by: Ron Cantrell
You who call upon the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Isaiah 62:6b,7
A mandate is a commission from a higher authority to execute a decree or an injunction on behalf of a lesser person or nation. The League of Nations, formed after WWI, issued mandates to stronger nations to govern peoples not qualified to independently govern themselves. Simply, it is any authoritative order or command, but used often in speaking about nations and governments.
Isaiah’s mandate is unlike any other in history. A commission to irritate a figure of high authority seems like something from a fairy tale. Yet here Isaiah delivers a mandate of irrevokable authority. It is too easy to read over this short section of Scripture and not take it seriously. Perhaps the extreme cost of taking the mandate seriously is too much for some. The Hebrew says until Jerusalem is “the” praise in the earth, not just “a” praise. How to go about it boggles the mind. There is a long list of others who saw the mandate as incumbent upon them. Previous Teaching Letters, such as “The Risk and The Reward,” have dealt with these men and their acts of valor on behalf of Israel. To backtrack slightly, the first verse of this chapter of Isaiah is not written in the same mandatory structure, but seems to be the actions of those who have discovered and accepted the mandate.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteourness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. Isaiah 62:1 Detailed instructions concerning this mandate are scattered throughout the Scriptures. Some are quite straightforward, while others are veiled in stories and historical incidents left as examples to us by the men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to record our Bible. These sections of the Bible make very clear that the end of the age here on earth centers around Jerusalem. As we can already see, it will not be a quiet happy time. On the contrary, it is becoming a time of upheaval and extreme pressure. What do the Scriptures tell us about the future? If we want to know the future, the past will tell us. Repeat performances abound in biblical accounts. Daniel repeated Joseph’s Egypt story, but in Babylon. Joseph’s story undoubtedly encouraged Daniel time and again.
How are we as Gentile Christians to conduct ourselves during this time? The tales and mentoring examples recorded for us in the First Covenant will give us the flow chart of the mandate given to us. What a glorious commission! There is no time for boredom in the Kingdom at this stage of time. We live in an era that I am certain the prophets looked forward to. Let’s charge ahead into God’s future in full assurance that He has prepared all things ahead of us. This is Yeshua’s greatest hour. How long He has waited for the wrap-up of the earth as we know it, so that He can be united with His bride. The pressure is on, but it signals periods of great joy and expectation, as we head toward His second coming. How did I come to understand the Gentiles’ commission in the mandate of which I speak? It involves some of my own personal testimony.
The Game of “GO”
My friend and I lay on a large blanket in an uncrowded section of the beach in Venice, California. Though a dangerous beach in the 1970s, residents knew where and where not to go. We let the warm sun wash over us and illuminate the focus of our attention. Black and white game pieces covered the board on which we played a Japanese strategy game called “GO.” It was the early ‘70s, when chess gave way to more exotic games. The object was to surround your opponent’s game pieces and occupy as much of the board as possible until your pieces prohibited further aquisition of space. Mindful only of our game, I didn’t notice that a crowd was gathering around us until a shadow fell across the board. By that time my blanket was fenced in by a sea of legs on all four sides. I sat up trying to assess what was happening. Without my noticing, my friend stood up and somehow disappeared into the crowd. I began trying to gather up game pieces and retrieve my blanket. Feet tacked it to the ground in enough places on its perimeter that my attempt was in vain.
A young man noticed my attempt to gather my belongings and sat down on my blanket to help me gather game pieces and put them in the box. “What is going on here?” I questioned. “Oh, this is our church and we have come to the ocean to baptize new believers,” he replied. “Four hundred of us came to watch today,” he added.“You came to Venice Beach to baptize people?” I responded incredulously. “People get murdered here!” I warned.“Oh, God protects us,” he offered confidently. “Do you know how much God loves you?” he asked.
My heart pounded like a drum in my chest. I was sure he could hear it. God had been playing a game of strategy with me for the previous few months, but there was no way this young man could possibly know what had transpired. God had been busy surrounding my defenses and conquering territory in my life one play at a time. A few weeks before this sunny beach day, I had been reading “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Foundation. I was proud of my spiritual search in eastern religion. Christianity had no place in my life. Paramahansa’s Indian-flavored self-realization teachings and other meditation philosophies fit the times I lived in and filled the void in my life. Or so I thought. I had worked hard to silence the still small voice that once hounded me, reminding me that I was wrong.
A passage in Paramahana’s autobiography brought my house of cards crashing to the ground. In it he described the universality of the concept of reincarnation. Yeshua was quoted from John 3 in His conversation with Nicodemus in support of reincarnation. Joyfully, I located a copy of the Bible and in great triumph prepared myself to confirm the yogi’s interpretation of John’s recorded conversation. As I read, my heart sank. The biblical passage did just the opposite of what I had turned to it for. It was more than clear that spiritual transformation, not reincarnation, was the subject of Yeshua’s conversation.
In another brilliant play, God captured more territory. My beloved sister and her daughters, my three nieces, attended a Jesus People Coffee House and all received Jesus as their Saviour. They were aglow with new life and love that reached out to everyone. An invitation to their house resulted in a polite but firm confrontation on spiritual issues. They were silenced by my convoluted esoteric mumbo-jumbo and a promise to “meet them there” as we all had our own ways to get to God. On my way home that day, I remember thinking, “God, if they know something that is vitally important for me, You have to do something to show me!”
Another meeting with the “new converts” took place the following week, but my day in the sun on Venice Beach fell between the two meetings. “God wants you to live in heaven with Him someday,” my beach blanket intruder said. “Is that right!” I sneered. “I have read somewhere that you can measure heaven with a measuring rod. If that’s the case, there is no way everyone in history can fit there – and if that is the kind of God you serve, I want no part of His heaven.” In triumph I continued gathering my things and left the beach. Dogging my path home was the feeling that I had just experienced the “show me” request I had made of God.
The following weekend was my birthday and a party was planned at my sister’s home. After the celebration I was cajoled into attending the Jesus People Coffee House with my sister, my nieces, and some other friends. Still resistant to their newfound joy, but unable to extricate myself, I determined that if I had to go, I would blend in and avoid more theological confrontations. “Sit in the back and draw no attention to yourself,” I instructed myself silently.
God placed more white stones on the playing board. My nieces, whom I love dearly and have trouble saying no to on most any subject, dragged me close to the front of the meeting. The first half of a three hour long meeting was some really good music. Subconsciously my defenses were weakening. The first half of the meeting was ended with everyone standing together, placing their arms around their neighbors’ shoulders and singing the Lord’s Prayer. Not wanting to stand out, and being up front, I knew I had to sing and sway to the music of the prayer just like everyone else. More white stones were placed on the board. I knew the words of the Lord’s Prayer and parroted everyone around me. I was sure that I was cleverly disguised as one of them. We came to the last line of the prayer, “. . . for Thine is the Kingdom, and Power and glory forever . . .” and the room changed. It seemed as if I was in outer space alone. I saw no one. A voice above my head, soft but filled with authority, said, “The words that are coming out of your mouth are true–do you want to be part of that Kingdom?”
I don’t remember saying “Yes” with my mouth, but my entire being submitted to this vision-dream-with-my-eyes-open and I began to weep. Wracking sobs convulsed my body and tears did not just run down my face, they shot out of my eyes. I could not imagine what was happening to me but in the next few minutes waves of God’s power washed over me again and again. Such perspective. All opposing philosophies and theological arguments faded to nothing.
That night changed everything for me. Later my niece confided to me that I was not blending in at all there. Everyone knew when I came in, because they had been praying and some even fasting for me the entire week before that meeting. I was embarrassed, but the embarrassment was seasoned with gratefulness for a virtual spiritual intervention that pulled me out of great darkness.
This testimony serves to underscore the importance of the Lord’s Prayer in my life. Though you might imagine that the game I was engaged in with God was over and that He won, the reality is that the game is still being played. To this day territory in my life is being conquered–territory so vague that at times I am unaware of its very existance. That first conquest was to bring me into His Kingdom, but the extent to which that Kingdom stretches is still being unveiled.
Another Glorious Prayer
Forever after that night, the Lord’s Prayer has had a very special place in my heart. God has never stopped playing “GO” with me. Areas of my life continue to be subtly surrounded and conquered. In that conquering, there are endless lessons awarded from heaven. Instead of a penalty for losing a play, there seem to be great rewards and insights into the mysteries of God’s coming Kingdom. Of course, that is one of the ironic lessons about God’s Kingdom: losing is winning.
Searching the Hebrew roots of my faith has been a fulfilling endeavor. Like a string of pearls, lessons continue to multiply. One of those pearls is another Jewish prayer which came to my attention several years ago, called the Mourner’s Kaddish. The prayer is written in Aramaic, hinting at its antiquity – some guess its genesis as far back as the Babylonian captivity. It was not always used as a prayer for mourners in synagogue services as it is today.
At each service, the Mourner’s Kaddish is chanted by the Chazan (the cantor) and anyone in mourning stands to participate, chanting the words of the prayer with the cantor. All others in attendance have several places where they join the cantor and the mourners by saying a few lines punctuated with a chorus of “Amen!” A sense of community by participation is the underlying message in the prayer method of the synagogue.
Jewish sources record that before it became the Mourner’s Kaddish, it was traditional to recite the prayer after studying the Torah in public schools of biblical learning. The prayer is a glorious declaration of the majesty and sovereignty of God. The Kaddish is not about death. Death is never mentioned in the prayer. Neither is the life of the one being mourned mentioned. The Kaddish is proclamation of the highest order. The Kaddish begins:
“It-Gadal, Ve’It-Kadesh, Shema rabbah . . . “Magnified and sanctified be the Name of God throughout the world which He hath created according to His will.” There are striking similarities to “The Lord’s Prayer,” the prayer that Yeshua taught His disciples. “. . . hallowed be Thy Name . . .” The Kaddish continues, “May He establish his kingdom during the days of your life and during the life of all the house of Israel. May He make His salvation closer and bring His Messiah near, speedily, yea soon; and say ye, Amen.” Here all the hearers of the prayer, not just those standing signaling their active participation, respond, “May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity, Amen!” Then strung together like stars in a constellation, the prayer provides high praise with which to exalt the Name of God, praise that is not likely to be seen in other places. I am aware of the problems with trying to produce the dialect of another language in English characters, but the rhythm of the Aramaic is like music. “Yit-barach, v’ish-tabach, v’yit-pa-ar, v’yit-romam, v’yit-na-say, v’yit-hadar, v’yit-alleh, v’yit-hallel sh’mey de-kud-sha bereck Hu le-ella kol min bir-chata.”
“Blessed, praised, and glorified, exalted, extolled, and revered, highly honored, and lauded, be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, whose glory transcends, yes, is above and beyond all praises, hymns, and consolations that are uttered on the earth, and say, Amen.” “Amen,” is again the response. The one reciting the prayer is proclaiming the mighty sovereignty of God over all flesh, dead or alive, and that His glory is above all praise and above all that we can possibly express in worship, and yet our worship He receives. The prayer comes to a conclusion with, “May there be abundant peace from heaven and life for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen.” “Amen,” the hearers respond again. “May He establish peace in the heavens, grant peace unto us and unto all Israel, and say ye, Amen.” One of the most beautiful and soul-stirring songs in the Hebrew language is taken from the last few lines of this prayer. It is called “Oseh Shalom” and is an ode to Him who makes peace in the heavens. The Kaddish is not a prayer for the soul of the departed, but for the magnification of the Name and character of God Almighty. This indeed is peace in the heavens, but also one that sweeps down to earth below, healing hearts and spirits. Man is obliged to give praise for the evil that befalls him, even as he gives praise for the good. In that proclamation and giving of praise, daily for 11 months for a Jewish person mourning a loved one, is one of the greatest healing balms known to man.
What do these two prayers have to do with a mandate to “give God no rest?” Reading my devotions in Hebrew one day, I crossed a phrase in Ezekiel that stopped my reading. “And so, I will show My greatness and My holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23). The two words, greatness and holiness, stood out to me. V’hitgadalti, V’hitkadashti . . . gadal and kadash buried in the Hebrew “vav-reflexive” verb form, i.e., greatness and holiness echoed the Kaddish in my mind. A question arose in the same voice I had heard the night that I surrendered to God. “Is hallowed a verb?” How many times I had prayed “hallowed be thy Name” from the Lord’s Prayer and just let it go right over my head.
The question was arresting. I knew I was at the end of the thread though. Backing up to Ezekiel 36, where the last days centering around Israel are recorded, I read, “I dispersed them (the Jewish people) among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. And wherever they went among the nations they profaned My holy Name . . .” I caught my breath and stopped reading. “Wait a minute,” I reasoned. For example, the book of Daniel, the flagship prophet of the diaspora, was not about profaning God’s name. It was about four men leading the Babylonian empire to the throne of God Almighty three different times. “Read on,” I was urged by the soft voice.
“. . . for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave His land!”I began to see. In a foreign land where each city had a local god whose oversight protected the residents of that city, the Babylonians viewed Yahweh, the God of the Jews, as weak and unable to defend them from capture and enslavement. To them, the God of the Jews was worthless. Why give Him any attention? Reading further, the interconnection of the prayers became clear.
“I will show the holiness of My great Name [the two words again], which has been profaned among the nations, the Name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show Myself holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land” (Ezekiel 38:19-24). God promised to sanctify and exalt His Name by bringing His people back home to the land He had given their forefathers. The first return from Babylon could not fulfill this promise as they were coming home from only one nation. The word “nations” is plural in this passage of Scripture. He would make the world stand up and take notice of what He was doing, and it has happened in our day and time.
We are bombarded daily with news; much of it has to do with Israel. Herein is the depth of the message. The news is not reporting about Jewish people in some distant country – CNN, BBC, FOX, Sky News and other media are reporting on Jewish people in the land of the patriarchs. Israel is home. Actually, the tone of the news or their negative slant is not the important issue. The important issue is that the media must report time and again about the Jews in Israel, fulfilling these passages in Ezekiel and other prophetic promises for this day. Then, is “hallowed” a verb? Yes! When we pray “hallowed be Thy Name” we must know that there is something that can be done and is being done to make that prayer live.
Hallowing God’s Name is accomplished when we act in ways that fulfill His character (the Hebrew meaning of name) and promises in the earth. In 1948, God began to sanctify and glorify His name by bringing His people home, restoring the bounty of the land, establishing a State through them, and blessing them with abundance with which the world cannot argue. The land itself, run down, stripped of its trees and vegetation, began to awaken. The desert began to bloom and bring forth fruit in such abundance that it was impossible to consume all of it. Exports began, and this fruitful land has filled much of the world with produce, technology, scientific discoveries and blessing.
But, Israel’s children are still coming home. The return could not happen all in one move. The land could not support millions upon millions coming at one time. In the last ten years, we have seen one and one half million Jews come home, mostly from the former Soviet Union. Bridges for Peace is busy fishing Jewish hopefuls out of many cities there now. In the last four years we have been responsible for bringing 11,000 Jewish people home to Israel who would never have been able to come without your help, and us being your hands and feet to make the connection. How does it feel to “hallow” the Name of God in a tangible way? We think it is a holy privilege. We could never have imagined such a job description before God unfolded it before our eyes.
We want to thank you who have joined us in participating in unfolding prophecy and let you know that we see no end in sight. We are not in danger of being out of a job any time soon. We will continue fulfilling the mandate to “give God no rest” fully expecting that our prayers, praise and assisting the Jewish people to come home hallows His Name. God sends just the right amount of immigrants in the right time slots to assure that the land and government of Israel are not stretched beyond their limit to absorb. But, we know too that Israel could not do the job alone. They have told us so. Bridges for Peace has received awards twice from the government of Israel to say thanks for being the connection between Christians worldwide who have heard from God that there is a mandate to fulfill–in God’s Name.
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