Believing the Fortune Cookie

A dear sister approached and whispered in my ear,

“The Lord has a prophetic word for you, brother!” 

Rough Times Done, it said.

Jackson Snyder Bible   
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Mark 1:1-8, Psalm 85 (806)

Isaiah 40:1-11 `Console my people, console them," says your Elohim. 2. `Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and cry to her that her period of service is ended, that her guilt has been atoned for, that, from the hand of Yahweh, she has received double punishment for all her sins." 3. A voice cries, "Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our Elohim across the wastelands.  4. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be leveled, every cliff become a plateau, every escarpment a plain; 5. then the glory of Yahweh will be revealed and all humanity will see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken."

6. A voice said, "Cry aloud!" and I said, "What shall I cry?", "All humanity is grass and all its beauty like the wild flower's.  7. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of Yahweh blows on them. (The grass is surely the people.)  8. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our Elohim remains for ever." 9. Go up on a high mountain, messenger of Zion. Shout as loud as you can, messenger of Jerusalem! Shout fearlessly, say to the towns of Judah, `Here is your Elohim." 10. Here is Lord Yahweh coming with power, his arm maintains his authority, his reward is with him and his prize precedes him.  11. He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

James of Jerusalem
By Patrick J. Hartin / Liturgical Press

Through the world of James of Jerusalem we discover the development of Messiahianity and its struggle for self-definition amidst Jewish roots and a rising congregation of newly converted Gentiles. In this time of early Messiahianity, James’ presence testified to the church’s diversity and he influenced Messiahianity beyond the literature of the New Testament. Patrick J. Hartin studies the character of James in his various life-roles: as a member of Yahshua’ family, as a leader and spokesperson of Jerusalem, and as an important figure in early Messiahian writing, including that of Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles. The use of historical critical method illustrates for students the growth of traditions and the sources behind the texts.

Mark 1:1-8 The beginning of the gospel about Yahshua Messiah, the Son of Elohim. 2. It is written in the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you.  3. A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.  4. John the Baptist was in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5. All Judea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptized by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. 6. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. 7. In the course of his preaching he said, "After me is coming someone who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. 8. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

We Need to Know the Future

   Doesn’t just about everybody in the world want to know the future?  It seems natural for people to be curious about what’ll happen next.  Do you think consulting psychics to learn the future is a new trend?  Hardly.  In ancient Babylon, wise men predicted the future by looking at the sheep guts.  The Hebrews consulted the Urim and Thummin (Numbers 27:21) to predict the future; nobody knows that is now.  There’s no question as to King Saul’s intention when he sought advice from a witch (1 Samuel 28).  He wanted to call up a prophet to learn his future but he got a demon instead, and Saul’s future wasn’t encouraging.

   Today witches and psychics are respectable.  You can hire a psychic, tarot reader, or someone who conjures up the dead in just any little berg in the country.  Some are flimflammers or con-gamers; others have an uncanny ability to predict.  How do they do it?  They rely on spirit guides or ‘ascended masters’ to help them out.  These are just fancy monikers for good old demons.  Demons don’t know the future, but they do have a huge spiritual network of other demons all over the globe.  But they don’t fool us, do they?  We know that by consulting unclean spirits through psychics or witches, we’ll end up having to pay the price.  Why?  Because when you roll with the pigs, you get dirty.  Besides, Yahweh forbids it, period.  No polluted consulter of demonized psychics is clean and such will dirty you.

   On the other hand, I’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants with people who thought they could become demon possessed by reading a fortune cookie!  These same ones think nothing of all the dragons, Buddhas, idols and demonic statues in the restaurant.  Nor do they consider to what idols their pagan chef has dedicated the food.  They’re only concerned about the cookie.  “Oh, no,” some say, “The ‘Lard’ wouldn’t be pleased with us reading a fortune cookie!”  They strain out a gnat then swallow a camel.

 

A “Word” and a Cookie

   During the Sunday morning church service December 13, 1998, a dear sister in Fortune Cookie - plus Bible ScrawlYahshua approached and whispered in my ear, “The Lord has a prophetic word for you, brother!”  “Oh, goody!” I told her.  “What is it?”  She said, “I’m not quite sure, but I just get three Words for you from the Lord.”  “Well, what are they, sister Helen?” I insisted.  She went on to say, “The three words are, ‘no more difficulty.’  From now on it’s smooth sailing.”  “Great!” I said.  “Let me write these words down in my Bible!”  And I wrote “no more difficulty” in this Bible right here in my hand.  “Thank you, sister Helen.  Well, praise the Lord – let’s go eat.”

   We went to the Chinese buffet right after church.  “Let’s read our fortunes!” somebody cried.  I broke my cookie and read the paper inside.  “Sister Helen!” I called across the table.  “My paper says, ‘The rough times are now behind you!’  That goes right along with your Word for me this morning!”  “Well, praise the Lord, brother Jack!” cackled sister Helen, thinking the paper was a confirmation of her prophecy.  “I’m glad you’re looking forward to a great future now!”  “Amen!”

   When I got home I taped the fortune from the cookie into this Bible, right under where I’d scribbled the words: “no more difficulty.”  Then I went to bed because I was working the night shift that evening.  I felt really great about my future as I climbed into my workstation at midnight with a cup of coffee.  “No more difficulty,” the Lord said!  And the cookie confirmed that.  I smiled as I took another sip of coffee.  It was just then that the worst, most prolonged pain of my entire life rose up just above the breastbone.  Well, you know the rest.  ( . . . . . . )

 

Malachi – My Messenger

   I shared that story as an example of the kinds of feeble little clues a person will clutch hold of to maintain a modicum of security for the future.  Yes, sometimes we grasp at straws until they turn to dust.  However, if we are willing to wait long enough in faith, our hope for the future has a good chance of becoming reality.  Yahweh is faithful.

   Today we have a foretelling of the future in the words of John “the Baptizer.”  John used a much more reliable source of prediction than a psychic, a tarot reader or a fortune cookie.  He used the Word of Yahweh recorded by the former prophets, whom I would consider fairly reliable sources.  John’s proclamation was,

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah (40:3), ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of Yahweh, make his paths straight.”’

Not only do we find this prediction in Isaiah, but also in Deuteronomy and Malachi (3:1).  In fact, the name Malachi means “my messenger.”

 

Who Was John?

   Let’s look at John.  Some translations call him, “John the Baptist.”  Would you believe; there are a lot of people who think John was a Southern Baptist preacher?  But his religion was entirely different.  John was a circumcised Jew consecrated to Yahweh from the womb.  He was cast into the desert at an early age to be raised by Rechabite hermits.  These Rechabite kinds of “Baptists” kept the Laws of Yahweh perfectly, all 613 of them, including the food prohibitions, the washings and the feasts.  John and the rest totally consecrated themselves to the Torah.  They didn’t cut their hair their entire lives as an outward sign of commitment.  They vowed themselves to chastity, poverty and perfection.  John ate only the simplest fair and wore the plainest clothing.  He wasn’t like any Baptist I’ve ever known.

   Now Josephus was a Jewish historian who lived in Rome under the protection of the Roman Emperor.  He was born about the same time as John died, and Bible scholars would know little about John’s time had not Josephus been commissioned by Rome to write.  He mentions many New Testament characters, including John.  Here’s a little bit of what he says:

John known as the Baptist was a good man who commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as righteousness toward one another and piety toward G-d.  Now many came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words.  [So much so that the King] feared lest the great influence that John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion; [for the people] seemed inclined to do anything [John] should advise. (Antiquities 18.5.2 excerpts)

 

His Message

   John’s preaching included the revelation of his identity.  And the people believed he was whom he said because he lived his message.  He proclaimed himself to be the heavenly Malachi foretold by the prophets, the forerunner of the Anointed One.  Yahshua called him “Elijah returned.”  John was, in fact, SENT by Yahweh (John 1:6) as his herald trumpet; sent, like Paul Revere, to sound an alarm “to every middlesex, village and farm.”  That was his entire reason to be alive.  He came not only to bear the message of Yahweh, he came ENFLESHED as that message.  He was Yahweh’s man and Yahweh put words right into his mouth, and the people recognized him and were willing to do whatever Yahweh called for.

   What was his message?  Prepare Yah’s way.  (Remember, the words “the LORD” have covered up the sacred name Yahweh since early times.)  The people were to prepare then and now for the coming of the awesome commander of hosts.  And how were they to prepare?  Well, in the words of both John and Yahshua, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Elohim is near.”  This repentance was not some lame altar call after a two-hour sermon.  It was not the kind of repentance that comes after 53 stanzas of Just As I Am.  What John called for was a radical departure from prosperous secular Greek culture and back to the Bible; back to the 613 Laws of Torah.  But with an important addition; that is, good deeds to be done in love. James the Just called this, “The Kingdom Law” or “ Royal Law” (nomon .. basilikon, James 2:8).  “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” 

   For an understanding of these works of love, we must turn to Luke.  When asked what he was talking about, John rebuked the religious authorities of his day, calling them a lair of poisonous snakes, and admonishing all:

Luke 3 8-14 “Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as a father'; Elohim is able to raise children for Abraham from rocks.  No, the axe is striking at the roots; every tree that does not bear good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  You, who have two, share with one who has none; you who have food, share.  Take no more than is yours.  Rob no one, do no violence, never lie, be content with your pay." 

John’s preaching didn’t go on for a day or so; but for years he called the masses to repentance.  And they came, and they did, and they were baptized.

 

His Baptism

   This is why John presided over baptism.  Though the Bible says, “John baptized,” in those days, it wasn’t up to the preacher to put on his hip boots, pinch your nostrils shut and dip your carcass backwards in muddy river water.  No, it was your responsibility to repent and turn back, then as a result, you go into the water of a public place yourself and you show your commitment to everybody by immersing yourself.  This was the outward sign that, in John’s time, signified the cleansing of the flesh after one’s commitment to repentance.  But John’s baptism didn’t cleanse the heart(, only the flesh).  The heart was left to another yet to come in the future – the object of John’s herald – the Anointed Chr-st.

 

His Demise

   (You might recall that John’s demise came because of his denunciation of King Herod marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias.  This was adultery.  Now, John wouldn’t care about that because Herod was a foreigner except for two things.  Herod was still the King of the Jews.  He himself insisted that, as such, he had every right to participate in the atoning sacrifices of the temple, to the horror of the holy ones.  No foreigner or sinner was allowed in the holy place, even if he were the king! 

   Living in contradiction to the Law that he claimed to serve, Herod’s participation in the Day of Atonement desecrated the temple and made a mockery of Yahweh’s mercy.  Though Herod went through the ritual, it was painfully obvious to the whole world that he had no intention of changing.  To make matters worse, he built a veranda on his house overlooking the holy place so that he and his Elohimless friends could watch the sacred worship as entertainment.  Yahweh, through the voice of John, denounced Herod to the multitudes.  Is it any wonder that Herod had John beheaded?

 

His Prophecy

  But while he lived, John was the living fulfillment of the “My Messenger” prophecy, and everyone knew it.  John became a sign to the people that what they had once considered would happen in the future was now upon them.  The people became really, really excited at the clean-up job he was doing.  Revival was in full swing.  Pigs and goats were being transformed into sheep.  People were changing by the thousands, even in Herod’s household.  And the political climate was changing, too.  Maybe even the entire political and religious establishments would be chopped down from the root and the Anointed would come and rule in justice.  All were hopeful.

   Say!  Could this John be the Anointed One, Yahweh in the flesh, the Messiah, the one who would overthrow the whole rotten shebang?  When people began to proclaim him the Messiah, John denied it, saying, I AM not.  But if he were not, who was?  Now John begins to reveal the future beyond the future. 

“After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I have [only] baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7,8).  [Remembering that the spot where the temple was built was originally a threshing floor, Luke (3:17) adds,] “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

   The people, even the King, had absolute faith in his ability to foresee the future, including the coming of Messiah and the burning of the chaff on the threshing floor.  It was only a matter of time.  Indeed, the people repented, were baptized for cleansing, the Anointed Chr-st appeared, the people were inwardly cleansed through the baptism in the Holy Spirit the Anointed One brought, those whom he loved were secured – he didn’t lose but one -- the winnowing fork cast up the grain with its chaff, the cruel and mocking Herods all died off as did their influence, their temple was knocked down to the threshing floor, its priests burned as chaff with it in a fire that is as yet unquenched and unquenchable. 

 

Latter Day Prophets

   I don’t know anybody who could foretell the future any more accurately than John the Baptizer, do you?  Not Jeanne Dixon, Nostradamus or Jack Van Impe, or even those famous astrologers and psychics whose columns you like to read in the paper.  Oh, there’s one person who might be more accurate a prophet.  His name is Yahshua ben Yahweh.  Like John before, Yahshua is the mouthpiece of the great and powerful Yahweh Tsaviot.  Unlike John, Yahshua is alive and still speaks through many Elijahs today. So here is Yahshua’s prediction for your future:

After tribulation ... the powers of the heavens will be shaken ... then all the nations of the earth will mourn, for they will see the Son of man coming from the sky clouds with power and great majesty; with a loud trumpet call, he will send out his angels, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the spirit; fear him who can destroy both in Gehenna (10:28). This generation will not pass until all these things take place.  (Matthew 24:29-35 excerpts)  [And there’s much more.]

   Do you believe that to be the future truth?  That this generation will see it?  That’s gigantic news for some but horror for others.  Like the people of John’s time, will you get excited enough about the future to prepare the way for the great and powerful Commander to ascend earthward?  Will you repent and set your course of life aright, or will you disintegrate in the fires of his fury, like chaff drawn to the furnace?   John is dead, the victim of the King whom he prophesied against.  But Yahshua is alive.  “Heaven and earth may pass, but [his] words will not.”

 

Back to the Cookie

   Recall now Helen’s prediction for me, that I would have “no more difficulties”?  And the fortune cookie paper that said, “The rough times are now behind you!”  These certainly are questionable prophecies.  Nevertheless, I believe they may still come true any day now.  Am I superstitious?  Not at all.  But I’m looking for the appearance of my Savior, Yahshua ben Yahweh, is his name.  Five years after the fortune cookie incident, Yahshua is five years closer to making his presence public.  This generation, yours and mine, may indeed live to see it all.  There will be no more difficulties then, for the saved, anyway.  Yet grave, gray storm clouds may yet have to be waited out before the silver lining of fulfillment makes its appearance.  But the silver will come and so will the gold, and when they do, for very sure, even these frivolous cookie prophecies will become Gospel truth -- the rough times will be behind us all.  Amen to that.

Jackson Snyder  December 5, 2002