For the past two nights, I have encountered the glory of the Lord in a powerful but unusual way: through the book of Ruth. Most of us know the story of Ruth and Naomi as a beautiful Old Testament "gospel" of redemption through Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer. It is impossible not to notice the love story foreshadowed between our heavenly Bridegroom and His Bride!
Yet this week, the Lord has been speaking to me about deeper truths contained within the lives of these two women; insights that have direct application to us as redeemed people called to reflect the glory of the Lord in a dark time.
The book of Ruth is an allegory: a Jewish parable containing hidden keys for a life of faith. I invite you to walk with me for a moment through its pages, allowing the Lord to inscribe on your hearts the very personal and prophetic messages He has for you today!
Change is inevitable. Many people in the Body of Christ are going through intense changes right now: the loss of a friend, a spouse, or a child. A transition into a new job. A feeling that God is calling you to do something different in the next season than what you have done before, accompanied by a disconcerting sense that you aren’t sure yet how to do it!
A new Jewish year, 5779, begins this Sunday, September 11 at sundown – Rosh Hashanah. Spiritually, the number nine speaks of fruitfulness, harvest, birthing and creation. Politically, a new government is being shaped as we vote in the primaries this week and watch the “dethroning” and reseating of key justices in the court. Personal, political and religious seasons are shifting, for better or worse. Why?
A new season is here! It is important that we understand our place in the “new,” releasing the past and realigning ourselves with God and others for the future.
But how do we do that?
Have you ever climbed aboard a submarine? If so, you're familiar with those small but weighty water-tight doors that provide passage from chamber to chamber. They are made of solid steel and weigh several hundred pounds. Once closed, they seal you off from water or gas pressure at depths of up to 10,000 meters. As you might know, it's the Hebrew year 5774, the "Year of the Open Door," and while my boys climbed eagerly in and out of submarine doors on our vacation last week, the Lord began to speak to me about these doors.
Hebrew letters have both numeric and pictorial values, and the number 74 in Hebrew is "Ayin Dalet." Ayin evolves from the picture of an eye, speaking of seeing or vision, while Dalet is used to speak of an open door, specifically a tent door that is tied back. Keep that in mind as I show you how our vacation unfolded!
Since my husband is a submarine buff, we started our trip with a visit to the USS Albacore in Portsmouth, NH. This sub is a 1950's research submarine, the fastest of its kind at the time, and one prophetically named the "Forerunner of the Future." Shaped like a tuna fish, it was made for covert stealth missions and for speed. It carried 50 Navy men who literally stuffed themselves into narrow 6' bunks and crouched through tiny passageways. One hallway was so narrow that my 6-foot 1-inch 13-year-old could not walk through without twisting his broad shoulders!
The only things you see on this sub are steel and machinery. There are no windows to provide a view; only the periscope operator would see the skyline. It's what you hear that's important. The two primary goals of this submarine are to listen and to attack. Using sonar, the crew listens for enemy movement and protects our shores with missle attacks. All this substantial steel and watertight protection sounded pretty impressive to me, until the Lord made the very good point that the doors were open.
I watched my husband and kids playfully crouching down to step through the 700-pound doors and realized : the doors are open - locked open, in fact - open so that no man can shut them. (Rev. 3:7-8). What used to be an impenetrable steel barrier has been bolted open, in this case, forever! What a wonderful picture of Ayin Dalet!
But the Lord wasn't finished with His story yet. A few days later, we traveled to the Wood Island Lighthouse, where we climbed 60 stone and iron steps to the gallery and viewing balcony at the top. (Special thanks to my friend Lisa, who watched the kids for me so I could go up!) Most people are fascinated with the hi-tech lantern and the wonderful views, 71 feet above water. But what I noticed most was the tiny iron door, no taller than 3 feet high, which the lighthouse keeper must crouch down to climb through. Once outside, he can walk all around the balcony and enjoy his newfound perspective. Another small - but open - door. Another call to get low, to humble yourself as you go through the open doors the Lord is giving you in order to gain a new position and a new perspective.
I wondered where all this was leading, of course, but the third piece came only as we concluded our vacation and began the drive home. We love yard sales, and when we stopped at one along the way we were given a small bag containing - guess what - a tent. The kids set it up at home and found it to be a pup tent, in perfect condition, with just one small zippered door. They unzipped it so I could take a picture and suddenly, I saw what God had given me: Ayin Dalet - the tent door! Wow!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a submarine engineer) to see that God is serious about opening doors for us this year. That which has limited us in the past is no longer a barrier to our future. In my case, the submarine and the lighthouse speak specifically to my callings (I am both a prayer warrior and a prophetic watchman). What doors is God opening for you this year? I challenge you to ask Him for the specifics. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments. And I pray He will open doors that give you a beautiful new view of your life - from His perspective.
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014
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What Do You Stand For?
An often-quoted proverb from Alexander Hamilton says: "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything." The saying may be harsh, but it is undeniably true. It begs the question: what do you stand for?
My pastor spoke last week about the life of Elijah the Tishbite. Here was a man who definitely stood for something - or more accurately, someone. Elijah honored God's Words, and God confirmed his authenticity through many miraculous interventions. Only half-listening to the sermon, I began to meditate on Elijah's life, and the Lord began to speak to me about Elijah's posture.
The Resurrection Inscriptions
The most powerful inscriptions ever made happened at Christ's resurrection. It was so important to our Savior that we understand the significance of what happened, that He returned even to "doubting Thomas" and asked him to place his fingers in the imprints of the nails on His hands, and the spear in His side. The inscriptions on His body are the conclusive proof of His great love for us.
In the midst of life's trials, we often forget what this means for us. When people fail us, it is easy to forget that we are loved. Celebrations - even of "Resurrection Sunday" - can be tough when we are gathering with difficult relatives or maybe feeling left out completely. In Christ, however, we have received an invitation that is too good to refuse! We are loved by Someone who never forgets us and always delivers us.
God Never Forgets Us
We are not the first people to worry about neglect or abandonment. Israel was doing the same thing long ago, under the Babylonian captivity. The temptation in affliction is to doubt God's goodness. God’s solution was to inscribe a personal invitation for them to be with Him – forever:
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” ~Isaiah 49:14
God (through Isaiah) uses imagery that all of us can relate to, describing the strongest bond known to man. It would be unthinkable for a mother to forget her own child. Yet even if this happened, God would never forget you. This isn’t the only time God uses such language. Take a look at an earlier scripture:
“Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” ~Isaiah 46:4
God promises, in decidedly feminine language, to bear with us through thick and thin: He made us, He will bear us, He carries us and He delivers us. The language He uses is all related to childbearing and pregnancy.
To give you a frame of reference, I have made, borne, carried, and delivered three children, each one bigger and heavier than the last. Morning sickness was really all-day sickness for me, lasting not just three months but all nine. When my third child was delivered, at a whopping 10 pounds, 2 ounces, I decided that was all the experience I needed with childbearing and pregnancy! I do adore my children, and it was worth it, but I am very glad not to be carrying them anymore!
I'm sure it is at least as difficult for God to bear my sins as it was for me to bear my babies. Yet even so, God still chooses to put up with me. Why? Because He made me, it’s worth it, and I belong to Him:
"I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” ~Isaiah 44:21b-22
Just as I would not have abandoned the process of carrying my children to term or willfully failed to deliver them at the appropriate time, so God does not abandon His commitment to bear with me in love or to redeem and deliver me. No matter how difficult the situation, He is in it for the long haul. He completes what He begins.
God Delivers Us
Knowing that our deliverance comes through Christ, let’s look a little more closely at the imagery used to describe that redemption in Philippians and Exodus.
Christ “…made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bond-servant and
coming in the likeness of men…
He humbled Himself and became obedient
to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Paul writes, not by accident, that Christ became a bond-servant, someone committed to the will of his master. The Israelite law for Hebrew servants described a specific ritual for the servant who chose to remain with his master forever:
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing... But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” ~Exodus 21:2-6
A faithful servant who wished to remain with his master was required to have his ear pierced with an awl on the doorpost – the same place the Israelites were commanded to put the blood of the Passover lamb - as a sign of deliverance:
“For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.” ~Exodus 12:23
Hallelujah! Jesus Christ, God’s suffering servant, allowed Himself to be pierced for me. His death on the cross was His statement of intent to serve His Master forever. As ruler of His Master’s household, He has become my Lord and Savior. The nail marks on His palms are His inscriptions of love for me, as a true servant of Israel. His blood delivers me from the destroyer and all the claims he might make over my life. God has given me my own personal “Passover!”
The beauty of this resurrection season is that I now know that I am never alone, never forgotten by the One person who matters most. Not only that, but I am also promised deliverance from whatever afflictions trouble me. Whenever I feel abandoned or neglected, I have only to look at the inscriptions in His hands to know that He will never leave me or forsake me. There is no greater comfort than that.
And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you,
He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.
Are there times when you feel neglected by people you expect to love and care for you? Could God be challenging you to transfer those expectations over to Him - the One who never fails you?
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014. All Bible references, NKJV
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping others connect with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions. To follow her blog, click here.
A Passover Meditation
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.