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Tag Archives: Jericho

Picking Up of the Mantle of Your Spiritual Father

Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and Jordan are 4 places with a rich historical and spiritual past. Israelites first camped in Gilgal after they crossed the Jordan River into the Holy Land While Moses led Israel out of Egypt, God raised up Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Meanwhile, the city of Bethel signifies our first beginnings of knowledge and understanding of God. At Jericho, God performed a miracle as Israel learned to trust God in a ridiculous manner before the walls came tumbling down. Finally, the Jordan River served as the place where the mantle of Elijah was passed on.

And Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they divided this way and that, so that the two of them went over on dry ground. And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me, 2 Kings 2:9-10.

In the context of leadership, a mantle is an important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another. When picked to become Elijah’s successor, Elisha asks to spend one more night with his family before saying goodbye. This decision is symbolic of rejecting the world by becoming all in for God. While it’s common for modern Christians to teeter back and forth, flirting with their former way of life, Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit suggests a spiritual hunger. This prayer request was contingent upon seeing Elijah being taken up into heaven.

And Elisha saw it and he cried, My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 And he took the mantle that fell from Elijah and struck the waters and said, Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? And when he had struck the waters, they parted this way and that, and Elisha went over, 2 Kings 2:12-14.

Although Elisha was mentally prepared for this day, his emotions got the best of him. The expression “my father, my father” is a moving way for Elisha to refer to Elijah as his spiritual father on earth. Elijah’s departure causes Elisha to respond like a son struggling to accept that his father will no never return. After a short period of mourning, Elisha is eager to find out if his prayer for a double portion has been granted. Elijah’s mantel, his cloak, fell to earth from the chariot in the sky. Thus, Elisha immediately grabs this mantel and struck the Jordan River. The parting of the Jordan is a clear sign that Elijah’s mantel and spirit was passed on to Elisha.

by Jay Mankus

Unlikely Heroes

Hollywood has a way of portraying films that appear to be genuine, but add an unlikely hero to appeal to the masses.  Although this may draw tears from some viewers, others may think quietly to themselves, “yeah right.”  Teenagers tend to be truth detectors, not afraid to be blunt by cutting through the crap in life that exists.  Despite this painful truth, every once in a while unlikely heroes do come forth.

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies, Hebrews 11:31.

One of these which pops up in history is a prostitute from Jericho named Rahab.  I guess you can say she was the Dolly Parton or her day except her whore house wasn’t in Texas.  Nonetheless, God needed someone on the inside.  While her occupation doesn’t fit the typical servant of God, this testimony reveals that the Lord can use anyone to fulfill His will.

And Salmon the father of Bo’az by Rahab, and Bo’az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, Matthew 1:5.

Rahab may not have done much to receive the honor of being selected as a member of the Hall of Faith.  Yet, she kept her word and held up her end of the bargain.  This simple act of faith saved her families life and opened the door for becoming a distant relative of Jesus.  Therefore, if you want to be an unlikely hero in the future, let faith guide you to the place where God can use you the most.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Sure About That God?

From time to time, God will call his followers to step out in faith.  While this is expected to a certain extent, some requests go beyond logic.  Noah was asked to build an ark before rain existed.  A man plagued with stuttering, Moses, was urged to confront Pharaoh to let Israel go.  Meanwhile Joshua was encouraged to go into battle with a marching band of trumpets.  At some point I’m sure all three of these men likely pondered, “are you sure about that God?”

Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, Genesis 2:5.

The book of Hebrews emphasizes that its impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6.  James, the earthly brother of Jesus states that faith is dead without accompanied by action, James 2:26.  Perhaps, the reason why individuals are forced to step out in faith is that many people spend most of their lives dwelling within personal comfort zones.  Thus, God has to nudge and prod people to live by faith, not by sight.

For we live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Prior to the fall of Jericho, Joshua led his army to march around the walls of the city for six consecutive days.  At some point during this week, there must have been murmurs by soldiers, “when am I going to get my weapon?”  Although its not mentioned in the Bible, human nature causes individuals to doubt.  While not vocalized, Joshua needed to unite the troops on the final day, with something like “stop talking and march.”  Though you and I will have many more “are you sure about that” moments, may you fight through the urge to doubt by trusting God, step by step in faith.

by Jay Mankus

Behind Closed Doors

Zach got up like any other work day, going through his morning routine.  On his way to his office, he noticed a parade of people lining up down Main Street.  With no holiday on the calender, he stopped to chat with some folks in the crowd, curious about all the commotion.  To his surprise, Jesus was passing by Jericho, receiving rock star treatment, minus the screams from young ladies looking for an autograph.

Vertically challenged, Zach could not see anything, despite jumping up and down with all his might to catch a glimpse of this legendary man.  Caught up in the frenzy, Zach runs ahead of the masses, finds an overhanging tree and starts to climb.  Yes, this wasn’t your typical day, especially when the chief tax collector hangs out over the road to get Jesus’ attention.  What happened next got the grapevine stirred up as gossip rumbles across the town, Luke 19:5-7, “Jesus meeting a sinner in his own house?”

Unfortunately, inquiring minds are left to wonder what occurred behind closed doors as the doctor gives a shorthand version in Luke 19:8-10.  Touched by this offer, Zach doesn’t panic about what his house looked like.  Nor does he spend countless hours making excuses for his past sins.  Rather, Zach appears to be convicted by the wrongs he had committed.  Thus, he makes a pledge to the poor and penance to those he overcharged.  Following this meeting with Jesus, Zacchaeus was spiritually transformed, moved by the promise of salvation, John 3:16 and inspired by faith to act, James 2:26.  May we all be so fortunate to one day experience a face to face meeting with Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Strangers in the Crowd

The biblical accounts of The Triumphal Entry contain 3 common threads, except for John who only mentions two, John 12:12-18.  Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1-11 and Luke 19:28-44 explain the detailed preparations necessary to make the first Palm Sunday a reality, followed by specific instructions Jesus leaves with two of his disciples.  Once executed exactly according to Jesus’ own words, all 4 authors emphasize the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy by the triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the waving of palm branches, an act of praise and worship by the strangers in the crowd.

While the Holy Spirit, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, led Matthew, Mark and Luke to recount these 3 main details, John is moved in a different direction, focusing on individuals who attended this celebration.  John 12:17 suggests that people who went to Lazarus’ funeral lined the streets, paying homage to the man who brought their friend back to life.  Though this passage shines light on a few of the participants, clues, hints and logic are the only tools we have remaining to connect the dots to the faces of these strangers in this crowd.

Matthew 20:34 confirms that two blind men from Jericho whom were healed by Jesus, followed him to Jerusalem.  Bartimaeus is named directly by  a similar account in Mark 10:46-52.  Meanwhile, Matthew 19:13-15 informs us that children were granted access to Jesus, likely following their parents trying to sneak a peek of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.   According to Luke 19:1-10, a short tax collector began climbing a tree to get Jesus’ attention.  After a life changing visit with Jesus, Zacchaeus was surely present, either in the front row or climbing another tree to pay Jesus the respect he deserved.

With all the clues and hints within Scripture used up, logic leads me to believe that anyone healed by Jesus came to the first Palm Sunday.  Furthermore, any family member who either heard, knew of someone or actually saw Jesus make a person whole again was likely in attendance.  As Palm Sunday 2013 approaches this weekend, don’t be left out in the cold.  Rather, line up early to become another stranger in the crowd, ready to worship the risen King!

by Jay Mankus

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