July 22, 2016
When David wrote and sang what we know as Psalm 119, the green pastures had become a reality to him in a way that we all need. Consider the following from the second song (Beth) in this Psalm:
Psalm 119:9-16: Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
This is just one tiny fraction of the number of times David focuses on the Word, loving the Word, meditating on the Word, declaring the Word, thinking the Word -- you get the idea! Notice also that David makes the Word his declarations as well. He speaks the Word in agreement with what the Lord is saying, and the change comes into his life by that creative confession. We'll come back to the 119th Psalm a bit later.
David understood the essential nature of being compelled -- by virtue of time and circumstances, and the things he learned in God -- to feed on God's Word. That, my friends, is exactly what it means to "lie down in green pastures."
Those pastures aren't green just because it is a nice color and easy on the eyes. The pastures of God's Word are filled with the spiritual health and nutrition we need to live and operate, overcome and become victorious in this world. The Hebrew word translated "green" is the word, deshe'. This is a word that literally means "fresh sprout." Get it? The "green pastures" are a fresh Word from the Lord. The Word is new, it is fresh every time you read it and every time you hear it. The catch is that we have to feed on it. We don't just pass over it and/or read it routinely. We allow it to become living, current, fresh, alive in our beings.
There are a couple of words that David uses that are essential to our understanding of what is taking place in this phase of the Psalm 23 adventure.
Go back to Psalm 1:2: ”But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night."
Then there’s this word: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."
You see those two words, don’t you? “Law” and “maketh.”
Neither of those words are exciting in today’s culture — and they weren’t particularly loved in David’s day and age. Both words imply “force.” Human nature just hates and rebels against being forced to do anything. But this is an essential step in our transformation from eating of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to living entirely from The Tree of Life.
When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he expressed it like this:
II Timothy 2:4-5: No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
We have the Law given to us for the purpose of setting guidelines for our daily living and interaction in society. The Law is not a set of suggestions. It is a set of requirements, and those requirements — when met — allow us to function peaceably in society. More than that, those guidelines are the outlines for transformation!
God is also NOT giving us a set of suggestions! If we are to be transformed back into the image God first created us in and for, there are mandatory changes and a discipline that MUST take place in the way we live, the way we relate to the Lord, and the way we relate to one another.
When Paul wrote that second letter to Timothy, he was warring in his spirit against the culture and societies of the day. But Paul also said this to him:
II Timothy 3:15-17: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Are you seeing the picture? Paul is writing to a young man who, like David, had immersed himself in the Word from the time he was a child. Timothy had become wise in the ways of God and wise in the Word even before he transitioned from paideon to teknon. He had yet to become recognized by society as huios, and yet the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord was so established in him that he had been appointed as an overseer of the Ekklesia in Ephesus.
Hence, Paul instructed him to, “Let no man despise thy youth.” (See I Timothy 4:12)
Let me digress momentarily to say that this was my upbringing as well. You’ve all heard me share my experiences with angels beginning at age four, and the fact that my mother taught me to read at that age by reading the Bible.
By the age of nine, when I first went to Heaven, the Word was ingrained in me. I had developed a thirst for it that wouldn’t quit! When I awoke in the morning, my first act was to grab my Bible and read. When I went to bed at night, the Bible was laid on my pillow in front of me and I propped up on my elbows to read until I got sleepy.
The Word became my constant companion. To add to its emphasis, my mother began to drill me in memorizing locations in the Word. At age six, my father began the process of teaching scripture memorization, and my mother would add to it each day by pulling scripture verses out of the air and asking me where they were located — and sometimes what the Lord was saying through those verses.
That brings me to something I need to address. I want to take a minute to focus on something that has become a real issue in parts of the body of Christ, and that is the disdain for the Old Testament. There is a doctrine or teaching out among the body of Christ that teaches that the Old Testament does not apply to us today. This deception is gathering some momentum and needs to be addressed. Much, if not most, of this false teaching arose out of another deception, that of the Hyper Grace movement. This teaching is so false and destructive that it could easily be classified as heresy.
When the Apostle Paul wrote that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in righteousness” Timothy, at the time, only had the Old Testament to read as the New Testament would not be written and circulated for around another 50 years.
Paul was saying that all scripture - not just the New Testament - but also the Old Testament scripture is profitable to us to us for sound doctrine and instruction in righteousness Paul went on to say that the Old Testament is important to us in order for us to be complete, properly and thoroughly equipped.
There is a doctrine or teaching out among the body of Christ that teaches that the Old Testament does not apply to us today for the service of the Lord. It is important to understand when Paul wrote this there was NO New Testament. The early "Church" did not have the New Testament The early "Church" was the most powerful example of what true Christianity should look like.
It was said that this "church" turned the world upside down. [My apologies for putting the word, "church," in quotes, but there is a reason for this. Everything we know today as "church" is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught and ministered. He wasn't into big organizations with folks sitting weekly behind the four walls of a building. The word used in the Greek text of the N.T. is Ekklesia -- and this is the word created as a parallel to the Hebrew ya'ad, or mowadah. The picture in the Hebrew literally represents: "the calling together of the betrothed by the Bridegroom." That "calling together" is for the purpose of being prepared for the Bridegroom (the Lord Jesus Christ) as His counterpart and His "other self." That's a far cry from what we know today as "church." That's a discussion we will save for a later time.]
Acts 17:5-6: “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”
They did this without having a New Testament. For one to say that the Old Testament has no relevance to us today is absurd, and this kind of incompetent foolishness could only come from a planned deception of the devil.
Let’s look at the facts. The Gospel of Matthew has over fifty quotes from the Old Testament and was written sometime after 60 AD, give or take a few years.
The Gospel of Mark was written after 60 AD.
The Gospel of Luke was written around 58 AD.
The Gospel of John was written sometime after 60 AD.
The Apostle Paul was martyred around 64 AD and his epistles were written around 58 - 63 AD.
The Book of Revelation was written around 96 AD after the fall of Jerusalem. Paul's Epistles along with the Gospels were not circulated and generally made available until 90 AD.
The whole of the cannon of scripture was not brought together and compiled until 170 AD The first “canon” was the Moratorium Canon, compiled in A.D. 170, which included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. The Council of Laodicea (A.D. 363) concluded that only the Old Testament (along with the Apocrypha) and the 27 books of the New Testament were to be read in the churches.
The Councils of Hippo (A.D. 393) and Carthage (A.D. 397) reaffirmed the same 27 books as authoritative. The first generation of the early church did not have a New Testament. This may came as a surprise to some but history validates this.
As a vibrant Christian church they only had access to the Old Testament. They had never heard of or had access to the Book of Revelation. Their understanding of the end times came from the Old Testament.
To say that the Old Testament has no relevance and instruction for us today would be not only contrary to the scriptures but comes from a plot hatched in hell. We cannot adequately understand the New Testament until we understand the Old Testament. The second is built upon the first.
I know that I’ve kind of stretched this out and taken a bit of a rabbit trail here but there’s a point to all of this.
If we are to “feed in the pasture” that our Lord and Shepherd sets before us, we don’t get to decide what we will eat and what we will throw away. Just because we think that the Old Testament is not relevant to what Holy Spirit is doing and saying today doesn’t make it so. We don’t have the right to set it aside in favor of the New Testament. The declaration of Psalm 23:2a is, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”
That’s NOT a suggestion! David knew exactly what he was saying. He had been immersed in the Torah his whole life. Those books of the Law were the ONLY books available in his day, and he revered it — NOT treating it as the Mosaic Law, but as the Law of God!
Do you understand where I'm coming from? I'm not out to disparage those who have a preference for the New Testament. There are times when Holy Spirit wants us to focus on certain things that are recorded in the New Testament. He does this in order to establish certain truths and principles in us. What we MUST have, however, is a balance, and that balance comes from reading the WHOLE Word!
Next week we will begin with the 119th Psalm to show you just how much David revered the Law of God, how he reverenced the Word above all things and made it integral to his life.
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!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
Email Contact: Admin@RiverWorshipCenter.org
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