Tuesday, November 13, 2018

THE UZZAH SYNDROME

A Devotional 



by Barbara Wilhelm

This devotional is not being written primarily as an exegesis of 1Chronicles 13 and 15. It is written also to bring to light the root problems of what I will call The Uzzah Syndrome that is becoming more and more prominent in the church today. A syndrome is defined as:
  1. a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition 
  2. a set of concurrent things (such as emotions or actions) that usually form an identifiable pattern (Source
So many of us are familiar with the story of David’s desire to bring the Ark into Jerusalem. Yet, truth to tell, aren’t we also puzzled by the consequence of his actions. How is it possible that such noble intentions meant to honor God and agreed upon by all the “elect” of the Lord could have resulted, not in glory to God, but in His total displeasure and even in a man’s (Uzzah’s) death? 1Chronicles 13 and 15 are chapters that deserve careful scrutiny lest we sin against the Lord ourselves in a similar manner and reap the same consequences. Yet there is more here at stake than our individual sins. It is, as it was in David’s time, the Body of Christ for which we must be concerned. 

THE HISTORY OF THE ARK 
The Ark of the Covenant represented the Presence of the Almighty God. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines through the irreverent actions of Eli’s sinful sons, Hophni and Phineas (1Samuel 2 and 4). When the Philistines captured the Ark, God’s people lamented that “the Glory had departed from Israel” (1Samuel 4:21-23). As long as the Philistines kept the Ark, sickness and plague abounded (1 Samuel 5). Eventually, the Philistines – a heathen people who worshipped idols – put the Ark on a cart and returned it to the people of Israel.

Throughout his reign King Saul had little regard for the Ark nor for inquiring after it. The worship of Yahweh was diminished to such an extent that Saul lowered himself to seeking guidance from a medium, the witch at Endor (1Samuel 28). For forty years the Ark was neglected. David wanted to bring it home to the new capital city as a sign that the Lord was once again in the midst of His people. His plans, however, went seriously awry. If we do not study the lessons contained in the following chapters, we place ourselves in grave danger.

Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the Lord our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us; and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.” Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4 NKJV)

The complimentary chapter, 2Samuel 6, states there were 30,000 “chosen men” present, including the priests and Levites. David’s invitation was to “all the brethren everywhere” to join with them. The stipulations for proceeding with this endeavor were so honorable, so eminently good-intentioned: “if it seems good to you and if it is of The Lord our God.” All the assembly agreed to proceed “for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.” 

It was always the responsibility of all God’s people to be well-versed in His Word. Yet, these ordinances had been out of use for a long time “for [the people had] not inquired at it since the days of Saul.” The true worship of God had been neglected for basically forty years.

The ark was then neglected; and the generality of the people either lived in the gross neglect of the solemn worship of God, or contented themselves with going to Gibeon, and offering sacrifices there, not caring, though the ark, the soul of the tabernacle, was in another place. (Matthew Poole Annotations on the Holy Bible) 

However, in the midst of all these pious preparations, there was one serious problem. David said “if it is of the Lord our God.” No place does it say that David ever consulted with God even though he asked everyone else. If David had inquired of God, surely God would have reminded him to seek His Word on the proper method of transporting the Ark and it’s worship.

Before proceeding, bear in mind these three truths:
  • All the people involved had the best of intentions for their actions. In fact, David was regarded as a man after God’s own heart. Yet good intentions can often be translated as driven by self, not the Spirit. 
  • The reasons why their plans to glorify God went so horribly awry are increasingly common in the body of Christ today.
  • In the end, God, in His mercy, accepted their repentance and gave them a second chance to right their wrongs and He will do the same today.

THE HANDLING OF THE ARK
God had in His Word given specific instructions as to how the Ark was to be transported. He will never leave us ignorant of His Divine will if we seek it. Exodus 25: 12-15; and Numbers 1:50; 7:9 make it clear that the Ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites, and only of one specific family of Levites, that of the Kohathites. These men were to be consecrated to the Lord and their responsibility to the Lord was a serious one indeed for what they carried was holy.

Uzzah was a Levite but not of the family of Kohath. He was the son of Abinadab, in whose house the men of Kiriath-jearim placed the Ark when it was brought back from the land of the Philistines. The Ark had been brought by the Philistines in a cart (1Samuel 6:7). They were a heathen people, worshipping Dagon and Baal, not God’s chosen people nor well-versed in His commands. The Philistine’s ignorance was forgivable. However, God’s people should have known that to place the Ark, God’s most holy thing, on a cart – even a new cart – was against God’s specific command. Part of Uzzah’s problem may have been that he had grown too familiar with this “object” that resided in his house all those years. Perhaps the reverence was gone.

You must keep all of My commandments, for I am the Lord. You must not treat Me as common and ordinary. Revere Me and hallow Me, for I, The Lord, made you holy to Myself and rescued you from Egypt to be My own people! I am Jehovah!
(Leviticus 22: 31-33, Lindsell Study Bible

Remember also that the worship of Yahweh had diminished to such a state during Saul’s reign that he was reduced to seeking guidance from the witch of Endor, a medium (1 Samuel 28). All in all, the reverence for the Holy Presence of God was at an all-time low due to a progressive period of gradual but deep disintegration. All this decline occurred in little more than a generation.

Finally, when we arrive on the day of bringing the Ark into Jerusalem, all these sins accumulate. We see that as one sin led to another, death resulted. Yes, death. First we have the lack of adherence to God’s Word. Then we have the lack of consecration of Uzzah and his brother and their “familiarity” with the Ark. It mattered not how noble were their intentions nor how united they all were in their desire to please God. All that mattered was that God’s will was not obeyed in its fullness: He and His Word were not treated with the holiness of which they were worthy.

If we are to truly please God, we must please Him in the way He has commanded, not in a way pleasing to us. No matter how outwardly “holy” it appears – if it is not according to His express commands, He will not receive it. Cain may have offered up the choicest vegetables in the garden, but it was only the bloody sacrifice that God would accept.


THE ARK STUMBLES
So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart.
Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.
And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled.  Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day. David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?”
So David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had.

(1 Chronicles 13:7-14 NKJV, emphasis added)

The big day had arrived. The new cart was ready. The people were all in unity. Their hearts were all well-intentioned. Their praises rang out loud and clear. But then the ox stumbled… and God couldn’t stop His Ark from stumbling! Did the The Almighty Creator of the Universe really need the help of a man to steady the Ark of His Presence? Would this blasphemy have occurred if the Ark had been carried God’s prescribed way? He had warned in Numbers 4:15

And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.
(Numbers 4:15 NKJV)

“Lest they die.” Uzzah died. And David became angry with God (v.12). Did it not occur to David that God might have ample reason to be angry with him and all those who allowed this unbiblical action to occur? In other versions it states that David was “offended with God,” that he “blazed up in anger against God.” Does that idea terrify you? That puny man would let his anger blaze against the Creator of all things, the Savior of all men? Should David’s reaction not have been one of total humility under God’s mighty hand?

SYMPTOMS OF THE UZZAH’S SYNDROME
I have studied 1Chronicles 13 for many years. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began with deep sorrow to recognize the same symptoms in today’s church as were present during this tragic period in the history of Israel. Collectively, the symptoms center around the lack of seeking God and His will through obedience to His Word as the most important action of our lives. No matter what other motives we have – noble though they may seem – obedience to Him and His Word are all that matter. It is here that David and the people erred. How “good” it all looked on the outside:

They had good intentions – but were the intentions driven by self or by the Holy Spirit? There was unanimity – popularity is the more modern word. There was passionate singing - but, again, was the singing the excitement of the flesh or the anointing of the Spirit? They had a bright, shiny new platform for God, a new cart – but was that the Holy transport God commanded?

When all this is put under the microscope of God’s Word we see instead that these are all symptoms, symptoms of death. How is that possible? David gave the answer himself:

And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.
(1 Chronicles 15:11-13 NKJV, emphasis added)

Everything we do has to be completely in accord with God’s Word and not with what we think is best, no matter how good our intentions, no matter how popular our ideas, no matter how good it looks on the outside, and especially as we will notice, not on a “new cart.”

The noted Charles Spurgeon had the following comments on 1Chronicles 13:

David loved his God and venerated the symbol of His presence. He desired to restore the Lord's appointed worship, and to place the ark where it should be, as the most sacred center of worship. But right things must be done in a right manner, or they will fail. In this case the failure was sad for Uzzah died.
THE FAILURE:
Here were multitudes, "David and all Israel," and yet the business came to naught. Crowds do not ensure blessing.

Here was energy: "they played before God with all their might." This was no dull and sleepy worship, but a bright, lively service, and yet... There was very little spiritual feeling! More music than grace.
The priests were not in their places, nor the Levites to carry the ark: oxen took the place of willing men. The worship was not sufficiently spiritual and humble.
There was no sacrifice. This was a fatal flaw; for how can we serve the Lord apart from sacrifice? I wonder that David did not notice this fatal omission, and I am not surprised that Uzzah died as there is no mention of the sprinkling of blood upon the mercy-seat that day. And, beloved, if we leave the blood of atonement out of our worship, we leave out that which is the very life of it.
There was little reverence. We hear little of prayer, but we hear much of oxen, a cart, and the too familiar hand of Uzzah. There was no thought as to God's mind. David confessed, "we sought him not after the due order" (1 Chron. 15:13). (Source)

As Spurgeon highlighted, we have eminently good intentions, conducted with the total agreement of the people of God, with praise abounding, and yet disaster ensues. The result: God was displeased, Uzzah died and David’s anger delayed the entrance of the Ark into Jerusalem by three months.

Verse 12 states that David was afraid of God. Fear is the result of sin. Down deep inside David knew he had done something wrong. He felt guilty. Yet, this was a man who truly loved God and his subsequent actions would show that. Wonderfully, God would speak from His mercy seat and give David and all the people a second chance. This time they would follow God’s Word to the letter and that would make all the difference.

Yet before we discuss David’s and the people’s repentance, God’s blessed mercy and the glorious outcome that unfolds in 1Chronicles 15 there is one other sober topic that needs to be covered and that is this: How do all the errors of 1Chronicles 13 relate to the church at large today?



THE UZZAH SYNDROME IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
There have been many reasons listed why Uzzah didn’t have to die. He was a man not appointed by God to carry the Ark, but he meant well. He may actually have thought he was doing God and the people of Israel a service. After all, he was doing what he had been told to do by the people, despite the fact that he had not been told by God. He had had instructions from the authorities on his responsibilities, so he obeyed. Yes, there might have been the teachings of the Levites from long ago coming into his remembrance about the proper method to carry the Ark, but everyone else thought it was such a great idea. It was so popular. Who was he to disagree? And that reluctance to stand up for God’s Word – everyone’s reluctance – resulted in his death. How often are we in the church guilty of the same – remaining silent because it isn’t popular to object?

Remember how Satan deceived Eve by saying that she really wouldn’t die if she just disobeyed God’s Word in one small way (one “new cart” way)? And Satan was right wasn’t he? Eve did not die… or, at least, not physically. Yet her and Adam’s entire relationship with God died. There were no more walks together with God in the Garden of Eden, no more sweet communion. Instead there was sin and separation and expulsion. Yes, there was death, it just wasn’t visible. 

So when the “new cart” comes in, death will follow, the death of true communion with God. What a heartbreaking thought.

THE NEW CARTS
Remember the symptoms of the Uzzah Syndrome?

They had good intentions – but were the intentions driven by self or by the Holy Spirit? There was unanimity – popularity is the more modern word. There was passionate singing – but, again, was the singing the excitement of the flesh or the anointing of the Spirit? They had a bright, shiny new platform for God, a new cart – but was that the Holy transport God commanded?

Observe how these symptoms play out in today’s world. “The new cart” – the method of the unbiblical Philistines – is the physical evidence of the whole problem in 1Chronicles 13. It comes under the guise of bringing in new ideas mixed in with God’s Word.

Most often it is found in new books – usually the most popular books, praised by all the reviewers. The error tries to hide under its popularity, its mixing of the heathen with the Biblical by saying it is a new way to pray or become closer to God. Sadly, as in David’s time, even those in places of spiritual authority who know the Word of God, as the priests and Levites did in David’s time, may keep silent as to its lack of agreement with God’s Word. Because the authors of the works do indeed seem to be so well-intentioned, and have a heart’s desire to be of assistance to those they are writing for, the errors in the books are overlooked. The people who read the books seem blessed; therefore, more books of the same character are written.

There is, however, one other similarity to 1Chronicles 13 that cannot be overlooked in this picture: What are God’s thoughts on the matter? Is the content of the book in agreement with His Word? If they are not, are we faced with another spiritual death?

Is this a minor problem in the body of Christ? I will let you judge. Think back just one generation ago. Remember that one generation was the time that the Ark was in the hands of the Philistines and not revered by God’s people in the exalted way it was to be. One generation was also the time that Saul did not inquire after the presence of God. One generation ago in our day there were none of these “new cart” practices that intermingled with solid Biblical practices: alpha waves, imaginative meditation, the silence, breath prayers, centering prayers nor contemplative prayer. All of these are extra-biblical practices presuming to enable the user to “hear” the voice of God and have divine communion with Him. Yet, they are nowhere found in His Word. These practices are often subjective experiences not the “clear, intellectual praying that involves a person’s cognitive thinking… [in which] there is [to be] no hint of the mind being passive.” (Think on These Things, Biblical Discipleship – Prayer by Pastor Gary Gilley)

Yet entire books are written based on these “new cart” premises, many of them highly “popular,” just as popular as the new cart in David’s time.

There are any number of books that fit into the “new cart” category. A series by one author, Pastor Mark Batterson, fitting this category is discussed in a research paper on my blog site Holding His Word Higher (https://holdinghiswordhigher.com) (October 2018) which lists the use of alpha waves, imaginative meditation and Lectio Divina in his various books. There is also the extensive evidence warning of non-Biblical theories in Jesus Calling also listed on this same blog site (April 18, 2018), one of which was the inclusion of mediums and spiritists:

When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.
(Isaiah 8:19-20 NIV)

More disturbing to me, as a former Catholic, is the steady influx of Catholic influence into today’s church. For example, St. Ignatius Loyola was a Jesuit who received his “visions” for the spiritual disciplines from the Virgin Mary. These disciplines have been translated into the modern-day Spiritual Formation programs that are being presented in what were once conservative churches. I know of a family where the Spiritual Formation director shared a practice in “imaginative meditation” that she had recently learned at a Catholic monastic retreat she had attended. Suspecting nothing, the congregation followed her lead as they “imagined” Jesus in their presence as He “healed” them. There is no chapter and verse for this procedure.

There are other Catholic influences of which many are unaware. Women go to conferences hearing references to Teresa of Avila, Julian, Benedict, Brother Lawrence and do not know that not only are these Catholic saints but they are Catholic mystics who were involved in truly bizarre visions, levitation and other unbiblical practices such as the stigmata. Because these teachings are being taught by popular speakers they are being accepted. But they are “new carts” supposedly vehicles for God’s Word but, on the contrary, conveyors of heathen doctrines. Their result is the death of truth. Jesus said in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Thy Word. Thy Word is Truth.” If non-Biblical ideas are being mingled with Biblical ones, it is no longer the truth that is being spoken. Is this truly as grave a matter as it seems? These are the words of Henry Ironside, one of the most famous teachers of his time:

Error is like leaven, of which we read, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Chris died.  (Source

1CHRONICLES 15: A SECOND CHANCE
Wonderfully, mercifully, there is Chapter 15 after chapter 13: God granting a second chance after repentance. Look at the complete turnaround as David and his people recognize their sins and repent of them!

David ... prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it....
And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites… He said to them, “sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy....
And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams.

(1 Chronicles 15:1. 11 -16, and 26 NKJV,, emphasis added)

Though it was with the best of intentions, the desires of David and the people to bring the Ark into Jerusalem initially failed. However, because David sought the Lord out of a tender heart, he learned from his mistakes. During the three months the Ark stayed at Obed-Edom's house, he had plenty of time to relive his sin and its tragic consequences. We can also infer that he spent those months praying, confessing, inquiring of the Lord, and searching the Scriptures (v. 13). David’s first clue might have been that the three months the Ark was at Obed-Edom’s house, the house and its occupants were blessed. Obed-Edom was a Kohathite. The blessings were occurring because the Ark was finally in the right place! David had clearly learned from his mistakes, and much was done differently this second time around. The Ark was carried properly, on poles. Priests and Levites were used more correctly.

A period of consecration preceded the move. In Jerusalem, the king had prepared a place for the Ark, a “tent” similar to the previous tabernacle. He had likely found the detailed instructions in the Law. David moved ahead in faith and humility, believing that God's will done in God's way brings God's blessing, and even more important, that God forgives sin. They loaded the Ark right, made sacrifices, consecrated the Levites, and offered sanctified worship. Because they now were seeking to totally do everything according to God’s prescribed way, “God helped the Levites.”

Not merely granted them bodily strength to carry it, which did not require a great deal; but helped them to carry it with cheerfulness, and without fear, and so as to commit no error, nor in any respect provoke his displeasure, as when it was brought before from Kirjathjearim: (Source)

Their repentance resulted in God’s giving them a second chance. Their humility of heart ensured the success of that second chance. God was pleased and glorified.

A GLORIOUS REMEDY
To bring this entire lesson home even more emphatically the Lord has given a remarkable illustration in His Word that provides us with great hope in situations of the mingling of the holy and the profane. Turn with me to this passage in Acts 19: 18-20 (NKJV):

And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

Like all of those gathered with David who wanted to bring in the Ark to Jerusalem, the people here were believers. In verses 11-12 of this chapter there is a description of wondrous miracles and healings taking place in the Name of Jesus. Ephesus was a center of occult practices. Therefore, while the Ephesians had been converted to the Lord, they still had not parted with their occult practices. The encounter with the sons of Sceva in v. 13 -17 convicted the Ephesians that the Name of Jesus was the most powerful Name, worthy of honor and worthy of exclusive adoration. So thoroughly convicted were they that they gathered their heathen books and burned their books in the sight of all.

The “new cart” was disposed of – the books were burned. The mixture of God’s precious Word with the words of heathen and unclean sources was ended. The result of this cleansing of the profane from the Holy was that hearts were touched, lives were changed and “the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” 

Yes, it cost them a great deal to part with their books. But look at the Heavenly profit! True revival comes from repentance and a renunciation of sin. By obeying the conviction of the Holy Spirit and abandoning their involvement with the “mixed” books, the Christians made a path for revival and a great evangelistic effort came about. That made it worth it.

I will share with you a true story of the glorious results of the principle of “burning books” to rid ourselves of the mixture of unclean practices with the holy. It was truly awe-inspiring to be a part of and humbling to watch as God moved among His people.


A TRUE EXAMPLE OF DISPOSING OF “NEW CARTS” AND “BURNING BOOKS”
Thirty five years ago we saw what God can do when people are open to His Spirit. A preacher came to Honolulu one Friday night to speak on the dangers of rock music. We took about forty of our youth group to listen. The speaker began by showing the actual lyrics to the popular rock songs of the day on the overhead. About ten minutes later it began… our group began to talk among themselves. They wanted to leave. They said they had had enough. We took them to the rooftop garage and they began to pray, and sob and confess their sins before the Lord. None of this was orchestrated by the adults present. After about forty-five minutes, with everyone seemingly exhausted, we hugged and called it a night. So we thought...

My husband and I took our niece back to her house and went home. To our surprise, we were greeted by the sight of our entire living and dining room filled with the same teens we had just left. They needed to talk and pray some more. Finally, we called it a night. After all, we would see each other for our usual Sunday School class only one day later. 

But it didn’t turn out to be our “usual” Sunday School class. On Sunday my husband and I were greeted by a large garbage can as we entered the room and the same group of teens with all their secular rock music tapes in bags. They had gotten together on Saturday and decided to bring all their tapes in to completely dispose of them. Into the large garbage can went the tapes as the teens requested we take them all home and burn them! Incredibly, the Sunday School Superintendent made a surprise visit that day. Her reaction to all this was total joy. In addition, we were asked by the teens to not just have a regular Sunday School each week but also a weekly Friday Bible Study group that would meet in our house. They were so hungry!

The story does not end there. The following Friday some of them brought their unsaved friends. A young man we will call Tim came. The second week Tim and four of the other boys disappeared halfway through the Bible study and went to the outside porch. Unexpectedly, my son called me out there because Tim was acting “strange.” When I saw Tim, I agreed. I went to touch him to pray for him and he totally changed. These horrid, blasphemous phrases came out of his mouth in the most disturbing guttural voice. In addition, he could not be held down and was violent. Tim weighed about 130 lbs. and the four guys could barely hold onto him. I certainly didn’t know what to do, but God certainly did. All that came to me was to repeat the Name and Blood of Jesus over him as the boys held him. After about five minutes of this, we brought Tim inside, explained what was happening to the rest of the group and the others present joined us in prayer. Tim’s face throughout this was very distorted. It was like looking at the face of evil. During this entire time, there was no fear among any of us. One of the boys present received a Scripture from the Lord and somehow we knew that when these awful guttural sounds stopped, we would have the real Tim back. We kept pleading the Blood and Name of Jesus over Tim and about five minutes later, he blinked! Then he smiled and spoke like Tim. Yes, all these teens saw this. 

What was their reaction? A few months later one of the girls present (Mary) was diagnosed with leukemia. Remember, this was 35 years ago when leukemia was basically a death sentence. This group of teenagers elected to pray and felt the Lord lead them to the story of Jairus’ daughter. We laid hands on Mary and prayed in obedience and faith to the Word given. Mary’s thoughts on the matter were very simple: we’ve seen there is a devil, but we know Who’s stronger. For the next two years Mary kept running, and winning, in her track meets.

I’m not done... As the two years went by these hungry kids went on to receive baptism. Those who were saved, at their request, went to the base chaplain for instruction on water baptism and we all watched as they – including Tim – got baptized in the Pacific Ocean. How did all this begin? They burned their tapes.

NEW CARTS – OCCULT CONVEYORS
I look back and I think of Acts 19: 18-20. The people heard the simple yet oh-so-powerful Word of God and humbled themselves to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to such an extent that they “burned their books.” That’s all it took – following the express Word of God. Yet how many today are operating with “new carts,” with new ways to pray, new ways to hear from God, new methods that mix in the religions of modern-day Philistines with true Biblical Christianity? Uzzah was a victim of a system like that and it cost him dearly.

David and all the people were so sincere in their desire to please God. God knew that. That’s the reason why 1Chronicles 15 is in the Bible. It’s God’s second chance. Once David acknowledged that the problem was all his fault, he repented and went back to obeying only what was written in God’s Word. No additions, no subtractions, no mixing with other religions – just the holiness of His Word. That’s always been enough to please God and produce the results He – and we – want.

The question must finally be asked: what are the “new carts” – or even more explicitly the heathen or occult books  – that need to be burned? Contemplative spirituality books, Jesus Calling, Circle Maker, Primal, Whisper, books with references to Catholic mystics, any others...? In the months to come we will make mention on my blog of some of these books that mix the holy and the profane.

Prove your books according to the Bible (1Thess 5:21: Prove all things: hold fast that which is good) and God will bring to light what is not in conformity with His Word.

If we truly want “the Word of God to move mightily and prevail” (Acts 19:20), we must rid ourselves of the “new carts” and burn the books unpleasing to the Lord. If we let one beam of light in, all the power of the Holy Spirit will burst forth after it.

Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith,
Today if ye will hear His voice,

Harden not your hearts....

(Hebrews 3:7-8a)


Exhibits & Sources for this article may include:
“Building the Ark of the Covenant” By Philip De Vere [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons. 
Giovanni Battista Franco, “The Philistines Place the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Dagon“. 1540. This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons by as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication 
“David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem” by Darlene Slavujac, 1993. Original oil on 24″x36″ canvas. Copyright 1993 Slavujac. 
“What fellowship has light with darkness?” from https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com 
“David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem” available at http://bibleencyclopedia.com/pictures/2_Samuel_6_David_brings_the_Ark_of_the_Covenant_to_Jerusalem.htm 
“Rejecting Sorcery” available at http://bibleencyclopedia.com/goodsalt/Acts_19_Rejecting_Sorcery.htm Artist/Photographer: The Classic Bible Art Collection –Formerly Standard Publishing Image ID: stdas0389
“The Ark Brought Back to Jerusalem“. The Ark Brought to Jerusalem by David, as in 2 Samuel 6:1-12, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company 
Gilley, Gary. “‘Biblical Discipleship – Prayer’ by Dr Gary Gilley (Part 1).” The Narrowing Path, 23 Mar. 2014, thenarrowingpath.com/2014/03/20/biblical-discipleship-prayer-by-dr-gary-gilley/.
Reese, Ed. “Henry Ironside.” Symbols of the Apostles, Reese Publications, wellsofgrace.com/biography/english/ironside.htm. This bibliography is one of 46 booklets by Ed Reese in the Christian Hall of Fame series. These short biographies provide good material for Sunday School lessons, family devotions, and reading for young people and adults. Order/information from: Reese Publications, P.O. Box 5625, Lansing, IL 60438; Fax: 708-895-0298; E-mail: Kgreese@aol.com 

Barbara Wilhelm, a longtime member and supporter of the Discernment Research Group, has recently been publishing discernment information at her own blog at https://holdinghiswordhigher.com. Permission to republish this article on  the Herescope blog is granted by the author. Minor editing and formatting changes were made to her original. Read her previous article series on Herescope, "Another God, Another Jesus": Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Innocents Lost

Reflections on the Case of Kermit Gosnell 


“In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
(Matt. 2:18)

Exhibit A[1]

By Gaylene Goodroad 

THE GOSNELL MOVIE
Scrolling through the television channels a few weeks ago, my attention was grabbed by a trailer for a new film called Gosnell. The advertisement alleged that it was the “true story of the world’s biggest serial killer.” But this prolific murderer was strangely unfamiliar to me. The twist in this story I discovered, unlike a film documentary on someone like the notorious Ted Bundy, is that that Dr. Kermit Gosnell was an abortionist who killed living babies after they survived initial abortion procedures—many older than 24 weeks. The proverbial plot thickens.

The movie advertisement piqued my interest enough to see Gosnell, a film based on the NYT Best Seller Gosnell – The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer—by the husband and wife team of Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, who also produced the movie.[2] It chronicles the investigation and subsequent trial of Dr. Gosnell, whose clinic was raided by DEA, FBI, and other law enforcement agents, like detective James “Woody” Wood, played by Dean Cain, for suspicion of illegally selling prescription drugs.[3] It was during this raid that officials soberly discovered things far more sinister than ever anticipated.

Exhibit B[4]

The film reenacts these events culminating with the arrest, trial, and conviction of Dr. Gosnell—utilizing court documents and evidence exhibits to tell this compelling story—a story that political operatives and media outlets refused to tell and tried to bury.[5]

Author Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic in 2013, provides a gruesome overview of this case from the grand jury report on the Kermit Gosnell murder trial: (WARNING – this material is graphic and disturbing)

The grand jury report in the case of Kermit Gosnell, 72, is among the most horrifying I've read. "This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors," it states. "The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels - and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths." 

Charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Gosnell is now standing trial in a Philadelphia courtroom. An NBC affiliate's coverage includes testimony as grisly as you'd expect. "An unlicensed medical school graduate delivered graphic testimony about the chaos at a Philadelphia clinic where he helped perform late-term abortions," the channel reports. "Stephen Massof described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, 'literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.' He testified that at times, when women were given medicine to speed up their deliveries, 'it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.'" 

One former employee described hearing a baby screaming after it was delivered during an abortion procedure. "I can't describe it. It sounded like a little alien," she testified. Said the Philadelphia Inquirer in its coverage, "Prosecutors have cited the dozens of jars of severed baby feet as an example of Gosnell's idiosyncratic and illegal practice of providing abortions for cash to poor women pregnant longer than the 24-week cutoff for legal abortions in Pennsylvania..."[6]

Friedersdorf continues this alarming account:

On February 18, 2010, the FBI raided the "Women's Medical Society," entering its offices about 8:30 p.m. Agents expected to find evidence that it was illegally selling prescription drugs. On entering, they quickly realized something else was amiss. In the grand jury report's telling, "There was blood on the floor. A stench of urine filled the air. A flea-infested cat was wandering through the facility, and there were cat feces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets. All the women had been sedated by unlicensed staff." Authorities had also learned about the patient that died at the facility several months prior. 

Public health officials inspected the surgery rooms. "Instruments were not sterile," the grand jury states. "Equipment was rusty and outdated. Oxygen equipment was covered with dust, and had not been inspected. The same corroded suction tubing used for abortions was the only tubing available for oral airways if assistance for breathing was needed. There was no functioning resuscitation or even monitoring equipment, except for a single blood pressure cuff." Upon further inspection, "the search team discovered fetal remains haphazardly stored throughout the clinic - in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers..."[7]
 
Exhibit C
Gosnell’s Philadelphia Clinic in 2013[8]

And there is more, so much more flagrant depravity that finally came to light in this landmark case. Readers interested in these disturbing details can read Charlie Spiering’s article, “58 horrific details from the Kermit Gosnell trial that you do not want to read,” from The Washington Examiner HERE.

BABY BOY A 
The grand jury testimony would go on to say that upwards of 20 percent of the fetuses Gosnell aborted were older than 24 weeks, which is illegal in Pennsylvania. Because most premature babies survive after 24 weeks, Gosnell resorted to a procedure he called “snipping” which ensured “fetal demise.” He would stick a scissors in the back of the baby’s neck and snip its spinal cord. Over the course of his 30-year career, Gosnell performed hundreds of “snippings.” Most of these cases will never be prosecuted, however, because Gosnell destroyed the evidence and records while the community, city agencies, and media ignored his crimes. Fortunately, however, there were a handful of files that Gosnell failed to get rid of:

…Among the relatively few cases that could be specifically documented, one was Baby Boy A. His 17-year-old mother was almost 30 weeks pregnant -- seven and a half months -- when labor was induced. An employee estimated his birth weight as approaching six pounds. He was breathing and moving when Gosnell severed his spine and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal. The doctor joked that this baby was so big he could "walk me to the bus stop." Another, Baby Boy B, whose body was found at the clinic frozen in a one-gallon spring-water bottle, was at least 28 weeks of gestational age when he was killed. Baby C was moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an assistant came in and cut the spinal cord, just the way she had seen Gosnell do it so many times. And these were not even the worst cases….[9]

It was a chance photo of Baby Boy A, taken by a clinic worker who succumbed to compassion, that would be Gosnell’s undoing. It became the most powerful piece of evidence in Gosnell’s trial that gave the jury, and the world, a snapshot of the true evil behind the prolific abortion doctor and baby killer.

The producers of Gosnell are to be commended for their dignified handling of these horrible details. They did not resort to a gratuitous display of graphic imagery, which most Hollywood productions would surely have done. They never showed the photo of Baby Boy A, or even an imitation of it, but made it available to moviegoers who wanted to view it on the Gosnell website.[10] I went to the movie’s website when I got home and reluctantly clicked on the photo link. Yes, it was horrifying, but not because of a gory, unrecognizable blob exploited for all to see. This was the unfortunate first and last portrait of a beautiful, perfectly formed little boy, who lost his life simply because he was unwanted and because someone was willing to accept cash in order to end his life. His death was facilitated by greed, immorality, and a wanton disregard for human life.

This precious child was abused, murdered, and discarded—but not forgotten. I sat in silence for several minutes as I looked at his image recalling that my youngest son, born premature, was much smaller and frailer than this child had been. It is inconceivable that any human being, much less a doctor, could shamelessly “snip” his precious life away so callously, so coldly, so completely. Instead of a grave to mark his passing, the only evidence to show that Baby Boy A even existed was that crude photograph taken by a clinic employee—that had become a court exhibit. He was unceremoniously laid to rest in a plastic shoebox. Babies B, C, and beyond, undoubtedly left this world in a red medical waste disposable bag.

But God knows their names.

Exhibit D
Author’s son at 2 weeks old

‘LAWFUL’ ABORTION
One of the most sobering scenes in the movie was the testimony given by a female abortionist, Dr. North, played by actress Janine Turner, concerning legal abortions. She was called to contrast the actions of her clinic with that of Dr. Gosnell. The defense attorney, Mike Cohan, played by Nick Searcy (who also directed the film), showed her photographs of fetus sonograms and asked her to defend the legality of her practice, ironically suggesting that no difference existed. At one point, he held up a syringe with a long needle, using it to demonstrate on an enlarged photo of a sonogram. The witness emphatically denounced Gosnell’s method of ending the life of babies born alive by stating that her clinic never had a live birth because they habitually confirmed death before delivery. She testified that her skilled practitioners routinely filled such a syringe with a lethal chemical that was injected into the heart of each fetus, in utero, thus insuring instant death. I wondered how she was able to morally separate the difference between chemically stopping the heart of such a little life, while housed within its mother, and that of cutting the spinal cord of the infant once it exited the birth canal. Had Baby Boy A been given this lethal injection before 24 weeks, his death would have been legal, and Dr. Gosnell would never have been prosecuted for his death.

Without blinking, the lady abortionist proudly defended her practice that had performed 30,000 such injection procedures, snuffing out the lives of tens of thousands of innocents. A sickening feeling came over me as I combined the total deaths of these unborn babies in my head, with that of the serial “snipping” victims of Dr. Gosnell. Then I thought of the countless souls lost at abortion clinics around the nation…and the world.

My husband and I sat in a bare theater in Indianapolis with only four other people watching this powerfully, yet sensitively crafted film. As the credits were rolling, we all sat still. I could hear the lady sitting to the left of me sobbing. As I stood up, I said aloud, “It’s a shame that more people aren’t in here watching this movie.” Sadly, I discovered later that many theaters have even refused to show this film.[11] Facebook and NPR have blocked advertisements for the movie.[12]

A CHILLINGLY SILENT WORLD
Friedersdorf voices his disapproval on such public apathy:

Yet, accusations of babies having their heads severed -- a major human rights story if there ever was one -- doesn't make the cut." Inducing live births and subsequently severing the heads of the babies is indeed a horrific story that merits significant attention. Strange as it seems to say it, however, that understates the case. 

For this isn't solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydia to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games while giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless, untrained staffers. 

Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn't make national headlines? But it isn't even solely a story of a rogue clinic that's awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions!... 

There is, finally, the fact that abortion, one of the most hotly contested, polarizing debates in the country, is at the center of this case… [13] [bold added] 

No, abortion advocates—and they are many—don’t want this story told.

Exhibit E[14]


“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.”

(Ps. 139:13)

ENDNOTES:
1. Image: 9 week old baby in the womb; Collection by Cleveland Right to Life; https://www.pinterest.com/clevelandrtl/developement-of-babies-in-the-womb/
2. See the Gosnell movie website: http://www.gosnellmovie.com/about/
3. See IMDb website: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3722234/fullcredits. 
4. Image taken from the Gosnell movie website; http://www.gosnellmovie.com/
5. “Media Ignores Movie On Abortionist Gosnell, America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” Daniel John Sobieski, Flopping Aces, Oct. 19, 2018; http://www.floppingaces.net/2018/10/19/media-ignores-movie-on-abortionist-gosnell-americas-biggest-serial-killer/. 
6. Conor Friedersdorf, “Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story,” The Atlantic, April 12, 2013; https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/why-dr-kermit-gosnells-trial-should-be-a-front-page-story/274944/. 
7. Ibid, Friedersdorf. 
8. Photo taken from the Washington Examiner website: “58 horrific details from the Kermit Gosnell trial that you do not want to read,” Charlie Spiering, The Washington Examiner, April 18, 2013; https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/58-horrific-details-from-the-kermit-gosnell-trial-that-you-do-not-want-to-read
9. Ibid, Friedersdorf. To view the photo of Baby Boy A, scroll to the bottom of the movie’s Resources webpage; http://www.gosnellmovie.com/press/.
10.  “Suppression: Theaters Drop 'Gosnell' Movie Despite It Being a Top-Grossing Film,” Beth Baumann, Townhall.com, Oct 20, 2018; https://townhall.com/tipsheet/bethbaumann/2018/10/20/suppression-theaters-drop-gosnell-movie-despite-it-being-a-top-grossing-film-n2530400; “EXCLUSIVE: 253 Theaters Drop 'Gosnell' Amid Media Blackout to Defend 'Sacrament' of Abortion,” Tyler O'Neil, PJMedia.com, October 23, 2018; https://pjmedia.com/trending/exclusive-253-theaters-drop-gosnell-amid-media-blackout-to-defend-sacrament-of-abortion/
11. “'Gosnell' Is the Movie Hollywood Does Not Want You to See,” Jerry Newcombe, Newsmax, October 24, 2018; https://www.newsmax.com/jerrynewcombe/gosnell-movie-hollywood-prolife/2018/10/24/id/887793/
12. Ibid, Friedersdorf. 
13. Image taken from UCLA Health website: https://www.uclahealth.org/mattel/newborn-screening-program

Ed. Note: To read about the rapidly rising heresy that calls abortion a "rite", read the two Herescope articles: 
"Oprah Magazine: God's 'in' Abortions?" http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/09/oprah-magazine-gods-in-abortions.html
"Un-Sacred Spaces: Theology to Justify Abortion" http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/12/un-sacred-spaces.html

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Ho!

Herescope Testimony Series

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters….”
(Isaiah 55:1a)

 

“O God, Thou art my God;
early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for Thee,
my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land,
where no water is;”

(Psalm 63:1)
By Sarah Huling Leslie

Have you ever been really thirsty? Really thirsty?

I had been a nominal Christian for several years, and I was a chronic backslider. I was converted out of the hippie movement into the Jesus movement. But I was a fragile baby believer, and without solid discipleship the weeds of sin soon flourished, crowding out my faith. I struggled to be a Christian but without much success. Many years later I would realize that during my college years I had been put through various psychological and sociological experimentation programs without my full knowledge and informed consent—all of them designed to erode faith. I didn’t know how to stand firm, and I definitely didn’t know how to walk in the faith.

But God had His own plan for my life. One year after I graduated from college I surrendered and entrusted God with 100% of my life. Corrie ten Boom had come to Des Moines in a pivotal weekend in May of 1976, and my Christian friends and I went to listen to her in every place where she spoke. Her sincere and simple faith guided me into recommitting my life to the Lord. In a key moment of time I recognized that Jesus was real and alive, and He was asking me to follow Him the rest of my life. I immediately rushed to flush my cigarettes down the toilet. From that point on I desired to live a more pure and holy life.

During this time I had been working in a group home with emotionally disturbed adolescents. Even though I didn’t talk about my new-found faith, the teenagers noticed the change in me. Inevitably a few of them wanted to know about Jesus and they requested that I take them to church. Each Sunday that I was on shift I would drive a van load of adolescents to a local Bible-preaching church. Several of them had accepted Jesus into their hearts. As a consequence I was asked to quit my job. I was told by the staff psychologists that believing in God was a sign of “emotional weakness” and they couldn’t tolerate someone “mentally unstable” working with the kids. They claimed that believing in Jesus would cause further emotional damage to these teenagers. These were atheists and this was what they believed. Thus I had to quit my first fulltime job with poor prospects of obtaining a good recommendation from them for my next job.

Suddenly I found myself confronted with the necessity of living totally on faith. I had no job, no income, and my parents were living overseas. There was no one I could turn to for help. Scared, helpless and lonely, I rushed into the arms of Jesus and begged the Lord to sustain me. I had to learn to live on faith alone. But even as a fledgling believer, I had hope. I knew in my heart that the Lord was telling me to wait on Him, that He would open a door for me for a new job, He would show me my next step. I wanted to be in His perfect will. Many people thought this was crazy, but I knew that I needed to obey Him. So I waited… and waited… and waited for God to “give” me a new job. And the Lord encouraged and sustained me with many precious promises from His Word, especially Psalm 16:3: “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” (RSV)

Two months later, still without a job, I was asked by a pastor friend to accompany his church youth group as an adult chaperone for a trip to Colorado to do a week of volunteer service. With nothing else to do I readily agreed to go.

I had never been to the Colorado Rockies before. I immediately fell in love with the high rugged peaks. The church youth group headquartered itself in a Christian retreat center, sleeping bags lined up in one big open area. Our volunteer duty was to assist a small group of forest rangers with culling dead wood by carrying it out of the forest. Each day was filled with physically demanding forestry projects conducted at a very high altitude. At night we fell into bed exhausted.

Near the end of the week, one of the forest rangers suggested that on Saturday we could climb one of the high peaks nearby. All week long we had seen its beautiful summit off in the distance. Climbing a mountain had always been one of my dreams so I quickly jumped at the chance. Only a handful of the teens felt like they were up to it.

That night we were dropped off to camp in a cabin in a pine forest at the base of the summit. None of us slept very well; there was a constant rustling noise. In the morning we arose to discover that the food in our backpacks had been tampered with by mice! We had less food, but we figured it would be enough to sustain us on the climb.

Just before dawn we began our assent. It was a vigorous climb. For those of us accustomed to lower altitudes this posed a real challenge. It was much more of a strain on the body than we had anticipated. One step at a time… breathe… step… breathe… step… stop and rest…. One step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. Perseverance.

We passed the beautiful timberline by sunrise and began our assault on the summit. After a few hours we stopped upon a broad plateau above a lush green field to gaze far down at the earth below. It was a beautiful reward for our laborious trudging. We could barely recognize anything—it was all so far away. There was utter silence. Not even tree leaves were there to rustle in the gentle breezes. We could only hear our own huffing and puffing from exertion. We sat there for a long time and rested. The hardest part was yet to come.

We were surprised to see early hikers coming down off the summit. They had already reached their goal. A father and his son wearing shorts and hiking boots had jogged past us up to the summit. An hour later they jogged past us again on their way down the mountain. They paused to talk and told us that over the summer it was their goal to climb every mountain peak over 13,000 feet in the Rockies. No wonder they were so physically fit that they could run up the mountain!

Meanwhile we were crushingly exhausted, painfully swallowing huge gulps of air with each footstep upward. The path became rocky, narrow and circuitous, winding and curving, ever going upwards. Often we could often only see a few steps ahead. Scriptures such as Proverbs 3:23 suddenly began to seem more literal: “Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”

By mid-morning we had depleted our small water supply. The teenage boys on our hike had only brought a few canteens with them. We hadn’t calculated for the increased need for water caused by our extreme physical exertion and high altitude. Our bodies began to complain for water. It began to dawn on us that we might not make it to the top. In between gasping breaths we discussed the possibility that we would have to turn around and go back. We were sorely disappointed. We wanted to make it to the summit—to achieve our goal!

Just at the bleakest moment, a young man hiking about twenty paces ahead of us called down to us, “Hey! There’s a glass of water on this rock!” We didn’t believe what we heard. He must be joking. We couldn’t see his location but we could hear his voice calling down from the curve of the boulders. Surely there wasn’t a real “glass” of water anywhere on this desolate summit!

We stumbled upwards to the rock ledge where he was standing and, sure enough, he was telling the truth! There was a sparkly clean glass sitting on a rock. A literal glass! It was filled with the clearest water I had ever seen. We looked upwards to see the source of the water and traced a tiny stream back to a melting glacier. The ranger had warned us not to drink mountain water unless we could ascertain that it was from a pure source that was uncontaminated. This water was definitely safe to drink—a result of mid-summer glacial melt! We greedily gulped up the ice cold water and began refilling our canteens. It was the best water I had ever tasted.

As I trudged the last 500 hundred feet of rocky path winding up to the summit, it slowly began to dawn on me that the Lord was revealing a very important lesson for life. Just at the brink of utter discouragement, when I would become most weary and my own strength was failing, there would be a miracle—a “glass of water on a rock.” I remembered one of my favorite passages in Scripture. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:14 that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” and that it would be a “well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Remarkably, my strength was replenished by that glass of water! I had the physical ability to go on, to persevere, knowing that I could reach the summit. I pondered the spiritual meaning of this experience to my current life situation. Was God trying to tell me something?

The teens and I stood there at the rock at the top of the summit for a good long time, trying to embed that spectacular view into our memories. We recalled the Scripture in Psalm 121:1-2: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”
 

We marveled at the miracle of the glass and asked unanswerable questions. Who had carried it up there and placed it next to that tiny streamlet for water for the weary climbers? How did a fragile glass survive the mountain weather without breaking? How could it be right there on that rock just at the moment we most needed it? By God’s mighty providence we realized we had been blessed with liquid sustenance, giving us renewed bodily strength to reach the summit that day. We were able to complete our task and accomplish the goal—even after things seemed to be most hopeless. We peered down and marveled at how far we had come, and affirmed, like the Apostle Paul, that we had “fought a good fight… finished [the] course… kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). We called to mind the Scripture from Isaiah 55:

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price…. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:1,6-9)

The Rest of the Story
A few weeks after this trip, and at the end of three months of unemployment, the Lord did indeed miraculously provide me with a new job, just as He had told me. One day when I was walking down a hallway in a building on the local college campus a man yelled out at me from his desk in an office, “Hey! Are you looking for a job?” He happened to be the roommate of my former boss, the one who had asked me to resign, so he guessed I might still be unemployed. He insisted that I take a typing test, and let me take it over and over again until I finally passed the required minimum words-per-minute.

The next day I received a phone call from a lady who started the conversation by bluntly asking me, “Well, do you want the job?” She then proceeded to tell me that I had the job even before I went to interview for it! I didn’t even know what the job was so I had to ask her. It turned out to be a clerical job that, in addition to a salary, provided free tuition which would enable me to start graduate school. I had felt the Lord’s calling to do this, so this was an amazing confirmation.

Waiting upon the Lord also had resulted in other benefits—rewards that were totally unexpected. My new job placed me in an office location where I immediately encountered my future husband, Lynn. We married a few months later. I now shudder to think what might have happened if I had gone ahead on my own strength and will, trying to work out my own future without obeying God.

Meditating on the Scripture in Isaiah 55 describes our experience with the glass of water on the rock. God offers life-giving water that has no price. His water is pure and uncontaminated by the world. It “satisfieth” and is “good” (vs. 2). In fact, my experience with the glacier ice water seemed to be described by verses 10-11: “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it.” The water of the Lord’s Word is pure and restores the soul. Truly it just as the Lord promises:

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace:
the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing...

(Isaiah 55:12a)



This article is another testimony in an ongoing series to encourage readers to boldly persevere in God’s holy faith.