Finished… am I finished?

Ever felt like a cog in a wheel?

What exactly is a cog? It’s one of the tooth-like parts around the edge of a wheel in a machine that fits between those of a similar wheel, causing both wheels to move; cogwheel, a wheel with cogs around its edge, used to turn another wheel or part in a machine.

In human terms, it’s a member of a large organization whose job, although necessary, makes them feel as if they are not important. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/)

“A cog in a wheel is an important element; it keeps the machine running smoothly. If it’s cared for – cleaned, oiled, and polished regularly – it will serve the machine well for years. If it’s not cared for, it will break, bringing the machine to a halt. The breakage may even cause greater damage to other parts of the machine.” (https://www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com/2015/05/18/a-cog-in-a-wheel/)

“Is it time for me to quit?” I asked myself the other night. “Time to quit reading, quit studying, quit writing, quit praying – quit interceding? Is my time on planet earth over? Am I finished?”

I was feeling tired. Exhausted, actually, physically, mentally and emotionally. And a little bored, too. I was feeling like a very unimportant, worn-out old cog in a machine, no longer necessary and easily replaced if broken or removed.

I had been thinking of Jesus’ words in John 19:30, “It is finished.”

What was the IT, I wondered? The IT that was finished? His earth-life existence as a human being? His work as Savior? His sacrifice for sins? What exactly did he mean by that?

I’ve read some opinions on the meaning of that final statement. Here’s one I like:

“Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The word in this verse, “finished,” is actually from the Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is the same word that means “paid in full.” Often, it was used in an accounting term, which indicates a debt was paid. The uniqueness about the way it was written is that the tense of the word indicates both a point in time it was complete and that it would also continue to be complete or finished. And this is the essence of what Christ came to do. He came to “finish” God’s work of salvation in us. He came to “pay it in full,” the entire penalty, or debt, for our sins. He’s at work in our world still today in powerful ways.” (https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/the-power-of-jesus-last-words-the-meaning-behind-it-is-finished.html)

But think about this: Some things were not actually finished. Jesus would return as a human being in a few days, remaining on planet earth for a few more weeks. At the moment on the cross when Jesus said “Finished,” he had not yet presented his blood in heaven so his sacrifice for sins wasn’t finished; his work as Savior was not complete.

His ministry to human beings wasn’t done either. More was still to come on the day of Pentecost! And beyond that, his ministry as intercessor for believers is a never-ending assignment.

Of course, none of those things could have been realized had Jesus not actually died on the cross — died body, soul and spirit. In that regard IT was indeed finished. The debt we owed was truly PAID IN FULL.

As I meditated on all this, the Holy Spirit began to talk to me.

“Finished, hmmm? Just an old cog? Unimportant? Unnecessary?” He began to show me a few examples of old cogs, the way He sees them.

  • Abraham and Sarah — parents at 100 and 90 years of age; think they needed to be re-energized?
  • Moses — failed son of Pharoah’s daughter who became a shepherd in a foreign land; recalled to be deliverer of Israel at age 80.
  • David — many long years running for his life from King Saul, chased, persecuted; tired?
  • Zachariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents — elderly new parents whose son became a “wild man” living in the desert.

I’m sure they’d all prayed, waited and wondered; wondered if IT was finished, whatever IT was in their lives.

Things to think about.

Be Ye Holy

BurningBush(Previous title Bush. Burning. Holy?)

When Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock up in the mountains, he saw an angel in the middle of a bush on fire (Exodus 3:1-6). Well, that was certainly unusual.

Curious, he went a bit closer to check it out, and God called him by name! That was even more unusual. Then God said, Take off your shoes, the place you’re standing is holy ground.

Wow. The dirt was holy. I could understand the bush being holy, but even the dirt? God himself had picked that spot for an encounter with Moses. Because God was there, the place was separated for his use.

It’s as though God had drawn a line around that bush, claimed it for his own purpose, set it on fire and then settled first an angel, then his own presence into the middle of the bush.

That story is fascinating and so is the rest of Moses’ life, but this is about being holy. Holiness. What is it, exactly?

I Peter 1:15-16, “But, as he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life, Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.” Peter was quoting Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2 and 20:7, God’s instructions to the children of Israel. God’s people. Peter was making it clear to Christians that this same instruction applies to us. We are also God’s people. We must be holy.

“Holier than thou.” That’s about all I could remember from my childhood about holy, or holiness. That and the old hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy.

What did it mean? In my child’s thinking it meant Long-faced. Somber. Serious. Gloomy. No smile. No laughter. No joy. No happiness. No colorful clothes. No fun. Nothing attractive, that’s for sure. But an actual definition? I had no idea and really didn’t care. These days, I have a different idea.

The English word for holiness has an interesting origin. Wholeness. One hundred percent one thing. Not contaminated with anything else. Not mixed with anything else. Wholly one thing. Like an element, not a compound. Sodium. Gold. Hydrogen. Not Salt. Not Brass. Not Air. Those are compounds.

Also, whole means nothing is missing. There’s not a bite missing, not even a tiny chunk missing. One hundred percent complete.

In the Bible, the original words are interesting too. Most places in the Old and New Testaments it means set apart, separated and kept for one particular use. Sacred. It is used to describe God, people, places and things. Sometimes it is translated sanctified. The sabbath is to be kept holy. The priests were to keep themselves holy. All the articles used in the sacrifices and worship were to be holy.

In my kitchen I have a manual can opener. I use it for one particular thing, opening cans. Now, I suppose since it’s clunky and fairly substantial, I could use it as a blunt object. You know, hit a burglar over the head with it. That’s a remote possibility. Still, my can opener is holy, sanctified, going by the original Bible definition.

But there’s another word also translated holy. That word means pure. Clean. Free from defilement. Uncontaminated. Uncorrupted. Wholly one thing. This is the word used to describe the holy place. The Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. The Holy One of Israel – Jesus. Applied to people, it means morally upright. Having integrity. Honest.

This word corresponds more to the old English definition. One hundred percent one thing. What thing? I think it means the righteousness of God. Set apart from everything else and everyone else, separated for one particular use by God and for God. Pure, and purely his for whatever purpose he decides.

There’s one problem with that second definition. How can a person be holy? In the Old Testament, it took a lot of work. And a lot of blood. Blood of sacrificed animals, smeared on the priests’ clothing and on their bodies, blood dabbed on the altar, blood poured on the ground, blood everywhere. Blood mixed with anointing oil. All day, every day, day after day — blood everywhere, and never cleaned up.

Really, that blood was the only thing that kept the priests from being burned to a crisp when they approached the presence of God. It recalled the night of the dead first-born children of Egypt. It was a perpetual memorial to the deliverance and mercy of God.

There’s only one way a person today can be holy, and that’s to have the Holy One of Israel settled into your life. Jesus, the resurrected Lamb of God is one hundred percent pure God. Jesus, the one who made the ultimate sacrifice of his own blood. Jesus, who anoints us with the Holy Spirit, the fire of God in the midst of us. In us, and on us.

Since he has paid for us, he has a right to separate us from everything else to his own use, his purposes, his agenda, his itinerary. To make us wholly his.

Weapons / Joshua the warrior

CombatTrainingUrbanJoshua was a warrior. He spent many years with Moses, serving first as his aide de camp and eventually named by God as Moses’ successor.

Although serving in several roles, Joshua was primarily a soldier. And more than a soldier; a warrior.

During their days in the desert in what today is Jordan, Joshua was training men for the battle ahead. He had to hand-pick the best, teach them how to fight and how to use their weapons. He was well aware that as soon as Israel crossed the Jordan River, they would be in enemy territory.

“About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.” (Joshua 4:13 NIV) Joshua’s first major target was to be Jericho, a fiercely guarded walled city.

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (Josh. 5:13-14 NIV) The Lord’s commander; captain of the Lord’s hosts, it says in the King James version.

He was there to give Joshua first an intelligence briefing, then his battle orders. (Those instructions may sound a little strange to us, marching around walls, but that’s what they were: battle orders.)

Who was he? An angel? Michael or one of his subordinates? Perhaps Jesus himself? We’re not told. But we are told that war, warriors and warfare were part of his mission on earth.

I was thinking about all this one evening and the fact that the scriptures describe another battle looming in Israel and probably other places in the middle east, in the not too distant future. Who will be trained well enough to fight and win in that war, I wondered? Most of the believers I know certainly aren’t.

The Lord began to answer that question by showing me an activity going on in heaven. Combat training. Arm to arm combat. Physical, mental, emotional – and spiritual – training. Weapons. Armor.

I thought at first I was dead wrong about what I saw. That simply could not be heaven, it had to be some sort of hallucination, a mistake. But it wasn’t. The Holy Spirit took me to several scriptures about the battles ahead, and explained in some detail what I was seeing.

Many believers will still be here on earth when that war needs to be fought. Untrained, ill-equipped believers who don’t know one end of a rifle from the other. They won’t know how to defend themselves, much less fight an enemy soldier. Like the children of Israel facing the Jordan River, most of them aren’t warriors.

But they aren’t called to be.

Out of a million or more men of Israel, only forty thousand were called to be warriors. They were chosen, trained, equipped and ready. And in the coming warfare, God’s warriors will be ready. They will be returning to earth with Jesus, fully trained and equipped. (See Revelation 17:14, 19:19)

Right now they are going through that training period. I watched some of the training. I saw some of the weapons, both material and spiritual. I have never seen anything on earth exactly like them – not in any of those action and adventure and spy movies I’ve watched for years.

The Holy Spirit explained how some of them worked and how some are already working here on earth. Not technically weapons, some are designed to gather information, such as three-dimensional cameras that can see around solid objects. Invisibility cloaks for people and machines. I actually saw a news video about that one several months ago, being tested here on earth.

Not everyone in heaven is assigned to be trained as a fighter. Some are assigned to be designers of weapons, inventors or engineers or scientists. Or writers, composers, artists or musicians. But warriors will certainly be needed, and so some are chosen and taught how to be.

I am understanding more and more what heaven is like, and what it’s for. Worship. Work. And training for warfare.

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A type of Christ, the man Joshua is a fascinating character. His original name, Hoshea, simply meant salvation.  Moses changed it to Jehoshua (Joshua), however, which means Jehovah is salvation (Numbers 13:16). The Greek form of the name Joshua is Jesus.

Follow his unique career from being one of Moses’ “young men,” being with Moses on the mountain when he received the ten commandments, one of twelve tribal leaders sent to spy out the land, serving as Moses’ assistant and then being named his successor — read through the book of Numbers and associated passages. He was one of the two spies who were faithful (Caleb being the other) and because they believed God, only those two of the twelve spies were promised to survive the 40-year trek through the wilderness.