Category Archives: Worship

The Four Faces of God

Discovering Biblical Personhood

I recently attended a men’s breakfast at our church where we heard an excellent lecture from Dr. Robert Lewis on “The Four Faces of Manhood”. Dr Lewis describes the four faces of biblical manhood as follows: King, Warrior, Lover and Friend. He plots these on a graph as follows:

King

Lover —————–  Friend

Warrior

 

God has intended for the King to lead, for the friend to be faithful, for the warrior to be a protector and for the lover to love sacrificially as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). He then describes how God’s design for man can be perverted by “ugly caricatures”. The King becomes a cruel tyrant or a weak abdicator. The friend becomes a loner or a user of others. The warrior becomes a destroyer or a wimp and the lover becomes critical or cold.

It seemed to me that an unbalanced man would tend to lean in a circular direction and that the ugly caricatures would follow in a predictable pattern so that a tyrant king would be a using friend, a destroying warrior and a critical lover. On the other hand, if the unbalanced man leaned in the other direction he would be a weak abdicator, cold lover, a wimpy warrior and a loner rather than friend.

As I contemplated this, I was reminded of some scriptures about “four faces”. The first was in Ezekiel chapter 1 where Ezekiel has a vision of God’s throne and he describes four creatures (some call seraph) that stand guard around God’s throne:

As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 1:10 NKJV

The Apostle John had a similar vision described in Revelation chapter 4:

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. Revelation 4:6-7 NKJV

It is interesting that the two visions vary slightly, but to my mind it only lends credibility to the authenticity as the scriptures are inspired by God and penned by men with different perspectives. One can only imagine how frightening such a vision might be and how each might have a different memory of it, just as two people observing a horrible accident might have different accounts. If John had meant to copy Ezekiel he would have done it word for word, but he didn’t. But the two accounts are so similar as to confirm that they were seeing the same throne room.

We must understand that all creation is intended to glorify God as originally created. The creatures guarding God’s throne can be considered to display the character and nature of God just as mankind is made in the image of God. So, what do these creatures tell us about God and how does that apply to mankind?

I believe that the seraph show us that God relates to us as a man and a friend. God came to earth in the form of the man Jesus who referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.” God relates to us as King over all creation as the lion rules over all other creatures. Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and revelation assures that He will reign over all creation forever and ever (Rev. 11:15). An ox or a calf is a sacrificial animal. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). An eagle is the swiftest of hunters and warriors. In the Psalms God describes Himself as an eagle protecting His flock.  He shelters us beneath His wings (Psalm 17:8).

So the new chart is this:

King/Lion

Lover/Ox —————– Friend/Man

Warrior/Eagle

As I have repeatedly read these scriptures in Ezekiel and Revelation I have wondered at their meaning and significance. I believe through this study that the Lord has granted me a measure of revelation. The four fold nature of God is even displayed in the different gospel accounts. Matthew depicts Christ as King beginning with His royal lineage (Mt. 2:2). Mark, written from Peter’s memories (Mark was Peter’s scribe), describes Jesus as a friend and a brother (Mark 3:35). No one was closer to Jesus than Peter. Mark reveals Jesus as a man (Mark 9:12).

Luke, written from Paul’s memories (Luke was discipled by Paul), displays Jesus as the warrior, the defender of the faith and the faithful. We see in the gospel of Luke the accounts of Jesus’ battles with the religious leaders and Pharisees (those accounts don’t name Paul, but I believe that he was among those who followed Jesus constantly seeking to trip him up; Luke 6:7). It is interesting that Jesus chose Paul, a fanatical defender of Judaism, to be the primary evangelist and his Acts and his letters portray how he battled like an eagle to defend the gospel.

John, the mystic, the romantic, depicts Christ as a sacrificial lover. He tells us that God so loved the world that He gave and describes Jesus as the Lamb of God. John records Jesus saying, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (Joh 13:34-35)

These scriptures revealing God’s nature and our response pertain to all mankind, including women. They show us what biblical personhood is. Women are created to reflect God’s image as well. Women are called to lead, love, protect and befriend all be it in a unique way.

As I looked further into Ezekiel’s vision I discovered that it reveals not only the nature of God, but it speaks about how we must walk with God. The vision shows us how not to become unbalanced, fall into sin and display a false, ugly caricature. I noticed that the creatures walked in the Spirit, that is they followed the Holy Spirit. They didn’t become unbalanced and turn to the left or right.

And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. Ezekiel 1:12 NKJV

The vision goes on to tell us that a strange object followed each of the creatures.

Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. Ezekiel 1:15-17 NKJV

The scripture goes on to describe how the wheels are covered with eyes, depicting the all seeing, all knowing nature of God. This strange object, like the Seraphim, does not turn to the left or right, but follows the straight path, the narrow way. It reminded me of a gyroscope. I searched the definition/ function of a gyroscope.

Gyroscope: an apparatus consisting of a rotating wheel so mounted that its axis can turn freely in certain or all directions, and capable of maintaining the same absolute direction in space in spite of movements of the mountings and surrounding parts: used to maintain equilibrium, determine direction, etc.

Gyroscopes are used in aircraft instrumentation to show relative position to the earth. They help the pilot to know where straight and level is. A gyroscope has two perpendicular axes. One is perpendicular to the earth and the other is parallel. The axes of a gyroscope make a cross.

Our church has recently been studying the book of Romans. Last week I heard a message from chapter 7 by pastor Keith Knight. Chapter 7 is about struggling with sin. The conclusion is that there is deliverance from sin through Jesus Christ. At the climax of the message Keith turned to a cross on the stage and told us that when the struggle is there, he turns to the cross and reminds himself what Jesus did there to save us from sin. That is the key! That is what will keep us on the straight and narrow road.

I know that this vision is meant to show us that God has provided us with a holy gyroscope to help us follow Him. If we focus on what happened on the cross we will keep our spiritual bearings and not wander off to the left or right displaying an ugly image.

It’s interesting that such a mysterious vision should boil down to such a simple truth that is spelled out in the New Testament: that the way to overcome is to walk in the Spirit and keep your focus on Christ’s finished work on the cross. That is exactly how God revealed Himself in the old covenant. Jesus spoke in parables because He searches for seekers who will find revelation in ALL of scripture.

 

 

 

 

 

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Should Christians Celebrate The Feasts of the Kingdom?

Some years ago, I was involved in a discussion with some Christian brothers and sisters about the difficulty of dealing with the holidays” in a fashion that would glorify God. It was then that the Lord began to reveal to me the importance of our spiritual heritage. It is interesting that the word “holiday” has its roots in the two words “holy days”. The specific holidays, which we were discussing, happened to be Halloween with its associated celebration of the occult and Christmas with its excessive materialism. We were specifically concerned about teaching our children how to deal with these holidays and the accompanying pressures to engage in ungodly behavior. The Lord reminded me that He has provided us with specific times to celebrate and has even shown us how to celebrate in a fashion that would bring glory to Him and draw us closer to Him. He has established feasts and celebrations and these are clearly explained to us in His Word. Thus was begun a study of the biblical feasts.

We are all creatures of habit and it is in our nature to set apart special times of remembrance and celebration. It is interesting that even as Christians we tend to celebrate, along with the world, the events and celebrations that the world system has established. Some of these are benign, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, and there is nothing wrong with celebrating them. The interesting thing to me is that we Christians will go about our lives ignoring the special days that God has ordained. This ignorance has occurred because of the historical perversion of our religious practices that began shortly after the Apostolic Age ended. Constantine began the secularization of our faith, which has continued through history. There is no doubt in my mind that this has been a spiritual strategy of the devil. It is part of his overall scheme to separate us from God and keep us from experiencing the fullness of the relationship that God wants us to have. Anti-Semitism that crept into the church very early in our history has fueled this distortion. Much of the Old Testament is ignored as writings for a by-gone era and for a select group of people, the Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth. The apostle Paul warns us that, “all scripture is profitable….” (2 Tim. 3:16). He was referring to the Old Testament­. As New Covenant believers, we must make a distinction as to what part of the Old Testament is fulfilled and that which is yet to be fulfilled. How do we observe the Old Testament law? Some ask, “But aren’t the feasts for the old covenant?” It’s all God’s word; so how do we apply it in the new covenant? Jesus said, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18 MKJV)

Has all been fulfilled? What has been fulfilled? What is suspended? The civil law has been temporarily suspended, but not the moral law. The civil law and penalties were for the theocracy of Israel, which was a type of the Kingdom to come.

We must know what is fulfilled and how we are to observe the fulfillment. Christ fulfilled the sacrificial law. Now, we are to offer a living sacrifice. Christ fulfilled the Sabbath. Today, we must rest in His finished work. The feasts will be kept in the millennial kingdom. Zechariah 14 says, “And it shall be, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16 MKJV)

Why did the church stop celebrating the feasts? Why did they cease to move in the gifts? Why did they reject the authority of scripture? We can see from the book of Acts that the Apostles kept the feasts. The reason that all of these foundational truths were abandoned:  anti-Semitism, secularization, and the influence of the spirit of anti-Christ.

I want to make it clear that I am not teaching that we need to keep the feasts in order to obtain salvation. I am not preaching “works”. Paul rebuked the Galatians for observing special days.[1] This was because they had put themselves back under the law, in seeking justification by attempting to keep the law. Rather, I am attempting to explain how we may have a fuller, closer relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can know Him more intimately by observing the biblical feasts in their New Testament fulfillment and in a New Covenant fashion. We can better understand, appreciate and teach to our children and those we disciple God’s purposes and plan for building a Kingdom for Himself.

The Lord’s feasts are but a shadow pointing to the glory to come. The feasts all prophetically point to God’s plan for establishing His Kingdom. The Old Testament heroes of faith that we read of in Hebrews 11 were saved on the same basis of faith as we are today, but they looked forward to the finished work of the Messiah. All that they had were shadows of what was to come. We have the facts of history. Appreciating the accuracy of those shadows and the faith that they inspired can bolster our faith.

Have you ever been to a banquet? A banquet or a feast is a celebration. It is fun. It’s a good time. It is a special occasion. God’s Kingdom Feasts illustrate His plan to bring blessing to our lives. The feasts illustrate His plan to restore His rule on earth, to bring His kingdom, to restore Eden. That is something worth celebrating! My interest in God’s feasts was born out of a passion for seeing His Kingdom established here on earth, for Christ’s return. I often think about what it will be like and when will He come. I want to know how I should prepare myself, and the rest of the world for His coming. The Feasts help us to understand God’s plan for building His church and bringing His Kingdom. The feasts were and are a prophetic revelation of the foundational principles of our faith referred to in Hebrews 6. These are not new principles. God revealed them in the Old Testament. Today, He is restoring the age-old foundations as He promised He would in Isaiah 58:12.

As with all of the Old Covenant, the feasts were and are a shadow of things to come. Celebrating the feasts should be faith building, keeping us focused on God’s plan. Therefore, God made it a command to all believers that we keep His feasts, “as a lasting ordinance.” They are not part of the sacrificial law that has been fulfilled. They are not part of the civil law for Israel that have been suspended. His feasts are not just for Jews, they are for all believers, all true Israelites. God never intended for the celebration of the feasts to stop under the new covenant. The Apostles understood this. They all continued to keep the feasts.


[1] Galatians 4:10, NIV.

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True Worship

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. And those who had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are Your ways, O King of saints. Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You only are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your righteousnesses were made known. And after these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was opened in Heaven.” (Revelation 15:2-5 MKJV)

This is true worship. Worship opens the way into the holy of holies, the place where we meet God. Worship begins with praise, thanks and adoration. To be passionate for God, one must be able to express emotion. We should worship because it comes from the heart. It must be more than just an act of the will. Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Mt. 15:8) David was passionate. He danced before God. His wife, Michal mocked him and was judged for it; she remained barren as a sign of her spiritual barrenness. The symbolism is obvious; there will be no fruit without passion. The Holy Spirit is restoring intimacy to our worship; there is a God orchestrated shift to songs like the Psalms directed to God as opposed to songs about Him as though He were not in our midst.  Real passion for God should create new songs. New expressions of love and adoration are fresh bread to our spirits. We glorify God by enjoying Him. We should seek Him hedonistically like a thirsty deer seeks a stream, for the joy of knowing Him. Selfish interest for this kind of pleasure is a gift from God.

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True Intimacy

I believe that spiritual reality precedes and causes physical reality. The natural things speak of the invisible. God teaches us that nature, physical reality, reveals His nature (Ro. 1:20). God created the natural, physical realm to reflect the spiritual realm. He established marriage in order to reflect the intimacy He intends for the believer and Himself. Someone once said, “Marriage is not finding the person with whom you can live, but finding that person with whom you cannot live without.” That should be our attitude not just about our earthly spouse, but our groom in heaven. Unfortunately, many have had bad experience with marriage. Often, the reason for this is a lack of relationship or intimacy with God.

The Bible teaches that the individual believer is married to Christ. In Romans chapter 7 Paul uses the illustration from marriage to show how we should no longer be in bondage to sin because when we are born again we are married to Christ. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law [bondage to sin] through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”(Ro. 7:4) You can only die to sin through intimacy with Christ.

The Song of Songs written by Solomon is a story of marital intimacy between Christ and His bride. You can contrast the Song of Songs with Ecclesiastes. Solomon wrote both. One is the greatest love song ever written the other deals with vain endeavors, running after God versus running after things. One is a book for the heart before and more than the mind, for lovers rather than intellectuals, those who want intimacy versus those who want knowledge.

The Song of Songs records the wooing and wedding of a shepherd girl to King Solomon. There are three players in this drama. Metaphorically, the Shulamite woman is the individual believer. The King is Christ and the daughters of Jerusalem, or virgins, are the other believers, the church/ Israel. It recounts a journey of intimacy that corresponds to the walk of many believers as we grow in relationship. It begins with the initial stirring of holy passion and immature attempts to run with God. This often leads to disillusionment and frustration in a desperate search for God. As we seek after Him, He draws us away and restores us with His transforming love.

The Shulamite woman begins: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine…. Draw me away with you!”  (Song of Songs 1:2, 4) This is the kiss of marital intimacy not just brotherly love. Paul prayed that believers would know Christ intimately: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” (Eph 1:17-18) He is not talking about knowing Christ in the sense of intellectually knowing about Him. He is talking about knowing Him as a bride knows her husband; an intimate relationship.

The Shulamite says, “for your love is more delightful than wine.”; His love is better than the intoxicating wine of carnal pleasures. His love is better than fame, power, money, control, fleshly pleasures, TV, rock stars, houses, boats, games, careers. Solomon had it all: money, power, women, comforts and he said it was all vanity. The love of God is better, but people have forsaken Him and tried to find fulfillment in everything but God. He loves us with abandon and is totally committed to us. Our passion for Him is the fruit of recognizing that dedication and it comes by revelation. You must have your eyes opened; you can, you must ask for it.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  (He 11:6) Saving faith believes that Christ is not only reliable but is desirable. We must have Him whose affectionate love is far better than religious obligation or the wine of earthly experiences and possessions.

The Shulamite says, “Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;” She is drawn by the fragrance of His person, His character, not by intellectual knowledge of Him. This speaks symbolically of the graces of His person, the beauty of who He is. “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps 34:8). It recognizes the perfection of all that He does; “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, … The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever, holy and awesome is his name.”  (Psalm 111)

He is our creator, redeemer, deliverer, provider and healer. How could you not fall in love with such a person? She calls Him King. Knowing Him as Lord is a perquisite to intimacy. The truth of who He is comes by revelation, which is a gift you must seek. The Shulamite says, “your name is ointment poured out, therefore the virgins love you!” Christ’s name, that is His person and character, brings healing. He is called the Balm of Gilead. His compassionate sacrificial love heals the whole person, body, soul and spirit. We all need healing/ salvation. We are a broken image.

She asks Him to draw her away, not just to Him, but away from the other things and people. She recognizes her inability to pursue Him on her own. Our motivation to seek Him is caused by His drawing us to Himself. It takes God to love God. He draws her into His chamber, the intimate place. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God… Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Ps 84:1).

The intimacy that they have produces a rejoicing that affects the other seekers/ virgins. She is not the only one in His quest. Our affection for God will have an effect on others. How do we develop this intimate relationship? We must ask Him to draw us to Him. His word says, “you have not because you do not ask” and, “seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened” We need to hunger to be with Him; for His manifest presence. We must hunger like David: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”  We must practice the spiritual disciplines that will cause that intimacy to grow. Praise and thanksgiving are two disciplines that will draw us close to God. That is one reason why it is so important that we be committed to a worshipping body of believers. Delight is incomplete until it is expressed in words and actions. Unfortunately we express affection as if it were an obligation. Expressing praise and adoration to God is not an obligation but a blessing

Intimacy must precede ministry. There is a Divine order of ministry: We must minister to God before we can minister to others. He brings us to a place of intimacy in order to put His life and power in us that we may be like Him and freely extend that love to others. He doesn’t draw us away so that we can hang up a do not disturb sign. The heart of God is love; He wants more children; He wants intimate relationship with more people. He says freely you’ve received, therefore freely give. You can’t do one before the other. We must be drawn away from things to Him before we can minister to Him and for Him.

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