ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE PSALM 23 ADVENTURE, Part 14
September 16, 2016
Because of where we need to go today with this discussion, let me lay some foundations. It may well seem like we’ve strayed from the 23rd Psalm and David’s prophecy, He restoreth my soul, but bear with me. Everything we are discussing right now is absolutely relevant to restoration and the need for restoration.
The Hebrew word used in Psalm 23 for “restoreth” is the word: áeL, shub (pronounced shoob). Its most literal meaning is “to turn back,” and its usage in this instance means, “to return to the starting point.”
The “starting point” in God’s economy is seen in Genesis 1:26a: And God (the word in the Hebrew text is “Elohim” – plural for Father, Son & Holy Spirit) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…...
Verse 27 confirms that He did exactly that. Millennia had passed since Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The human race had fallen far from the image and likeness of God. David understood that and knew by the Spirit that “restoration” meant a return to that same “starting point.”
Without getting back into the picture of the seven nations and the overcoming that Israel failed to accomplish by the flesh, we come to the seven letters and the overcoming which MUST take place in and by the Spirit. The letter to Pergamos in Revelation 2 was a graphic picture of the necessity of overcoming the Fear of Man – and that’s where we will continue today.
We’ve already discussed the picture of Balaam and the consequences of his bowing to the Fear of Man. The doctrine (or teaching) of Balaam was to worship idols, to eat things offered to idols and to commit fornication. The Fear of Man was prevalent in every single action and teaching of Balaam. But Pergamos’ failures didn’t stop with the “doctrine of Balaam.” Pergamos had in its midst those who held the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,” and that’s where we need to go today.
Just as Cain believed the lies of the Spirit of Rejection and the Fear of Man, so also did Pergamos. Not only was "Satan's seat" in their midst, they allowed him to dwell in their midst. That's a nice, poetic way of saying that they permitted him to speak in their midst -- and they listened to what he had to say.
The letter to Pergamos begins with, "These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges...."
So where was this sword? In the mouth of the Lord. (See Revelation 1:16)
The Lord, therefore, was addressing with His mouth -- with the sharp sword which came forth from His mouth -- the lies being perpetrated in their midst by the mouth of Satan who was dwelling in their midst. His sword was the sword of truth, as opposed to the mouth of lies, and that sword was going to cut to the truth in their situation!
That sword cut to the truth that they were listening to, and being manipulated by, The Fear of Man -- and the sons of The Fear of Man: The Spirit of Rejection, and The Fear of Rejection, as they were perpetrated in the doctrine of Balaam.
Pergamos not only had those who promoted the doctrine of Balaam, but also those who promoted the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. We have already discussed this at some length in previous Coffee Breaks, and I have referred to the "doctrines" (plural) of the Nicolaitanes. When you boil it all down, however, the doctrine (singular) of the Nicolaitanes was one: Power to Man.
It was manifested two variants which we have discussed: namely, "Power Over the People," and "Power to the People." Whichever variant you choose, it still had only one root: The Fear of Man. Let’s take a quick look at the significance of these two uses of the contraction of “nicos” (power) and “laos” (the common people).
(Note: Some Greek dictionaries or lexicons mistakenly translate “Nicolaitan” as “a follower of Nicolaus – a heretic who led many believers astray.” The problem is that Nicolaus wasn’t even born when John wrote the Revelation. The 4th century historian, Eusebius, refers to Nicolaus as an early 3rd century heretic. He certainly came by his name correctly. Nicolaus DID believe and teach the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, but that doctrine was well-established by Nicolaus’ day.)
Here’s how the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes works.
If you want authority vested in a few, you fear the multitudes. Hence, you fear man. This doctrine was perpetrated in the early Ekklesias by “converted” Sadducees who were proponents of the idea that the multitudes were unable to properly make decisions, and that power needed to be vested in an elite, tiered structure. We refer to this system as “hierarchical.” What it amounted to was taking the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ away from Him and vesting it a few who were supposed to “speak for and on behalf of the Lord.” The teaching completely ignored the leadership and teaching of Holy Spirit within the life of the believer.
If you want authority vested in a system when everyone has a “vote," you fear central authority in a man, or a group of men. It substitutes theocracy for democracy. This aspect was promoted by “converted” Pharisees within the Ekklesias. Hence, you still fear man. (Much of the modern evangelical church structure is predicated on democratic structure. The so-called “Charismatic Renewal” of the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s did much to eliminate the structures, whether they were hierarchical or democratic, but the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes still exists today within the body of Christ.)
[It’s worth noting that America was NOT founded as a democracy! This nation was founded as a “Republic” by our founding fathers, following the pattern that God gave to Moses for the governance of Israel. The fact that we fell as a nation into democracy was a perversion that has rapidly been becoming anarchy.]
Again, the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was to take the authority away from the Lord, and therefore, to vest that authority in a man, or a few men, or a lot of men -- but still, man!
Got the picture?
It is still precisely the same thing which happened in the Garden when Satan deceived Adam and Eve into eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They took the decision-making authority away from the Lord in their lives, and vested it in their "knowledge of good and evil."
The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was to take the authority away from the Lord in the governing of the Ekklesias, and vest it (by a vote) in those who take the titles of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers -- at first. All under the guise of the governance of the Lord, you understand.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. God clearly ordained (and still ordains!) apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (or shepherds) and teachers. The difference is that HE does the calling, and HE does the ordaining – NOT by a vote of the people or their leaders. There is a specific and visible anointing of Holy Spirit in and upon those who genuinely are called and appointed by God, and that anointing clearly defines and separates those who are anointed, and those who are not.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes quickly devolved into episkopos, presbuteros, and diakonos. And then in bishops -- and what have you -- with so many tiers of beaurocracy it just became ludicrous. Any semblance of personal intimacy with the Lord was gone completely.
For the sake of definition of the Greek terms, the word, episkopos, describes someone with prophetic oversight – who can see ahead into the plan and purpose of God and provide that oversight to the Ekklesias. This word has been translated in many NT translations as “Bishop” and – depending on your church upbringing – represents someone who has been titled as such by a decision of those “above” him in an ecclesiastical hierarchy.
The Greek word, presbuteros, comes from its root, presbus, for “older,” or “a senior” – one who is experienced and well-seasoned by years. It is the word translated as “elder” in the NT. It was not a title. It simply represented those who were well-seasoned in the Lord, in the Word, and in the ways of the Lord. (The modern usage of this word is, Presbyter.) No one voted or decided that certain individuals were “elders.” They were elders by reason of their years, their experience and seasoning in God.
Lastly, we have the word, diakonos. Used today as a title for someone who is “a deacon,” the word literally means “servant, waiter – one who carries out and executes the commands of another.” To put this word in its proper context, you understand that Jesus referred to Himself as diakonos, and encouraged His disciples to place themselves as those who both executed the commands of Father God, and served the Ekklesias.
My apologies for taking time for these descriptions, but what I’m getting at is the fact that the Fear of Man has turned these descriptive words into titles and positions from which power and authority can be used over the so-called “common people” in such a way as to elevate the “titled ones” above everyone else.
Above and beyond this, it robbed those who were serving in the ministries of apostles, prophets, pastors, etc., of the intimacy in their relationship with the Lord by creating a false responsibility for a false government with a beaurocracy within the Body of Christ.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the Lord repeatedly said, "which thing I hate!"
See what the Fear of Man does to a person?
There are some other graphic pictures in the Word where we see this spirit at work, but let’s leave it here and move on in our discussion to dealing with the Fear of Evil.
NOW you can see why the restoration of our soul is so critical! Without being rid of these wicked and compromising spirits in our lives, true restoration is impossible.
We’ve kind of taken these in reverse order but the Fear of Evil is the granddaddy of all fears — regardless of what they are called or how they are named.
When David wrote, He restoreth my soul, he was describing from a prophetic perspective an adventure in God that sets the stage for going forward in everything that God is out to accomplish. Without this restoration — and specifically, restoration from the spirits of fear — we will literally freeze up in our future growth as Holy Spirit seeks to take us in the paths of righteousness. Because of where the Lord is taking us and how He is (and will) leading us, we cannot draw back, even the slightest, from His commands or the prompts of Holy Spirit.
That said, let’s take a second (or third?) look at the events that unfold in the third chapter of Genesis.
Genesis 2:9: And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:16-17: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
This is the standard that God sets! First of all, He creates trees which produce fabulous looking fruit — fruit which is really good to eat. He doesn’t give Adam and Eve a fistful of laws and commandments. He simply reserves one of the ten genus of trees to Himself and says, “Don’t touch!”
He follows that one simple command with a warning, and in that warning comes embodied the principles of agape. We can paraphrase it like this:
“I’ve created you to live and fellowship with me forever! I will impart to you every piece of knowledge and wisdom you will ever need, but if you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all of that will be stripped away from you and you will die! Don’t eat of that tree because there is death in it! Your flesh was never designed to gain knowledge without revelation.”
Does that make it clear to you? Good! Now you can see the significance of David’s use of the word, shub, to describe the need for our “return to the beginning.” Put another way we can phrase this, “a return to the time before Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” In other words, it spelled out a return to all that Adam and Eve were in Eden, and all that we were created to be In the Beginning.
Let’s stop here and follow this in more detail next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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