When Disasters Strike or the Enemy Attacks, Call on the Biblical 9-1-1

Psalm 91:1 (and the rest of Psalm 91) Is the Biblical 9-1-1 to Call in Our Time of Trouble!

Recently, the city of Lahaina in Maui, Hawaii was mostly destroyed by fire. A few years ago, Sandi and I spent a week in Lahaina enjoying this paradise on earth. Our hearts are deeply saddened and words cannot explain by this tragic disaster as well as the grief and sorrow of the Hawaiians who are trying to cope with the aftermath of it.

In an instant, anyone of us could find ourselves in such an unexpected situation as those in Lahaina—without home, material possessions, the necessities of life readily available to us, or even deprived of physical itself. There for the grace of YHVH go each of us continually! Each day of life is a blessing and a gift from the Almighty not to be taken for granted.

When you find yourself in an impossible situation, this is the time to look upwards. In fact, we should be doing this each day of our lives, so that when troubles hit us, we are already prepared mentally, emotionally and spiritually to call our direct line to heaven for help!

With these things in mind, let’s review Psalm 91 starting in 91:1, and what I call “the 9-1-1 of the Bible.”

Psalm 91:1, Secret [Heb. cethar]. This word refers to “a covering, shelter, hiding place or secrecy,” and is from the root word meaning “to hide or conceal.” When troubles comes our way like a tidal wave, the natural human reaction is to stand and fight, to freeze in fear, or flee in panic. In psychology this is known as the fight, freeze or flight response. The Bible teaches us there is both a time to fight and a time to flee (Eccl 3:1; Matt 24:16; 12:14 cp. Eph 6:14; Luke 19:13), but at all times we need to be hiding in the secret place of our relationship with our Almighty Father in heaven, to which the latter part of this verse alludes. Out of that place, and from under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty and in his throne room, we will not be cowering in fear from our enemies, but we will find the courage, will and stamina to stand firm in faith, and, if necessary, to come out and to fight the enemy not in our own strength, but in that of Elohim as led and guided by his Spirit. 

The Most High [Heb. El-yon]. This is one of the descriptive titles of Elohim and signifying his exaltedness, overwhelming majesty and supremacy or omnipotence. As such, Scripture reveals that Elyon is the place of protection for Israel (Pss 9:2; 91:1, 9).

Abide [Heb. luwn].This wordmeans “to lodge, stop over, pass the night or abide.” A lodge is a place where one temporarily spends the night. When dark times come our way, we need to stop over, spend the night, run to and abide in the throne room of the Almighty! This speaks of prayer, worship, praise and studying the Word of Elohim.

Psalm 91:1, 4, Under the shadow of the Almighty…under his wings.(See notes at Ps 61:4.) According to the ancient Jewish sages, Moses composed this psalm for the tribe of Levi who dwelt under the shadow of the wings of cherubim that stood over the ark of the covenant in the Tabernacle of Moses—a physical representation of YHVH’s throne room in heaven. The sages go on to explain that the psalmist describes the devout man of faith who lives with Elohim in his heart, and who never leaves Elohim’s shadow. Such a man is a true biblical hero of faith to whom Elohim pledges (v. 16) he will satisfy with long life and show him his salvation (The ArtScroll Tanach Series Tehillim/Psalms Commentary on Ps 91). This psalm ends with the promise of the blessing of long life to those love and serve YHVH, and beyond that, salvation, which is the Hebrew word Yeshua—the very name of the coming Messiah who would offer his people deliverance from the ultimate enemy, namely sin and its death penalty. The result of this deliverance is the glorious divine gift of eternal life through faith in Yeshua the Messiah—the supreme gift and blessing of all! This psalm is a prophecy pointing to the Messiah.

In Jewish understanding, the Tabernacle of Moses wasn’t complete until the glory of YHVH’s presence took residence in the tabernacle’s inner chamber of the holy of holies. This was evidence that YHVH was making this habitation his own in a most intimate way. How was it possible, the sages ask, for the Creator of the universe to inhabit a mere tent? They explain that he focused his presence into this tiny spot. This isn’t unlike a magnifying glass that reflects the suns rays into a small but focused point on a piece of wood or paper. Were the earth closer to the sun, it would be burned up. Yet the sun’s light can be brought to the earth in a concentrated form that will not cause harm. This is exactly what Elohim did when he incarnated Yeshua into the womb of Mary. The sages had the understanding that the holy of holies is a picture of man’s heart that the Creator wants to indwell, which is the most sacred sanctuary of all.

The conception and birth of Yeshua was an ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy. The fire of the Set-Apart Spirit that came down upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two was also a fulfillment of this desire of YHVH of which the fiery glory cloud that dwelt in and over the Tabernacle of Moses was a prophetic portent. Yeshua promised his disciples that through this same divine fire he would dwell in their hearts after his death, resurrection and ascension. The result of this divine encounter of Elohim with those in the upper room resulted in many repenting of their sins and coming to faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Acts 2:38–41), which is the greater message of Psalm 91.

Psalm 91:2, He is my refuge [Heb. machseh]…fortress. This refuge is a literal shelter to which one flees in times of trouble to find hope. It is like a fortress. 

In him I will trust [Heb. batach].This word connotes the feeling of safety, security and confidence to the point where one can be careless or exist without cares.

Psalm 91:3, Deliver [Heb. natsal].This word means “to snatch away, rescue, save, strip, plunder, to tear oneself away, deliver oneself, to be torn out or away, be delivered, to strip off or spoil.” The Hebrew word has a much more expansive meaning than the simple English word deliver. The idea here is not just delivering one from one’s enemies, but a stripping away from or spoiling one’s enemies. One can almost imagine an enemy who is bewildered by the unexpected action of the superior force of a deliverer who suddenly swoops in like a night raider and snatches away his illegally gained loot from out of his hand. This is what our Almighty Elohim promises to do for his children who abide under the shadow of his wings.

Snare of the fowler.This is literally referring to a bird trap and the trapper. In ancient times, birds were trapped and used for food. This could be a poetic picture of Satan and his demons who fly through the air searching for human prey. A biblical example of birds being metaphors for destructive and deceiving evil spirits can be found in Genesis 15:11 and Matthew 13:4 and 19. This verse, then, is a promise to the saint of protection from evil, demonic spirits. 

Continue reading

Victim or Victor? On Facing the Onslaught of Antichrist (pt. 1)

When the forces of Antichrist come knocking on your door literally or figuratively, what should be our response? Flee, fight, stand your ground, acquiesce or something else? What did the Book of Acts saints do? What was their response to persecution and deprivation of lifestyle expectations and personal and inalienable rights? This is a heavy subject with no easy answers. What did Yeshua instruct us to do? What is the way of the cross? Many of us have never been here before, and we do ourselves a great disservice and place ourselves at a spiritual disadvantage by not discussing these often over-looked subjects.


Don’t Overlook the Book of Job

Overview of the Book of Job

Throughout the entire Book of Job, to Job’s credit, he was seeking higher divinely revealed Truth beyond the conventional wisdom of the religious folks of his day. In this book, several common religious misconceptions are addressed about the meaning of life, what is behind human suffering, the nature of Elohim and divine justice. 

The first religious misconception that the Book of Job addresses is the prevailing viewpoint that all human suffering is a direct result of sin, and that blessing is a result of obedience to the laws of Elohim. (Actually, Yeshua addressed this is the same misconception among the Jews in his famous Parable of Lazarus and the Richman.) In the minds of those who hold this viewpoint, there is no middle ground between these two poles. Job’s wife took it a step further. She urged Job to take the easy way out by admitting that he was a sinner and then to curse Elohim and give up and die (Job 2:9). By contrast, Job was earnestly seeking the middle ground of truth, which is also the higher ground. He knew there was a higher truth that his friends and wife were missing and despite the discouraging and misguided lectures from is so-called friends, he doggedly sought that revelation in the midst of his suffering. 

Job’s diligent persistence finally paid off when YHVH not only sent him a wise human counselor, but also wonderfully and mercifully revealed himself to the suffering Job at the end of his long and arduous ordeal. Job was the beneficiary of the ] promise that the future would make that those who persistently ask, seek and knock will acquire the desires of their hearts (Matt 7:7). Likewise, Paul teaches us that we will reap in due time if we don’t grow weary and faint in the mean time (Gal 6:9). 

This, therefore, is the story of Job’s life, and should be our story too. Keep seeking the higher truth. Even as the earth doesn’t yield its gold nuggets without much digging and toil; likewise, heaven doesn’t give up its rich spiritual treasures and secret ways except to those who will value them enough to earnestly and with great effort dig for them.

On the other hand, to Job’s discredit, he needed to come to the higher ground of truth regarding his own level of righteousness, of which he had a high opinion . That truth is that all of man’s righteousness before Elohim is but mere filthy rags (Isa 64:6 cp. Isa 1:18–20—something that Job eventually learned. Throughout the book, Job asserts his own righteousness, and even goes so far as desiring to make this case before the Almighty.

At the end of the book, Elohim sets both Job and his three religious friends straight with regard to their misconceptions. Though Elohim considered Job to be the most righteous man on earth, Job needed to learn some humility. For their part, Job’s friends needed to learn that righteous people do suffer, and not because of sin, but because YHVH is refining their character and understanding to bring them to a higher level spiritually.

Wisdom About Life From the Book of Job

The Book of Job is the timeless story of a man who is seeking the answer to the age old question: what is the meaning of life? Unlike modern secular humanists be they atheists or agnostics, Job never questions the existence of the God of the Bible (or YHVH Elohim). Throughout the book, he perplexes over many basic conundrums of life that have been haunting humans from time immemorial. The Book of Job ends with a face-to-face encounter with Elohim where, though Job’s questions are not specifically answered, he reaches a place of stasis where he finds a certain peace and security with his station in life despite his still many unanswered questions. In this new place of faith, he discovers Elohim’s river of life and heaven’s blessings uninterruptedly flowing down upon him despite periods human suffering.

It is crucial to make the distinction between Job the theist and those modernists who deny or question the existence of Elohim. This is because this marks a critical delineation between the wise man and the fool. The Bible declares that only fools doubt the existence of Elohim (Pss 14:1; 53:1). Therefore, by biblical definition, atheists are fools, and the converse of this is that believers in Elohim are not fools; they may even be possessors of wisdom, which is the opposite of foolishness. 

What hope does a fool have of finding the true meaning of life? He is like a blindfolded man who refuses to remove that which prevents him from seeing preferring instead to grope around in this own self-imposed darkness. On the other hand, Job is no fool, but is a wise and God-fearing man in pursuit of more wisdom and understanding about his Creator and the meaning of his life and the purpose of his existence in the presence of a superior, divine Being who is up there, but seems impersonal. 

At the end, Job has a face-to-face encounter with his Creator, and this mind and heart are opened to the reality and presence of Elohim. Job declares, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (Job 452:5). In the end, is this not the quest of every human who believes in the existence of God—to know him?

In the mean time, Job asks all of the perennial questions concerning the meaning of life, expresses the typical emotions including doubts and fears that all humans have, and confronts then ponders the many conundrums that life presents.

In the Book of Job, three categories of people present their viewpoints. All are religious and believe in a God. The book presents no opinions from atheists or agnostics. The biblical view is that the views of agnostics and atheists are mere foolishness and empty vanity (or literally, wind or hot air) and, therefore, not worth recording. 

The first point of view are from Job’s three friends, which, to fair to them, are God fearing men, but whose knowledge about the ways of Elohim is incomplete and is a mixture of men’s opinions, philosophies and conjectures and is not based on a full understanding of him. These three men are feeding from the tree of the knowledge good and evil, and thus they have both correct and incorrect things to say. 

The next perspective comes from Job, a godly man, who basically has a right understanding of Elohim, but has a plethora of unanswerable questions about the ways of his Creator that, quite frankly, are beyond man’s comprehension. Job is a man who is seeking to know Elohim better and wants to go deeper in his faith walk, but is stumbling over many deep and nagging questions of life. He is also somewhat blinded by his own goodness or self-righteousness,which prevents him from going deeper in his spiritual walk with Elohim.

The final human perspective comes from Elihu, who is a righteous man and whose views are unimpeachable in that Elohim fails to impute any wrong doing to him. Elihu is feeding from the tree of life and his views in accordance therewith.

Finally, Elohim, the Book of Job concludes by revealing the ultimate source of Truth. This occurs when YHVH Elohim answers Job in the whirlwind of human emotional, mental and spiritual struggles and turmoil over the meaning of life. YHVH gives job a larger perspective on life and the creation, which helps Job to focus on a much larger picture that is way beyond Job and his personal circumstances. This view helps to lift Job out of his self-imposed woe-is-me, pity party attitude and up to something or Someone much larger than himself. When this occurs, Job is able to step into the river of life,which flows from heaven’s throne and move into a new and higher place of spiritual understanding resulting in a revival of his faith leading to praise and worship. This is when heaven’s blessings begin to flow in Job’s direction and restoration occurs.

The circumstances and lessons of Job’s life mirror what many people of faith go through, and thus we can derive much light in our own time of need from this often over-looked book of the Bible.

Topics Discussed in the Book of Job

Job’s Questions About the Meaning and Purpose of Life and the Ways of Elohim

  • Job 3:6—Discouragement and despair
  • Job 3:13—The rich and poor all end up alike—dead.
  • Job 3:20—Suffering and trials can bring spiritual enlightenment.
  • Job 6:4—More discouragement
  • Job 6:11—Hopelessness.
  • Job 6:15—The discouragement of false friends.
  • Job 7:1—More discouragement concerning the futility of life.
  • Job 7:11—Anger and complaining over his predicament.
  • Job 9:1—Job affirms the righteousness and transcendence of Elohim.
  • Job 9:4—The wisdom and strength of Elohim.
  • Job 9:8—The greatness of Elohim
  • Job 9:12—Man cannot question Elohim.
  • Job 9:14—Who can stand before Elohim the judge?
  • Job 9:16—Who can endure the judgments of Elohim?
  • Job 9:23–25—From Job’s (the human) perspective, this is how Elohim appears to be.
  • Job 9:33—Man needs a mediator between him and Elohim.
  • Job 10:1—Complaint and anger toward Elohim.
  • Job 10:4—The mortal and finite mind of man contending with the infinite and eternal mind of Elohim.
  • Job 10:13—Woe is me!
  • Job 10:15—I am damned if I do and damned if I do not.
  • Job 10:17—Elohim, why are you toying with me?
  • Job 10:18–22—Job has his own pity party.
  • Job 12:2—Job expresses frustration over foolish and mocking friends.
  • Job 12:2—In light of the supreme wisdom and sovereignty of Elohim, man is nothing before him.
  • Job 13:1—Job realizes that his friends are useless.
  • Job 13:21—Job contends with Elohim again.
  • Job 14:4—How can sinful man stand before Elohim?
  • Job 14:7–8—The hopelessness of mortal life gives way to hope of a better life after the resurrection.
  • Job 14:10—Man does not have an immortal soul.
  • Job 14:13–14—When man dies, he lays “asleep” in the grave until the resurrection.
  • Job 14:15—Job proclaims the hope of the resurrection.
  • Job 14:20—Job accuses Elohim of destroying man’s hope.
  • Job 16:7—Job expresses further complaints against his friends and more woe is me attitude.
  • Job 16:17—Job proclaims his righteousness (or his self-righteousness?).
  • Job 17:10—More hopelessness and despair. Job seems to vacillate between the ideas of annihilation and the resurrection of the body.
  • Job 19:1—Job continues to complain against his friends, his family and Elohim.
  • Job 19:25—Job holds to a glimmer of hope concerning a Redeemer.
  • Job 19:26—The hope of the resurrection of the dead.
  • Job 21:7—Why do the wicked seem to always prosper?
  • Job 21:14–15—Job expresses the perennial question of the godless: Is there really a God and if so, why should we serve him?
  • Job 21:16—The godless wicked forget that it is not in their power to get wealth and they do not control the ultimate outcome of their fate because they forget that there is a God.
  • Job 21:30—There is an ultimate outcome day of judgment for the wicked.
  • Job 23:3—Oh to be able to talk to Elohim and to ask him why men suffer.
  • Job 23:8—Where is Elohim in the midst of man’s trials and suffering?
  • Job 23:9—Despite the perennial tough questions on the meaning and purpose of life, faith in Elohim’s wisdom must prevail.
  • Job 23:12—Job proclaims his faithfulness to the word of Elohim (i.e. the Torah) at all times no mater the trials.
  • Job 23:13—The inscrutable ways of Elohim.
  • Job 24:22—Elohim’s justice eventually catches up with the wicked.
  • Job 26:3—Job proclaims Elohim’s greatness.
  • Job 26:14—Man is incapable of comprehending Elohim’s greatness.
  • Job 27:1—Every man is right in his own eyes.
  • Job 27:7—Job seeks judgment against his enemies.
  • Job 27:14—Judgment upon the wicked will accrue to the benefit of the righteous.
  • Job 28:1—Wisdom is like precious metal and is strong, but how can man find it?
  • Job 28:23—Elohim is the only source of wisdom.
  • Job 29:2—Job pines over “the good ol’ days.”
  • Job 30:1—Job laments over his fall from his past lofty status and decries those of low social status who now mock him.
  • Job 30:16—More woe is me attitude.
  • Job 30:20—Where is Elohim when I cry to him in my time of distress?
  • Job 30:23—More complaints against Elohim.
  • Job 30:24—Elohim’s judgments against Job seem unjust.
  • Job 31:1—Job struggles to understand what sin he has committed to bring on his present plight.

Wisdom from Elihu (from the Tree of Life)

  • Job 33:4—Elohim is the source of man’s life.
  • Job 33:15—Elohim speaks to man via dreams and visions.
  • Job 35:1—Elihum defends Elohim. Who is man to question him?
  • Job 35:2—Self-righteousness over all of one’s good deeds is pointless and simply an expression of man’s vanity in the eyes of Elohim.
  • Job 35:7—Man’s good deeds cannot earn Elohim’s favor.
  • Job 35:8—Our sins and good deeds affect other humans but not Elohim. He is above it all.
  • Job 36:5—Elohim is impartial.
  • Job 36:6—Elohim is just.
  • Job 36:7—Elohim is eternal.
  • Job 36:9—Elohim instructs man via trials.
  • Job 36:13—Hypocrites are clueless concerning the ways of Elohim.
  • Job 36:17—Job’s self-righteousness has blinded him from understanding the ways of Elohim.
  • Job 36:22—Elohim is transcendent or above it all.
  • Job 36:26—Elohim is beyond man’s comprehension.
  • Job 36:29—Elohim is good to all men.
  • Job 37:1—Elihu proclaims the greatness of Elohim.
  • Job 37:13—Elohim uses the earth’s physical elements to accomplish his purposes.
  • Job 37:23—Elohim is above man’s comprehension.

Conclusion: What Job Learned From His Experiences

What did Job discover from his multitudinous questions concerning Elohim? At the end of his ordeal, Job discovered several, basic critical truths about life and Elohim. First, Elohim is infinite, exists in mystery and his ways are uninvestigatable by the human mind; therefore, man will never fully understand his Creator, for it is not possible for the finite to grasp the infinite. Second man is innately prone to pride and self-righteousness. These are faults of which he needs to repent in order to come into a right relationship with his Maker and to receive heaven’s approval and the blessings that result therefrom. Third, man needs to stay humble and know his place in the face of transcendent almighty and all wise Elohim. 


What does, “Lead us not into temptation,” mean?

In the Lord’s Prayer, Yeshua instructs his disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” What does this mean? Does this mean that our Father in heaven leads us into temptation?

The following are notes from Nathan’s commentary on this verse that will hopefully clear up this confusion.

Matthew 6:13, Lead [or bring] us not into temptation [Gr. peirasmos]. What is the meaning of this phrase found in “the Lord’s Prayer” ? Why did Yeshua instruct his disciples to ask his Father not to lead them into temptation, and how does one reconcile this verse with what James says in his epistle?

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted [Gr. peirazō from peirasmos] by Elohim”; for Elohim cannot be tempted [Gr. peirazō] by evil, nor does He Himself tempt [Gr. peirazō] anyone. But each one is tempted [Gr. peirazō] when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (Jas 1:13–16)

Temptation is the Greek word peirasmos meaning “putting to a proof, an experience, a discipline, a trial, a provocation, calamity or by implication, adversity, temptation.” Obviously this word as several meanings. Here are how some other English translations render this phrase:

And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. (CJB)

And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. (NRS)

Bring us not into sore trial… (Adam Clarke in his commentary on this verse)

Peirasmos can also refer to a trial with a beneficial purpose or effect. Indeed, YHVH tests the faith of his people to make them spiritually strong and to prove if they will remain faithful and obey to him or not (see Deut 8:2–5). Moreover, trials come to the saints or are divinely permitted for their betterment (Luke 22:28; Acts 22:19). James goes so far as to say,

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials [peirasmos], knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Jas 1:2–4)

So in James 1:13–16, the Greek verb for to tempt (peirazō which is the verb form peirasmos) takes on a more precise meaning when read in the context of verse 12, 

Blessed is the man who endures temptation [peirasmos]; for when he is approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (Jas 1:12) 

By placing verses 13–16 in context with verses 2–4 and 12, we see that the trials (peirasmos) that come from Elohim are for our spiritual growth and development or for our betterment, whereas temptations (also peirasmos) which come from somewhere else can lead or tempt us to sin, and thus are not from Elohim. 

Evidently, E.W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible has in view James’ discussion of good trials versus bad temptations, which is why states that the  word temptation in Matthew 6:13 is better translated as trial, which in this case is a more apt translation of the word peirasmos. The CJB, NRS and Adam Clarke in their translations above seem to agree.

Interestingly, we read in Matthew 4:1,

Then Yeshua was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted [peirazō] by the devil.

In this case, the Spirit of Elohim led Yeshua into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Here the Father was using the adversary to be put Yeshua to the test for is betterment. 

Undoubtedly, all of these concepts may be difficult to collate much less to wrap one’s brain around in light of the nuanced meanings of peirazō and peirasmos and the varied scriptural contexts in which these words are used. Suffice it to say, YHVH does allow his children to go through trials, but how we react to them and the choices we make will determine the outcome for us whether good or bad. If we sin, it is not because YHVH tempted us to sin; rather, it is the devil who does that. However, YHVH tests, disciplines, refines and proves his children to purify, refine and to make them strong, even as wind, rain, snow, ice, drought and heat make strong trees.

So when Yeshua told us to pray, Do not lead or bring us into temptation or, more correctly, hard testing or time of trial, but deliver us from the evil one, we are basically asking the Father to go easy on us and to keep or deliver us from the snares of the enemy, who is intent on causing us to sin thus potentially shipwrecking us spiritually. 

This is also the understanding of Adam Clarke, the Wesleyan Methodist scholar who wrote and published a well known Bible commentary in the early 19th century, where he translates temptation as “sore trial” and states that some of early church fathers understood this verse to mean, “do not lead us into trials that we cannot bear.” Clarke goes on to say that peirasmos not only implies violent assaults from Satan, but also sorely afflictive circumstances, none of which we have, as yet, grace or fortitude to bear.