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Shaking the dust off one’s feet is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it. Nehemiah 5:13 “I also shook out my garment and said, “So shall God shake out any man who does not fulfill this matter, from his house and from his toil, so shall he be shaken out and empty.” Then the entire congregation said, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord, and the people did according to this word.”
We speak, we show in scripture, we converse, we engage in conversation, and we wait to see what God will do in that person. If the person is receptive, we keep speaking and showing in scripture, conversing, engaging. If a person becomes combative, argumentative, insulting, rude, or simply disengages from the conversation, until or unless God provides another opening at some later time, we have done all we can do and we remove ourselves from further dialog on that matter, turning them completely over to God, however, praying for them. Praying keeps us from becoming bitter or upset over anything in the interaction, keeping our mindset God focused and love filled as we beseech God to intervene in this person’s life and turn them from where they are, to God and His truth (repentance.)
God calls me, and each and every other believer, to stand firm and proclaim truth. Biblical truth. The clear and undiluted truth that is unequivocally in the Bible. God leads us to situations, both with not yet believers, and believers, where He expects us to draw from scripture and minister to these people. Minister means take care of. Taking care of someone can be a physical act, for instance someone needs food, company while a loved one is undergoing a medical situation, help when ill and unable to run errands…the list goes on. Taking care of someone is also an emotional/spiritual act in addressing emotional pain, turmoil, life crisis, or even simple questions. And in all, we minister standing on God’s word as the foundation and we share the truth of that foundation, with love and in love, in all we say and do.
For the not yet believer, we look for God granted opportunities to share the gospel, openings for conversation, dialog. Some people will engage in conversation. Others will not. It becomes clear, as in any conversation, when it is time for us to be silent and simply let the person digest. Conversation may pick up again at another time. So when do we “shake the dust off”?
Regarding the not yet believers/not yet saved: “Go rather to the lost sheep and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” Matthew 10:6-15 “Do not speak into the ears of a fool, for he will despise the sense of your words.” Proverbs 23:9 “And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5 “He who chastens a scorner takes disgrace for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man, that is his blemish. Reprove not a scorner lest he hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you.” Proverbs 9:7-8
Regarding interactions with both the not yet believers/not yet saved and the believers/saved: “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:14-26
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:1-11
“Shall a wise man raise his voice with opinions of wind, and does he fill his belly with the east wind? To debate over a matter from which he derives no benefit and words in which there is no avail (benefit)?” Job 15:2-3
Praying for you, and I, to remember even more deeply that we once were foolish, no different from those we hope to reach with God’s truth, but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of anything we did but according to His own mercy. We are justified by His grace and heirs to eternal life. We are justified! This means we have no need of justifying ourselves, we do not have to prove anything to anyone. We are justified by God. So we have nothing to lose by spreading God’s gospel of Jesus and we also have nothing to lose if it becomes time for us to “shake the dust off.”
Is God enough? It is a question that life constantly brings me back to. If I lost EVERYTHING that I deem of value to me, immense value, top value, the tangible stuff like my husband, my adult children, my home, even my health, money…if all that was gone, what would be left? God. And despite the evidence that may to some minds point to the contrary, a God who loves me more fully and completely than any one else ever could and a God who if I have lost everything, has allowed it to be so.
Through different circumstances in my life I have learned that not only is God enough, but He has to be. If He is not, than I clearly am putting something in front of Him in importance and value (also known as an idol.)
It takes effort, a conscious choice, to stay in that truth. Do I get the intensity of what God did for me in salvation? What did He do? What was I given? Who am I?
I was designed for more than pursuing things or pleasure. We can keep pursuing, we can have more and more, but yet, we will never find relief or full satisfaction through people, through possessions, through activities. We may think we are, but it still does not satisfy that hole deep within. Our behaviors show that to be true. Take a close look, an honest look, at yourself and your habits and behaviors.
So, back to God. God has given me an inheritance, that I possess right now, in a down payment form of sorts. The fullness will be mine in completion when the time comes. It is huge, it is of more value than anything else. And if I choose to focus on it, all else fades away. That doesn’t mean that these other things are not important, God gave them to me, to enjoy. They are gifts from Him. BUT, should they go, one thing will always remain. THIS!
I have God’s unbreakable promise that I will receive my full inheritance. This inheritance and as the meaning of it as my understanding, knowledge, heart, mind comes to know it more and more, deeper and deeper, is an energizer, as the entire purpose for my existence here on earth takes on a new meaning and purpose. And it is in this focus that more and more I grasp that God is and will always be, enough no matter WHAT happens in my natural life. Let’s take a look.
- My destination when I die here on earth, is now to everlasting life with God. Heaven (Colossians 1:10-14).
- The flesh (my sin nature) is crucified through the cross of Christ (Galatians 5:24).
- I am dead in the sense that my old unbelieving self (soul) has died (Romans 7:1-6, Romans 8:2,4).
- My old stony heart has been removed and has been replaced with a new heart of flesh (soft, pliable) with God’s laws written on it (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 3:3).
- I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
- I am a new creation, a new soul (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- My source of strength is “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This is why the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)!
- I have an incredibly beautiful new identity, for here and for eternity. My inheritance!
I, Diane, am strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued me from the domain of darkness, and transferred me to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And although I was formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled me in His fleshly body through death, in order to present me before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach if indeed I continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that I have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven. I was washed, I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Therefore as I have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so I walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in my faith, just as I was instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. In Christ I have been made complete. When I was dead in my transgressions and the uncircumcision of my flesh, He made me alive together with Him, having forgiven me all my transgressions. God has given me a new heart, and put a new spirit within me: His Spirit. My life now is walking out (experientially here on earth) what has already been credited to my account (positional identity in Jesus); empowered, energized, enabled, excited by that new heart and God’s Spirit put in me! Therefore, my beloved (God says to me) as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Romans 3:21-26; Colossians 1:10-14; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Colossians 2:6-15; Colossians 2:6-15; Romans 8; Ezekiel 36:26-29; Philippians 2:12-13)Is God enough for me? Absolutely! No matter what happens to me in this life. Scary sentiment on the one hand. And yet, even in the Tanakh (Old Testament) there is a powerful illustration of that through Job.
I pray for you, and I, to be brought deeper and deeper in understanding and immersion in God’s gospel. Jesus is truly our all in all, for those who believe.
The English word “gospel” comes from two old English words, “god spell” meaning “good news“, or, as it is sometimes used, “glad tidings“. This is the translation of the Greek word “enaggelion” or “evangelion“.
In the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament), the word “besorah” is used, and in English is translated as, yes, the same as “gospel”… “good news” or “tidings.”
Gospel is a proclamation of good news, either oral or written, typically announcing a positive event of public importance, such as victory in battle, the accession of a king, the death of an enemy.
Interesting to note that the Hebrew Bible includes small portions in Aramaic, written and printed in Aramaic square-script, which was adopted as the Hebrew alphabet after the Babylonian exile. Also, by the time of the New Testament, many Jews didn’t even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire.
NOW, before you assert that the word “gospel” (again, which means “good news”) has connotations from the New Testament that are NOT for Jews, let us take a look in our Hebrew Bible at the usage of the word “besorah”(which again, also means “good news”).
Originally, the word “besorah” was used to describe the report of victory in battle ( 2 Samuel 4:10 ). As the Israelites believed God was actively involved in their lives (including battles and wars) it evolved in it’s connotation. To proclaim the good news of Israel’s success in battle was to proclaim God’s triumph over God’s enemies. Believing credit for the victory belonged to God, the Israelites’ proclamation of the good news of victory was, in fact, proclamation about God.
The transition from the use of “besorah” in a military setting, to its use in a personal context, is pretty basic. If Israel proclaimed good news when God delivered the nation from its enemies, individuals would also want to proclaim good news when God delivered them from personal distress (Psalm 40:10). The nation’s victories in war and a person’s individual victories both called for the announcement of what God had done.
The Book of Isaiah marks the full development of the term within the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament). By this time the word is most often used to describe the anticipated deliverance and salvation which would come from the hand of God when the long awaited Messiah appeared to deliver Israel (Isaiah 52:7). The military-political and personal connotations of the word were fully united in the hope of a Deliverer who would both triumph over the earthly enemies of God’s people and usher in a new age of salvation. The arrival of this Messiah would be good news.
In the Hebrew Bible, the verb form of “besorah” dominates in usage. A noun derived from the verb does appear on occasion, but the vast majority of references are to the verb itself.
Besorah or good news/tidings is made in the following places (please note, this list is for the usage of the word, not necessarily to imply that the news was actually good for the Israelites): 1 Samuel 4:17, 1 Samuel 31:9, 2 Samuel 4:10, 2 Samuel 18:19-20, 26, 31, 1 Kings 1:42, 1 Chronicles 10:9, 1 Chronicles 16:23, Psalm 40:10 Tanakh; 40:9 OT, Psalm 68:12 Tanakh; 68:11 OT, Psalm 96:2, Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 41:27, Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 60:6, Isaiah 61:1, Jeremiah 20:15, Nahum 2:1 Tanakh, 1:15 OT.
Delving even deeper “besorah” is from the root “basar”. The intensive form “bissier” means to bring (good) news. (In grammar, an intensive word form is one which denotes stronger, more forceful, or more concentrated action relative to the root on which the intensive is built).
“Basar” means “to bear tidings” and “basar” also means “flesh”. “Basar” meaning “flesh” occurs before Adam sinned. Adam already was flesh and bone. (Genesis 2:21).
Then in Genesis 2:23-24 “And man said, ‘This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man). Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’”
English “Gospel”; Greek “enaggelion” or “evangelion”; Hebrew “besorah”. Word study is so fascinating!
Let us consider for a moment that the English word “Gospel” states that the proclamation of good news is “they shall be one flesh.” God’s Gospel states the very way that we become connected with Him, with nothing separating us, ever. That is Good News!
The Bible is a love story. It is a huge, continuous story through 66 books describing who God is, what God created, and why. It is the love story of God meeting us where we are at; rebellious, sinful, failing, guilty, striving yet never reaching. God meets us with His rescue, His salvation, His favor, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.
The main character is God and He can be found on every page. When we read and study the Bible, while it may certainly help us, it is there for us to hear from God. Through His word God teaches, challenges, encourages, and yes also rebukes us, to better equip us to do whatever tasks He has specifically designed us to do.
The Bible contains the only true, stable, unchangeable standard of behavior; the one set by God. We learn about His standards in the Bible. Many people accept that as truth, and many ridicule it and decide to set their own standard for behavior.
However, while many like to coin the Bible “the blueprint for living”, it is not. To suggest that it is, diminishes it’s power and love to a rules manual, an operational book.
Let us look at it this way, if the Bible is the “manual for life” it makes me (or you) the center of life. The whole reason for going to the Bible then is so that “I” or “you” can know how to live. Yes, sounds noble because our default seems to be “what do I have to do?”
In this scenario however, the Bible becomes a means to an end, us striving to make ourselves better. Again, sounds noble, however the story of “me, me, all about me” is NOT what the Bible is about. When life becomes me centered and me powered, even when we give lip service and verbal credit to God and His power, it is legalism. Ouch!
Well, what exactly is legalism? Following God and His ways becomes reduced to principles or rules that we apply. In the end, God and His Grace, God and His life changing power, along with the love relationship between God and His human creation, is taken out of the picture.
The Bible tells us of the perfect standard that God is (which also helps us to realize that while we learn God’s will for us in how He would like us to behave, we will not in this life down here on earth be able to reach His standard as His standard is nothing less than absolute perfection). However, every book in the Bible is love filled, mercy filled, grace filled, as it contains His gospel (besorah, good news) message. The deeper this message seeps and sinks into us, the more we will reflect just who God designed us to reflect, Him!
When the Bible tells me to work out my salvation, it does not mean to go out and get what I do not have; get more patience, get more strength, get more joy, get more love. Growth happens by working out of me what God has already placed in me; living out the reality of what I do have. I become more spiritually mature when I focus more on all that God has already done for me, and less on what I need to do for God.
This is how we are called to work out our salvation: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.“ Philippians 2:12-13
The litmus test is this; if you are thinking more about what you need to do, than what God has already done, your focus is on yourself, and not on God.
So, what has God already done? All this talk about the gospel, what does it all mean? So glad you asked! I will send you over here to bring you deeper into this material.