The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
They struck me and wounded me;
The guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me.
Song of Songs 5:7
The Bitter Cup
One benefit of releasing this book in serialized form is that it gives me an opportunity to gauge the response of those who are receiving it. After announcing the book and sending out the Introduction I received much effusive praise and encouragement from many women.
The Introduction spoke of the high calling of women, and of women being viewed as holy. It made mention of the reactions godly women are getting on the sidewalks and in public places as men see something pure in them as they are adorned with modesty and humility. It spoke of godly women being viewed as beacons of light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. What I was sharing excited many women, and rightly so.
Yet as I have gotten into the next two chapters the response has changed. Instead of a gusher of praise and excitement I have found an eerie silence and a few questioning e-mails and I am hearing rumors of great discontent.
I am not surprised by this response. In the introduction of the book I spoke of the fruit of the life of a godly woman, and the fruit is exceedingly good. Yet the next two chapters spoke of the process of bringing forth this fruit. The process is not so glorious as the fruit. We have the words of our Savior that clearly reveal the path to fruitfulness and glory.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
The last chapter was entitled “Dying to Live”. There is one fact that often we would like to forget. To reach a place of fruitfulness in our lives we must first go through crushing and a process of death. The hard outer shell of our life must be broken open to allow the life of Christ to come forth.
The message of the previous chapters is that a woman must come to a place of having no life of her own. She must give up her own life. She must die to self. She must embrace crucifixion of her flesh and all of its desires. I can hear the objections in the silence.
“Is there no other way?”
“Cannot this cup pass from me?”
“Must I truly take man as my head and become submissive to him, even calling my husband lord?”
“Must I truly remain silent, chaste and respectful even when he is walking in disobedience to the word of God, as Peter has said?”
“Must I refrain from usurping authority over man in anyway?”
And with every question the flesh of woman cries out for deliverance. “Must I endure the scourging, the crown of thorns and the nails? Must I really die in order for life and fruit to come forth?” Yet once again we hear the words of Christ:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Death comes before glory. The seed must die to bring forth fruit.
Know this, the objections that arise have nothing to do with whether these things be true, for they are, and they are exceedingly plain in scripture. The objections arise because the flesh seeks to avoid suffering and death. “The flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5), and this warfare can be brutal. The greatest struggle in our lives is always at the crisis of decision.
Consider the suffering of our Savior. His greatest agony wasn’t on the cross, it was in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where He sweat drops of blood. This is where His soul was deeply grieved to the point of death (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34). Gethsemane means “olive press”. It is here that the olives were crushed to separate the pure oil from them. It is the oil from the crushed flesh of the olive that was used as a continual light in the Temple.
For our lives to become as light in a darkened world we must undergo the crushing of our flesh. But if we crucify the flesh, if we surrender our lives and refuse to hold onto our will, then we will not abide alone, but we will bear fruit.
The greatest trial is always in the act of deciding. When we think we might escape the will of God by any other means our flesh yet has hope. When we hear the Father say, “This is the only way”, it is like a sentence of death. We agonize and cry out, “Father, if there is any other way… please Father let this cup pass from me!”
I know there is much in the first two chapters of this book that seems dreadful and so very unreasonable. Why should woman be subject to man, after all? Yet, in this, please note that the Father is not so interested in woman being subjected to man as He is in bringing woman to the place of dying that life might come forth. What better way to bring forth death than to ask women to do something that seems totally unfair?
I hear the objections in the silence. What is required of woman is unfair. A woman has a perfectly good mind, why should she not be free to choose her own way? A woman is capable of making her own decisions, why should she have to submit to her husband’s will? A woman can sense right from wrong very well, why should she remain silent when her husband is in gross disobedience? A woman has her own life, why should she not live to fulfill her own desires?
It is unreasonable and unfair, plain and simple. Yet it is the revealed will of God.
Remember, it was also the will of God that His perfect Son, who was well pleasing to Him in every way, should suffer for sins He did not commit. It was the Father’s will for His only begotten Son to receive in His body the penalty for every sin of mankind when He Himself was a spotless and pure lamb. This was unfair. There is no reasonable law that demands that the innocent pay the consequences for the sins of the wicked. Yet this was the Father’s will.
But Yahweh was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring…
It is the Father’s good will to crush every one of us, and if we will allow it we will also see the fruit of our obedience.
There is no other way. The pathway to life is through the valley of death.
If you are debating right now whether the things written in the first two chapters of this book could possibly be right, if you have already concluded that the author must certainly be deceived in some way, I would have you to consider this:
What has been written will require every woman to go through a crushing process. Denying what has been written will free every woman from this same process. The will of the Father is that we all be crushed that the oil of anointing might overflow from our lives bringing life to others. There is a Gethsemane that lies between each one of us and an overcoming life.
Yahshua pleaded, “If there be any other way, let this cup pass from Me.” Yet no other way was offered, and our Savior asks us to take up our cross and follow Him. He overcame, and in Him we also can overcome. Don’t be surprised that the way seems exceedingly grievous and that our flesh cries out with everything it has to not go this way. When you come to this place of wrestling with the will of God, you can know with a surety that you are where the Father has led you. You are in the olive press.
I have heard the sincere questions of a number of women. “What if a husband asks his wife to do something she finds repulsive?” “What if a man physically and mentally abuses his wife or daughter?” “What if a man is not fulfilling his role as the spiritual shepherd in the home?” “What if the man is pursuing a course that is undeniably ungodly?”
These are not just rhetorical questions. These things actually occur, and they happen all too frequently. In my own spirit I feel sickened when I hear of the cruel and wicked things done to wives and daughters by fallen men. I feel anger rise up within, and at times I cry out, “Father, how could You allow this to happen?”
I remember listening to a woman speaking to a group about the abuse she suffered from her father when she was a young girl. This girl loved her daddy, and when her parents divorced she chose to go and live with her father. She was only about thirteen years of age at the time, and her dad would have her share the same bed with him so they could be close.
Over time, however, this girl’s father began treating her as a substitute for his wife. He began to touch her sexually, and then eventually to have intercourse with her. This young girl described how tortured she was in her mind and how she felt guilty about the relationship, thinking she must have done something wrong to bring it about. For a number of years this father abused his daughter and he devastated her life with his ungodly behavior.
I watched this attractive young woman share about these things as tears streamed down her face. I thought of an innocent young girl who loved her daddy, yet her daddy betrayed her love. Inside I cried out, “Why God?” “Why did you allow it to happen?”
This young woman told how she moved out from her father’s house when she was of age, and how in the intervening years she dealt with great anger, guilt, and many other terrible emotions. She then spoke of how the Spirit led her to forgive her father, and to even go back to him and tell him that she forgave him. I saw a grace upon her that was uncommon, and it was evident that He who is Life was flowing through her being and bringing transformation.
Yet as I listened to her I was angry. I didn’t want the story to go this way. I didn’t want an innocent child to be abused and violated. It is one thing to hear about such a thing second hand, but it is another matter to see the victim standing before you telling you these things through tears and sobs. I left that meeting angry and dissatisfied. This woman had come to a place of peace in her life, but I was full of offense that these things should have happened to her. My offense was ultimately against God that He should have allowed a teenage girl to be so violated by her daddy that she adored.
There are no nice, pat, theological explanations that will bring us peace about such matters. There is no argument or justification that will bring us to say, “Now I see that it was really okay.” These things are not okay. They are tragic, they are unfair, they are abominations, they should bring us to weep and cry when we hear about them. But in all things Yahweh is just and without fault. His ways are higher than our ways and we cannot impute wrongdoing to Him.
The scriptures say that Yahweh was pleased to crush His Son and to put Him to grief. This young lady I have spoken of seemed to me to be an exceptionally fine person whom any dad would be glad to claim as a daughter. Yet Yahweh had a Son who was far more praiseworthy than anyone born of Adam. His Son was perfect in obedience and love. This Son lived to do the will of His Father. This Son was the exact representation of His Father’s nature. It was testified of Him that the Father was “well pleased” with Him.
Yet the Father was also pleased to have Him suffer at the hands of evil men. The Father was pleased to crush Him and to allow Him to undergo grief so great that He sweat drops of blood in His agony, and in a final moment of perplexity He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
There are no theological arguments that can bring me to declare that the experience of Christ in following the path the Father had for Him was fair. It was horrendous. This Son who was perfect in obedience was put through things that make me tremble to think upon. He was abandoned by His closest friends. He was falsely accused by the very nation of people He came to save. He was beaten, spat upon, insulted, mocked, and ridiculed. He had His beard plucked out by the handfuls. He was scourged until His flesh was left in ragged tatters and He was unrecognizable as a man. He was subjected to the torments of Roman crucifixion. And worst of all, His Father hid his eyes away from Him as all the guilt for all the sins of mankind were placed upon this spotless Lamb.
“And it was the Father’s good will to crush Him.” His path led through Gethsemane, where the olives are crushed and the oil flows.
It was the Father’s will that He should know this experience that the word ‘grief’ seems too small to express.
It is also the Father’s will that we should share in the sufferings of His Son. Notice in the following scripture how one thought flows into another. Peter did not write his epistle with chapter demarcations. It was all one message with the same flow of thought throughout.
I Peter 2:21-3:2
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
Peter speaks of the horrendous sufferings of Christ, sufferings that were part of the cup that the Father determined He should drink from. Peter states that Christ has left us an example to follow. We are to endure suffering while uttering no threats. We are to endure being reviled, but we are not to revile in return.
Peter then says, “In the same way, you wives….”
What a weight of revelation and instruction are in these few words. In the same way that Yahshua suffered, wives are to suffer. In the same way that He was reviled, you can expect to be reviled. Even as He did not revile in return, wives are not to respond with reviling. In the same way that He entrusted Himself to the Father who judges righteously, wives are to entrust their very lives to their Heavenly Father. In the same way that Christ drank the bitter cup prepared for Him, wives are to drink of the cup of bitterness prepared for them.
Yahshua sought no escape from the will of the Father. He could have sought escape had He desired it. He told His disciples, “Do you not know that I could request of My Father more than twelve legions of angels and He would put them at My disposal?”
Women today also have may avenues of escape. They can divorce a spouse for any perceived violation, or with no violation at all. They can take a spouse to court over the abuse they are suffering. They can seek refuge in the legal systems, or governmental institutions. They can call on the church to intervene. They can simply flee.
Or they can entrust themselves to the One who judges righteously. They can suffer while uttering no threats. They can be reviled and not revile in return.
In my heart I would like to show women that there is another way. I would like to spare young girls and women from all suffering. I would like to keep them from being abused and violated. I would like to deliver them from the whole rotten cesspool of this fallen world. Yet I know this is not the Father’s way.
It was the Father’s good pleasure to crush Him…
The Father takes the evil actions of men and He uses them for our good. There was a young man many years ago who suffered such calamity as he drank of the cup presented to him. In the end he understood the ways of Yahweh.
But Joseph said to [his brothers], “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
The Father uses the evil of others to bring forth pure gold, refined gold, in our lives.
I would like to tell women, young and old, that there is a way of escape from all of the suffering of life. I will still weep when I hear them share with me the agony of the things they have had to walk through. I will still ache inside when I hear of innocent hearts that are betrayed and lives subjected to ruinous circumstances. I will still marvel at the unfairness of it all. But I cannot tell them that they need not drink this bitter cup.
There was no other path for Yahshua. There was no other path for Joseph. There is no other path for you and I.
In the Introduction to this book I spoke about some of the honor and glory that attends women who choose the narrow path before them. There is an even more glorious heavenly reward that awaits those who overcome all as they pursue the One who has laid hold of them. After suffering Yahshua was glorified and exalted. So too was Joseph. We have these words written for us:
I Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
This book on Sarah’s Children must of necessity begin with these things. Certainly many will be offended and fall away as they read, but the Overcomers will go forward. Nothing will turn them from the course before them. They will drink the bitter cup, they will take up their cross, they will love not their lives, and they will enter into realms of glory.
Such is the good will and pleasure of the Father.
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063