23rd Psalm 1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
Most Believers can recite this by rote. Much like the Apostles Creed, however, men spliced that particular piece together with phrases from the New Testament around AD 390. Which is to say, it really isn’t the Apostles Creed. The 23rd Psalm is definitely a Psalm of David. We have already looked at different aspects of this Psalm. In this post, we will focus on THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. Having heard this Psalm preached and taught at least once for every year that I’ve been a Christian, I believe the Psalmist is not addressing death itself. It is a metaphor describing circumstances in life, which might either make you wish you were dead, or you have been on your death-bed and lived to tell about it. Either way, he is not saying he has experienced death first-hand. Of course, that is the nature of a shadow. Solid objects cast shadows, such as trees, animals, or people. Speaking figuratively, one can stand in the shadow of another man’s accomplishments. Most scientific breakthroughs are born out of the shadow of men and women who have come before us.
In Acts chapter 5, we see an occasion where the Apostle Peters shadow seemed to have substance. Acts 5: 12 “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.”
This is where we must think inductively, as in “Inductive Bible Study”. We should know that a shadow has no substance of its own and a shadow has no power (dunamis) to heal; however, signs and wonders followed the Apostles just like Jesus said they would. Why don’t they follow us like that? Jesus said in John 14: 11 “11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”
What the Holy Spirit accomplished through the Apostles was the fulfillment of Christ words. Again, my question is, what’s up with the church today? The incident with Peter’s shadow is much like the woman who pushed through crowed and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. There was no power in His garment to heal anyone, the power or virtue (dunamis) came from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to the woman “your faith has made you whole”. So, there was no dunamis in Peter’s shadow. They were filled with the same Holy Spirit that Jesus was filled with, subsequently, the faith of the people who stood in his shadow made them whole. To answer the question “what’s up with the church today?” Look at Acts 15: 12 once more “…..And they were ALL WITH ONE ACCORD in Solomon’s Porch.”
I am not even close to being the smartest person in any room. Nevertheless, when I look at the Body of Christ today, I honestly do not see “ALL WITH ONE ACCORD”. I see factions (denominations); I see factions within the factions. Moreover, just as it was in Christ day, so it is today. Religion has replaced the substance, and the substance is Christ.
Colossians 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 WHICH ARE A SHADOW of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
Hebrews 10:1 “For the law, HAVING A SHADOW of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’ ”
Ergo, denominations/man-made religions quench/diminish the power (dunamis) of the Holy Spirit. To be continued…