The end of the year for many often brings a sigh of relief; because it is over!  

We oft look back at the struggles of the previous year hoping the misery of the year ends and a new year brings better fortunes.   What does the ending of 2018 bring for you?  Is it an end to misery and seeming oppression and what will you do differently to avoid it in 2019?

Did you know the number 18 is representative of two different terms in the Hebrew alphabet and number system?  In the study of the language, it can provide a futuristic or prophetic link for things to come.   If just the fact that a new year alone does not provide you hope for a brighter year/life ahead, I wanted to bring my fellow worriers an additional dose of positive to end the year to propel your warrior growth.

In the Hebrew alphabet to write the number 18 two letters are written – yod-chet.  These letters signify the hand outworking of a fence or wall surrounding a prison, which brings people into bondage, oppression, and slavery.   In Biblical references, we know that before Moses the Jewish people were enslaved for 400 years.  After being freed and entering into the promised land, there were 18 judges that guided them through near the next 400 years FREE from slavery. (See 1, and article 2  for references)

I would propose that the ending of 2018 signifies an opportunity for many who are oppressed to be released into freedom from the hardships, both self-induced and outside forces, that have weighed them down.  Perhaps now is the time to eliminate the self-induced ones and gain freedom!

New years resolutions abound with vows made to end bad behavior, perhaps this is your year too;

  • quit smoking
  • cut back on drinking
  • stop overeating
  • get out of debt and curb spending habits
  • end caustic relationships

Of course, all the don’t-do things cannot overcome circumstances that plagued many during the year but may motivate you to change your habits.  Perhaps a loved one dying from lung or liver cancer prompted you to work on ending your addiction.  Or seeing the neighbor down the street have their home foreclosed prompts you to establish a budget or seek counseling to improve on a relationship that has made the year a hellacious one.  Or practically speaking perhaps the years storms prompt you to purchase a  generator or add an alarm/camera system to your dwelling.

Interestingly the number 18 has a counter definition as well.  Putting together the two words translates to the word Chai which means ‘good luck’ or ‘life’ as in the start of a new life.  In Jewish culture (of which I am no expert by any means, but the significance here struck me as worth a deeper study)  and most societies, 18 signifies the move into adulthood with opportunities for a fulfilled life set in place.  Gifts are oft given in multiples of 18 to signify the new life status.    Too often we look at the don’ts of the past rather than seeing the coming season or year as a chance to start afresh.

  • With unemployment at an all-time low, perhaps this is the chance to get out from under an oppressive boss or low paying job and move into a new job life
  • Perhaps it is time to seek out a relationship with the one you’ve had an eye on but have been too worried about rejection to reach out, or take the bold step of reaching out to a current family member and honsestly discuss strengthening the relationships.  It starts with you!
  • Maybe now is the time to join a club or church and gain some new healthier relationships
  • The healthy living you’ve avoided due to it being a drudgery should be looked at as a time for more activity with your new youth felt mindset
  • Now may be the time to take that college course or financial investing seminar
  • Perhaps now is the time to volunteer to help the oppressed and those under bondage. That group you’ve been thinking about joining but don’t have the time for, perhaps this is the DO you wish to upgrade your life by helping those who cannot help themselves?

On a national scale, a very significant event took place via all three branches of the government, passing of the justice reform bill called the First Step Act.

It has long been a major issue in our United States that our justice system has sought more to punish rather than rehabilitate people.  The change in philosophy primarily addresses drug abusers that have been jailed.  A large majority of those arrested are of minority races which lead many to believe it is just one of several systemic issues creating oppression in our society.

I believe it is an important change in the American culture and is appropriately titled as merely a first step act.  But it has set our nation on a course to put an end to all forms of oppression, bondage, and slavery.  All of this positive outlook indeed gives us a view that 2018 has brought a chance to end oppression in all facets of our lives.  Are you ready to view 2018 as the end of your bondage and move into a more fulfilled life in 2019?

Hey, these thoughts have not come because I needed to write something on Dec 31st.  If you are open to a deeper side of the story, continue on via the red line.

If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul.  In The Portico I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE.  Tap the Red Line Below to hear the Spiritual side of the story.  (For more info – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)

If You Dare, Click to Enter Into Joe's Portico.

I began delving into the significance of Biblical numerology several years ago via some close friends.  Simple things like finding out the number 7 is the number of perfection or completeness; which is easy to understand since God created the world and 7 days and said it was all good. One of my friends recently released a new book describing the 52 weeks of grieving time she endured after the unexpected passing of her beloved husband.  It is a great read for anyone in the mourning stage after losing a loved one.  The book also provides practical reference material on the meaning of the numbers 1-52.  You can order my friend Jan Teel-Nealis’s book ‘Grieving by the Numbers here,    I highly recommend it.

Back in August, I was watching a video that just happened to pop up on my newsfeed.

What caught my eye was a topic I have had close to the heart since seeing an incident of racism   that I witnessed as a young military policeman at the age of, eighteen. (18 pops up again).  Although not intended to be political it was encouraging to see that the current President Trump had met with several inner-city leaders to discuss the oppression the prevails in our justice system and how our prison system is failing. The spillover has lead to continued practices holding back millions of Americans.  I summary posted not only the significance of the meeting but notice the date -> August 1, 2018.    8-1-18.

As few as those who knew about the meeting itslef, far surpassed those who did not see my posting lol (all of 9 likes), so I’ll post it again for review:

One of the goals of The Portico is to present things boldly as also happened in the Biblical Solomon’s Portico.  Perhaps people, even Christians, may scoff at as few believe that God does ‘supernatural’ things in this day and age.  I find the above video landing on 8-1-18 and the meaning of the number 18 as more than mere coincidence.  I dare mention that the First Step Act being overwhelmingly passed by all 3 branches of the government, just before the end of 2018 is also no coincidence.

So does the possibility, or dare I venture to say the fact, that God is supernaturally intervening in our nation to end bondage, oppression, and slavery – going to end it? (noting, the definition of slavery goes beyond the horrors of slavery in some countries and forced sex-slaves. Many are enslaved, for example, with financial burdens that force them into long hours of work for both spouses with no option to ever quit)

The answer is; it depends.

God never forces Himself on anyone, that would be slavery and bondage.  He provides choices even to those He puts in places as deliverers.  I sight Moses who was called upon to deliver the Israelites out of captivity from the Egyptians.  For 400 years they were in bondage.  Long story short in Exodus and Deuteronomy you can see the whole history of the supernatural things God did to get them out of Egypt and on to the promised land.  Miracle after miracle took place to the last escape scene where the Red Sea parted.    The people freaked until Moses parted the sea, they all crossed saftely.  Then the dumb Egyptian army followed them in one last attempt to stop them.  They were swallowed up when God closed the sea on them as they dared to cross through the supernatural tunnel that God created.

But something happened that not only caused Moses to never see the promised land but all the remaining generation of ex-slaves that were freed never set foot in the better place also.  They became (or remained that is) bitter.  Their bitterness caused them to worship idols and gods other than THE God who delivered them.  You cannot say there were not warned:

“You remember how we lived in the land of Egypt and how we traveled through the lands of enemy nations as we left. You have seen their detestable practices and their idols made of wood, stone, silver, and gold. I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you—no man, woman, clan, or tribe—will turn away from the Lord our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit. “Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin!  Deuteronomy 29:16-20 NLT  

Instead they disrespected their leaders, who in turn (could have gotten them into the land regardless of what the people did) got angry.  Moses had already smashed the ten commandment tablets once, (which did not please God and HE had to write them again) and followed up another message delivery thing from God (hmm isn’t that all a preacher or writer is supposed to do but with precision) also in anger.  The scene was set with the formerly-oppressed people having stepped into a different portion of the desert that had no water.  Despite the fact they had manna the miracle food to feed them, everlasting gobstopper shoes and clothes that never wore out, they could not see that God was going to provide water as well.   So God told Moses and Aaron to go touch a rock once, and I will do a miracle producing water from it.

Instead, this is what Moses did:

So Moses did as he was told (sort of). He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord.  Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?”  Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.

 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

Numbers 20:9-12 and the rest

I will ask those who have read this far:   Is God leading us out of bondage, especially the ultra-oppressed people of our nation, to end all slavery?   Answer – It Depends.

As mentioned, the number 18 can mean either Life or Slavery.

We should know the old testament was filled with many don’ts but did have one primary do and don’t.  Do love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul and keep the Sabbath Holy. In simple terms – Love God as if you have spent time with Him which should cause you to act like Him and represent Him.   Give all glory to Him because you know He has provided.

The Don’t boiled down to don’t have a bad habit of bitterness, which causes you to turn to other idols.

With the coming of Jesus Christ, God established a new covenant better than the one established with Moses.  If you read Deuteronomy 29 closely you see the covenant was based on do’s and don’ts where a curse comes upon one who does not do what he/she is supposed to do.

With the new covenant, the do’s and don’ts were eliminated and replaced with a covenant of total forgiveness by belief in Jesus sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of all we did and have ever done and will do.   It was to remove worry and fear and replace it with an everlasting love.  It included the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit into our bodies to allow us to do, even when people tick us off whether we are leaders or not, what we cannot naturally do on our own.  If we are walking in this spiritual way, we are free from the bondage of the opposite things.  Let’s look at the ‘Life’ living pieces first:

Take a noted look at the date this crazy thought hit me: 9-9-18.

The date of 9-9-18 only happens once every 100 years, 36,500 days apart.  The number NINE means Finality or Completion.  Couple that with Bondage or Oppression and we get the ‘Finality of Oppression‘.

It is there for our taking in 2019.  Do you believe? I do.

I would be weak if I stopped there, as we absolutely can see an end to personal bondage.   That would be a major God glorifying event in-and-of-itself.  But to change a nation and world requires us learning how to NOT respond in anger towards a world that does not spend time in the presence of a loving God.  Minister’s have the extra calling to set the example to their flock (even if they don’t do what they are supposed to do and may grumble, whine, and not tithe, lol).  It comes via all the positive DO’s.  Moses was the only one who saw God and was in His presence.  Do you believe you can be in His presence like Moses?  Alright if no, then how about like your Pastor or Priest?  I do.

But what stopped Moses and the Israelites from reaching full freedom? It was that warning which would still apply in the new covenant to:  do not congratulate ourselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’

Moses suffered a consequence of a lesser blessing when he threw his second temper tantrum in front of people (actually it was more than the 2nd, recall he killed an Egyptian soldier in anger thinking the people will surely follow me if they see he hated the Egyptians for putting them in slavery and treating them horribly)  That is where choice to not have idols comes into play.   While our focus and measuring stick to know if we are ‘in the spirit’ is best weighed with the nine positives, we need look only a little further above in Galatians 5 as to what is not.

Before I go into this, my hope is some came into The Portico looking for hope and truth.  Galatians to me is the ultimate book written to Americans. It was written to those who believed in Jesus Christ.  I strongly recommend reading and studying the whole chapter 5 of Galatians.      Read it in multiple versions and think about it often.  Paul wrote the things before 5:22-23 to Christians where false teachers had come in and told the people they needed to add the Jewish law of circumcision to their things to do to be saved list (on top of grace).

Paul starts off with what the definition is of FREEDOM:

 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

And just before describing what IS in the spirit Paul stated what is not.  What is not comes along when we become bitter and then look for something besides God to make us feel better.  Or we forget how God treated us and loved us. We forget He forgave all the things we did and will do, and suddenly we become better than everyone else as if we have no faults. Then boom, those issues appear when someone does something to us.  Or our relationship with people in our home, in our church, with our other half, or with a ‘leader’ and,  it turns us back to doing the very things we had vowed to stop doing.

14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].”

 19 Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.    Galatians 5:14, 19, 20, 21 Amplified Version

This less encouraging list of don’ts are all things everyone (not just the ones that some like to point fingers at while we do them inside our homes where no one sees us) we fall into on occasions.  It does not mean, assuming you truly converted from not believing to believing, that your destiny of a ‘finality and completion state’ was erased.

Did Moses lose his salvation with those temper tantrums?  Certainly not, since we know Jesus had a spiritual encounter with him.

But Moses lost some benefits by breaking faith.  In particular when his anger caused him to not represent God as He was guided to do.   God puts a higher standard on the message carrier and leaders. (noting every average jo/joe is a message carrier, those on the outside are watching to see if we really carry the freedom or not)

The thought;

God never desires for us to go back into slavery.  Jesus’ desire is for all men to be free from bondage and oppression.  He established, with finality/completion, the freedom covenant between God and us.

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.  25 If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. 26 We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.

The however portion comes into play on our end.   If we carry the negative bitterness of  past oppression and bondage, forever, we will never see the promised land.  Many have chosen to hang onto it.   If that bondage, fear, worry, past anger, is what fills your heart/spirit, then you will remain wandering around in the desert and like the remnant of slaves guided from Egypt to steps from the promised land – then sadly slavery will remain in the heart.

2018’s ending of bondage is an internal choice first.  Seek God’s Grace and compassion to help guide you into the areas that have you bound up.   Believe and seek for the fullness inside to crush the oppression you feel.

For 2019 and for the rest of the your life (and I am writing here looking in a mirror – Read the Worrier to Warrior story, I know I have a long ways to go as well) step out of the bondage and the oppressed life you feel and let the do’s flow freely so you can live freely.

Eugene Peterson’s version (The MSG) has a perfect translation of another Paul admonition, let it be answered for you in 2019:

‘So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.’  PHIL 1:9

It is so tough in a single writing to cover every angle, which I try.  I’d love to continue the conversation, you can email a personal comments or questions on the email button.  Or for the benefit of others feel free to comment in the comments section below.

Happy end of 2018 and a step into the promised freedom-land for 2019 for you!

Please share your comments, what struggles with hurt do you have?  How can we help you move from a position of worrier to one of a Warrior?