What Does YHWH mean?

In this short meditation on the Tetragrammaton, John Piper demonstrates that God declares His eternality and utter self-sufficiency by His Name, YHWH.

The One God is YHWH, but the Three Persons are also YHWH. Jesus is called YHWH in Jeremiah 22:36, for His Name will be, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”.

Jesus is God, and has always been from everlasting, for John 1:1 says, “the Word was God.” (Micah 5:2) We know none can become God, for He will not give His glory to another. (Isaiah 42:8)

Since He calls Himself, “I AM WHAT I AM”, or “I AM WHO I AM”, we know that all that God is, He has always been, and none made God or even added counsel to Him. John 1:3 declares that whatever was made, was made by Christ. Thus we see, Jesus, being eternal, was not made by His Father, nor Himself, since that is illogical.

The Tetragrammaton, YHWH, is explained by that preceding clause, “I AM THAT I AM.” And it is that larger clause I want to examine in the glorious light that John Piper sees in it.

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14 KJV)

There, the verb “I AM”, that appears three times, is in the imperfect.

We have heard that the imperfect refers to ongoing or incomplete actions, especially in the future, however, it is not so simple. We will see that several features of the imperfect come into play in His Name.

The imperfect is subtle, even without the vav consecutive, which is not used in Exodus 3:14 and which we will not examine. The imperfect though, can refer to future, one-time, actions.

“I will make [imp.] a covenant with you.” (2 Samuel 3:13 NKJ)

Other times the imperfect can portray one-time actions in the present, though we could say these are incomplete.

“Hannah, why do you weep [imp.]? Why do you not eat [imp.]?” (1 Samuel 1:8 NKJ)

The ability of the imperfect to express simple, one-time actions, in the present and future, is connected to the more common power of the imperfect for ongoing action. There is, in both, a fullness of action which we don’t ascribe to the imperfect by saying that it only covers “incomplete” actions. The nature of the imperfect is shown not only in progressive, and uncompleted, actions, but in progressive, ongoing actions.

When God says “I AM”, He uses the imperfect because of its progressive, ongoing nature, without limiting that eternal fountain of Being to an incomplete, or still to be finished process. But this is entirely proper to the imperfect, though the name of this inflection is in contradiction to the idea.

The grammarian Gesenius says, “[The linguist] Driver rightly lays stress upon the inherent distinction between the participle as expressing mere duration, and the imperfect as expressing progressive duration (in the present, past, or future). Thus the words וְנָהָר יׂצֵא [participle] (Genesis 2:10) represent the river of Paradise as going out of Eden in a continuous, uninterrupted stream, but יִפָּרֵד, [imperfect] which immediately follows, describes how the parting of its waters is always taking place afresh.” [text citations edited]

The participle can describe a continuous action, but the imperfect can be employed to emphasize the ongoing nature in time (or we shall see, in eternity) of that action. Gesenius also gives the example of Genesis 2:6, which, “represents new mists as constantly arising.”

“But there went up [imperfect] a mist from the earth.” (Genesis 2:6 KJV)

The imperfect has a special use for continual or repeated action, which is called the frequentative. Again, the name here characterizes the imperfect well in some of its function, but does not do justice to its uses of a more continuous or ongoing nature.

But in the Tetragrammaton, we see the frequentative imperfect, expressing a kind of eternality. This mode of the verb can refer to the past, present, or future. And in some cases is used to speak of eternity, as below.

The LORD shall reign [imp.] for ever and ever. (Exodus 15:18 KJV)

or again, the frequentative in a continual present,

[The LORD] heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29 KJV)

So the frequentative, despite its name, can mean an action not only frequent, or repeated, but continual and ongoing.

What is more, the imperfect often expresses actions that are contingent on certain factors, certain conditions. This contingent relation to a condition is expressed by particles like “perhaps”, “if”, “in order that”, “because”, “lest”, or as here in Exodus 3:14, “that”.

In Exodus 3:14 when the two imperfect verbs appear, “I AM THAT I AM” we see that the eternality of God’s being is conditional on His being, that is, He exists because of His own being, and solely to the end of His own being. [Thus the second I AM is also related as the end, or “in order that”, to the first I AM.] It is a strangely paradoxical contingency, unique among all beings, because His end and sufficiency and purpose, were always satisfied by His own innate being.

The imperfect that answers a contingency may be in response to an action, “b if a”. Other times, the imperfect rests on a contingent, “will, desire, judgment, premonition, or permission” in which case we may translate with auxiliary words, “shall, might, should,” etc. [From Kelley and Crawford’s Grammar]

Here God’s eternal existence reflects that “desire” and “judgment” which says “yes” and “I shall” to His own being.

The imperfect not only involves progression or continuation, but the motives involved in actions. Thus we see that the jussive and cohortative are in the imperfect. These two verb forms are used when there is an urging, desire, determination, or permission to act.

Finally, the imperfect can answer a question, and He is the only one, by virtue of being the Truth, and the great Satisfier, who really can answer our questions.

The imperfect embraces questions perhaps because the question is uttered in a desire, or determination to hear an answer. As the Living Word proceeds from God in an eternal revelation, and the Son is said, proceeding from the bosom of the Father, to be in eternal generation, so God’s Name proceeds as a continual, miraculous, answer to that ground of His Being.

That answer is YES, and that answer is AMEN, and that answer exists in a kind of wonder of Life, which superabundantly resolves the questions “who?” and “why?” without a statement of the question, but also without a denial of the question. Yet God gave His Name as an answer to Moses’ question, “they shall say to me, what is his name? what shall I say [imp.] unto them?” (Exodus 3:13 KJV)

So God’s Name is an answer to our own question, but is there not also in the sufficiency and satisfaction of the “I AM” a living answer that overflows the cup of every potential question even in the Godhead?

Now Pharoah did ask that very question, yet like Pilate, did not learn the answer when He should have.

“Pharaoh said, who is the LORD, that I should obey [imp.] his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2 KJV)

But we all ought, with Jacob, ask “who are you, and what is your name?” for His Name is wonderful.

“Why is it that you ask [imp.] my name?” (Genesis 32:29 NAS)

For what Jesus told not Jacob, He does tell us through Moses.

Is Masturbation A Sin?

I want to set out the scriptural teaching on masturbation, first emphasizing that God can and does bring deliverance from lust, and lustful behavior. Sexual conduct is an area I have struggled in, but the Lord has had the victory in my life over this sin, and I am not walking in lust anymore. So I don’t share this meditation lightly, nor set out His word under the illusion that this is an easy matter, but even a murderer can testify that murder is wrong.

Sometimes we are called to strenuous effort and an earnest pursuit. As Peter said, with the end of the world in mind, “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11)

What are the sexual options according to Jesus?

Homosexual behavior is unlawful. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Adultery is also outlawed there. Scripture forbidding pre-marital sex is found in Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, and below.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, [passion of lust] even as the Gentiles which know not God:

The only sexual options left are masturbation and heterosexual marriage. In marriage, intimate relations are embraced as a good for mankind, even a mandate for the married. Marriage is encouraged for those with a strong attraction, that is, most of us. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

Considering masturbation, God is well understood by His character of selflessness and lack of greed. Masturbation is only for the self and cultivates greed. One cannot masturbate without greed coming into play. We are instructed to die to the world, sin, flesh, and the self. (Galatians 5:24, Romans 6:11, Galatians 6:14, 1 Corinthians 10:33) This takes place by our own death on the cross through faith.

We are crucified, and dead to sin, but live to God. As Galatians 5:24 says, we “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” And we ought to live by putting to death the deeds and manner of the flesh. (Romans 8:13) Moreover, Jesus told us when He walked among us, “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) All of this means a kind of mortification of the body, to spiritually overcome the impulses of the body as though putting it to death by the sanctifying Spirit, often with the help of discipline.

The body doesn’t know the spirit. It was “free” from the narrow way. But if we uproot the weeds of the body’s wild interest, we can find much greater peace and meaning in our lives, not to mention righteousness and salvation. Helpful discipline may include prayer, fasting, avoiding moral mistakes like being loose with the truth, and searching repentance.

We are to mortify our flesh so that it does not have power over us, and this means we cannot empower the terrible root of selfish lust to take hold of the Temple which we are.

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, [lust] and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Sometimes pain helps a person find God, even if it is merely beating the breast. Paul says, “I chastise my body, and bring it into servitude, lest by any means, having preached to others — I myself may become disapproved.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) Apparently the word for chastise means beat black and blue.

We have flesh and our flesh is fallen. If we walk in the Spirit we will not walk in the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) Masturbation makes the total mortification of the impure urges of the body impossible. It is not dying to oneself, the flesh, sin and the world.

If it is not something right for a Temple of God, then how can we do it when we are His Temple? We will be judged for every idle word, and we are to keep the giving of thanks on our lips. (Matthew 12:36, Hebrews 13:15) And Paul teaches the propriety of such single mindedness, saying, “but God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

Jesus is the ultimate example of this mortification of the body. He lived so that He may die for us that we may know God and live. His whole life was a sacrifice. He never lost a moment at the television or in merely private reverie.

Jesus admits that while the eunuch is blessed to receive the word of warning about marriage, (“he that is able to receive it, let him receive it,”) it was implicit that many would marry. (For context on marriage, see Matthew 19:3-12.) The options here notice are marriage and being a eunuch. It is not, marry or have an active life of serial monogamy; nor is it an option to find an outlet by oneself.

Eunuchs have no sex drive, and that means a deadness toward our flesh. If we sin we have an advocate in Jesus. He is with us, and expects us to keep His holy law. He commands us to believe. He commands us to be saved, so don’t despair.

Now right after this conversation on marriage and the eunuch, in Matthew, children come up to Jesus and He lays hands on them and blesses them. In saying marry or be a eunuch, the sinless Lord implies He has kept His vessel clean and can bless the children without any guilt, because He is clean.

The golden rule is the sum of the law. In its application a man proves his character and manifests his walk, that is, by how he strives to interpret and apply love in his life. To an extent the golden rule sounds easy; merely be a good neighbor, harmless perhaps, and beyond that do what you want. However it is more accurate that our private indulgence, or lawless selfishness, our excessive attention given to the flesh, will impact our ability to be selfless with our neighbor and produce the right fruits.

One could say in a similar way it is no sin to swear when we are alone because our neighbor never knows, but our virtue is affected. We cannot have salt water and fresh from the same source. (James 3:12) We must be as virtuous as we can all the time to begin to show proper gratitude to our Savior. This life is not our own.

So while the Golden Rule is the whole law, to love one another selflessly we must die utterly to ourselves, to greed and selfishness. Therefore there is no room for perfection mixed with hoarding wealth, greed, drug use, or swearing. The command to love means a total transformation, replacing everything unspiritual with what is truly spiritual. There is no time off of being a Christian, angels are perfect and they do not leave off of the love of the Lord and the righteous things He has taught so that they can take a vacation into error. We have enough of an enemy in the Devil without joining him and making the job of the Lord harder.

While at times we may find we pass by temptation only with “white-knuckles”, the Lord also has the power to take away our lust, and He can do this fully and in a moment. This kind of deliverance is His power, and will never be achieved merely by effort, but faithful prayer and obedience moves God to do mighty things in us. Is there more explicit instruction in the New Testament regarding masturbation? If you want to look into more verses, there are some in the PDF below.

Devotional #4 (GOD, Poet)

God loves Israel. He loves her for an early devotion.

“Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, thus said the LORD; I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, and the first fruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come on them, said the LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:2,3)

He loves her for early righteousness.

“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” (Isaiah 1:21)

He loves her in a unique way, as a peculiar people.

“You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2)

And He loves Israel for her origination, known to Him from everlasting, but first manifest in the Patriarchs.

“When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.” (Hosea 9:10)

How transparently personal is God’s passion here! Our God avows His love like a suitor, placing His heart in Israel’s hands. He cannot have all His big dreams if she does not say yes, and He will not have peace without her approval. What will God do, what great act of heroism, or grand gesture will He make, to resolve His crisis?

This is exciting poetry, and grand in conception. In that personal light even the least lyrical elements of the Hebrew Bible: the genealogies, and enumeration of parts of the tabernacle, the numbering of the troops, the order in which the tribes of Israel must travel, are all very personal because they are the constitution of the Lord’s people, the foundation blocks of the family of Jesus, who branches out to save the entire world (which he loves equally as much.) Much of the Hebrew Bible names what is essential to the making of the people.

In singing of God’s relationship with Israel, (and the flock is one in Israel), He works in the greatest microcosm, even to a stone beneath Jacob’s head, up to the greatest macrocosm: the salvation of the world through the death of the Son of God.

That Living Word which issued eternally from the bosom of the Father, has spoken by His prophets in order to adopt us as His children. What do we need to know most, but God Himself, for knowing Him is eternal life? (John 17:3)

Often it is that chief poet of a people who has a special claim to the deep spirit of the country. For example Homer, Virgil, and Walt Whitman sing the epic of their people. In scripture, the Author of Life Himself, has spoken in a way so powerful that He actually creates a people. From stone to hearts of flesh, and hovering over darkness without discernment He fashions brothers and sisters conforming to His own image. As in Genesis, His word possesses an originating power, and a sustaining and blessing power.

At His feet we will all be taught of God, even as Mary Magdalene, who chose for herself a fine part.

Street Evangelism Report: Part One

I thank God for the powerful way He is working to shower us with love and reach out to all souls, bringing them the Word of repentance and eternal life. His passion is for that lost soul wandering in darkness, because the 99 are already secure. And He is calling us in an abundance of gentleness, saying, “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37 NKJ)

As you read this report I would love if you could lend prayers to the vulnerable and the slave of sin, and to the backslider, and all who need His practical rescue from vice, and His redemption for eternal life. Please if you read through to the end, please pray mightily and in faith, for all His power and love and mercy to be shed in our communities and around the world.

Last Monday, though it’s not a very busy party night, I went to Downtown Dallas, to a bar district called Deep Ellum, to feel things out before going down to fully do street witness. A homeless man told me there have been “gangs” of preachers there on microphones, who set up every weekend. And a young woman told me that there are opposing camps, with the preachers being opposed by another group who dedicated themselves to shouting over them and protesting with an anti-religious message. So I was very curious about this and looked forward to talking with these preachers.

I ordered some tracts which received by mail, and got rolls of quarters, to bring one with me every time I go out, because it is good to have something to share with people in need. I also ordered free “Living Water” books of the Gospel of John, though I still haven’t received those.

After praying and surrendering to the Lord to walk with dedication in His will even no matter what I faced, I set out Saturday night by public transit. As soon as I got to the train station I saw a young man and as we began talking the Lord really moved to save his life and show him practical love. It turned out he was homeless and laboring with a meth and heroin addiction and was at the end of his rope. As he told me about his inability to live, even cope as well as other addicts, I told him about how my own desperate darkness in addiction and what the Lord did for me, and how He rescued me from every desire and craving. He cried and was willing to talk and get things off his chest.

He talked about how he had tried Christ and it hadn’t stuck and we paid attention to this, and it turned out he had doubts about the Lord and didn’t fully trust the Word. Justin and I talked a long time and he said he was going to take the bus to the area around where I live because I told him it was a very safe neighborhood. In the end, we prayed Christ’s power over his drug addiction, bringing His power to bear on that devil, because he and I can either use drugs, or have the opportunity to do anything else of value God has for us, but we can’t do both.

Justin told me he is going to re-engage with the Bible, keep praying and seeking the Truth of the Lord, and we both recognized that the Ethiopian eunuch could get baptized right away provided he believe with his whole heart. Justin got up and left with a restored spirit, joy on his face, and we told each other we would hopefully see each other soon in our neighborhood.

I was amazed that God had already even before beginning, started to do everything I had hoped for. I had never had that much success in evangelism on any occasion.

On the train platform I started to hand out tracts, telling people that Jesus loves them and to be blessed. One young man told me he felt I had been sent to him because I handed out a tract that said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and he said he needed rest. (Matthew 11:28 NKJ) I started to share the word with him, seeing he was really suffering.

Then immediately, a young man who was also black, began speaking over me, denying Jesus’ gentleness and tenderness and saying that was a lie of the white man. And said something to the effect of Jesus being a gangster and violent, who whipped the people in the Temple, and he kept inciting this man against Christianity as a white man’s lie, and the man was listening to him and agreeing with him.

I answered that the Bible wasn’t written by white people, but Middle Easterners, and that I could agree that Jesus is a Man of War, who would kill many people who lived in rebellion when He returns. And that gave them pause and I tried to go on about His kindness and love, but the man cut me off with hostility, and then the train arrived, as the man refused to continue to engage.

And on the train I felt the power of God and I felt the force of the enemy also. I moved seats and when I did, another man I had offered a tract to cursed me and told me not to sit at all near him, and he cursed Christ and Christianity as homosexual and threatened to beat me right on the train. I knew he meant what he said and a bit saddened, took the course of action to leave him be and move farther on. And I sat down in the part of the train where the young man was who had minutes ago talked about Jesus the gangster.

He was up pacing the train and filled with anger. I felt a prompting to say some kind word of blessing to him, but it didn’t seem the right time and just sat there. He began arguing with his girlfriend and it reached the point of both of them shouting in rage at each other as he paced by me. Then the man who thought Christ was gay told the man who thought Christ was a gangster that he thought I was scum, and they agreed and the shirtless man pacing the train said I was following him. He came up and stood over me, so I looked at him and calmly told him I wasn’t mad at him. For a second he smiled at me in what seemed like love. And his argument with his girlfriend got worse.

I realized that if he began hitting her, though I might wish to be avoidant, it would be my duty to step in and get beaten on the train, as they had threatened. The threat and spirit of Satan stopped just short of that, and I got off the train safely downtown. Praise God.

Deep Ellum was jam packed with I guess thousands of people. I handed out tracts and told people that Jesus loved them and blessed them in God. Most of the people I actually had conversations with were homeless.

As I ran out of tracts early, I thought about changing my plans and taking the last train home, instead of staying out till the morning trains. By God’s design I missed the last train, and that was the best part.

As I walked through the quiet business district of downtown, I met a homeless man who asked me for a coffee, and as we talked he told me about all his struggles as a homeless person, and how he felt like the Invisible Man from the novel. I asked him questions and we talked about the injustice and difficulty of his situation, and how he coped.

He was an older man who is a college graduate, who had moved to Dallas for a job soon lost because of COVID. That whole day he spent cleaning porta potties and he gets no rest because he has to stand in line before dawn and hustle all day on foot, working and often unable to find a place to lay his head. He told me people literally step over him because he is homeless and is especially dismissed because he is black.

It is literally illegal for him to be given food or sleep in a park.

When he told me his parents are teachers and still alive, I cheered up and asked him why he doesn’t just take a greyhound home and live with them. So he told me it was a big issue, and he told me he was gay, and that his Christian parents were ashamed of him, and that he hadn’t even been able to tell them he was homeless. Soon he revealed that He was in the Lord, and regularly prayed and still has faith. I praised God for this with joy, and the whole conversation changed.

For an hour we walked back and forth, avoiding the sprinkling rain, and the loud classical music meant to keep loiterers from standing by the convenience store. He let me know honestly that he still gets with men sometimes, and I let him know about Christ’s clear instruction through Paul that this is a deal breaker for entering the Kingdom of God. I also told him that I as a single man am in much the same situation and have no right to sleep with any woman, lest I also, not repenting, lose my salvation.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral [fornicators], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9,10 ESV)

We talked about how that verse refers to men engaging in the behavior of homosexual sodomy. He did not deny the word, but affirmed it, and accepted it as God’s truth, and that it was sin. He also talked about the temptations he faced, and the problems caused for him by homosexual churches who say the plain meaning of scriptures is something else. And we talked about the real sacrifice of forsaking the meaning and beauty of being romantically and physically involved with people. He told me he felt sexual temptation, and I encouraged him with the fact that even assuming that is sin, God’s whole emphasis is on drawing the line at the behavior, and that God says, “and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV)

I affirmed this man because like Jesus who refused to sin despite suffering all the pain and wrath of God, but remained true to His infinite goodness, and kindness, he too refused the counsel of those who told him his sin was beautiful. I told him that by loving Jesus, and loving the Truth, to the extent that he affirmed the whole Word, and took his stand on the Bible to be saved, he had overcome the world. And I told him about how God worked to save me from my sexual sin as I agreed with Him to surrender my members as instruments of righteousness. I also told him it was just as Paul said, and that he was unleavened, and that he just needed to walk it out.

It is impossible for me to express the dearness and relief and inspiration we felt when we were talking and arriving at our freedom and destination. It was almost like being in Heaven, speaking with a brother there about the power and glory and goodness of God, who we both admitted was the only man who could work righteousness and rescue and strength in us. But there reached a point when he saw through all his dilemma and affirmed with joy that he knew now he was going to make it through all this, his homelessness, and his temptation to homosexual behavior, and he really had a whole new Spirit right before my eyes. Praise God! He told me he was going to call his father.

As we departed I gave him my email address and we agreed we would talk soon. Please pray for him.

Many times the most receptive people to God’s word not only are poor, but even the homeless, who know Jesus, and love prayer.

It was 3 AM, I walked back into Deep Ellum and spent the rest of the night until the trains picked up again studying at a cafe. I thank God with joy for the love of God He shows by everything He is doing for us because I know He is working in love and mercy.

Street Evangelism: Calling

Can we love God and bury Jesus down inside of us? How, when He has risen, and reigns, and labors in ministry?

Shall we hide the One we love, who also has rescued us? “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” (Proverbs 27:5 ESV)

And can this God who made us His own – to worship Him – be content hidden inside of His children? No, for He is a consuming fire. Therefore may He bring a fire in our bones that cannot be shut up! (Jeremiah 20:9)

That is a fire in us, do not quench the Spirit! “[For] no one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a basket or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16 CSB)

Let us consider His call a command to mobilize our whole body. Paul said, “brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1 CSB)

Most of my Christian life (born again 2005) has been barren of the fruits of love and ministry that really make a difference for the Kingdom. I’ve stayed in prayer, continued in the study of the Word, but showed only occasional and grudging efforts to serve. My highest hopes were mostly confined to writing poetry, though I also had a dream to start a Christian publishing house.

This past winter (2021) I finished a 4 and a half year effort to assemble a commentary on Psalms. Whereas I had planned to return to work, get a car, and save up money to start a Christian publishing company, God said no to all these plans.

Instead, I started to study Hebrew methodically, attend church regularly, and the LORD began to move. He brought me the Spirit. He brought me a sense of life, beauty, and cheer. He gave me an attitude of gratitude.

One day in April, God called me out of sexual indulgence. When I said yes to Him, He filled me with a clean and powerful Spirit. That day, He conquered my pronounced habit of looking at women to lust after them. I am so excited to live as a trustworthy brother to all my sisters.

This Presence I had never known to last more than a brief time of prayer, but now it stayed on me for about a month. Since I am nothing, I cling to Him who lives in me, and He sustains me and will.

I praise God because He was not content with these mighty works, but saving me from lust, He also saved me from gluttony and sloth (by transforming my appetite and energy levels). Thank you, God!

20 years ago, a sudden, extreme revelation of the wickedness of the world reversed my trusting disposition with the force of an axe hitting my mind. This dark vision, which I call Negativa, punished me with a blindness toward all the deeply good people around us. It also brought me to demonize many, denying their humanity.

The Holy Spirit has now reversed this curse, and I see myself surrounded by people God is working in with joy and power. I humble myself before this great moving sea of His servants, including the angels above, who all participate together to advance the Kingdom of the Son of His Love. The labor of the harvest is something we join in on together, even though it is the 11th hour.

The Spirit has finally helped me to see that God has an answer to the evil of the world, in saving many and in reigning over us all in Truth. This change in my heart is the plundering and spoiling of the Negativa, so that to a little understanding of the darkness, He has added that healthy recognition most of us have of the humanity and goodness in so many.

So when God called me to street witness I followed Him. He has sent me out with tracts and copies of the Gospel of John, to Deep Ellum, (a large bar district in Dallas), and to our downtown, especially the homeless. I’ve also been partnering up with a homeless ministry, Our Calling, and engaging in outreach with some brothers from church.

Revival is already happening, a rushing wind in Africa, a fire in China, and more recently in India, the Muslim world, and even among His own Jewish People. He is doing this work in a revelation of power and mercy, in visions, miracles, and faith.

I believe God will bring revival here in Dallas, and throughout this poor country, and it is already under way. All revival must be bathed in prayer, and it is by bearing a Cross in prayer, to the point of shedding tears, that God hastens, attending to this country, and all countries. May the Lord Jesus be glorified and magnified, by bringing us to repentance, and revealing Himself to our stony hearts, so that we worship Him in awe and love.

Lanugo – The Struggle in the Womb

Lanugo –
(noun) a coat of delicate, downy hairs, esp. that with which the human fetus or a newborn infant is covered. A type of pelage.

Pelage –
(noun) the hair, fur, wool, or other soft covering of a mammal.

The two brothers, Jacob and Esau, were set apart from the womb. As the Lord said to their mother, Rebekah, “two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels.” (Genesis 25:23 KJV) From day one, each brother showed out a picture of what he would become.

Esau was born covered in red hair, like a garment. His hairiness was the basis of his name, “Hairy”, and connects him to the fur-clad animals he was expert at hunting. “Red” also became his second name, Edom, when he traded for the red stew Jacob fed him.

This red fur he was covered in at birth is called “lanugo”. This is the downy fetal hair, or animal pelage, which falls off the fetus’ body during gestation and is swallowed, where it remains in the bowels, until after birth, when the meconium is released. Since twins like Jacob and Esau, who shared the same uterine sac, must ingest their brothers’ lanugo in utero, Jacob had more of his brother in him than most.

Now Jacob was a “heel catcher” or “supplanter”. What Esau was by nature, Jacob shared in by proximity. It served Jacob to have more than a hair of familiarity with his worldly brother, who intended to kill him, and with his uncle Laban, who would cheat him. Nine months wrestling with Esau, and ingesting the pelage of his body, was a material inoculation that prepared Jacob to grasp both crafty and resourceful tactics when in need. He did so yet remained a man of God.

When people say take “a hair of the dog that bit you,” this refers to curing a rabid dog bite by putting a few hairs from that dog into the wound, or more recently, to curing a hangover with a bit more alcohol. Jacob never became a hunter or a murderer, but he showed a capacity for wrestling, and defending himself and his family.

When his brother was born first, Jacob caught him by the heel before he emerged. And within a handful of verses, he had won the birthright from him. Esau’s second name was a signal of his defeat, for the highest expression of that poor man was the lamenting cry he brought before his father, “hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father.” (Genesis 27:38 KJV) Thus the words of 2 Peter 2:19, with the power of a divine law, impress on him the name Edom because of his weakness before that red meal, “of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (KJV)

On the other hand, Jacob acquires the name Israel by a victory of perseverance. What began with a heel hold, was fully wrought in that night of prayer and God wrestling, so that the Lord redeemed his first name, and crowned him with a second, Israel. This combines the words “prince” and “God”, or “contends” and “God”.

According to Strong’s, Israel means “to rule as God”, and Christ does promise that his children will rule with him. (1 Corinthians 6:2,3, Revelation 3:21) Yet there is still that law sovereign over Israel, “the disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” (Luke 6:40)

Jacob’s life was marked by restraint, and eventual reward. Esau, failing to get started on the right foot, never got started at all. Esau was one of whom it may be said, “and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, how I have hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof.” (Proverbs 5:11,12 KJV)

While they wrestled, did they also cry? For babies can cry in the womb, both with tears, and with the exercise of their mouths and lungs, though it does not produce a sound. Around the 30th week, babies can cry tears, about the time they may grasp objects and move about freely some.

As Hebrews speaks of Melchizedek as eternal, because he had neither birth nor parentage, so the struggle between brothers began before they began, revealing a battle that precedes personal existence. Thus it is a type for the struggle between the Son of Man and the Devil.

As Jacob ate up Esau’s downy red fur, so did Jesus Christ bear and put on our sins in their most accursed form. In the exchanged life, our own wretched garments, become those white robes of the Lord’s own good deeds. The same picture is found in Zechariah 3, where Joshua the High Priest is shown under Satan’s accusation to wear filthy garments. Yet that scarlet, and that stained, is exchanged for the snow white and the regal.

The word “gestation” is also helpful here, for it signifies 9 months of the child’s formation, but it also means “to wear clothes or ornaments”, and that “exercise by which one is borne or carried, as on horseback, or in a carriage, by passive exercise, and without his own exertion”. Even when we first become ourselves, our very being already undergoes an exchange of destiny-shaping in His hand.

Inside Rebekah was the travail of two peoples, progressing to another world, to two distinct worlds. Huge and important was her womb, and condensed as a soul. This woman was full of water, and full of ships on the water. She held floods like Sheol, and like the grave of Jonah before his faith breakthrough. (Psalm 69) In these floods there were tears, and there was an exchange of garments.

Pre-Marital Sex or Rape?

Torah Teaching in Deuteronomy 22:13-29

There are 6 different legal cases that give rulings on sexual indiscretion between Deuteronomy 22:13-29. They lay out some general divisions in the law through case example. The final seven of those verses are below, divided into the three cases we will consider here.

Case #1

“If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:23,24 KJV)

Case #2

“But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.” (Deuteronomy 22:25-27 KJV)

Case #3

“If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22:28,29 KJV)

The first case is of a man who has humbled his neighbor’s wife by sleeping with her. Though she was only betrothed, she was considered a wife because betrothal in that world was one stage of marriage. So that first case is adultery and is punished by death. The second case is rape of a betrothed woman. The man is punished with death and the woman is considered innocent. The third case we will examine more closely, but I contend is simply consensual sex between two unattached people. The man is required to pay her bride price, marry her, and never divorce her.

Law students do not only study the laws themselves, but rather cases and judgments. Likewise, God’s written law was not constructed as a totally abstract system which covers all possibilities. There is strategic economy to what cases are given. Thus the labels of the crime are not provided, but the judges are to study the principles in play.

So what are the facts of the third, “controversial” case, which some maintain is rape? The NIV translates verse 28, “if a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…” However the Hebrew verb does not necessarily imply such violence. It can be used to describe taking hold of a garment or playing the harp. The King James Version here translates the word as “lay hold”, while the New American Standard Bible has “seizes”. A few verses earlier, at Deuteronomy 22:25, in discussing rape, a different verb is used: חָזַק , which perhaps should be translated, “to force.” (KJV) So we see intentional differentiation between these cases.

The rape case in the field, gives the law for rape, and it defies common sense to consider the third case as rape because it would be contradictory.

The text shows that the incident in case 3, happened around a witness, but she did not cry out. They were discovered. Nor is it “he was found out”, but it describes both of them being found. Whatever he was doing wrong, she was also doing.

Why would scripture even need to explain that not only a betrothed woman is innocent who is raped (case 2) but also a non-betrothed (if that is case 3)? But we see from case 2 how God regards rape.

If someone rises up to slay my betrothed daughter then the rapist is considered as a killer and is put to death, but if he does that to my unmarried daughter it is nothing? No, even if we are inconsistent God is not.

If this were rape, should she be found, she would be forced to marry her rapist. But if she kept the violence to herself and was not found, she could be killed later for lack of proofs of virginity. So there would be no justice either way.

If case 2 and 3 are both rape, then the first rapist (in the country) is sentenced to death for having sex with an engaged woman, not for raping her. According to this reasoning, raping her is pretty much fine. Then if she had not been engaged when he raped her that could have been taking a step toward marriage.

But God says the rape is akin to murder. (Deuteronomy 22:26) No, the difference here is not between a rape of a betrothed and unattached woman, but the difference in consensual sex with a betrothed (case 1) and unattached woman (case 3). In the first case, it is adultery, and in the second case, there is responsibility one bears in sexual behavior.

This series of cases is sufficient to interpret many other cases. It demands that the court establish by evidence if it was rape or consensual. It provides the principle of defending the victim, condemning the “adulteress”, (betrothal was a form of marriage), and forcing a man to marry his lover if they are caught and not divorce her. This last law for lovers caused both parties to consider the consequences of their affairs.