Monday, June 20, 2011

...Out of Step


Psalm 17:9-13
9 From the wicked that oppress me, My deadly enemies, that compass me about. 10 They are inclosed in their own fat: With their mouth they speak proudly. 11 They have now compassed us in our steps; They set their eyes to cast us down to the earth. 12 He is like a lion that is greedy of his prey, And as it were a young lion lurking in secret places. 13 Arise, O Jehovah, Confront him, cast him down: Deliver my soul from the wicked by thy sword; [1]

Lamentations 4:18
18 They hunted our steps, that we could not go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. [2]

                We’ve all seen the pictures, the film clips of soldiers marching in formation, every step precise and ordered, marching before the reviewing stand.  A picture of perfection as every hand and every arm swing in unison and every step on the rhythm of the cadence called.  Not my platoon though.  My drill Sargent had been an instructor for twenty-five years, and in his words, we were absolutely the worst marchers he had ever tried to train.  Man, we looked like a bunch of drunken sailors marching down the street, stepping on each others heels, heads bobbin’ and weaving every direction but the way we were supposed to go.  Now, granted, we weren’t much to look at, but he did say one thing about us:  we couldn’t march, but he would lead us into combat anytime, anywhere.  We had a camaraderie that couldn’t be broken.  When one man fell, the whole platoon would go back and pick him up; when one man was on the verge of giving up, all encouraged him.  We were all determined that nobody would be left behind, that we would all bob and weave together before that reviewing stand, the whole nine yards, or none of us would.  Maybe our feet couldn’t stay in step, but our hearts could. 

                Now, what can be learned from such an experience?  When marching, if you get out of step with the group, there was what we called a “stutter-step” one would do to get your feet back in synch with the squad.  That way, you aren’t stepping on each other and causing all sorts of ill feelings.  It’s the same way with the world.  Walk in step with it, and everything is fine, get out of step and that’s when the trouble begins.  As believers, friends, we are out of step with the world and they want us to do a stutter-step every time we turn around, for to be out of step with the world is to be different, to be out of harmony.

                Harmony is another funny thing.  When you harmonize with something, you are in tune with it.  When singing, it is always good to be in harmony.  (Except me, I couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle on it.)  Being out of harmony is what brought down the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in Tacoma Washington.  As an ironworker, during my apprenticeship, we all had to study the Narrows Bridge. One theory my instructors had as to why the bridge went down was when it was designed, the engineer designed the deck steel, the heavy girders that carried the roadway, as box girders, basically two huge “I” beams riveted together.  Now by nature, these girders are solid, no holes or gaps in them.  The winds that blow through the Narrows create a harmony, a frequency, as they rush through the passageway.  When these winds hit the steel of the original bridge, it created oscillations in the steel frame, that in turn set up a frequency that was out of synch with the winds.  The result was the iron shook and jumped and shucked and jived all over the place until eventually in a strong enough wind, the oscillations got so bad they caused the bridge to collapse.  But time has a way to challenge theories; one article explains it this way:

“…Construction on the bridge began in September 1938. From the time the deck was built, it began to move vertically in windy conditions, which led to construction workers giving the bridge the nickname Galloping Gertie. The motion was observed even when the bridge opened to the public. Several measures aimed at stopping the motion were ineffective, and the bridge's main span finally collapsed under 40-mile-per-hour (64 km/h) wind conditions the morning of November 7, 1940… The bridge's collapse had a lasting effect on science and engineering. In many physics text books, the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance with the wind providing an external periodic frequency that matched the bridge's natural structural frequency, though the actual cause of failure was aeroelastic flutter.[1] Its failure also boosted research in the field of bridge
aerodynamics-aeroelastics, the study of which has influenced the designs of all the world's great long-span bridges built since 1940…” [3]

                When we look back in time, at the original apostles, what do we see?  We see twelve men that were out of step with the world, with men who sang in a different harmony.  They were accused of being “…people who have been turning the world upside down… [4] ”.  Paul was accused in Acts 24:5-6:

“…5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: 
whom we took, and would have judged according to our law…” [5]

                Ringleaders, seditionists, blasphemers: these and many other names were the twelve called for they were out of step with the world, with its political and religious systems.  Yeshua Himself was labeled insane, devil possessed, and worse.  He was definitely out of step with the world.  When we as believers walk the way of the Cross, we are surrounded by our enemies, by those who want nothing more than to see us stop what we are doing and take that “stutter-step” to get back in line with them just so that they can feel comfortable again.  Just as in the days of the Maccabees, when the goal was assimilation, so it is today. And that truly is the problem. Getting back in line with them is not what Messiah came for.  Messiah came and died for you and I, not so that we could become man-pleasers, but to become God-pleasers: 2 Corinthians 5:15  says: 

“...and he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves,
but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again…” [6]

He also came so that He, as said in Galatians 1:4: 

“…who gave himself for our sins, so that he should deliver us out of the present evil world,
according to the will of our God and Father…” [7]

and in Titus 2:14 it is said  that He:

“…Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works…” [8]

So here we are a “peculiar “ people that are out of step with the world, and under fire for being so.  Now, we all on occasion stumble, fall if you want to call it thus, but I believe it’s simply at these times we’ve done the “stutter-step”.  Why?  Who knows but God.  I’ve found that when I have fallen back into step with the world it is because God needed to correct me and He, in His infinite Wisdom, choose to use the world and its ways to teach me that I can’t do it apart from Him.  It is really that simple.

                So, what do we do from here?  We strive, we study to become that peculiar people, the one’s who refuse to walk in the ways of the world.  Why do I say study?  Well, to be out of step with the world is to be in step with God.  How we do that is to follow the admonishment of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“…All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works….[9]

We study the word of God for these reasons and more.  To get ourselves out of step with this world we must turn to the Scriptures, the marvelous Scriptures that have turned the world upside down. 

                In our studies, we find that we are to let the Bible to comment upon itself and explain itself.  Why, you might ask?  Aren’t commentaries and other tools helpful in trying to understand the Word of God?  The answer to this question is yes and no.  Yes, they are helpful if used in their proper context, as a medium to gauge if you are rightly dividing the word of God.  No, because they are, after all, just another man’s interpretation of the word of God.  Scripture interprets Scripture.  In this fashion then, with the help of prayer and the Ruach Ha’Kodesh, can our understanding of the Holy Word be increased.  A lot of the time, not always, but enough of the time, if we rely strictly on the interpretations of others, we find that Scripture is taken out of context or that half a scripture is used to justify or rationalize the author’s particular point of view.  We must not cite Bible texts in an arbitrary fashion with no regard to context, the culture that produced the text, and the statements elsewhere in the Bible which bear on the theme or doctrine being considered.  Remember, it was Messiah Yeshua who said that we are to “…search the scriptures…”:

(John 5:39)
“…Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me…” [10]

Our Savior Himself studied and was discussed in scripture this way:

Luke 24:27,44
“…(27) And having begun from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…”

“…(44) And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all that is written concerning me in the law of Moses and prophets and psalms must be fulfilled…”[11]

We see this also in:
John 1:45
“…Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph …”  [12]

Paul also used this method to expound scripture:
Acts 17:2-3
“…2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead;
and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ…”  [13]

Romans 3:9-18
9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.

12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [14]

Notice in the above example how Paul uses a method I just previously said we shouldn’t use, and that is using portions of scripture to expound upon a viewpoint.  The difference is in the context.  Most commentaries are written to a particular slant, with the author’s text explaining how he arrived at a particular interpretation.  Paul uses scripture (in this instant) to describe the universal guilt all men have.  You see it is Scripture, not Paul, being the judge. Compare Paul’s use of the Scriptures with those he cites and you’ll see that the context is the same.  (See Ps. 5:9; 10:7; 14:1-3; 140:3; Is. 59:7-8)

Using Scripture this way is not only valid, it is Scriptural as it was used by Messiah in His teachings:

Luke 4:18
“…The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach glad tidings to the poor;
he has sent me to preach to captives deliverance, and to the blind sight, to send forth the crushed delivered…”[15]

Matthew 9:13
“…But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,
for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners..” [16]

The main point is that we let Scripture interpret itself and comment about itself first.  Then we can use a trusted commentary to see if we were hearing the Holy Spirit correctly in our interpretation. But always, no matter what the “trusted commentary” says – if the opinion of the writer is in conflict with the plain meaning of Scripture, reject man’s opinions and seek understanding by and from God.

So now we are studying the Word of God, Sola Scriptura [17], and where are we going now?  The deeper we go into the word of God the more out of step with the world we will become. This is especially true if you really live by Sola Scriptura; we then become what Jethro said in Exodus 18:3, “… I have been an alien in a strange land…” [18] Trust me in this – if you live and hold on to the truth as written in God’s word, you will even find yourself out of step with the mainstream body of believers. You will find yourself call a heretic, a blasphemer, ringleader and seditionist. You will be said to be insane, devil possessed or worse. Does this sound familiar? Think of the company you’ll be keeping here on this path though – men like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Jeremiah, Micah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Elisha, Elijah, Daniel, Yeshua,  “…Shim`on, called Kefa, and Andrew his brother, Ya`akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan his brother,Philip and Bar-Talmai, T'oma and Mattityahu the tax-collector, Ya`akov Bar-Halfai and Taddai, Shim`on the Zealot, and Y'hudah from K'riot, who betrayed him…”[19] and countless others. The Church has been in lock-step with the Anti-Nicene “fathers”, with the factions of Constantine and the Roman Popes for so long, it doesn’t even want to know Sola Scriptura. In fact, there is a circular argument here. One blog writer puts it thusly, as another writer argued that “personal fallibility” made it okay to follow man’s traditions:

“…Whether a person relies on the supposedly infallible Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, on the supposedly infallible Tradition of the Orthodox Church, or on the supposedly infallible canon of the Protestant Church, the person himself is subject to error. When he chooses to submit to a supposedly infallible authority, he may choose wrongly. His own personal fallibility may cause him to select Rome when he should have chosen Constantinople. Or he may choose Constantinople when he really should have chosen Geneva. Any way you slice it, it is impossible to totally remove fallibility from the picture…” [20]   

Of course, his argument is that you have to accept that it is the Orthodox Church that is the “only true Church”. No, I think that the ekklesia, the Qahal/Kahal (Hebrewקהל‎), established by Yeshua and His disciples is the only true church out there – and it was totally dependent on the word of God and interpretations of Yeshua about how to understand the message of His Father.

·         Was Yeshua out of step with the world or was He not?
If He was then:
·         Was Yeshua out of step with God, or was He not?
If He was not then:
·         Was the “religion “ of Yeshua the Judaism of His day, correctly defined and interpreted by Him, or was it not?
If it was then:
·         Was it assimilation, or “correctly dividing” the word of truth that Yeshua did?
If He correctly divided the word of God and taught this to His disciples then:
·         Did the Apostles have it right or did they not?
If they had it right then:
·         Were they led by the Spirit of God or were they not?
The obvious conclusion is this:
·         If they were led by the Spirit, then they were led by truth.

These are hard questions. How you answer depends upon what truth you will believe. Is it the truth based upon the Word of God, given by the God of the Word, or is it the words of men, penned by men, in the traditions of men?  Do we walk the walk of Yeshua, or is it the walk of the world?

The walk of the world will no longer interest us as we go further into the truths found in God’s Word, for in it we begin to see what the true profit of being out of step is.

·         We profit in the Word when it convicts us of sin. (
John 16:8:   “…And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…”)  [21]
·         We profit in the Word when it makes us sorrow for sin.
(Jeremiah 31:19: “…I turn in repentance; I have come to myself, I strike my breast; I blush with shame, I bear the disgrace of my youth...”) [22] 
·         We profit when the Word leads to a confession of sin.
(Proverbs 28:13:  “…He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy…” ) [23]
·         We profit in the word when the Word produces in us a deeper hatred of sin.
(Psalm 97:10: “…Love the Lord and hate evil! God protects his loyal people and rescues them from violence…”) [24]
·         We profit when the Word causes a forsaking of sin.
(2 Timothy 2:19: “…But the solid foundation that God has laid cannot be shaken; and on it are written these words: “The Lord knows those who are his” and “All who say that they belong to the Lord must turn away from wrongdoing.”) [25]
·         We profit when the Word fortifies us against sin.
(Psalm 119:11: “…Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee…”) [26]
·         Finally, we profit from the Word when it causes us to practice the opposite of sin. 
(John 14:15: “…If ye love me, keep my commandments…”) [27]

We find riches when we are out of step with the world.  Even if we have stumbled, there is still something that profits us.  If we find ourselves back in step with the things of the world, all we have to do is take a page out of its book and use that “stutter-step” to get ourselves back in synch with God’s word.  After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  Go ahead; step on a few heels.  Sing out of tune.  Maybe they’ll find out it’s a whole lot better to get in step with you, to sing in harmony with God, than continue on the way their going.

May God richly bless you and keep you, my beloved.

[1] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[2] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[4] The New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1989.
[5] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[6] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[7] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[8] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[9] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[10] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[11] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[12] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[13] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[14] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[15] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[16] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[17] Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by Scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, it demands that only those doctrines be admitted or confessed that are found directly within Scripture or are drawn indirectly from it by valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoningSola Scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the written word of God. ( )
[18] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[19] Matthew 10:2-4: Stern, David H. The Complete Jewish Bible. Electronic Edition -e-Sword v. 10.2.1. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1998.

[21] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[22] The New American Bible, (Nashville, Tennesee: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) 1997.
[23] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[24] The Contemporary English [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995 by the American Bible Society.
[25] Good News Bible: Today’s English Version, American Bible Society, (1992: New York, NY) The Living Bible.
[26] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[27] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

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