Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12

Chapter 5 Johns Description of God’s Throne

It may come as a surprise to some people when they read the literally progression Jesus used to write the Book of Revelation. Jesus used the same literally progression all successful writers use. Jesus first described a scene, then the events that occurred in that scene.

Of course we are supposed to compare the Tabernacle built on this planet to the actual Heavenly Sanctuary containing God’s throne. The Tabernacle consisted of symbols. People have been studying those symbols for generations. So why not study John’s eyewitness account of Heaven?

Revelation 4:3-6 KJV And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (6) And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

What exactly did John see? Were all those gem stones John used to describe God’s throne real, symbols, or both? Writers do one thing with symbols. Writers use symbols to captivate the imagination. Writers also define those symbols. Why look for the definition of a symbol when the author doesn’t provide one? I guess that is human nature.

Some people may say, “John used the best words he could to describe God’s throne.” John didn’t write Revelation, Jesus did. All John did was dictate Jesus’ words. So we have to ask why Jesus used a series of gems to describe His Father’s throne.

In this world gems are a thing of value. But Heaven does not operate on the currency method this world uses. In Heaven, currency is a foreign, unknown subject. So throw out all those man made concepts centered on currency. As a matter of fact, that is what Revelation chapter 4 is trying to convey with this description of God’s throne. We cannot reply on any earthly item, material, concept, idea, or doctrine to describe God’s throne. We have to rely on the Author who just happens to have a seat next to God’s throne. If we turn to any source outside of Jesus, all we are ever going to receive is a false interpretation.

Jesus told John to use gemstones to describe God’s thrown for a reason. Look at the rainbow. What story does that point us to?

Genesis 9:12-16 KJV21 And God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: (13) I do set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth. (14) And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud. (15) And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (16) And the rainbow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”

Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12
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That rainbow was a symbol of a reminder. Jesus wants us to see God’s throne has a rainbow around it. A constant reminder of God’s covenant with us. One in a long list of covenants. When we look at the Ark, it is referred to as the Ark of testimony, and the Ark of the covenant. Now that we’ve read the description of God’s throne, we are shown how God has a constant reminder surrounding His throne. But why does God need a reminder? For us that rainbow is a symbol showing us how we need to constantly review all the covenants God made with this world and all its people.

I know a lot of doctrines insist there are old and new covenants and only a select few matter anymore. But who is making those choices? Is there clear evidence in the Bible telling us to ignore some of God’s covenants, and pay attention to others? Or is that claim another man made concept? I think we hit upon another subject to study. So far in our studies we’ve seen how important it is to gather all the facts and read the entire story. We’ve learned how Satan loves to hide the majority of facts found in those stories. Time to cast off those chains and approach God’s throne for answers.

Jesus also described His Father by using gemstones. A jasper and sardine stone. What do those stones mean? A quick glance at a Concordance will tell us, jasper is a gem stone. The base word means to polish. Sardine is also a gemstone with a base word which simply means stone. Put the two base meanings together and we have a new view of God polishing a stone. That takes us to a number of stories. “Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. (Exodus 28:9 NLTse). Another is found in a previous chapter in Revelation. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17 NLTse).

There are of course other stories you can choose from. In the examples I supplied, I showed how the base words for those two stones led us back in Revelation as well as to another story about the Tabernacle. When people say, “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” I wish they would supply examples like this. Every time we turn around, God’s Word is proving it is inspired.

Jesus also described twenty elders wearing crowns. Jesus is not the only one at God’s throne. God has somehow dictated responsibility in Heaven. Doesn’t God do the same thing here on earth? God could show Himself to this world at any moment, answer every question in heartbeat, prove He exists, and send a whole list of false doctrines, ideas, and concepts to the grave. Many people ask why He doesn’t operate that way. Jesus showed us why. It’s God’s policy to dictate responsibilities. He does it in Heaven and earth. Who are we to argue. Jesus described those people as elders. People who learned a lot through experience. When we are on the right tract to God’s throne, we can see those lessons and learning curve in our life. In a sense, those elders are symbols we can understand. But we are only going to understand when we are on the right path and in the proper frame of mind.

What about that lightning and thunder? Is Jesus using that as a symbol to point to Himself or another story?

Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (John 12:28-31 NLTse).

We will never know what those stories will tell us if we never read them. In John’s Gospel, Jesus talked about the judgment, and thunder. Some people only hear the rumble. Some people hear the message. The evidence given in the Bible is self explanatory.

Then we get to that sea of glass. Why did Jesus use that symbol? I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:2-4 NLTse).

Looking ahead in Revelation, we see how that sea of glass represents the victory God’s saints will secure over Satan and this world. There is no guess work involved when we let the Bible explain itself. Of course we have to examine the context. Since both visions originate in Heaven, we are assured there is a connection.

Of course God’s throne has its seven lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God. Since we know the lamp in the Tabernacle is linked to God’s Word and how it guides us, we now have a link to the Spirit and how He guides us through our studies of scripture.

It’s amazing how a look at a few key words can clear up so many questions. It’s even more amazing how the story identified those symbols. Each may have used a different method, but each had a per-designed method embedded in this story. The methods are rather simple to use and didn’t rely on any input from this world. What we need to remember is, Jesus arranged every word in the Bible. When we see descriptions of Heaven, we are seeing how Jesus views Heaven.

John Chapter 8

What does a misunderstanding of the commandments have to do with Jesus’ return? John covered the subject in detail. Preachers today fail to make the connection. Why? Preachers today teach one subject at a time. They fail to cover material designed to lead into the next subject. Once they miss the introduction to a subject, they miss the entire spiritual message contained in the next story. That is one general rule of Bible Study many people miss. Why? There are factions in this world who stand against Jesus’ return and are working hard to spoil that return in any way they can.

John 8:1-59 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (12) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. (21) Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (33) “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” (42) Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” (48) The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

I have to admit. I spent years looking forward to writing about John’s book. I always considered John’s Gospel the most passionate of the four gospels. Some of his chapters capture a unique relationship with Christ as well as the necessary and personal connection God is looking for from each of His servants. But those last two chapters and this one paint an entirely different story.

John has been focusing on frustrations Jesus faced throughout His ministry. The disappointment Jesus faced when dozens of His followers walked away. John wrote about the human side of Christ. You can imagine what He felt when those people turned and walked away because they either didn’t get their way, or couldn’t understand. Jesus felt that sinking, empty feeling in His chest. His heart ached. Jesus felt the sting of rejection.

After spending generations planning each event, talking with His prophets, and recording every detail, Jesus finally came to this world. He had to grow up like every other child. He worked in the home and helped His mother like any little boy. Jesus worked with His father like any other young man. Finally His Heavenly Father told Him it was time and Jesus began the ministry He trained for all His life.

Jesus had hopes and dreams like all of us. He had a desire to succeed like most people do. Jesus wanted to make a better life for His family like every father sets out to do. This world is Jesus’ family. All of us are like brothers and sisters to Christ. We are more important than children to His Father. Jesus dreamed of success. He thought of how the day would go, always expecting the best. Constantly praying and most importantly, listening to God’s voice and of course following directions. Jesus knew if He followed each and every step in the plan of salvation recorded in scripture, everything would work out. Of course Jesus knew He had to suffer. But could anyone or anything prepare Jesus for the continual heartache and disappointments He faced day after day?

The Word was God
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Jesus was constantly hounded and hunted by religious leaders of all types. Those religious leaders couldn’t agree among themselves on hardly any subject, but something brought them together. They united to put an end to Jesus’ ministry and His life. But that wasn’t the tip of the iceberg when it came to disappointments and set backs Jesus had to endure. People constantly pierced His heart and tried to nail His hands and feet long before they put Him on that cross. Not physically restraining Jesus, but spiritually.

Priests tried to stop Jesus from using His hands to heal because he healed on the Sabbath. Pharisees tried to stop Jesus from moving forward when they questioned His view on the law. Other religious factions attempted to hold Jesus back in every way they could imagine. All of them were guilty of condemning Jesus without a trial. But this was only a small portion of the trials Jesus faced.

People from the town He grew up in doubted Him and spread rumors about Him. They focused on the miracles and how they could profit from them. They insisted Jesus was born in Galilee and joined the priests in hiding His real birth place, Bethlehem. If people knew, it wouldn’t be good for business.

People followed Jesus around because of the miracles He performed. Gentiles and even the Samaritans turned away from Jesus as soon as the miracles passed. It was like a repeat of the Exodus when Israel and all the people with them forgot the miracles they saw in Egypt. No wonder Isaiah told us the path to God’s throne is on a mountain. It always seems like an uphill battle. If life’s road is not that easy, why would the path to eternal life be any easier?

A Woman Caught in Adultery

John 8:1-11 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus returned to Jerusalem after the Festival of Shelters. Also known as the Festival of Tabernacles. He wasn’t going to give up. The previous chapter showed how Jesus was rejected by groups of religious leaders as well as people He grew up with in Galilee. Was Jesus returning to face more of the same treatment? How many of us would have given up?

One strange thing I’ve noticed about John’s style of writing over these past few chapters is Jesus’ disciples are hardly mentioned. John called attention to the people Jesus was trying to reach. John put the emphasis on how Jesus was able to reach people and what He had to deal with when people didn’t want to accept Him or His message. It’s evident, John left us with a valuable training tool.

Were the disciples there when those religious leaders brought that woman to Him? We don’t know for sure by only looking at John’s book. What we see is a few words and phrases Jesus and John repeated to focus our attention. We see the words taught, teachers, and teacher. So we know those words are drawing attention to a lesson.

We also see the phrase, “caught in adultery,” repeated. We should ask how the Pharisees caught the woman in the act and what happened to the man? Doesn’t adultery take two? Those are the types of questions most people ask and preach on. It’s only natural. Those are details on the surface. But we are searching for the spiritual messages in each story.

Looking at other key words, we find an unusual combination in accusers and condemn. When we look at the story, we can see how the Pharisees wanted Jesus to either condemn the woman or let her go. If Jesus forgave her, the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of acting like he’s greater than the law and condemned Him.

How did this woman get herself in that position. She was at the mercy of the Pharisees who put her at Jesus’ mercy. In later chapters we will see the same attempt at shifting responsibility in condemning a person. John didn’t tell us how the woman got into that position, but we can look back to see how John led us into this story.

Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home. (John 7:50-53 NLTse).

John wanted to make it evident those religious leaders condemned people without a trial out of habit. You might say it was one of their traditions. Now that we have that information, we can see one of the reasons they didn’t want to listen to Jesus. That’s one major reason He had such a hard time reaching them. What lesson can we learn from that?

Look at people you’ve tried to reach. It seems for the most part, Christians reach out to other Christians. There seems to be three major groups. People who support you, who actually support one another. People who are looking for help and answers. The third group is Christians with all the answers who look for people to either debate or argue with. The Pharisees belonged to which group?

People who like to argue also tend to condemn people without knowing them. Like those Pharisees, their mind is made up and no one is going to change it. They may also try to trick you so they’ll have something to use against you. I think of those people as modern Pharisees. I think you’ll agree, they can’t see that in themselves. I have no idea why.

I wish we knew what Jesus wrote in that dust. But John doesn’t seem to give us any hints. If we followed general rules of context, we can look back to see if John included any hints. We can take a look at a list of verses that may give a clue.

My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.

Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.

Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves

Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly

These are only a few. Other texts may be in previous chapters. Part of the answer may be seen later in this chapter. So far we see, Jesus had a message. He wanted to get that message across to them. Jesus knew their pride. Maybe if they wouldn’t listen to His messages, they might read them in the dust on the ground. Whatever He wrote, it made them leave. The older, wiser men left first, followed by younger Pharisees. Jesus got them to look below the surface. There is one more place we can look for an answer, in the summation.

Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

We don’t see a lot here telling us what Jesus wrote in the dust, unless it had something to do with Abraham. But we see something. They couldn’t stone the woman, so they picked up stones to kill Jesus. Another example of playing judge, jury, and executioner. Jesus kept returning because those Pharisees needed a lot of help. In a way, Jesus took the place of that condemned woman.

I Am the Light

John 8:12-20 NLTse Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

When John pointed out Jesus spoke to the people once more, he showed us how much Jesus cared. He wasn’t about to give up. He couldn’t give up. Jesus introduced another new symbol, light. Jesus kept this new symbol simple and provided the spiritual interpretation. Jesus is the light given to this world. He is the light that leads to eternal life. What Jesus didn’t do was repeat the word darkness, nor did He define it. That’s not to say He didn’t point to it’s interpretation. But the emphasis is on Jesus the light that leads to eternal life.

The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus was talking about. What happened to that lesson they learned when they dropped their stones and walked away? That was the problem. As soon as they began learning, they walked away. After showing they understood what Jesus wrote in that dust, it didn’t take long for them to go back to their way of thinking and way of doing things. Who was really guilty of adultery?

Jesus fired back at the Pharisees with the truth, they didn’t really know Jesus. They already showed they didn’t know where Jesus was born. Or they wanted to hide that information. Their comments showed how they didn’t understand what Jesus taught, or didn’t want to hear. Jesus pointed out their ignorance in a way they didn’t understand.

Jesus also pointed out their flawed judgment. It was only human. If those Pharisees were honest, they would have found one point they could agree with Jesus. But their instincts put them on the defense.

Jesus also told them how He and His Father are one and how God is His witness as well as He is God’s witness. This is a new concept for everyone in Jesus’ time. I don’t know why Jesus kept introducing new concepts at such a rapid rate. John chapter 7 and 8 took place over a few days. Over that time period Jesus introduced quite a number of subjects. He told them He brought a message from God. His teaching is from God. God sent Him. He will return to God. Jesus introduced the symbol bread and living water. He also told them to search scripture for proof of what He told them. Then Jesus told them, He is the light.

Jesus could have explained a lot more details about all the subjects He was teaching. If only they would listen. Jesus couldn’t force them and Jesus couldn’t wait for them to decide when they wanted to learn. Jesus was on a tight schedule. Another subject those religious leaders didn’t understand.

Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer. If they didn’t know Him, they didn’t know the God. It was true when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and it’s still true today. There is a process with specific steps. God works with people where they are, but the goal is always the same. People have to know Jesus to be saved. They have to know both Jesus and God to get ready for eternal life.

You Cannot Come Where I Am Going

John 8:21-32 NLTse Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We suddenly see a pattern forming here. As we look back, we can’t help but see the same event occurring. Jesus talks to people and they walk away. A group of Jews and Gentiles sailed across the lake, found Jesus in Californium, listened to Him, then walked away. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus what they thought He should be doing, then left for Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Jesus went to Jerusalem, talked to one group of religious leaders after another, and many groups of people. Jesus introduced one symbols after another, and one piece of a puzzle after another that would open up their understanding of the plan of salvation, and understanding all the prophecies about the Messiah. They all walked away. They all had one thing in common, none of them understood. They all questioned Jesus because they didn’t understand. Instead of listening to Jesus and learning about the Spirit He was trying to point them to, they walked away and left Him and His message behind. Instead of opening scriptures Jesus sent them to, they shut the door to understanding and God’s Spirit.

The scary part about this whole situation and one of the lessons in this story shows how all those religious factions united against Christ. Something drew them together to destroy and silence Him. This created a new religious movement known as unity. The first man made religious unity put Jesus on that cross.

That man made unity was broken when Jesus rose from that tomb defeating death and the grave. Jesus gave the world a clear and unmistakable view of God’s Spirit. After all those prophecies were fulfilled and Jesus, along side of God’s Spirit explained how and why each of those prophecies were fulfilled on time and to the letter, people could see solid evidence of God in His Word. For the first time in world history since Enoch, people had an understanding of God and how to communicate with Him. The new Christian church grew at a rapid pace because they knew how to teach others how to communicate with God.

Generations later, people began to forget how to listen to God’s voice. They forgot how to understand His Word. Men introduced their own messages one after another. Some groups clung to one message, others to another message. The church became fragmented. The work slowed. It finally stood still. Without God’s Spirit, the work stopped and so did the message which was soon forgotten.

No one knows where it started or who came up with the idea, but it made sense to a lot of men. If people all worshiped the same thing at the same time, God would once again hear us. The world thought a universal church where everyone followed the same course would bend God’s ear to this world once again. It sounded like a good idea, so a central church was formed, approving what they referred to as a unified form of worship.

A committee wrote out a step by step form of worship distributed throughout the world. When the world united in a single form of worship, God would once again hear us. Everyone who agreed followed their step by step worship service and preached the same message week after week. But there was no evidence God heard. So they standardized the way priests dressed, the appearance of the churches, and created new traditions for people to follow. One detail was added upon another in the hopes it would please God and they could find His Spirit once again.

Finally they decided what they really needed was to follow one man. So they elected one man to be the source of communication between Christ and His church. That seemed to work. People were so far removed from God’s Spirit and His word, they thought that one person who they choose could hear. When that one man told them he heard God, they believed him.

To them all of that made sense. After all, God had one service for His Tabernacle in the wilderness. But they forgot how that Tabernacle was arranged so every item, detail, and color pointed to Christ and His ministry. God dressed all the priests alike. But they forgot how that priestly order was abused and Christ died to put and end to it. They borrowed other points from scripture and changed them around to suit their needs and concepts of worship. But without God’s Spirit, all they had was one more man made from of worship. Copying it thousands of times did nothing to please God. What they needed to do was get back to what Jesus came to teach. They also needed to go back to understanding prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The prophecies taught by the early church at Jesus’ command.

Every change initiated under the disguise of unity shut God’s Spirit out of worship and sucked God’s Spirit out of each member of what they called their church. There was no way for people to communicate with God’s Spirit when every facet of worship and study was locked in chains of human control. Men recreated the system Jesus came to abolish.

Jesus warned about a big change about to come. People will search for Him but not find Him. We can’t restrict that search to Jesus’ resurrection. People didn’t stop searching for Him after His resurrection. Common sense tells us, that is when people began searching for Jesus. That was one giant landmark in earth’s history that changed this planet forever.

Jesus told them one important detail about their search. “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.” There is no way anyone is going to find Jesus if they don’t put away their worldly views and what the world told them about searching for Jesus.

I’ve noticed one thing most preachers have in common. Some are very good preachers. They can cover a lot of good points in their sermons. They tell people not to trust any man, or woman. They tell people to search scripture. They tell people how their lives depend on it. They don’t have a problem backing up what they say with scripture. But what most preachers can’t do is teach people how to study God’s Word on their own. They have no idea how to sit down and show people the step by step process. Most preachers follow a particular process to study but they don’t have the ability to sit down and show people what they do. That is a different spiritual gift from the same Spirit.

They may also have a great relationship with God. They may pray 90-99% of the day. They know how to see God in His Word, see Him in action in this world, wonder about Him in nature, and praise Him in song and prayer. But few pastors are able to preach a sermon telling people the step by step process to read and understand God’s Word.

This book is designed to show you patterns in God’s Word so you can learn to use them in your own studies. Like in this section of the book. You can see how I’ve taken my time over these last three chapters. It takes 1-3 days to write a chapter. That gives God’s Spirit a long time to confirm what He is telling me. I’ve had people call me and confirm what I was thinking about or writing at the moment. I’ve chatted with people half way around the world who were influenced at that moment to share details I was just about to write about or had written a few minutes before. None of those people had any idea what I was writing about. God will always confirm His message.

Look at the Old Testament. How many prophets did God send to the Jews when Jerusalem fell? I never counted all of them, but there is a whole list of them. What about the time they spent in Babylon and scattered all over the world? Got sent prophets where they were. God confirmed His messages then and He still follows guidelines He established. And He will continue to do so no matter what men think or say.

That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Is there a difference between accepting Christ and knowing Him? How can you accept Jesus if you’ve never known Him? How can you know Jesus if you’ve never met Him or His Spirit? How do you meet the Spirit Jesus promised to send?

I hope I’m not getting ahead of God or John’s book at this point, but there are a few details I think we need to cover. God still speaks to us as clearly as Jesus spoke to those crowds. The problem is, we spend too much time arguing or making excuses. In other words, the lack of reception is our fault. God didn’t loose control or have His connection go bad. We’re at fault. Admitting we’re the problem is the first step.

I don’t really think it matters what you do to talk to God. Everyone I’ve talked to about this subject has their personal way of talking with God. All of them are simple. Some people actually use a prayer closet. Other people find a quite place. The key is a quite place to listen. When people begin to listen to God the enemy is there with a thousand demons to shut out God’s voice, which is like a thought, but clear, unexpected, and if you listen to those preachers who back up what they say with scripture, you better get ready to listen to the Preacher who wrote the book. He is going to flood your mind with so many pieces of scripture you’ll think your swimming in it. Every scripture will be related to the others in ways you never imagined. Things you didn’t understand will become so clear you’ll feel like smacking yourself because you didn’t see it before. You’ll hear God’s voice as soon as you learn to shut out distractions from the world. It takes a little practice.

As you progress, scripture will have a new meaning on everyday life. You’ll see connections you never imagined. You are going to places most people never thought about or knew existed. You’ll see how God’s Word lives, breaths, grows, and multiplies, all without leaving the page. Congratulations, you just found Jesus!!! You are finally following Him.

One thing I need to warn you about. Your meeting with Jesus is personal. Like everyone who talks with Jesus, you’ll remember a great deal of the information He shared with you, but you’ll only be able to explain about 10%. But when He gives you a message to share, He will always confirm that message. Jesus will confirm the message in His written Word. When you read the Bible you’ll see the exact same message within a day or two. Jesus will also send His followers, your friends with faith will confirm the message, and you’ll be able to freely discuss it with them.

Keep in mind, almost all the messages Jesus gives you will be close and personal like the examples we’re seen with Nicodemus and the women He met at that well. And don’t forget, some people will immediately understand the message while other people will be like Nicodemus and take years to understand.

I found out writing is a good way to talk with God. It slows me down. He has a way of showing when it’s time to stop. That’s a signal it’s time to pray or go back and read scripture for the day as I read through the Bible in about 6-9 months. I don’t know how He does it, but He always seems to have a part of the lesson I’m working on in the scripture I read that day.

Sometimes life events blend into the lesson God is teaching at the time. So I have to wait to go through a personal experience before I understand what lesson God is teaching at that moment. Or like I’ve mentioned before, God will send someone with that missing piece of the message.

This may all seem strange to some people but I know, this is the way God works and I know why. God’s method of talking to us and teaching us is designed to keep us humble all the time. When I receive one message from 3-4 different sources, it can never be my message. Only God could have arranged all of those events. We can see the events of our lives unfold and pages of our life story turn like pages in scripture. God is perfectly consistent with the methods He uses. If God created the perfect method of teaching in His Bible, how could he improve on it when it comes to teaching us lessons in our own lives?

Now you can see why I keep showing the simple methods of looking back and comparing scripture, and looking for connections. Those study methods aren’t only used to study the Bible, they are used to listen to God when He teaches us about lessons we need to learn in our lives.

I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” Jesus doesn’t condemn, but I have to warn you. When you first begin talking with His Spirit, Jesus can be surprisingly honest. I’m talking about an honesty that cuts to the bone and pierces the heart. Jesus used that method with that woman at the well. He will tell you personal details only you know about.

Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.” This shows how we won’t understand what Jesus tells us until after we experience it. And like the Gospels tell, Jesus will have to explain those details.

None of those people understood what Jesus was talking about until after His resurrection and He explained all the details to them. Jesus will share details you won’t understand at the moment. You’ll have to be like His disciples and the rest of those people and wait until the event unfolds. Then you’ll have to return for another talk so Jesus can explain all the details in your life.

The one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” All the messages you receive from Jesus will be directly from God and will follow all of God’s laws. This is also why important lessons will be verified with scripture.

Many who heard him say these things believed in him. Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But remember, only a few understood while many walked away. Not everyone will accept messages you deliver even when your certain they came from God and have been verified a number of ways. Look at the process and learn from it. God put people in your life you can share your success and disappointments with. Look how many times Jesus was disappointed over the past few chapters. Don’t expect your path to be all downhill. The only path up God’s mountain is uphill. God be with you.

We Are Descendants of Abraham

John 8:33-41 NLTse “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

John showed the selective memory those people had. If we look back a few verses, we see Jesus was talking to the people who believed in Him. We also see an illustration of selected beliefs. People listen to Jesus up to a point. They listen to what sounds good to them and what they agree with. But when something gets a little rough, they change their minds about Jesus.

Those people forgot the Jewish captivity in Babylon. They mentioned Abraham. That goes back generations before the captivity in Babylon when most of the Jews were carried away as slaves. Jesus had to explain, He was talking about being slaves to sin.

Before Jesus was telling them they were going to die in their sins. Now He is telling them they are slaves to sin. Put the two together and you have people dying as slaves. What a life to live. But people don’t feel like their slaves. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “God gives us freedom of choice.” I often wondered what people meant by that. I finally found out when my ex-wife started an affair then filed for divorce. I couldn’t believe people in church thought that cliché took precedence over God’s law. Jesus had another definition for it. He called sin slavery leading to death. Jesus never called sin an option.

Of course Jesus had His own way of explaining this new symbol He introduced. Jesus used the illustration of a family. Some people own slaves who are in their homes but not really part of the family. Slaves are bought and sold. Some owners treat slaves well, other not so well. You can imagine. But children are family. Compared to a slave, family is free. We have to remember, Jesus is talking about being part of God’s family. We can’t confuse God’s family with any family in this world, no matter how good they may be. Jesus used family as another illustration to remind us, we have to leave the world behind when we consider spiritual matters and lessons.

Some of those people in that crowd wanted to kill Him. Jesus was addressing a wide range of personalities. Some accepted His message while others ignored it. What was He supposed to do? Jesus couldn’t make people listen. I guess that was the freedom of choice people were talking about. Jesus summed up that choice in His own way. “I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” You are free to choose who you want to listen to.

It didn’t matter what Jesus said or how He tried to reach them. Those people who made up their minds to kill Him thought they were following God and everyone else was lost. I’m sure you’ve faced the same dilemma. Not much has changed in two thousand years.

Children of the Father of Lies

John 8:42-47 NLTse Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

This is a subject I looked at, and didn’t really want to get into. My marriage and divorce keep coming to mind. I wonder how a woman can be married for six years and live what was nothing less than a split personality. She eventually told me, she never intended to stay married. Her plan was to marry and have me support her while she finished her degree and got a job. She told me it was all my fault it took her six years to finish her degree. She planned on only two years, three at the most. So she blamed me for the delay. And took her anger out on me in ways I never imagined anyone was capable of.

Her mother and sister told me, it was tradition from where they came from. They were never meant to remain married to American men. It was their custom to marry American men until they were ready to move on. Even though my ex-wife had been in the US since she was eight years old. Those traditions were still strong. Stronger than common sense. Stronger than God’s law.

God only wrote ten commandments. One of them tells us not to lie. Since when is tradition an excuse to dishonor God’s law? I was shown how lies lead to breaking all the commandments. Lying dishonors God and parents. In her case, lies led to adultery which led to more and more lies. In her anger, she made twisted attempts to drive me over the edge. To use my emotions against me. She went as far as trying to push me into taking my own life by using more lies. She tried to commit murder. Lies also led to character assassination. She tried to do those things because she had no idea Jesus was a far greater force. I saw how Jesus used truth to battle lies. He brought back to mind all the warnings He sent me before I married her. It was not easy to take, but I could not argue with the truth.

I often look at presidents. They look young or at least normal when first taking office. But after four or eight years in office, they often leave, looking like tired old men. Especially now when I see a president younger than me looking so old. Hair turns gray. Faces develop lines. Their bodies show a distinctive stoop. Many people say it is the pressure from all those decisions they have to make. I wonder if it is pressure from trying to keep tract of all the lies they tell.

I saw my wife once, just before she filed divorce papers. I took a few pictures. I was still deeply in love and as we know, love can be blind. I looked at those pictures after I came to terms with the divorce and saw how old she looked. Those lies took a deeper toll on her than they did on me. I healed, but she still lives with the effects of all those lies.

Jesus called the devil the father of lies. He didn’t call him the father of lies to set up a comparison with His Father. Jesus would never compare the two. Not even in a contrast. Jesus called attention to the way the devil spawns lines. The devil cannot create anything. He doesn’t have power to create. All he can do is manipulate. Jesus referred to his followers as children. This is a contrast to God’s children like life and death are contrasts. But the devil cannot produce children. Looking back a few verses we see, all he can do is change them into slaves. His slaves.

The point Jesus was making is, the more we hear lies, the harder it is to hear God. The difference between lies and truth isn’t like a light switch where we have control to turn one on or off. It’s not like we flip a switch and suddenly our lives are filled with light and truth. It is an uphill battle to get away from those lies. This is the point Jesus was trying to make when He said, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.”

People can and will get so deep into lies they control every aspect of their lives. One little white lie turns into another. I don’t have to explain the process or effect. What people don’t realize is how the devil uses lies to turn people away from God. How lies make people mistrust God to a point, they are repulsed by God because He is truth. “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

Anyone Who Obeys Will Never Die

John 8:48-59 NLTse The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

Those people proved the point. As soon as they were faced with the truth, they were repulsed by it. Notice how they changed the subject? Jesus just told them the devil is the father of lies. They didn’t take it well when Jesus called them his children. That struck a sour cord. They shot back without thinking. They called Jesus a Samaritan devil. A little while ago they said Jesus was from Galilee. Now they claim He is from Samaria. Which is true and which is false? Notice how they jumped into a lie to defend themselves?

Now we see how far lies will draw people away from God and what they do to people. Those people showed they had no concept of eternal life. Those people showed how little they knew about God. In this lesson Jesus told the cold, hard truth. Something few people are able to accept. Lies pull us away from God as well as eternal life and and understanding of both. Lies distort our concept of right and wrong just like they did in Eden.

Satan wasn’t trying to give Eve anything. He wanted her to serve him. Like Jesus pointed out, Satan wanted to make Eve his slave. That tree didn’t do anything for Eve other than show her what it was like to sin and eventually the consequences. It didn’t give any special powers to her to be like God. She knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. But one lie from Satan made the sin look more attractive then the consequences.

How far did the truth get Jesus? He tried to tell them He is the living water. They couldn’t go where He was about to go. They would search for Him but not be able to find Him. For that they tried to arrest Him. Jesus told them if they never sinned, they have the right to cast the first stone. Jesus told them He is the light to this world. He has been given the right to judge, but He prefers not to judge people. Jesus gave them one view of His ministry after another using signs and symbols. But those teachers and priests couldn’t understand.

Jesus once again told them, they couldn’t follow Him to where He was going because they were going to die in their sins. They already proved they were sinners when they dropped those stones and walked away. But they couldn’t bring themselves to accept Jesus and all He was offering them. A portion of their sins were lies, which led to other sins and more lies. Their thoughts proved they were sinners and in need of healing and a savior. They just didn’t want to be saved in the manner Jesus offered them.

Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? All day long you plot destruction. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar! (Psalms 52:1-4 NLTse).

Jesus knew all of those trials and disappointments were coming. They didn’t take Jesus by surprise. Neither did their answers or the way they tried to change the subject. Jesus knew what was behind their lies and mistrust. Jesus knew money and status played a major role. But what could Jesus do? He kept on course and introduced lessons they had to hear. Yes, God gave us freedom to choose. Look at the choices those religious leaders and other people made. We see how they made those choices and if we look a little deeper into those stories, we can see why they made those choices.

Finally those people wanted to pick up stones and kill Jesus. They couldn’t do that to the woman caught committing adultery, but they wanted to stone Jesus. Why? Who was committing spiritual adultery in Jerusalem that day?