“All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’
“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.’ So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.”
“… Do not be afraid… for God has come in order to test you… so that you may not sin.”
Beloved, what is that all about? What is the Lord telling us here about what Sin-corrupted human nature does to people? Notice the great distance that even God’s chosen people insisted on keeping between them and the living Word of Almighty God! That distance is chronic and habitual. And Moses said that God was ‘testing’ His chosen people. But in what exactly did that testing consist? And what did it reveal about Israel? Why has Israel struggled so, as she has tried to fulfill her calling in the past? And why does she continue to struggle to learn from God’s living and written Word even to this day? As we ponder these questions, we will see more clearly what the vast difference is… between the Covenant of Sinai that was broken and that failed, and the New Covenant God promised, through His prophets, to make with Israel. That is the Covenant that Yeshua, the living Word made flesh, and His apostles, were sent by God to institute, proclaim, establish, and fulfill.
The book of Exodus reveals how totally unprepared and incapable God’s newly freed people actually were, in terms of fulfilling the awesome commission God had just given them. The Word of God was sent to appoint the Israelites to serve as Almighty God’s emissaries to the rest of the human race. They were His appointed priestly nation! But there was a problem with that. These people were like all the rest of us. They too were under the sentence of Death! They were children of Adam and Eve, who, through unbelief and disobedience to God’s Word, had cut themselves and their offspring, away from the one and only Source of Life! The Word was their Head and Life Source. But the Serpent managed to get them to ‘decapitate’ themselves!
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die!’”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Whether we consider the original creation of Adam and Eve, or our spiritual regeneration and new birth as a result of the Perfect Atonement and Redemption through the death and Resurrection of the Lamb of God, God’s living creative Word, the truth remains… humans cannot be, or have, or do… ANYTHING… unless it originates with and is given to them, by the Word of God, for He is their one and only true Source!
The Real Issue
So, from start to finish, the issue between our Creator and Source, and the fallen human race is this: will we insist on remaining radically separated from Almighty God, and thus remain under the sentence of physical and eternal spiritual death? Will we continue to insist on trusting in our own independent Sin-corrupted flesh, with its wits and faculties and efforts? Or, will we embrace the revelation of God and obey His summons to return to His Word and submit to His Authority and receive everything from God’s Holy Spirit, so that God may once more become our true, eternal Life?
The issue is not whether or not we will ‘clean up our act’ or ‘improve’ our behavior and performance levels. The issue is whether or not we will obey and cooperate with God’s Word so that He can summon us out from among the dead and lead us back into eternal Life with Almighty God. But what does it mean… to stop operating in and from the state of living death… and to begin to operate in and from the Life and Spirit of the Word of God? That is the vital question that is at the heart of everything God intended to reveal and demonstrate at Sinai, to the whole human race, through the life and example of His chosen people, the children of Israel.
The entire human race has fallen into the state of Sin, which is radical independence from God, our Creator. We ceased to be His image and likeness, receiving everything from Him, and embodying His Presence and Activity in and through our flesh and demonstrating His Reality through our daily lives. Sin disconnected us from God. Another way of saying that is this: ‘Sin severed us from our Life Source.’ Thus all humans are born with Death already working within them. And as long as we remain in that state, it doesn’t matter one bit how ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘educated’ or ‘proper and correct’ we try to become by our own efforts. No matter what we do to educate or ‘improve’ ourselves or one another, God sees all of that as nothing more than ‘dead works’ emanating out of ‘dead flesh.’
We may learn to fly into outer space, and invent ingenious ways to develop energy with which to run our cities… but we will never, in our own strength, be able to do what it takes to make the Exodus from Death into Eternal Life, and from Sin, into Almighty God’s Righteousness. Do you remember what God’s living Word said to Abram the Sumerian in the beginning days of their relationship?
“I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless!”
How could a man with Death working within him abide in the Presence of Almighty God, who is the Source of Life, and be blameless? There could only be one way. Abram would have to learn what every true disciple of God’s Word must learn:
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.’”
It may seem redundant and inane to say this, but it must be said repeatedly nevertheless. If it isn’t repeated, it will never sink deeply into the human consciousness. Decapitated men will not believe or accept what is so blatantly obvious: Dead people are DEAD! In other words, there is no life in them! If you’re looking for something that is alive and fruitful and able to impart life to others, don’t look to the dead as a source! They have nothing to offer, nothing to give that would be of any value in the Land of the Living. This is why the living Word of God, who was present with God at the dawn of Creation, and is the one through whom God does everything that pertains to us, gave His disciples this awesome warning:
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.‘” (Emphasis added.)
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am The Vine, you are the (My) branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing! If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
Beloved, God isn’t kidding when He says this! When His living Word cautioned Abram to walk before Him blamelessly, this was at the heart of what God means to teach us all. Humans are made to proclaim, reflect, display and embody the Word of Almighty God! We are made to be His revelation in human terms, His image and likeness. We are not originators in ourselves… we are living reflections, revelations, living embodiments of the one who is the Creator of all things! So, just as the branch of a vine can’t be or have or do anything unless it first receives it from its vine, so too we can’t be or have or do anything unless it first comes into us from the Holy Spirit of our Vine, the living Word of God! His Life must be what moves and transforms us.
This is why true disciples of God’s Word must be rigorously and thoroughly trained, disciplined and equipped to draw very, very close to their Lord, Master and Owner… and to abide with Him and get to know and interact with Him at the deepest levels possible. God’s holy priesthood must be equipped to know what is in God’s heart. This knowledge must be eminently precise and accurate so that God’s living Word may truly be able to serve as our Head, and we may truly serve as living members of His human Body on Earth. So true humanity is not about ‘self expression’ or ‘self-improvement’ or ‘self-actualization.’ True humanity is all about ‘Yeshua revelation’ and ‘Messiah embodiment’ and ‘Word of God fulfillment and actualization’ in the midst of men. And even Israel struggles to grasp and absorb this Truth!
“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into Heaven (equality with God), but He who descended from Heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have Eternal Life!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
It is clear from the Torah and the prophets and wisdom writings of Israel that as the chosen people continued to make their way through the trials and tribulations they encountered throughout the centuries, in God’s eyes, they continued to misunderstand and violate their Covenant with Him. Thus, as far as God was concerned, they remained distant from His living Word. No matter how harshly the world treated them; no matter how severe God’s judgments were or how sternly He disciplined them, the children of Jacob did not attain sufficient knowledge and intimacy with God to complete their God-given task. They have not represented Him to the rest of the world… blamelessly.
“The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
So the Redemption Plan Continues
The Tanach (Old Testament) leaves its readers with a deep, sad sense of empty futility when they finish reading it. Something enormous is still missing. The story is not, and cannot be, over… at the point where the last book of the Tanach ends. After all those centuries, after all that happened to Israel, and after all the input from her prophets and psalmists and wisdom writers, it remains obvious that there has to be more to it. Even now, as we look at Israel and her present plight in the twenty first century, as we see her rabid enemies continue to surround and threaten and seek to infiltrate, undermine and destroy her. And as we see the nations of the world continue to turn their backs on her and ignore the atrocities she has to face all alone, the reader of the Hebrew Scriptures is left with a deep sense of hungry, thirsty expectation, a sense that there has to come a future time of fulfillment, a season of final harvest and completion; because if things end here, God’s Plan is not even close to being fulfilled nor have His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob been made good. And this is why God revealed His New Covenant through His prophets:
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast. As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,’ declares the Lord.
“In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah, not like the Covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My Covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘But this is the Covenant which I will make with the House of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My Law (Torah) within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’”
“Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the Lord, then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
At some point in the future, God must bring this awesome Story to its glorious Conclusion. But that means He will have to eliminate the habitual distance that remains between the chosen people and His living Word! The two betrothed spouses will, one day, become One! And that is what the New Covenant and its promises are all about. It will most surely happen… Almighty God has given His Word, and His Blood Oath, that it will be so. He will make the two into One. And then… when God’s Word and Israel are one, she will be everything God envisioned her to be, and she will truly be the blessing He has destined her to be, for the rest of the world.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations (Gentiles) where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations (Gentiles) will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight! For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
God’s Faithfulness to Israel is Good News for the Nations
For centuries, Israel has continued to prove that her poor fallen flesh could not know and obey God as intimately as He desires her to know and obey Him. But God already anticipated this and has made ample provision for it. The day will come in the New Covenant Fulfillment future, when Israel and God’s living Word will finally unite… and then they will work together, as one. Then they will display the Perfection of God’s Word and Covenant, before the powers of Darkness and before the entire world of men. The Fullness of the purposes for which God sent His Word into the demonic Darkness that has held mankind in its fatal entrapment will be completely Present and Active. And God will usher those who are His own, into that Eternal Perfection. When Israel is fully equipped with this unique intimacy and familiarity, we will all see the Fulfillment of His New Covenant promises and Israel will come back from the dead and completely fulfill her commission to serve as God’s Light to the Gentiles:
“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Defense of my life; whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” (Emphasis added.)
“Your Lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your Faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your Righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your Judgments are like a great deep. O Lord, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your Lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the Shadow of Your Wings. They drink their fill of the Abundance of Your House; and You give them to drink of the River of Your Delights. For with You is the Fountain of Life; in Your Light we see Light.” (Emphasis added.)
When Israel can know God’s living Word to such depths, and embrace and depend exclusively on Him, His Light will shine upon them and in them and it will radiate through them, in all of God’s infinite Fullness. The Word will shine forth from within His people and together, they will serve as the Light of the world. Once Israel knows God’s Word, in all of His Fullness, they will fulfill to Perfection the world-transforming task He has reserved for them alone to fulfill by His Holy Spirit’s Power and His Lovingkindness:
“The people who walk in Darkness will see a great Light; those who live in a dark land, the Light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation (of Israel), You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your Presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
“For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the Fire. For a Child will be born to us (Israelites), a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His Government or of Peace, on the Throne of David (Messiah Yeshua) and over His Kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with Justice and Righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
Israel’s Eternal Purpose… Revealing God’s Living Word
Israel is the chosen one of God. From all eternity she was selected to be the God-anointed ‘Womb’ out of which the Word of God made flesh would, one day, issue forth. His Light is to be their Light. And when Israel fully embraces and becomes one with God’s Light, He will light up the rest of the world that currently languishes in demonic Darkness, through her. That is the Plan. That is Israel’s eternal purpose. And so shall it be fulfilled.
In the beginning, the Exodus Journey was meant to serve as the ‘boot camp’ training ground by which God’s Word could continue to train and prepare Israel’s generations. Thus, in Father’s good time His Word, together with Israel His Bride, could completely accomplish the task. In the Book of Exodus, Israel’s training was just beginning and thus she was far from ready. That generation’s habitual sense of insecurity and the slavish paranoia and suspicious mistrust their worldly identity engendered, kept compelling them to pull away from God’s Word. Originally, all humans were designed and created to be God’s righteous image and likeness. But now, thanks to their Sin-corruption and ignorance, God had become alien to them and so they remained distant and were unable to know Him as He truly is. So God had to shock them with tremendous newness and stunning power in order to snap some of them out of their Serpent-induced trance. He had to overwhelm people like Joshua and Caleb with awesome displays of His Power to stop them from sinning against Him by their doubting unbelief.
God already knew the sorry state they were in, and that they would continue to struggle in that state for centuries. He knew that although He had revealed Himself to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, this current generation hardly knew Him at all. But despite their ignorance, He had been with them all along, seeing to their safety. In Joseph’s day, He ensured their survival during the widespread famine. And it was by His Covenant mercy and hands-on protection that they survived and continued to thrive during the centuries they spent in Egypt. But at this point of their Exodus, in reality, and to all practical purposes, they were still very worldly in their perspective, and thought patterns. And for many centuries they would not even come close to being the true Israelites that their task truly requires.
So, what is the point of all this? The point is, that fallen human flesh, Jewish or otherwise, will never be able to remedy any of this by itself, for itself, as long as it remains in its original state of living death. As always, there is only one true God, one true Source. And Israel was chosen as the instrument by which God will display this Truth and teach this Lesson to the rest of the world. This is the Lesson: the dead can do nothing for themselves. They can’t initiate or effect or perfect, anything! Almighty God is the only One who can truly create and initiate and perfect His fallen, Sin-blasted Creation. And He is here to do it… as soon as we see and embrace this awesome Truth and repent of trying to be as God in our own right. All flesh must bow before the absolute Authority of God’s creative, Life-giving Word… receiving from Him what only He is able to impart. And, just as Israel was not able to do anything for herself, neither can anyone else!
After Egypt enslaved them, the Israelites endured centuries of affliction, injustice and brutality – the very things that were so common throughout the entire fallen ancient world before the Torah arrived on the scene. So the Exodus generation of Israelites was just as ignorant of God’s ways as the rest of the world was! They had not had the opportunity to become predisposed to know God’s living Word the way all men must come to know Him. They had no real way of grasping what He was doing, or where He was taking them, or why. All they knew was that, through Moses, He had suddenly decided to draw near… and from that moment, their lives and comfort zones had been violently disturbed. And now… after the incident of the golden calf, they were at a total loss. They had no idea of who they were in God’s sight, or what they were supposed to be or how they were supposed to cooperate and accomplish what God wanted to be and do with them in the midst of this brutal, alien, Sin-adoring world. And the realization of its desolate, bankrupt, living dead state is the same realization at which all the rest of the human race must finally arrive. We must all have the scales removed from our Sin-deadened spiritual eyes, so that we can finally realize our true state and turn to our Creator so that He may speak His living Word into us and bring us back, from Death to Life… as only the Creator of all things can do.
Please remember that the debacle at Sinai took place at a time when even Israel did not have the Torah! Torah did not yet exist in its present form because God was just beginning the process of revealing His awesome mysteries to, and through, Moses! Remember also what we said in our previous meditations about the brutal, predatory, hopeless and unjust ancient world that these children of Israel had been enduring for the last four centuries! God had just recently begun to set them apart and give them their special calling, purpose and destiny. But thanks to the worldly influence that Egypt had imposed upon them, they were still just as much a part of that ancient world as any of the other people groups. The fear, suffering and hopelessness instilled by having to live within that ancient ‘Wheel’ of recurring cycles was still limiting their perspectives and governing their thought patterns. Thus they were still trapped within the Wheel’s oppressive sphere of influence and the pall of demonic Darkness that enveloped the whole world.
So, when God’s living Word began to lead them out of that toxic, delusional, barbaric atmosphere, the Israelites had no idea of what sort of new destination and into what kind of drastic changes God’s Word was leading them. They suspected that something had changed and that things were somehow going to be different. But their habitual slavish insecurities and overwhelming feelings of fear and dread prevented them from being able to be excited or feel confident about their prospects. They could not see or feel or share in God’s Perfect Eternal Rest and Peace that does not depend at all on earthly circumstances or conditions. They still did not know the Word of their God intimately and with full accuracy. They did not have an adequate sense of His absolute, infinite, eternal Perfection and airtight Integrity, Faithfulness and Covenant Lovingkindness. Too much of their past experience continued to haunt them; and that grossly contaminated their ability to know God and trust and rest in Him as He really is. So for centuries… most of the chosen people kept their distance from God’s living Word.
We, who do believe and have embraced the Authority of God’s living Word, have the advantage of hindsight and centuries of experience that previous generations lacked. We have the benefit of having experienced all of the good and the massive changes that the Torah has brought into the world since those early days. But the original Exodus people did not have that advantage. We have the luxury of having and knowing God’s written Word in the Biblical form that is common today. But none of that existed in their day. And so they did not know what we now know about our awesome God. This is how the written Word reveals the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to us. But they did not yet have the luxury and blessing of knowing Him in this way. They saw awesome manifestations of His Power… but they did not yet know the awesome Reality of His eternal Perfection and flawless Lovingkindness and the Safety that comes from knowing Him as He really is:
“A Father of the fatherless and a Judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a Home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into Prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land. O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, Selah. The earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the Presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the Presence of God, the God of Israel. You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You confirmed Your Inheritance when it was parched. Your creatures settled in it; You provided in Your Goodness for the poor, O God.” (Emphasis added.)
This is what Messiah Yeshua’s emissary Matthew, was pointing out when He wrote His Gospel account for his fellow Israelites. As he was introducing Yeshua, the one about whom Moses and the other prophets had written, this is what he said about Him:
“Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— The people who were sitting in Darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.’
“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven (the Almighty living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) is at hand!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
And the apostle Paul was given the ability to fathom the Torah revelations at such levels that he could one day add this:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the Fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth…” (Emphasis added.)
If those dusty, desert-dwelling former slaves had known God’s living Word in this way, they would not have remained so afraid and mistrustful of Him. But their centuries of experiencing misfortune and abuse and fear-ridden hopelessness became hard wired and deeply programmed into the brains and souls of many of their descendants. That slavish ‘born to lose’ mentality that years of slavery impressed into their imaginations weighed them down with so much mental and emotional ‘baggage’ that, to this day, many Israelites still can’t stop dragging the weight of that historical ‘baggage’ along with them as they make their way cross the sands of time. Many can’t get themselves to believe that, as long as they are in Covenant with God, they are in the care of His Perfect, All-Authoritative living Word. Thus they have nothing to fear. Even though He is always with them as Israel lives in this demon-possessed world, she still does not have a solidly entrenched home or inheritance and sense of wellbeing that other well-established peoples of the world are able to enjoy. By God’s mercy, today we modern believers are able to know what they have had to struggle so hard, and for so long, to learn:
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’” (Emphasis added.)
So Now Our Exodus is at Hand
God, in His Goodness, has amply demonstrated the nature of His Character and perpetual intent to redeem and save mankind, to modern generations. But He started with that poor bedraggled original generation of Israelites…to show the rest of the world, through them, that if life is so difficult, even for His own chosen people, what must the rest of the decapitated world have to learn and anticipate and expect as long as it remains unrepentant and Sin-ridden? What will He have to do to free them of Sin and realign them with His Perfect nature? God is demonstrating through Israel, how beautifully He provides for all the poor and downtrodden peoples of this world when and if they come back to Him… and how faithful He is in giving hope and a real future to the desolate. He will defend and relocate the brutalized, hopeless dispossessed peoples that live all around the earth. But this Exodus must be done on God’s, terms, and not on the Serpent’s terms! And Israel is God’s chosen example for this lesson.
In those ancient days, Israel did not know Him the way we can know Him today. So they continued to reject God’s living Word and would not give Him His rightful place in their midst. And many still habitually reject the Light of the world and deprive themselves from the glory of basking in His brilliant Perfect Rest and Peace. That original Exodus generation set the tone for this behavior, the behavior that many of their descendants continue to follow even now. But, thanks to the lessons of history, disciples of today can know that God is eternally the same. His mind and intent and mood never change! He upholds His Righteousness and Compassion in the same way, generation after generation. He liberates, reconciles with, reclaims, endows and restores humans to their true God-intended status and purpose according to His Eternal Truth and Reality. In each generation, the revelation of the eternal Perfection of the living Word of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob suddenly pierces, again and again, the demonic Darkness that enshrouds the fallen world of men. And He summons those who have been devastated by the works of the Serpent. And He neutralizes and replaces their brutal experiences of injustice, paranoia and devastating hopelessness with the joyful new experience of God’s tender Mercy and Fatherly Love, Faithfulness and Eternal Inheritance.
Sin has decapitated and separated mankind, including Israel, from God’s living Word. And that is why God keeps sending His Word back into each generation of this world. First He sent His Son to seek out Adam and Eve and call them out of hiding… then He sent His Word to the next generation, and the next, and so on. He sends His Word to cover us all and to fill in all of our Death-caused deficiencies, and restore to us and our children, our true, original, image and likeness of God identity, purpose and destiny. God’s Word and Holy Spirit continually invade the demonic Darkness to overcome the evil caused by Sin for every generation. Then He covers and fills those who hear, believe and repent with His Eternal, Invincible Divine Good! God’s Word is sent to cut all human captives free from the Serpent’s coils… and to heal their wounds… and restore their fortunes…and reconcile them to their Heavenly Father and to one another!
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the Power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, (always) to the Jew first and (then) also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
This is what God reveals about Himself. This is what His Word comes to do for those who will believe, follow and obey Him. He does what they could never do for themselves. That is why God’s Word leads us on this Exodus Transition from the Darkness of radical independence … to the Eternal Light of being God’s image and likeness. This is what He is here to be and to do to us, for us, in us and through us, as we follow and rely upon Him, and Him alone. This is what He represents and does for His True Israel:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
“Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. But you will be called the priests of the Lord; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs.”
Questions We All Should Prayerfully Consider
Beloved, can you relate to any of this? Do you have a need for Him to do these things for you? Can you admit that, just as He once came to Abram, He has now come for you? Can you see how much you are in need of what God’s living Word is here to be and to do on your behalf? Can you find your current situation somewhere within this Biblical Exodus scenario? What brutal demon-induced worldly conditions and circumstances do you have to face and endure at this time of your existence on this earth? What has the world’s ‘Roulette Wheel’ and all of its false gods done to you? What is it that you and those you love have to deal and struggle with, in your part of this radically independent world that operates in your era and generation of human history? What is hurting, frightening, frustrating and troubling you and your loved ones? What is it that you lack? What assails and afflicts and deprives your household of the peace, joy and rest you need at this very moment? Do you feel trapped in a maze of seemingly hopeless circumstances? Does your landscape resemble the barren, hopeless, overwhelming vistas of Sinai? Do you feel caught in an endless orbit of repetitive destructive cycles and forced to live in painful, frightening, desert-like desolation? If so, then you are the one God has His eyes fixed upon perpetually. He has sent His Word to come after you too!
Ezekiel, one of Israel’s prophets, was inspired to give us a wilderness-like panorama of the human race’s misery. In chapter 37, he described a vast panorama… a wilderness valley that was full of ‘dead dry bones,’ scattered all across the wasteland that he was seeing. He was seeing all of us. As you read his words, ask yourself if you can find yourself and your present circumstances in this fallen world somewhere within that prophecy. If you can see yourself described within Israel’s living death panorama, then know this: God has you specifically in mind. It is for you and your household, and all the people around you, that God has sent His living Word, His Son, at this strategic time. You are among those that He is now here to rescue, reclaim, bless and restore, through Israel and He is speaking to your heart through His prophet. This is what Ezekiel saw:
“The hand (Word) of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, You know.’ Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause Breath (My Holy Spirit) to enter you that you may come to Life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put (My) Breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
“So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no Breath (Holy Spirit) in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the Breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the Breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’”
“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the Breath came into them, and they came to Life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are The Whole (Jewish and non Jewish) House of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them:
‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My (Jewish and non-Jewish New Covenant) people; and I will bring you into the Land of Israel. THEN you will know that I AM the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to Life, and I will place you on your own Land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord.’” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
Beloved, God’s living Word is not here to ‘fix you up a little.’ Death cannot be repaired or saved. No, He is here to bring you from Death to Life! He is here to BE your New Eternal Life! He will cause His Life to enter into and emerge out of, the ashes of your living Death! That is why He took on our human flesh and became one of us! That is why He made Full Atonement for all of our crimes and sins of commission and omission on the Cross! Now, there is no need for anything or anyone to stand between God and us. Everything has been covered and made good. The Perfect One that God sent to redeem us has done it all. And now, the complete Union and Fulfillment and Restoration in Him have been accomplished in God’s mind and will. This is the New Covenant Treasure that can now be personally applied to you and your household! And He calls upon you to allow Him to do it!
Because you have been chosen to live in God’s Era of New Covenant Fulfillment, you have access to the fuller revelation. You can know what the original Exodus people could not have known. At that earlier point of the world’s Exodus, the full manifestation of the wonders God has performed had not yet fully appeared on Earth. And even at this point of the progressive revelation of God’s Fullness, there are still many more things that God intends to reveal to you and there are many more people around you that He intends to save. So the time for Repentance and Reconciliation between God and men has not fully elapsed. So, even though the Covenant of Sinai was broken, and even though many people continue to remain at a great distance from God, He has not given up on Israel or the rest of the human race that Israel represents. For God has already made a New Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah! And this New Covenant will fully repair and restore what was lost in the broken Sinai Covenant… for all people of every generation. God is continuing the process of bringing His New Covenant to perfect Fulfillment! And that is why He still giving people time to hear His voice and repent and come out of hiding… to receive the Gracious Mercy He continues to offer to them while there is still time… before the final Judgment finally comes.
Now, through His Holy Spirit and resurrected Word, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is here to make you His own, completely and eternally! He can regenerate and transform you and your loved ones, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. God is here to adopt us and make us all to be His Blood Covenant sons, friends and heirs! He is ready to cover us under His Mantle and endow all of us with the full assurance of sharing in His Forgiveness and Mercy. We can all still receive His Eternal Life, Wellbeing, Inheritance, Joy, Peace and Rest, as soon as we repent of our self-adoring, self-righteous arrogance and God-ignoring pride!
This is what the Exodus that God began to reveal through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the nation of Israel, is meant to teach us. And if we finish our Exodus, this is what it will lead us into. All who will believe, obey and finish their personal journey will leave the Serpent’s Darkness and Death and enter into God’s Eternal Life and Wellbeing and Rest. Everyone is included and invited. There are no exceptions. God’s Salvation is for all of us! And you can begin to own and possess all of this for yourself, even NOW!
This is what Rabbi Yeshua began to impress upon His future disciple, the learned, Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus:
“Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel (a member of the ruling Sanhedrin) and (still) do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into Heaven, but He who descended from Heaven: the Son of Man (God’s living Word). As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal Life.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (His living creative Word), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have Eternal Life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the Judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the Darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the Truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in (the Power and Life of the Word and Spirit of Almighty) God!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
The Exodus revealed in the Torah is God’s Good News for all of Adam’s devastated, mortally wounded children! It means restoration from Death back to Life. It means Eternal Health and Wellbeing instead of Decay, Disintegration and Devastation. It means Safety, Security, Love and Full Acceptance instead of demonic Exclusion, Desolation and Abandonment. Everything that the fallen sons of Adam’s disobedience lacked, God has restored, and much more… through Israel and her Messiah Yeshua, the risen Lord of Glory.
When we look at Israel’s situation in Egypt through worldly carnal eyes, it appears to be utterly hopeless, desolate and futile. But when we allow God’s Holy Spirit to equip us with spiritual faculties, we have the ‘ears’ we need to hear God’s voice and the ‘eyes’ needed to see His eternal Heavenly realities that abide within those that believe and obey Him. And we are in touch with what lies beyond the physical, earthly and temporal facts of this fleeting existence. Sin and the death it inflicts have made this temporary physical dimension desolate in the extreme. But when we’re spiritually endowed and equipped, we can see God’s Eternal Heavenly Reality descending upon the barrenness in which the living dead remain imprisoned…and we can begin to abide in, and draw from, His Perfect Word’s Holy, All-Sufficient Presence. So, the Word descends upon us… even though we still live amid all the worldly devastation. What is Good descends to overwhelm what is Evil… and what is eternally Beautiful and Perfect, descends upon what is twisted, deformed and devastated for a time. Life Himself descends upon what the Serpent has murdered. And living dead people who are ridden with guilt, fear, despair… suddenly begin to brim over and overflow with the Life, Joy, Goodness and Righteousness that God is here to be to us. He fills us with Himself; and, by the Power of His Holy Spirit, transforms us into the image and likeness of His Word’s Eternal Perfection!
The living Word of God contains all of the Infinite Fullness of God’s Glory and Abundance within Himself. Thus when we have Messiah Yeshua, we are also one with the Father that sent Him and the Holy Spirit that makes Him alive and fruitful within us. Thus, in Him, we have Everything! So the important thing is not what we start out with, not what we’ve been deprived of, not what was stolen from us. The awesome important Truth for us is… what God’s living Word is here to add to us… so that He can restore everything God meant us to have, to us. It is all about God and what He is here to add to us, to transform our miserable original condition and status. He draws from His Word’s Eternal Treasury of infinite Abundance… He puts into our innate emptiness, whatever we lack… and makes us into Yeshua’s perfect human image and likeness!
Ponder this prophecy that is contained in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. This is what is descending upon us from God’s eternal Heaven. This is the way it will be when our Exodus Journey is finally completed:
“Then I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, COMING DOWN out of Heaven from God, made ready as a Bride adorned for her Husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the Tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away!”
“And He who sits on the Throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He *said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the one who thirsts from the Spring of the Water of Life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son! But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’” (Emphasis added.)
The Exodus, as revealed in the Torah, leads people out of the bitter frustration and disappointments and desolation that this Sin-laden, mortally wounded, corrupted earthly dimension contains and imparts. God’s Word leads us out of that and into God’s cosmic, mind-boggling Transition… the Exodus Transition… from Emptiness to Eternal Fullness… our Departure from the hopelessness of ‘The Wheel of Endless Futility and Frustration’… to Total Heavenly Fulfillment and Eternal Satisfaction… from radically Independent Self Adoration… to Oneness with the True, Perfect, Living Almighty God! This awesome Salvation is what the rest of the Bible amplifies and explains.
At first, Israel knew very little about this, and so she backed away, hesitated, faltered and continued to stumble. But all the while, this is what God intended to do for her and for all the rest of the world. And this is what God wants you to know right now, today, as you ponder your current situation and observe this fallen world and all that is taking place within its sad, dismal, anxiety-producing confines. As you look around, you see countless numbers of wounded, sick, terrified, devastated people. And, if you fail to learn from Israel’s history and example, you will remain blind to God’s Truth and Reality. All you will see is people scurrying around, trying to save themselves and their loved ones from all of the perversion, criminal injustice, outrageous cruelty and heartlessness that swirl around in this fallen world. You will see rampant selfishness, ego adoration, self-serving ambition, pride, arrogance, unbridled lust and diabolical malice eating away at the fabric of countless lives and households. And as long as you remain trapped in the same self-adoring ignorance that plagues them, you will remain trapped with them. Thus God’s living Word warns us:
“I advise you to buy from Me Gold refined by Fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Emphasis added.)
If you open your heart of hearts to the Light of God’s Truth, His living creative Word will penetrate you to the very core of your being. And even though you still see all the destruction going on around you… you will also know that something wonderful and Heavenly has descended upon you to cover and protect you. Then, you will be able to abide with your Lord and Master within the ‘eye of the hurricane’. The world around you will be filled with turmoil, but God’s Eternal Peace and Rest will abide within your own heart and circumstances. So it is essential that you realize this truth: When you first begin to hear God’s Voice, you must, sooner or later, begin to see and admit what you too are doing… to add to the evil and the sorrow and the desolation that fills this world! When you can do that, you will be motivated and moved to repent of what you are and what you do. Then the Spirit of God will empower you to come to your senses and see through the Serpent’s lies and delusions, and that will set you free to make your personal Exodus from Sin and Death… free to begin to realize, and act upon, the Truth God’s Spirit is firing into your heart:
‘Where are you? Where do you fit? What part are you playing in this cosmic drama? Are you still enslaved and captivated by Egypt? Do you still represent what is wrong with this fallen world? Are you still living as an enemy of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Are you still rejecting or ignoring My living Life-giving Word? If you are, then you are still enslaved by the Serpent, still serving as his deceived, demonic image and likeness. Stop allowing him to seduce and hypnotize you with his lies and delusive deceptions. Stop allowing him to force you to live as an enemy and destroyer of your own Salvation, Redemption, Restoration and Eternal Wellbeing!’
And, as soon as you repent of your mistrust of and disobedience to God and His Word and Holy Spirit, it will be time for you to begin following God’s Word so that you too can make the transition… the Exodus from faith and hope in created, natural, tangible things, to unconditional, airtight faith, hope and trust in Almighty God’s Eternal Perfection. You will gladly leave those created, Sin-corrupted things behind. You will stop pining for them and learn instead to ‘cross over’ and take hold of the awesome God-given Gifts that appear from that eternal spiritual dimension. Salvation Himself will descend upon you as soon as you submit to His Authority and acknowledge your helplessness. God’s Heavenly Kingdom is here to replace what the Earth lacks… by the Authority of His Word and the Power of His Holy Spirit.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling Power, God can and will make His living Word, Yeshua, truly present and dynamically alive and active from within your regenerated spirit! Even as the fallen world continues to try to press in all around you, God’s All-Sufficient Living Word can continually well up from within you, to produce His invincible Fruit and fill you and empower you and supply you with the endless flow of God’s awesome Provision, Protection and Guidance that are contained in His Resurrection Life. The Life of Almighty God’s Word, working within you, will make itself evident to others, from within you. And your Lord will easily push back and overcome the demonic forces of this world, and completely devastate them through your obedient faith.
“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of Living Water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Emphasis added.)
I urge you to begin to educate and train yourself to know God’s Biblical revelation with diligence. It’s time for you to become fully aware of what it will mean to you… to have the actual Presence of the Eternal Life of the risen Lord Yeshua, continually at work within the temporal Death that Sin inflicted on your flesh. Realize that when Life Himself abides in you and can work through you, He equips you to withstand any onslaught of the demonic lies and delusions that the Serpent and his powers of Darkness keep trying to send against you for your destruction. Thus you can persevere and overcome any natural earthly force or situation, or demonic interference, by God’s supernatural Grace.
1 John 4:2-6
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ (Messiah Yeshua) has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error.” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
So, you can actually be as one with God at all times, in all that you do. You can train yourself to learn to expect to experience His nearness and see and experience the manifestations of His indwelling activity in all your actions, reactions and interactions in the days left to you to spend in this fallen world. You will become continually aware of the Kingdom of Heaven, as its ‘Daily Bread’ continues to descend upon and complete what is on Earth each day. The Word of God will fill you to overflowing and He will enter the world around you… through you. And He will begin to permeate and radically affect your personal situations, circumstances, interactions and pressing needs. Now you can allow God’s Word and Spirit to do the awesome work of overcoming evil and ‘watering the desert’ with your Heavenly Father’s awesome Good.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our Life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.”
Don’t doubt or mistrust God’s living Word and Holy Spirit. Doubt all Sin-Corrupted fallen flesh! Don’t keep yourself at a distance from God… welcome Him… embrace Him… make way for what He brings to you. Allow His Perfect Presence to override and replace the emptiness of the created things that you have been clinging to, to try to save yourself. The Lord has come. He is already here, with you. All that remains now is for you to acknowledge and embrace Him… and surrender all that you are to all that HE IS! As you learn to do that, He will prove Himself to you. He will demonstrate conclusively… that you are not longer of this world, no longer part of its God-less systems, because you belong to HIM!
2 Corinthians 4:3-11
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the Light of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ, who is the Image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of Darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Christ.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the Power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the Life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the Life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
This is the Glory that God began to reveal and impart to the world through His people, Israel, and through the awesome Torah, and the fulfilling New Covenant that He entrusted to the care and stewardship of Israel and the New Covenant disciples of her resurrected Messiah. And now, today, people of this generation, who are the beneficiaries of past history, can be privy to all of God’s Wisdom and Grace and long-suffering Patience. We owe to Israel and her faithful people, an enormous debt of gratitude. Thank God for His awesome Graciousness. And thank God for the faithful, effective service that His Israel has rendered and the blessing she continues to be on behalf of the whole world. Amen!