Author Archives: jansuwilkinson

About jansuwilkinson

God created us so unbelievably complex. As an addiction counselor, I am privileged to hear and hold in trust the unique stories of immortal beings whom God loves. When reflecting on my own journey, I am curious about the narrative, the timing, the burst of meaning, the unanswered enigmas of every day. Yet there is one simple truth: love is why we are here. Reading and spilling ink with fellow writers of 66 Books this Year 2022 promises to be no exception to discovering this divine love found on page after page of God's Word. Lead us in, Lord Jesus!

Exodus 25:10-27:21

I recently finished crocheting a throw that I had started some time before Christmas. There was a season of my life when crafting household decorations, sewing clothes for my young daughter, canning homemade vegetables and jellies made from my garden and orchard, and baking bread and cakes were my delight. The daily study of God’s Word and focused prayer would sometimes run over a couple of hours before my husband returned home from work to enjoy a cheerful house and a home-cooked meal. When I think about those days gone by, I miss the simplicity of that life and the joy of spontaneous creativity. So much meaning and purpose.

The text in Exodus describing God’s plan for the first tabernacle touches me in many ways that remind me of the deep love I felt when caring for the needs of my family so long ago. I read somewhere that the temple where sacrifice was made on the altar of burnt offering could be considered a ‘domestic’ setting, since the place of God’s presence in Israel was this tabernacle, meaning His house or palace. The tabernacle included domestic furnishings, such as a lamp and a table. In fact, God created a pattern for each item to be placed in His house, all highly decorated and elaborately designed – the Ark of the Testimony, the Table for the Showbread, the Gold Lampstand, the Altar of Burnt Offering, and the Tabernacle itself, both the outer and inner court. Having a pattern to follow allowed the craftsman to concentrate on perfectly molding the intricacies of each design on exact measurements of wood and metal structures. God also chose costly, beautiful, threads of blue, purple, and scarlet to weave color and design onto the fine linen and protective wool and animal skins that would hang over and within His tabernacle. The various woods used for pillars, for utensils, and for the altar were chosen with divine understanding and fashioned for functionality. Even God’s use of gold and silver fittings, overlays, and crowning surfaces hammered into loops, poles, clasps, lamps, and artistic representations of angelic beings begs one to look up to the King of Kings for the redemption of man. So much meaning and purpose.

Much has been written about the symbolism in the design of the Tabernacle. As a side note, I once heard a sermon in which the pastor described the differences in men and woman using the stereotype of the stay-at-home mom and the bread-winning husband (no gender denigration intended). He said that the woman concentrates on keeping the inside of the house in order, while the man takes care of the outside chores. How interesting to me (a woman) that God described in Exodus the inner view of His house before moving to the outer court. It is the innermost place, the Holy of Holies, where enclosed by ten beautiful curtains resided the Ark of the Testimony. The Ark represented the covenant between God and man, the Law, the mercy of God, and God’s indwelling Presence. Since the redemptive work of Christ Jesus, that testimony resides in the believer’s heart. I think about the inner me that communes with God’s Spirit who dwells with me, corrects me, forgives me, and reminds me of His faithfulness.

Then there was the table for the showbread that displayed the twelve loaves of bread representing the twelve tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people. These loaves were symbolically placed before the face of God so that He would look upon them continually and remember His chosen. Isn’t it good to know that we now have our Lord Jesus continually interceding for us? – Romans 8:34. We are always before His face. I love the prayer from Numbers 6:24-26 that says, “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” – New King James Bible.

The gold lampstand seems the loveliest of the ornaments in the tabernacle. The lampstand was crafted entirely out of one solid gold piece. The main lamp in the center was flanked by three branches on either side. The bowls, blossoms, branches, and knobs were highly decorated, and the flames were fed from the purest of oil. The lampstand was placed in the outer court so that it would be visible and inspirational to all the people. The symbolic interpretations of the seven lamps are virtually endless. The number seven means completion or perfection, as described in Genesis 1:31 when God rested on the seventh day after seeing all that He had made. God pronounced that it “indeed was very good.” In Revelation 4:5, the seven lamps of fire symbolize the seven Spirits of God. In Isaiah 11:2-3, the seven Spirits of God are attributed to Christ in who resides 1) the Spirit of the Lord, 2) the Spirit of wisdom, 3) the Spirit of understanding, 4) the Spirit of counsel, 5) the Spirit of might, 6) the Spirit of knowledge, and 7) the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. Also, the lamps in the gold lampstand were positioned so that the light would be shed principally in one direction, symbolizing the Christ to come. In John 8:12, Jesus declared, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.” How appropriate that the artistic perfection of the lampstand would represent the Light of the World, Christ Jesus who is absolute truth, knowledge, power, and wisdom.

The Altar of Burnt Offering might be aptly described as a cooking surface for the sacrificial animal. Sometimes the burnt offering would be cooked and eaten by the priests. During certain feasts, the priest and the one who offered the sacrifice would share in eating the sacrificed animal. At all times, certain parts of the sacrificed animal would be entirely burned until only smoke and ashes remained. “These sacrifices were called korbanot. The word korban means ‘something which draws close.’” The main purpose of sacrifice was to bring people closer to God. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/understanding-biblical-sacrifice-korbanot/ There are three purposes of the sacrifice: the giving up of something that belongs to the giver, the substitution of the offering for the person who deserves punishment (and therefore, receives mercy), and the means of coming closer to God. Animal life was offered to preserve human life. To that end, the final sacrifice was made when Jesus Christ offered Himself on our behalf by dying on the Cross. Christ fulfilled the requirement of blood atonement so that all can now live eternally with God.

Perhaps I am too familiar with my comparisons of the natural to the ritual and the spiritual. Yet, in my simple belief, I have found something beautiful and meaningful from this reading of God’s instruction to Moses. This house and all that God included inside appealed to my sense of home and family, of protection and sacrificial living, and of a desire to create objects of warmth and covering. Is it so odd, then, to think my taking up a crochet hook with colored yarn might lead me to reflect on the spiritual meaning and purpose of God’s design for His house where He kept His family close?

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Genesis 31:43-34:31

How do I know if the decision I make today lines up with God’s plan? When I read about Jacob, I wondered about his decision-making ability. In a way, I feel sorry for Jacob, whose name meant “heel-catcher; supplanter,” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). He is always characterized as being a deceiver. His deceits were many: stealing his brother’s birthright, receiving the eldest son’s blessing from his father Isaac, sneaking off with his two wives and his children in the middle of the night from his father-in-law. He’s even faulted coming out of his mother’s womb with his hand holding onto his twin brother, Esau’s, heel. Yet God spoke with him in dreams, confirming his love, protection, and destiny for Jacob. As I read these passages, I was struck with how Jacob’s deceptions seemed to line up with God’s plan all along.

First, I considered that Jacob was naturally passive in accepting the circumstances of his life. Genesis 25:27 says, “…but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.” Multiple times he is presented with a dilemma that allowed little time for brainstorming. The request by Jacob for Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew, which might easily have started out as a tease of sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob, turned somber once Jacob realized how Esau despised his birthright. Therefore, Jacob did not hesitate at once to make Esau swear to sell it for a bowl of stew. Also, it was his mother, Rebekah, who knew the prophecy that Jacob was to rule over his brother and so commanded Jacob to deceive his father on the very day Isaac was to give the blessing meant for Esau (Gen. 27:8-13). Then we see Jacob passively laboring 20 years for the unscrupulous Laban, Rachel’s father. There is no evidence that Jacob grumbled; in fact, his first seven years of work was as if “a few days because of his love for her.” (Gen. 29:20) Yet Jacob was forced to leave quickly and secretly after learning that Laban might seek to turn him out without his wives and children and all that he had earned (Gen. 31:41-42). Another instance of Jacob’s passive nature was when Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, was defiled by a Canaanite prince. Jacob did not respond but allowed her teenage brothers to negotiate the conditions of marriage. Neither did Jacob participate in his sons’ treacherous intentions to kill the prince, his father, and all the men of their tribe. The outcome was that Jacob had to move his family again to prevent being a target of revenge. Jacob may have been passive, but he abhorred the violence wrought by his two sons, Simeon and Levi, in vindicating their sister Dinah. Before dying, Jacob cursed their anger, and despised their cruelty (Gen. 49:5-7).

Second, Jacob’s passivity does not preclude his strength, insight, and perseverance as evidenced from the ‘Jacob wrestles with God’ narrative. Genesis 32: 24-32 is “quite simply one of the most perplexing stories in the entire Bible,” according to one writer in “Why We Wrestle with God – A Commentary on Genesis 32:22-32. walktosiloam.com This author holds the view that Jacob’s entire life was one of deceit, that he was a coward who would sacrifice his family and livelihood before facing his brother, and that he had no relationship with God before the wrestling match. Then, being immobilized by a dislocated hip, Jacob finally was humbled and begged for a blessing. However, I do not see Jacob’s long night of wrestling with the man only as Jacob’s personal epiphany (like that of Job at the end of his discourse with God). God’s plan for Jacob is solidified in this scene. The identity of the man who starts the grappling is unclear. Some commentaries say this man was an angel of God, some say a preincarnate Jesus Christ; The Torah commentary says the man was the guardian angel of Esau representing evil. What is obvious is that Jacob was once again struggling for his destiny and his life. In prevailing with the man even after being struck with pain that should have ended the wrestling, Jacob obtained rightly the blessing that he was charged with acquiring deceitfully. This is confirmed by Jacob’s name change to Israel, which comes from the root words “to prevail; have power” and “God,” and can be translated “he who rules as God,” (Strong’s).

Over the years I have often reflected on the cause and effect of many of my decisions. I readily acknowledge that my decisions were based on what I knew at the time, that I acted on what I believed to be best for others and/or myself, and that I hoped for a good outcome without knowing all the possible consequences. Yet, like Jacob, there were many times when I felt chased or threatened into making choices that today bring shame (Jacob sent waves of gifts to Esau and bowed seven times to the ground before approaching him). And though God has redeemed some of these rash decisions, memories also bring into sharp focus the realization that all decisions should be laid before our Lord, God. Thankfully, being able to look back at my decisions have led to greater spiritual insight and a closer relationship with God. God’s perspective is instruction.

Father God, You alone are holy and You alone are omniscient. I come to You in times of trouble, in days of plenty, when experiencing sorrow or joy. I thank You that You make me content, give me rest, and calm my fears. When I am perplexed, and I seek resolution, not an impulsive reaction, but well thought out solutions, it is then I call You Mighty Counselor. Lord Jesus, be my help in these times. Do not allow me to be overcome with anxiety or overwhelmed with ignorance and helplessness. Speak truth and wisdom to me, please. I have only this temple to honor You; fill it with Your glory so that I may reflect Your light of grace and mercy to others. I ask that You bless all You have placed in my sphere of influence, even those who would seek to harm me. For I am Yours, and I am in Your hands. What a blessing! Amen.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Uncategorized

2 Chronicles 32; Revelation 18; Zechariah 14; John 17

Revelation 18:19 “Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.”

Close your eyes, open your Bible, and point to anywhere on the page. What if this is the way we were instructed to find God’s plan for the day, the year, the expectancy of life? If so, might this denouncement of Babylon be a call for wrath towards me or towards my enemies? I would hope not! Yet this passage painfully reminds me that in one hour the hopes and dreams of a life can be destroyed. I guess that is why I read on, seeking grace from God’s throne. If I can be blown away by judgments or the act of violence from man’s hand, then I am even more in need of the study of God’s word.

I have written on more than one occasion about my great sorrow, wrestling to understand the love of God. I may have, at times, even anesthetized His love with platitudes about His will as if my helplessness was holy. Yet the Divine Christ knows my limits and will not allow me to hold these thoughts for long.

When writing in the past and before today’s post, I longed to hear God speak directly to my soul. It may be selfish, but I seek the exquisite, liquid gold flow of His love and the blinding brilliance of His glory.

This lavish love is described by Christ Jesus in John 17:20, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

I emphasize Christ’s words, “I in them, and You in Me…loved them as You loved Me.” There was and is no isolation in my desolation. The Divine was then and is with me now. With renewed hope, I read on.

The prophecy in Zechariah 18 said that all nations will worship the King (Jesus the Messiah) at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the one feast that will still be celebrated in Messiah’s kingdom, for it is a feast of thanksgiving. Do I hear my soul again question God’s love? Autumn is the season of this everlasting Feast, and yet each autumn I experience the strongest jolt of loss. How can God call my heart to worship in the midst of my pain? Yet, His perfect peace comes undeniably with my obedience in giving thanks.

I search again and reflect on what I have read and written this year for 66 Books. A new focus word for the New Year comes to mind – RAISE. Am I to dress myself with the prayer warrior’s armor so that I can raise up broken relationships? Am I to raise awareness of the injustices I see in the treatment of patients afflicted with addiction? Or am I to raise up my countenance to look into Christ’s wonderful face?

Lord, I pray that the end of a season of writing is just the beginning preparations of this year’s call to be raised up as one of Your servants. I humbly surrender to Your lovingkindness.

2 Chronicles 32:5 “And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made war weapons and shields in abundance.”

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I Chronicles 26, 27, 2 Peter 1, Micah 4, Luke 13

Do you sometimes look for the exceptions in Scripture? That is, does a phrase or description cause you to pause and wonder? I’m studying the Word for the nth time and still surprised by what I missed all those other times. I don’t always approach Scripture with an agenda. I’m not always looking for an answer to prayer or searching for my life’s purpose. When reading the Bible, my curiosity catches a word or phrase and I am bound to circle context and content until I find relevance. For relevance are what all Scripture offers.

Take the many lists of fathers and sons in Chronicles. What pops out to me is the phrase after introducing the eight sons of Obed-Edom – “…for God blessed him,” (I Chron. 26:4-5) What to make of that; are we not blessed who have few or no sons? Or is it that Obed-Edom was blessed because his sons would be tasked with heavy responsibility in the kingdom of God?

“Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shri the first (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him the first,” (I Chron. 26:10). This is yet another example in Scripture where a firstborn lost his heritage to a younger son. Depending on where you stand politically, you might herald this as a great triumph for the last being first. Another might decry, “Unfair!” as Lucy says on A Charlie Brown Christmas, “All I want is what I have coming to me; all I want is my fair share!”

“To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came out…watchman opposite watchman,” (I Chron. 26:16). Ominous, isn’t it? There is this perpetual need for watchmen; the eyes facing out, backs forming a barrier between the unknown dangers without and the trusting protected ones within. Who are our wathcmen?

“Also Jehonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a wise man, a scribe…” (I Chron. 27: 32). Keeping family who know you best in your inner circle can mean accountability and practicality; uncomfortable at times but grounding when needed.

And this much debated truth – God chose holy men to be His spokesmen. “…knowing this first that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,” (II Peter 1:20). Thus, the source of all Scripture is God Himself. How reassuring! When I veer off, Scripture draws me back to God’s truth.

“Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…He shall teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’” (Micah 4:2)

Talk about getting grounded! I am reminded not to be fooled or led astray by the automatic negative thoughts that lead to disturbed emotions and unthinkable behaviors toward others.

Jesus debunked false ideas: “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

(Luke 13:4-5)

Lord Jesus, I do not mean to end my wonderings on a seemingly negative note. In fact, I am encouraged by picking out these exceptional verses of Scripture. They remind me of the intense focus you place on speaking to your children from creation to eternity. No matter that I am limited in understanding by my finite, mortal brain. Your Spirit calls to my spirit and I relish in listening, asking for clarification, responding to Your intimate knowing, and surprised repeatedly by Your mysteries. Love You, Lord! Looking forward to the next immersion in Your Word!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

2 Comments

Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Peter, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Micah, Micah, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

I Chronicles 5, 6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalm 148-150

Sometimes I am conflicted about the will of God in my life. “Should I move or should I stay” is a line in a Third Day song that mimics my own questions. When nothing seems to be working out as I would like or had expected, I doubt my heart and look for sin or some other barrier deafening me to God’s will. I feel like the rejected firstborn or one of a whole lineage of people that God judged as unfaithful. When I search my heart I see the after effects of trauma, unresolved grief, periods of isolation from God’s community of believers, and the constant dripping of remorse. Still, I hold tenaciously to Jesus Christ, the One who knows me intimately – my Creator. Amos 4:13 says,

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, who declares to man what his heart is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth…the Lord God of hosts is His name.”He is the One who declares what my heart is – no matter that I am unaware of this heart’s condition.

Even when convicted of sin, my Lord Jesus does not leave me. He could have. He could have saved only Israel through the Levitical practice of offering sacrifices and left me in the dust. I Chronicles 6:49 describes the importance of the high priest’s function:

“But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel…” However, Jesus Christ, said to God,

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices of sin You had no pleasure. Then I [Christ] said, ‘Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God,’”(Hebrews 10:5-7).

That once and for all sacrifice, that unwavering willingness of Christ to die for me, that love and understanding of my human frailty, is my inspiration to hold fast to what I know: God is faithful even when I cannot readily see His will for me. He encourages me through Scripture, through friends, through study, and through prayer.

“And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

For example, I was reminded yesterday by one of my ‘golden’ friends to praise God in all things – in my sorrow, in my joy, in my confusion, in the most difficult and dark times. And today, God punctuated His reminder to praise Him as I read the last three chapters in the Book of Psalms which exhort Creation from “the heavens to the human heart,” (commentary) to praise God for His mighty works, for the assembly (the church), to praise God for His salvation and judgments, and finally for all things to praise Him:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” (Psalm 148-150).

So, my Lord God, with the breath You have graciously given me to know Your heart and to breathe in Your love for me, I praise You today – in word, in deed, in song, in quietness, and in loud “Halleluiahs!” You have a way of cutting through the fog and clearing the path to see that You are before me, always with me, and upholding me through all that has been and is to come. Most wonderful of all, I praise You for Your very Presence even now! Thank You Jesus, Lord and Savior!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Chronicles, 66 Books, Amos, Bible in a year reading plan, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized