8. Moses and Paul
Two questions. What is it that these men and women who share heart with God know that all these who are just discovering union with Christ don't? And how did they come to know it? We must explore the second question in order to arrive at the first. We will do so with just a few events from the lives of Moses and Paul.
8. Moses and Paul
Man is the image of God, not form or custom or ritual. Thus I find my heart engaged with the men of the third feast, rather than with the ritual and it's truths only. I suspect that we will find Christ Jesus revealed through us in the fulfillment of the Third Feast in the life of the church by considering the hearts of three men in particular, Moses, David, and Paul. Then, we will draw the particulars of the feasts out from those hearts.
David, as the progenitor of God filling Solomon's temple, fits well into, that is, can be understood best by his immediate context, Saul – David – Absalom, and by connecting him directly with his Son, the Lord Jesus, but Moses not so much. The problem with Moses is that the plagues upon Egypt and the entrance of the law overshadows the man himself in the minds of most.
In a sense, however, Moses and Paul were the apostles of the Third Feast.
What will we see if we lay Moses and Paul side by side, not in what God gave through them, but in their hearts, their own personal relationship with this Invisible One? I would really like to know.
First, I will share with you from the musings of a reader. These thoughts sparked this letter inside of me.
– Hi Daniel, wow, you are getting down to the nitty-gritty here (referring to “Defining the Apostolic”). Years ago, someone made the comment regarding the marriage feast to me; didn't I know that we would be the ones serving the guests at the table? Jesus is described as a servant, if I am being conformed to His image, then a servant I will become. I have often thought, why do I strive so hard to understand, why do I question everything, why must I know? . . .
The ideas that flood over me while reading your articles astonish me. A voice asked me: "Now that you're getting some inkling of what is really going on, are you still up for it?" Kinda like Jesus asked the boys when He told them they had to eat His body and drink His blood... A voice says:" Yeah, why be a servant when you can be part of them that are served?" Or from your illustration, why be trampled by the crowd? I myself cannot go on... It must be Jesus, it has to be Jesus in me doing and knowing and understanding; cause I will cave in; I will quit.... My answer in fear and tears is “Your will be done.”
Daniel, I am at a loss here...
First, what God is really after is so different from human reasoning, from Christian reasoning, even very different from what God seems to present and say in much of the Bible. Let me illustrate by the two most striking images God gives in all of Scripture.
Moses, the law giver, broke the two stone tablets of the law out from his two hands upon the mountainside in the eyes of all Israel – before ever presenting it to anyone.
Jesus, the Redeemer, the One who said “Carry your cross,” could not carry His own cross, but stumbled under its weight, needing another man to carry it for Him.
When God spoke to me, “Son, you passed the test,” I had failed by all measurements and descriptions of “Christian maturity” I have known. Yet it is true that I had justified God in all things, not blaming anyone else, not even myself, but just continuing on in utter trust in Jesus. The fact the God's test was totally other than all the “tests” I was hearing preached across the pulpit suggested to me that maybe, just maybe, Christianity, including “deeper truth,” and “going on to perfection,” has been reading God wrong.
Let's bring this reality, that we have not really known this Invisible One who fills us full, into our study of Moses and Paul. Let's remember that He, God the Father, is not a separate One, but a becoming One.
As I pondered these thoughts sent by a reader, I realized the importance of one's definition of God. We understand, of course, that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” is figurative of our present union with Christ. But let's take that picture as a parable and expand it a bit. You are there, seated at a sumptuous table set with gold utensils, overflowing with an endless array of the most exotic foods. You are clothed with the finest of garments, white linen, pure and clean. All around you are people you know and love. Everyone is eating and drinking, laughing and talking, filled with overflowing love and joy and goodness.
But you've dirtied your napkin and you would like another. You had hardly noticed a number of persons standing against the wall all around the festive tables. They are dressed in simple servants' garb, their heads declined slightly. You motion to one that you need a napkin. He glides forward soundlessly, slips down to his knee beside you, takes your soiled napkin, hands you a fresh clean one, and then disappears out of your view. At the same time your wife next to you had motioned to another such servant to re-fill her glass of wine.
You are a curious fellow, however, and you wonder who are these people not enjoying all this splendor, but rather simply serving people. So you turn and motion to the two standing a few feet behind you waiting on your every need. As they come near, you ask, “Your names, please, gentlemen.”
The first says, “My name is Moses,” the second, “My name is Paul – and you are our joy and our crown of rejoicing. Nothing gives us greater satisfaction than to see you here enjoying with all joy your full union with Christ.” – Would your heart be broken?
You see, all your life you have been a good and devout Christian, but now, for the first time, you are discovering all the wealth found in Christ your only life, that you are in Him and He is in you. This knowledge is wondrous beyond all measure, living, now, entirely inside of John 14:20. Yet here are Moses and Paul standing in the shadows serving all those who are being, just now, introduced to Christ their only life. I have no doubt that you laugh with them and they with you in the joy of our precious, precious union with Christ.
In the layout of the feasts, we saw that Passover is hardly separated from the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yes, God distinguishes Passover as its own thing for good reason, yet it is also the event that kicks off the Feast of Unleavened Bread. No leaven means nothing but Christ, Christ our only life. Such a life begins immediately with Passover. Union with Christ, Christ as us, is the first part of the Christian life.
Those who share heart with God serve those who discover, for the first time, what the Christian life is all about. They reveal the God who comes up from beneath of each one, catching them up in His arms, carrying them all the way into life.
God is beneath your feet; God is on His knees to serve you. And He does so through those who reveal Him.
Now, this parable serves only one purpose, to cause us to understand. The joy of introducing multitudes into their full union with Christ carrying them is beyond measure. This is no dour occasion. Those who share heart with God will be dancing with joy right alongside of all those who are knowing Christ their only life for the first time. (Eliminate from ALL of your thinking any idea of “this life” versus “the next life”; there is no such thing.)
Two questions. What is it that these men and women who share heart with God know that all these who are just discovering union with Christ don't? And how did they come to know it?
We must explore the second question in order to arrive at the first. We will do so with just a few events from the lives of Moses and Paul. Remember the Poirot principle. To discover the real truth of a matter, we don't look at the obvious, the stuff everyone else sees. We find the odd, out-of-the-way clues that must also be answered. By answering those things, we discover an entirely different view of both questions and answers.
One odd little clue we will explore for both Moses and Paul is an occasion of “disobedience” for each. A second is the boldness of their face towards God. And a third is how they saw themselves in the midst of God's people.
It is important to understand that Moses and Paul were a very different sort of person outwardly. Moses was as meek as a church-mouse; Paul was as bold as a lion. Yet inwardly they were more alike than one at first realizes. Let's start with Moses, the meekest man in all the earth.
Moses doubted himself at every step, that is, until he walked with fire upon the mountain and came out of it alive. Yet even after, it wasn't that he no longer doubted himself, he did. It's just that God filled his view of himself far more. What kind of a man puts a sack over his head to please his congregation who don't want to see his face? And this is after the fire on the mountain. How many leaders would say, “Hey, I'm the glory of God, deal with it”? No, Moses just meekly submitted and walked around with a sack on his head!
Now, when the writer of Hebrews says that Moses “forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible,” that's heaven's view not Moses' view. Moses flees Egypt because he tries to do something about his people and botches it totally. He runs because he thinks the king will execute him for treason. He hides out on the backside of the desert for forty years because he has no capacity in himself to face the horror of what is happening in Egypt. Then, when God does show up to tell him to go to Egypt, he gets into a stuttering match with God so badly that God tells him, “Shut up enough, before you really tick me off. Okay, Okay, I'll get Aaron your brother to do the talking. You don't have to say a word.”
You can be sure that when Moses finally does discover that he had, in fact, forsaken Egypt “by faith,” it astonishes the socks off of him.
So here we have a very timid man who knows without question that he is called by God to set his people free, yet is too frightened to do anything but hide in the desert following a bunch of sheep around in circles, doubting himself at every turn. God appears to him in an awesome and personal way, promising to send him Aaron to help him out, to give him the confidence he needs, yes. So Moses collects his family together, his wife and his son, to head back to Egypt.
Here is what happens next.
And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him (Moses) and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah (Moses' wife) took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He (God) let him (Moses) go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!”—because of the circumcision.
And the Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him. Exodus 4:24-27
Now, I have heard mightily anointed word preached on this passage. But I am interested here in none of that, none of the outward meanings. Rather, I want to see God contending with a man and that man with God at the level of heart.
Moses was like a number of other men of God, Samuel and David, for instance, who were just unable to “force the rules” on their own children and wife. Preachers of “righteousness” like to teach that God honors those men who enforce God's righteousness in their own families; they are just unable to use most of the leading men of God in the Bible as examples.
Could this be the same disconnect that we see in a lawgiver who breaks the entire law in the sight of everyone before he ever gives it or a Christ who is a total failure at carrying His own cross?
Could it be that what God is really after is to turn a man or a woman inside out and upside down?
I have known such a fear of God coming upon me without warning. I can take you to the very place, a Greyhound bus station in Prince George, British Columbia and show you where I ran into the toilet stall so that people would not see me trembling from head to foot and there, seated upon the closed toilet seat, I heard the bony finger of God pressing hard against me, “Will you surrender all that you are to Me right now?”
An immediate “Yes, Lord,” was the only possible option.
Moses' problem is much more difficult, however. When God comes upon a man or a woman without warning and says, “Surrender all to me, right now,” and you know that you know that you are facing life or death right there in that moment, that's bad enough. Moses' problem is that he cannot give God an answer without involving his wife. God's demand for Moses' surrender was along these lines, “Circumcise your son right now or you will not take another step.”
Even worse, Gershom, Moses' son, is in his mid-twenties. This is no little boy. And worse than that, Moses does not have the stomach to cut the foreskin off a 25-year-old man himself. He has to talk his wife into doing the deed. That is, he has to persuade both of them in that moment that either they do this bloody thing or he will die. In the long run, it seems that this action cost Moses the relationship he had once enjoyed with both. They went along with him into Egypt and out again, but there is no more mention of any closeness of relationship between Moses and either one. Part of the reason for that estrangement would have been the simple fact that Moses wimped out and made his wife do what he should have done.
(Contrast Moses with Abraham who not only cut off his own foreskin, but cut the foreskins off of more than 300 men, young and old, in his household.)
I will develop this night no further, except that Moses would have held it in his heart for years to come as one of the worst experiences of his life. In fact, Moses stumbled into Egypt with this experience of total, unmitigated failure etched deeply upon his mind. That he recorded it is a testimony of the honesty of his heart.
We will not compare Paul's disobedience with this awful and sorry night through which Moses suffered, but rather, the boldness of Paul's face towards God. Then we will compare Paul's disobedience with Moses' boldness of face towards God.
Think, for a moment. What was Paul's most daring statement in a long series of outrageous claims? May I propose one you may not have considered.
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities. . .
Here is a man boasting in the very face of God and to all Christianity about all of his infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses! When have you ever heard any preacher doing such a thing?
Now, Paul is not boasting about sin or sins, but he is boasting about things that almost all humans would never mention, particularly people who want to appear to others as a “man” or “woman of God.”
Then he claims this: that the power of Christ may rest upon me. So what is he talking about?
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
Let's paraphrase that directly from the Greek including what is implied. “God gave me a Satanic angel to beat me. I asked the Lord over and over to take away this demon from beating me, but He refused.” – – Okay!
Let's quickly bring this into the ONLY thing that counts, the shaping of the human heart. There are quite a few things that have no meaning whatsoever in themselves. Those things include law or no law, demons or no demons, sin or no sin. In all of the human experience, in the end, only ONE thing matters, the shaping of the human heart to fit God – sharing heart with God.
Moses got in trouble with God because he had not circumcised his son. That was not yet a law because the law was not given. It was simply a custom given through Abraham. Nothing of Abraham is found inside the Old Covenant. Abraham belongs only to the New.
God was not concerned about whether Moses had “kept the law” or not. God was concerned about the very same thing He was concerned about with Paul. Moses was about to see some of the most awesome displays of stuff ever seen upon this planet, and that stuff would appear in all respects to be coming from Moses. The problem was not Moses. Moses didn't do a thing; all he did was wave a stick around in the air. Anyone can wave a stick around in the air. Moses carried no danger in himself.
The danger for both Moses and Paul lay between themselves and the face of, in Moses' case, two million people. You see, it was just a few days in between Moses' humiliation and big things happening every time he waved his stick. For a man like Moses, it takes more than a few days to get over such an awful experience. God did not want Moses to “get over it.” That humiliation on that awful night was the greatest gift God gave to Moses in his entire 120 years, in exactly the same way that this demon beating Paul was God's greatest gift to Paul in his human experience. (I am placing Christ in a different category when I say “greatest.”)
Because of that gift, burning hard in his soul, Moses never once took any glory upon himself. And neither did Paul. Neither man saw himself as being the cause of anything. Neither man ever wanted to insert himself in-between Jesus and His woman.
It was a broken man who contended with God for eighty days upon that mountain burning with fire. It was a man who humbled himself before all Christianity who shared with us the gospel of Christ our only life. Read the entirety of 2 Corinthians 12 in this light. It is a sobering chapter as well as being one of the most comforting in the Bible. Understand also that Paul always knew that he had once murdered precious brothers and sisters in the Lord; that thought kept him little in his own sight.
Let's look at Paul's reckless disobedience. Near the end of Paul's third missionary journey, he got a bug in his brain from somewhere that made him determined to do something regardless. Let's position the year; according to Edward Reese's chronology, it is the spring of AD 58.
(I like using dates. I apologize, I don't want to offend anyone, but reading my stuff means putting up with dates. I don't have to put a sack over my head because Paul said we are not like Moses. That is, we don't have to put sacks on our heads. Christ is as me. That doesn't mean I am free to be rude and crude, not at all. But it does mean you have to put up with me, and I like using dates. They make things line up in specific patterns, and I like patterns. Now, understand, I fully recognize that this stubbornness in me to hold onto something inconsequential is part of Aspergers, a part that has gotten me into trouble in the past. But for some unexplainable reason these inconsequential things mean something to me. I could never explain that in the past; all I could do was be silent when my oddities were challenged. I ask you to forgive and then to bear with me.)
Paul writes 1 and 2 Thessalonians in AD 52 & 53 while at Corinth on his second missionary journey. Then, on his third missionary journey, Paul spends three years in Ephesus before continuing on to Greece. During those three years he writes his first letter to the Corinthians. Next, in the summer of AD 57, he writes his second letter to the Corinthians, probably from Thessalonika. He spends the winter of AD 57-58, then, with the Corinthian church. It is there that he receives a letter from the churches in Galatia that ticks him off. He fires off the letter to the Galatian church in hot indignation; then, after he cools down a bit, he writes his letter to the Romans with a desire to articulate, as clearly as he can, his understanding of his gospel of Christ our life. It was in his letter to the Galatians that he claimed, “It's my gospel or no gospel at all!” No doubt he feels the weight of his bold assertion and knows he had better come through with the whole picture. Thus we have Romans.
Then Paul heads back to Israel. On the one hand, he wants to stop at all ports on the way back to bless and encourage all the brethren whom he loves. On the other hand, he is determined to be back in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost. Thus, he makes only brief stops.
Now, the closer Paul gets to the coast of Israel, the more urgently God speaks for him not to do it. The Spirit of God moves upon many brethren all along the way telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
Paul refuses to listen.
Look at the price Paul paid for his obstinate refusal to heed the Spirit of the Lord. He spent almost the entire rest of his life in prison. He almost died in a ship wreck. He was bitten by the most deadly snake on earth. And, to top it off, he got his head chopped off. All because he would not listen.
The worst of it though was that he never got to visit with his beloved churches ever again.
What did we get from such reckless disobedience?
We got Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy.
Paul didn't care. His life was Christ; Christ was his life. What difference does all that other stuff make? None!
I have experienced the same thing. Twice in my life, God told me to turn back, turn back, turn back, every mile down the road, hundreds of miles. I refused. Both times turning back meant submitting my soul under a life of mediocrity, of never really knowing this God I was determined to know. So I resisted all the lack of witness, all the aching in my gut that this wasn't right. And I went anyhow.
Those two times resulted in, at the end, the two worst experiences of my life, both covering about a year's time. I have shared with you concerning the second time, but not the first. Nor will I. To do so would require speaking against individual persons and that I will not do. Such a sharing would profit no one.
What did I get out of refusing to turn back? Two things. Without persevering both times I would never have known my precious wife, the love of my life, nor the wonderful children we share. And you would never have heard of me because I would never have had anything to say. All the knowledge of God in the midst of His people I possess, all of the rich word of Christ deposited in me came only because I kept driving.
More than that, those two “worst experiences of my life” were God's gift to me, for by them I know Him now and by them He keeps me from ever placing myself between you and the Lord Jesus.
Why did I persevere through hours and miles of resistance? Because deep inside my will was a determination to know the living God, to know the Invisible One, and I would not be deterred, whatever the cost might be.
If you had asked Paul, just before the sword scythed through the air against his neck, if he would do the “back to Jerusalem” thing differently now that he understood the consequences, I suspect his answer would have been the same as mine, “No way, Jose! All my life is Christ, nothing else.”
Let's go from Paul's disobedience, now, to Moses' face towards God.
You see it is my deep desire, in this letter, to see these men as real human beings, these men who place themselves beneath of us so that we might know the joy and glory of our union with Christ, to see their hearts, to know the God they know.
The account concerning Moses is found from Exodus 32:30 through Exodus 34:9. This is the exchange between God and Moses just after the incident of the golden calf. I will bring in just a few lines from Chapter 33.
And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite. . . Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people. From v. 2-3
And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. . . So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. From v. 9-11
Then Moses said to the Lord, “. . . Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. From v. 12-15
And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live. . . Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” From v. 18-23
It is evident that Moses feared God; thus, we see here a man who is not afraid of God at all. Found only inside this dynamic of fearing and not being afraid is this relationship of “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
Let's define the angel of the Lord as broadly as we can. “I will send My Angel before you.” “My Angel” means everything that is of God, His power, His help, His anointing, His gifts, even His fruit, everything of God except one thing, His person. And God's person includes His heart.
You know, this passage is more striking than I have ever considered. All teaching on this passage I have ever heard came out of the minds and hearts of men and women who did not know or treat with God in the way Moses knew and treated with God. They did not know Him as their closest and dearest Friend. They knew Him only as Someone far away, far above, Someone who expected things of them.
Everyone seeks the things of God because God Himself is too much for them; that is, God is not known to them as a Person face to Face, Heart inside of heart. We are talking about Someone who cannot be seen.
Moses knew God as a Person, and he liked God. Moses liked God.
Do you like God? Few people do; most just want to treat with God's Angel, that is, the things of God, whatever they might be.
God was comfortable with Moses because Moses was comfortable with God. None of the fire stuff or the powerful anointings or the great miracles, none of that scared Moses off from God.
May I suggest that this relationship as friends between Moses and God did not happen overnight. Moses said nothing about the years of wandering around in the desert following the sheep. David did; I suspect that Moses' experience with God was very similar to David's.
You know, everyone talks about this passage in terms of “presence” and “grace” and “face,” all of which are nothing more than the “things” of God when this close friendship, eye to Eye, Heart in heart, is not known.
Face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Is God your best friend?
Best friends are buddies, equals in heart. Best friends like each other. Yes, love is what both of you rely on when you are back to back facing your enemies on all sides. “I have your back.” But best friends like each other when there is no “reason” to do so; best friends like to be together.
It is a meek man, with a heart as bold as a lion's, who likes to be friends with God.
But this same Moses never forgot about all those millions of people out there, never saw himself “above” them or superior in any way. They filled his heart, and he placed them before his Friend as he placed himself. But now we are switching over to our third point of comparison, a quality shared equally by Paul: besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 10:28
These two men were so very much alike.
I want to look at only one scene where we see Moses' face towards God's people. Again, we are not looking at the outer details, but only at the heart of things. You know the story of the battle with the Amalekites.
And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. Exodus 17:11-12
A man sitting or standing with his arms at his side is an observer. As an observer, he is participating. But a man with his arms in the air is not participating. He is “surrendered.” He is having no influence whatsoever on the circumstance.
Most people interpret this scene as the very opposite of its reality. They do so because they view Moses as a demigod and not as a man. Thus most people imagine that Moses' putting his hands in the air exuded “power” towards Joshua so that those fighting with Joshua could win. – Not even! Yes, Moses had the “rod of God” in his hand, but let's face reality. It was just a stick, a stick with NO magical or “divine” power.
You see, the words “Amalek prevailed” are more horrendous than we can imagine. This was a close-run day. If Joshua had gone down, Israel would have been toast, as in raped, murdered, and enslaved. Think. If this had been David or Abraham or most anyone else, they would have been down in the fight giving it all to save Israel from destruction. But not Moses, Moses was up on the hill in the most “hands off” position God could devise. Even Moses' stick denoted the cross, as in, “hands off.”
Moses controlled no one. In Israel's most desperate moment under his watch, Moses removed his hands from any measure of control. Thus God was free to move up from within each man fighting on that battlefield. David walked away quietly when his kingship was challenged; Jesus did not touch all the power available to Him, nor even speak in His own defence, but gave Himself freely to His enemies without struggle.
These are the marks of men who are friends with God.
Finally, let's look at Paul's definition of his own ministry as an apostle of Christ, recorded in the first letter he wrote, 1 Thessalonians.
. . .we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. . . But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children . . . 1 Thessalonians 2:2 & 7-11
Heart. The heart of a mother, the heart of a father, the heart of love outpoured. Paul thought about all these brethren, most precious to him, all the time and carried them, as Moses also did, in his heart at all times before God. Because you had become dear to us.
The outer expressions may vary, but the heart remains the same. This is the heart of the apostles of the Third Feast, friends of God. Out of this heart comes the only knowing of God that reveals Him as He is to all creation.
I am convinced that our knowing of the elements of the feasts will be real only as we draw them through this same heart, this Heart of God, placed now inside our own breasts. God in Person is the beating of our hearts, our dearest and closest Friend.