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Prophetic Endurance

Living in the Desert

A Man With a Measuring Line  Zechariah 2:1-9

Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?”

He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”

While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’

“Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,” declares the Lord.

“Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!” For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.


I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Rev 11:1-3


"A hermit said, 'The monk's cell is the furnace in Babylon in which three children found the Son of God. It is the pillar of cloud out of which God spoke to Moses.' "

The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks


Desert Fathers, early Christian hermits whose practice of asceticism in the Egyptian desert, beginning in the 3rd century, formed the basis of Christian monasticism. Following the example of Jesus' life of poverty, service, and self-denial, these early monks devoted themselves to vows of austerity, prayer, and work. (Source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Desert-Fathers).

“The Desert Fathers were the first Christian monks, living in solitude in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. In contrast to the formalized and official theology of the "founding fathers" of the Church, they were ordinary Christians who chose to renounce the world and live lives of celibacy, fasting, vigil, prayer, and poverty in direct and simple response to the gospel. First recorded in the fourth century, their Sayings—consisting of spiritual advice, anecdotes, parables, and reflections on life—influenced the rule of St. Benedict, set the pattern for Western monasticism, and have inspired centuries of poetry, opera, and art.” (Source: Amazon book backmatter).


There is a certain group of people that have left society and live in the desert. This is a figurative picture. Last blog we talked about people who think or act differently being cast out of society. In the times of Jesus, there were people with mental illness living among the caves outside the city. After Jesus' coming and death, there were the early Desert Fathers who chose a reclusive and later monastic lifestyle, leaving society voluntarily to follow the Lord. They do this in the physical realm, but as believers are we called to leave society in the spiritual realm? Are we called to live in the desert like the early Christians, a following that attracted all sorts of outcasts (uneducated peasants, shepherds, itinerant traders, former slaves and prostitutes). This seems the norm with the People of the Way as a whole. They have a different way of life, that they have chosen voluntarily, along with its difficulties. If we openly did things differently out of obedience to Christ while in society everyone would react to our jaywalking, and might think you have a mental illness.

Is the far side of being a Christian being mentally ill? To not be so radically different that you are disturbing to everyone, it is important to have good teachers, be part of communities such as a church who do the same as you, and see your place in the community as constructive and helpful (such as forming a charity, and giving aid to the poor) not negative and destructive. So what is our identity as followers of Christ? We have been taught repeatedly over the past 25 years it means to choose differently than the world, to "go against the grain." This almost sounds like swimming upstream, yet at time, to be fruitful salmon do swim upstream. Yet this as a way of life seems anti-social and tiring.

Would it work if we had a list of antisocial rules so we wouldn't participate in the way of the world? It might read: no drinking, no dancing, no playing cards. The modern world has some advantage as there is a spirit of moderation in these things, but we are not here to make a list of rules you must follow to be modest and proper; otherwise the next Christian comes along and their lifestyle looks offensive and licensious. 

What is the measuring stick? Are we just supposed to go to church, or compete for holiness with the next guy in the pew. Do we follow the decrees of the Bible, such as fasting and communion or just read it. Every denomination might have come up with its own verdict on this, as to what is required, but in short they may have gone too far, distancing believers from each other in judgement of whether the others would even go to heaven. If we all acted exactly like Jesus, and walked around doing exactly what the disciples did in this day and age, people might notice you, diagnose you as abnormal and even arrest you under the mental health act. We can't act exactly the same way. But this I would advise you, whatever you do to chastise yourself, as sobering behaviour, in the fear of God: do it in secret so no one sees you. This way, they cannot criticize you, and arrest you because you are more spiritual than they. People who are more spiritual make people angry, and this is the exact factor with schizophrenia, they want to put the person in jail or in the psych ward for not following "the rule" of society (This was documented by Psychiatrist Abram Hoffer: that people are given a diagnosis to protect them from being jailed or accused of a criminal offence). 

There is an unspoken rule, and if you break it or act anti-social and if you break it they suspect you. But there are all sorts of ways to break rules in society. Getting everyone to act the same would be a huge challenge. 

Why does everyone act differently? It is not just the outcome of our education, upbringing and skills. What we eat has a huge influence on our behaviour because it is not human control that forced people to act a certain way, it is the intrinsic messages that come from the things they just ate (and its influence on blood sugar, hormones, and neurotransmitters). It might be a justified assumption that people who do not act right, have not eaten right today. How many days have you not eaten right? That is the question. It seems undeniable that our food is what gives the brain the messages on how to act and interact with others in a compatible way. Ask any parent if food affects the behaviour of their child. When we eat junk, and our modern diet is poor, we are not being healed, we can be destructive and careless.

We must take into consideration when we build for eternity, what is an Old-Testament plumb line? When they did construction in Old Jerusalem they measure the building to see if it would stand by an plumb line. Today, we are building a house in heaven, and setting the foundation for eternity. The plumb line is the measure of our character. What is the plumb line in the modern world? What are we measuring our character by? Is it the scripture? Is it our relationship with Jesus and whether he really likes us or not. What if he is more subtle? What is he has a plumb line and you don't know what it is? When your building comes across it, you are being measured. This is an uncomfortable feeling. It makes many people angry to think that they are being measured by something or someone. It is innocuous though. It is not a seductive object.


"Amos proclaimed God’s judgment upon his people for failing to live by God’s standards of justice and righteousness. Amos pleaded with God to relent his judgment and, in their place, God places a plumb line. A plumb line is a weight suspended from a string used as a vertical reference line to ensure a structure is centered. As they always find the vertical axis pointing to the center of gravity, they ensure everything is right, justified and centered.

"I wanted to look into this further so I located a sermon online, 'What’s your plumb line?” written by the Rev. Joseph J. Clifford, in which he writes, “By what do we measure our lives and our community? What tells us that things are aligned, that life is where it needs to be?' ’'

(Source: "Commentary: Biblical ‘plumb line’ remains a relevant allegory" https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/tn-dpt-me-0724-commentary2-20160718-story.html )


Following the Holy Spirit's guidance should always involve how to eat in a healing way, developing resilience, and abstaining from indulgence in food that would make us sluggish and foolish toward the things of the Lord. When we know how to eat, instructed by the Holy Spirit, we are able to be in the center of his will with more accuracy, and don't make the prophetic mistakes we might. I believe the Lord wants to open our eyes to the value of classically trained nutrition instruction in upholding our faith, our ability to endure, and our resilience to stress when tempers are short and times are difficult. This could be the downfall of us: times are hard right now. Many people do not have enough finances or enough to eat during Covid, and are stretched to the limit (thus government intervention, and food banks taking in anyone, no question asked.) Exhaustion is applicable to everyone trying to go on in a semblance of normalcy with this many obstacles.

As for what could happen if we don't discipline ourselves? Being teenagers, with the need to be controlled instead of acting as adults is dangerous. Even more so as Christians, we cannot just be babies, we need to be mature. There is no guarantee that the effects of communism on our society won't lead to suffering. Suffering by Christians under communism has been well established, in countries such as China. In China, one form of torture is to arrest Christians, put them in a psych ward, diagnose them and medicate them until they go insane or believe they are mentally ill and go along with the government. In our democratic country, I fail to see how this is not happening too. This is actually common practice, and seen as compassionate to mental health sufferers for their lack of resources. This happens every day to people who don't make the cut. They are told they have been a shame to their families. They are forced to commiserate with others of the same rank. Unfortunately we must only consult the annals of psychiatry to see that this is in fact the worst torture known to mankind. There are too many corpses behind them on which they have practiced medical experiments in the last 1,000 years. And today, there is little improvement. 

People wake up. What makes anyone following the Lord more or less righteous than you? They must listen daily and immaculately to the voice of the Holy Spirit. They must be taught right and wrong by that sweetness of Jesus Christ who hung on a cross for us. It is a practice of listening, because we overstep our bounds when we even think we can walk across a room without the will of the father enabling us. We are not allowed to do anything without the Father's permission. We are not to speak, we are not to act, and we are certainly not to criticize other when they speak and act because they are less mature than us.

Blessings to you in the name of the Father, in whom we live and move and have our being.

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