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Msindisi Newsletter #83

August 4, 2011

SALVADOR & DIANNE’S MSINDISI MONTHLY

NUMBER:      83.       August 2011

PO BOX 1481
VRYHEID 3100
KWAZULU NATAL
SOUTH AFRICA
+27 (0) 728311008
Email:  msindisi@gmail.com ,
salv.di@gmail.com

KwaZulu Mission Website: http://www.kwazulumission.com

Personal Website: http://msindisi.googlepages.com

 

Dear Friends and family,

 

This last month we said farewell to Jacob Meads from New Zealand. We had a few farewell gatherings to say goodbye before he went. Jacob left such an impression on the people with whom he came into contact with that there was much sadness at his departure. Gogo shed tears saying “Hambe kahle mfana wami” (Go well my boy), and Celani grieved to see him leave. Although Jacob is no longer with us his name is often mentioned with fond memories. Before Jacob left he was able to teach the word at church on the Sunday and also at the Tuesday night Louwsburg Bible Fellowship. He taught from Philemon and majored on the subject of forgiveness looking at Paul’s example. It went very well and people were encouraged. Jacob has definitely grown in his study and exposition of the word. His study had focus, was grounded in the historical situation Paul was writing into and Jacob, faithfully sticking to the scriptural text then sought to explicate the principles from God’s word with great conviction and the members of the study were challenged as that is where some of them were at. He put so much work into it. Keep it up Jacob. J The Bible study group also presented Jacob with a farewell gift and at church Celani put on an amazing farewell lunch for everybody. Jacob also shared the gospel for the craft ladies who meet in Louwsburg. We visit them every couple of months and always share the gospel with them. Jacob, you are in our prayers as the LORD directs your future path. We ask you (our friends and family) if you are prompted, to pray for Jacob’s direction also. A couple of the ladies are dying to visit our church and there are a couple of guys that we and Kim have been ministering to that seems so genuine to learn the word of God. So we will probably be starting a bible study on Fridays in Louwsburg for Zulu speaking people. Please pray that the Lord will lead us. We have been praying about this.

 

We brought Jacob down to Stanger, before taking him to the airport, to spend some time near the sea and to catch up with our friend Mark Van Niekerk. Mark, who wrote the preface to my manuscript about the rapture, is a dear brother involved in bi-annual mission trips to Israel. You can see his ministry website at www.hazorim.org . Mark is a wonderfully grounded believer in the truth who has an amazing passion for the salvation of Jews before the dreadful time of Jacob’s trouble. He and his wife are an encouragement to us. Mark co-pastors and undergirds Pastor Calvin in 2 churches composed of Indians.  Pastor Calvin is burdened for the salvation and walk of his flock. Salvi was able to preach at the two churches on Sunday, with the morning looking at Jacob experiences in Genesis as a type of the born again experience, which was a confirmation of what was on Calvin’s heart and at the second meeting looking at Deut 5 and the difference between the Law of God in Moses and the Law of God in Christ, which fitted in with what Mark had been preaching the week before. After dropping Jacob at the airport on Monday Salvi also shared Psalm one at the prayer meeting of Calvin’s church. The messages were received really well and Salvi was encouraged to hear the testimony of what God was working in one of the congregant’s lives on the Monday night. He himself had been wrestling as Jacob wrestled with the Lord! Pastor Calvin has asked Salvi to come back one weekend and to do a series of teachings later on in the year. At the moment we are thinking it may take place in October but all these things remain in the Lord’s hands.

 

The Tuesday night we visited and stayed with the daughter of one of the ladies who is part of our Bible study. She is a member of a Baptist church in Westville, Durban. She asked us to come down and for Salvi to share at her Cell/Bible study group. Salvi did an introduction to Israel and the Church through summarizing the various covenants made by God with Israel. It went very well and we hope that they will seek to look at this subject in more depth. Meanwhile at home, Phumlani taught the bible study and it went really well. This gentle giant surprised Jonny and Kim with his bible knowledge and clarity of exposition. Phumlani’s English has been improving and so we have asked him now to teach at the home cell once a month if it is not too much pressure for him. Phumlani has agreed and so we are grateful to the Lord. The next day we also visited Alan MacKenzie’s daughter and her husband, Alec, who also live in Westville. We had a meal with them and Alec asked Salvi to share his testimony at their church meeting in the evening. A couple of young men shared from the word also.

 

At the Louwsburg Bible Fellowship Salvi has almost finished the book of revelation and it has been so wonderful to look at the blessings after God’s wrath will be poured out. Soon we will start the book of Jude but Salvi wants us to study it differently. Instead of him teaching on it, he will still do the same amount of preparation, but will ask us all to study it in our spare time and bring together our thoughts and discuss what it actually means. Salvi always questions the group when subjective interpretations are put forward that are not in line with the context of scripture so it should not become  a melting pot of men’s fancies but hopefully through imposing principles of interpretation, and having the illumination of the Spirit we may all grow.

 

While Jacob was with us we had a working day at the Kraal. We were helping Phumlani start to build another room for his hut. Because of people’s wedding gifts to him we were able to help Phumlani buy blocks for his hut to replace the room he had to tear down due to structural damage. Some of our friends from the Baptist church with a few of their friends came down for the day to get their sleeves rolled up and get stuck in. We helped with Phumlani’s foundation, also erected and cemented 2 clothes line poles and assemble children’s diggers that our friend Tony had donated. Phumlani got a ¼ of his room started. It was a fun day with lots of laughs. Thank you guys for all your help. Now the hut is nearly completed and the roof is on. Only the floor needs to be leveled and laid. During that morning Di took Magda, one of the friends, to the kids club to do a teaching on repentance. They loved it. After Jacob left, the weather turned bitterly cold as a cold front came in. Deep snow had reached as far as 100kms on the other side of Vryheid. Though we did not suffer the snow we did suffer the drop in temperature and major rain fall which is unusual for the winter. Jabulani’s huts were majorly damaged by the rainfall and Tholakele’s a little bit. We thank the Lord for his provision to us that we can help by buying cement to plaster their mud huts to make them strong.

 

Those who remember the Caleb and Sophie days of the KwaZulu Mission may remember one of our neighbours of that time. A man called Amos. His wife Lindiwe is a believer. Amos has diabetes and this weekend we took her to visit him as we were told he was in hospital having his good leg amputated. Now both his legs are amputated. He was in pain and has been vomiting. Please pray for them as Amos’ life undergoes this drastic change and especially concerning the salvation of his soul.

 

Hopefully you will remember Di’s friend Lorraine, who used to work with Di on the settlement at KwaZenzele when we worked at Ebyown. Lorraine has not long been working at a crèche run by Bernard and Mabel Mathe who also lead a church that Lorraine’s grandmother is a member of. Sadly this last month her grandmother passed away (sad for Lorraine but not for Gogo for she was saved) but at the same time Lorraine’s youngest daughter has scalded herself with boiling water, burning 25 percent of her body. Our friend Sue Wells helped Lorraine with running her to the hospital regularly until Ntombi was released. Mabel has been a huge help also. Now, thank the Lord, Ntombi skin is healing nicely and she does not need to go back to hospital. Thank you to all who remember Lorraine in your prayers.

 

Di taught at the Care Bear preschool on Noah’s ark. The kids always love our visits and we love visiting them. They are so full of life and on Tuesday she did another clinic run.

 

We have come down to Stanger again but this time for the benefit of friends in Louwsburg and Vryheid. Jacob Prasch will be speaking at Calvin and Mark’s church on Saturday and Jonny from the Bible Study group asked if we could all go down. So up to now there are around twenty of us, including Phumlani and Thabi coming to hear him. We have come down a couple of days early as Salvi needed to complete the first draft of his assignment and we wanted to have a little time alone. Sadly one couple that was going to come has had to decline as her mother, who they were going to bring was robbed on Tuesday night and attacked by a machete wielding thug in Eshowe where she lives. Our friends have picked her up and taken her back to Vryheid. Please pray for them.

 

This month, after we get back on Saturday night, Salvi will be finishing the first round of his teaching on Deut at church on Sunday morning and finishing Rev at the cell on Tuesday night. On Wednesday we go up to Gauteng and on Thursday Salvi will be visiting a home church in Harare, Zimbabwe for 6 days. Di is very disappointed  she can’t come because her visa is not yet sorted out. The home church is lead by a friend of Mujuru, our friend from Elijah ministries. Mujuru is a wonderful godly man who has walked with us for a few years now. His wife has cancer and is undergoing treatment. Please pray for them also. He has asked us to visit this church, to see how they do things, to collect first impressions and to share the word of God there. Salvi will be taking food and clothes up with him to give to people. It is such a short time to learn anything but at least Salvi will get first impressions. When he comes back we will visit Mujuru’s cell group and Salvi will share with them. We will also be visiting our UK friend, Joe and his wife Gemma who are visiting South Africa at this time. Joe has visited South Africa before and the KwaZulu Mission during Caleb and Sophie’s time in South Africa. Hopefully they will be visiting us in KwaZulu at the end of the month. At the end of our time in Gauteng, Allen and Sue’s son Clayton is getting married to Jessie Schilling. We will be watching their wedding, God willing, through the internet link with another family who are mutual friends. When we come back on the 23rd August to KZN we will bring our friends daughter Bianca who will stay with us for a month.

 

 

Thank you for your prayers, friendship, support and encouragement. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

 

Shalom aleichem baShem Yeshua, Salvi and Di

 

 

 

ELIJAH AND ELISHA

THE SHOWDOWN

PART 4

1 Kings 18: 20 – 39

 

 

Elijah, probably the greatest prophet apart from Moses in the Old Testament was after a national revival. He was single minded and would endure any restriction on his personal liberty, loneliness and even poverty to see the hearts ofIsraelrestored back to God. This was the reward he was looking for. He was a man whose heart beat in time with God’s and as such he was perfectly obedient. He is probably the exception of Holy men in the bible. People like David, or Moses had their sins recorded for everybody to read about. The only reprimand on Elijah is a lapse of depression and faith that in comparison to us is something he handled so much better than we would if we were in his shoes. Last time we saw the two types of reception that a man like Elijah has. There is the reception of Obadiah, which is meek and obedient and then there is the reception of Ahab which shifts the blame from self to the man of God. Elijah challenges Ahab to bring 950 prophets to meet him atMount Carmelfor a show down. The rains were going to return and thus Elijah must have thought there would have been a revival. After all the rain came againstIsraelas a judgment against their apostasy. So if God would send the rains back, surely this was indicative that the people would repent.

 

V 20 – 24   ELIJAH’S ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE

 

Ahab agrees to the Elijah’s challenge. It does not matter what Ahab thought of Elijah, he was not going to harm Elijah because he really believed that Elijah’s words were powerful enough to bring back the rain. In other words, Elijah was needed to bring back the rain. Ahab was not as deceitful as Jezebel for you get this sense at the end of the chapter that Ahab accepts the victory over Ba’al and celebrates in the feast. It is his wife who tries to hit back harder at Elijah. The gods that Ahab had turned to were not of his own invention but belonged to the people and culture of Jezebel. However the scripture affords no sympathy to Ahab. It does not matter what temptation Jezebel used, it was Ahab who was the spiritual head in that relationship and the act of marrying Jezebel in the first place was a sin in itself as 1 Kings 16: 31 infers. It was Ahab who erected the altar for Baal and it was he who made the Asherah. The text does not say that Jezebel was responsible for this, though her wickedness is not excused either. Also the challenge that Elijah had given to Ahab entailed little threat from Elijah from a natural view point because even though 400 prophets would not show up. Elijah was only 1 man against 450 and therefore could be easily overwhelmed if he had to be. But the message was not only sent to the prophets but also to all the people too. Therefore we may imagine that the mountain must have been overflowing with Israelites abandoning the mundane routine of their lives to catch a glimpse of this infamous prophet and to see if he would restore the much needed rain. Why does Elijah concern himself with the people first and not the prophets? Because he is after restoring the hearts of the people back to their heavenly Father. The prophets were going to be slain but there was still hope for the people. Elijah was after a revival. The first thing that Elijah does is to question their syncretism. Syncretism is the act of taking things from two different sources and mixing them together. The African Zionist Churches do this when they mix biblical things with Occultic things like Amadlozi (Zulu for Ancestral Spirits), which the Bible clearly condemns in Deuteronomy 18: 9 – 14, and other such stuff. The Roman Catholic Church employed syncretism also with prayers to dead saints, the rosary and their Christian versions of Pagan festivals, such as Yule time and Easter. So Elijah challenges them in verse 21, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions?’ The word for hesitate in the Hebrew is the word Pasach, and it means ‘to pass over, to spring over, to limp or to skip’ and is the same word used to describe the ritual dance the prophets of Ba’al did when they called on Ba’al in verse 26.

 

So in one case Elijah is referring to them hesitating between two opinions in their mind but this was expressed in their worship of the false god alongside the True God hinting at the ritual dance the false prophets would do. What Elijah is doing is the same thing that Joshua did when he challenged the Israelites in Joshua 24: 15, when he said ‘Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve:’ He was bringing the people to a day of decision. And when we have gone off the rails or gone cold in our love for the Lord, when it seems disagreeable to become a Christian or it has become disagreeable to us to follow the Lord and we come close to wanting an easier life, we come to a day of decision where we decide with our will which God we will serve. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose. And the decision should be based on truth. When I read the biography of Keith Green, ‘No Compromise’ one of the main things that stood out was Keith’s searching for spiritual answers. He was seeking after truth. He was not searching for a miracle or something to make his life better but he was searching for Truth and when he found Jesus, it was all or nothing. If the LORD is God, then follow Him but if Ba’al, follow him. There is no discussion about God’s Law being a better moral path, or about the cultural identity of the Israelites being bound up in the Mosaic Law. Elijah did not argue that they were betraying their culture. It all came down to, ‘who is the true God?’ Notice that the people did not answer Elijah a word. It was no different for the Israelites then than it is for people today to accept the Lord. Often convicting challenges are met with silence. When there is that challenge for decision people clam up but when there is a show, people enthusiastically shout out amen.

 

The next thing that Elijah says is that he alone is left a prophet but Baal’s prophets were 450. Now this does not mean that he was the only prophet alive on the face of the earth because we know that Obadiah had hid 100 prophets and that later God would reveal that he has kept a remnant, but when Elijah looked about him where were the other prophets supporting him? Where were the people of God who were shouting ‘amen’? For all intents and purposes he was only the voice of one shouting in the wilderness. The number of the opposition was 450. Elijah exemplified the verse of that chorus that says, ‘Though non go with me, I still will follow.’ What Elijah proceeds to do is to present the people the order of play of a test to see which God is the true God. We can see various things about this test.

 

One thing we notice is the type of test. The object of the test is that the true God would be the One who brings down fire out of heaven. According to Alfred Edersheim, A W Pink, and a few other commentators, they teach that this Ba’al god was considered to be the god of fire. According to ‘Lockyer’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary’ Ba’al was believed to be able to shoot out lightening bolts from the sky. To all intents and purposes Ba’al, if he was true, should have had the upper hand, it was his domain. However it should be recognized that God did not specify this test to comply with Ba’al’s religion as if Ba’al worship was to be the standard of the test but rather we find that God specifies through Elijah an animal sacrifice and God would bring fire out of heaven as He had done with David at the threshing floor of Araunah. The Angel of the LORD appeared in a burning bush as well as in a pillar of fire, as well as appearing in fire and smoke on top of mount Sinai. God’s Spirit also appeared in tongues of fire at Pentecost. This was theologically in line with the way God reveals Himself in other places in the Scripture and not a case of God modeling himself on the nature of a false god. But why did Elijah pick the test of fire consuming a sacrifice when the thing the people wanted was water? Surely God bringing back the rain would have been enough proof. But this would not have sufficed.

 

Firstly imagine if the Prophets of Ba’al had spent the whole day praying for rain and none had come and then Elijah prayed and the rain came. It could have been argued that the rain was a product of the prophets who had laboured for hours and Elijah just enjoyed the benefits of their hard work. With fire we are dealing with something instantaneous and something that would hit only one of two sacrifices. It would be obvious to see which God was answering. Secondly because of the sin of the people, before God brought back the rain, He had to have a sacrifice in order to cover the sin of the people. Without blood there is no remission of sin. In bringing fire out of heaven, it shows God’s approval of the sacrifice. We could see this with David at the threshing floor (1 Chron21: 26) and in Lev9: 24God consumed the burnt offering with fire. In fact one could say that the tongues of fire of Shavuot (or Pentecost) was a symbol of God’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice and the temple of the church.

 

But another quality of the test is that it was fair. Elijah did not have a hidden agenda. He only wanted Israel to know the truth. The conditions that were set for Ba’al were the same conditions set for the LORD.

 

V 25 – 29   ELIJAH’S ADDRESS TO THE PROPHETS OF BA’AL    

 

So Elijah gives the same instructions he laid out to the people. He never deviates from what God has commanded him to do. And the prophets spend the whole morning, from morning tonoonrepeating the same prayer, ‘O Ba’al answer us.’ This was nothing more than empty repetition. Why was it empty? Because Ba’al was empty. Jesus said that our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Mat 6: 7 & 8) and John says that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5: 14). These prophets had to repeat and repeat the same thing because the testimony of Psalm 115 is right which says that idols have eyes but they cannot see, and ears but they cannot hear. But we can rejoice with the writer of Psalm 116: 1 which says, ‘I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications.’ All the while Elijah does not interrupt once but lets them continue in their nonsense. He let them continue their dancing and limping for a god who could not even see it. Think if someone like Jacob Prasch or any one of us were there. Would we care to stay and watch such idiocy? We would probably mock them after half an hour or an hour. It must have driven Elijah insane to see this happen. But atnoonElijah starts to mock them. You see the priests are wrong, nothing is happening, but they will not let go. They will not give up.

 

So Elijah mocks them. However, they are concentrating so much on getting this god to answer them that they actually do what Elijah says as if they thought Elijah was giving them genuine advice. Their eyes were covered with a spiritual veil so that they could not perceive the truth or the error of their ways. Maybe their god was a little preoccupied with other things! How different to the God of Israel who delights in His people and always listens to the prayers of His righteous ones. Maybe their god was asleep. How different to the God of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps. So these stupid prophets did what Elijah said and went even further. They cut themselves with sharp cutting implements and pierced themselves with sharp pointy implements. They thought that Ba’al would delight in their blood. Now the word for the blood gushing out in Hebrew is the word, ‘shefack’ which means to spill out but figuratively it also means to expend, either ones life or money, or ones soul. How different is Ba’al to God? The life of a creature is in the blood. Thus Ba’al will rob you of your life. You are to be the sacrifice to please Ba’al but we have a substitute in our Messiah. The devil comes to murder, to steal and to destroy but Jesus came to give life and life in all its fullness. But after all this, nothing was working so what did they do? Instead of owning up and admitting the truth, they turned to prophecy? Who knows what they were saying but prophecy is an act done under the influence of a spirit. Thus it must have been supposedly Ba’al that was talking through them. Maybe excuses were formed, maybe not. But what were they doing? They were changing the rules. Ba’al was supposed to answer by fire but they had turned to prophecy. That is what false prophets do. When a prediction does not come to pass, rather than own up, they change it or the meaning of it. And these prophets did this for hours, until the evening sacrifice but as the Hebrew reads ‘V,ein Qol, v,ein aneh, v,ein qashev.’ And no sound, and no answer and no attention.

 

V 30 – 39   ELIJAH’S ADDRESS TO THE LORD.

 

Elijah calls the people over to him. Just like Paul says, ‘follow me as I follow Christ’. Elijah’s desire was not to lead the people to himself but as they came to him he would lead them to the Lord and bow his knee with them. But look at what Elijah does first. First he repairs the altar of the Lord. He is renewing the Covenant made through Moses which majors on the sacrificial system, hence the need for the Levitical priests. But not only this; these stones that made up the altar were stones for building and there were 12 in number speaking of the house ofIsrael. The word for repair in verse 30 is the word, ‘Rafah’ which in Hebrew also speaks of healing where we get the word for doctor, ‘Rofe’ or ‘Rofa’. In other words the broken altar of the Lord speaks of a nation in rebellion against their God. The house ofIsraelwas under judgment but Elijah had come to bring healing and restoration and God acknowledged this offering with fire, putting his seal of approval on it. Elijah must have been sure that there would have been a revival amongst the house ofIsrael. The sacrifice of the ox speaks of the sacrifice of Christ which would bring the ultimate restoration of Israel, when they look upon Him whom they have pierced. There are fours pitchers of water that are poured onto the sacrifice three times. What a similarity it bears to the Gospel. The word which sanctifies the church is equated to water. It is the Gospel which brings us into that eternal life. This Gospel has been recorded in scripture in four volumes and was shone out from the father, in the form of His Son and it is ministered unto us by the Spirit. As Paul calls the Gospel ‘the word of the cross’ which is foolishness to those who are perishing, so the sacrifice of the ox speaks of the ultimate sacrifice. It is all bound up together in Christ. It is a foreshadowing and not the reality in itself. Elijah, is speaking of the day when the fortunes of Israel really will be restored, when Elijah would return (either in spirit or physically) and turn the hearts of their children back to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers back to their children before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.

 

Now look at the prayer in verses 36 and 37. Compared to the hours of repetition we see that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. It did not take long! Secondly, Elijah prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and this refers to Israel’s origin and coupled with this is the idea of the promises. Elijah through praying is reminding God of the covenant He made with the patriarchs, so that despite the unfaithfulness of the people God would remain faithful. Thirdly Elijah prays for the glory of God’s name in that it would be God’s name which would be exalted in recognition that He is the true God. Fourthly Elijah confesses his complete obedience to God’s instructions. This whole event was not Elijah’s idea but had been God’s and therefore Elijah could take confidence that God would answer his prayer because he is not putting God to the test. And lastly he presents his petition so that God would hear and turn the people’s heart back to their heavenly Father.

 

This is prayer that works. The fire would not have fallen except that Elijah prayed but Elijah prayed only according to what God had spoken to him. The fire fell and the people saw it evidently meant that Jehovah was the true God. Do we have Elijah’s sense of obedience or a consuming love for God’s people that would cause us to put our neck on the line? Do we love the truth or do we mix the things of God with whatever we desire? Elijah’s is the prayer that God will answer and if we have singularity of heart for the LORD, if we are obedient to His ways, if we only pray according to that which He has shown us, if we do not exceed the boundaries of His word, and if our motivation is for the LORD to be glorified then the LORD will answer our prayer too.

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