OCTOBER 3, 1996
Westlake Village, CA
Edited, September 30, 2008
"Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leads Joseph like a flock; thou that dwells between the cherubims, shine forth" (Psalm 80:1).
Editor's Note: The information in this chapter may be shocking to some Christians, especially those unacquainted with psychological processing of personal issues. As I was contemplating this dilemma, it came to me that if I had described my experiences with the Great Counselor as "visions," it would be more familiar to the reader than "Voice Dialogue Therapy," but no matter the name, God used these methods to set me free from the ties that bind, and the "sins of the fathers visited on the children to the third and forth generation" (Deut. 5:9, which I interpret to mean the multigenerational neurotic baggage that clings to us all like barnacles on a ship). When we enter the Throne Room, we have to leave our baggage outside, and this chapter relates a little of how God removed some of mine. J. A.
Chapter Two, Verse Two
As our financial condition continues to worsen, I've been dealing with a lot of guilt and shame, some of which comes from the situation, and some comes from the multigenerational family issues handed down from father to son and mother to daughter over many generations. For the past 10 days or so, the phrase, "Til Shiloh come," has floated through my brain. It would happen at odd times when I was otherwise occupied and couldn't concentrate on what it meant. On one of these occasions, I stopped what I was doing and wondered, "What the heck does that mean?" I remembered that there was some kind of decisive battle fought during the Civil War at a town called Shiloh, but that didn't seem to fit my situation very well. I looked up the references in the Bible and began reading them.
The first one I came to was in Genesis 49:10, which reads, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." There's a star by the verse, which was thoughtfully put there by the editors of my Bible, indicating a reference to Christ, the Messiah. I continued to read the other references, until I came to I Samuel, Chapters 1-4, in which it is clear that Shiloh was the location where the children of Israel went up every year to worship and bring their sacrifices unto the Lord. The Ark of the Covenant was located there. As any kid who watched "Raiders of The Lost Ark," can tell you, the Ark and the mercy seat on top of it had mystical properties (Ex. 25:17,21). Why? because it was there, between the wings of the cherubim, that the Lord met with or "shone forth" (Ps. 80:1), unto the Children of Israel (Ex. 29:42-43).
As part of my investigation of the meaning of Shiloh, then, I reread the wonderful story recorded in I Samuel, chapter 4, which I want to briefly relate here as part of my consideration of shame. The book of first Samuel begins with the circumstances surrounding Samuel's conception. His mother Hannah was barren, certainly a shameful condition in those days, and during the family's yearly trip to worship and to sacrifice unto the "Lord of hosts" in Shiloh (I Sam. 1:3), she made a vow to the Lord that if He would look upon her affliction and give her a man child, she would "lend him" unto the Lord "all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head" (Vs. 11). The Lord harkened unto her, as the King James puts it, and in due time, she bore a son named Samuel. True to her vow, after she had weaned him, she took her young son, and delivered him into the care of Eli, the priest who seemed to be in charge (though he is not referred to as the "high priest" in this story). God blessed her sacrifice and gave her three sons and two daughters in repayment of the loan she made to the Lord (2:21). When she came up to Shiloh every year, to sacrifice and worship God, she would bring Samuel a little coat which she had made him, and the child ministered before the Lord.
Eli was old, and did not have control over his sons, who were "rotten pukes" that knew not God. In fact when the Lord first spoke to Samuel, it was regarding this dysfunctional family situation. Speaking through the child Samuel, God told Eli that He would "punish his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever" (I Sam. 3:13-14). Lest we conclude from this account, that Eli was not a proper guardian for Samuel, the scripture reassures us that, "Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh (this may indicate that He had been absent or merely silent for a time, I don't know); for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord" (Vs. 19-21). (I concluded from this that whatever Shiloh was to mean to me, it was certainly where I would met the Lord or at least hear from Him.)
The record is not clear on how many years passed by, but "it came to pass" as the King James expresses it, that the Philistines came up and "put themselves in array against Israel" (4:2), and in the first battle, about four thousand Israelites died. Abraham's children were, of course, accustomed to seeing the glory of God deliver them from their enemies, and thus, this was a devastating thing, and certainly a shameful event which had happened to them. So they had a meeting of the joint chiefs of tribes and said, "Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hands of our enemies" (I Sam. 4:3). Bless their hearts, what a grand plan. I couldn't have thought of a better one myself. Unfortunately, like a good many of the works which sprang from my mind and the strength of my own right arm rather than from the Spirit of the Lord, this one failed.
The people sent to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of hosts. Why? because, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to Moses in the wilderness, God dwelt between the wings of the cherubims which were over the mercy seat (Ex. 25:20.22), and there He met with the prophets and priests whom He appointed to bring His word to the children of Israel. Naturally, they concluded that if the ark of the covenant were present, so would God be. So much for the best laid plans. No doubt the Lord was there, but He certainly wasn't rooting for the Israelite team. Eli's two bad boys, Hophni and Phinehas were present on the site with the Ark of the Covenant of God (4:4). Like their father, they also were priests, though corrupt ones. "And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again" (4:5). I can just hear them rejoicing, "All right! Our bacon is saved. He's here! He's here! Watch out you rotten Philistines; you're gonna get it now."
The Philistines heard the noise of rejoicing as well, and when they realized that the ark of the covenant had come into the camp of the Hebrews, they were afraid. They lamented, "Woe unto us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness" (4:8). Right idea, wrong location (The plagues happened in Egypt, you see, not in the wilderness, unless you count the fire from heaven, fatal illnesses, fiery serpents, and earthquakes, to name a few of the things which God sent upon them to get their attention, so to speak). Anyway, we get the point that God's press secretary had obviously done a bang up job here in notifying the neighbors about what usually happened to the bad guys when Yahweh showed up on the scene (Deut. 2:25). However, these Philistines didn't fold up and collapse into a heap. No sir, these guys were made of sterner stuff. They went into a huddle, gave themselves a good talking to and said, "Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you; quit (behave) yourselves like men, and fight" (4:9). And so they did. They fought so valiantly, so fiercely, and so well, that 30,000 Israeli footmen died that day. The ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. Good story. Bad ending.
One of the Israelite solders of the tribe of Benjamin ran to Shiloh "with his clothes rent and earth on his head" (Josh 7:6; II Sam 13:19), and he came crying into the city with the disastrous battle report. Eli had been sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, in fear and trembling, because the ark of God had been taken from Shiloh. He was 98 years old and could barely see. When the Benjaminite reported that there had been a great slaughter in the battle and that his two sons were dead and the ark of the covenant captured, Eli "fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck broke, and he died" (Vs. 18). His pregnant daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was near to be delivered, and when she heard the tidings that the ark was taken and her husband killed, she went into labor and died in childbirth (Vs. 19). She didn't respond to the joyous news that she had borne a son, and she lived only long enough to name the child Ichabod, because she said, "The glory is departed from Israel; for the ark of God is taken" (Vs. 22).
I'll leave the story at that, but it's well worth reading about what happened to the Philistines who captured the Ark of God. They lived to regret it, and it's a good read (I Samuel, Chapter 5). What struck me most about the story, and thus the title of this chapter, was the shame the Children of Israel all must have felt upon hearing the news that the ark was taken by their sworn enemies. I think it was the shame as much as anything else that killed Eli and Phinehas' wife. Part of the shame is that they counted on God to save them, and He didn't. That's where I'm at today, and it does not feel good. I've been dealing with shame all week. We listed our house for sale, and I have felt like the "FOR SALE" sign in the drive way is a proclamation to all who pass by that we have failed, and worse, that God has deserted us. It has been so clear that God gave us this beautiful place, this mountain top paradise to live in, and we couldn't do what it takes to keep it. Considering the untold thousands of Southern Californians who are in exactly this same place, no doubt it must seem illogical for us to be so devastated, but so we were and so we still are.
I realized early on that this is "shame on the hoof." It feels like God has departed from us. We counted on Him to save us, and He didn't. The Philistines are at the door (which is way worse than the wolf, believe me), and we are doomed. He has "turned off the water," put a crimp in the supply pipe, and made all our efforts to save ourselves null and void. As I've said often of late, He only lets me write, compose songs, and bake bread. Those are items not likely to bring in any revenue, you see. So, it's OK if I succeed in doing those things. Why is it, I continually wonder, that money continues to be the metaphor for success, the yardstick for salvation? Where is the fish with the coin in its mouth? (Matt. 17:27). Where is Elijah to multiply the cruise of oil and the barrel of meal? (I Kings 17:14). Where is Jesus to multiply the loaves and fishes? (Matt. 14:17-21). The bills are due, the creditors are calling; and on and on it goes. You get the drift.
When I am this down and out, I try to crawl into Jesus' lap and get some comfort. Years ago, after reading the first self help book of many, I created in my mind a mental "bunker," I call it, which has been a powerful refuge for me over the years. Maxwell Maltz wrote the book, Psychocybernetics, in which I first got the concept of a mental "hiding place," uniquely created and designed to meet my needs. I decorated my "bunker" with white washed Oak flooring, white couches and chairs, with a splash of color in the teal blue and mango covered pillows. It has a wonderful hanging chair swing, big enough for two or three, and I visualize my inner child, little Jani, sitting up there with Jesus on the swing, safe from the accusing voices which condemn me and from anything else that could harm me. What does Jesus look like? Not surprisingly, He looks just like most of His pictures, wearing a long white robe and sandals. I tried to picture Him in Birkenstock sandals, jeans, tee shirt and an ear ring, but it just won't wash. (For what it's worth, I believe His face looks much the same in most of His pictures, because He probably appeared to the artists somehow.)
Since being emotionally wiped out with the shame of failure, I've gone into my "bunker" almost every night. I'd like to give credit here to a couple of Psychologists, Hal Stone, Ph.D., and his wife, Sidra Winkelman, Ph.D., who wrote two books on voice dialogue therapy. One is called Embracing Ourselves, and the other is Embracing Each Other. Voice dialogue therapy is very powerful because it helps one to deal with the voices of the sub-personalities who prance about, roar and rant, rage and recriminate on the inner stage of our lives and often create so much havoc in our conscious and unconscious minds. In other words, we don't get upset when our inner voices tell us how wonderful, how amazingly talented, and how righteous we are. (That's assuming, of course, that anyone has voices that say those things.)
My voices, and those of the folks I've talked with about this, usually spend a great deal of time telling me how awful I am, how badly I've blown it, and how far I am from what God wants. Though it may sound weird at first hearing, I have found Voice Dialogue therapy to be a powerful tool to get free from the self doubt, fear, shame, and other torments created by my fertile little mind. So, the idea is that when I go into my "bunker," my inner child sits on Jesus' lap, and all these various voices or selves or sub-personalities, or energy patterns (whatever you feel comfortable calling them), can come out and say whatever they please. They can't harm me because Jesus is there, and by the way, they are NOT demons, just part of my familial neurotic stuff. My goal now is to introduce them to Jesus and let Him deal with them.
Earlier this week, I met one called "Nadine," who is the embodiment of the fear which has plagued my family for generations. I didn't know this hysterical, frightened voice existed in me because I've been shoving her down for all these years, and dealing with her at arms length in my sister, my daughter, and my mother, and whomever else presents fear and hysteria to me. As Jesus said, however, I need to get that beam out of my own eye before I go messing around with the speck in anyone else's (Matt. 7:4-5). A legacy from my maternal Grandmother's people, Nadine was just a hysterical mess, and all she could get out in the tiniest voice was, "I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid." For some reason, probably because she was beyond any "fixing," I could provide, I asked her if she wanted to be saved. Then, I found out another fascinating thing about my "bunker." It has a baptistery in it. Yes, indeed, right over there in the corner, to the left of the wet bar. Lenny says it must be a Church of Christ bunker (except for the wet bar, of course), and maybe it is. Anyway, Jesus baptized Nadine and after she came up out of the water, she seemed somewhat calmer, though she was a long way from rejoicing.
A few days later, when I went into my "bunker," my resident "nudge" my self-righteous, judgmental, all knowing "parent," my nemesis, "Harriet," came out to accuse me of neglect, failure to exercise due diligence in finding new real estate clients, failure to keep the ones we have, and failure to be anything but, you guessed it, a failure. Our codependency recovery group named this voice "Harriet," after a story John Bradshaw tells in one of his books. (I think the Transactional Analysis types would call her the "critical parent.") Anyway, I was so tired, so worn out, so exhausted, that I said, "Harriet, you know Nadine got baptized the other night, and she feels a lot better. Wouldn't you like to be baptized too? Jesus, couldn't you just save Harriet (and me, of course) right now?" So, Jesus asked her if she believed He was the Son of God, and when she said she did, He baptized her. Now, just so you understand the nature of this powerful, persuasive, critical voice that has controlled me for years, she came up out of the water, not rejoicing, but observing, "You know, the water is just a little too cold, and there's fungus here on the side of the baptistery." Some days, you just want to scream, even in your bunker. Harriet is a real mess, let me tell you, but since she was baptized, she hasn't been on my case once. Dare I hope? (And she still hasn't been around, 12 years later)!
Then, a couple of nights ago, I met this very old man, all stooped over and very ancient, who had a blanket over his head. He was too full of shame to let anyone see his face. As it turns out, I learned somehow, though I don't recall how, that he was Aaron, the priest of the Most High, the self same one who made the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai. No wonder he was ashamed. He caused almost as much trouble for all of us as Eve did, bless her heart. He too was baptized, but when he came up out of the water, he was happy and smiling and blessing God saying, "Praise God! I'm free! Thank you, God, I'm free!" I think this Aaron I met is a metaphor for the multigenerational neurotic garbage that the Bible calls, "the sins of the fathers visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation" (Num. 14:18). Another way to put it is that when Jesus died, He paid for all sin going clear back to the garden of Eden, and all the way forward to the holy city, the new Jerusalem, which John saw coming down out of heaven. But even though the price was paid in full for our sins, there's still some mop up work to be done by the Spirit in terms of the residual shame and guilt that grows like a fungus all over our family trees.
I feel like He has been "moping up" on me for years, and at times, I think there's not going to be enough left of me to matter when He gets through, but I try to say, "Go, God, Go," instead of "STOP! Now, please!" I think that's what it means to pray, "Thy will be done" (Matt. 26:42; Mark 14:36), but it's so hard, for when we pray that, as Jesus did, we might end up on the cross. I think we all struggle with that, but I'm trying to remind myself that even though I feel like I'm dying, and for sure, a part of me is, the end is glorious, for after the shame of the cross comes the resurrection and the glory of God.
The part that's dying in me is that part which for years has said, "I can do it, myself. Just get out of my way and let me do it." This is not what Jesus did, and since He is our example, I'm trying to pay attention to a few interesting things. First, He did not wave His arms, snap His fingers, and make the sign of the cross and heal everyone in Galilee and Judea. He said of Himself, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does likewise" (John. 5:19 RSV). If God didn't will it, it didn't happen.
There's an interesting comment in Mark's Gospel about Jesus going back to his home town. He preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was His custom, and while they were amazed at His teachings, still they couldn't get over the fact that he was "the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judah, and Simon.....and they were offended at Him" (Mark. 6:3). The effect of this was that Mark reports that there (in his home town), "He could do no mighty work, save that He laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6:5-6). Clearly, God had closed their eyes and stopped their ears so that they would not receive Him (Is. 6:10; Matt. 13:14; Acts 28:27). As Isaiah foretold, the people hear but understand not; and they see, but perceive not, a condition which Paul says lasts until this day (Rom. 11:8). In any event, Jesus counseled His disciples to shake the dust off their feet and leave a household which wouldn't receive Him (Matt. 10:14). He didn't suffer the same compulsion I do, which is, if I can just explain myself sufficiently, people will understand, and I can accomplish my purposes. Not so.
God has increasingly caused my valiant efforts, my heroic struggles to save ourselves via the real estate business to be of none effect. That's why I say, everything I have touched except writing, song writing, and baking bread has failed utterly. This is not to kill me, though at times my body wonders if I'll live through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" this time. I feel this ongoing tribulation is to show me that He is all in all. He is the one with whom I have to do. It's not demented, demanding Sellers, or unstable, fickle Buyers, or even the cranky agents we've encountered this year who have displayed all the charm of a wart hog with hemorrhoids. No, it's actually God who used all these people, things, and events to reduce me to rubble, but it is He, nonetheless.
If I can succeed by the strength of my own right arm, using my skill, my expertise, my endurance, and my ability, then who gets the glory? I do, of course. He alone deserves the glory for what He alone can accomplish. He is squeezing me about as tightly as I can ever remember, and that's when the glory begins to shine. The song at the end of this chapter is one of those glory moments for me. After I looked up Shiloh and ran the references, I was playing the piano one morning, and a recurring melody began to emerge. I've learned to keep the tape recorder on so that if I lose the tune, I can recapture it. Lenny says the melody reminds him of a slave song. It is indeed, a rather mournful lament, but it repeats the Messianic prophecies in a new and harmonic way that ministers life to my soul and hope to my spirit.
For whatever other reason God is giving me these songs, for sure, they are for me. He is prophesying to me through them. Perhaps in due time, they will be for others as well, but right now, they represent to me "the new song" which the hundred forty four thousand sang before the throne of God and unto the Lamb (Rev. 14:3-4). This is a vivid portrait of the redeemed, who "came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). They are the hope of glory for those of us enduring the tribulation of God, for they (and we) shall worship before the throne of God. The angel told John that, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Rev. 7:16-17).
So, my present hope is that God has been showing me the family shame to deliver me from it and others in my family as well. He will not leave us comfortless. Even though I believe that He will never leave us nor forsake us, yet in the meantime, it is "A fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31), and I confess to feeling afraid when I have to fight the Philistines (inner and outer). What would I like to fax to my friends and family at these moments? What would I like to have them fax me? Perhaps Moses' words to the children of Israel before he left them to travel into the promised land without him: "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, He it is that does go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.....Fear not, neither be dismayed" (Deut. 31:6, 8). God sent that message via "angelic transmission" (God's E-mail) to us in the Old Testament, and again in the New. The Hebrew writer declares: "He has said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' So that we may boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).
God sends us messages every day. May He also help us to keep the receiver tuned to His channel so that we can know that Shiloh has come, today and in this time. The shame of the cross and its tribulation has been swallowed up in the glory of the new creation, and we stand before the throne of God in white robes singing new songs of praises unto Him and unto the Lamb. Lord, open our eyes so that we can see You and unstop our ears so that we can hear You. Cleanse our emotions so that we can feel You, and experience You, and know You even as we are known. Then, like Job, we can rejoice, "In my flesh, shall I see God" (Job 19:26). "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job. 42:5). Then, You will shine forth in and through us to the rest of humanity.
If you can hear the music, it is the melody of this song which the Lord gave me. J.A.
Til Shiloh Comes (Gen. 49:10)
The rod of Jesse's coming (Isaiah 11:1),
A scepter in His hand (Hebrews 1:8).
To lead the sons of Levi (Mal. 3:3)
into the promised land.
Til Shiloh come; Til Shiloh come
To reveal Himself in me.
A star shines out of Jacob (Num. 24:17).
And every eye shall see (Rev. 1:7);
When Shiloh comes to Judah (Gen. 49:10),
He's coming there for me.
Til Shiloh come; til Shiloh come,
He's come to set us free.
The lion roars when Shiloh comes (Rev. 5:5).
The King is on His throne.
The King of Kings & Lord of Lords (Rev. 17:14)
Is coming for His own.
Til Shiloh come; til Shiloh come,
He's come for you and me.
By Jan Austin Antonsson, October, 1996
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Forward to Faxes From the Fiery Furnace
Faxes From The Fiery Furnace, Chapter One
E-Mail from Armageddon, Chapter Three
Baggage From Babylon, Chapter Four
Just A Note From Job, Chapter Five
Joy From Jerusalem, Chapter Six
Memo From Moses, Chapter Seven
Dancing with the Devil, Chapter Eight
News From Neosho, Chapter Nine
The Glory Road
We would enjoy hearing from you!
This writing was uploaded to the web 8/25/05,
by Jan Antonsson, webmeister,
and last updated 12/04/08.