Sky Valley Park
Desert Hot Springs, CA
January 27, 2002
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15, KJV).
Since we are to prosper and be in health as our soul prospers I want to continue exploring the prosperity, well-being, and health of the soul (III John 1:2). (See End Note "A"). Most of us would agree that our feelings and emotions belong to the soul realm, however you may wish to define it. The apostle Paul said that Adam was made "a living soul" (I cor. 15;45, KJV). The Greek word translated "soul" there is Strong's number 05590: Thayer's Bible Lexicon defines the "soul" as "the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)" The BDB Lexicon adds, "be tempestuous, be sore, troubled, come out as a whirlwind." This seems to be a perfect definition of our feelings when they get stirred up. When we are tossed about hither and yon on life's stormy seas, when our minds are driven and scattered by the whirlwind of our feelings, all the carefully controlled negativity and fear comes roaring to the surface of our conscious mind. Fear enters by the door and peace flies out the window. That is the human condition in a nutshell.
All of us are affected by strong feelings from time to time, feelings which make us doubt our safety, our sanity, and even God's love for us. It has come to me for years now, following all of that trauma we went through in 1997-98 (See End Note "B"), that it is not the situation which defeats us, but rather it is what we tell ourselves about the situation that puts us under the pile. That is because, when we tell ourselves how bad it is, how awful it feels, we trigger the "oh woe is me," feelings of abandonment and fear that lurk just beneath the surface in our subconscious mind. Without going off into a psychological treatise, which would have the "Psychophobes" looking for stones to hurl at me, let me just say, that the concept of a "collective unconscious" into which has been deposited all the trauma of the human race collectively, is Scripturally sound. The Bible makes reference to the sins of the fathers being visited on the children to the third and fourth generation (Ex. 20:5, 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 5:9). I have long believed that the "sins of the fathers" include what modern day Psychologists call neurosis. If you want to apply the law of Moses to most neurotic behavior, it is sin, of course, but through the eyes of grace, we see that such behavior is missing the mark of God's perfection because our mind has not yet been renewed to see ourselves as God sees us.
When we measure ourselves by the yardstick of the law, we come up so far short that we must make aprons of fig leaves to cover our nakedness before God. Soon, the making of aprons becomes the obsession, a religious addiction, and before long, the original cause of our distress is forgotten in pursuit of the goal, which is getting rid of our uncomfortable feelings so that we can get on with life. Have you ever talked to a drug addict about why he uses narcotics? One young man told me that he just wanted to "feel good." His psychic misery was so deep and so wide, that he was compelled to "self medicate" in order to function at all. Predictably, using drugs caused him to feel guilt and shame, plunging him further into the pit of despair, making it necessary to get another "fix" so he could feel "normal," whatever that meant to him. Lenin's observation that religion is an opiate is true. Religion is a powerful tranquilizer, so much so that the children of Israel, partook of the drug even when the power was long gone. When God did not "hop to" the way they expected, they looked at the nations round about them, and began to worship gods made of stone and brass in an attempt to feel better in their lives. This is NOT a treatise on religious addiction, but believe me when I tell you that religion IS a potent narcotic for the soul. Without Spirit, it is an endless cycle of despair, self medication (the fix), guilt, shame, and more despair.
The Old Testament has a lot to say about human feelings. Moses was distraught because God threatened to send them on their way alone to the land flowing with milk and honey, saying, "But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way" (Ex. 33:3, NIV). The statement comes after God had punished the children of Israel for making the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus, Chapters Thirty Two and Thirty Three). Moses intervened again on behalf of the Jacob's faithless children and God agreed to go with them, saying "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex. 33:14, RSV). God's statement to Moses is the antidote for the chaos caused by our whirlwind feelings. Most people are looking for rest in all the wrong places, but only His presence gives us rest. No where else can it be found, as all addicts and other seekers of truth eventually learn.
The dis-ease, the unrest comes when we look at the problem and react to the feelings it brings up in us, rather than looking to our source of rest, the presence of God. The Spirit led me to First Samuel last week, where I read again the story of Israel asking for a King, "such as all the other nations have" (I Sam. 8:5, NIV). Samuel, God's mighty prophet in that hour, was not pleased, but he took their request to the Lord, who said, "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king" (I Sam. 8:7, NIV). God's covenant with Israel was based on a Theocracy rather than a Monarchy or a Democracy. He was their King, their Commander-in-Chief, their Deliverer, their Supplier, and of course, their Sovereign God. The Holy One of Israel was the only One qualified to sit on the throne of their lives, but they wanted someone "with skin on" to lead them. So God directed Samuel to anoint Saul of the tribe of Benjamin as their king. He was an impressive looking young man, "a head taller than any of the others" (I Sam. 9:2), but he was not interested in spiritual matters, for he had never heard of Samuel. He learned about the prophet for the first time from his servant. Even then, they were not seeking spiritual truth, but were looking for some run away donkeys which Saul had been sent to locate and return to his father (I Sam. 9:6-9,18). As the Lord had arranged it, Samuel told Saul where the donkeys could be found, and invited him to eat with him. Before sending him on his way, Samuel anointed Saul as Israel's first king.
He gave Israel's future king this amazing word: "The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person....."Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do." As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day" (I Sam. 10:6,8-9). Saul was not a bad man, and as the text there states, God changed his heart, but still, like a lot of us, he sometimes cut corners in obeying God's commands. Samuel had told him to wait at Gilgal until he came to offer the sacrifices unto the Lord. Meanwhile, Saul's son Jonathan had attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba (I Sam. 13:3-4), with a thousand fighting men who were with him. Saul and two thousand men were at Micmash, which was located not far from Gilgal, the place where he was to wait for Samuel. Jonathan's attack roused the Philistines to battle, and they amassed against Israel, "three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven" (I Sam. 13:5). To make it worse, during the time that the Philistines had oppressed Israel, they had removed all the blacksmiths so the Hebrews could not make swords or spears. "So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them" (I Sam. 13:19-22). God's people were out manned two to one and outgunned as well. Talk about a whirlwind of feelings swirling around the camp!
Like a lot of us, Saul took a look at the face and the fire power of his enemy and his stomach turned over. His men were terrified. Some "hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear" (I Sam. 13:6-7, NIV). As he saw his men scattering before the enemy, he did what many of us have done. He abandoned his plan to wait upon the Lord, took matters into his own hands, and offered the sacrifice himself. When Samuel finally arrived, demanding to know what he had done and why, Saul defended himself: "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering" (I Sam. 13:11-12, NIV). The prophet cut him no slack: "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command" (I Sam. 13:13-14, NIV).
By this time, Saul's army was reduced from three thousand fighting men to six hundred. Nevertheless, his son Jonathan declared, "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few" (I Sam. 14:6, NIV). The Lord honored Jonathan's faith, using him and his armor bearer to kill twenty men in about a half an hour, after which the Lord sent a panic on the whole Philistine army. When Saul and his pitiful army went into battle, "They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. So the LORD rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven" (I Sam. 14:20-23, NIV). When you remember that there were only two swords in Israel, the ones belonging to Saul and Jonathan, this amazing victory, proved that God alone was their King; only He could deliver them from death and destruction at the hands of their enemies.
The same truth shines in our lives today. God is our source. He is our King, our defender, our deliverer, no matter how many Philistines threaten to sack and pillage our lives. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, Paul asserts in Eph. 1:4. He "has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Tim. 1:9-10, NIV). Notice two things about this passage: 1) our calling in Christ has nothing to do with our own efforts, and 2) Paul affirms that Christ has destroyed death. It seems to me that a good many of our negative feelings arise from the belief that we must do something to save ourselves from death and destruction, that our success or failure in this life depends on our efforts alone. Self-help gurus have sold countless books which declare that we can make a choice to have a better life. That is a partial truth only, which taken to its logical conclusion makes us responsible for all the failure in our lives and also allows us to take credit for all the good gifts God has given us. Under law, this was so. (See Deuteronomy, Chapter Twenty Eight.) God gave Adam a taste of "free will." It is a sour taste which has lingered on the human palate for millenniums. When Christians proudly proclaim, "I made a decision for Christ," what they mean is, "Therefore I am more godly than the heathen who did not." They do not yet realize that the Bible is NOT a self-help book! Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44, KJV).
It is bad enough that we are told that our earthly condition rests on our choices, our decisions, effectively making us responsible for our poverty of spirit, or body, or soul, but it is hideous in the extreme when we are told that our eternal destiny depends on our choices as well. Though most Christians would SPIT UP at the theory that God set the universe in motion and then went away to let it run its course, nevertheless, the spiritual equivalent of this perversion is that God did His part by sending Christ to die for our sins, and now we have to do the rest. Believing this lie is the first step down the slippery slope into depression, guilt, shame, and anguish. Christ HAS overcome the world, and we are IN HIM (John 16:33; Acts 17:28). Not only that, but the Hebrew writer assures us, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15, KJV).
The healing of our feelings is only possible in Him, because He "bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows:.... he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:4-5). By His stripes we WERE healed (I Peter 2:24). When things are not going well in our lives, only God can transform our hearts and minds with the light of His glorious gospel, bringing life and immortality to our weary souls. God operates in eternity, rather than in a 24 hour day. Thus, even though He had Samuel tell Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him, nevertheless, Saul reigned as king over Israel for forty two years! (I Sam. 13:1,13-14). We are a generation which demands instant gratification. God's truth does not operate by a stopwatch, nor by any time piece at all. He will reveal His truth in His time, in His way, in ALL circumstances (Eph. 1:11). Lord, allow us to see and taste and touch and feel your presence, wherein we may find rest now and in this time. Amen.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
End Note "A": "As your soul prospers"
End Note "B": "Only fools or sons of the Most High camp out in Missouri in the dead of winter,"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 2/8/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/28/08.