Category Archives: Lessons in Wilderness

LESSONS IN THE WILDERNESS

GOD Who Are You? AND Who Am I?

Knowing and Experiencing God by His Hebrew Names

PART 2 – eBook 2

And the Lord said to Joshua . . . “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.'”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God [lessons in the wilderness]. . . . ”     Joshua 3:8-9

Part 2 is comprised of the second three modules of the book and is Part 2 of the FREE eCourse Bonus on this Web site. They are:

Module 4 – Chapter 6: God is Jehovah-Shalom [The Lord is Peace]

Chapter 7: Because God is Jehovah-Shalom, I am Like a B-E-A-R

Module 5 – Chapter 8: God is Jehovah-Rohi [The Lord My Shepherd]

Chapter 9: Because God Is Jehovah-Rohi, I am Guided

Module 6 – Chapter 10: God is El Shaddai [The All Sufficient One]

Chapter 11: Because God is El Shaddai, I Am Blessed

M6E I Am Blessed Because God is El Shaddai

He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” —Deuteronomy 8:16-17

But Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. —Deuteronomy 8:18

I am Blessed because of El Shaddai

Joyce Love tells a story about her grandparents in her devotional book, Memories from the Heart. After three of her grandparents’ homes burned to the ground, they learned that possessions do not last. Consequently, they hoarded nothing and showered love and blessings on everyone who came to their door. Living by the railroad tracks gave them many opportunities to feed hungry hobos.

While the youngest son, Wilbur, was still home, he and his father went to town for lumber to build a small brooder house for chickens. On the way home an elderly gentleman hitched a ride. He was wearing a dirty, gray shirt and tie that formerly were very nice clothes.

Grandpa stopped and asked, “Wanna ride?”

The stranger climbed into the truck. As Grandpa neared his turn-off, he stopped to let the stranger out. “No,” he said, “I would like to ride some more.”

This happened again with another turn until they arrived at their house. Grandma was not surprised, as they often provided shelter for strangers. As Grandpa started building the small brooder house, the man said, “There’s no need to make such a small house. Let’s make a big one. Let’s go back to town and get more lumber so we can make a big building.”

“I can’t afford that. I can’t afford anything like that. We’ll just go ahead with this small one,” said Grandpa.

“Let’s build a big one. Instead of ordering 100 chickens, get three to four thousand!”

Grandpa laughed and said, “Naw, we’ll just make the little brooder house.”

That night, the stranger slept on the porch. The next morning he asked Grandpa who the neighbors were. Grandpa told him.

“How many acres on this place?” Grandpa told him he just rented the forty acres.

“We could build a new house and after we get that brooder house built, we could build whatever else you want. We’ll make a ranch out of this,” the stranger said.

The stranger went around to the property owners and found they did not want to sell. He said he was surprised because, “Money will usually buy anything you want.”

Again, Grandpa laughed at the stranger and tried to ignore him, thinking he was not responsible for his actions and out of his mind. The man kept making ridiculous suggestions and claimed to have a lot of money.

Finally, Grandpa asked the man, “Why are you dressed like that and why were you hitchhiking if you have so much money?”

“Well, I’ll tell you. A few years back I bought a brand new car and had a wreck. It really messed me up. I said to myself right then that I would never own another car. That was going to be my last one. And the only time I ride is when I get awfully tired. Otherwise, I just walk.” He later told Grandpa he used to own a lot of oil wells and had all the money he needed.

The visitor spent several days at Grandma and Grandpa’s table. Then one morning he quietly left. Later that same day he was struck by a car and killed. A large sum of money was found on his body, and they later heard he was a millionaire!

This story raises many questions. What would have happened if Grandpa had taken him seriously? Wilbur and Grandma believed him. Was the man looking for a home, for love? He received the latter, but what did he do with it? This is a sad story that deserves our attention. If Grandma and Grandpa, as well as the stranger, were being tested, who passed? Did any of them? These questions will be answered as we look at why and how we are blessed. In the process, we will find that God alone is our only source of supply and security—not the job, not parents, 401K’s or retirement plans, and not even a millionaire who happens by our door— only El Shaddai.

WHY I AM BLESSED

What is God’s purpose for blessing His people? Deuteronomy 8:16-18, answers this question—to confirm or establish His covenant. But what is His covenant? [This question was addressed in detail in Chapters 4 and 5 of Jehovah-Tsidkenu.] In a nut shell, the covenant is God’s promise to Abraham’s seed, passed on to his children, next to his children’s children, and eventually to the nation of Israel. To the nation of Israel, which the Father had prepared to receive His son, He sent His seed—Jesus Christ.

What is God’s purpose for blessing us? This is it: that the whole world may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the only Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man can come to the Father except through Him. When we have this firmly established and settled in our heart and mind, Jesus gives his disciples what is called the Great Commission:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end on the age.–Matthew 28:18-20

WHAT TWO WAYS DO BLESSINGS COME?

I am blessed in the desert:

To go into all the world takes many resources. Before looking specifically at how this can be accomplished, we need to review how blessings to establish His covenant come to us. They come in two forms:

I am blessed in the desert

In the desert: with one-day-at-a-time manna. “He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you” (Deut. 8:16). Manna was supernatural, miraculous bread from heaven that fell every morning for the children of Israel to gather—only enough for one day. On the sixth day, they were to gather enough for two days so they could rest on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, none fell. Being disobedient and undisciplined children, some gathered more than they could eat in one day during the week; thus, when hoarding it, they found it rotten the next morning— full of maggots and smelly.

Manna means “whatness,” or “What is it?” because this is what the people said when they saw it. It could be ground or milled, baked or boiled, and tasted like honey wafers. On the sixth night they were to bake and boil it and keep it for the Sabbath. It did not rot this day. El Shaddai provided manna forty years while the first generation of Israel wandered in the desert until they died. In contrast, their children chose to enter the land of El Shaddai’s abundance.

The desert was testing ground. Would the children of Israel follow God—the same God who delivered them from Egypt and met their needs one day at a time, when they did not know what was ahead? Would they be able to praise the one and only true God when times grew tough and real fighting battles erupted in the land? Would they allow themselves to become hardened to difficulties for the Lord’s sake? Could they be trusted with more responsibility? The desert would tell.

I am blessed in the land:

I am blessed in the land

In the land: with plenty, prosperity, and a plan to serve others, one day at a time. Prosperity is more than money. It is defined as “to become strong and flourishing”[1] Its definition is from Deuteronomy 28:1-14, the Biblical definition for blessings: to be above only and not beneath, to be the head and not the tail, able to lend and not borrow, to be at the top, and not at the bottom. These are the desires of El Shaddai for all His children. Should it be so hard for us to believe that the God of the whole universe wants to bless His children even as an earthly father wants to shower on his children good things?

“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant” (Deut. 8:18). God is saying that after the time of hardship, recall those times when there was no doubt it was God alone who met our needs because we had nothing. He also tells us to guard against ever thinking we have produced any wealth on our own, because it all comes from Him.

Wealth comes from the Hebrew word chayil. “The main meanings of this noun, which occurs 244 times in the Heb. O.T., are strength, army, wealth.”[2] It is also derived from the word chayl, additionally meaning “power, valor, military force, virtue, and honesty.”[3] Chayil refers to the entourage of the queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon, the third king of Israel, David’s son, who built the temple in the land of Israel.

After King David’s death, Solomon worshipped the Lord. In that night, God appeared to him and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (2 Chron. 1:7).

Solomon responded, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron. 1:10).

God said to Solomon,

Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.—2 Chronicles 1:11-12

King Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave him wisdom and wealth. It was the queen of Sheba who pronounced how blessed everyone was who heard Solomon’s wisdom. Regarding the king’s wealth, she exclaimed, “Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the Lord your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore, He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness” (2 Chron. 9:8 emphasis added). She recognized Solomon’s true wealth, virtue and honesty, and above all, that the true God was the God of Israel forever. Then, she showered on him even more earthly wealth, which he used to bless the people.

[1] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p.998.

[2] Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 1990) p. 1725.

[3] Ibid.

M6D Blessings: What if We Are Not Seeing Them?

WHAT IF WE ARE NOT SEEING  BLESSINGS OF EL SHADDAI?

There may be times when we do trust the Lord, and live our lives with integrity, but it seems God’s blessings have stopped, or His face is turned away from us. We have unmet needs. What is wrong? If we ask ourselves some questions from Psalm 24, we will usually find our answer:

Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood, or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation [description] of those who seek Him, who inquire of and for Him, and [of necessity] require Him, who seek Your face, [O God of] Jacob. Selah [pause, and think of that]!—Psalm 24:3-6 Amplified (emphasis mine)

Are our hands clean and our hearts pure to receive blessings?

Clean hands of blessings

Are our hands clean and our heart pure? Are we experiencing the consequences of disobedience in Deuteronomy 28, as discussed in Chapter 5 of this book? Is sin causing God’s face to be hidden from us? God is talking to Christians, not unbelievers, when He says:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered. . . .—2 Chronicles 7:14-15

It may be hard to identify with “wicked ways,” but if we will come before the Lord honestly and ask Him if there is anything we need to get right with Him, He will certainly answer that prayer. A good one to pray is from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Are we believing something false or speaking deceitfully that withholds blessings?

Blessings withheld by believing lies

Falsehood from the Hebrew has a double meaning. One means “taking the Lord’s name in vain” or “using the Lord’s name lightly or without thinking.”[1] Another means “anything not substantial, is not real, or is worthless”[2] In other words, has satan fed us a lie we are believing? Are we blaming God for our misfortune? The serpent’s strategy with Eve was to cast doubt on the Word God gave her and Adam. She quit trusting God and accepted the lie—you will not die—and ate the forbidden fruit. Satan’s continual strategy toward Christians is still the same, and then we blame God because things do not work out as we had once hoped.

Another question we need to ask ourselves is: “Am I holding a grudge because of something someone did or said to me, not forgiving; therefore, blaming God?” This is not real and worthless, because God cannot bless it. It is sin.

Blessings of El Shaddai

Jacob knew His God as El Shaddai. From Genesis 27, we learn that after Isaac finished blessing Jacob and he had scarcely left his father’s presence, “his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, ‘My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’”

“Who are you?” Isaac asked.

“I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, my father!”

But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times. He took my birthright and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

The only blessing Isaac could give was to tell Esau he would be the servant of his brother Jacob. This is when, because of Esau’s wrath, Jacob fled to the land of his Uncle Laban, where he lived for forty years—fourteen years to earn his two wives, twenty years as a neighboring wage earner, and six years to build his own herds.[3] Jacob reaped what he had sown, for Laban did everything he could do to deceive Jacob out of wages and flocks. Laban knew God was blessing him because of Jacob, yet begrudged giving his own son-in-law anything. When the time came that the Lord led Jacob to return to his homeland, Laban did not want him to leave, because Laban knew the blessing would go with him.

God is in the business of building character

God Almighty is not only in the “business” of blessing and deliverance, but of building character. During these forty years of Jacob’s early life and growing his family, his attitude slowly changed, but it came only through much testing, trial, and submission to his deceiving father-in-law.

When the Lord told Jacob to return to the land of his father, he had a choice to make. He discussed it with his wives, who agreed, because they had seen how their father treated Jacob. However, to go back meant Jacob had to face up to his past and his own deceptive ways. He had to face his brother.

Listen to Jacob’s prayer:

“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Genesis 32:9-12

Blessings of increase are from God alone

Blessings of increase from El Shaddai alone

Jacob acknowledges his unworthiness because of his past behavior and that his increase is from God alone, that God’s Word is true. He still trusts God to confirm His covenant to him as He did for his forefathers. In faith, he takes that promise back to God, voicing it with the words of his mouth, “but you said.” Jacob is totally at the mercy of El Shaddai. With his large family, many young and older children, large herds and baby animals, he is afraid and helpless—much like a “cast” sheep. He is hemmed in on both sides—Esau out in front and Laban behind, both who have the ability and desire to do him great harm.

Jacob sleeps on it. The next morning, with God’s wisdom, Jacob gives of his increase to God, by setting aside a gift for Esau: “two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys” (Gen. 32: 14-15). He sends them ahead in separate groups to appease Esau, but also as restitution for what he had stolen.

That night Jacob helps his family cross a stream, sends them ahead and is left alone. The angel of the Lord, appearing as a man, wrestles with him all night. Jacob would not let him go at daybreak saying, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The angel asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

Then the angel of the Lord said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (Gen. 32:28 emphasis mine).

Being accountable in facing our past brings blessings

In the “valley of decision” (see Joel 3:14) where his Shepherd led him, Jacob wrestles with facing his past, finds healing and comes out a new man. He gains God’s forgiveness and encouragement, and is ready to start a whole new life. He is also left with a limp from his struggle that will always remind him of the time he asked for blessing from The Almighty and when he received it. At this time, he has eleven sons and Benjamin will be born “in the land” giving him twelve sons who will be the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jacob finds that God will fight his battles for him. Laban chased him for seven days, but before overtaking him, God spoke to him in a dream, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (Gen. 31:24). After Laban arrives, they strike an agreement not to do each other harm, and set up a heap of stones as a reminder. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and blesses them. Jacob’s decision to take responsibility for his choices changed Laban’s attitude as well.

Next, Jacob meets up with Esau and his four hundred men. Jacob goes ahead of his family and bows down to the ground seven times with Esau in sight. But, Esau runs to meet Jacob and embraces him, throws his arms around him, kisses him, and they both weep. Jacob tells Esau, “To see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably” (Gen. 33:10).

El Shaddai carried Jacob and his family as a father carries his son (see Deut. 1:31) back home across the Jordan River. Jacob found that underneath were the everlasting arms (see Deut. 33:27).

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you . . .” (Isaiah 66:13).


[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1782

[2] Ibid.

[3] Adam Clark, LL.D., F.S.A., & C., Clark’s Commentary Volume 1 – Genesis-Deuteronomy (Abington Press, New York., Nashville), p. 197.

M6C Conditions to Receiving Blessings of El Shaddai

God Almighty gives two very important conditions to being blessed in Genesis, chapter 17:1-2: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Conditions of El Shaddai

TRUST: first of two conditions to be blessed

I am God Almighty, walk before me” (Gen. 17:1 emphasis added). The Amplified version says, “. . . live habitually before Me.”

The bottom line of walking before the Lord means trusting in Him. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him” (emphasis added). (See also Prov. 16:20; Ps. 84:12). The psalmist also says, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways” (Ps. 128:1 emphasis added). If we are following Jesus as our Shepherd, we are walking before him—in His presence. Walking blameless adds another dimension.

BE BLAMELESS: second of two conditions to be blessed

“. . . and be blameless” (Gen. 17:1)

The Hebrew word for blameless is Tâmîym: the divine standard for man to obtain. It means “entire (literally, figuratively, or morally) whole, complete . . . upright in one’s conduct, especially toward God, innocent, simple, honest, sincere, secure, integrity.”[1] The Amplified Bible gives an interesting amplification: blameless, whole-hearted, complete. Remember Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord whole-heartedly, were the only ones left of the original generation coming out of Egypt and are now leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land. It all comes down to facing our life honestly before the Lord one day at a time.

The psalmist again gives a great summary of what it takes to be a blessed child of God: “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Ps. 119:1).

God’s ways are higher than our ways, therefore, we may see times when His blessings of health or family are taken away, and we cannot figure out why. We see ourselves as blameless and completely trusting in the Lord. Chapter 14 of this book examines this life situation in detail.

As important as these two conditions are to being blessed, there is another condition that we absolutely cannot ignore! And, it’s the very first condition God laid down. When the Lord called Abram to leave his father’s household and go to the land that He would show him, He finished His blessing to Abram with these words: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3).

We know God is referring to “Israel,” the nation of the Jewish people, Abraham’s descendants through Isaac—the child of a promise fulfilled—and Jacob whose name is changed to “Israel.”

WHO SHALL RECEIVE THESE BLESSINGS?

“. . . between me and you” (Gen. 17:2)

God is talking directly to Abraham, of course, and the me here is El Shaddai. He is also talking directly to you and me. Galatians 3:29 tells us so, “And if you belong to Christ (are in Him, Who is Abraham’s Seed), then you are Abraham’s offspring and (spiritual) heirs according to promise” (Amplified). We are Abraham’s spiritual offspring because we belong to Christ and are a child of the only One and True God. These promises and every promise in the whole Bible belong to us, and have already been given to us.

Jabez passed the conditions test

These blessings come only to those who dare to look for and receive what the Almighty has given, men like Jabez who cried out to God, “‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request” (1 Chron. 4:10).

Bruce Wilkinson, in his book, The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, says, “I’ve met so many Christians who think that such an idea is wrong. They assume that they’ll seem greedy or immature if they ask God for too many blessings. But that’s not what Jabez believed. Somewhere in his bones he knew something that most of us miss. He was convinced that God loved him and wanted to really bless him and that He could because He had unlimited power and resources. That kind of trust in his heavenly Father made it natural for Jabez to pray exactly the kind of request God wants to hear.”[2]

[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1792.

[2] Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., Sisters, Oregon 2001) p. 32-33