"Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you."
I’m so excited to begin blogging on a theme birthed during the writing of my first book, “The Christian’s Kingdom Identity: Ish Chayil & Eshet Chayil. This theme, Becoming Who He Knew, was taken from Jeremiah 1:5 NIV:
Ruth 3:11 (Hebrew)
וְעַתָּ֗ה בִּתִּי֙ אַל־תִּ֣ירְאִ֔י כֹּ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאמְרִ֖י אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לָּ֑ךְ כִּ֤י יוֹדֵ֙עַ֙ כָּל־שַׁ֣עַר עַמִּ֔י
כִּ֛י אֵ֥שֶׁת חַ֖יִל אָֽתְּ׃
Ruth 3:11 (Rough Translation from Hebrew)
And now my daughter, do not be afraid. All that you say, I will do for you, because all of my people at the gates know that you are an eschet chayil (woman of power, valor, strength).
The book of Ruth opens with Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, facing a severe famine which forces them from their home in Bethlehem, Judah to Moab. There, Naomi’s husband died. Later her two sons who married Orpah and Ruth also died, leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law to fend for themselves. It’s hard to imagine Naomi’s grief, having lost all the men she loved, including her offspring. Its even more difficult to imagine their state, in an Ancient Near Eastern culture, formed on patrilineality and male-dominance, where a woman’s value and purpose could only be attained through her relationship to a male, whether father, brother or husband. They were now the poorest of poor, having no security (without property and financial stability), no place in society, or any hopes for a bright future.
Yet, through her grief, Naomi managed to hear that the Lord had blessed His people back home with bountiful crops, and set out to return to her homeland. On the way she told the girls to return to their mothers’ homes, and blessed and kissed them, her attempt to release them from their relational covenant. After they refused she attempted to persuade them, by giving them a detailed description of her bleak future, saying she was too old to remarry or to have any more sons, because the Lord had dealt bitterly with her, and in her despair, changed her name from pleasantness to Mara, bitter. Faced with this reality, Orpah decided that leaving was the right thing for her to do, but Ruth refused, proclaiming, “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die…May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us” (Ruth 1:16).
What could have prompted such a response and oath! In the natural, there was absolutely no reason to stay! Naomi was old, had nothing to offer and could not even promise that a brighter day was ahead. For all intents and purposes, as one dear heart pointed out in a recent Bible Study, this was a place of NOTHINGNESS! What do you do in a place of so called “Nothingness,” and does such a place really exist? How many of us would have chosen Orpah’s route? In a day when most efforts are motivated by a “Whats in it for me?” attitude, Ruth’s response seems quite foreign and perhaps idiotic to some.
Ruth appears to have been influenced by something or someone which resulted in a different kind of seeing and a change not just in her perspective, but her world view. Could her relationship with Naomi, a person who happened to live a life in relationship with YHWH, have resulted in the cultivation of Ruth’s personal encounter with the same? She is shown demonstrating a reverence for and submission to Naomi’s God, as she bound herself to her, even to death. Again, what was the motivation for such a loyal commitment? Could Ruth have sensed that there was more to this elderly lady than what met the eye? Could she have possibly seen through to her Kingdom influence as a godly woman, and the benefit of having such a person in her life? Do such divine, faith-based joinings happen in our time? It is clear that Ruth’s motivation was far deeper than her dead husband, and even if it began with him, it certainly shifted to a greater cause, one rooted in faith and purpose.
As the narrative unfolds, it becomes apparent that this was a divine setup! YHWH had orchestrated the relationship and events not only for Naomi and Ruth’s well-being, but to further His Kingdom agenda, His global plan and purpose! Yet, it required Ruth’s sensitivity, alignment and participation! She could have easily walked away. Which begs the question: Where is Orpah?
Boaz, Naomi’s relative, was an ish chayil (2:1), a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem. Ruth put herself out there and decided to go glean Boaz’s fields, gathering only the grain left behind by the harvesters, which got his attention. When he learned of their connection through Naomi, Boaz granted Ruth an open invitation to glean his fields. He affirmed and praised this foreign girl for committing herself to Naomi and forsaking her own interests and desires. He also blessed her, saying that she had taken refuge under the wings of the God of Israel. Ruth is now connected to YHWH worshippers! These words indicate this family’s Kingdom Orientation, their connection to and relationship with YHWH.
People were not just taking notice of Ruth and Naomi’s relationship, but being impacted by it! Could Boaz have seen God’s role in Ruth and Naomi’s joining, and perhaps have had a sense of its deeper purpose? Boaz welcomed Ruth to dine with his harvesters, who were ordered to drop extra bundles for her. Ruth returned to her mother-in-law with loads of food. Naomi informed her that Boaz was a kinsman redeemer, meaning that culturally, he had an obligation to provide an offspring and financial support for Ruth. While Ruth continued to work in Boaz’s fields, God was behind the scenes working things out according to His Good Pleasure.
Naomi wanted Ruth to be noticed and devised a plan. How typical of us! God was already ahead of Naomi and Ruth was already on Boaz’s radar! Boaz continues to bless and praise Ruth’s loyalty, giving her a special place in Boaz’s heart! Boaz promised, “I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a woman of power (eshet chayil).” In other words, “Everyone knows that you are a capable woman of strength, with power to influence.”
What we witness is an activation to cancel the darkness of famine, injustice, discrimination and more! Darkness always results in a lesser state of glory than intended by God for His creation! As seen, Ruth’s activation was not just to bring Naomi back to life, but was for the benefit of the entire world, as she and Boaz later gave birth to Obed, the father of Jesse and grandfather of David, who were the ancestors of Jesus.
It appears that Ruth’s sensitivity to God and her living in submission to YHWH through Naomi, resulted in a chayil activation, which caused her to realize her identity as one through whom the peoples of the earth would be blessed. Her covenant relationship with Naomi served a far greater purpose than that of a mere mother and daughter in-law. This divine joining made her a participant in the lineage of kings, including Jesus Christ the Messiah. Where is Orpah?
A place of NOTHINGNESS is seen through the limitations of the natural eye, while a place FULL of purpose and the potential to cultivate one’s Kingdom Identity and Kingdom Orientation, is seen through the limitless scope of one’s spiritual eyes!
Declaration: "I refuse to be limited by my natural senses! Father, everything You have said about me is true! I was born loaded with purpose to serve Your Kingdom Agenda!"
The Christian’s Kingdom Identity: Ish Chayil & Eshet Chayil is sure to awaken the warrior in you! It is a call for Kingdom sons and daughters to cultivate their Kingdom Orientation and Kingdom Identity, and with clarity of purpose, become active participants in God’s Global Let There Be Light! Campaign. This book emphasizes the Urgency of the Kingdom and echoes the Kingdom Demand for activation and response! It sounds a divine alarm for warriors, as carriers of His presence and extensions of the ministry of Jesus Christ, to deliberately and strategically cancel the darkness in the earth, which works against the effect of the Word in creation! Super honored to receive endorsements from Chayil Mom Dr. Pat Francis and Dr. Gary Carter! Special Thanks to Pastor Raymond Eneas at Higher Level Solutions for a job well done!
Jesus, spurring his disciples to seek first the Kingdom, uses an analogy of weather prediction in Luke 12 (54-56) to depict the standard of spiritual sensitivity expected of his followers.
Then he turned to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’—and you’re right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’—and you’re right. Frauds! You know how to tell (discern) a change in the weather, so don’t tell (say) me you can’t tell (discern) a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.
Here, Jesus presents unsettling challenges! First, he reveals that there are spiritual seasons, “God-seasons” or phases of time, loaded with divine purpose, which have definitive beginnings and endings. Secondly, Jesus places an obligation on his followers to accurately identify which season it is! Even the weather forecast, based on measurable, scientific parameters, is often misinterpreted, due to a sundry of unexpected variables. How can one be expected to discern spiritual seasons with accuracy? The use of Jesus’ strong language indicates a simplistic parallel between discerning the weather and the God-season, and failing at the latter is unacceptable.
The ability to discern the seasons is crucial to successfully running the race set before you, your journey!
To discern is to perceive, recognize, distinguish, or detect, indicators of differences and even the slightest change, with great difficulty, using spiritual sensitivity. Paul warns his readers in Ephesians 5:17 (MSG), “Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. The NLT reads, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
So how exactly is this possible? I submit that the same emphasis on drawing one’s ability from the Holy Spirit’s power when applying other spiritual principles, is also required to discern the seasons. Draw from His Power activated in you (Ephesians 3:20)!
Jesus places a demand on what He has already provided.
The key is intimacy! Divine intimacy with humans is a consistent theme seen in Genesis 3:8, when Adam and Eve heard the sound of God in the Garden, a place of fellowship, in the cool of the day. Paul later encourages, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you (James 4:8). This relationship as a worship-lifestyle is highlighted in Romans 12:1-2 (NLT).
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Giving ourselves to God engenders a transformational, intimate relationship, as we learn to know God’s will! Intimacy promotes spiritual sensitivity and sensitivity fosters clarity! It doesn't get any better than this! We will discover what the Master wants, including His purpose for us, which is directly linked to our Kingdom identity (mentioned in previous blogs). Our heavenly Father not only desires that we discern or know the God-season, but has issued a kingdom demand for it!
Father thank you for giving us all that is needed that pertains to life and godliness so that we will succeed in living out your desire! This includes the ability to discern the God-seasons. May it be said of us as it was the people of Issachar...
They understood the times and knew what should be done.
Change is an inevitable part of life, however some changes are the result of an other-worldly motivation! Proverbs 19:21 Says it this way, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Perhaps you have experienced a time in your life when one season abruptly ended and another began! It was as if God himself tapped you on the shoulder and his divine finger motioned an immediate, deliberate and precise movement, from one place to another. Shift!
Its funny how we ask God to order our steps, followed by reaffirming a solid commitment to His will and purpose, and when He does, paralyzing shock results! Could it be that our requests were actually responses to kingdom calls? Even though the demands of a new season are unexpected and overwhelming, often resulting in fearfulness and uncertainty, the Bible testifies of many instances when YHWH orchestrated DIVINE REPOSITIONING.
To reposition is to strategically place in a different position to increase efficiency and widen the impact of one’s efforts on a specific target. It may also mean to return to the originally intended or proper position. In either case, an adjustment in posture, stance and perspective is necessary. Often, there's only one answer to be given regarding divine repositioning, "The Lord needs it..." (Mark 11:3). 1 Samuel 1:8 powerfully portrays an instance of Divine Repositioning.
Israel’s constant threat of war with the Philistines triggered a request that Samuel, the prophet, appoint a king to govern them like the other nations. God reminded a heavy-hearted Samuel that Israel was not rejecting his prophetic ministry but God’s leadership (1 Samuel 8:5). Samuel warned of grievous taxes and the king’s requirement for slaves, but to no avail. The tension between God’s holy desire, divine grace, and human free will is seen, as God personally selects their first human king, Saul, the Benjamite, in spite of Israel’s rejection.
A fallen hero’s demise usually diminishes much of the good which preceded their fatal mistake! Saul is no different. He’s famous for putting his own ambitions before the Lord’s desire, erroneously offering sacrifices on the altar (1 Samuel 13:9-12), disobeying YHWH’s command to destroy all Amalekites and their possessions (15:3), and aggressively seeking to murder David (18), his divine replacement. This begs the question, “What in heaven could YHWH have been thinking in his choosing Saul?” Yet, though Saul simply set out to find his father’s donkeys, God had orchestrated his acquiring kingship (1 Samuel 9), making Saul a prime example of one strategically repositioned for divine service.
Caution! This is not encouragement to undergird a tendency to stray off a set course. Instead, notice the trusted advisers, including Saul’s servant and the prophet Samuel, an extremely reputable seer. May this blog inspire the use of specific indicators to detect God’s will: 1)it will always serve to advance God’s kingdom agenda (the big picture); 2) it is never motivated by selfish ambitions; and 3) God will always confirm whats His!
I imagine Saul, a valiant warrior or ish chayil, as an extremely popular, oversized military hero, who, though trained, has natural ability. Born the son of Kish, in a family of warriors, he wouldn't have been spoiled, but definitely over confident with a tendency to take risks. Scholars see his traveling without a clue about the donkeys’ whereabouts as a sign of Saul’s spontaneous nature. He was handsome and distinguished by his physical stature, standing head and shoulders above everyone. Being sent to find his father’s donkeys was probably an ordinary course of events, only this time, his servant suggests they visit the seer for guidance.
Isn't it interesting that God chose an ish chayil as leader of his people? Chayil is a Hebrew word translated as power, war, elite, strength, might, valiant, wealth, capacity and army, excellent and more (see previous blogs). I submit that ish chayil and eschet chayil (a man and woman of valor) are emphasized in the scriptures as the Christian’s kingdom identity, a characterization directly applied to God himself (Psalm 118:15, 16), as well as David (1 Samuel 16:18), the Proverbs 31 woman (verse 10), and others. It signals the manifested presence of a force far greater than that of a mere human, to accomplish a usually difficult task, as in 1 Samuel 11:6, “And the spirit of God came upon Saul in power when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.” Saul had been activated to serve God’s agenda!
In modern times, individuals are activated to serve God’s purposes, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Dunamis, this Greek translation for power, is linked to the Hebrew word chayil (Septuagint). The Holy Spirit activates chayil agents as witnesses, those having authentic evidence, who become living proof of God’s love-based kingship for humanity!
May you commit to living life according to God’s agenda! May you respond to a kingdom call, simply because “the Lord needs it!” As an ambassador, may you submit to His divine repositioning and fulfill your life-assignment!
Proclamation: “Here am I Lord! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul encourages Timothy, his son in the Lord, to fight, contend, or pursue “the life you have been called to.” This admonishment gives evidence to demonic opposition when endeavoring to live out one’s divine purpose. It is a call for perseverance, spiritual warfare and a pressing in to God’s desire (or will).
The Old Testament opens with a dramatic display of the power of a very active God engaged in Creation! Let there be! Let there be! Let there be! Everything He did, every word spoken, was motivated by His master plan, the fuel of His Purpose! What we often fail to notice is that marriage was also created as a conduit of divine purpose! There’s an Assignment on your Marriage!
People as Carriers of Divine Purpose
God’s plan to form a nation (Genesis 12:2) to represent Him in the earth by living out His divine government and rule, was revealed when he told Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation!” Abraham, Father of the Faithful (Romans 4:16), the originator of the monotheistic belief in the one True God, would become the standard for relating with God. The scriptures depict a relational God, desiring to manifest Himself by responding to and engaging with His people. Abraham’s faith in God produced a lifestyle of hearing God's voice and responding to Him. This faith governed and regulated his thoughts and behavior and was accredited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3). We too are justified by powerful, energetic faith (Romans 5:1).
Abraham receives more details regarding God's plan. Through Abraham's seed all the families or nations of the earth would be blessed by virtue of Abraham's obedience (Genesis 22:18)! God would choose a people and enter into covenant relationship with them. Their experience with YHWH would afford their service as Kingdom Ambassadors, able to connect others to God, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). Families would be impacted by tangible manifestations of God's kingdom!
Likewise, you and I are called to participate in God's global initiative, as a chosen generation (a race of the reborn), royal priesthood, holy nation, and God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9). Christians are to show forth/proclaim His praises, goodness, and excellent qualities in the earth. The Bible we study is ALL about God, the Creator, earnestly desiring a relationship with His creation!
This same desire is also the motivation for the care, attention to details and divine forethought in the selection of human beings for service, as in Jeremiah 1:5, “before I formed you in your mother’s belly I knew you! Before you were born, I set you apart! I ordained or appointed you (or I made you to be…). Why? To further the divine Cause according to God's plan! The Hebrew word for appointed, ordained, indicates something similar to an internal wiring. God assigned a piece of His purpose to you, before you were born! Every part of you leans in a certain direction and has tendencies and gifts specific to your purpose (Romans 12). That wiring designates your deepest initiative, drive and longings! Its determines what moves you! The Real You!
Marriage: The Bigger Picture
From this vantage point we gain a Kingdom perspective of marriage and are able to see its BIGGER PICTURE! Marriage was born out of a need identified by the Creator Himself, who met it by divinely orchestrated events. Never forget that God alone designed and created marriage, not human beings! So With respect to carrying purpose, imagine God peering through time from the END to the BEGINNING and saying, "It’s not Good for man to be alone." We miss the richness of marriage when we limit its existence to earthly companionship, though vital and quite beautiful! There is so much more! With Christ at the center, couples emerge as Partners in Purpose and Partners on Purpose!
The Hebrew word for "to be alone" (lebaddo) is translated as only to himself or separate to himself, in all aspects of life, strength, might, wit, vision, capacity, etc. The indication is a state of not merely being by himself, but a state of isolation, which God said wasn’t good.
God's solution was to make a helper suitable. Question: What did Adam need help with? Cooking? Cleaning? Laundry? I recently asked this question at a couples' seminar and one wife, feeling her comedic anointing responded, "Directions!" Though she may have had a valid point, I submit that Adam needed help to fulfill his life-assignment of subduing and ruling (Genesis 1:28).
Helper suitable in Hebrew is (ezer kenegdo) translated as a counter part to himself, one like himself, complimentary to him in every way, possessing neither inferiority nor superiority, in all things like and equal (Strong's). The Creator performed divine surgery on Adam, and marriage, both spiritual and physical in nature, was born (Genesis 2:19)! The result! Two divinely wired people, each carrying a piece of God’s purpose, each wired for a specific mission, united to advance God’s Kingdom agenda.
As carriers of His presence couples are to cancel darkness with His light, (Isaiah 60:1), bring others into relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5:18), and make a difference in the earth (Ephesians 3:20). This Kingdom Perspective activates and transforms a Married couple into, "One can chase a thousand, two can put ten thousand to flight" (Deuteronomy 32:30); "Out of the mouths of two or three witnesses, let every word be established"(2 Cor 13:1); "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
In this light, marriage is perceived as an extension of the ministry of Jesus Christ in our day.
There's an assignment on your marriage!