Take Off!

 

 

 

 

 

Take Off!

16 January 2016

NOW BOOKED OUT!

Take-off looks at:

  • the devastating constriction and wasting many people experience when they see an open door into their calling
  • the name and threshold covenants that affect our ability to realise our destiny and ultimately impair our identity
  • what to do about the obstacles, barriers, beliefs and woundings that block the way forward

Venue: ‘The Fort’, 219 Fort Rd, Oxley 4075 QLD Australia

Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm, Saturday 16 January 2016

Cost: $15

Register now by emailing me or phoning the registrar 07 3278 8515.

Limited numbers (30 max)

 

 


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Twice Hidden

In 1946—just on seventy years ago—three Bedouin teenagers went exploring some cliffs near the Dead Sea. There, in a cave in the wilderness, they made a discovery that would change Biblical studies forever.

Muhammed Ahmed el-Hamed, Jum’a Muhammed Khalib and Khalil Musa returned from their exploration with three scrolls covered with strange writing—the first of the literary treasures that became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The boys had found the long-lost library of the Essenes—a first-century treasure trove of testaments, visions, laws, rules, translations and apocalyptic works. There were books mentioned in the Bible but whose contents were previously unknown and lost texts such as the Hebrew version of Psalm 151. This short psalm by David, which rejoices in his victory over Goliath, was known from Greek translations but the Hebrew version had disappeared.

At least one fragment from every Old Testament book, except Esther, has been found. In some cases, far more than simple fragments have been recovered—the entire Book of Isaiah, for instance, has been retrieved.

Esther, of course, is the book in which the name of God is not mentioned. Perhaps that’s why the Essenes did not include it in their library.

Yet Esther is the book that is, in many ways, the one that corresponds to most people’s experience of God. His hand is hidden in daily life, just as it is hidden in the book of Esther.

Every name list I’ve ever consulted (dozens in all) has an entry explaining that ‘Esther’ means star and is Persian in origin. It allegedly derives from Ishtar, the name of the goddess who personifies the planet Venus.

Until this week, I never thought to question that theory. But on delving into some Hebrew, I discovered many rabbis consider that Esther is a Hebrew name, meaning ‘astir’, hidden.  This describes so many aspects of the book of Esther: her hidden Jewish background, her hidden name (her real name is ‘Hadassah’ meaning myrtle but it’s hidden behind an allusion to Ishtar), her hidden relationship to Morcedai, her hidden agenda in inviting the king and Haman to dine with her, the hidden machinations of Haman, the hidden hand of God.

Perhaps it’s not surprising the book is missing from the library of the Essenes.

One of the most interesting comments on Esther by the rabbinic sages relates to the phrase, ‘haster astir’, from Deuteronomy 31:18 ESV, ‘And I will surely hide My face [‘haster astir panai’] in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.’

But ‘haster astir’ is not simple concealment. It means hide the hiding. In other words, God not only hides Himself, He goes much further. He wipes out all trace of the fact He’s hidden Himself.

So often we wonder why the wonders of creation don’t point to a Creator for many people. We should not be surprised when we realise God has hidden His own hiding.


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The Gospel Ring (2)

John’s gospel is set up with at least eleven pairs of mirror-like bookends. Some of these chiastic reflections involve numbers,  most involve identical names (though not always identical people) and all involve similar thematic episodes.

Of these episodes, the most dramatic pair held up for comparison and contrast is Jesus’ resurrection coupled with Jesus casting the money changers out of the Temple. The emptying of the tomb and the emptying of the Temple, as it were.

Because the incident where Jesus made a whip to cast out the merchants and moneychangers occurs right at the beginning of this gospel and at the end of the gospel of Matthew, many commentators believe there were two similar events. One occurring at the start of Jesus’ ministry and one occurring in the week before His death on the cross.

I don’t think that’s a necessary conclusion. John marks off the days very carefully from the moment John the Baptist is asked by the leaders and priests who he is.  ‘The next day…’ (John 1:29), ‘The next day…’ (John 1:35), ‘The next day…’ (John 1:46), ‘Three days later…’ (John 2:1). Altogether six days between John being asked about his identity and the threshold event of Jesus’ first miracle.

Another huge parallel here—though not within this gospel. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus asks Peter what people are saying about His identity, then six days later takes him, along with James and John, up a mountain for the threshold event of the Transfiguration. In fact, the six-day interval in both cases, along with specific words spoken at each event, suggest these pairs of incidents were exactly two (perhaps three) years apart.  


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Book Giveaway

The latest book in the series about covenants is now available. God’s Pageantry continues the exploration of name and threshold covenants, begun in God’s Poetry and continued in God’s Panoply. To celebrate, two copies are being given away on Goodreads. If you’re not already a member of this great online reading community, it’s simple to sign up for free.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

God's Pageantry by Anne   Hamilton

God’s Pageantry

by Anne Hamilton

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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Xarama

He received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

2 Peter 1:17-19 NKJV

This coming Saturday, I’ll be speaking at Kedesh Ministries in a seminar entitled Xarama. It’s a Greek word to describe the time just before dawn when God writes firegold letters on the rim of the clouds as a promise of the new day.

The seminar is about covenants: blood covenants, name covenants and threshold covenants. What they are supposed to look like and how they can go badly wrong. And, of course, what to do about the repeated constriction and wasting that is a signature result of a covenant curse in operation.

 


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The Gospel Ring (1)

It’s been quite some time since my last post. Perhaps I should apologise but it wouldn’t be entirely sincere. I’ve been enjoying myself far too much to even begin to be sorry.

The fun started when I forgot a significant item of information I wanted for my next book. I could remember reading somewhere that John the apostle identifies himself as the author of the fourth gospel by using a unique placement. His signoff as ‘the disciple Jesus loved’ mirrors the testimony of John the Baptist at the beginning. This bookending identifies the writer as John.

Well, being unable to remember where I’d read this, I tried googling it. No joy. I remembered the technical name for this mirror technique was chiasmus and tried that as well. Lots of different examples of mirror episodes in John’s gospel turned up but not the particular matter I wanted. After quite a bit of searching, I began to realise that the lists of chiastic scenes were rarely the same. So I created my own list by putting together the ones I’d found. And that’s when I noticed something fascinating: the names almost always match.

It’s not just the testimony of John the apostle mirroring that of John the Baptist.

It’s a scene involving Mary the mother of Jesus mirroring one with Mary Magdalene.

It’s a scene with Nicodemus matching another with the same Nicodemus.


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The Nest of God

What do all the following Scriptural verses have in common?

  1. Jacob, however, went to Succoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Succoth.’ Genesis 33:17 NIV
  2. The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.’ Exodus 12:37 NIV
  3. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Matthew 17:4 NIV

They all mention ‘Succoth’ meaning shelters, tabernacles or booths. As Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, draws to a close, it’s appropriate to look deeper into the context of each of these events.

  • Jacob had only just received his new name, Israel, and passed over the ford of Jabbok. This is his first stopping place, after parting from his brother Esau.
  • The Israelites had only just received their new identity as God’s chosen people and celebrated the very first Passover. Succoth was their first stopping place after parting from the Egyptians.
  • Simon had only just received his new name, Peter, and gone with Jesus up a high mountain. In asking Jesus about building shelters, he was simply pointing out what God himself had commanded for this day: the building of temporary booths or tabernacles.

The thrice-repeated pattern here is of (1) a new name, (2) passing over a threshold (which in the last case is encoded in the name ‘Cephas’ or ‘Peter’) and (3) stopping to rest and build shelters.


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On this day about 1980 years ago, give or take a few, Jesus took three disciples up a high mountain. Many scholars think they climbed Mount Tabor. However I’m with those who believe they ascended a peak of Mount Hermon.*

At sunset this evening Sukkot begins. It’s the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, a time when people build temporary booths, entwining boughs and branches to make a ‘tent’. All to celebrate and remember their history, especially the time when God provided for them during their wilderness wanderings.

So, back almost two millennia ago, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what was going on in the head of Simon the fisherman. He was only just getting used to his nickname Cephas, the threshold stone. Some of the Greek–speaking disciples—including his own brother Andrew—had fun with the new name. Turned it to Petros, the rock. Ribbed him it’s a pun on the Hebrew word peter, the first–born—nicely symbolic for the first to announce the Messiah.

Simon’s not sure he’ll ever hear the end of it. He’s happy to be away from the jokes but he’s still concerned. It’s Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. He’s supposed to be building a little hut. But Jesus doesn’t look like he’s about to stop anytime soon to collect wood. And once they get above the treeline and into the snow, the building of a booth’s going to be even harder. Wait. This is Jesus. Five thousand people fed from a few loaves of bread. Perhaps just a dead twig will be enough: Jesus could make it sprout branches like Aaron’s rod once budded with blossoms.


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Today is Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people.

On this day about 1980 years ago, Jesus and his disciples were as far away from the temple in Jerusalem as it was possible to be while still remaining in Israel. They were at the entrance of another temple entirely—a pagan one.

While back in Jerusalem the high priest was entering the Holy of Holies, Jesus was in front of the ‘Gates of Hell’ at the temple of Pan, asking his disciples who they thought he was. Simon finally comes out with: ‘You are the Messiah.’

Whereupon Jesus gave him a new name: Cephas or Peter.

Peter from the Greek petros means ‘rock’. Cephas is Hebrew for a very specialised type of rock: the cornerstone on which a threshold sacrifice was offered.

Cephas is related to kippur, the name of the day. It is also related to Caiaphas, the name of the high priest who was then presiding on the Day of Atonement.


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The Belt of Truth 4

My favourite television show in the late nineties was the science fiction series, Space: Above and Beyond. I was such a huge fan I even wrote fanfic! Lots of readers liked one particular story, Icarus Walking—a story of truth, honour, heroism and sacrifice. In fact one person resonated with it so much she asked me to mentor her as a writer.

As I worked my way through her manuscript, I started to notice repeated ash tree symbolism. I quizzed Melissa about it. She insisted it was unintentional. This was really early days in my investigations about names but I was already suspicious. Could there be a connection between the name Melissa and the ash tree symbol?

Now any book of names will tell you that Melissa means either bee or honey. Not deterred, I looked up words for ash trees. And there I discovered the story of Melias, the nymph of the ash tree, and the saga of how the name Melissa, over millennia, changed in meaning from ash tree to bee.

The intriguing consequence of this exercise was the discovery that ‘melissa’ is also a name for the North Pole. That odd finding led to deeper digging into other ways the North Pole could be symbolised. In no time at all, it became obvious to me why Melissa had resonated so much with Icarus Walking: it was full to overflowing with obscure polar symbolism. All sorts of mysterious arctic icons spilled out of just about every scene. In particular, I seemed to focus on an idea I’d never heard of previously: a cynosure.


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The Belt of Truth 3

I didn’t do anything illegal.’

Over the last few years, as various officials in high office have been accused of criminal behaviour, I’ve listened carefully to their language.

Their defence is never ‘I didn’t do it.’ Instead it’s the subtly nuanced ‘I didn’t do anything unlawful.’ Or some variation on that theme which emphasises legality rather than morality.

This reaction is fascinating. No one has been prepared to add public lies to secret sins. There’s obviously a paramount desire to retain some personal integrity through a carefully–edited version of the truth. In fact, I’m sure many of the officials concerned would feel able to state with perfect conviction that they are scrupulously honest!

These situations highlight the importance of individual perception when it comes to the law.

Oftentimes I’ve read that the Ten Commandments are not substantially different from a multitude of ancient (and earlier) legal systems such as the Code of Hammurabi, Code of Ur–Nammu or Laws of Eshnunna. That the laws Moses gave the Israelites had precedents all the way across the Middle East.

Joel Hoffman, however, in his significant book, And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning (with which I disagree passionately in parts) makes a very shrewd point. The Ten Commandments are unique. They are one–of–a–kind because they simply say: ‘Don’t lie.’ ‘Don’t kill.’ ‘Don’t steal.’

Because it’s wrong. Period. No arguments. No excuses.


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The Belt of Truth 2

Cleopas is only mentioned once in Scripture. He and an unnamed friend are walking to the village of Emmaus. It was the morning of the Resurrection and you’d be forgiven for expecting Jesus would be in Jerusalem, reassuring His disciples. They’re in disarray, they’re suffering from the betrayal of Judas, they’re frightened and uneasy. You’d think He’d go to His closest friends first.

But no. He headed off for a village more than ten kilometres away, intent on a rendezvous with Cleopas. Who is completely unaware he’s got a divine appointment.

Not long previously, Jesus had spoken with Mary Magdalene. At least we know a little of her background. However, we’ve never even heard of Cleopas before in the gospels and we’ll never hear of him again.

So what’s the significance of this event for Cleopas himself? Why did Jesus choose him?


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