p. 82 - If God had sent him the commander of His own army, why had He not said that He was on the side of Israel? Then it dawned on Joshua that God was not on Israels's side; He beckoned Israel to be on His side. Joshua couldn't claim God for himself or for his own interests the way the people around them used their idols. Rather the Lord claimed Joshua and His chosen people for Himself.
p. 211 - I'm grateful for that snake. God didn't exactly answer my prayers, but He certainly brought good to me through that snake's presence. I was really disappointed with God...I wanted Him to make the snake go away. That's what I prayed for, and I knew God could have done it easily. Instead it sat there...in spite of my pleading and prayer. Why wouldn't the Lord answer my cry? He knew my limitations. What was the point of forcing me to fight a poisonous snake? But He used the snake to soften the hearts of the women around toward me. God spared Hannah's life and mind, but He did it in such a way that benefited me more than I could have imagined if I'd had things according to my design. God had a bigger plan in mind, one that I could never have conceived.
p. 237 - A woman needs to feel safe in love. She needs to know her husband accepts everything about her and still loves her. To be known through and through, including the failures of her past, the shortcomings of her character and still be loved, that's the Promised Land of a woman's heart. That's where she finds rest.
p. 238 - I can't fathom how to change myself.
That's because it cannot be done. Not by you, in any case. But with God all things are possible. Now that you have seen into your true heart and accepted the responsibility of your own failures, He can have His way. He can transform you.
p. 248 - Trust God if you don't trust yourself. You certainly don't trust my love-I know this. You expect it to fail. To come to an end and let you down eventually like your father's did. It had never occurred to her that her father's failure to love her would reflect in her relationship with her husband. Was she punishing him for her father's [failures]?
p. 262 - And I enjoy their good opinion a great deal. In fact, inwardly, I often worry about what others think of me. This is a form of pride, of which God heartily disapproves. I should strive to please God and spend far less time and effort trying to earn the good opinions of those around me. The Lord has an objection or tow to being second best. You say I don't judge you. How could I when I am convicted by my own idolatry? Don't you know that when God requires the blood of sacrifices to cover the uncleanness and rebellion of the people of Israel, He is thinking of me as much as of you. God's standards measure my heart, not any illusion of righteousness I might contrive to achieve with my actions. And before those standards I fail every day.
p. 271 - He [God] seems to act out of His holy justice when I would expect mercy, and pour out mercy when I would have doled out judgement.
I suppose our sins warp our expectations. The reason God seems to act in ways that make no sense to us is that our perceptions are wrong. Our expectations are subtly twisted. We long for things that harm us and run from the things that grow and heal us. We think good is bad and bad is good. God acts rightly, but to us, it seems confusing. Or sometimes plain wrong.
Do you think my perceptions about my past are wrong too?
I think they are a mixture of truth and lie, which make them very convincing and therefore very dangerous. But it seems likely that where you would believe yourself deserving of condemnation, the Lord would desire to give you mercy.
p. 307 - I could have been more understanding.
Miriam, I was there and believe me when I tell you, you were the one wronged.
I am aware of that. But she's answerable to God for her wrongdoing, not to me. I should have reacted out of mercy. He can extend mercy to me. Should I not treat others the same? Yet I'm struggling to forgive. I don't want to. I like holding on to my grievances. It helps me focus on her wrong rather than mine.
How I loved this book....let me count the ways! The more quotes I take away from a book, the deeper the impact it had on me. Not only was the writing excellent, the story line was fascinating and I loved learning about this period of history. The character development was excellent. Thank you for more than just entertainment Ms. Afshar.
p. 161- Do you remember the willow tree that Bardia showed you? Remember what he said about it: that the master didn't love it because of its usefulness, but because of what it was. It touches the soul.
p. 165 - The vine needs to suffer. Going down into this earth - fighting to survive among the stones, among the lime rock - this is what gives it tis aroma. It's taste. Its unique character. These grapes will create a wine few other vineyards can compare with not because their life was easy, but because they had to struggle to survive. To be its best, it needs to suffer and fight. Pain is part of this life. No one can escape suffering. Nor the vine nor we humans. But what if we are like the vine and that affliction only makes us better?
p. 166 - I'm the gardener and I know what the vine needs in order to thrive. You only see the stripping, but I cut the vine in order to restore it. I take away from it to enrich it. You hold in your hand a withering branch and that's all you see now, but I know that I have given the vine more abundant life.
p. 266 - Do you think the Lord counted them [Adam & Eve] worthy because of their abilities? They hadn't even begun their work yet when He made His first pronouncement over them. He called the very good when they hadn't achieved a single thing. They hand't proved themselves capable. He pronounced them good not because of what they had accomplished but because of who He had made them to be.
p. 267 - Your inner world produced turmoil because you lost sight of who you really were. You lived in fear. Fear that you should prove dissatisfactory. For years I have watched you live a disordered life. You've placed your intellect, your ability to learn faster than most, your quickness of thought and understanding at the core of your life. This was never the Lord's purpose for you. The Lord's care never depended on what you achieve. You were created for His love, not to be a work mule. Your accomplishments are meant to be a response to that love; instead you have made love a response to your accomplishments.
p. 268 - If one day all the works of my hand should fall apart at my feet, do you think I will lose the knowledge of who I am in God? Not for a moment. My heart may break. But not because I will think myself any less a man for that failure. I will always have my standing before the Lord as His child. I will always know I can go to Him and be welcomed. That is who I am. My work is a small part of me, an assignment from God. Whether He give it or take it away, it will not change how He perceives me.
p. 269 - I realized I didn't have the ability to rest in the Lord's opinion of me. I had built my own measure of worth and acceptability. They were false; they destroyed my peace. It dawned on me just how doggedly I served these measures. I served them with more fierce determination than I served God. I wanted the good opinion of others more than I wanted the Lord.
p. 307 - I once trusted his ability to make mistakes more than God's ability to make His plans succeed. How little I know of God's power and even less of his love if I thought human sin and error could override His ultimate plans.
p. 327 - David knew how to walk the path of affliction while being settled firmly in the joy of God's presence. I wanted to learn to be like David, to have eyes that saw the loving hand of the Lord even in the midst of unfulfilled dreams.
p. 330 - The more I clutched at my achievements, the sicker my soul had grown. God in His mercy, in His uncompromising love, had torn the sickness out of my chest. I had turned my success into the source of my well-being. Instead He brought me into ta desert of hopelessness and loss. He did not ring me into this wilderness to destroy me; He brought me here to speak tenderly to me. To speak of His love, which healed the sorrow of childhood. To restore to me my true self, which had become burred under the weight of my perverse appetites for human acceptance.
Passages I'd like to remember because they touched me so:
p. 44 - "How good you are to bless Cantor with the sickness so he can sing to them in their darkness! How great is your wisdom to bless Rabbi Ahava with this suffering so he can be here with them!"
p.155 - "I was the lawgiver, yet the commandment of Adonai, which I transgressed by neglect, brought death to my son. The law brings death because no one, not even the lawgiver, ever kept every law. In the end all we can do is ask God for His mercy. Act on that mercy. Hold it.. Then His grace pours out life to us freely, abundantly."
p. 338-339 "Simon, head bowed, spoke to Yeshua without daring to lift his face. He wanted to fall, face downward, at those feet. Simon wanted to grasp Yeshua's ankles and cling to them, to hold on as the patriarch Ya'acov had refused to release the Angel of Adonai.
Trembling, fearful, but no longer stubborn. Or prideful.
"I gave you no...no...kiss of welcome," he stammered. "I offered no water fo ryou to wash your feet. I thought the core of my life was righteousness...righteousness. I criticized you harshly for not knowing Miryam's sin. Didn't see that you both saw - and forgave. I didn't value mercy more than justice...until now."
Simon thrust his hands out of his sleeves, held them in the glaring sunlight, revealing his leprosy. "I asked for ...I demanded a sign from you! While I never showed my true heart to anyone, "he admitted. "But these are my true hands...washed but still unclean!"
"This is my true heart; I am a leper! Inside and out, I am unclean."
The second touch of kindess Simon had refused to give Yeshua, he now received from Yeshua multiplied a thousandfold.
p. 348 - "Don't you see? The true sickness in a man's heart is pride. Pride justifies wrongdoing and conceals the truth....even from a man's own self. Every person is a leper on the inside. That is the condition of each soul trying live outside God's sovereignty and purpose."
p. 349-350 - "The rabbis teach that Messiah will be a leper. According to Isaias, the rabbis call Messiah 'the Great Leper, our Redeemer.'"
"And so they are also correct in this. Six hundred and twelve is the number than stands for the Lord's covenant with Avraham. Six hundred thirteen is the number of laws in Torah. Yes. And look. Look down there, Peniel! Look deeply into the Vally of Sorry! Here is what remains of the covenant between Avraham and the Lord. That is what results from mankind attempting to gain eternal life by keeping laws yet forgetting to love. A shambles. Decaying flesh. Defeat! Death and sorrow because no man has ever fulfilled all 613 laws of Torah! No man can earn his own salvation...and so the Law has brought death. Who can give mankind eternal life? Who can break the curse of death?"
pg. 102 - Yeshua reserved His scorn and outright condemnation for those who put self-importance above showing kindness.
pg. 101 - Some people who pretend to be godly have more concern for their animals than they do for people. And they hide their cruelty behind laws that God never meant to be used to abuse. They bury mercy beneath a mountain of pointless rules and empty commands.
pg. 99 - Every Sabbath speaks to us of the most important part of the Law. Love, or the way it is expressed to others: chesed, mercy. And mercy is required in your hearts before you can learn any other lessons of the Kingdom. Without mercy, your hearts will be like the stony ground, on which the seed of the Kingdom withered and died.
pg. 85 - Yeshua's interpretation of God's commands seemed clear and easy to understand: Love God and man. Forgive those who hurt you. Show mercy to all. Practice compassion by actions, not just words.
p. 339 - Anger is the poison we drink ourselves and then expect the other person to die.
p. 367 - "Who am I that You would speak to me?"
"It isn't who you are, but who I AM."
p. 370 - To obey the voice of the Sent One! No matter how foolish the command might seem. To believe the Word and act on it. Obedience was proof of faith.
I wish I didn't relate to this book. Sadly, I grew up 'doing church' almost identically. I hate how some 'christians' use God to their own advantage and make Him in the image they want Him to be. Why does God let people misuse his name and who He is in this manner? Curious still, why do some people actually get healed by these self-serving preachers? The author's matter of fact style of writing was enjoyable. There was no judgement or hidden message in her writing. It's as if she's saying, "It is what it is and this has made me who I am." I'm so glad she's not still stuck in the bubble world these people make for themselves where they love to abuse people's faith, trust and hope.