A few days ago the Lord spoke to me in a dream (a rarity in my life) more clearly than ever before. In the dream Anne and I were (for an unknown reason) spending the night in a homeless shelter. In the morning I discovered my backpack had been stolen containing all of my physical necessities (except my phone). I left the room and found Anne in the hallway sitting in a chair, incapacitated by mental confusion caused by a bad reaction to her medication. I went looking for my backpack in a large storage room and there was confronted by hostile homosexuals who recognized me as a pro-family leader, but did not find my pack and so I left. Back in the hallway I discovered Anne had disappeared and I did not know where to look for her. I then found myself in another part of the city that was run-down and damaged. My phone was in my hand – its casing broken, the glass a web of cracks, and the display screen all distorted and flickering and I felt dismay. Suddenly the phone rang and I answered. It was the host of a Christian radio show, someone unknown to me, who said just one thing: “What to you think of Psalm 25?” I couldn’t remember the theme of that Psalm, and just answered, “I like all the Psalms.” And then I woke up.
When I read Psalm 25, the part that jumped out at me was verse 8-13 “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He shows sinners the way. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way….Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the path chosen for him. His soul will dwell in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.”
I realized this was an Old Testament grounding of the Third Beatitude (Matthew 5:5), offering God’s definition of the “meekness” of those who inherit the earth: humble God-fearers.
This raised two questions, the first being “WHEN do the meek inherit the earth?” and reminded me that nearly all New Testament teachings have an Old Testament root that provides insight into meanings. “When” can only be the Millennial Kingdom since that is the only time in history or prophecy when the whole earth is literally in the possession of humble God-fearers.
The second question being “WHERE is the Old Testament root of the Beatitudes?” And the Holy Spirit led me to Isaiah 61, all of it, but especially 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD anointed me to bring good news to the humble; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to captives, and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God;”
Which reminded me that Jesus invoked this very passage in Luke 4:16-21 (just a few weeks before He preached the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount) – but stopped reading after reciting “the favorable year of the Lord,” before announcing this Jubilee proclamation of liberation was His fulfillment of messianic prophecy. I have long known that Chapter 61 is a prophecy of both the first and second coming of Christ. He stopped in that spot because the next phrase “the day of vengeance of our God” relates to His second coming.
I have long known that the “the day of vengeance of our God” references the 1000 year “day” of the Millennial Kingdom (which begins with events described in Revelation 19:11-21), and is prophesied in Hosea 6:1-2: “Come, let’s return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him.” The Millennial Kingdom is the 7th “day,” the Sabbath, in the pattern established at the Creation. The “two days” of Hosea 6 (the 5th and 6th days of Creation) are the 2000 year Age of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25), begun by Christ at His first advent.
The “third day” is the third of the “last days” referenced by Peter in Acts 2:14-21, specifically when he said “this [outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost at the birth of the Christian church] is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘and it shall be in the last days, God says, ‘that I will pour out my spirit on all mankind.”
Thus the imminent “third day” of Christianity in Hosea 6 is a reference to the 7th and final day of the Creation, “the great and glorious day of the Lord” when Christ will literally rule on earth from Jerusalem on the Throne of David for one full millennial “day.”
I then recognized that Isaiah 61:3-9, specifically this portion… “To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning” …is a foundation to Romans 11:25-29 “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not be conceited: A hardening in part has come to Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will remove godlessness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”
In other words, the second coming, on “the day of vengeance of our God,” is the day of salvation for the Jews, who will finally recognize and receive Jesus Christ, when “[God says] I will pour out on the house of David and on the people of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and prayer, and they will look on Me, the One they have pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son” Zechariah 12:10.
As I reread Isaiah 61, I noticed all of the specific thematic links with the Beatitudes (e.g. the “poor in spirit” theme of the first Beatitude aligning with Isaiah 61:1 and “those who mourn” in the second Beatitude with Isaiah 61:2) – but then it suddenly struck me that these nine themes are the same themes of the nine Hebrew religious feasts that were in practice at the time of the Jesus’ earthly ministry. I know this set of thematic connections intimately after having shown how the Gospel of John tracks them precisely (see colored charts below). Following is what I discovered about the Beatitudes:
All of this that I have shared with you was revealed to me over the course of about two hours, one step at a time.
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. Genesis 37:5
Someone once said that God’s blessings are not all bright, shinny objects. There comes a time, a place and a season one MUST endure (call it a nightmarish experience) for God to reveal the mighty handiwork He ordains specifically for your life. The experience will either make you or it will break you. It will either make you ‘bitter’ or it will make you ‘better’. But, let it be known that if you endure the nightmare, God has waiting for you on the other side something that will change your destiny. It will change your perspective on God, on life, on yourself and on your world. The question is: will we allow God to produce the miracle in the middle of our nightmare? Will we trust Him to take our horrendous dark night for the purpose of birthing a masterpiece, a work of beauty?
We will look at five specific examples, the life of Joseph, Abigail, Peter, a personal story, and the life of Jesus Christ to see how a nightmare can birth something miraculous beyond human calculation. Let’s take a look.
Sweet Dreams Become Bitter Nightmares – The Life of Joseph
For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. Genesis 37:7
And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. Genesis 37:9
The young man (seventeen years old at the time) was meek, kind, gentle, humble and called of God. The lad’s name was Joseph. One would think given these “blessings” all of life would be well – no pain to endure, no difficult life situations to navigate, no enemies, no perplexing circumstances to set one off the trajectory God ordained. That was not the case. In fact the opposite was true. Joseph’s call became a caldron of turmoil before birthing the life-altering actions it was designed to produce.
Joseph’s dreams caused him rejection by his brothers (Gen 37:18-28), placed him on the auction block of slavery (Gen 37:36), shackled in the prison house of false actuations (Gen 39:20), and marginalized and brushed-off for his spiritual insight (Gen 40:23). Through it all Joseph allowed God to bless him on three levels; personally (Gen 41:38-45), relationally (Gen 45:3-15; 46:29-30) and generationally (Gen 47:5-11). The Lord restored his personal life, his family’s unity and his nation’s sovereignty by faithfully traversing the dark roads he was destined to travel.
Abigail – From Disgrace To The King’s Place
Abigail learned of the plot to annihilate her husband Nabal, his entire household, including herself. David and his ragtag army of misfits were headed her way and they would leave no life untouched by their wrath. But, unlike her husband, Abigail was a godly woman who feared the Lord. Instead of being fear-struck, she found courage and hope in God’s faithfulness, and by faith, humbled herself before David with a freewill offering of food and provisions. Her prophetic and anointed words concerning David and God’s will for his life (I Sam 25:24-30) were God-sent (I Sam 25:32) which he desperately needed to hear at this dismal juncture in life.
Abigail endured her nightmare. Her faith enabled her to persevere through the darkness. What was her “silver lining” in the pending catastrophe? She became the wife of the King of Israel. The pain Abigail endured from living in a very difficult situation was now comforted by looking daily at the face of her child, Chileab (meaning ‘like his father’ or ‘everything of the father’), born in Hebron between her and David. While Abigail lived a past filled with disgrace, she now lived a life surrounded by royalty as the king’s wife.
Peter’s Test In His Own Personal Nightmare
“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” Matthew 14:30
The account of Peter’s walk on the water to meet Jesus on a stormy sea was an unforgettable moment for him and for those who would read about it as recorded in Matthew chapter 14. It was truly a supernatural manifestation of God’s power in one man’s life. But, was there something else going on here that Jesus was setting out to accomplish? Was Jesus looking to use this moment of drama and near catastrophe to send a test of faith to his fresh brand of disciples to expose who would prove to be the most passionate and faith-driven?
One thing we do know is not much is recorded about Peter or his life before this supernatural encounter of walking on water. But afterwards, Matthew has much to say about him. Could it be that God was waiting to see by using the sea to test and identify true faith? How much faith does it take to walk out of a boat and onto the sea in the middle of a raging storm? It would appear a whole lot. But, there is a key point here that needs recognition. It is faith. What happened when Peter stepped out of that boat to walk towards Jesus on the sea? He gave up all control. Peter relinquished his own control over the situation, and by faith, trusted Jesus to take control. And what was the target of satan’s attack against Peter? It was his faith in God (Luke 22:31-32).
Peter’s test of faith in a time of great darkness was the key God would use to birth his future special role in God’s salvation plan (Mat 16:17-19). By trusting in Jesus’ ability to deliver in impossible situations (Mat 14:28), Peter would have the faith to fulfill God’s will for his life. This faith would later come to good use at a most critical time and place – the beginning of the church age on The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36). It was engrained in Peter’s mind that no matter what may come in life, or death, Jesus’ word is true and Jesus would back it up. Even when prompted to walk on the sea in the middle of a raging storm.
While sitting at the red light it took some mental gymnastics to decrypt the vanity license plate on the car ahead. But, after juggling around the seven-lettered puzzle piece it was too real and almost too coincidental – LVNTMRE. Living nightmare. Which was a fairly accurate description of life for the past eight years or so. But, as it turned out God has a plan even living there.
The beautiful newborn child pictured above was 3 weeks old when this photo was taken. Logistically-speaking, she has neither a mother or a father. She is our first grandchild. She is healthy, beautiful and complete. But, you do not know the “nightmare”, the story behind her entrance into this world. The circumstances surrounding her birth are nothing short of miraculous. Her 9-month journey was atypical of the way most children enter this life. This little girl was born in a very difficult situation and under horrendous circumstances. Some of the more personal and sensitive details (and they are numerous) are excluded. You see this child was born by a parent addicted to crack cocaine, nicotine and alcohol (and other drugs). But, God reached His hands into a nightmare situation and brought forth a living miracle. The neonatal nurses at the hospital knew her background, read the blood work results and were on the lookout for withdraw signs. They were very minor.
This was all because of prayer coupled with the cooperation of one special family member. Prayers by her family and prayers from the body of Christ were heard and answered on her behalf and turned a certain tragedy into a wonderful treasure. God reached His hand into a pit of darkness and brought forth precious life. And all life is precious because it is created by God.
Even in the belly of hell Satan may challenge, but he cannot overpower God’s sovereignty. Jesus is the God of light, life, and love. Jesus is the giver and taker of life. When Jesus commands, hell listens, even when the situation dictates otherwise. Don’t loose your hope in the midst of your nightmare because He just might be planning to produce a living miracle in its midst.
And now we will save the best nightmare for last.
Jesus Christ – He Experienced His Own Nightmare
His life was perfect. He never sinned, his heart and mind was pure, he always handled himself gracefully and tactfully when faced with hate and injustice. His name is Jesus Christ. History documents his life. Jesus indeed walked the dusty, earthen paths and roads of this earth. Jesus lived for one purpose – to heal, to love and to set souls free from the curse of sin. But, even Jesus encountered his own nightmarish experiences.
“And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Luke 23:32-34
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:44-46
What did Jesus birth in his darkness? He birthed our healing (Is 53:5) and He birthed the church, God’s church, the highest life-form on earth, the body of Christ. God has free will and can choose to be whoever He wants to be. Yet, he decided to be love and be known as the God of love (I John 4:8, 16). And there is “no greater” way to display this love than to lay down His life for sinners, a people who don’t deserve it and can never do anything to earn it. God’s love is a gift. A gift to humanity. And Jesus endured the darkness of sin so that we might have the choice to embrace that love and be birthed into his kingdom.
Jesus endured the cross’ pain and shame to usher into the world salvation for mankind through the new birth of water and Spirit (John 3:3-8, 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-4, 2:38; Rom 8:11). Jesus did it for you. God knew before creation that he would walk through this darkness (I Pet 1:19-20; Rev 13:8) and face the ‘nightmare’ on Golgotha’s hill. Jesus became sin for us who knew no sin that we might have a hope for something beyond the end of this life journey.
What Will God Birth In Your Own Nightmare?
No one really knows the totality of our life like God. He even knew before your birth the number of hair follicles that would be on your head (Mat 10:30). And no one really understands life’s nightmarish experiences you are going through, have gone through or somewhere down the road will go through but God. Are they to punish, callously inflict pain or purposelessly cause undue burdens upon your life? Never. We must come to an understanding of this. Whatever you go through in life is meant to better you, make your faith stronger, recharge hope, and most importantly to rekindle love – our love for God, love for our neighbor and love for ourselves.
We must allow the nightmares God sends into our life to produce their intended miracle, turn the mess into a masterpiece and birth the impossible out of the darkest of nights. Only God, only Jesus really understands the whole picture of your life. This is mentioned because God has sent you or will send you a nightmare to birth in you a miracle. What the enemy meant for evil, God desires to turn it around for your and His good. Why? Because God is glorified through the fiery trial of your faith (Rom 4:20; I Pet 1:7). There is nothing that defuses the devil’s machinery of mayhem more and completely blasts his apple cart of destruction and wickedness apart then when someone endures a nightmare experience while maintaining a right attitude by praising and magnifying the Lord in its midst. Do you know what that does? It shows whether it is the god of this world with the lower-case ‘g’ or the God of Creation with the upper-case ‘G’ that is really running this thing we know as life.
And there is one thing that ends all nightmares every single time. All nightmares end upon one condition, when you “wake up” and open your eyes. The nightmare looses its power and grip when the person under its control wakes up and sees the light of day. Jesus is the light of the world (John 1:9, 8:2, 12:46). Jesus is the peace and comfort in life’s darkest moments. And Jesus came to heal the mind’s blindness caused by the god of this world (II Cor 4:4) and enlighten your vision to who really is the One in control. If we allow him. Jesus will take our worst nightmare, turn it around, and produce a work that will amaze you and those around you.
What miracles will you allow God to birth in your life like he did for Joseph, Abigail and Peter (and Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Samson, Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, the blind, deaf, dumb, the bruised, the broken, the DEAD and so many others)? And who knows, you just might be next on His list!
Only Jesus can turn a LVNTMRE (‘Living Nightmare’) into a LVMIRKL (‘Living Miracle’).