STREET MINISTRY

Just a thought, as I am preparing my heart for future ministry. In the last week or so while in NYC, I had the opportunity to minister, along with my son and a friend, to a man in need.

My friend bought him a hamburger, and my son and I later gave him a little bit of money, and talked with him.

What a blessing it was that my son reached out to him.

Anyway, this experience stirred my heart, and it was my son that wanted to go back and talk to him after my friend gave him the burger.

When we returned, there was a UPC woman there who was agitating him, showing no compassion for his disability, but just being a thorn in his side with her UPC teaching. She was taken back when I laughed and had joy. When she attempted to challenge me, I took the opportunity to make sure others around heard the truth.

Too many times when we think of street preachers, we think of Hell fire and brimstone preaching, and while I do believe there is a place for it, such ministry doesn’t have to define what street ministry is.

The gospel brings hope, and why can’t others do it differently?

Jesus told his disciples to follow him and he would make them fishers of men. It is Jesus who equips us to reach the lost, not copying what others do.

Many times the hell fire and brimstone preachers get attention when the hecklers get incited, but nothing shuts the mouths of a heckler like the kindness of the Lord which leads people to repentance.

If a person is not ready to hear the gospel, you can’t force it down their throat, but nothing makes a mark on people like being kind.

A simple prayer (not a quick sinners prayer that they are talked into) but a real caring faith filled prayer for them as an individual will do wonders and will open a person’s heart to hear the gospel.

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. ~ Acts 16:14

If you are involved in street ministry, or thinking about it, you don’t have to do it like everyone else. Just go love people with your kindness, prayers, and God will open the hearts.

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JEZEBEL, THE SIDONIANS, AND IDOL WORSHIP

In scripture, the infamous Jezebel who married King Ahab, the King of Israel, used her position of power to impose idolatry upon the children of Israel. Jezebel was a descendant of the Sidonians who were worshipers of Baal. According to 1 Kings 16:31, she was the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Sidonians.

She obviously was an instrument of Satan, just as many others throughout scripture who opposed the God of Israel were also instruments of Satan.

Yet there are some teachers who love to personalize Jezebel as a demon spirit, even though there is no scriptural grounds for doing so. Other than the historical record of the domineering wife of King Ahab, we have only one other reference to Jezebel in the balance of scripture. That reference is found in the book of the Revelation.

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. ~ Revelation 2:20-21

This woman, Jezebel, to whom Jesus refers was a person – a self proclaimed prophetess teaching ungodly doctrine and practices. Notice that Jesus says, “I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.”

Jesus did not say of this self proclaimed prophetess, “she had a spirit of Jezebel.” Jesus simply called her Jezebel. Most likely because she had similar traits to Jezebel, the domineering wife of King Ahab in the Old Testament.

In both the Old and New Testament, the name Jezebel applies to a person and not a demon. And in both cases, the person Jezebel, had influence in leading God’s people into idolarty.

Now, with that said, allow me to ask you a simple question.

Have you ever wondered why so many Jews needed deliverance from demonic oppression during earthly ministry of Jesus?

Consider the following from Mark chapter one:

And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. ~ Mark 1:32-39

Israel had had a long history of demonic oppression because of their continual worship of idols. Jezebel was one of many people who were influential in the idol worship which filled the history of Israel. Throughout scripture, the land of Israel was often corrupted with demonic activity and many times God addressed this through his prophets.

For example, God had Ezekiel prophesy to the mountians and hills in the land of Israel concerning God’s judgment against the altars built to false gods.

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God tothe mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols. And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out.  And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the Lord. ~ Ezekiel 6:1-6 (ESV)

When God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb, he brought judgment on the foreign gods of the Egyptians.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. ~ Exodus 12:12

After Isreal left Egypt, their history was filled with idolatry. From the golden calf at Mount Sinai, to the exile by the Babylonians, Israel’s idolatry was a persistent problem. Israel’s idolatry is one of the major things that the prophets were sent to confront.

Consider the following from the prophet Amos.

Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, you served your pagan gods—Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god—the images you made for yourselves. ~ Amos 5:25-26

Stephen elaborates on the words of Amos in Acts 7:39 -43

Before Israel entered and possessed the promised land, the inhabitants of the land (which included the Sidonians from which Jezebel descended) were idolatrous people who worshipped demons, and committed all sorts of detestable sins in the sight of God. God warned the Israelites not to follow their ways.

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) ~ Leviticus 18:24-28

When Israel went in and possesed the land, they did not drive out all the inhabitants of the land as God had commanded them. Among those who remaind in the land were the Sidonians.

According to the book of Judges, God used them to prove whether or not the Israelites would be faithful to God.

The Israelites, except for a remnant among them, were repeatedly unfaithful to the Lord, and refused to obey him. In due time they became worse than the Canaanites who possesed the land before them (see 2 Kings 21:9-12).

God’s promised redemption was to save Israel from their sins and cleanse them from their idols ( see Ezekiel 36:25-27). These words were fulfilled in their fullest sense when God sent his Son, Jesus, to the people of Israel.

The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. ~ Acts 10:36-38

Rather than magnifying “Jezebel” by personalizing demons with this name, and creating all sorts of characteristics that we feel the need to fight and struggle against, we should know that through Jesus Christ, we are delivered from all the power of darkness (Colosians 1:12-14),and we are redeemed so that we can now serve God faithfullly with a pure conscience (Hebrews 9:12-14).

Jesus came to set his people from thier sins, and to deliver them from the idolatry that had ravaged the nation through their ancestoral idol worship of the foreign gods – the false gods of the nations which previously inhabited the land. The Sidonians (from where Jezebel descended) were one of those nations.

Jesus not only gave his life to redeemed those within Israel who would repent and believe the gospel, he died to sanctify for himself a people from among the Gentiles as well. In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul commended the Thessalonians because they had ” turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thesalonians 1:9

FREE WILL WAS INCLUDED IN THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM UNDER THE LAW

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. ~ Leviticus 1:2-3

I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good. ~ Psalm 54:6

Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt offering… ~ Leviticus 22:18

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you, and will make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savoir unto the Lord, of the herd or of the flock… ~ Numbers 15:2-3

And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering. ~ Ezra 3:5

And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem… ~ Ezra 7:16

JESUS BORE OUR SINS

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus is our example of suffering wrongfully and that he committed himself to God who judges righteously. Peter tells us this within context of Christ bearing our sins (see 1 Peter 2:19-25).

The Biblical definition of what it means “to bare” doesn’t actually mean what we sometimes might think it means. For example, as believers we are to: “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We are to follow Christ’s example in bearing the burdens of others, because , Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree, that is on the cross.

What exactly then, do the scriptures mean when they teach us that  Jesus bore our sins?

Isaiah 53:12 tells us, “He BARE the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

The Hebrew word for bare in Isaiah 53:12 is “naw-saw

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GOD TAKES NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, BUT DESIRES THAT THE WICKED REPENT

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. ~ Isaiah 55:7

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? Ezekiel 18:23

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. ~ Ezekiel 18:30-32

As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? ~ Ezekiel 33:11

For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. ~ Lamentations 3:31-33

 

PETER’S MESSAGE TO THE EXILES

In the first epistle of Peter there are multiple statements that indicate that Peter’s thought process was quite different than that of modern day Zionism.

To begin with, Peter addresses his brethren as “aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” (1:1)

For the first century Jew, the diaspora wasn’t over, and yet the gospel proclaimed it was. For Christ had brought an end to the real exile, and now God was calling his people to an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for them ( v. 4).

The land under the law had served as a type of the true spiritual inheritance they would find in Christ.

In chapter one, he says the following in verses 14-19

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot ~ ESV

Now they were members of a new kind of Israel: a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, and chosen generation, called to offer up spiritual sacrifices by Jesus Christ (2:9).

Peter continues by addressing them as “strangers and pilgrims” (2:11), and encourages them to live in a way that honors God among the Gentiles in this world, as they follow Jesus Christ in anticipation of his glorious return.