On the Call from God

What does it mean to be called by God? Let us look at two similar examples from the Bible.

Exodus 3:1-12

Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

“Here I am,” he answered.

“Do not come closer,” He said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then He continued, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of My people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors, and I know about their sufferings. I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the territory of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The Israelites’ cry for help has come to Me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 Therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 He answered, “I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worshipGod at this mountain.”

And then, in a later book we read –

Jeremiah 1:4-10

The word of the Lord came to me:

I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
I set you apart before you were born.
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

But I protested, “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.”

Then the Lord said to me:

Do not say, “I am only a youth,”
for you will go to everyone I send you to
and speak whatever I tell you.
Do not be afraid of anyone,
for I will be with you to deliver you.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

Then the Lord reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me:

I have now filled your mouth with My words.
10 See, I have appointed you today
over nations and kingdoms
to uproot and tear down,
to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.

Both prophets protested, saying that they weren’t capable of doing what God asks.  But we have to remember that God sees with different eyes.  God knows our strengths better than we do – even ones that are currently hidden.  If God calls you to something, God knows best.  It is important to remember that you will be able to do what God is calling you to do if you do it WITH God, not by yourself.

(Bible translations are from HCSB)

Advertisements

Prophets and priests – not the same

The Jewish priests in the time of the Tabernacle had to use the Urim and Thummim because they could not hear from God themselves. Moses could – all prophets could. Note that Moses was not the high priest – his brother Aaron was. They had separate roles.

They were the “Navi” (the Hebrew word for prophet) – an entirely separate group of people that often lived apart from people, sometimes alone in the wilderness. God could speak at any time, and they had to be ready. It was hard to integrate that task with “real life”. They were not provided for as the priests were. They did not receive the tithe as payment for their services as the priests did.

It is important to note the tithe in the early church was only used to help those in the community who were less fortunate – those who were sick or out of a job, or didn’t have family to help them. It was never intended to pay the salary of a priestly class, as there was not supposed to be such a thing. It was actually forbidden to have priests, as it created a separation in a Body that was meant to be One. We are all meant to be equal like siblings rather than have those who are higher or lower.

Even today, when a prophet hears from God and tells the priest (self-styled, for their authority comes from man and not God) they are ignored along with the message like many prophets in the past were. Of course they are – because the “priests” are incorrectly exercising control over the church. To admit that they are wrong would mean that they must get past their ego and let God be in charge – not them.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD

Psalm 91:1-6
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net,
from the destructive plague.
4 He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
6 the plague that stalks in darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.

Luke 13:34-35
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See, your house is abandoned to you. And I tell you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!”

Psalm 118:8-27
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in nobles.
10 All the nations surrounded me;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
11 They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they were extinguished like a fire among thorns;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
13 You pushed me hard to make me fall,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
15 There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand performs valiantly!
16 The LORD’s right hand is raised.
The LORD’s right hand performs valiantly!”
17 I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD disciplined me severely
but did not give me over to death.
19 Open the gates of righteousness for me;
I will enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous will enter through it.
21 I will give thanks to You
because You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This came from the LORD;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 LORD, save us!
LORD, please grant us success!
26 He who comes in the name
of the LORD is blessed.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God and has given us light.

Isaiah 62:10-12
10 Go out, go out through the gates;
prepare a way for the people!
Build it up, build up the highway;
clear away the stones!
Raise a banner for the peoples.
11 Look, the LORD has proclaimed
to the ends of the earth,
“Say to Daughter Zion:
Look, your salvation is coming,
His reward is with Him,
and His gifts accompany Him.”
12 And they will be called the Holy People,
the LORD’s Redeemed;
and you will be called Cared For,
A City Not Deserted.

Matthew 21:1-10
When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.3 If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

Luke 20:9-18
9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers so that they might give him some fruit from the vineyard. But the farmers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent yet another slave, but they beat that one too, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third, but they wounded this one too and threw him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, so the inheritance will be ours!’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”
But when they heard this they said, “No—never!”
17 But He looked at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of this Scripture:
The stone that the builders rejected—
this has become the cornerstone?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and if it falls on anyone, it will grind him to powder!”

(All verses are HCSB)

Alien Walkers (short story)

All the ones who had survived had learned to incarnate. There was no other way to relay the information back – the signal wouldn’t cross the membrane barrier. It was sink or swim as best you could. It was a sure way to weed out the ones who couldn’t adapt quickly.
It was an ugly way to go for those who couldn’t shift, who wouldn’t, who didn’t know how or didn’t think to. Their thin gray bodies desiccated in the Terran environment, reducing them to a wrinkled mass of flexible chiton in a matter of hours. Or the crushing gravity pulled Them down, rendering Them unable to move, unable to find enough nutrients to support Their hummingbird-like metabolism. Their silica-based skeletal structure was far too flimsy for this planet, so much larger than Their own, with so much more gravity. Or Their eyes, large and round like ostrich eggs, black as a waterless well, were quickly blinded by the intense rays of a sun three times larger than Their own. The natives who saw one of Them as They truly appeared were either seeing one who’d just arrived or as a thought hologram.
They’d had some preliminary forays the safest way possible (for Them) over the years using that technology. Why bother with a true hologram which required a transmitter to be physically present, when the same information could be simply beamed directly into the brains of the intended audience? Getting the signal right had taken quite some time. Too many otherwise sane people had been reduced to drooling idiots after they saw one of Them this way. They all had to be institutionalized, blathering on about aliens contacting them. These were the ones who had money, or relatives with money, of course. The rest shuffled off the chains of modern life and took to living in shacks they made out of cardboard and adopting rats as pets. Fortunately, they didn’t know the difference. To them, the rats looked like the pets they had abandoned when they went walkabout.
Some of the early visitors to Earth chose to “walk” into those unfortunates after the fact. They were like abandoned cars – all shell and no spark. The visitors were taking advantage of their loss. Best not to leave a good vessel to waste, they thought. Sure, the person was alive, after a fashion, but it was no life worth living. There was no return trip from the place their mind had gone. Back where the visitors came from it was considered a mercy to not let a friend or family member continue on with such an empty existence. There, early termination was normal. Perhaps the soul / body match was off. Perhaps it was the wrong timeline to incarnate in. Better to nip it in the bud before it grew into an ugly weed with thorns and rotting fruit. There just wasn’t space, money, or time for that kind of indulgence in their homeworld.
As a result, there was no homelessness, no poverty, no addictions of any kind where They came from. There was no pandering, no excuses, and certainly no jails. One example of self-or-other harm was enough. There was never a second. If the citizen didn’t realize their misalignment, others close to them did and took care of matters for them. There were EVAC tubes in every town hall for just such occasions. The soul was released, the body pulverized and scattered, returning the elements to the soil from whence they came. Prayers were said, rituals performed. Within a month and a half the soul had found another body to incarnate in to try again. During that time between incarnations the souls attended a sort of rehabilitation school. This school had no breaks because they didn’t have to sleep, eat, or exercise to keep their incarnate forms from falling apart.
Everyone on the planet had been through this process countless times. It was what you did. Rather than suffer through an ill-fitting soul / body match for the duration of the life expectancy of the body, just try again.
After the first few visitors traveled bodily to Earth and had such difficult transitions, They learned. The ones who survived took the closest body They could, be it eagle, skunk, or human. It didn’t matter as long as it was mobile. A few had “walked” into cacti or trees and found they were stuck. Not only could They not locate others (either of Their kind or indigenous), but They also couldn’t leave Their new vessels like They were used to. There were no EVAC units here, and once They tapped into the collective unconsciousness of Their hosts, They learned it wouldn’t ever be likely to be an option here. Locals preferred to tough it out or make the best of a bad situation. They held on for the sake of holding on, not realizing that path was full of unnecessary suffering.
The visitors soon learned the religious stories of the objects of Their study. Several had discussed reincarnation. One even had as a central figure a man who had reincarnated in an unbelievably fast three days – but he had said that he was the heir of the sovereign deity of that region. They guessed that perhaps he was more advanced due to his lineage and didn’t need as much rehabilitation as Their souls did. It had long been suspected that certain bloodlines ran more true, but on Their planet, admission to these families was by merit, not by luck like all the rest.
They developed star travel because Their planet had started to get full. There weren’t enough new bodies being created to fill the need for souls to inhabit. As a collective, the citizens had finally realized the need to maintain green space. For a long time They had treated undeveloped land as “scrub”, not understanding that the plants cooled the planet and made it possible for them to breathe. Once they understood, they intentionally chose to limit how many citizens could reside in an area and also required everyone to plant a garden to produce their own food.
Once they all realized the dire dilemma that was facing them, all citizens chose to limit themselves to only one offspring per couple. Singles who were already celibate remained so, and partners negotiated who was going to be sterilized if they’d already reached their quota. It was simple, really, and it made sense. Rather, it made sense until there was no place for the spirits to return to.
Some started beaming directly to earth to incarnate. Very few souls wanted to stay in the null-space that was the existence after being dis-incarnated. They learned from their research that the Catholic Church referred to that space as purgatory. It wasn’t quite enough of a word to describe what it was like for Them, but it was close. It wasn’t “nirvana” as the Buddhists called the next level on, the one where you had learned all you wanted to learn and became one with the All That Is. Nor was it as milquetoast as “limbo”. It was a bit like reform school, or rehab, or where you took your car to get the dents hammered out after an accident. It wasn’t a place where you wanted to stay for long.
There were difficulties with the first downloads, as would be expected. The natives had to invent new words to express what was going on. The Germans came up with “doppelgänger”, and before that the Vikings used “berserker” when adults were taken over. In England the word “changeling” was used to indicate a child who had been swapped. Perhaps “possessed” was the right word in all these cases, as the soul of the original occupant of the body remained but was suppressed. It was as if They were carjackers, who instead of stealing the car while it was parked outside of Walmart, took it over at a stoplight and threw the driver in the trunk. It wasn’t ideal, and many of Them hesitated to do it, but They overcame Their reticence once They saw how backwards and unevolved the earthlings were. It was exactly the same as how the Europeans could justify the murder and eviction of the Native Americans. They were seen as less than animals, or not even as animate beings. It is easy to oppress others when you don’t think of them as people, or even alive. They thought they were doing the inhabitants of favor.
But then there were individuals on Earth who were able to coexist with the visitors, those whose spirits were strong enough due to their own unique soul-work they had (fortuitously) done before the unexpected occupation of the “walk-ins”, or those who were naturally blessed with flexible minds. Rigidity of thought was a certain predictor of the occupation not going well for the original soul. Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy while suddenly living in a vastly more-dimensional world was tenuous at best for those who had never contemplated anything more involved than who to vote for on American Idol.
In times past these people who adapted to an extra presence and sensory experience would have been called seers or prophets, but in a world suspicious of anything even seeming to refer to religion, they chose to remain quiet about it. Some would read the works of mystics from the past to develop words for their own understanding of what was happening to them. Some read science fiction for the same purpose, while some wrote it. It was an odd awareness, this other knowing, this extra way of feeling and seeing before and between and beyond. It was precognition, to be sure, but it was so much more. It was like hearing sound after a lifetime of deafness. It was like seeing a rainbow after being born colorblind. It was everything all at once and with no warning.
Most native souls retreated during the onslaught of sensation that was the norm for the visitors, the aliens, the occupiers, making it easy for them to control the body-vessel. Enough random access memory remained after the upgrade for the visitor to integrate almost seamlessly. Passwords were remembered, along with names of pets and friends and where their house was located. The more adept “walkers” made it seem like nothing had changed it all. The moment of the possession had seemed as unremarkable as the lights flickering when a storm was in the area. Out for a second while the transfer overlay happened, and then back to business as usual.
It was discovered that those unwilling body donors who were able to not only endure but thrive during the overlay experience either had a lot of gold in them or on them. In some cases they had gold rings on their fingers or crowns on their teeth. Some naturally had gold in their bodies, the same as most people had copper or zinc. But gold, unlike those metals, wasn’t something you’d find in a multivitamin. Some had unknowingly obtained it by walking barefoot in the forest, while others had consumed an airplane bottle of Goldschlager schnapps on a dare in college. However the reason, the gold worked as a conductor and a buffer, retaining the best of both personalities and enabling both to work peaceably together.

Jesus’ lament for Jerusalem

Jesus said “Jerusalem Jerusalem! The city who kills the prophets and stones everyone that God sends to her. I have often wanted to gather your children together like how a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for protection, yet you wouldn’t let me. And now your house is left empty. Mark my words – you will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

MT 23:37-39, LK 13:34-35

Religious hypocrites discredited.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples “The Jewish leaders and the Pharisees have the authority of Moses. Therefore, follow their rules and do what they say to do. But make sure not to follow their example because they don’t practice what they preach.”

MT 23:1-3

“It is terrible to be them, because they load people with heavy burdens that are hard to carry when they give them all these rules, yet they themselves can’t be bothered to lift those same burdens with even a finger.”

MT 23:4, LK 11:46

“They evict widows from their homes and say long prayers just to show off. God will punish them more than others because of this.”

MT 23:14, LK 20:47, MK 12:40

“They do everything to show off how pious they are so they will be noticed by others. They wear long robes and make their tefillin and tzitzit bigger than necessary. They love it when they have the front seat in the synagogue and the seat of honor at a banquet. They are pleased when they are recognized and greeted in the marketplace and people call them Rabbi.”

MT 23:5-7, LK 11:43, LK 20:45-46, MK 12:38-39

“But as for you, don’t be called Rabbi or Teacher, because you have one Teacher, and that is God, and you are all equal like brothers. Don’t call anyone on earth your father because you have one Father, and that is God. And do not be called Master, because you have only one Master, and that is the Messiah. To be the greatest, be a servant. Whoever raises himself up will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.”

MT 23:8-12

“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You make it impossible for people to enter the kingdom of heaven, because you have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves don’t go in, and you don’t allow those who are entering to go in either.”

MT 23:13, LK 11:52

“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel far and wide to convert one person, and then when he is converted, you make him twice as damned as you are.”

MT 23:15

“Beware, you blind guides, who say it means nothing if you take an oath ‘by the Temple’, but then say if you swear by the gold of the Temple, it is binding. You are blind fools! What is greater, the gold, or the Temple that makes the gold holy? You also say that it means nothing if you take an oath ‘by the altar,’ but then say that if you take an oath by the gifts on the altar it is binding! You fools and blind people! What is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? Therefore, the person who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and everything on it, and when you take an oath by the Temple you are taking an oath by it and by God who dwells in it, and the person who makes an oath by heaven makes it by the throne of God and by the One who sits on it.”

MT 23:16-22

“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You make sure to ritually clean the outside of the cup and dish, but you are full of greed, evil, and self-indulgence inside! You are blind fools! Didn’t the One who made the outside make the inside as well? First clean the inside of the cup and dish so the outside will also become clean. Donate to charity from your heart first and then everything will be clean for you.”

MT 23:25-26, LK 11:39-41

“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You make sure to tithe a tenth of your mint, dill, cumin, rue, and every other kind of herb, and yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law such as justice, mercy, and love for God. You should have taken care of these without neglecting the rest. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet you swallow a camel!”

MT 23:23-24, LK :42

“Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves. People walk over you not even knowing that they have become defiled.”

LK 11:44

“Woe to you! You are like whitewashed mausoleums, which appear beautiful on the outside but are full of impurity on the inside. You appear on the outside like righteous men, yet on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and sin.”

MT 23:27-28

“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. You say ‘If we had lived in the time of our fathers, we wouldn’t have shed the prophet’s blood along with them.’ You therefore testify against yourselves that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets! Fill up on the measure of your fathers’ sins. You are witnesses that you approve of what your fathers did because they killed the prophets and now you build monuments to them.”

MT 23:29-32, LK 11:47-48

“You are a nest of snakes! How can you escape from the fires of hell? This is why the wisdom of God said ‘I will send them prophets, sages, scribes, and apostles. Some of them will be killed, persecuted and crucified, and some of them you will beat in your synagogues and chase from town to town. This will mean that this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that was shed since the beginning of the world – from the blood of righteous Abel all the way to Zechariah, son of Berechiah, who you murdered in the Temple between the altar and the sanctuary. Mark my words, this generation will be held responsible!”

MT 23:33-36, LK 11:49-51

The scribes, Pharisees, and experts in the Law all felt insulted and furious. From that moment on they began to challenge Jesus about matters of Jewish Law, trying to trap him into saying something wrong so they could bring charges against him.

LK 11:53-54