Milestones
by
Jack M. Lane
Sermon for Pentecost, 2000


I’ve noticed something every year:  Passover and Unleavened Bread come and go, and time marches on, and we get busy.  I still have fun after the Days of Unleavened Bread are over, telling people to watch out for that food product, because it’s leavened.  We have a good laugh about it, and go on.

But the weeks go by, and we get busy, and thoughts of leavening grow less, until they’re crowded out by our daily lives.  Then all of a sudden, here comes Pentecost.

What’s Pentecost all about?  Well, it’s the Feast of Weeks.  In the Greek, “Pentecost” means we should have been counting fifty days.  In the Hebrew, “the Feast of Weeks” means  we should have been counting the weeks. Have we been counting the weeks?  I haven’t.  I never do.  I just figure out what the calendar date will be, then go about my business, and here it comes.

So, what I was wondering is this:  Do we lose some of the significance of Pentecost by doing that?  By not counting the days and weeks?  I think we might.  I believe it was part of God’s plan for us to count.  I believe we have forgotten that part of the plan in our hectic, rushed lives.

What did the Days of Unleavened Bread represent?  We often see a parallel between Israel coming out of Egypt,  and our own coming out of sin.  We put away leavened products,  as Israel put away their Egyptian captivity.
 

Entering the Wilderness

If the crossing of the Red Sea took place on the last day of Unleavened Bread, then the last day is significant in that God slammed the door shut behind Israel as they left Egypt.  That should picture our departure from sin, as we walk in newness of life on the far shore, beyond our own personal Red Sea, as we wander through the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land.

The spiritual analogies are there for the taking.  We wander through the spiritual wilderness, being nomads and strangers in a foreign land, waiting for God to tell us it’s time to go possess our inheritance.

That’s where we are today.  We often feel like strangers and outcasts in our own country,  among our own people,  sometimes among our own former brethren.

In a figurative sense, as we wander through the spiritual desert, we have to beware of snakes and scorpions among us, and we have to live in the blasting desert heat every day.  And we get sand in everything.  Sometimes we have to pull up stakes and move our tabernacles to another place, and set up camp again.  We’re living in the wilderness in so many ways.

Why, back in Egypt, we had leeks and onions, and all sorts of goodies.  Out here in the wilderness, all we have is this manna.  All we have is our Bibles, and God’s Spirit whispering in our ears.  The manna we have keeps us alive, and it tastes very good.  But sometimes we get bored with it.  That’s the nature of manna as we wander in the wilderness.

Back in Egypt, there were people to tell us where to go and what to do.  It was a no-brainer.  Out here in the wilderness, we have a cloud to follow.  And clouds can tend to be, at times, nebulous.  Out here, in the wilderness, we have to use our brains, and our minds, and our guts.
 

Pentecost

Then along comes the Feast of Weeks.  What does that represent?  Traditionally, we’ve understood this day to represent  the time of our resurrection, as the first fruits of God.  As the priest of Israel raised the loaves of leavened bread into the air, so we -- leavened lumps that we are -- will rise in the air to meet the Messiah when He comes in power and glory.

This day represents the coming of the King, in all His power and majesty and glory.  This day represents that great and glorious day when we will rise from our sleep in the grave, wiping the sleep dirt from our brand new eyes, even as we float up from the ground.

It’s the day we’ve been waiting for, ever since we came into the faith.  Some of us have been waiting a long, long time -- longer even than the time Israel spent wandering in the wilderness.

We tend to neglect counting off the days between the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost.  And suddenly it’s here.  It seems like so long since we ate unleavened bread every day for seven days.  And here it is, the next holy day.

I worry about that, when I see myself do that, year after year.  I forget to count the days, and I don’t cultivate the excitement and the growing expectation as the weeks tick off, and then I’m surprised when the day gets here. I worry if that’s what we do in our spiritual lives, as well.  Do we come into the faith, get baptized, learn, and grow, and then finally just sit back and let the years roll by, until one day we find ourselves at the resurrection?

We have been called upon to use our brains, and exercise our minds.  Of course, we have a goal, an outcome we have in mind -- being in the first resurrection!  But we don’t know when that goal will be achieved.  It could be quite some time yet.

Of course, any long-term goal can be broken up into several short-term goals.  A long trip can be broken up by making stops along the way.  But too many of us tended to go through our Christian lives, putting our lives on automatic pilot and letting the thing fly itself.  But our Christian life can be broken up into shorter segments, separated by crises, emergencies, turning points in our lives.
 

Turning Points

We can be upset by “the times that try men’s souls” (to quote Thomas Paine) -- the death of a leader in the church; the breaking up of a church into small, competing, quarreling sub-units; the need to move from one city or state to another, or one job to another, or one fellowship group to another.  These things can be thought of as the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another chapter in our lives.

We can also be thrown for a loop by a death in the family, a birth in the family, any number of things that appear on the well-known Holmes Stress Scale.  If you have enough of these experiences within one year, you may be ripe for a heart attack, or some other health problem.  These are well-known and recognized warning signs of danger.  They are also everyday occurrences for some people.  Maybe for you.

And all these things can serve as book-ends, as separators between one phase of our life and the next.  They’re called milestones, or benchmarks.  And they tend to anchor our minds and our memories to --  something.  Something tangible, something we can point to.  These are the important events in our lives.

Let me ask you a question:  Where were you the third Wednesday evening after Passover?  Some of you might remember.  I don’t remember where I was.  There’s nothing significant about that date. I just picked it at random. Random dates usually don’t stick in our minds.

Let me ask you another question:  Where were you when you heard the news that the Twin Towers had been hit by jet airplanes?  You might be able to remember that.

People used to ask the question, years ago, “Where were you when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot?”.  More recently, “Where were you when you heard that President Reagan had been shot?”.

I remember these moments in my life.  Because they were very traumatic moments.  I remember the emotions I felt.  This is the nature of milestones. And because these things bring back vivid memories, I can relate them to other events in my life during these times.  These memory joggers can be useful when we need to access a memory of certain times in our lives.

For instance, where were you when you left a church organization for the first time?  The second time?  The third time?  I remember those moments in my life. How about the times you got fired from a job?  Or left a job voluntarily?  How about the time a family member died?  Or a family broke up?

These milestones are how we count the days.  When we take the time to look back and reflect on the things that have happened in our lives, it’s these times in our lives that are like anchors in our memories, holding us to what we know, and what we knew at the time.  These milestones are like rocks in the stream bed of our minds, allowing us to step from one experience to the next in our memories.

In the stream of consciousness, we need rocks to cling to, or to leap from one to the next, to help us remember things.

And if we remember things that happened to us, we might also remember the lessons we learned from those things.  This is how we measure our growth.  Have we matured, or have we simply gotten older?  Are we wiser, or do we simply know more things?  Do we have a better handle on the truths of the Bible than we did years ago?  Are we living our lives more in accord with what the Bible teaches than we did years ago?
 

Take This Test

I want us to stop, and reflect, and see if we can measure growth in our lives.  We may have been so busy that we haven’t stopped to count the days, or count the cost, or count on God to help us when we need it.

Let's take a little quiz. Think about the kind of person you were ten years ago.  You may have been in a church, or you may have been a little kid, or you may have been out in the world.  But think about yourself ten years ago.  What kind of person were you back then?  Then answer this question:

Question #1:  “In what ways am I a better person today than I was back then?”

Take a minute and list several things.  You can write a few key words and phrases.  How have you improved in the past ten years?  What have you overcome?  What have you become?

“In what ways am I a better person today than I was ten years ago?”

If you hadn’t been born yet, I guess you don’t have to answer this question.

Now think about the kind of person you were just one year ago.  Most of us were already meeting in this group.  We were meeting in Folsom, with some different people.  That might key some memories.  What were you like, one year ago today?  Then answer this question:

Question #2:  “In what ways am I a better person today than I was one year ago?”  List several things, as many as you can think of.

Now, think about the progress you’ve made.  Ten years ago, then one year ago, then today.  Now answer this question:

Question #3:  “Five years from today --  if the age is still going on, and the economy is still going on, and life continues as we know it, and we’re all still here, alive and kicking -- what kind of person do I want to be, five years from now?”  What improvements do you want to make in your life -- how do you want to be different -- in five years?

You’ve written down a few things you’d like to improve in your life, some goals you might have for the next five years.  Now answer this question:

Question #4:  “What’s standing in my way?  What’s keeping me from reaching these goals?”

Write down the first thing that comes to mind.  Also the second thing.  What’s keeping you from doing this thing, or becoming this thing, or taking care of this thing?  Make a list of obstacles.

That’s enough soul searching for now.  Let’s go back and take a look at our answers.

For question #1, “In what ways are you a better person today than you were ten year ago?”, if you listed things about yourself that you overcame, or you improved on your own, write the word “me” somewhere by those words.  If you wrote down some things that you had no control over, but the situation improved, write “God” near that.

For question #2, “In what ways are you a better person today than you were one year ago?”, look at your list, and rank them 1, 2, 3, in order of how hard it was for you to make that change, or overcome that problem.  The most difficult thing you had to change gets to be #1.  The second hardest is #2, and so on.

For question #3, “What kind of person do you want to be five years from now?”, look at your comments, and underline the one thing that needs to be done the most.  What did you write there that most needs to be done?  That’s the first thing you’ll be concentrating on when you get going on this list.

For question #4, “What’s standing in your way?” take a look at your list.  If the thing that’s preventing you from doing what you want to do is something you can correct, on your own, write the word “me” somewhere near that item.  If it’s an insurmountable obstacle, something you can’t possibly overcome or change, write “God” near those words.

Now you have a work sheet to help you plan your life.  And you know who’s responsible for which items, either you or God.  The things you can change -- go change them.  The things you can’t change -- let God do it.  And ask God to grant you the wisdom to know the difference.

There are some things we don’t have control over.  And that’s how God planned things for us in this life.  Sometimes our life lessons are like  new math, or long division.  The Teacher wants to see our work, and how we arrived at the answer to the problem.  Having the correct answer every time may not be what the Teacher wants.  He wants to see our work, and how we got to the answer.

You also have a list of things you’ll be working on, and praying about, and the name of the person responsible for removing your obstacles.  It’ll either be you or God.

By the way, you can add to this list later on, if you like.  I hope you’ll take this list you’ve made, and use it as a tool to make improvements in various aspects of your life.

Now, why did we go through that exercise?

First, to give you a head start in doing some things you probably intended to do anyway.  Secondly, to help you look for a milestone in your life, and to help create one for the future.  But thirdly, I want you to see that we need to rely on God.  We know we’re powerless to do the things we need to do without God, so we need to ask Him to supply the strength, or move the mountain, or open the Red Sea, or whatever needs to be done.

But for those things that we labeled as our own accomplishments, or the things that we think we can take care of on our own, we need to remember that we can do all things, not by our own might and power (Zechariah 4:6), but through Christ, who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), through the power of the Spirit of God in us.  And we remember that God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).
 

Looking at Pentecost

Now, to return to the message of Pentecost, let’s go through Acts chapter 2.

On the Day of Pentecost following Christ’s ascension into heaven, the Spirit came in power on the disciples.  The Feast of Pentecost, is the anniversary of the day the New Testament ekklesia was born!

Acts 2:1-36 (NIV)
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked:  “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:  “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose.  It's only nine in the morning!
16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22 Men of Israel, listen to this:  Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
25 David said about him:  ‘I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.
30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.
31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’
36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

What is all this talk about David?  What’s Peter talking about?  I don’t know for sure, but let me offer my guess, based on what Peter is saying here.

Peter quotes from Psalm 16.  Let’s turn there and read it.

Psalm 16:1-11 (NIV)
1 Keep me safe, O God [El], for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD [YHVH], "You are my Lord [Adonai]; apart from you I have no good thing."
3 As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.  I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD [YHVH], you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD [YHVH], who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD [YHVH] always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Let’s compare a couple verses.

Peter said, in Acts 2:25, “David said about him [about Jesus of Nazareth]:  ‘I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

But in Psalm 16:8, David is saying, “I have set the LORD [Yahweh] always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Peter said David was talking about Yashua, the Messiah.  But David was talking about Yahweh.  I can’t help but notice this comparison.  It occurs many times throughout the Greek scriptures, where someone will take a passage that refers to Yahweh, and apply it to Jesus the Messiah.

Look at the first two verses of Psalm 16:
1 Keep me safe, O God [El], for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD [YHVH], "You are my Lord [Adonai]; apart from you I have no good thing."

David is speaking to God, about Messiah.  He’s speaking to El (apparently the Father), about Yahweh.

Now look at verses nine and ten:
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you [he’s talking to El] will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One [referring to Yahweh, again in the third person] see decay.

This is an obvious reference to Christ being resurrected out of the grave before his body had time to deteriorate.  Peter even said so.  This is one reason why it was important that Christ’s blood was poured out for us.  Yes, it was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but there’s more.

Blood begins to break down and deteriorate very quickly in a dead body.  That’s why it’s important to drain the blood out of an animal quickly when we hunt deer, or slaughter animals to eat.  If the blood drains out of the body, the rest of the body can remain unspoiled for a longer time.

When our Savior was hanging on the crucifixion stake, His blood drained out for us, so we could be forgiven of our sins.  But then, his bloodless body would lay in state for three days and three nights, in a rock tomb that acted like a cooler, without deteriorating.  When He was resurrected, His body had not seen corruption and decay.

Now, let’s return from this secondary digression back to our first digression.  We were wondering about the references to David Acts 2.

David said El would not abandon him to the grave.  Remember that, in the days of Yashua, the religion called Judah-ism was based largely on some beliefs and traditions the Jews had picked up during their captivity in Babylon.

Judah-ism taught many things that were not biblical.  One of those things was the immortality of the soul.  Notice how it says in Psalm 16:10, “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

Many of us are aware that in Hebrew poetic form, there is a couplet form that’s used quite a bit.  That is, there will be a statement, then either a similar statement or an opposing statement is given as a response.

I believe there was an idea among the Jews that, since this is listed as a psalm of David, and David used the couplet form quite a bit, they thought David was making both of these statements about himself -- both that he would not be abandoned to the grave, and that the Holy One (and the Jews would think this refers to King David himself) would not see corruption.

I believe, and I have no historical proof to back up this belief, that the Jews may have been teaching that righteous King David, a wonderful person and a man after God’s own heart, was alive and living somewhere, either resurrected, or as an immortal soul.  I get this idea from what Peter said:  “I can tell you confidently that David is dead and buried.”  Apparently this was not a generally accepted concept.

Peter then goes on to set the record straight -- that Jesus of Nazareth had also been dead and buried, but there was a difference this time.  Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead, and Peter and all the others were witnesses to it.

And the Jews standing there listening had heard the stories.  This was the big news item of the day!  They had heard that Jesus was alive.  They might even have gone to the tomb and looked at the big stone rolled away.  They may have gone inside and looked at the very spot.  There may have been a big tourist trade.  “Come, see the place.  Guided tours on the hour and half-hour.”  This was big news!

These Jews from around the Roman Empire had heard about it.  And Peter and the others were telling them what they had seen, and whatever else the Spirit told them to say.

In verse 32, Peter says,
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
34 For David did not ascend to heaven …

You see?  David, a prophet and a righteous king, did not ascend to heaven.  But Yashua did!  And not only that, but He was exalted, and sits at the right hand of God.  The right hand position is that of trusted advisor, confidant, counselor, and even co-ruler.

Continuing:

Acts 2:34-36
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said [Peter is now quoting Psalm 110:1], ‘The Lord said to my Lord [Yahweh said to my Adon]:  “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

It gets a little tricky here, and this may be another verse that caused the Jews to think that David was alive in heaven, if David was “Adon,” or the Lord.  It’s tricky for us because the name “Yahweh” is used for both the Father and the Son at times.  Here it refers to the Father.  The Father said to His Son, not to David, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies -- those who refuse to bow down to you -- come and bow down before you.  You’ll be able to put your feet on them, because they will come and prostrate themselves before you.” (Humorous aside -- This may be a prophecy of the Ottoman Empire.)

Continuing in Acts 2:36:  “Therefore [this is Peter’s conclusion and main point] let all Israel be assured of this:  God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified [who is now seated at the exalted position of the Father’s right hand], both Lord and Christ.”

El, the Father, has made this Yashua, both Yahweh AND Messiah!  The Jews who heard this knew what that meant.

Continuing in verse 37:

Acts 2:37-47
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

And so began the new wine, the new ekklesia, the new Way of life God was beginning, the new phase of God’s plan.

A few thousand years later, we are grafted into the body, to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, those who endured tremendous hardships, persecutions, martyrdom, being chased from country to country, hounded, tortured, watching their property seized and their families slain, all for the sake of the gospel, and the hope that was set before them.
 

What About Us Today?

Why do we get so upset and afraid if our boss looks at us sideways because we won’t come in to work on Saturday?  Is it because we haven’t had to resist to the shedding of blood -- yet?  Is it because we don’t remember the incredible sacrifices and hardships our ancestors in the faith had to endure over the centuries, so we can have this Bible and the freedom to read it?

We can see all the little details of our own lives, and we can get caught up in the minor inconveniences we have to endure.  But to put it into perspective, let’s look at Hebrews chapter 11.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 Instead, they were longing for a better country -- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.
25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

32 And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.  Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.
36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.
37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated --
38 the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

CHAPTER 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus [Yashua, the Messiah, the Christ, the King, Yahweh], the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.  How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm;
19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,
20 because they could not bear what was commanded:  "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned."
21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
29 for our "God is a consuming fire."

These stories of the heroes of our history are milestones in the faith of the family of God.  The promises of better things to come are milestones in our personal journey.

And let’s remember, as we go from one Pentecost to the next, to count off the days and years of our sojourning, and remember the things that we need to do, as we cultivate the anticipation of the joy that will come in the Day of Yahweh.

As the leavened loaves were raised up to God in ancient Israel on the Feast of Weeks, so let us count the days until we are raised up in the air to meet the triumphant King, the returning Lord and Savior.

For in Yahweh’s kingdom, at the right hand of El, He will fill us with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand.
 
 

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