The Reception is Better Than You Think
Something occurred to me last night, so I thought I’d share it. I’m sure it will conflict pretty badly with Jewish teaching, but then, they already think we’re crazy, so it won’t matter. As long as we do our best to bless them and avoid driving them nuts, I think we’re okay.
In Genesis 28, Jacob left Isaac after he had been blessed, and he ended up in “a certain place,” where he put a rock under his head for a pillow and went to sleep. He had a vision in which he saw a ladder or stairway stretching down to him from heaven, and on it, he saw angels traveling up and down. God appeared to him and reiterated the promises he had made to Abraham, more or less, saying his seed would be numerous and he would own the Promised Land.
The name of the place where Jacob stayed was Luz. In Hebrew, this means something like “twisted” or “turned aside.” This is remarkable, because the Holy Spirit has been sent to remove our iniquities, and in the Old Testament, the words translated as “iniquity” mean “crookedness.” Iniquities are counterproductive drives and inclinations, like addictions, homosexuality, laziness, fear, and so on. Sins are actions. Iniquities are the character problems that drive us to sin. They are “the strong man” we have to bind, using God’s supernatural power.
Apparently, Luz was named for iniquity, until Jacob had his vision. He changed the name to “Bethel,” which means “house of God.”
A house of God is a temple. We are supposed to be his ambulatory temples, under the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit is supposed to inhabit us, as he inhabited the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Spirit-filled Christians know that a man is like a house full of squatters. Our flesh and hostile, controlling spirits have to be overcome and driven out, so the Holy Spirit can become the dominant influence inside us.
After Jacob’s vision, he anointed the rock with oil (oil symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit), and he gave Luz its new name. If you don’t see the parallel to a Christian receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit, accompanied by a new purpose and identity, there is no point in trying to explain it.
I had no idea I was going to go in this direction, but I guess I should not be surprised. I’ll continue.
No one really knows where Bethel is, but many suspect it was the Temple Mount. This is what I originally intended to write about. There are people who believe that this location contains a special “portal” which allows easier, more effective communication with God, and that this explains the vision. I disagree. That may have been true under the Old Covenant, when there was only one temple, but now there are many temples. Each of us is a temple. The Bible says God is near to all who call on him.
As I’ve written previously, I’ve come to believe that there is a “stairway” connecting every Spirit-filled person to heaven. I don’t think it’s an actual structure; I think it represents a condition of mind and spirit which is conducive to prayer. I believe that when this stairway is open and functioning, what the Bible refers to as “the windows of heaven” are open. I do not believe the Judaizers (see Larry Huch and Steve Munsey) who make up stories about windows of heaven being tiny, holiday-centered times of opportunity, during which we can bribe God by sending him money. I believe faith, praise, and thanks hold the windows of heaven open, which is the main reason we are told to thank and praise God constantly.
Jacob seems to agree. He saw the stairway, but he also said the “gate” of heaven was at Bethel. Windows and gates are pretty much the same thing. They are doors that can be opened and closed. In ancient times, windows didn’t have glass panes. In the Middle East, windows were covered by nets or lattices that could be opened, so really, they were small doors or gates. When the gate is held open by faith and praise, prayers go up the stairway, and God’s answers come down and manifest themselves.
To some extent, Jacob represents the church. We are not Jews, and we do not replace them, but we are told that we are wild olives, grafted onto the original root. So the implied promise of access to the stairway should apply to us.
Incidentally, I got into it with a Judaizer who kept telling me we ARE Jews. He was upset because he found out Perry Stone was eating crabs. The New Testament contains all sorts of language saying we do not have to worry about what we eat, but when a person gets ahold of a kooky idea, there is no driving it out with reason. He pointed to the wild olive scripture. I had to explain something to him; a grafted branch doesn’t produce the same kind of fruit as the host tree.
When I was working on a kibbutz in Israel, I helped maintain an almond orchard. Almonds are actually fruit, related to cherries, peaches, apricots, and so on. The almond itself is just the seed. One day the kibbutzniks took the orchard volunteers to see a special. tree. They had grafted branches onto it, so one side produced almonds, another side produced apricots, and another side produced plums (I think). At the time, it didn’t make a big impression on me, but now I think God showed it to me to show me that a graft is not a replacement. A wild olive, whatever it may be, is not a cultivated olive like the ones you buy at the store.
The Judaizers are pretty disturbing. I think it’s only a matter of time until they declare the Jews obsolete and claim they own Israel. That’s how these things usually go. Fortunately, they’re a tiny fringe group.
Anyway, I believe that anyone who spends enough time in the Spirit (daily) will end up perceiving these things to be true.Stumble it! Save This Page