New life and old

what is this? Sprouting out of dead leaves? A sorrel maybe?

12:15 p.m. Tuesday November 9, 2021. 67F/19C.

A crow seems to follow, cawing all the way. Gravel and sand softly crunch underfoot. Trees are noted on each side of the road. Many red cedars grow in this place. No pine are seen. Tall oaks are plentiful. Rocks are scattered everywhere in the forest. There is an abandoned mobile home on the right. Trees and vines have hidden it in the summer. Now in the autumn of the year, it emerges and is quite large. An overgrown driveway slopes down to the trailer. Windows are closed with plywood. It has been maintained, but not recently used. The house next door is made of stone and wood, seemingly the materials found on site. A small bit of smoke rises from the chimney. Another quarter mile away and a home surrounded by pines is nestled into the forest. A mature pine is sighted. A close branch is lifted to the face and inhaled deeply. Pine. It is rich in aroma and rich in healing. Six needles are plucked from the branch and pocketed so as not to be lost on the walk back to the cabin. The long sharp leaves of the pine will be long steeped in scalding water and consumed as a tea. Its flavor is mild and its aromatic steam is satisfying.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter seventeen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to grant us your wisdom as we read your word. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

God asked Ezekiel to speak a riddle to the people. The riddle was about a vine that was planted, watered, and kept safe by a bird of prey. But the vine cared not to stay in the bird’s protection and grew toward a different bird of prey. The bird which planted the vine readied himself to pluck the entire vine from the earth.

In a second message it became clear that the bird of prey which planted the vine was the king of Babylonia. The vine was Jerusalem. The second bird of prey was the pharaoh of Egypt. God had allowed the exiles and the residents of Judah and Jerusalem to be safe in the care of the brutal king of Babylonia. But the king of Judah allied with Egypt. Babylonia readied itself to destroy Jerusalem in response.

Under Babylonian rule, Judah would exist, but not grow powerful until God could say that his wrath was satisfied. God’s desire for Jerusalem at that time was…

That the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant it might stand.

God wanted the country of Judah to be humbled, to fail at achieving power among nations, standing only by guarding its covenant with Babylonia.

But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? Shall he escape that doeth such things? Or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?

The king of Judah rebelled against Babylonia when he sent people to make an agreement with Egypt. He asked for an Egyptian army to fly swiftly and protect Jerusalem. All the king of Judah could offer in return was free use of the land whenever Egypt wanted to march across Judah to other nations and what few taxes he could collect. God asked if the people really thought this plan would work.

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die.

It was the king of Babylonia who placed the king of Judah on his throne. It was the king of Babylonia whom the Judaean king took an oath of allegiance to. God would see to it that the king of Judah died in the city of Babylon, the city built and inhabited by the king he despised.

Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons:

Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape.

God wanted the people to know that Pharaoh was not so stupid to send armies and horses to save Jerusalem. Pharaoh had no home advantage in Jerusalem and he could see that Babylonia’s strength was greater than his own. In order to protect Jerusalem, the Egyptians would be cornered just like Jerusalem was. Pharaoh collected taxes from Judah and freely marched across the land, but refused help when he saw that the Judaean king broke his agreement with Babylonia.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head.

Because of the existing oath that Jerusalem had with God and its kings, which this king broke, God would sentence the king. Because this king broke a covenant with Babylonia as well, Babylonia would be used to carry out God’s sentence.

And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me.

Once the Judaean king was captured, dethroned and carried off to Babylon, there God would punish him for his being a traitor to God.

And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it.

The king’s bodyguards, his family, and his servants were all captured. Some were slaughtered. Some were exiled. Those who escaped, escaped to other nations.

In the end of that riddle, it was God who did as he swore he would do. It was God who proved greater than all kings and gods. When his oracle proved true repeatedly, the people who served God took it as a sign that they could trust in YHWH God.

Life in the hollow, Tuesday

As I read through and research meanings of the book of Ezekiel, I think a lot about Jesus, and about what his life’s work means for me.

Before I gave – and I mean really gave – my life to God by believing in the finished work of Jesus, I did not want this gift of God. I avoided prayer. I avoided church. I really hated to be told about the gift of repentance.

I told myself…

Repentance? Had those who victimized me repented? Why should I?

But in time, I did repent, not of their sins, but of my sin nature.

The lives of church goers seemed harsh, strict, the sort of lifestyle a disciplinarian would dream up. I associated church goers with being scolded for not being right before God. Oh, I grew up in church, but by adulthood, churches seemed foreign to me. Churches were places where stiff people wore only a certain quality of clothing. They dressed their children in stiff clothing, and everybody had to behave in a manner that seemed clean by all standards and empty of life.

Today God has removed me from church, and I actually long to find a home church. It will happen, in HIS time.

What changed? I have no church, but I love praying and praising with others whenever I can do so!

On this side of the knowledge of God’s redemption plan, there is joy and light and life in abundance. There are two-mile long trips on foot just to find the ingredients for one cup of tea. There are stones along the way that are chock full of marine life fossils. Like tiny flowers, there are tiny treasures in life. It is so joyful!

If I could only discern when or how I gave my life to Christ, perhaps I could lead others to that point in their lives.

But what was that point? Where is that place? What makes a person say, “Alright. This is it. Here I surrender to God.”??

Until I find that, He is God. He is worthy of all our trust, our praise, our blessings. I stay in the forest. I walk. I pray. I praise. And I write.

The rebellious vine

8:45 a.m. Monday November 8, 2021. 50F/10C.

The woodpecker by the creek is so loud, she sounds much like a hatchet working at felling a tree. But after a few minutes, the hitting noise ceases and the fluttering of large wings can be heard. Scraps of mushrooms and a long handled rake are carefully carried to a rich area under the trees south of the cabin. It looks as if someone once landscaped it to be a tiny pond. It stays wet there. Leaves coat the area. Tall trees grow all around. The ground is cold and soft underfoot. The mushroom pieces tumble to the soil and are covered in leaves. Deep breathing is easy and full of joy. Only a crow caws overhead. The aroma of the forest is changing to one less bitter, more earthy and sweeter.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter seventeen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to be present in the reading of your word. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

In chapter seventeen, God spoke a riddle that Ezekiel was to give to the people. A great bird of prey with expensive plumage set up a field and set a vine to grow in it. He gave the vine all that it needed and waiting for it to produce fruit. While the great bird waited for produce, the vine saw another bird and changed its loyalty to the other bird of prey. The first bird of prey, the one who planted the vine, decided to destroy the vine completely.

Then God, possibly on another day, gave another word to Ezekiel.

Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? Tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon;

And hath taken of the king’s seed, and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him: he hath also taken the mighty of the land:

“Oh house of bitterness” the Lord told Ezekiel to say to the people. “Know you not what is the utterance? The king of Babel has gone to Jerusalem. He has taken the king and the officials with him to Babel.” The king of Babylonia, God said, took the king in Jerusalem and his family. He may have killed some of the family. The king of Babylonia made an offer that the king of Judah could not refuse.

That king of Judah was most likely Jeconiah, who reigned about three months in Jerusalem. The history of the final kings of Judah can be a little confusing. Judah had roadways to other lands. As such, its control passed between Egypt and Babylonia several times. In this verse, Babylonia set out to seize Jerusalem again.

However, God advised his chosen people to accept the brutal reign of Babylonia over them. King Jeconiah disagreed with God’s prophets and allied with Egypt. After three months of his reign, the Babylonian army showed up in Jerusalem. They took king Jeconiah and his family along with the next wave of exiles to Babylon.

In our day, in the ruins of the city of Babylon, at the Ishtar gate were found written records of the Judaean king’s presence as an exile.

In God’s parable then, the rebellious vine was most likely Jerusalem. The great bird of prey who planted the vine was Babylonia. The other bird of prey was Egypt.

God called the house of Israel a house of bitterness because the people were bitter about God’s instructions. They ignored what was best for them. Without God, Jerusalem would indeed be ruled by another nation. It was actually better for the people to be ruled by the tyrant of Babylonia than the strong idol worship, drug use, and sin culture of Egypt.

Life in the hollow, Monday

The fat brown cat has not been totally well for two years. Her skinny litter mate died of cancer nearly a year ago. Fat and sick as she is, she still outlived her sister.

The coyotes came near sister’s grave. She hissed loudly enough to send the pack back into the woods. She limped proudly back into the cabin afterwards. She always took good care of her sister.

Yesterday, she sat in the leaves next to the grave most of the day. At night she came in and purred herself to sleep.

The color of the leaves changes. Life changes. I have to wonder what these signs mean. God chooses for me to stay here surrounded by forest, not strong enough to get out and help my family and friends. I stay here. I read the Bible. I pray. I write. I wait for the Lord.

A withered vine

11:30 a.m. Sunday November 7, 2021. 65F/18C.

Farm machinery rumbles and voices can be heard across the creek and to the west. They can be heard during every dry day this week. The skies are somewhat clear today and appear as a pale blue. One jet plane traverses the sky to the south. While the smoke of its wake does become clear, the sun glares relentlessly after it passes. Crops produce poorly since the planes arrived in the skies over the hollow. Animals die in greater number. It will be taken to the Lord in prayer again. The ground is littered with yellow and brown leaves. They crunch and rustle as they move into wave-like peaks and valleys underfoot. A crow caws from near the creek, but none of his kind answers. Three acorns are spotted in the leaves and are picked up. These will be roasted and added to breakfast. Tea will be warm and lemony today. It will be sipped while watching the yellow leaves move ever-so-slightly in the breeze.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter seventeen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to illuminate your word in our minds. Keep us immersed in the Bible. Keep us obedient to you. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Chapter seventeen is a single short parable. As Ezekiel progressed as God’s prophet and as the exiles progressed toward obedience and humbleness, God’s messages more often included reminders that his wrath could and would be satisfied by the coming desolations. But God never backed down from his promised destruction of Jerusalem. He never backed down from his promised destruction of the sinners in Judah.

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:

God spoke to Ezekiel saying, “Son of the reddish species…” God in all things encouraged Ezekiel to remain humble when he spoke God’s words. Even when he pronounced God’s destruction, he did not mock the sinners. “Propound a riddle.” He was to encourage the people to guess for a minute what God was trying to say.

Ezekiel was to tell the story of a mighty bird of prey. The bird had huge full wings and feathers of many colors. The bird flew to a mountain range called Lebanon. In Lebanon grew cedar trees, hundreds of feet tall and dozens of feet wide. In our day, these would compare to the pacific U.S. giant sequoias or redwood forests. The mighty bird flew to the top of the cedar. Small birds do not go that high on tall trees. Only eagles and hawks fly that high. At the very top of the tree would be the most supple and strong branches of all.

He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants.

Aha! Here God reveals that the bird is male. So, it is not a female getting ready to lay eggs. But the bird is making a nest or laying a foundation for a home.

The “land of traffick” could have also been translated as the “land of Canaan”. Since Canaan was known for being a crossroad between other nations, the word Canaan was here used interchangeably with the word traffick. BUT, he set it in a city of merchants. That doesn’t sound like Canaan.

Why the top of a cedar? I think I know. It reminds me of our native American tribes who collected the supple tips of certain evergreen trees and used them to cover the floors of lodges and teepees. What a wonderful aroma of evergreens filled their homes! The sprigs gave them a soft place to sit and to sleep, plus it kept the floor warm on cold days. Certain sprigs are antibacterial and could be replaced if made dirty. Sweeping the floor was a simple matter of raking up twigs and laying down fresh ones.

So that male bird collected soft sprigs in the forest and took them to the land of Canaan, to a crossroad, and to a place where there was merchants. Was he making a home for himself?

He took also the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree.

The bird carried the seed of a fruit to a rich, productive field. The field had a river flowing by it. The bird set the seed down by the river to grow just as the willow grows near well watered lands.

And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs.

The home for the vine was well prepared with a clean floor and abundant water and rich soil. The vine established roots in the soft soil, providing a solid ground for the bird to walk on. The vine grew and spread for the mighty bird.

There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation.

Well! What a sarcastic “thank you” the vine gave to the mighty bird who planted her. She saw another bird and she grew in his direction, expecting to be watered and fertilized by a bird who did not plant her!

It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine.

The vine had not yet produced fruit for the mighty bird who planted her. And here, she tried to attract another bird to provide for her, instead of trusting in the one she already knew she could count on.

So Ezekiel was to ask the people about that vine.

Say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof.

Ezekiel was to ask the people if they didn’t agree that the mighty bird should uproot the vine that he planted but that would not grow for him?

Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? Shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? It shall wither in the furrow where it grew.

Ezekiel was to point out that just being planted does not make a good fruiting vine. When the east wind touches it is one of those double meaning phrases. It could also mean “when the breath of the mighty bird’s wrath reaches it”. The vine would wither before the wrath of that mighty bird.

That mighty bird was ready to do all it would take to get rid of the rebellious vine.

Life in the hollow, Sunday

Each time a breeze blows across the hollow, hundreds of colorful leaves tumble and dance to the ground.

I wish this time would last longer. It won’t.

I do see a diabolical plan unfolding in our world. World leaders were “elected” in several nations who simply give in to the global agenda. The election of various officials were in some cases quite obvious fraud and take over.

However, I am not 100% convinced that our days are the last days. Here’s my reasoning:

When I worked in a shop that installed communications systems, we had an order of new installations, especially large ones. Think of the one world government as a large installation. There was the initial conference and agreement with the customer. There was a list of needed equipment. The equipment came in to my location and was staged.

A staging is a setting up of the equipment, a sort of dress rehearsal, to ensure everything works as expected. This was done to work out all the bugs before it went into the customer’s hands.

The virus, the weather modifications, the political unrest, the racial strife, the supply chain obstructions, the economic crisis, the border crisis, were all things that deceived me at first. However, these might all be staging by our enemy for the last days.

We must observe and learn what we can. The enemy knows what he is doing. We must reverse engineer his actions. He might install the new beast system tomorrow, next year, or in forty years.

If these are the last days, we need to think on our feet, praying over all things. If these are not the last days, we still need to pray, determine a course of action, and advise our children. We need to get our spiritual houses and our physical houses in order.

God is allowing evil to work in the world today. We must, we MUST pray and choose. Or be uprooted and wither.

Praise God who keeps his covenant

6:15 p.m. Saturday November 6, 2021. 52F/11C.

All the ice melted off the leaves at noon today. It sounded like rain and hit the porch in tap-tap-tap noises. The sky is still clear but dimming rapidly. The roar of a jet plane only happens a few times. Trees are pale green and orange and yellow and red. The beautiful colors are enjoyed because they will only last a short while.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to enter our lives as our guide as we read your word. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

The end of chapter sixteen has an interesting prophecy that, as far as I know, has not been fulfilled. God pronounced a sentence against Jerusalem, but when he was done, he gave her mercy. He also gave mercy to Jerusalem’s sisters: Sodom and Samaria.

Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.

Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.

And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:

That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.

That’s amazing. Jerusalem will have a covenant with God again. Jerusalem will have a humble attitude. God’s wrath will be satisfied. PLUS the cities of Sodom and Samaria will be as daughters to Jerusalem. We really don’t even know where Sodom was anymore. It was completely destroyed. God knows where it was. And in the end, Sodom and Samaria will be restored with Jerusalem.

Only God could do that.

Life in the hollow, Saturday

It’s dark out. My day of rest has ended. I really enjoy taking Saturdays to rest!

There is a song that we sang each Sunday in the church of my childhood. It was nothing more than a refrain. But it was beautiful in simplicity and meaning.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

It’s a good day to sing that a few times.

When it comes to pass

Long day. Heading home.

7:30 a.m. Thursday November 4, 2021. 32F/0C.

The nettle bush took last night’s cold hard. Its deep green leaves droop, highlighted with sparkling frost. The squash vines are coated with their own leaves, limp and wrapped around the slender wood. Preparations are being made for a trip to town. The truck door handle raises sluggishly. The door will not budge. In a couple of hours the sun will be up. It will melt the ice coating in the truck’s bed. It will defrost the nettle. It will thaw out the truck door. The sky is pale blue and dotted with clouds. It is a perfect day for deep breathing. It is a perfect day for inspecting all the plants. Oddly, the air does not feel cold.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, I request the presence of your Holy Spirit to guide in the reading of the Bible. And I ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

In chapter sixteen, God pronounced judgment on the city of Jerusalem for her sins. He stated that the city’s mother was a Hittite. The city’s father was an Amorite. Samaria, Jerusalem and Sodom were sisters, he said. In fact the region was first settled by tribes of Canaan, of which the cultured, but war-like Hittites were one and the foraging, scavenging Amorites were another. Sodom, Samaria/Shechem and Jerusalem were all first built in the bronze age. All three of the sister cities fell into great sin.

When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:

The translation is really unclear, but the words seem to mean that all exiles will be returned to their original state. When God returns the coming exiles from Sodom and the coming exiles from Samaria, then the exiles of Jerusalem will be among them.

Was that a last days prophecy?

That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.

This will be done so that Jerusalem will feel remorse alongside the sisters she mocked when she was younger. In this, Jerusalem’s shame would be a comfort to her sisters in their remorse.

How odd! I did not know such an event would take place. Who were exiles from Sodom? That would be Lot and his daughters. Who were the exiles from Samaria? That would be the northern ten tribes of Israel. The exiles from Jerusalem would be the southern tribes of Israel, whom we call the Jews. The Jews have returned, but as far as I know, Lot’s family (modern Jordanians) has not and the ten northern tribes (now called “lost”) have not.

Or is God speaking of the cities, and NOT the people?

When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.

As far as I know, Samaria exists as the Jordanian city called Nablus, and the location of Sodom has not been verified. Surely God speaks an end time prophecy there.

For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride.

Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.

Jerusalem gave no thought to her sister Sodom while she sinned. She scorned Samaria while she sinned. She was despised by the Philistines while she sinned.

Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD.

For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

God will deal with Jerusalem in the same manner that Jerusalem dealt with others.

Like many other prophecies, we will know the true meaning of this when it comes to pass.

Life in the hollow, Thursday

I cannot shake the feeling that something is happening in my nation that is quite significant.

I will know precisely what it is when it comes to pass.

God sees individuals

Wild grape, muscadine, I can never get to the fruit before the birds

8:30 a.m. Wednesday November 3, 2021. 45F/7C.

Every few seconds, a raindrop lands on cold hands. Gently tapping the camera screen to take a photo is nearly impossible. Crows caw overhead and a fast moving vehicle is heard, from the south, where the hollow dips down to the hard road. Locals do not drive so fast. The dirt road causes too much damage at speeds above twenty miles an hour. Finally a dark pickup truck rumbles by. It is driven by a bearded man who waves but never slows. The rain prevents dust from being stirred by the vehicle. A jet plane roars overhead. Such noises are constant reminders that city life is closer than it seems. The storm trench carried plenty of water overnight. The only tracks in the sand are those of the armadillo. Another acorn is picked up to roast for breakfast. The grit of sand on its smooth surface can still be felt in cold hands. Hot tea, sweet and spiced with star anise, waits in the cabin. Fingers take a few minutes of tingling before once again being sensitive enough for use.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, I request your assistance in reading the book of Ezekiel. You are a powerful God and I can see that idolatry and murder anger you. Anger is the only English word I know, but perhaps passion of anger is what I am reading here. Protect your people as we read your word. We know that you are a good God, but Lord, you also frighten. Let us always be found standing with you, and never against you. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

God told of his love and compassion for the infant city of Jerusalem. He told of how she grew and he made a covenant with her, to make the city his wife. But Jerusalem became lewd in her behavior and worshiped other Gods. Then she began slaughtering her own children and giving away the gifts of God to her lovers.

One thing stands out in chapter sixteen. God was passionately angry. His wrath was controlled and purposeful. He promised to sentence the city and carry out the sentence and then be done with it.

The list of sins was long.

And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

Jerusalem, Samaria, and possibly Sodom were cities of crossroads, built in the bronze age. Egypt, Assyria, and all other warring nations had to march through these cities to get to their battles. Whoever controlled the highways, controlled history.

Samaria, the city, was established around 870 BC. It’s name means watch tower, and it began indeed as a hill watchtower over the former capitol city of Shechem, which predated Abraham. So, while Samaria city proper was younger, I believe that the elder sister was the twin cities of Samaria/Shechem.

Samaria was a rich, lively, thriving city! She had everything going for her! She was also well known for her spiritual fall into idol worship, many years before Jerusalem did the same. The city of Samaria, and all of the northern kingdom of Israel, fell to the Assyrians about a hundred years before Ezekiel was born.

Left hand is also a reference in ancient Hebrew to the direction north. Samaria was a city in the northern kingdom. Oddly, left hand is also a reference to a dark place. The greater sister city, Samaria, did indeed turn very dark.

Jerusalem’s younger sister, Sodom, dwelt to the south, or the right hand, or in the strong place. Sodom’s age can be traced to at least Abraham’s day. She was old! However she was a lesser city, and a stronghold of sin.

Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations:

God asked a rhetorical question there. Of course, he caught Jerusalem following in the footsteps of both Sodom and Samaria.

but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.

God told Jerusalem that she made Sodom’s and Samaria’s sins seem small! She was rotten, clear through!

The next few verses give some interesting facts about the cities of Sodom and Samaria, starting with Sodom.

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

It sounds as if God viewed Sodom as the worst sinning city of her area. She raped, murdered and robbed any travelers who were unlucky enough to be stuck there overnight. She was that way because she had too much time on her hands. She had food aplenty, and she gave none to the needy. She had clothes and houses and comfort, so she turned to sexual sin to entertain herself. In that, she became proudly insatiable.

Next, God tells of Samaria.

Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast mutliplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done.

Samaria was starting to look angelic next to Jerusalem.

Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.

Jerusalem disdained Sodom and Samaria, even six hundred years later, in Jesus’ day. But in sacrificing her own children to idols, Jerusalem sinned beyond Samaria’s sin. Jerusalem from that day forward, when caught treating others with contempt, would be made to bear her own sins.

And that seems to be the message Ezekiel carried to the people consistently: each will bear responsibility for his/her own sins and each will be comforted by his/her own righteousness.

Life in the hollow, Wednesday

I’m fascinated by history and there is so much to learn from the book of Ezekiel! We look back on Samaria as a dark place, but in her first days, Samaria had it all!

As I read about ancient Jerusalem, I could end up being judgmental of the Jews. Except that my own nation is just as bad right now. Our government is ignoring the side effects of mRNA therapies. We’re killing off our own elderly and children. We’re killing off our own race, our own people, our own future. We’re rebuilding ancient graven images and setting them up as cultural entertainment. Our entertainment industry has made the satanic a commonplace thing.

I feel done with praying for forgiveness for my nation. More than that, I want justice for the injured and dead. We sacrifice our own babies in abortion clinics. I don’t know why God hasn’t wiped us off the map already.

Maybe he is waiting for that last human to accept redemption through Jesus.

And if that last human is anything like I was…

Please know that the greatest work of Jesus was his last effort. His last effort was to take on himself our sin nature, and let his own death forever satisfy the wrath of God.

But we have to choose Jesus for God to be satisfied with us!

The day is coming soon when each person will be judged according to his/her own choice. You have no proof for the belief that your life simply ends in eternal sleep. For yourself and your children – choose Jesus. Choose life.

Jerusalem’s mother and father

The fat brown cat attempts to teach me to stalk prey

Noon Tuesday November 2, 2021. 47F/8C.

Crows caw loudly overhead. It is just cold enough to make exposed fingers stiff. No sunshine streams through the blanket of clouds in the sky. The forest floor is littered with mounds of colorful leaves. Many trees are still pale green. Many branches are bare. A breeze reaches the ground and chills the face. The sandy soil is moist and footprints are easily left behind. Several meadows can be seen from the dirt road. None seem to hide deer, but their hoof prints can be seen in the sand. They’ve been on the road and grazing on the tips of the greenbrier. Two wild rose brambles are identified for future use. It is time to locate gloves for the season. Hot nettle tea will be brewed in the warmth of the cabin.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to reveal the meanings of your words within the Bible. Thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for sending your son, through whose sacrifice, we are able to pray. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

In chapter sixteen, God was very angry with Jerusalem. She was his city with whom he made a covenant, his wife. But she changed from a beautiful woman to a lewd, adulterous, idolatrous, and bloodthirsty woman, a woman whom even prostitutes wanted nothing to do with. God reviewed her past with her and sentenced her to destruction.

Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD:

Because Jerusalem showed no regard for her upbringing, but instead angered God in every little thing, he remembered every sin to give them back to her as a victim.

And thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

And she would not be able to make another plan to worship another idol.

Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.

Everyone around Jerusalem would say, “She was her like her mother.”

Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.

Jerusalem’s mother was a Hittite, a warring tribe of the family of Canaan. They had been powerful, bloodthirsty, idol worshiping people. They had strong leaders, but the leaders’ families tended to hate the patriarchs. They wrote tablets of history, including many assassination attempts by family members.

What God saw, was that the ruling class Hittite mothers hated their husbands and their own children.

Jerusalem’s father was an Amorite, likely another tribe of the family of Canaan. The Amorites were raiders, nomads and moochers. They took what they needed from any land and from any village. One Sumarian king constructed a long wall to keep them from invading his land. They simply walked around it, since 150 miles was not an obstacle to such a nomadic people. They worshiped a pantheon of gods, especially one called Amurru, from which comes the name Amorite. Eventually those nomads settled into cities.

Jerusalem’s father was one of those hunter/scavengers, living in tents, eating raw meat and found foods, brutal if an individual challenged him. Who would have blamed a finely cultured Hittite woman for despising such a man?

The truth is that both mother and father were far from godly people. Was it her parents that caused Jerusalem to sin? Was it the location of Jerusalem that made her so sinful? Was it the nature of the first people who constructed a road and a tower on the land? What causes an entire city to fall so deeply into sin?

Life in the hollow, Tuesday

Here in the southern US, people say of their quirks, “I come by it naturally. My mom and dad were like this too.”

My dad was born of German farmers and my mom a mix of Irish farmer and Cree gardener. All three of those ethnic groups could hunt, trap, and grow crops. It shouldn’t be impossible for me!

Now comes one more attempt to grow lettuce. I failed at a fancy hydroponics tower. Planting lettuce in a pot grew it to two inches high and it died. Planting lettuce in a garden got it eaten by a rabbit. So, I’m trying a new/old hydroponic type system. The Aztecs did this in the rivers. They grew pods of vegetables on floating rafts. They left an airspace between the plants and the water. The roots dangled through the air and then into the water. That’s more or less what I’m trying.

Except, I have a net-pot dangling over a coffee can full of nutrient rich water. Lettuce seeds were added to the net-pot. The theory says that as the water evaporates from the can, the roots should dangle through the air into the water. We’ll see if it works. If they grow to only two inches, I’ll eat baby lettuce.

But I think about ancient Jerusalem, about skills and looks – and sins – being passed from generation to generation, and about the changes brought by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the promises to your faithful bride. Ragtag bunch that we are, we do love you.

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

– The words of Jesus, as recorded by John (10:28)

About asking for a traffic ticket

What kind of mushroom is that?

2:00 p.m. Monday November 1, 2021. 55F/13C

It is a cool afternoon in the hollow. A walk across the meadow is taken, toward a fallen tree at the edge of the grass. A swathe of thorny brambles lie between sandaled feet and an interesting inverted cone-shaped mushroom. It is white and about six inches across. Silently, as if stalking the thing, it is photographed. It will be left to spread spores and investigated for edibility. A soft “mew” is heard. From behind, a fat brown cat demonstrates how to use the brambles to scratch her back. She then crouches down into the brush to watch for small animals and birds. A large bird cackles in response. A jet roars overhead and clouds appear over the western mountain. Large birds circle between the cabin and the mountain. A slight breeze brushes the face.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to send your great Spirit and cause us to understand your word, the Bible. Cause us to understand your will, and your son, as we read about your chosen people. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The only other book of the Bible where I recall God being this angry was in the book of Revelation. In chapter sixteen, the anger of God is mighty. He told of finding Jerusalem as an infant, exposed and abandoned. He breathed life into her and eventually took her as if for his wife. Jerusalem turned into an adulterous and blood thirsty woman. God removed his chosen from her in waves of what we now call the exile. God sentenced Jerusalem for her crimes and sins.

And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.

And I will also give thee into their hand, and thy shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.

God would judge his wife Jerusalem. She would be stoned as an adulterous woman. Her walls were indeed thrown down by the Babylonians. Her “lover” Egypt did not lift a finger to help her. The Babylonians went through the city and killed the residents. God did not protect Jerusalem as he always did in the past. The Babylonians threw down the high places of idol worship and left priests and priestesses of the idols dead in front of their high places. They took everything of value and at the Babylonian king’s request, they destroyed the city and eventually also the temple of God.

They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.

And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.

All that is what the king of Babylonia did to Jerusalem. It was burned. What couldn’t be burned was thrown down. If any lived, they were either killed or carried off. Such a destroyed city could no longer afford to hire lovers from other nations. Such a city could no longer give fine linens to idols, for she had none.

What did it achieve? All that burning and killing and destroying – what did it achieve?

God answered that question like this:

So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.

If there is one thing chapter sixteen drives home more than anything else is this: God can be angry. He was tested by Jerusalem. The king would not listen to the prophets. The people killed their own children in worship of idols. They had always enjoyed God’s favor and they had the mistaken notion that they were invincible, with or without God.

Once God pronounced the sentence on Jerusalem, it was as good as done. He vowed that after it was done, he would turn off his wrath at her.

Life in the hollow, Monday

My recent 4-day fast and pray for my nation lasted 1.5 days from late Saturday afternoon to about noon Monday. I cannot fast and pray unless God’s Spirit approves and apparently, he only approved a day and a half.

The whole time of the fast, I was sick and growing weaker. Upon eating a meal, the sickness simply left.

I was once a member of a forum where people have asked me how to hear from God. “I want that. I want to hear God’s Spirit speak to me. I want to hear his voice too.”

A good smart alec answer would have been, “Do you also pull over in your car when you see a police officer issuing a ticket? Do you ask the officer if you can have a ticket too?” But no. Bravo for them who wish to hear from God’s Spirit.

The voice of the Holy Spirit has told me deeply profound things that I dwelt on for months and sometimes years. He has a way of addressing my sins and filling my needs at the same time. It’s… profound.

But it’s also like being singled out for a traffic ticket. By a really nice cop. Who already knows your heart, your mom and dad, and all the neighbors. Everything you are proud of, will seem like sin.

If someone wants to hear the voice of God’s Spirit, they should begin by asking him. Tell God what a delight it would be to hear his voice. And then be alert for his signals. Be humble. Be willing. Be repentant. And expect God when you seek God.

But I wonder.

What on earth did the ancient residents of Jerusalem do wrong? Perhaps they never desired a traffic ticket. That ticket, or that warning could have saved their lives.

And now a cat that I did not invite is aiming for sitting on the keyboard. May the peace of God be with us all. May we always seek his voice, his Spirit, his son, his love. Amen.

It didn’t have to be so

There are deer prints all over the road

11:00 a.m. Sunday October 31, 2021. 62F/17C.

One jet plane roars in the blue sky overhead, and is gone quickly. Blue skies can be seen between branches and yellow-green leaves in all directions. Animals have emerged from the forest to scamper. There are deer hoof prints in the soft middle of the road. Three marigold continue to bloom at the road’s side. A fat brown cat is keeping watch on the wet meadow, having seen something moving there early this morning. There are still no songbirds. The crows caw loudly. Hawks circle above the creek, west of the cabin. The forest is losing its bitter fragrance in favor of a fleeting sweet aroma. A tangy cup of fermented milk awaits in the cabin. And for a little while, there is peace.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to teach us to read your word, the Bible. Show us the passages you love. Tell us about your rage. Be more than just a little real in our lives. Send your fire into our lives. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

In chapter sixteen, God spoke of his wrath over what Jerusalem had become. He found her as an infant, a victim of exposure. He breathed life into her and made a covenant with her. He cleaned her and anointed her. She was his wife, a source of joy, but she wandered and served other gods. He gave her ample opportunities to repent, but she did not care. Her sins were disrespectful, lewd and violent.

Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;

Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.

Oh, idol worshiping woman, hear the word of YHWH. God wanted her to know exactly who was pronouncing a sentence on her.

Odd, but the words “thy filthiness was poured out” actually means “your copper parts were exposed”.

First God gave the reason for her sentencing: Your private body parts were exposed by those whom you desire, for mockery. All those carved logs that you worshiped are covered with the blood of your sons, which you gave to them. The reason was her lewdness, her idolatry and her slaughter of innocent children.

Her first punishment would be this: the city would be surrounded by all those nations and idols that she took pleasure in. She would be stripped of her city walls. Her lovers would encircle her, strip her naked, and have no regard for the life within her.

It strikes me as sad that God had to resort to punishment. But even after more than one exile of the people, the king of Judah was still looking for another nation’s army to help him do what he wanted, instead of obeying, or even looking to, God.

That was the last king of Judah.

Life in the hollow, Sunday

I’m fasting to pray for the state of my nation and the world for a few days. At least, I hope to last a couple days. I cannot remember when I started, but it seems like last night about sundown.

The La Palma volcano (Canary Islands) is getting worse. All the predictions say that if it blows out one side of the island, that it will send a tsunami to the North American east coast. South America would also be affected, but with not as much loss of life.

The sins of my nation are great, but I really don’t want to see a tsunami hit. All the same, God can either prevent it or allow it. In case that is his mode of judgment, I’m asking him to expose our sins first.

Father God, I ask as a servant of yours, as a part of the bride of Christ, that you please try again to get the attention of those who are willing to repent. Send that shaking please. Let them know you see all and know all. Use us to present your plan of redemption. Get us ready to do so. Strengthen us, I ask. Set us on fire for the gospel message. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Some places are just prone to sin

Today, it feels like God has forgiven the hollow

1:30 p.m. Saturday October 30, 2021. 63F/17C.

In the direct sunlight, shoulders can be warmed. The chill of autumn subsides. Off to the north comes the repetitive calls of a woodpecker. This is not the one that is extremely loud, but it is similar. Perhaps it is a female of the same species. It clucks and sends shortened caws in typical woodpecker style. No jetplanes have entered the skies over the hollow for about a day. Consequently, three marigolds sent out blooms. It is good to see. A tiny purple bloom also emerged from a long stalk along the dirt road. The air carries less of the scent of bitterness of green leaves than it was last summer. It is still mildly sweet. No troubling webs dangle on the path. The only trouble is a few loose stones. Those are avoided.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter sixteen

Abba Father, we love you. We cherish who you are, who you sent to redeem us and how you guide us. As we immerse into the meanings of your word in our Bible, speak to us. Tell us things we might not have otherwise caught. Speak to us in your wonderful way. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Chapter sixteen was a fiery account from God to Ezekiel of the birth and life of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the capitol city of Judah that was greatly loved by the Jews. God’s account personifies the city, calling her God’s wife. She wandered from God and sinned so much that even her pagan neighbors called her lewd.

Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.

Assyria was the nation to the north-northeast of ancient Judah. They were known for an excess of idol worship at that time. A hundred and some years before Ezekiel’s day, they also had a strong leader, a usurper of the throne. He invaded and conquered the northern, ten-tribe, kingdom of Israel, which was then renamed Samarina. Samarina was a province of Assyria. So, Ezekiel would have known Assyria as the nation that took the land of the northern ten tribes of Israel.

Assyria had a ruthless military and was not a nation for Jerusalem to be playing footsie with.

Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.

Judah was located in the land of Canaan. Chaldea was the western side of Babylonia. Babylonia was west-northwest of Jerusalem. So, God was saying that Jerusalem’s sins were all over, from Mediterranean Sea to Mesopotamia. From the place of the giants to the land of the occultist astrologers.

How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;

In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire;

But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!

Jerusalem was an unfaithful wife who did not take money for services, as a prostitute did, but instead lavished gifts on her lovers. It was as if she believed her husband would forever provide the gifts for her to give to her men. She built places of worship for idols in every public place. She stopped honoring her husband but expected his support!

They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.

And the contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: an in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary.

If Jerusalem were a prostitute, she was not using good business sense. She paid other women to do as she did, rather than collecting a portion of their earnings! Jerusalem could have at least collected a tax, or land, in return for sending her army to help out other nations.

Jerusalem was so deeply immersed in her sin that her actions made no sense in any light.

Life in the hollow, Saturday

Today I am resting. And I was very earache sick when I slept last night and also when I woke. A little pine needle tea and washing cat hairs from my bedding was helpful.

Weakness persists. I may not have strength to shout and preach, but I can still write my prayers.

Father God, I continue to lift up my nation and the leaders of my nation. We need them to know you. Present your plan of redemption to them Abba. Use us to tell them all about Jesus. Shake them up. Expose their sinfulness. Show your power. Your power is stronger and better than anything they know. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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