Sunday August 16 2020

SPEAKING OF ARCHES

SUNDAY AUGUST 16 2020

Last day we discussed the dangers of having altars in our life, of falling short of all that the Lord has for us by the placing of things in the way of our true worship. We pointed out that the function of altars is to require a sacrifice and to also draw us away from the One True God. That the idols we serve require we give something, a sacrifice, which is often our time, our family, our peace, or any number of other precious items. We also revealed the truth that there is always a dark spirit behind each and every altar, and that these spiritual authorities must be dealt with in order to be free from the influence of idols and altars in our lives. Then we were reminded that many altars from our historical past may seem to lie in ruin but are in truth with us today.  We showed that the altar of Baal is not only still worshipped today but that a reconstructed ‘arch of Baal’ was making a world tour, and being temporarily erected in most of the major cities of the globe preceding important economic and political meetings to influence the people in a negative spiritual way. And finally, a prayer of deliverance was included to allow us to rid ourselves of false-altar-influence. Today’s message deals with another arch from the past – the arch of Titus.

Below is a picture of the Arch of Titus erected in 81 AD at the foot of Palatine Hill on the Via Sacra in the Forum Romanum, Rome by emperor Domitian in honour of his father Vespasian and his brother Titus depicting their victory during the Jewish Wars of 70-71 AD which resulted in the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. One of the panels displays the carrying away of the temple treasures including the seven-branched-menorah.

Pictures are copyrighted. Check them out by looking for Arch of Titus. 

image by @Roma_Wonder

 

A LITTLE HISTORY

Luke 19:41-44:

          “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou had known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid           from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine           enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee           around and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even           with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not    leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knew not   the time of thy visitation.”

Luke 21:20-22:

          “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you   will know the time of its destruction has arrived. Then those in       Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and   those out in the country should not return to the city.”

You know, we often take the word of God at “arm’s-length.” We read historical accounts such as the ones above and think, oh that’s nice. But, we need to understand as Chuck Missler was fond of saying, “God says what He means and means what He says!” Accounts like these are meant for our maturing in the faith. These are not simply stories nor historical accounts of the distant past, but are there for our instruction.  This is a people – the Hebrews – that are the apple of His eye. This is a city – Jerusalem – that God has written His name upon. This people, this city, are the most dear and precious possessions of the Lord. And yet, unfaithfulness, and their complacency in not KNOWING the time of their visitation, led both to catastrophe.  Complacency and Christian should never be used in the same sentence!

So, as the Roman legions were slicing and burning and pillaging their way toward Jerusalem, the Christians within the city would be remembering the words of Jesus. And as the siege ramparts were being thrown up about Jerusalem, they would heed His words and attempt to flee the city. Once the siege begins however, how does one escape? In the Luke 19 reference above, “they were compassed about on every side.” During a siege no one gets in and no one gets out. So how can the warnings of Jesus be acted upon?

There were six Roman legions involved in this theatre of war led by high general Vespasian and his son general Titus. Some time after the Crucifixion, Nero, who was emperor of Rome, ordered Vespasian to attack Jerusalem. This prompted the invasion of Israel and the march toward Jerusalem. However, in June of 68 AD Nero dies and Rome is thrown into anarchy and civil war. Galba assumes the leadership of Rome but is soon murdered on January 15, 69 AD. Otho takes over, is defeated in the civil war and commits suicide on April 16, 69 AD. Vitelius takes over but is murdered by his own troops on December 20 of the same year. During all this chaos, all decrees by Nero have been put on hold. Vespasian, leaves the situation of Jerusalem to his son, General Titus, and returns with his army to Rome to clear up the mess left by Nero. He is victorious and assumes the throne of Rome. This eighteen month lull from the suspended decrees of Nero until Vespasian can re-publish the orders to destroy Jerusalem, allow all the Christians within Jerusalem to flee safely to the mountains of Pella in Perea! The Roman legions were milling about, outside the walls of Jerusalem for eighteen months with nothing to do. People came and went as they pleased. God makes a way, when there seems to be no way! And He can be depended upon to fulfill His word to the letter!

The orders came down and General Titus finished what his father had begun and destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and the people.

Josephus Describes the Siege. “Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), [Titus] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as they were of the greatest eminence; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall which enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison [in the Upper City], as were the towers [the three forts] also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind… And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it… The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination.” 1

It is blessed to note that Eusebius mentioned in his account of this slaughter that not a single Christian was killed in the destruction of Jerusalem. 2

The Christians heeded the words of Jesus and fled Jerusalem, and lived to begin the great commission of Matthew. 3

It is now 2000 years later, the Roman Empire lay in ruins. But the nation of Israel was miraculously raised from the dead. The new nation needed a symbol. And do you know where they found it, Israel’s national seal? On the Arch of Titus. So by building a monument to seal in stone the destruction of Israel, the Romans ended up doing the very opposite. They preserved in stone the image of Israel’s sacred golden seven-branch menorah for two thousand years. And the image from the arch became the national seal of Israel, the symbol of its resurrection . . .the menorah, the symbol of God’s light overcoming the darkness. And what does the Arch of Titus reveal? “That in the end, you can’t stop the purposes of God.” And more than that, not only can you not stop the purposes of God, but He will even use that which is against His purposes to cause His purposes to be fulfilled. He not only overcomes evil, but causes evil to be used for good. He turns death into life, destruction into rebirth, darkness into light, the curses set against His people into blessings, and the tears of His children into rejoicing. And He will turn everything in your life that was meant for evil to work for your good and that which was meant to harm you to save and bless you instead. It’s all there in the menorah of the arch . . .kept safe for the ages . . .by the enemies of god.”4  

Hebrews 1:1-2:

          “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days           spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all           things, by whom He also made the worlds;”

God spoke to His people via the prophets and via divers manners, as with donkeys, yet the people stoned His prophets and ignored His instructions. He spoke through His Son who walked among them and still they refused to ‘learn of Him.’ God continues to speak to us through the words of His Son as recorded in our Bibles. God continues to speak to us through His Holy Spirit. 5 Are His words to us just words or are they “life and health to our very bones?” 6  We have a direct line to the throne-room. We have the Spirit within to help us pray when we know not how to pray.7  We have a Great High Priest, Jesus, who intercedes on our behalf. All these privileges, all at our disposal, all we need do is seek and ask. We serve the GOD that controls all of history, who turns evil to His own holy purposes. Fear not dear friends for He holds us secure within the hollow of His hand. Others may choose to pass beneath the arches of Baal or Titus, but we can choose to pass beneath the banner of His love.  “He brought me to his banqueting house and his banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:4.

We may choose to abide under the wings of the Most High God.

Ps. 38:6: “How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O GOD! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings”

Ps. 57:1b: “. . . in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpast.”

Do you face calamities in your life? There is a place of refuge until the storm passes by. He protects and safeguards His children at all times. Even when evil seems to rule the day, He is in control. He will tell you when to flee, when to stand firm, when to turn to the right or to the left or when to stay the course. His wings shadow you from the heat of the day or the cold of the night. He is Faithful, and He is True, and He is in total control of all things appointed unto you.

Let me leave you with Psalm 20:7:

          “Some trust in chariots, and some trust in horses: but we will           remember the name of the LORD our God.”

Chariots or horses or arches or altars or idols, all are impotent. But our remembering the name of the LORD our God releases power into our lives that insures peace, joy and righteousness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

1  Josephus: Wars VI, vi,1               2  Eusebius Book III, 5.1

3 Matt. 28:18-20                                        4 Jonathan Cahn Mysteries day 197

5 1 John 4:13-15          6 Prov.4:22          7 Rom. 8:26

 

Pastoral Prayer

Our Father, who is in Heaven. Hallowed be Your Name. You are the Almighty God! You created the heavens and the earth and all that lives and breathes on this beautiful planet. Your Kingdom come Lord, Your will be done, on earth and in our earthly vessels, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, for physical sustenance and healing, for spiritual nourishment, and for emotional and mental well-being. And forgive us our trespasses and iniquities Lord, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Strengthen our hearts and souls against the wicked plans of the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Teach us how to walk in our God-given authority over the enemy, that authority which belongs to us as followers of Jesus, the Messiah. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory. Amen.

Lord, help us to be watchful and pray. Help us to know Your Word and desire to keep it before our eyes and in the centre of our hearts. (Proverbs 4:20-23) You have taught us Lord that Life and Death are in the power of the tongue, and that those who love it will eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:20-21) Father, we love Your Word, and recognize the power that is embedded in it to defeat the plans of the Devil. Your Love and Your Word, as we use our tongues to confess it, brings the release of all that the devil has stolen from us, it brings newness of Life to the things he has tried to bring to death, and it restores what he has attempted to destroy. Thank You Lord Jesus that because of You, death is swallowed up in Victory! Hallelujah!

Thank You Lord Jesus that by Your stripes we are being healed. (1 Peter 2:24) You are the Sun of Righteousness who rises every day with healing in His wings for each one of us. (Malachi 4:2)

Thank You Lord that You see the potential in each one of us, that You love each one of us deeply and thoroughly. Thank You Lord, that nothing we could ever do or say would surprise You because You know us inside out. We come before You Lord with humble hearts recognizing that we are part of Your creation, and we want to be holy as You are holy. (1 Peter 1:15) We invite You to come like a Refiner’s Fire to purify the silver and gold that You have planted within us that we may bring glory and honour to Your name. (Malachi 3:2-3) In Jesus’ wonderful name, we pray. Amen.

Following now are some prayers for holiness (Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Prayers-for-Holiness) that I encourage each one of us to pray in sincerity. Please read them, ponder them and offer them in prayer to our Almighty, Loving God. Let these prayers challenge you (as they have challenged me) to go deeper with God in obedience as we hunger to be the living sacrifices that put Jesus first in our lives.

A Prayer For Personal Holiness

Thank You, Father, that You have called me out of darkness into Your marvellous light and set me free from slavery to sin and released me from bondage to fear. (1 Peter 2:9)

Thank You for breathing the new resurrection life of Christ into my very being, and for taking up permanent residence within my heart. (Romans 8:11) Lord, I want to be led by Your Holy Spirit and to walk in spirit and truth. (Romans 8:5, Galations 5:16, 25) I want to live a godly life and to develop personal holiness, but I do not really know how to. 

Lord, I come to You incapable of being able to live a holy life by myself and humbly ask You Lord, that You would teach me to be holy and show me how You would have me live. Open my eyes to see what You would have me do. Unblock my ears so that I may hear Your still small voice, and give me a teachable spirit to learn all that You would teach me. I know that alone I can do nothing, but in Christ, Who is my life, I can do all things. (John 15:5, Colossians 3:4, Philippians 4:13) In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Prayer For Holiness Of Heart

Dear Heavenly Father, You are a holy God and I desire to be holy too, set apart unto You, and living my life in a manner that is worthy of You and pleasing to You.

Search my heart I pray, and if there is any cherished sin lurking within, I ask that You would search it out and destroy it, for I know that only the one that has clean hands and a pure heart may stand in Your presence. (Psalm 139:23-24, 24:3-5)

Purify my heart, cleanse my inner thoughts and examine the very motives behind my acts and attitudes, for I desire to live in holiness of heart. If there is anything that is displeasing to You in my life, I ask that in Your grace You would root it out, so that I may live in godly holiness all the days of my life, clothed in Christ’s righteousness, separated unto You and walking in godly love. (1 Peter 1:22) This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

A Prayer To ‘Be Holy As God Is Holy’

Heavenly Father, Your Word commands us to, “be holy as You are holy”, and I know that in and of myself I cannot live in true holiness of heart, except as the Lord Jesus lives His life in me, and the Holy Spirit carries out a life-transforming work in me. (Romans 12:1-2)

Thank You, that I have been born into Your family, united together with Christ and am one with Him. (1 John 3:1, Galations 3:26-27) I pray that increasingly, His nature and character may be developed in me, until I can say as Paul did, “my old self has died and been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives His resurrection life in me and works through me.” (Romans 8:29, Galations 2:20)

I ask that You would continue to root out every part of me that is counter to what You desire from me, and I pray that You would increasingly transform me into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus, day by day. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Lord, I know that this is not an easy prayer to pray and it will likely cause me much pain, but I believe that this is Your will for each of Your children, and so I come to You today and say, “Father, Your will be done in my life”. Give me I pray, that desire and grace to become a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto You, to Your praise and glory. (Romans 12:1-2) This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer For Holy Living In This Fallen World

Loving Lord, how I thank You that in Christ I have Your Holy Spirit living in me to live and work to Your praise and glory. (John 17:9-10) Help me Lord, to keep looking to Jesus, and to keep my mind on the things above, not on the things that are of this world system. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Help me I pray, to look away from the things of the world and to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, and to be numbered with those who call on the Lord with a pure and humble heart. (Galations 5:22-25) Help me to live my life in a manner that is pleasing to my God, in gentleness towards others and in reverence towards You. (1 Thessalonians 4)

Prevent me I pray, from being squeezed into the world’s mould, but rather may I be conformed more and more, into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on Him, Who is the Author and Finisher of my faith and in Whose name I pray. (Hebrew 12:2) Amen.

Prayer To Walk In Holiness

Father God, You are holy and You have called for those that are Your children to be holy just as You are holy. I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing. But Father, I thank You that in Christ I have been made righteous and have been clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:4, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Philippians 1:11, 3:9) Lord, I want to live a life that is pleasing to You. I want to be holy as You are holy.

Thank You, for the wonderful example of the Lord Jesus Who walked in spirit and truth, lived his life in humble obedience to Your will and demonstrated by His life, His words, His actions and His attitude such a gracious heart, that overflowed with loving trust in You. (John 5:19, 12:49)

Lord, I pray that day by day I may become more and more like the Lord Jesus as I yield to Your Holy Spirit’s work within. (Philippians 2:12) So Lord, I pray that I may learn to walk in spirit and truth and to submit to Your Spirit’s guidance in my life day by day. (2 Thessalonians 2:13) I ask that You search my heart and point out any area that is displeasing to You, and lead me in the path of righteousness, in Jesus’ name. (Psalm 23:3) Amen.

For Further Study: take time to look up the verses cited in these various prayers. Enjoy this time with the Lord. It is precious. J

For Worship:

Refiner’s Fire by Brian Doerksen

Purify my heart / Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart / Let me be as gold, pure gold, Lord (2X)

Refiner’s fire / My heart’s one desire / Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord / I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master / Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart / Cleanse me from within / And make me holy
Purify my heart / Cleanse me from my sin / Deep within

Refiner’s fire / My heart’s one desire / Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord / I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master / Ready to do Your will

Ready to do Your will
Ready to do Your will

 

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