Laughter]

I was messing with my granny once. I said granny, let's get you - it was her birthday. I said let's get you all made up. Let's get you some jewellery, get you some make up, get you a nice hair do, get you a good outfit. She said oh no babe, I'd hate to send myself to hell [laughter] and maybe someone else too. I said how would you send somebody else to hell? She said well I'd hate to give a man a lustful thought. [Laughter, applause] I was like lustful thought! No worries there! [Laughter] Like nothing's in the right place. [Laughter] When you create a system that binds a woman to guilt around having a lustful thought from a man at 90 years old, you have created slavery! [Laughter] And the whole point of salvation was setting people free. It was not forgiving sins. Forgiveness of sins was the start. The finish was that sin won't have mastery over anyone any more; that salvation to a Hebrew person was not about getting to go to heaven. It was about being slave driver free today.

You know whose hands are in that? Us, and it has to do with our yoke. Do you realise that the world around you looks at how you live and determines binding and loosing from that, like what's okay and what's not okay. As teachers if there are any pastors in the room, there's double responsibility because what we say actually binds people to certain things and looses them from it. Let me give you an example. Is it a sin to go to the movies? Is it a sin to go to the movies? Most people are saying no, but the answer to that is it depends on what's been bound to you. Is it a sin for my grandmother to go to the movies? Absolutely yes, because if she goes she'd be being rebellious to what's been bound to her. Is it a sin to cut your hair? No, but to my grandmother it is because she'd be going against what has been bound to her; that our yoke actually binds people to certain things. Do you realise the power that's on your life to free people up or bind people up?

We need to be asking the question: do we bind people to what Jesus binded them to, and loose people from what Jesus loosed them from, and just trust that His way is the best way for our life? Are we replications of Jesus? As a culture in the church we've become so hard. Stuff that Jesus would allow we don't even allow. Do you realise that there are churches in that according to their constitution and bylaws would never have David preach in their pulpits? As a matter of fact I had a pastor once in a pretty big city at a pastors meeting stand up and say this out loud: If King David was coming to preach in my city I would stand against him because of what he did. I had to refrain from calling him a fool lest I be in danger of Gehenna. [Laughter] It's binding and it's loosing. What are we as a church - I assume most of you go to church here. What are we as a church binding people from and loosing people to?

Are we loosing people to act in such ways that is destructive and bringing Gehenna? Are we binding them to things that Jesus would never bind them to, because this creates faith, what we can believe for. There's this pastor in America that gave this illustration that helped me so much about faith. I want to end tonight with it and then we'll pick up with this tomorrow okay. But this helped me so much and if it helped me I'm thinking it might help you, but this pastor in America, when he did this I was like that helped me so much with faith. Let me share it with you okay? [Silence while drawing illustration 00.28.08 to 00.28.16] This is Joe and that's Sally. Joe and Sally are stuck in a two dimensional world. They live in two dimensions, and in a two dimensional world what is that? It's a rectangle. What's that? A circle - so that's a rectangle and that's a circle. In a two dimensional world it cannot be both. It can't be both. It's either a rectangle or a circle. It has to be one or the other. You can't - that's a rectangle, that's a circle.

For me to get up here and say this could be a rectangle in certain situations cannot be in a two dimensional world. In a two dimensional world this has to be a rectangle. But in a three dimensional world if all we do is add one dimension, is that a circle? Yes. Is that a rectangle? Yes. So in a three dimensional world if we just add one dimension, they're stuck in two dimensions - if we just add one dimension it can actually be both. So what would happen if I was God and I'm trying to communicate? Now I live in four dimensions, so what if me in four dimensions tried to communicate with Joe and Sally who are stuck in two? So what if to communicate with them, what if I took my ring off and I said I know, I'm going to get their attention. I'm going to slide this ring through their world, so I slide it through their world. In two dimensions what would they see? The would just see a dot that turns into two dots, that turns into three that does - it would just look like that. That was a very bad ring, but you get the picture.

It would just look like that, and so Joe goes Sally, did you see that? Sally goes yeah, that was nine dots. Joe says no, that's the ring of Shane man! She goes no, you're crazy, that's nine dots. He goes no, I'm telling you, that's the ring of Shane! So what if I wanted to mess with them further and I took my hand and I stuck my hand through their world. What would they see? They're stuck in two dimensions; what would they see? They would see five dots that enter at slightly different times, with slightly different circumferences, at slightly different angles. Those five dots would be followed by dashes - it's a two dimensional world remember. So Sally goes did you see that Joe? That's five dots just appeared, followed by a series of dashes. [Laughter] Joe says no man, that was the hand of Shane man. So what if I wanted to mess with them even further and I took my face and put it really close. Joe says do you feel that? It's almost like it's the face of Shane, and Sally goes no, it just got a little warmer, that's all. He goes no, I can sense his presence.

Now that's what it would be like if a four dimensional creature tried to communicate with a two dimensional world. That's what it would be like. How many dimensions does God live in? Thousands - so what would happen if a thousand dimensional person is trying to communicate with four dimensional creatures, and those four dimensional creatures are so proud that they think they can figure God out? [Laughter] So they call themself theologians and they go it's predestination, it's predestination, it's predestination. God predestined us. He predestined us. Then there's a whole other group of theologians that go it's free will, it's free will, it's free will. It's got to be free will - no, it's got to be predestination - no it's got to be free will - and God's like um, it could be both maybe. Like if we just add say one dimension to your thinking you would see it fuller, but what if you could see things like I see things? This would all make sense. Would you just be humble, give people the grace to journey and be replications of Me. That is the bigger issue.

It's all about kindness and generosity. Don't tell me what you know about theology until the girl at KFC knows that you're saved even if she messes up your order. You need to see the marker trick, that whether you're Joe and you believe it's the hand of Shane, or whether you're Sally and you believe it's five dots, both take faith because you just don't know. What we're called to be, we are not called to be the moral police for the whole world. What we are called to be is to be replications of Jesus Christ to the whole world. We are not called to be the moral police. We are called to be a group of people who are known to be compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love, who meet other people's needs first and in that we will become ministers of the kingdom of God, in a decision. That takes faith, which is three things to the Hebrew people: tefillah, teshuvah, tzedakah, that all across this world people with white skin, people from Europe - and I can say this because I'm white. [Laughter]

People with white skin, if you asked them why will you go to heaven when you die, 99 per cent of all of them will say this: because I believe in Jesus. There's a problem with that. Is there anybody in Hades - not Gehenna - anybody in Hades who believes in Jesus? Heaps! The devil, all the angels, the demons. They all believe in Jesus but yet they find themselves in Hades waiting to be thrown into the lake of fire. Belief in Jesus is never enough; faith in Jesus is and Hebrew faith versus western belief are two different things. Hebrew faith is tefillah, teshuvah, tzedakah. I'm going to leave it right there and we'll pick up right there tomorrow night, on tefillah, teshuvah, tzedakah.

Lord, would You seal something in us tonight that would make us closer to You. Lord, we proclaim that You are the king of the universe, You are. You're the king of the universe. Lord, You are the king of the universe and we are not. Would you just stop right where you are and be still and know that He is God. Be still and know that He is God. Lord, would You give us the faith to bind and loose only what You bound and loosed; to live Your life, not to just believe it but that it would be a yoke, that it would be a yoke; not a system of beliefs but a yoke, a way of living. May we be replications of You to this entire community. May we be a people who are known to be people who bring heaven to earth and leave hell to the wayside. We say death to Gehenna and hello to a life of bringing heaven to earth by putting other people first. Bless us tonight and bring us back tomorrow to challenge us and change us more. Amen.

Thank you very much for letting me be your guest tonight. I hope you were blessed by that. Please come back tomorrow, bring some friends. I promise you it's going to get better and better and better and better. We just laid some groundwork, it's going to get better and better and better. God bless you. I'll turn this over [unclear 00.37.20]. [Applause]

[Speaker] Fantastic! Come on, let's give Shane a big clap, that was absolutely brilliant. [Applause] Don't forget to come back tomorrow night and remember, tomorrow night we'll be taking up an offering and also check out his merchandise table. That'd be great.

[File ends 00.37.40]

Session (3 of 4) (Shane Willard)  

Thu 17 Apr 2008 « Back to Top

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Session (3 of 4)

Session (3 of 4) Hell Shane Willard 17.04.2008 am

[Shane Willard] [Applause] Very good. Very good. I'm glad to see you came back. It meant last night wasn't too terrible and we'll just keep going forward. I hope you enjoy these nights and this is all I do for a living. I live completely by faith and I do submit to the authority of three different pastors and I also have a Board of men that I submit to. But in terms of a living, this is all I do. I just travel and I live completely by faith, so the offering we'll take up later, that's going to determine what I live on this week after I pay my plane tickets and pay to get all that stuff here and all of that stuff. So it's a faith thing and we also take care of an orphanage, we do all kinds of things that help us minister to people all over the world. So the primary way we support ourself is through the love offerings as well as our resource table, which the lovely and talented Nicky Lay is looking after for me.

So we'll be back there and obviously these messages are just one message for one moment at one time. There's no way we could cover everything we wanted to cover, so if you wanted to check some of those things out, like last night's first session is in a series back there called All Access Pass. Then tonight's stuff is in a series back there on how to be a minister of the spirit, and a thing called Phases in the Master Plan, so we've got things back there that help you just keep this in front of you. So we can make a trade and you can help me go all over the world, which I think you would agree that these messages need to go all over the world, and it helps you to keep this stuff in front of you. We have a thing back there on how the Hebrew people do their money; we've got all kinds of new stuff. I've got a five disc series on the eight basics of the faith from a Hebrew perspective. We've got a thing on leadership. We've got all kinds of things, and so anyway I just commend that to you and we'll go from there, alright?

Alright, you ready to go? Ready to go? Numbers, chapter 15. I've got to revisit some topics tonight that I visited last time, but this particular topic I visit with my folks in Charleston. I visit with them twice a year with this because it's something so important that we need to keep it in front of us twice a year. How many of you were here last year when I talked about the tassels? Okay, that's about half, I'm guessing about half - so about half this will be new but about half of you, you've heard this a year ago which means you remember almost none of it [laughter] so we'll just go for it again, because what we're going to talk about tonight, last year when I talked about the tassels I talked about it from the context of healing. Tonight I want to talk about it from a little different context, about the context of what it means to minister healing, what it means to be a minister, what it means to come at something as a minister of the kingdom of God.

So in Numbers 15:37 and following; God is setting up their way of life and He's establishing how they're going to live. He says something like this in Numbers 15:37 and following. It says and the Lord said to Moses, speak to the Israelites and say to them throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord running through each tassel. And you will have these tassels to look at, to remember the Lord your God and not prostitute yourself by going after the lust of your own hearts and eyes. And you will have these tassels to remember that I am the Lord your God. So what they would do, there's a couple of very important words in that passage. The first word you have to know is the word tallit. I wrote them up there - is the word tallit okay. This is a tallit. Okay, this is a tallit. It's commonly called a prayer shawl. One like this is what they would wear. This was one of their outer garments okay.

Now they saw the tallit as the presence of God. Later on in the second session I'm going to talk about some steps in a Hebrew wedding. We visited that last year a little bit too, but it was only to about 30 people and we have to - to be ministers of the kingdom of God we have to understand tassels and the fact that we're a bride, and what that meant Hebraically. So we're going to have to revisit those things and I want us to revisit them, like it will change our lives forever. So tallit was the presence of God. They would use this for all kinds of things. Primarily they would wear it around them like this and then they would take the tassels and they would wrap their hands in the tassels, so they would take the tassels on the end of the garments and they would wrap their hands in it. They saw the tallit as the presence of God. One of the main uses of the tallit in that culture was at the fifth step of a wedding was called the [chuppah 00.05.14], the chuppah. What would do, they had two chuppahs and we're going to talk about this in the next session.

The second chuppah was actually this and they would take this and they'd make a canopy over the marriage bed. They would take four stakes, they would plant the stakes in the ground. They would secure the stakes around the marriage bed and they would take the tassels and wrap the tassels around the stakes so that this thing made a huge canopy over the marriage bed, so that when the husband and the wife consummated their marriage for the first time they did so underneath the presence of God, okay. So they would do this, so they saw this as the presence of God and where they got that from was in Exodus, when it describes the veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies. It's a big one of these, so what they did was they made a microcosm of one of those big veils and they said we're going to wear it all the time, because that is wearing the presence of God.

You see this all the time in Hebrew writings. You see Paul saying things like put on the garment of praise, put on Christ, put off the old man, put on the presence of God. They would do this sort of stuff and so there was all this really cool imagery with the prayer shawl. I'm going to get a little higher so maybe you can see this, because this is small but if you could see that, there's five knots in that tassel so there's one, two, three, four, five. There's five knots in that tassel, one for each Book of the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. So effectively what they were commanded to do is they were commanded to tie the word of God to the presence of God that they were wearing. Now this is so important, because how many of you realise that we can wear the presence of God in all kinds of different ways? So what it was doing was it was putting boundaries around how you wear and present God; that you can only present the presence of God in a way that He establishes okay?

Otherwise you'll present God in your own way which perverts everything. I mean come on, this is not just about the Jews. This is about me and about you and our tendency to even take God and make it about us. I mean come on, alright, so there was five knots, one for each Book of the Torah. There were four spaces between each knot and those four spaces stood for the four letters in the holy name [Yahweh, 00.07.41] yud, he, vav, he. So there was the word of God and there was the name of God attached to you, so you would wrap the word of God and you would wrap the name of God around your hands and you would wear it. Also to tie a tassel properly took 613 loops. There are exactly 613 loops - there's exactly 613 commands in the Torah, so you had the word of God, you had the name of God, you had the ways of God. Also when you tied the tassel properly it came off at the end with eight strands; eight is the number of grace. It's the number of new beginnings. If any man be in Christ he's a new creature; the old is gone, the new is come.

It was the number that they walk when they made a covenant, they would walk a figure eight to signify that every day before now is now gone and all the newness has come. So you had the word of God, you had the name of God, you had the ways of God, you had the grace of God. You had everything attached to you. Also when they tied it properly - I don't know if you can see this but there are eight strands that come off, four on each side and on each side it's three white strands and one blue strand, three white strands and one blue strand. So you have three and one, so you have the nature of God, three in one and it was on both sides, so what they said was is that on both sides of eternity God is still the same. He doesn't change - so they had the word of God, they had the name of God, they had the ways of God, they had the grace of God, they had the nature of God all attached to them, and they would wrap their hands in these tassels. Why? So that they would remember God.

They would remember that God's way brought me from darkness to light. God's way brought me from slavery to freedom. God's way brought me from Egypt to Israel. God's way brought me from slavery to the Promised Land. God's way is the best way for our life; that as gracious as God is and forgiving as He is, you could do anything and get forgiven with a sacrifice. Like I mean they'd just bring a sacrifice and the forgiveness of God has never really been the issue; it's the best life, that God's way is the best way for our life. That way - and they would wrap their hands in it to remind themself. Why would they wrap their hands in it? Because they would do that because we're tactile beings and it's very easy when you're going through your every day life for something to stress you out in a moment, and all of a sudden you abandon everything you believe.

Am I the only one that's ever done that, where in a moment - like do you believe [doctorally, 00.10.21] do you believe that it's proper to be self controlled over your anger? Of course. Has it moved to yoke yet? Hopefully to a certain - but even if it's moved to yoke, if someone presses the right button, am I the only one that's ever abandoned everything I believe and just blew up? So they would have these tassels to help keep them from doing that, so any time before they sinned with their hands, specifically sexual sin, what did they have to do? They had to unwrap God. They had to unwrap God and so in other words it's not that they didn't have God, it's just they chose to step away from His tassels. There are all kinds of imagery to that so you've got tallit, you've got kanaf. The word kanaf is the word corners, so they had to sew tassels on the corner of their garment. The word [tzitziyot 00.11.23] is the word tassels, so you had tallit, kanaf - now the word kanaf meant corners, borders, hem or over time it started to mean wings. It started to mean wings.

The reason is is because when they would bless people they would - let me just show you real quick, when they would bless people how kanaf started to mean wings. [Unclear 00.12.02] you see how that started to mean wings, so there was all kinds of this cool imagery around this. Like under the shadow of His wings, it means under the word of God, the name of God, the ways of God, the grace of God and the nature of God. Has anybody ever heard of going into your prayer closet? This is what they do. They would place themself underneath the authority of the name of God, the word of God, the ways of God, the grace of God and the nature of God. Remember there was this one place where Saul was chasing a guy named David. He was chasing - he was trying to kill him, and it says that Saul went in to use the toilet. He went in to use the bathroom. The actual Hebrew there is he went in to cover his feet - which is disgusting. I guess you'll get that in a second [laughter] so he goes in to cover his feet, and it says that David sneaks up behind him and he cuts off the corner of his garment.

Well if Saul is the king of Israel, what is attached to the corner of his garment? Tassels: the word of God, the name of God, the ways of God, the grace of God, the nature of God. David cuts the tassels off. Saul finishes using the bathroom and he puts his garment back on and he walks out and he has no tassels. David is standing in the distance going hey man, umm - in other words I've got your anointing now. What you used to be called to do, I am called to do and there's nothing you can do about it. I've got your anointing - and so it had nothing to do with David could have killed him and just didn't. It had everything to do with the anointing, with how Saul was carrying God; that Saul was carrying the presence of God without the disposition of messiah, which was the compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiveness God, Exodus 34:6-7. The Lord, the Lord, He is the compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love God.

Now an interesting thing happened in regards to Jesus. There was a prophecy. All these prophecies were given about messiah, but one of the last prophecies - it probably is the last prophesy in the Old Testament - about who messiah would be, it says this. It's in Malachi 4:2 and you'll recognise it as soon as I start saying it. There will come from God a son of righteousness, with healing in his wings. The word is kanaf. There will come from God a son of righteousness, with healing in his kanaf. Now if the messiah is a Jewish messiah what would he have attached to his kanaf? Tassels, so whoever messiah is there'll be healing in his kanaf. There'll be healing in his wings. Now follow me here. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is not this way or that, or up or down, but the kingdom of God is actually within you. So you can look this way, you can look that, you can look up, you can look down and you'll never find the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is actually in the last place you'll look for it. It's actually within you.

A later writer said that Christ in me is the hope of glory, so where does Jesus live today? In us. He's in all of us. He's replicating Himself - we talked about that last night. He's replicating Himself to the world through us. So if there's healing in His tassels and He lives in us, then does it stand to reason that if we will commit to wrapping our lives in the tassels, there'll be healing in our hands as well? That the potential to be a minister of kingdom power comes only from a decision to have our life wrapped in the word of God, the name of God, the ways of God, the grace of God and the nature of God; to have our hands wrapped in the disposition of messiah, the compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiveness God. Does it stand to reason that if we have Jesus living inside of us and there's healing in His tassels, that a simple decision to have our life wrapped in the tassels, that the only thing that we have the authority to serve is the tassels. Everything else that we serve in our life is a result of us unwrapping God.

Let's get real practical here. Do you have a right to serve anger to someone who disappoints you? No, you've just unwrapped the tassels. Do you have a right to be judgemental and critical towards somebody? No, you've just unwrapped the tassels. Do you have a right to turn your back on the cry of the hungry? I'm talking about legitimate needy people who absolutely will not eat without your help. Do you have a right to turn your back on that if you have the means to do it? Absolutely not. You have to have your life wrapped in the tassels. Everything we do has to be wrapped in the tassels, so let's ask ourself a hard question tonight. Where in our lives have we rationalised unwrapping God? Where have we done that? Where have we - I don't know - bought into the yoke of our denomination? Where have we bought into the yoke of a certain belief system? Where have we bought into the yoke of our father, the yoke of our mother, the yoke of some binding and loosing that took place that doesn't fit with the tassels?

Where have we wrapped our hands in God and where have we rationalised unwrapping them? I guarantee this; wherever we have unwrapped the tassels, in those areas in our life there's chaos and incompletion, that in those areas in our life we're actually journeying away from wholeness; that God has called us to lead people on a journey to wholeness - including ourself - and the areas in our life where we've rationalised unwrapping God for whatever reason. I've had a stressed out day. Don't you know it's okay for me to be angry today? I'm stressed out! Wherever we - don't you know - I sat with a guy once. He was 52 at the time and we were praying for him. It was a lady who did deliverance and I'd never met this lady before but she was very good and very much the real deal. She had never met this man before and I was with this guy. He was very close to me, 52 at the time and this man had been put in hospitals, three and four, five times in his life for clinical depression.

You just don't know what to do at some point and so she came over to him, never met him before and she said when you grew up you grew up in a yellow house with old wooden panelling. I'm seeing you curled up in the floor over by the stove in your den area. You're curled up and your father, you're nine years old and you father came in and he said this to you and she quoted something his dad had said to him when he was nine. This man who I knew very well and he's the real deal, he started breaking down and I'm talking crying to the point of stuff coming out of his nose, out of his mouth, everything. He got healed that day. He got healed that day. See one of the big temptations of unwrapping the tassels is this: we tell ourself it's just between me and God, and God will forgive me. It's never - if it's just between you and God do whatever you want to do. God can handle you, but it is not just between you and God. It is between you and God and everyone you come into contact with.

That man's dad was a good man and he likely when he walked out of the room, he told himself oh, it's just between me and God and God will forgive me. But he ruined a nine year old for 43 years. It's not between you and God. It's never just one more beer. It's never just one more drink. It's never just one more phone call. It's never just one more piece of cake - I may as well just throw that in. [Laughter] Yeah, it's never one more credit card purchase. It's never one more thing you can't afford. I mean am I the only person who unwrapped God because I wanted to impress somebody? Am I the only person that's ever bought something I couldn't afford with money I don't have to impress people I don't like? [Laughter] And then at the end of all that, when we pay for that with consequences, we sit back and we go God, why isn't there wholeness in my life? Oh God, why isn't there wholeness in my life? And the truth is it's just because I've unwrapped the tassels, that I've taken the word of God, the name of God, the grace of God, the nature of God and the ways of God. I've taken that off of me to do my own thing.

In the Book of Numbers, chapter 15, God says I want you to have tassels so that you'll never go after your own way. You will stay after Mine. Why? Because My way is the best way for our life. So what would happen - I'm not telling us to wear tassels. I obviously don't walk around wearing this. I'm talking about in your heart, what would happen if you had something that reminded you every day Jesus' way is the best way for my life? And if I want to be a minister who brings wholeness and healing to every situation, I promise you if you just do a mental inventory right now, every place in our life where we keep our hand wrapped in the tassels, every person you touch in that context actually gets whole. Every place in your life where we rationalise unwrapping the tassels, that's where there's chaos, strife and envy and all those other things; turmoil, strife, stress, anxiety. All of those things are coming somewhere from us or somebody else. I mean how many of us have ever been a victim of strife and stress because someone else unwrapped the tassels? [Laughs] Well the same thing is true with us.

Look at Mark 5. So over the years this legend developed that this messiah would come and there would be healing in his tassels. In other words there's healing in the word of God, the name of God, the ways of God and the grace of God as it is attached to messiah. In other words the way Jesus wore the presence of God brings healing, and the way you can wear the presence of God can bring healing too if you wear it this way. It's the disposition of messiah and I'm not talking about just healing. I'm talking about wholeness. I'm talking about emotional wholeness without one missing piece. If you look at Jesus, Jesus was concerned with people's physical healing and He dealt with that, but bigger than that He spoke to their emotional health. Why? Because one day we're all going to die anyway and what's a few years extra life in terms of eternity? Why would God want to give you 15 more years? Although He does that to people, why would He want to give you 15 more years? Is it that important to God? Not really, it's that important to you, because the truth is we're going to spend eternity with Him anyway.

What Jesus is more concerned with is that the life you live now has quality emotional health. Okay, in Mark 5 - this is so cool. Mark 5:21 and following. I'm just going to tell this story. You can kind of just know where I'm at by this. It starts out with saying that there was this guy named Jairus okay. Jairus came and asked Jesus to come pray for his daughter. Jairus was a big time synagogue ruler and Jairus comes and he says Jesus, I want you to come pray for my daughter. She's on the point of death. So Jesus says okay, this is what we'll do. I'll go pray for your daughter. Now all of Mark 5 is all about Him going to Jairus' daughter. It's all about that. Now what happens on the way to Jairus' daughter is so spectacular that a lot of times we stop there, but the whole story is about Jesus going to Jairus' daughter so it's very important that we understand that Jesus is going to Jairus' daughter, because we have to know He's going to Jairus' daughter. Am I being clear enough? [Laughter]

So where is He going? Jairus' daughter. I'll say that again - Jairus' daughter. So Jesus is walking along and He's on His way to Jairus' daughter and He gets interrupted. He gets interrupted, which is a good lesson for us because sometimes the greatest moves of God come in interruptions. Sometimes the greatest move of God comes in an interruption, that if we're so task oriented that any little thing that throws us off our schedule, if we get stressed out by that sometimes we miss God's greatest grace. Jesus is on His way to Jairus' daughter and there's a whole big crowd behind Him. It said that there was a lady there who had an issue of blood for 12 years. She has an issue of bleeding for 12 years. Now we have to understand something. Two words you have to understand in this passage or you can't understand the chapter, and that is tamei and tahor, tamei and tahor. Tamei meant unclean, t-a-m-e-i. Tamei meant unclean. Tahor means clean, so you had tamei or you were tahor. Everybody was either tamei or tahor.

Lepers had to walk through town saying tamei! Tamei! Tamei! Unclean, unclean, unclean. The problem with tamei was it was very contagious. We define sin so poorly. If I was to give a survey in most churches and I say would you please define sin in one sentence, you would hear mostly things like this: sins are the bad things that we do that are against what God would want us to do. That's not a bad definition of sin, it's just not complete. Is sin the bad things we do? Yes, but it's much bigger than that. Sin was anything that wasn't perfect. Sin is anything that isn't perfect. In the Book of Leviticus it says it's a sin for a person to have dandruff - so check your neighbour out, see if they're in sin right now. [Laughter] Just kind of check them out. Yeah? Sin to have dandruff, yeah. It was a sin to have [dim 00.27.23] eyes, so if you need eye glasses it's tamei. [Laughter] It's unclean. It made you tamei to have a period, so if you're here tonight and you have a period every month that would make you tamei.

You say well goodness me! It was a sin to give birth. It was a sin to give birth, yeah. In Leviticus 12:6-7 it says something like this. I'm paraphrasing, something like this. It says after a woman gives birth she has to bring a sin offering to atone for her loss of blood, yeah. Because why? Because to give birth the way we give birth was a result of sin. Did God intend for you to have hard labour in birth? No. No, He didn't intend for that. So it was a result of sin. It made you unclean. It was a sin to touch someone who was on their monthly period, so if you just bumped into someone who was on their monthly period it made you tamei as well, because tamei was very contagious. So if she has dandruff, if I just touch her, now I am unclean and I have to go offer sacrifices to make myself clean again. If someone's on their monthly period and I touch them I actually become unclean. Like what did you do, wear a sign? [Laughter] What would you do?

Like it was a sin to touch furniture that a woman who had had a period in the last three days had sat on. [Laughter] Yeah, like it was a sin to touch furniture where a married couple had been intimate in the last three days. Like what did you do, put a sign up? [Laughter] I was teaching this once at a pastor's home and he made everybody get off the couch. [Laughter] He was like 76! [Laughter] I was like good for you! [Laughter] Yeah, you're 76 and you're still having sofa sex, that is so great! [Laughter] It's just fantastic isn't it? So everything made you tamei, like all these things made you tamei and tamei was so contagious. You could catch it at any moment. Now understanding that about this culture, you have a lady who's had an issue of bleeding for 12 years. What does that make her? Tamei, so she's elbowing her way through the crowd. What's happening to every person she's touching? They're becoming unclean. Now I want you to understand the emotional ramifications of having an issue of bleeding for 12 years in that culture.

Once people found out she would be declared tamei and would not have been allowed to be purposely touched in 12 years, so for 12 years when she walked into a room people would have put their hands behind their back and walked away. Can you imagine the emotional rejection? Most rabbis would have given her husband a certificate of divorce, a right to divorce her simply because he could not touch her without becoming unclean himself. Therefore he had a right to leave, so likely in 12 years she would have been divorced. She would have been not purposely touched in 12 years. Can you imagine the emotional pain she would have been dealing with? The rejection. She elbows her way through the crowd to a man named Jesus who is on His way where? [Jairus' daughter.] So she's going to disturb Him and she reaches up and it says she grabs the hem of His garment.

So if He's the messiah what is found in His tassels? Healing, so why would she grab them? This was a culture of people who memorised everything about messiah. She knew if this is the One He's going to have healing in His tassels, and if I can just get a hold to them I'll be healed. It was a faith move. It was publically saying this is the One, so she reaches up and she grabs the tassels and Jesus breaks form doesn't He? Like when Jesus healed people what did He normally say? Shh-shh-shh-shh, don't tell anybody. Like that was His whole marketing strategy: tell people not to say anything and He knew they would. [Laughter] [Reverse psychology.] Same thing, same thing today. But here He breaks form doesn't He? What does He do? He's like WHO TOUCHED ME? WHO TOUCHED ME? POWER HAS LEFT FROM ME - which totally breaks form doesn't it?

Doesn't it totally break form with Jesus? WHO TOUCHED ME? WHO TOUCHED ME? That doesn't sound like Jesus. That sounds like Obi-Wan Kenobi! [Laughter] WHO TOUCHED ME? WHO TOUCHED ME? POWER HAS LEFT FROM ME. Everybody look over here! This lady with an issue of blood, she just touched me! Why would a rabbi do that? Why would a First Century rabbi draw attention to the fact that an unclean person had just touched Him? What will everybody think of Him? Everybody will think He's unclean. Now it's important theologically to know she got healed immediately, so did Jesus become unclean? No. Did everybody think He did? Yes. It's very important, and so He turns to the lady and He speaks to her. He doesn't speak physical healing to her. Although she was already healed, He says go in peace. In other words shalom; in other words go in wholeness without one missing piece.

Let me say it this way. Lady, go and be whole. Go and whoever your next husband is, don't make him pay for the rejection this one did to you. Lady, go and don't be bitter about the way people treated you for 12 years. Lady, go with peace in your heart, go in shalom. Now where was Jesus going? Jairus' daughter, so while He's still speaking the people from Jairus' house show up and they say - what did they say to Jairus? Do you guys know the story? They say Jairus, your daughter is dead. Why bother the rabbi any more - which is a bit insensitive isn't it? Jesus was on His way there. This crazy lady with an issue of blood for 12 years stopped Jesus, interrupted Him and now my daughter's dead! Jairus, your daughter is dead. Why bother the rabbi any more - which is totally insensitive, unless you understand that according to Levitical law it was against the law to knowingly walk into a room where a dead body was. You could not knowingly walk into a room where a dead body was without becoming unclean - unless you were already considered unclean by the public.

Jesus was smart. WHO TOUCHED ME? Everybody look over here. WHO TOUCHED ME? This lady with an issue of blood, she just touched me! Why? Because He needed everybody to think He was unclean so they'd let Him in the room. He was one step ahead, but He covers His bases doesn't He? He says oh, she's not dead, she's just asleep. [Laughter] Wink wink. And it says but they all laughed at Him, so He put them all out except for James and John, or Peter, James and John. It says they put them all out except for Peter, James and John. Now I want you to look at your Bible and look at verse 40, Mark 5:40. And they laughed and jeered at Him, but He put them all out and taking the child's father and mother and those who were with Him, He went in to where the little girl was lying - so they let Him in the room. And He took her by the hand. Now we have a real problem don't we? If it's against the law to walk into a room where a dead body is, is it against the law to touch one? You better believe it.

If she doesn't get up immediately then Jesus' whole mission on earth is hurt, because He can't be an unclean sacrifice. So if He took her by the hand and He's following their Torah, what does He have wrapped around His hand? There will come from God a son of righteousness with healing in His wings - so He takes her by the hand and look what He says. Wait a minute, first look up here, look at the words: tallit, kanaf, tassels, tallit. Look what He says: And He took her by the hand and He said to her [Talitha kum! 00.37.42] In other words let me say it this way: Little girl, My child, the presence of God is here. Talitha kum! My child, the presence of God is here, get up and she gets up. As ministers in the kingdom of God it's our only right to serve the tassels. It is our right. It is my job tonight to look at you and say Talitha kum; My child, the presence of God is here. Get up. And it is my job and it is your job, it is our responsibility that tonight to our husband and our wife, tomorrow to our co-workers, to anybody who comes in our contact, that our hands stay wrapped in the tassels.

As our hands are wrapped in the tassels, there's still healing in His wings. Is the message on your life Talitha kum? Does everybody who comes into your contact, do they get the message the presence of God is here, get up, it's going to be okay. You're going to make it - Talitha kum. My child, the presence of God is here; that in learning to be a minister of the spirit of God the most basics of all - before I could teach anybody how to pray for people, before I can teach any of that, we have to come to a place inside of ourself where we realise that our sole responsibility is keeping our hands wrapped in the tassels. So where are you tonight? Are your hands wrapped in the tassels, or where in your life are your hands wrapped in something else? There's a later place where Jesus is teaching in Peter's home and they lower a paralysed guy in by the roof, by the four corners of his mat. They tie ropes to the four corners of his mat and they lower him down.

Now knowing what you know now, why did they do that instead of just lowering him down by his hands? Because they couldn't touch him. Why couldn't they touch him? Because they'd be tamei. It was tamei to be crippled, so He's standing there and this guy appears and Jesus says your sins - in English it says your sins are forgiven. In Hebrew He would have said let that which is tamei be made tahor. Let that which is unclean be called clean - and remember how crazy they went? You can't call him tahor! He's crippled. It's obvious he's crippled! So Jesus said what's easier to say; let that which is tamei be made tahor, or get up and walk? Obviously it's easier to say let that which is tamei be made tahor, obviously, because who really knows? But if you say get up and walk Jack, somebody's going to know and it says so that you may know that I am who I say I am. It says He reached down and He took him by the hand. What would have been wrapped around his hands? Tassels. He took him by the hand and the guy got up and walked.

One touch from Jesus Christ makes everything that is tamei tahor. Why? Because Jesus can't touch an unclean thing. We are His hands. We are His feet and if we're the hands of Jesus Christ, if our hands stay wrapped in the tassels then there's healing in His wings. Everybody with me? Let's go before God now, let's have a moment with God and then we'll take a break and come back for our second session. But I want to close this out just with a moment with God, between you and God. What I'm going to do on the break is I'm going to leave this up here and maybe you need a moment with the tassels. I do it regularly, not because there's anything special about these tassels, but it just reminds me that God's way is the best way for my life and my best life is found in living a compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love way. So sometimes because I don't wear this, this will be in my closet, in my wardrobe and I'll be getting dressed and something will be irritating me.

I'll start to get angry or anxious or whatever and I'll be looking for a shirt. I'll look up and the tassels will poke themselves out [laughter] and I'll remember that whoever I'm fixing to meet with that is under my skin, that I have no right but to wrap my hands in the tassels and to deal with them with a compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love way. That our life, if our life can be defined by the tassels, then we will be made whole and we will be an instrument of God in making people whole; that we can go tonight in shalom. Let's go to the Lord in prayer. Lord, we come to You and we proclaim that You are the king of the universe, that You're the king of the universe and we are not. And Lord, right now we just ask for forgiveness for where we've unwrapped the tassels, where we've rationalised being something other than what You called us to be. Forgive us Lord.

Right now I just want you to ask the Lord, I want you to ask just right there under your breath, just quietly before you and God; say Lord, what would my life look like if it was wrapped in the tassels? What would my life look like if it was wrapped in the tassels? Where in my life right now have I unwrapped the tassels? Where do I need to wrap them back? Compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Where do I need to serve wholeness? There's healing in His wings. I proclaim to you tonight as people of God talitha kum, the presence of God is here. Now we can go in shalom. I pray that you would just minister that peace over this - I can just feel the presence of God now and it comes all the way through this place, yes, you can. You can just feel that presence. It's just coming through this place. God is letting you go in shalom tonight. Would you just let that settle over you. As we take our break tonight we'll make the break - last night we made the break 15 minutes. Tonight we'll make it somewhere around 20 to 25, because I'm ending a little early because I want this to be the case.

If you just want to go to your break that's fine, go with the Lord. But if you need a moment with God up here and if you need to have a moment maybe on your knees or standing, you need to have a moment with the tassels to remind yourself that God's way is the best way for your life. I want you to be able to have a private moment with God. So with that in mind Lord, I pray You'd send us to this break, bless the food and the tea and just anything we're going to drink or eat. Would You just bless it to our body. Thank You so much for being a provider and You're just the best. You're just the best. Thank You for making us tahor, in Jesus' name. Amen.

[File ends 00.45.57]

Session (4 of 4) (Shane Willard)  

Thu 17 Apr 2008 « Back to Top

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Session (4 of 4)

Session (4 of 4) Hell Shane Willard 17.04.2008 pm

[Shane Willard] [Laughter] Okay. I was glad that God was doing some things around the tassels up here for us and hopefully that gives you some imagery that will change the way you look at God forever. Hopefully you'll never forget the tassels as long as you live - hopefully. Hopefully. So I want to talk to you for the rest of the night about being a bride, being a bride. This applies to men too, because we're called the bride of Christ. I want you to realise that our whole life with God is about one big wedding. The whole of the Bible ends with one event called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Everything is leading us to a wedding and a Hebrew wedding had five steps to it. The first step was called lakah, the second step was called segullah, the third step was called mikveh, the fourth step was called ketubah and the fifth step was called chuppah alright, so you had lakah, segullah, mikveh, ketubah and chuppah. Let's say those together okay? Everybody say lakah. [Lakah] Segullah. [Segullah] Mikveh. [Mikveh] Ketubah. [Ketubah] Chuppah. [Chuppah]. Everybody say chuppah! Chuppah! [Eeba! Eeba! 00.01.24] [Laughter]

So when God's biggest idea started He was talking to a group of people who were marginalised, oppressed slaves. He gets them out of slavery into freedom and He says this is the light part of it. Now that sounds like the heavy part of it. Jesus says no, no, no, this is the light part of it. The big plan is coming next and what's going to happen, now that you were slaves and you've been made free, what I'm going to call you to do is to set people free. I'm going to empower you to do that by marrying you. I'm going to give you power of attorney on My name by marrying you. And so the Book of Exodus, if you turn in your Bible to the Book of Exodus and I'm going to take you through a tract, because the whole Book of Exodus is just one big marriage proposal. It's God taking a group of people from slavery to freedom by marrying them. Now for the purposes of this I need a girlfriend alright, so I need a girlfriend. Cecilia? Cecilia will be my girlfriend - who doesn't mind being my girlfriend. I guess Cecilia will do, Cecilia you be my girlfriend. You are fine! You are just a fine young thing. [Laughter] Alright, so... [Alright if I sit here?] Yeah, you can sit.

So this is my girlfriend and so we're dating now. We're dating now and how many of you remember dating? You remember dating is horrible? It's quite horrible actually because there are all these awkward moments in dating and it starts out with asking them out, like that's really awkward. One of the axioms - and I have a whole message around this if you want to hear it. It's in my message series on the cross, about love is risky, that love is risky; that one of the messages of the cross was not about us going to heaven and hell. One of the messages of the cross is everyone who's been hurt is free to love again, because you're free to risk again, because Jesus took all the risk in love. He commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; that whoever says I love you first is taking all the risk aren't they? Because what if you say I love you and they say I know? [Laughter] What if you say I love you and they say thanks? [Laughter] Eee! Like you're taking all the risk, so we're past all that now. I've taken the risk to ask her out. What if I ask her out and she says no?

Every step along the way in a love relationship is risk and by the way, just as an aside, this is not what this is about tonight but if you're here tonight and you're married and there's been some hurt between the two of you and both of you are now protecting yourself and you're refusing to risk, you'll convince yourself that you've fallen out of love. But you haven't fallen out of love; you've just convinced yourself that you're not going to risk any more. As soon as you quit risking you quit loving, so the answer is if somehow you can get the courage to risk again, because if you can risk again you can love again okay? Alright, so we're dating and things get past all the normal dating stuff. It gets into chemistry and now like we've really got something. We really want to spend the rest of our life together, so once that happens she would be longing to hear a word from me called lakah, lakah. This is the first step in the Hebrew marriage process. It's called lakah - and so one night we went on a date and we were comfortable with each other.

So we've eaten stuff and we're even past all the normal, normal dating, like it's okay to even like have gas in the car or something okay? [Laughter] And so we're past all that and so I'm standing on her front porch and I've got melted pizza cheese coming off of my mouth. [Laughter] I've got oregano in my teeth and there's just this moment. There's this moment at the front door and everything just feels right. Everything just feels right and my heart starts pounding - boom boom, boom boom, boom boom. I think I can say it now. I can say it, I can say it, so I look at her and I say Cecilia, lakah. [Laughter] And so then there's this moment on the front porch and she can't keep her hands off of me [laughter] and there's all this stuff. She's trying to act calm on the inside, but I just said lakah to her so she goes inside and she calls all of her girlfriends and she's like he said lakah to me! He said lakah to me! Oh my God! He said lakah to me! [Laughter] This was lakah. Lakah meant I want to make you my own. [Oh, awe.] I want to make you my own, all mine. [Laughter] How can you resist this! [Laughter] My Lord! [Laughs]

So in the Book of Exodus 6:7 there's this group of slaves and God has gotten them out of Egypt and He's moving them to freedom. So this group of people who've known nothing but for 430 years they've been slaves. Four hundred and thirty years, that's a long time. I don't know how long New Zealand's been a nation but I doubt it's 430 years. That's twice as long as America's been in existence. Four hundred and thirty years is enough time to develop a whole culture around slavery and oppression and victim. He's talking to this group of people and here's what He says in Exodus 6:7; And I will take you as My own people. If you look that word up in Strong's it's lakah, lakah. So this group of Hebrew slaves who knew this whole process, the God of the universe looks down from heaven and He says lakah. Can you imagine how they would have felt; a group of people that would have felt less than - they had been told that they're less than human. They would have been killed. They would have been tortured. The would have been all of this because they were told they were less than human.

The God of the universe is actually - can you imagine? Everybody would have been saying did He just say lakah? Did He just say what I think He said? Like did He just - does He want to marry us? Like does He want to make us His bride? Like did He say He wanted to make us My own? That is lakah - and He starts the process in Exodus 3 by getting them out of slavery. Then He starts the process again in Exodus 6 by saying lakah - so we're dating and I've said lakah and she's called all of her friends. Now how long - once she hears lakah, what is the next word she's longing to hear? Segullah. She really wants me to say segullah, and how long does the euphoria of lakah last? Maybe a month, maybe two, but after two months her girlfriends will be calling her during the day: girl, has he said segullah yet? Has he said segullah yet? He needs to - where is he? Is he scared of commitment? [Laughter] He needs to step up to the plate. It is time. He has been sitting on lakah far too long. [Laughter]

So one night we go out on a date and we eat, I don't know, fish tacos or something. [Laughter] We're in the car on the way home and there's just a moment. There's a moment and I get her to her front porch and everything feels right, and she's got a piece of that fish taco hanging off of her lip. [Laughter] I look and I think oh yeah! [Laughter] You're the one for me! [Laughter] And just the right moment I take her by the hand and I say segullah. Well now she really can't keep her hands off of me! She's trying to act calm but inside her heart's fluttering. She runs in and she calls her girlfriends and she's like he said segullah to me! He said segullah to me! Oh my God! He said segullah to me! [Laughter] Segullah meant - it took lakah one step further and it meant treasured possession. The girls love this message. [Laughter] I've been asked to preach this specific message next year at a national conference for women. They're going to go crazy. [Laughter]

Treasured possession, treasured possession. It took lakah one step further. It meant I don't only want to make you mine, like Cecilia, I don't want to just make you mine. I want you to be my treasured possession. Everybody loves that, and so in Exodus 19, so the children of Israel, they heard lakah from God. So what would they be longing to hear next? Segullah, so Exodus 19:5, so this group of people, they're just journeying with God from slavery to freedom. They've been in lakah for a little while, I think like 11 days or something and they're standing somewhere and God says this to him: Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My commandments and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me. In the NIV it says a treasured possession. The word special treasure there is segullah, segullah. So they'd be standing there and it would be like wait a minute, did He just say segullah? Did God - He said lakah and I think He just said segullah - I think - does He really want to marry us? Does He really want to marry us?

Now next, once you heard segullah what would be the next thing you'd long to hear? Mikveh, mikveh. Now mikveh is a little bit more blunt and not as romantic. So we have a night, we go on a date, we go to see Rambo Four. [Laughter] Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies - okay, so we go to see Rambo Four, yes and then afterwards we go and we shoot possums in a field. [Laughter] And there's this moment, I take her home and there's this moment and she smells - she shot a possum and she went and got it, then it used the toilet on the front of her. [Laughter] There's this moment; I'm thinking this is the woman for me. [Laughter] So I look at her and with the longing of a treasured possession in my heart I say to her mikveh, mikveh. Mikveh means go wash. [Laughter] Like good Lord, you stink! Mikveh is what they baptise people in. They baptise people in a mikveh. It was a baptismal pool. It also meant go wash. It was very important that you were not tamei for your betrothal, because you wanted to be able to be touched for obvious reasons, okay?

So you wanted to be tahor, so it was very important to the man that the woman was tahor, clean - was tahor for the betrothal because he wanted to be able to touch her. If she was tamei could not touch her, so he would give her a warning that the betrothal was coming by saying mikveh, go wash, go wash. The Hebrew people found this very important, like remember Ester? What did she do before she went and saw her husband? She bathed in perfume for a year - which is a bit overkill I think. [Laughter] Like can you imagine the man waiting, like oh man, that's the longest bath in history. Would you come on! [Laughter] Of course he had like 1000 wives so it didn't matter to him, but she bathes in perfume for a year to go see him. Mikveh was go wash, a betrothal is coming. Now in Exodus 19:5 He says treasured possession; in verse 10 He commands them to prepare themself for three days and to wash their clothes. The word is mikveh, wash, to go wash, so consecrate themself and let them wash their clothes. In other words we're going to be clean because a betrothal is coming.

So here is a group of marginalised, oppressed slaves and God is saying lakah, segullah, mikveh to them. So what would they naturally be expecting next? Ketubah. Now Ketubah was a very important part of this process. This is where we get real serious. I'm going to ask her to marry me, but before I ask her to marry me we have to work out a ketubah. We have to work out a ketubah okay, and what would happen in that is this. [Laughter] They're all ratting somebody out over there, like it was her! It was her! Ketubah was your marriage contract. Let me give you some negative connotations of it. It was a pre-nup. This was a marriage contract. It wasn't so much a pre-nup as how we think of it, but it was positive. Every marriage had to have a ketubah and can I be honest? Every marriage today needs one - not a pre-nup. Every marriage today needs an agreement between the husband and the wife as to what boundaries are going to define our marriage. When I do premarital counselling now or when I do marital counselling, I always sit down and I'll say what is your ketubah? Of course they never know what that means, so they say what's a ketubah? Then I explain it.

Then I say what is your ketubah? I can't tell you the number of married couples who have no idea what their basic agreement is, so I would sit down with Cecilia. It would be me and my father and her and her father, and we would sit down and we would make a ketubah. I could put anything in the ketubah I wanted and she could put anything in the ketubah she wanted, so long as we both agreed because how can two walk together lest they be agreed? It was at this point that we determined what our deal breaker was. What are our deal breakers? You wouldn't believe the stuff that goes on in marriages. They end up in my office so I know. Like you wouldn't believe the stuff, the ways that wives address their husbands. It is unbelievable. The ways that husbands talk to their wives and treat them, unbelievable. These would have been deal breakers. We're talking about ketubah, a basic understanding of the boundaries that will define our marriage.

We would talk about money, we would talk about sex, we would talk about power, we would talk about interpersonal communication boundaries. We would talk about expectations on both sides and we would put it in writing, and we would make an agreement, a handshake agreement, yes, we will live this way. This will be what our life is defined by, and once the ketubah was set and signed that was the definition of our marriage covenant. This teaching that says marriage is a covenant, is it true? Yes, but the part of the teaching that is not true is this; because marriage is a covenant you should have to just put up with anything on earth. That is not true. It is dangerous. Every covenant had a deal to it, a basic set of agreements - and I'm not talking about no grace. I'm talking about basic expectations and basic agreements, like let me give you something that was in every ketubah okay, on the man's side. It was called the Doctrine of Oil, Bread and Shelter, which means it was the man's responsibility to keep the family warm, fed and dry okay? So if that man turned into a lazy bum who laid around drinking all day, they would have him for breaking his ketubah because he promised that he would keep the family to the best of his ability warm, fed and dry.

If you broke your ketubah they had a word for that. It was called marital unfaithfulness because you're being unfaithful to your deal, yeah and you would confront that. You would have to confront that one on one, like if I was breaking my ketubah she would have to come to me one on one. Then if I didn't repent she could go to me two on one with her dad, because he witnessed the ketubah. Then if I didn't repent she would go get her pastors and they would confront me with a group on one, and if I didn't repent then they would flog me. [Laughter] If I still didn't repent they would say you've done everything you can do, this is marital unfaithfulness. And on the woman's side and this won't be as popular but like withholding sex was in there, like you couldn't withhold. Like Paul makes that very clear, New Testament, Old Testament, all of it, like he says don't withhold. It causes bitterness. A man will lose his mind. [Laughter] And anybody here who's been married any length of time, they know that husbands love, wives respect, don't withhold sex and put children in their right place, that's the way to do a marriage. That was Paul's way thousands of years ago. That was [His 00.20.45] way too.

So this ketubah would get worked out. Everybody understand what ketubah is? They had spiritual authority there too by the way and the ketubah between me and my dad, her and her dad, and a spiritual authority there to hold us accountable that what we were putting down as a ketubah was realistic, yeah. I want sex three times a day. [Laughter] Yeah, probably not happening right? I want him to build me a mansion on whatever. These were - you were supposed to have realistic expectations that were mutually agreed upon, where two people could journey through life with a mutual agreement to what was basically going to rule their life on an everyday basis. It's not that we never waiver. It's not that. It's just basic lines that say this is how our life's going to be defined. Does that make sense? Okay. Now check this out. You're going to love this.

After the ketubah was signed we would stand up and face each other, and I would say I go to prepare a place - no, no. I would say will you marry me? And of course she would say at that point - you've done too much work - she would say yes. Then I would say I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you may be also, and she would say well when you come back to receive me under yourself? I would say I do not know the day or the hour, but when my father approves the wedding chamber I'm building then I will come back and receive you under myself. Does any of that sound familiar? It's all wedding talk. All of this was happening all the time in weddings. It's all wedding talk - so I would go away and I would build the wedding chamber. Then my father would approve it and then we'd come back and we'd get her. We'd take her to the wedding, which is where step five is and that's called chuppah, chuppah.

Now there were two chuppahs. There was chuppah at the wedding altar - you guys know what a chuppah is? It's a marriage altar. Have you guys seen Meet the Parents? Oh come on, don't be so - nooo, we have never seen that. Remember the friend, the rich friend in Meet the Parents? He made the handmade chuppah? Yeah, it was a wedding altar. In western cultures we have lattice, like you have an archway kind of thing, yeah, that's chuppah. What it meant was, it meant to be covered in God's presence. So all everything that's fixing to happen, God - because to have a covenant which marriage is a covenant, so to have a covenant you have to have a deal and you have to have witnesses. So all of this was happening. That's why we do weddings today; you're making a deal in front of a group of people who are going to hold you accountable to that deal. That's what's supposed to happen, but that doesn't happen in western culture because we're too private. We don't want people to know everything and part of that's good, part of it's not good.

So the people who witnessed your wedding, they have no right in western culture to hold you accountable to the deal you made, so you could start acting like an idiot and everybody just says well that's their life, they need to work it out and they're in covenant so you have to put up with whatever. No, see in Hebrew culture if one or both started acting like an idiot the whole community banded together and held them accountable; you signed a ketubah. We were there. You're breaking your ketubah - and it was in front of us and it was in front of God. You can't break your deal. So you would make this deal; they would read the ketubah and you'd have this whole wedding thing. They'd read the ketubah and basically do you? I do. Do you? I do. Then they'd have the salt ceremony where the groom would have a baggy of salt, the bride would have a baggy of salt and the priest would have a big empty baggy. They'd take the groom's baggy of salt, they'd take the bride's baggy of salt and then he would take it and he would mix it together. He'd go what God has joined together, let no man tear asunder. Then he would take the mixed up salt and sprinkle it on their hands. It was called the Covenant of Salt.

So after the wedding, after the wedding's over then we go to the second chuppah, which is my personal favourite! [Laughter] The second chuppah was in the marriage bed and it was this. They would take the four stakes and they would make a canopy with this over the marriage bed, so this is what would happen. The groomsmen would march me and my new wife to the door of the marriage chamber I'd built, and then I would catch my bride up. Do you guys do that here? Like it's a good plan for some, it's not so good for others. [Laughter] So I would catch my bride up which was called rapture. [Oh! Laughter] Okay, the word rapture means to catch your bride up alright, it's where we get the word rapture from okay. So I would catch my bride up, I would walk her into the marriage chamber. The groomsmen would shut the door behind me and they would wait outside [laughter] while we consummated our marriage under the chuppah. Like they weren't near as ashamed of their sexuality as we are, like if you read particularly the Old Testament, they wrote things about themself that I thought I wouldn't have shared that. [Laughter]

So they're all waiting outside while we're - you know? Yeah, you know. Then we'd come out and we'd have a party and that was a wedding. So the Hebrew people, they heard lakah, they heard segullah, they heard mikveh - that's Exodus 19. So what happens in Exodus 20? Ketubah. And what happens in Exodus 20? What's in Exodus 20? The Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments is a marriage proposal. The Ten Commandments are not 10 conditions for God to love you; it is 10 proofs He already does. You're not proposing to people you don't love. Now think about the Ten Commandments from a marriage proposal standpoint. You should have no other Gods before Me; well that makes sense. In other words if we're going to be married I'm going to be number one and let me tell you something, just from a psychologist standpoint okay? If you took God out of the picture, if the Bible had not been discovered yet okay; if we had no instructions from God on how to live I can tell you as a psychologist that for a marriage to work the man has to be number one and the wife has to be the treasured possession. That's the only way for a marriage to work.

So God's like I'm going to be number one, you're not going to have anybody ahead of me. Is that fair enough? Yes, okay. You're not going to carry graven images or any likeness or anything okay? In other words if we're going to be married you're not going to have pictures of your old boyfriends. [Laughter] Oh, and you're not going to use My name in vain. In other words you're not going to sign cheques that I wouldn't sign. [Laughter] Yeah. You're not going - saying God's name in vain has nothing to do with saying you know, oh God or something - although it's probably distasteful and we probably shouldn't do it. It has everything to do with using God's name on something He wouldn't have used His name for - oh, and one day in seven it's just going to be Me and you. [Unclear 00.28.21] be a Sabbath, one day in seven. God had a way to keep His marriage together and what He did was one day in seven, seven times a year, it was just Him and His spouse. That's what happened.

That's how He tried to keep His marriage together with Israel - one day in seven and seven times a year, and they still were maritally unfaithful to the point that His anger burned against them to where there was no remedy. In the Book of Ezra it says He divorced them and He married the Gentiles, which should mess some of our theology up, yeah. So He did everything He could do and yet they were still maritally unfaithful, everything He could do. So this ketubah comes down and it's a marriage proposal, so what happens after the marriage proposal? Chuppah. Look at verse 18, this is so cool. It says now all the people heard - the actual word there is heard - they heard the thunder and the lightning and the sound of a trumpet. And the people saw the mountain filling in smoke, so they see - excuse me, they see thunder, lightning and billows of smoke, and they hear the sound of a trumpet.

They see thunder, lightning, billows of smoke; they witness thunder, lightning, billows of smoke. They see it. The word is see, we saw thunder and lightning. Now my question is how can you see thunder? You can't, so I went and looked it up. The word thunder is the word [kole, 00.29.59] which everywhere else in the Bible is translated voices or languages.

So the people are standing at the base of the mountain and they saw the mountain filling in smoke, chuppah. So they're standing there and a chuppah appears. They've already had lakah, they've already had segullah, they've already had mikveh, they've had a ketubah, and now they're standing there in a chuppah, a giant chuppah appears. They look up and they see languages inside lightning or fire. They see voices inside fire. The Talmud says that on this date in history God proposed to the entirety of creation through 70,000 tongues of fire. In 1856 there was this English sociologist that went to Rangoon, Burma to study the people there. This was before electricity, before phones, before internet, before cable, before any of that. He went to this tribe of people in Rangoon, Burma and he said who is your God? They said we serve a God named [Yaw 00.31.07] who proposed to us from fire in the sky.

So they're standing there and a chuppah appears and these languages of fire sit over top of them. What are the voices saying? Will you marry Me? Will you marry Me? And they reject it. They say no, Moses, don't let God speak to us anymore lest we die. You speak to God. We want somebody to go between us and God. We're not worthy. We're not worthy of this. We can't have this, so God instituted a feast every year on this day to commemorate it. You can read about it in Leviticus 23, we don't have time tonight. It's called the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Pentecost, because when you're standing at the base of a mountain and you see the thing fill up with smoke, and you see tongues of fire over their head, where do you see that happen again? Acts 2, which is the Day of Pentecost, which is the exact same day as that. It's just the anniversary of that day years later - so every year on that day they had to come together and they had to celebrate this day that God proposed to them.

On that day in Leviticus 23 it's the only place in the whole Bible that they were commanded to bring bread made with leaven. Everywhere else it had to be unleavened bread, but on this day it was different than all other days. They had to bring bread made with leaven. What they would do is they would offer this leavened bread to God as an offering. What was that saying? God, we're leavened beings and You're unleavened beings but You're willing to become one with us, thank You. So the priest would say something like this: I thank You my God that Your unleavened life is willing to become one with my leavened life. He would give thanks and then he'd bring the leavened bread down and he'd break it. He would take oil, symbolising the Holy Spirit, and he would fill the leavened bread with oil. After he filled the leavened bread with oil he would say now the Day of Pentecost has fully come. Now the Day of Pentecost has fully come.

So one day, one year they're all together celebrating this. They're all together and some of them would have been just going through the motions because they had to, and some of them would have been truly lamenting the decision of their ancestors not to follow God. Some of them would have been into it, but the priest, he says now the Day of Pentecost has fully come and says when the Day of Pentecost had fully come they were all together in one accord. The whole room filled in smoke and over their head they heard the sound a trumpet and they saw tongues of fire. It's the same exact event on the same exact day at the same exact time. What are the voices saying? Will you marry Me? The only difference is this time they spoke back, which is the birth of the church, which is the bride of Christ. Pentecostals for years have said you've got to get the leaven out of your life for God to use you. You've got to get the leaven out of your life for God to use you, and hear me clearly. You need to get the leaven out of your life because God wants you to have the best life, but God always uses imperfect people.

The thought that you're not worthy to approach God because you've got issues is a problem. The whole point of Pentecostals for years, you've got to get the leaven out of your life for God to use you! You've got to get the leaven out of your life for God to use you! But the whole point of Pentecost is oil flows through leaven - and aren't you glad? Come on, how many of us are glad about that? [Yeah!] Oil flows through leaven. In other words let me just say it this way; God wants to marry you, leaven and all. God wants to marry you, issues and all. Do you realise that God was proposing to a group of oppressed slaves? All they knew was slavery for 430 years. How much issues do you think they had? He was proposing to a group of people that He later had to say to them don't have sex with your mother, it's a bad plan. [Laughter] That's issues. When you don't know it isn't proper to have sex with your mother, when God has to tell you that, you've got problems.

He had to later tell them don't throw your children in fire. Like these people had issues out the wazoo [laughter] and He still wanted to marry them, leaven and all, because He knew if He could become one with them every part of their life that's tamei would be made tahor if He could just get a hold of it.

I bless you tonight to know that you are called to be the bride of Christ; that He wants to make you His own. He wants to make you His treasured possession. He wants to clean you up and give you the best life possible, that He's called you. He believes in you more than you believe in Him. He has called you to wrap your life in the tassels and take these tassels to this whole community and ultimately this whole world; to surround everybody in your contact with the compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love God; to let the whole world know [Talitha kum, 00.36.35] My child, the presence of God is here. That is what we are called to be and that is connecting the kingdom power, and that is taking this kingdom message to the world. I bless you tonight to know that God wants to marry you, leaven and all. He wants to take your leaven and turn it into something so awesome, so what's your story? Who needs to hear your story? What are we doing about it?

I bless you tonight to know that God believes in you more than You believe in Him. He has an incredible - He wants to be one with you. He wants to marry you, leaven and all. Lord, would You send us away tonight with Your blessing and Your touch. Would You send us away tonight with the tassels wrapped around our hands, that we are called to be peacemakers, that we are called to bring heaven to earth and not hell. Would You make us ministers of the kingdom of God in Jesus' name. Amen.

Now on Sunday, tomorrow I'm off I think - Sunday, I will be here Sunday morning and Sunday night, then next week we're going to continue this, these seminars. It has a different name. It says leadership on it. Let me tell you, it's going to be - I'm just going to continue right on from here and I'm going to tie these kingdom principles into our everyday lives. It's going to get better and better and better. I'm just going to keep going, so you don't want to miss next week. It's going to build up and it's going to build up and it's going to build up until next Sunday night, it'll be the most important message I've ever preached in the world. So I look forward to journeying with you over the next few days and I think we can believe together that at the end we'll be changed and different people, more into the image of our Almighty God. God bless you tonight. Thank you for having me as your guest. [Applause]

[File ends 00.38.36]


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