Exodus 12:5 KJV Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
The shepherd had to carefully inspect each lamb, looking for the best to offer as a sacrifice. What did a carpenter, soldier, farmer, merchant, or other person who did not raise or own sheep do for a sacrifice? In the early days of Judah, before the stone temple, did each person go into the fields to purchase a sacrifice? Did the shepherd give the same care and attention to choosing every sacrifice for others as he put into choosing one for his family? Was there one lamb more perfect than the other? Did the shepherd think by saving the best for himself, he would receive a special blessing from God? Or did he see the message in the sacrifice and give the best to others, maybe the poorest family as an offering?
If the shepherd really loved and cared for his sheep, what went though his mind day after day, week after week as people came to purchase a lamb? What went through his mind each year as he choose the best of the first born to take to the Tabernacle? What must of gone through the mind of a shepherd as he looked up at the stars wondering why God ordered the sacrificial system? Did they realize the lamb was a symbol pointing to the life, ministry and sacrifice of the Messiah?
John 1:36 KJV And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
Before Jesus began His public ministry, John identified Him as the lamb of God. Many people look at this symbol as Jesus’ sacrifice. What about Jesus as the Lamb of God? What about God as Jesus’ Shepherd? God chose the best of the best, the perfect sacrifice. He held nothing back. God watched over Jesus every minute of every day He was gone, closer than any shepherd watched a lamb. God constantly inspected His Lamb making certain He was the perfect offering. There were a few major differences. The lambs death was quick. At the hands of the high priest, Jesus’ death was slow. Unlike the shepherd looking up at the stars asking why, God had no place to turn, no one to ask. The only thing God could do is shroud His Son in darkness for a while as He suffered on the cross.
As a new believer I have to wonder if Luke knew the significance of what he was writing and why he placed it in such a particular order. If we look at it in a reverse order we can see the interpretation.
Luke 3:4-6 Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him! (5) The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. (6) And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'”
We know mountains represent both governments and religions. God called people to His holy mountain, as well as other religions having their own particular mountains. But what mountains will be made low, or level? If we look back a few verses we see God already provided the answer in the introduction to the chapter.
Luke 3:1-2 It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. (2) Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.
Are any of these world powers any longer? Where is their influence now? There is one verse in between these. When we look at it we see God’s plan revealed.
Luke 3:3 Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins.
Now the question remains. Does the power of Elijah appear twice? The final chapters of the OT talk about the power of Elijah appearing during the final days of judgment. We know when this time period began, but ask yourself this question: why are the religious leaders against studying this subject and finding out when this period ends? What will the answer reveal? Will it be like digging through a wall to find the sins of the priests in Ezekiel?
Ezekiel 8:7-9 Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see a hole in the wall. (8) He said to me, “Now, son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and found a hidden doorway. (9) “Go in,” he said, “and see the wicked and detestable sins they are committing in there!”
We also know Jesus revealed the sins of all the religious leaders when He taught in the temple court. Are these sins being repeated, like the rest of the details in this prophecy?
What study on the Tabernacle would be complete without a detailed examination of the ark? This may be the one item people most question, at the same time, assuming they know the answers.
The ark is the heart of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is designed around the ark, which contains the ten commandments, plus a number of other important items including a container of manna, and Aaron’s budding staff. A list of laws given to Moses were also added to the side of the ark.
Physical descriptions of the ark are recorded in Exodus 25:10-22, and Exodus 37:1-9. The ark is two and one half cubits long, one and one half cubits wide, and one and one half cubit high. Converting these dimensions shows us the ark is forty five inches long, twenty seven inches wide, and twenty seven inches high.
The ark is constructed of wood, overlaid with pure gold. It is interesting the Bible specifies pure gold. By definition, the word pure means morally and ceremonially clean. This may also indicate the thickness of the gold, and the manner in which it was applied.
The ark may have been covered in gold leaf, a very thin covering, much thinner than paper. To form thin sheets without holes, gold must be free of impurities. Pure gold is very soft, and easy to form. Purifying gold also served as a spiritual lesson for the Israelites and us.
Gold taken from Egypt may have come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. We are told, Aaron made his molten calf from earrings. To withstand normal wear and tear, resist scratching, and hold its shape gold jewelry is formed from a much harder material than pure gold. Metals such as silver, copper, or nickel are added to harden gold. These materials also alter the color.
The Bible tells us, Moses burned Aaron’s golden calf in a fire, which had a hardening effect. He then beat it into dust, cast it into water, and made the Israelites drink it. Based on the fact Moses was able to beat the golden calf into dust small enough to dissolve in water, we know the gold used for the calf contained large amounts of impurities.
Gold used to cover the ark was pure, making it possible to form into very thin sheets. The gold from Egypt may have been in the form of jewelry, and maybe the idols worshipped in Egypt. To purify gold, it had to be melted. In the molten state, impurities separate from the gold. Once the impurities are removed, the pure gold can be formed into sheets.
The Bible uses the purification process to illustrate faith. The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7 KJV.
We can only imagine the spiritual lessons the Israelites must have learned as they watched the gods of Egypt melt away, impurities float to the top where they were scooped out and discarded, cast onto the ground, and mixed with dust.
To Israel, the images of those gods cast into the melting pot represented a lifetime of oppression. Egyptians believed the strength of their gods gave them dominance over the Israelites. They also gave the gods credit for light from the sun, rain, crops, and fertility. This may have been one reason Egyptians had a controversy with the Israelites. The Bible tells us they feared Israel, based on their ability to reproduce. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Exodus 1:9-10 KJV.
The ark contained four rings, one on each corner. These rings were also made of gold, but the Bible does not specify pure gold. The reason for this is logical. Pure gold would have been too soft to bear the weight of the ark, which was carried over long distances, supported by the four rings.
The rings were cast in gold. In this case, they would have undergone the same heating, and purification process as pure gold. Once purified, other metals in the proper proportions would be added to provide the required hardness. Silver and brass added to gold also have a spiritual meaning discussed in other chapters.
Two staves, or poles were fabricated from wood, and covered in gold. The poles were not covered with pure gold, but an alloy, or mixture, making the gold hard enough to endure the rigors of travel. The covering on the staves must have been much thicker than the covering on the ark. This also made the wooden poles much stronger. Wood possessed properties of strength, and light weight. A covering of gold alloy added strength, beauty and durability.
The ark contained the testimony given to Moses, which is covered by the mercy seat, made of pure gold. The mercy seat is the same size as the ark, two and one half cubits, by one and one half cubits. On top of the mercy seat stood two cherubims made of gold, formed of a single piece, formed by hammering.
The cherubims were placed at the ends of the mercy seat facing one another, with their wings spread out over the mercy seat. This is where God appeared to met with Moses.
Before we can accurately study the spiritual meanings of the ark, we must first understand the physical aspects. The arc was made of wood covered in pure gold. The ark was designed and constructed to carry God’s law, the ten commandments. The mercy seat, made of pure gold, covered the law. This was a sign of God’s salvation, which covers sins. This salvation came through His son, Jesus. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29 KJV.
The cherubims are a reminder of God’s kingdom in Heaven. All the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, and let all the angels of God worship him. Revelation 7:11, Hebrews 1:6 KJV.
Four rings attached to the four corners supported two staves, used by the Levites to carry the ark. The priests were an example of people. Not only were they to physically carry the law, they were to make the law a life study. The law was to become a part of their lives, a part of their being, both physically, and spiritually.
Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. (19) And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 KJV.
And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; Numbers 3:12. The life of the priest was a living example of the connection between man and God. The Levites did not receive an inheritance of land. This illustrated the fact, life as we know it is temporary. Instead, priests were given a portion of the sacrifice. They also received the tithe. The best of the first fruits were given to support the Levites. A portion of the Tabernacle service was designed to meet the physical needs of the priests. In return, priests were to maintain the Tabernacle, its services, teach the law, and the testimony of God. They were instructed to, “gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:” Deuteronomy 31:12 KJV.
The ark was made up of only two elements, gold and wood. Understanding the spiritual meaning of these two elements may teach more about the ark than the physical details.
Pure gold completely covered the ark, inside and out. The mercy seat consisted of pure gold. Gold also represents God’s law, and His word.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Psalms 19:8-10, Psalms 119:72, Psalms 119:127 KJV.
To find the spiritual meaning for shittim wood, we have to use a little deductive thinking. The word shittim is used almost exclusively in association with the Tabernacle. When searching the word wood, a number of texts provide a definition outside the general contexts of the subject. Wood comes from trees, which is the most logical word to examine.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree. I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Psalms 92:12, Psalms 1:3, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Jeremiah 11:16, Psalms 52:8 KJV.
Trees spiritually represent people. Since wood for the ark came from a tree, the wood used in the ark must spiritually represent people.
What a fitting spiritual symbolism for the ark, gold and wood, representing God’s law, and His people. The law is divided into two groups. The first four describe our relationship with God, the remaining six, our relationship with other people.
Gold lining the inside, and outside of the ark is pure, the perfect representation of the law. The rings are cast from a harder material. To achieve this, the gold must be mixed with other materials, such as silver, or brass. Laws in addition to the ten commandments were carried in the side of the ark. These included the sacrificial laws and ceremonies pointing to Christ. Sacrificial and ceremonial laws were not required until after sin. The rings were designed to carry the ark. The earthly ark was carried through the wilderness by Levites for forty years. There was never any reason for the ark in Heaven to wander for forty years.
The ark was carried by two wooden staves, or poles, covered with gold. Here again we see the symbol of man, covered by gold, which represents God’s law, and His word. The gold covering of course added strength to the wooden poles.
The fact the ark was carried shows how the law required an effort on man’s part. Because the ark was to be carried only by the Levites, portrays the responsibility they carried as priests, representing God, and teaching His law.
The entire design of the ark symbolizes the relationship between God and man. The law rests upon the gold, which never deteriorates. Wood, used to produce the shape and form of the ark, symbolizes the need for man to maintain the shape required to carry the law.
The covering, known as the mercy seat, is pure gold. Mercy comes only through the sacrifice of Jesus. Pure gold represents Jesus’ perfect life. The mercy seat covers the law, just as Jesus’ perfect life covers the law for us.
Cherubims of gold represent the angels in the Heavenly courts. They show the reverence we should have for the law, which represents God’s character. They also represent cooperation between the Heavenly host and man. Pure gold shows the aid provided by angles is perfect, because of their perfect obedience, and cooperation with God.
Overall, the ark symbolizes, cooperation between God, His angels, man, and the law which are at the center of understanding. Once we understand how to interpret the symbols of the ark, we can begin to understand the other details of the Tabernacle.
KJV Exodus 25:10-22. And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (11) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. (12) And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. (13) And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (14) And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. (15) The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. (16) And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (17) And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (18) And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (19) And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
KJV Exodus 30:6. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.
KJV Exodus 37:1-9. And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: (2) And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. (3) And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. (4) And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. (5) And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. (6) And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (7) And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; (8) One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (9) And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.
John 12:1-50 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (9) When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. (12) The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesusentered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him. (17) Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb,raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (20) Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) 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.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’sglory. (42) Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this darkworld, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
After writing three studies on this story about Mary anointing Jesus, I can finally see how God changed the order in this sequence. We can see Lazarus mentioned a number of times, which brings attention to his death. We see Mary anointed Jesus before His death. But look at the story that follows, the shorted account of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. When we carefully pray before studying scripture, we can see another story out of place. But is it?
If we compare Solomon’s ordination to this story, we see Solomon rode David’s mule out of Jerusalem to Gihon Spring. The word Gihon means to shoot forth water. Jesus rode a young donkey colt from Bethany into Jerusalem. Solomon was anointed after his ride, Jesus was anointed before. We have two examples of a reversed order in one chapter.
This calls attention to many spiritual lessons in the gospels. Some we’ve seen, and others we are about to study. One of the reasons God gave us those examples of a reverse order is to remind us, understanding His Word may not be as easy as some people claim it is. If there is one thing people who really study God’s Word can tell you is, you have to go over it again and again to understand. God has a way or revealing only portions at a time.
Jesus had a choice. He could have ridden the donkey, the colt’s mother, or the little colt. Jesus chose the little colt. The disciples were so embarrassed, the their their coats over the beast to cover it up. They didn’t want people to think that was the best they could do for their Teacher. We have to approach God’s Word in much the same way. Whatever we bring to a Bible Study is small and embarrassing compared to what God can provide, or what He has to reveal.
As we pray and look deeper into this series of stories, we see another order revered. People expected Jesus to crown Himself King. But that’s not the order in God’s plan. Jesus was first to serve as High Priest before receiving His crown. Jesus’ first ministry in Heaven is to conduct the judgment. Look at the previous chapters to see how often Jesus tried to teach that point. Now you can see the need for those examples of a reverse order. We didn’t understand the messages when they were presented, but when new details are added and we look back, we can clearly see why Jesus used that specific order.
And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse).
There is a specific order given to announce Jesus’ return. The first is to announce the beginning of His duties as High Priest in Heaven which involves His role as judge. But how many people understand this order? How many people are able to explain? Not many people choose to go to God’s mountain to learn God’s order. When we look at the messages of the remaining two angels we clearly see how that order has been reversed.
Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:8-10 NLTse).
For the most part, Christians today are all too happy to run around preaching either the second or third message, but have no understanding of the first message. For one thing, people place the judgment Jesus talked about in all kinds of different time frames. How do we know which one is true and which of the many are false? We have to study and let God’s Spirit lead us to the truth. When we allow human understanding to take over for God’s Spirit, the sequence is already tainted, stained, and ruined.
Look at the second message. There must be more interpretations for Babylon’s fall than there are Christian denominations in this world today. Some churches were created by splitting off based on a new interpretation of Babylon or the sequence it will happen. Years and generations have passed, and people still cling onto those traditions and beliefs. Little do the see, they cannot understand the second message until the understand the first.
The same is true for the third message. I hear people quoting little pieces of the second message claiming it is actually the third. Some people claim this is the last message to the world, but can’t really explain what it means. Most religions claim to have identified the beast in Revelation 14, but I haven’t see any who can prove it using only the Bible. They have not learned the art of looking back in scripture for the answer.
That mark is another major doctrine taught in this world now and for generations. There must have been hundreds of guesses attempting to identify that mark. Many of those guesses have been left on the side of the road, replaced by more modern versions. Once again, which are true and which are false?
In those few verses we have uncovered one major difference between Heaven and earth. There is only one true judgment in Heaven, but many Babylons, beasts, and marks on earth. Satan would never plan or rely on a single deception. Not when he has more demons than we can count to carry out his orders. He is as unstable as a raging sea, moving and causing destruction in all directions.
I often wonder why so many people dedicate themselves to the study of Babylon, the beast, and his mark. I’ve noticed those people know so little about Jesus. Is their obsession a deception? But how many people can explain what Jesus is doing in Heaven this minute? What a mixed up world and religion we find ourselves in. How many of those people can tell you when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin judgment?
There were two things Israel was told to listen for. The sound of the bells on the high priests robe when he walked into the Most Holy, and the sound those bells made when He left the Most Holy. Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the LORD, and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the LORD’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die. (Exodus 28:35 NLTse). If they didn’t hear the sound of those bells when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, how will they ever recognize the sound when He leaves? What a sad and dangerous example showing how man has chosen once again to ignore God’s order and sequence.
I’m sitting here writing this and wondering how we are going to hear those bells. We can be certain we will hear them in God’s Word when the time is right. Will God confirm their sound with prophets? Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants–men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth– blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called. (Joel 2:27-32 NLTse).
When we look at what the prophet Joel recorded, there will be much more. How much of it will be physical and how much spiritual? As I sit and write this, I am looking out on a snow covered year looking like a lifeless wasteland covered in white. I can’t help but see the contrast. I know life remains underground ready to shoot up as soon as the sun warms the land. Every spring is like a resurrection in Wisconsin. But now, a major portion of the United States is covered in snow. Other sections of the country that have not seen rain in years has been experiencing major flooding over the past few weeks. The cold weather is so bad here this February, it has set records in many parts of the country. Some placed that rarely see snow are blanketed today. Most of the time snow will melt later in the day, or the next day. But this winter it lingers as if it is whispering a message. As if God wants us to hear a message. What are the signs of the end – when Jesus’ finishes judging?
If you want to see those signs, look out the window and listen to God. Over the past few years this world has experienced record cold and hot temperatures. Some times at the same time on opposite sides of this planet. God’s creation is crying out while it is being shaken and wrenched apart. Like every creature in God’s new world had to suffer the effects of sin, they suffer under unbearable conditions while this world repeats the first sin – they refuse to listen to God.
Record long droughts are followed by record rain falls and floods. The worst storm every recorded in history hit the Philippians a little more than a year ago. Every part of this world is suffering under stains beyond its control. Governments promise relief, but are really helpless. They point to science as the only answer to this world’s problems, induce additional burdens in the form of taxes to battle the fury this world has unleashed upon us, but can’t see they have fulfilled prophesy.
Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:14-16 NLTse).
What does that clay represent? Who questions God? Who tries to silence His voice? Who claims to be greater than God? There is only one answer, science, the people who claim they can save this world. All it will take is more money, more taxes. Don’t they know Jesus was born in Bethlehem because of a decree to raise taxes? What about that clay? Look at Daniel, who tells us when it will appear in history. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. (Daniel 2:41 NLTse). According to Daniel, that clay will appear near the end of time. That is when that clay will question the creator. The clay will not all the iron to cling together. Science will work to divide the world’s kingdoms. Those taxes are not used only the fight the unpredictable nature of God’s creation, the majority of taxes are going to the greatest military build up in earth’s history. Some alliances are being formed while others are being fractured. To a large degree, countries are dividing and uniting along religious lines. Something we wouldn’t have imagined fifty years ago.
We have to be very careful with symbols. There are a few rules of contest to follow when we study symbols.
Authors repeat key words to draw attention to their use as symbols.
Symbols always point to something far greater.
Symbols can only be interpreted by God’s Word.
Key words help to point to scripture explaining the meaning of a symbol.
The meaning of a symbol is often explained within the chapter it is recorded.
Symbols must always be interpreted within context.
We cannot take one interpretation of a symbol found in one chapter and apply it to all chapters. We have to consider context, which includes the main theme of the chapter found in the introduction and summation in every chapter, as well as key words used in the chapter.
Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.
It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.
God does not intend in smashing all the clay, nor does all science oppose God and His will. Like everything else, there is good and bad. And God will not stop reaching out. So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction. (Romans 9:16-22 NLTse).
Like Pharaoh constantly opposed God, we see some branches of science opposing and trying to disgrace God. But that does not mean God cannot perform another miracle by reaching them. The jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. (Jeremiah 18:4-6 NLTse).
This reminds us, only God can change likes. Working the clay with His hands shows the close personal contact God has with good and bad people, and everyone between. For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins. And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Don’t be so angry with us, LORD. Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:4-9 NLTse).
The most important part of this lesson shows how, we have to leave every bit of judgment in God’s hands. God gave Jesus the authority to judge. Jesus is the only one to earn such an important role. When we try to take that role away from Jesus, are we any better than science who openly defiles God? But there is hope. If you have a cold heart that knows only how to judge, Christ can reform you in His hands. If all you love about the Bible is the study of the beast and his mark, God can get you to listen, if you are willing. As for the rest of the world. They are in God’s hands. But He can’t use you until He is done reforming you. Are you ready? Can you hear God’s voice and recognize His work?
Mary Anointed Jesus for Burial
John 12:1-8 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
In chapter 12, John breaks from the pattern established over previous chapters consisting of a great deal of detail, back to a series of stories. Any dedicated student of the Bible will tell you, a break in a pattern is just as important as an established pattern in scripture.
Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.
Moving into a new event is the understatement of the universe once we see where John’s book is headed. We can see Jesus is building up to His trial in Jerusalem, death, and resurrection. One thing to pay attention to in this series of stories is the details Jesus shared and how people perceived them.
John makes sure to tell us this first event happened six days before the Passover. The date helps us to piece together Jesus’ last days of His ministry on this world in human from. Jesus began in Bethany. We see Lazarus repeated a number of time. John pointed out, Lazarus was the man Jesus raised from the dead.
The first event was a dinner where Mary anointed Jesus for His burial. Jesus pointed this out. Judas didn’t appreciate the act. He must have harbored a hidden dislike or mistrust of Mary. John pointed out, this was the same Mary who was Lazarus’ sister. This established another link to the previous story where Jesus rose Lazarus from his grave. We see how each story is arranged to build one detail and lesson upon another.
John did not record a lot of details about that dinner, which draws more attention to what he did write. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
We see, Judas was a thief. How does that fit into the spiritual lessons taught here? How do people steal away those lessons while they are still Jesus’ disciple? We have a contrast here between Mary and Judas.
Mary gave a very expensive gift to Jesus. Once the oil was poured over Jesus, it couldn’t be recovered. It was an extravagant gift from the heart. Perfume is normally used in small amounts. Mary anointed Jesus using the entire bottle. She didn’t hold anything back. It was a symbol of her love for Jesus.
Mary didn’t expect anything in return. She also didn’t expect to be criticized for her act. If we look at other gospels, we see how the disciples were arguing who is the greatest. Judas wasn’t listed in those conversations, but this story showed where his heart was. The question still remains, how do Jesus’ disciples steal from Him today?
Twelve ounces is the size of a soda can, or bottle of soda. Some people call it pop or a soft drink. Pouring an entire bottle that size on a person is sure to be noticeable. John made sure to tell us the fragrance filled the room. It had to be more than pure olive oil, which was normally used to anoint a king or priest. This was perfumed oil so everyone would notice.
The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about anointing dead bodies for burial. That was a tradition copied from other cultures. God used this as a lesson to show how He uses traditions to meet people where they are. He didn’t condemn the act, He used it to bring glory to His Son. The Christian world can learn a ton lessons from that.
Mary didn’t just pour the oil over Jesus, she wiped it with her hair and kissed Jesus’ feet. She touched Jesus in an intimate manner and in a way beyond normal respect and concern. Do you touch Jesus in the same manner when you offer something to Him?
John 12:9-11 NLTse When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.
Opposition grows like a cancer. When people reply on themselves and shut out God’s Spirit, they are left to the devil’s desires and work. Judas had a demon, we will cover more details later. We will also see how the devil controlled those people who thought they had all the answers. Satan guided them along every step so we could see the extent of his control and his real motives. The entire universe witnessed those scenes as they unfolded. The universe wonders why this is the only planet in the universe that doesn’t understand.
Jesus Entered Jerusalem
John 12:12-16 NLTse The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesusentered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
John tells us this next event happened five days before the Passover. Jesus rode a little colt into Jerusalem and people hoped He was about to take David’s throne. To them at that moment, their King had come to Jerusalem. They didn’t realize, that was only one aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Other details and prophecies had to be fulfilled before Jesus received His crown. As Jesus explained to Pilate, His Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus wasn’t going to receive glory from this world, or any crown. This story was much larger than any of them could image.
John pointed out how the disciples didn’t understand what was happening. That number included John himself. Admitting we don’t have the answer is the beginning of understanding. When people think they know what those symbols pointed to, chances are, they are wrong. At the very best, all men can do is figure out a small portion of those symbols on their own. When they don’t go to God and stick to His word to find their true and full meaning, they rob God. We want to look at the prophecy Jesus pointed us to so we don’t rob Him.
Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.
Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.'” They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD.” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:10-12 NLTse).
The prophecy John pointed out shows us much more than what he wrote. John is showing us another important rule of context we have to follow if we plan on understanding scripture. Notice how detailed John had been in the previous stories. Then John goes onto a story about Jesus being anointed, followed with a short story about Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem. John chose to record only brief accounts of what happened? That doesn’t make any sense – to us. Compare the importance of those previous stories to these. Why would John change his pattern now?
The answer is easy to see when we look at Old Testament scripture quoted. Look at the detail it added. John never recorded any of the details about Jesus going into the temple courtyard, he didn’t have to. We find those details in the Old Testament prophecy. Jesus went into the gates to prepare a highway for His people. That is when He told them a series of parables teaching them details about His ministry as well as their role in it. We see more details in the summation of the chapter we’re pointed to.
Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see– a splendid crown in the hand of God. (Isaiah 62:1-3 NLTse).
The summation gives us a behind the scene look at what Jesus did as well as how He felt during His last moments in Jerusalem. Jesus stayed still when He refused to answer the high priest and Pilate. Because He loved Jerusalem, He forgave them while on the cross. Looking at the Old Testament texts tells us much more than anyone could imagine. Look at those details. They are telling us details that occurred after Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Look at God’s time line and see how God has many lines that cross that spiritual moment in time. Each line recorded in scripture explains details on both sides of that point, past and future. The Bible shows how it explains the past and reveals the future. The sad part of it is, few people take time to look at God’s collection of books they way they were meant to be read.
The People Met Jesus
John 12:17-19 NLTse Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb,raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”
John showed how people were split in Jerusalem. Some people believed those miracles Jesus performed, others ran off to consult with the religious leaders as we’ve seen in the previous chapter. Once the Pharisees saw the number of people following Jesus, they did more than worry.
Jerusalem was crowded with thousands of people to observe the Passover. There’s not a lot to do walking along the road. Sharing news helps to pass the time. Never was there news like they heard on that trip to Jerusalem. News about Lazarus spread quickly. Jesus had been traveling all over the region healing and teaching people. Many of them were thankful for being healed or seeing friends and relatives healed. Some heard more than Jesus talk, they listened to God’s Spirit. Some people searched scripture. It would be nice to know what they found and how much God explained at the time.
John pointed out how much the story about Lazarus influenced Jesus’ last minute ministry. Another example showing how God’s timing is important. Some people want to serve Jesus, but don’t understand God’s timing. They don’t see how much harm they can cause if they don’t know how to follow orders when they are given. Jesus showed how He had to wait a few days before going to Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles. If waiting was part of Jesus’ ministry, maybe it should be an important part of ours.
Walk in the Light
John 12:20-41 NLTse Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) 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.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’sglory.
John returned to his style of adding detail. Something prompted John to added those details. John told a story about some Greeks who came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus. They first met Philip who told Andrew, who took the Greeks to Jesus. This showed how people work together to bring people to Jesus.
Once we learn to see the patterns John and other authors used, we begin to see scripture open up with details a casual reading would not catch. Now we can understand Jesus’ answer. Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.” To see the spiritual message, we have to look at this a few lines at a time and see how they relate to previous verses.
When did God choose the right time for Jesus to enter into His glory? The simple answer is that Passover that happened to be during the Sabbath. Looking back a few verses we see God’s Spirit at work arranging a few details. John showed us how Greeks came to look for Jesus. It would have been unusual for Greeks to be in Jerusalem during the Passover, but not out of the question. Greeks most likely would have been shunned by Hebrews. They looked and talked differently then the Hebrews in Jerusalem. Most of the Jews would have shunned them, except for the vendors who welcomed everyone’s money.
Those Greeks also remind us about the hundreds of thousands of Greek Old Testaments spread over the world. I wish we knew if the had access to scripture. It would also be nice to see how scripture influenced their view of Jesus before they met Him. We can see a few details based on what John recorded about the conversation.
Those Greeks would have entered Jerusalem expecting to see an entire city celebrating the coming of the Messiah. They couldn’t imagine the joy and excitement Israel must have felt to see their Savior return. The excitement in those Greeks must have built as they saw long lines of people meeting on the road to Jerusalem. They must have felt it was strange to listen to different accounts and opinions about Jesus from the people they met on the road.
It’s funny how we can talk to people today and still hear different opinions. Not as drastic as what those Greeks would have heard, but strange just the same. And we still have associate with people to different degrees. Some people we love and can’t live without. We have friends we occasionally see. People we know but rarely see. Some people have friends they only call when they need something from them. And there are people we try to avoid. So what’s the difference between what we hear about relationships with Christ today and what those Greeks heard on that road? No matter how hard Jesus tried, people set their own standards when it came to their relationship with the ultimate source of infinite love.
All they could do was hope Jesus would meet them. And of course, Jesus was happy to meet them. Reaching out to Greeks represented how Jesus reached out to the world. The process they followed to meet Jesus showed how Jesus’ disciples have to work together. It is a physical description of one person plowing, another sowing, and another harvesting. It also showed the disciples how working together wiped out the desire to be greatest. Not one person nor step in the process is more important than the other.
Jesus used the illustration of a seed to describe what He was about to do. But now that we understand what was taught in the previous verse, we can see how that parable about the seed also showed the disciples what is meant to die to this world. They had to bury their pride.
Jesus told them the seed that was about to be planted will die and its death will produce more seeds. Jesus wasn’t just teaching about His death, He was telling them about the ministries they would soon be conducting. Think of what the disciples gave up to conduct a full time ministry. They gave up everything to serve Jesus and tell people about the prophecies they witnessed as Jesus fulfilled each one.
Jesus also told them, they had to give up this world. People usually have an easy time understanding that. But what did Jesus mean by being where He is? Where did Jesus go after His resurrection? To Heaven. Jesus showed the only way to Heaven is through Him, now and after death. Jesus didn’t tell people to follow Him after they died. Jesus rose Lazarus to bring glory to God. God gave that glory to His Son. Lazarus served Jesus’ ministry while he lived, not when he was in the grave.
Something strange happened in Jerusalem. People heard God’s voice. Some heard it and others thought it was thunder. This has been repeated throughout history. Some people hear God’s message while some people think it is nothing to worry about. Jesus explained why God spoke at that moment. It was for the benefit of Jesus’ followers as well as Jesus. God knew they all needed encouragement for what was about to happen. This also shows how close God is and how He is always watching.
Jesus didn’t go into much detail about what was about to happen, but He did give them clues. The people thought they understood scripture, but they didn’t understand God’s timing or the process Jesus had to follow in the plan of salvation.
Jesus pointed out the purpose of His sacrifice, to defeat the ruler of this world one last time. Jesus revealed who was behind the coming events. Jesus told them who was responsible for all the pain and suffering, not only His, but the world. Jesus showed the world how far Satan would go. If he would snuff out the life of God’s Son, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill any of us, once he’s done using us. That is if we allow him.
Jesus also told them what He told Nicodemus three years ago. He told them how He was going to be lifted up above the earth to draw people to Himself. That was where the people got confused. They couldn’t see how the Messiah could die. Based on the pattern we’ve seen in previous chapters, we can see a number of people walked away from Jesus. Tradition was once again stronger than truth. How many people say they believe in Jesus, say they are following Him, but are actually following traditions they’ve been taught? Traditions that actually make them turn and walk away from Jesus.
Jesus was instructed by God’s Spirit to repeat the lesson using light as a symbol. We see a pattern when Jesus repeated Himself, but this time it is a new crowd. Once again, that symbol of light was followed by the key word believe. When light comes it takes more than common sense to follow it. It takes something some people don’t have, belief or faith.
Why did Jesus talk about the light as if it would be available for a limited time? We know Jesus’ resurrection shed new light on the plan of salvation. We know even the disciples understood very little before the resurrection, and were taught by Jesus for forty days. After that Jesus sent His Spirit on Pentecost. Why would Jesus say His light would shine for just a little longer? Did Jesus know there were a few listening who needed to see Him in His physical body to believe? Some people find it hard to find enough faith to follow anything else but their eyes. But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.
This time John quoted two scriptures from Isaiah. Of course we already know how important it is to look at texts he pointed us to. This is an unusual occurrence in the Bible. When we pay attention, we can see, Jesus didn’t quote this scripture, John added it. Of course we know John was an inspired author. God told him to add that scripture. This teaches us a lesson we have to be aware of. Sometimes Jesus will refer to scripture without directly quoting it. This is something to watch out for, but not be obsessed with. Don’t worry, God’s Spirit will let you know when He wants to show you something important. Just pray you are paying attention.
Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected– a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! (Isaiah 53:1-4 NLTse).
John introduced Isaiah 53 near the end of Jesus’ ministry while He was preaching in Jerusalem. We see how John quoted the very beginning of Isaiah 53 to lead everyone who read his book back to Isaiah. Can you imagine the emotions John felt as he wrote this story in his book? Put yourself in John’s place as he wrote this book at a slow, steady pace by hand. He paused before he added this little part pointing us to Isaiah. John was very careful not to add any of his personal views but follow the direction of God’s Spirit. As John opened Isaiah’s book and turned to the portion he wanted to quote from, he read the entire prophecy about Jesus. John wept as he followed through the words Isaiah recorded so long ago. John wanted to reach people with his book. That was his intention when he sat down to write it. That had been his prayer for months before he started his book and prayer everyday as he wrote out his account of Jesus’ ministry. Once John finished reading the prophecy, he knew it was what God wanted. But John\’s emotional state would only allow him to copy the first few lines. I only included the introduction and summation to Isaiah 53. I hope you take the time to read the entire chapter on your own and feel the emotions John felt when he read it.
Look at the first few words. What did Isaiah feel when he penned those words? Who has believed our message? I know I ask that question almost everyday. Some people just don’t want to listen. Or they’ll listen but feel little need to move forward in their walk to catch up to Jesus and walk hand in hand with Him. I wonder why people choose this world over what they could have with Jesus today.
He has a way of comforting us like nothing else in this world. With a little faith, worries of this world will disappear. Everything the world can throw at you seem like a futile attempt from the enemy to draw you back into his camp. When you walk with Jesus, the enemie’s attempts to draw you back are like a mosquito trying to push and elephant.
Look back a chapter to see how Isaiah led into this prophecy and see how Isaiah 53 makes chapter 52 perfectly understandable. The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the LORD returning to Jerusalem. Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the LORD has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God. (Isaiah 52:8-10 NLTse).
You can see how watchmen are defined when we read Isaiah 52, 53, and John’s Gospel together. The watchmen were the people watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem. But those watchmen didn’t have the proper vision of Jesus. At that point they misunderstood His ministry.
When we progress to the next line we can see, Isaiah was not referring to the moment in time Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but when He returned after His resurrection, when His victory over the enemy was sure. When His resurrected body proved the religious leaders wrong and exposed the bondage they put those people under. It was time to shout for joy because Jesus freed them. It wasn’t only His death and resurrection that freed them. It was His words, the miracles He performed, and the prophecies He fulfilled before their eyes. Isaiah 53 in only a small part of them.
Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the LORD. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. (Isaiah 52:11-12 NLTse). Isaiah told them about their departure from Jerusalem when the religious leaders hunted them, trying to silence them. God knew when truth reveals itself persecution is sure to follow. If they didn’t hesitate to kill His Son. Those religious leader would think little about the lives of Jesus’ disciples. The great light Jesus shed upon the earth was in conflict with the darkness trying to cover this world. Isaiah revealed what Jesus was telling them about the light being available for a short time. He told them that in Jerusalem. The disciples only enjoyed freedom to preach the word for a short time before the powers of darkness regrouped to launch a new attack.
That sequence of events showed how little the devil knows about scripture. He doesn’t have the ability to interpret scripture. He can’t interpret scripture without God’s Spirit. That would be impossible. Even if he can figure out the patterns, there is a portion locked away from his view and understanding. Satan is not guided in scripture. He has no way of seeing how prophecies are going to be fulfilled until after the events pass. That doesn’t stop him from reacting as quickly as he can and in most cases, he follows the same course he did with Jesus.
See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.(Isaiah 52:13-15 NLTse). Jesus was intentionally disfigured by the priests. Satan filled their heads with the possibility He may be the Messiah, but not the Messiah they wanted. To make sure they got the right Messiah, they disfigured Jesus thinking God could never accept a less than perfect physical sacrifice. They showed once again how they and their leader, the devil misinterpreted scripture.
After it was over Pilate and Herod saw what they did or didn’t’ do. They had to live with the thought, they killed God’s Son. Do you think Satan’s demons left those two alone after they killed Jesus? No! Demons tormented them with guilt. Their consciences would not give them a moment of rest. Both those kings received more reports about Jesus than anyone beside Jesus’ disciples. They had their witnesses, but ignored them.
Looking back, and looking back again reveals so much. There are times you almost have to read the Bible in reverse. How do you know when? That’s a job for God’s Spirit. He will show you when to refer to other books in the Bible, when to look up specific words, when to look at the previous chapter, God’s Spirit is your guide in God’s Word. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (Psalms 43:3, John 16:13 NLTse). You have one advantage over the enemy. Use it.
He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:9-12 NLTse).
Isaiah filled everyone in on Jesus’ perfect life, and so much more. God knew about the plan to crush Jesus long before it entered Satan’s mind as a thought. Then again, God saw how those thoughts were beginning to formulate in Lucifer’s mind while he still held a high position in Heaven. It wasn’t hard to figure out where Lucifer’s rebellion was leading. But God had to sit and watch while Satan worked his plans to their fulfillment. The difficult part was getting Satan to do everything on time. When you see how God was able to get Satan to put his plan into action at the exact moment God said the prophecies would be fulfilled is not only amazing, but adds additional proof Satan doesn’t understand scripture.
Too bad people focus on one little part of this prophecy and forget to look at the rest. People look at and preach, “he will bear all their sins,” while passing over the major portion of this prophecy. If they don’t see the part of God knowing all the plans, do you think they can understand all of Jesus’ many descendants? Can they see all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in all the churches, countries, areas of this world no one can reach, and those areas no one cares about?
We’ve seen how people Jesus talked to face to face didn’t understand what He was talking about. How much less do people understand when they only read His Word? Do they see the patterns in Jesus’ ministry, in His miracles, or in His sacrifice?
Do people see and understand the glory God gave Him? Can anyone describe that unimaginable glory beyond anything in this world, beyond the stars, and human understanding? What do people do when they try to explain the glory Jesus received from His Father in a way to make it appear they have all the answers? They rob people of meeting Jesus to find out about that glory from His Spirit.
Isaiah told us about one of those honors, a victorious soldier. Actually this translation seems to take a little artistic freedom. But we may have missed the point if we used the KJV. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 KJV). Translators for the KJV used the word great. The actual Greek work covered a broad range of positions including captain, elder, officer, and prince. The main focus of the Greek word focused on abundance.
Why was the NLT translated as soldier? The translators for the NLT used the rules of context to translate words that had a number of meanings. When they found a situation like this, they looked back at the introduction for a clue for which way to go. When we look at the introduction, we see a strong arm mentioned. That led translators to use the word soldier in the summation.
They Loved Human Praises
John 12:20-41 NLTse Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this darkworld, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
John began his summation to this series of stories, or this chapter by pointing out many people didn’t understand. Of course John pointed out many people did believe, including some of the Jewish leaders. We see the results later in Acts. God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
(Acts 6:7 NLTse). This is an important point to concentrate on, otherwise we’ll miss the major point in the verses that follow.
John wasn’t pointing out people who failed to understand. John pointed out how hard Jesus, God, and His Spirit worked to reach those people. Jesus didn’t care some of those people were planning to kill Him, He wanted to reach them all. But Jesus didn’t want them to look at Him, or honor Him. Jesus wanted to introduce them to His Father. Jesus explained His relationship with God and the process He followed. God sends Jesus orders and He followed them.
Jesus also brought up that subject of judgment. This time He made it clear, He didn’t want to judge anyone. He showed how far He was willing to go. They could have read about the details in Isaiah. But they saw it in real life. They saw the trial in front of Pilate. They heard about the other trials in front of Herod and the priests. They saw what those leaders did to Jesus. They saw Him on the cross. Then they heard about His resurrection. Not many saw Jesus after He rose from that tomb, but they could go back and read about it in scripture. We weren’t able to see what those people saw, but we can still go back to scripture and read about it.
Mark 5:21-43 Jesus Heals an Issue of Blood and Raises a Girl From Death
Mark 5:21-43 NLTse Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. (22) Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, (23) pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” (24) Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. (25) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. (26) She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. (27) She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. (28) For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (29) Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (30) Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” (31) His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” (32) But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. (33) Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. (34) And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (35) While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (36) But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (37) Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). (38) When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. (39) He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (40) The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. (41) Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” (42) And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. (43) Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.
This seems like a long day for Jesus, but He is doing what He loves, teaching and healing. The day before Jesus began His journeys and lessons on the shores of the lake. Crowds became so thick, He launched out a short distance in a boat. This also helped call attention to what Jesus was teaching, a parable about a farmer scattering his seed. Some landed on the road. Other seed landed on stony ground and among thorns, and of course the farmer made sure plenty of seed landed on good soil.
Later, the disciples asked Jesus to explain the meaning of the parable. Jesus told them what the symbols were and what they represented. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:15-19 NLTse). Of course Jesus also explained, seed represented God’s Word. He also explained how the good soil produced more seed.
Jesus also explained how important understanding God’s Word was to produce more seed. Jesus told a parable about lighting a lamp. When used properly, light makes everything visible. Light represents understanding God’s Word.
Once His disciples understood they had to understand God’s Word before they could see His Word increase, Jesus told them another parable explaining the process to follow. The disciples did not know it at the time, but the first lesson would be taught while crossing the lake.
In the middle of their trip they were caught up in a vicious storm, so fierce the four fisherman Jesus called cried for help. They found Jesus asleep in the front of the boat. They woke Him, asking if He cared anything about them. The disciples weren’t sure why they woke Jesus with such doubt in their hearts. Did they really believe Jesus was going to save them? Did their faith lead them to Jesus, or their fear? Jesus calmed the wind with His Word, which was part of the lesson. Wind represented ideas, concepts and words people would use against them once they began preaching God’s Word. Jesus showed them how to over come the wind. He also showed them how to handle the wind when it comes. He would illustrate this lesson again in the hours to come.
Looking back at the sequence of this texts and forward to what the disciples wrote in the New Testament, a question comes to mind. The seed of course produces more seed. The seed represents God’s Word in the parable of the sower. In essence the parable shows God’s Word produces more of God’s Word, just as the seed produced more seed. New Testament writers referred to and expounded on Jesus’ parables. The seed Jesus planted produced more seed, just like the parable pointed out.
Once they reached the other side of the lake, a man possessed by hundreds of demons threatened them. As the disciples hid behind Jesus, He stepped forward to confront the evil spirits. Although out numbered, Jesus sent the demons into a herd of swine. The scene seemed quite strange in both instances, those with the greater numbers feared the one they out numbered.
Once the demons left the man, the pigs ran off a cliff into the lake Satan tried to control just a few hours before. Once freed, the man, wanted to follow Jesus, who instructed him to return home to his family to explain what happened to him. He became one of the most successful evangelists in the Bible. Jesus links the next lesson to the previous by once again entering a boat. They cross the lake again. This time Jesus meet a rich young ruler.
Jesus could see the man coming from quite a distance. Jairus was dressed in rich robes showing his high status in the synagogue. The disciples looked at him, thinking it was strange for a young man to reach such a high status. They thought to themselves, it was all who you know, not what you know. The little bit of knowledge the disciple were learning was not yet complete. One of the most important lessons was still in the future, which is, when the Spirit provides a message, He also tells who to deliver the message to, when and how to declare the message.
Jairus ran out of options. A few days ago his wife sent a servant to the synagogue with the news his young daughter was seriously ill. He dropped everything and hurried home. Rushing into her room he found his wife kneeling at the bed, tears in her eyes. The physicians paced about with bewildered looks on their faces. The next two days were torture. Jairus could not think of a thing he would not give up as he walked the halls and courtyard of his home looking for peace while praying for an answer. After weighing all the options one of his servants decided to tell him about Jesus. She knew it may cost her a job and living. She knew if she were fired for telling a religious leader about Jesus, no one would considering hiring her. Watching the child suffer was more than she could bear. She decided to take the risk and talk with Jairus.
At first he was shocked to find one of Jesus’ followers working for him. But something touched him. He could see her sacrifice, the risk she took. Maybe there was something to this Jesus he heard so much about. Jairus took her by the hand. They walked to his daughter’s room. Standing at the doorway, he turned, asking his servant where Jesus was right now. She told Jairus, “I heard He was at the lake a few days ago, near the fishing village. Jairus went to the bed, held his daughter’s hand, kissed his wife and quickly left.
He ran as fast and far as he could, walked for a while, ran again past the point of exhaustion. His legs ached and lungs burned. It felt like his head was going to burst. Finally the lake came into view. From the top of the hill he saw a crowd gathered on the shore. “Thank you Lord,” Jairus cried out. He walked to the shore as fast as he could, thinking every moment counted.
Jesus could see the tormented look on Jairus’ face. The disciples also noticed the anguished look that reminded them of the demon possessed man. Jesus went straight toward him. Jairus didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know if it was a combination of exhaustion and the thought of his little girl in bed, or a hope, some sort of faith in Jesus that forced him to his knees. He pleaded with Jesus, “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”
Knowing the situation was urgent, Jesus immediately went with Jairus with a number of people following them. Making their way through the crowd a woman began to weep. She suffered with constant bleeding for twelve years. Most everyone knew about her problem because she went to priest after priest, and a number of physicians and other healers. Not one could do a thing for her. Word got around and she was treated much like a leper. All the offerings and payments to physicians left her nearly penniless. Hearing about Jesus gave her a glimmer of hope. Something she lost a long time ago. Now she saw her last hope leaving.
She tried to push her way through the crowd, but it seemed the more she pushed, the further away the crowd pushed her. Her eyes filled with tears to the point she could not see. She wiped her eyes. Her view cleared just long enough to see Jairus pass by. She held out her hand touching a robe for only a moment. Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
At the same moment He was touched, Jesus stopped. Jairus also stopped, turned and looked at Jesus. He wanted to ask Him to hurry, but before he could speak, Jesus asked, “who touched me?” Jesus looked from side to side. Jairus was trying to find a way of politely asking Him to hurry. The disciples wondered what kind of an answer Jesus was looking for. Finally the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
For a moment a peace, a bit of security came over Jairus. It only lasted a minute. His servants appeared from the crowd to tell him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” Jesus heard the news and saw the expression on Jairus’ face instantly change. Filled with compassion Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Jairus wondered where faith fit into the scene. His daughter was dead. At least that was what he was told. His servant would never lie to him. Not about something so severe. Jairus felt like a knife was plunged into his heart. His legs still ached from the run, his head still pounded. He thought his heart was still pumping faster than normal, but now he wished it would stop. Why did God take his daughter? Why didn’t God take him?
Jairus headed home, with his head hung low, his servants arm around him. He didn’t think he could make it on his own. Once his home came into sight Jairus remember his wife. He had to appear strong for her. He knew his pain would be nothing compared to hers. Suddenly Jairus noticed Jesus and a huge crowd was still behind him. The last thing he needed was company. All he wanted to do was be alone with his wife for a time before sorting out the details. Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John. They could hear the screams and cries from the mourners. It seemed word had gotten out and Jairus’ moment of silence would be impossible. As soon as Jairus stopped and turned to disperse the crowd, Jesus walked right past him, went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” Of course everyone in the house laughed at Him. Almost everyone. Jairus’ wife and the servant comforting her held onto a spark of faith, which was dwindling fast. With the help of Peter, James, and John, Jesus cleared the house.
Once the house was cleared and silent, Jesus took Jairus and his wife by the hand, leading them into their daughter’s room. The three disciples followed close behind. Taking the young Girl’s hand, Jesus said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” She immediately stood up and walked around! Nothing could match or describe the joy in Jairus’ joy in him and his wife.
Going from the lowest of lows to a high beyond description is experienced by few. It is nothing short of a life changing experience, not only for Jairus and his wife, but the disciples, and all the people who saw the little girl lying dead.
Why did Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from death? Did Jairus’ status in the synagogue have anything to do with it? What did the disciples learn from this? Was Jesus only displaying His power, or was there a deeper meaning involved?
When we look at all the of events as Jesus crisscrossed the lake, we not only begin to see a small portion of what Jesus was teaching, but the sequence Jesus used to teach. It began on the first journey across the lake. Satan used the wind to threaten the disciples much like he used wind to test Job. Mark clearly notes Jesus slept in the boat while it was tossed by wind and flooded by waves. When we see what wind represents, we understand why Jesus slept.
Ephesians 4:14 KJV That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
When we look at another storm Jesus faced we understand why Jesus slept. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” 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. (John 8:4-6 NLTse). When the Pharisees confronted Jesus with doctrine, He refused to debate with them. He refused to fall into the trap they set for him. Jesus knew the Pharisees had their own preconceived idea on every detail of the law and would rather die than concede one point. Changing their mind on any point would be like moving a mountain. Its not much different today. Religions hook members on doctrines, addicting them to the point they feel their salvation relies on not only knowing, but forcing their beliefs on others. They forgot the simple message Jesus gave to His disciples, to teach the prophecies He fulfilled.
When they reached the other side of the lake, they were faced by a man possessed by a legion of demons. This was the last person on earth anyone would have expected to see teaching about and leading people to Jesus. This man lead countless people to Christ.
Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat to cross the lake one more time. This time they met a leader of the synagogue, dressed in his spectacular clothing. At first it appeared to be quite a contrast to the man on the other side of the lake, but each had their problems. Jairus’ daughter was in bed dying. He would have changed places with anyone at that point. The fact Jairus was a leader in the synagogue taught the disciples another lesson. Jesus came to reach out to everyone.
A woman with an issue of blood was also involved in this story. Jesus met her on the way to Jairus’ house. She may have delayed Jesus while Jairus’ daughter died. The woman tried everything to end the dreaded disease before she heard of Jesus. He was her last hope. She touched Him in faith and was instantly healed.
All of these teach one lesson after another. Jesus did not stop teaching when he finished His parables. The Holy Spirit established a sequence of events, one after another to fill in some of the details missing from the parables. Jesus taught this application in His parables. First He introduced the parable of the sower. At the end Jesus explained the seed in good ground produces new seed. Later Jesus told His disciples a parable about another farmer sowing seed. This time Jesus added details about the life cycle of the seed, to a plant which produces more seed. “The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:28-29 NLTse). Jesus then began to fill in other missing details from the parable of the sower when He began showing them how far Satan will go to distract people from God’s Word, the seeds planted in their hearts.
Satan tried to destroy Jesus and His disciples with wind. Jesus rebuked the wind with His word. Peter proved he learned the lesson when he wrote: “These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” (2 Peter 2:17-19 NLTse). By sleeping in the boat, Jesus taught them to ignore people who seek salvation through their doctrines. By rebuking the wind, He taught them to rely on His word.
The man possessed by demons was chained by men, but escaped. No matter how hard the demons tried to hold him, he made his way to Jesus. People have their own way of dealing with demons. In this story they tried to chain him. If they had succeeded, they would have kept him from Jesus. Did the man hold a grudge? No! He went back to show them what Jesus can do. In this lesson the disciples learned not to judge anyone by their appearance. A few words from Jesus changed this man as quickly as the wind changed.
The disciples learned another lesson about judging people. This time it was a leader in the synagogue. The man came to Jesus in faith. He was able to put away his doctrine to come to Jesus. He came to Jesus to heal his daughter, but Jesus provided much more. Jesus provided life.
The woman with an issue of blood faced some of the same problems as Jairus, the young leader. She tried everything to rid herself of the disease, but nothing worked. Man made cures made matters worse. She went to priests, doctors, and who knows what else. She put her trust in everything she knew, spending all of her money until it was all gone. She went to Jesus as her last hope. A quality she shared with Jairus. It didn’t matter to Jesus, as long as they came to Him. Jesus was happy to heal the woman and raise the young girl back to life. Jesus didn’t ask Jairus what be believed. He never questions about the doctrine Jairus believed and taught. Neither did Jesus ask the woman why she put her trust in priests and doctors instead of God. Jesus accepted them where they were when they came to Him.
We can see James understood these lessons when he wrote his letter to the Jewish believers. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:2-6 NLTse).
What is Bible Study? You may have pondered that question yourself. Or you may never have given it much thought. What is Bible Study? Did you ever wonder how some people came up with facts they took out of the Bible? Where did they get those facts from? How or why did they jump from one book in the Bible to another? It seemed to sound good. All the information seemed to fit together. The subject at hand seemed to be thoroughly explained. The teacher seemed to have gathered information from the Bible to explain the subject at hand. But did they? Was their study guided by the Holy Spirit?
Has anyone ever explained to you what Bible Study is? Have you ever asked anyone to explain the process they used to study the Bible? There are processes to use. We can refer to each of those steps as Bible Study rules, guides, standards, or styles. I prefer the term style. Others may prefer the term rules. Does the Bible contain a set of rules to follow? To an extent the Bible contains and explains its own set of rules and procedures for Bible Study. The serious student of Bible Study will see those patterns, or styles established by scripture.
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Do you have a favorite author? What do you like about that author? Each author has a particular writing style. Writing styles can be much like fingerprints. Every fingerprint may look similar to one degree, but a closer look will reveal unique differences. Think of writing styles more along the lines of DNA. Who really knows what DNA is? You may have have seen an artists conception of DNA drawn on a computer. It looks something like multiple beads arranged along a spiral shaped strand. Every strand is different for each person, animal, bug, and plant in this world. DNA can’t be seen with the human eye, so we are taking the information we read with a measure of faith. That faith requires a degree of trust. Which is in fact a lot like Bible Study. When we receive information from other people, we really don’t see or understand how they put their facts together, so we assume they knew what they are doing. In other words, we are placing a measures of faith and a degree of trust in the hands of some person. Does that sound about right?
Every Christian should know what is at stake. We face two options, eternal life, or eternal death. Okay, there are variations on that choice, but that fact brings up the point, how do we really know? Which brings up the ever popular Bible Study method of, let’s see who can collect the most amount of information on a subject to see who wins the debate. Is that how we are supposed to study the Bible? Do we collect as much information on a subject to see which team on the debate can collect more words? Is there a precise way of measuring those words so we can place our faith and trust on the proper outcome? That may be like trying to identify DNA with the naked eye.
There is another far safer way of researching subjects using the Bible. God’s writing style is unique to say the least. How do you think a group got together to choose those sixty six books we find in most Bibles? Do you think those people on that committee read those books and decided, this one sounds good, that one looks reliable? How deep do you think that committee looked into the available books to decide which made the cut and which didn’t? We have to keep in mind, that committee had to look for books that were inspired by God. Each book had to show links to the other books, the same writing style, patterns, and other details such as sentence structure, use of symbols, key words, and a host of other evidence designed to examine the fingerprint or DNA that went into each book we find in the Bible today. Don’t you think God had that all planned out before He had Moses pen the first word?
Fingerprints, DNA, writing samples, and signatures are all admissible evidence in a court of law. All the evidence is introduced, examined, and presented in a very formal and precise manner in every court system. Why don’t we use the same care and common sense when it comes to Bible Study? Lives are at stake in courtrooms. What do you think is at stake whenever you read and study the Bible? The question is, what kind of evidence do you look for? How do you examine God’s writing style? Is one Bible more reliable than another? How do you know you can trust Bible translators? Don’t people have a tendency to interject personal thoughts and creeds into the Bible translation they are writing? Do transactions loose God’s DNA mark on His Word? Has the fingerprints been wiped clean? It seems we will never run out of questions about Bible Study. What is Bible Study?
God had a monumental task in front of Him when He told Moses to start writing things down. God had to trust Moses. Moses had to know God’s personality to a certain degree. Moses began to write a book God was prepared to spread over generations before it was complete. God had to ensure His writing style survived over a number of generations and could be recognized while using two major languages. Then those Hebrew and Geek manuscripts had to be translated into dozens of different languages all over the world. On top of that, each language was going to have dozens of different translations printed and distributed. Some of those transactions were word for word. That didn’t pose much of a problem or threat. But then the English language came on the scene. English sentence structure is quite different than Hebrew and Greek sentence structure. Other languages posed their own issues to deal with. Somehow God had to put together a collection of books recorded over generations, then deal all those translations, and still maintain the unique signature of the original Author. That sounds like an impossible task. But we have to realize, God created all those languages.
There are a number of ways to examine an author’s writing style. Their choice of words. Each author has a series of favorite words they use though out the books they write. Some authors thrive on using big, important sounding words. Most books on Bible Study are packed with words the average person never heard of, has trouble pronouncing, and in most cases, has no idea what those words mean. That is one signature or writing style to examine. Other authors stick to simple words. Words people can easily associate with and know what those words mean. An authors choice of words is normally consistent.
Writing is a way to convey information. There are technical styles, informal styles, suspenseful styles, descriptive styles, and other variations that a writer develops. An author may use a few of those styles in a book and mix them into any given chapter. That is one type of fingerprint an author leaves on the pages they write. In addition to an author’s choice of words, the combination of styles they use, sentence structure is another piece of evidence to look at. Are sentences short, long, drawn out, how does the author pose questions, comments, and follow up with questions they pose? There are different styles. Some authors are born teachers. That brings up a set of styles to look into. Many teachers like to provide answers before posing questions. Other authors or teachers prefer to ask questions then explain the answers.
All great teachers repeat important details to draw attention to the main theme at hand. How the author chooses to repeat important or key words is another fingerprint an author places in their books. Some authors think nothing about repeating the same word over and over again. Other authors repeat the key word once or twice then substitute similar words with the same meaning. And some authors love to use contrasts to teach a lesson. How an author repeats key words is one of the most important aspects of a writing style to examine.
How does an author flow from one subject to another? How does the author introduce a new subject? How does the author link their thoughts? Are their thoughts scattered, is there a consistent flow from one detail to the next? Does the author emphasis distinct links between one particular subject and the next in their book? The way an author links details is another aspect to examine.
How does an author introduce a subject? Does the author clearly point out the main subject, elaborate, then add a short summary at the end? Does the author pin point the subject, add in the details to make their point, then shift to the next matter to discuss? How concise are the points, how are they presented, and how does the author follow up on details presented? Those are all styles to consider.
Some authors are very good at writing scenes. They can arrange words in such a way, you can picture the scene in your mind. Other authors write in more of a technical manner. You are given enough facts to picture a scene in your mind, but specific details are scattered here and there. Setting the scene is a way of introducing the reader to what is about to happen in the story. Each author has a unique way of introducing a subject or scene.
Every good teacher will summarize subject matter. How an author summaries the lesson they are teaching is another unique writing style to examine. The summary will generally follow the same pattern or style as the introduction. Technical writes will use a technical slant, suspense writers will have their own style, and descriptive writers will generally use one style for an introduction, and another style of writing to sum up that part of the story, or the chapter.
When we look at the Bible, we have to notice how God repeated words. We should be asking why God repeated words. Repetition is not only a good way to teach, but a great way of keeping the student’s mind on the right subject. When we see the God of the Universe repeating Himself, that should tells us there is a good reason to pay attention. One of the most important aspects of Bible Study is to examine the words God repeated, then ask why He repeated certain words. Repetition is one of the most important ways of identifying the author, and extracting information. In Bible Study we refer to that as the General Rule of Repetition. At least in this book I will refer to it as the Rule of Repetition.
Highlighting a copy of the Bible can get you to see details a lot of other people will often miss. As soon as the chapter is highlighted, you can focus on key words God repeated, which sets your mind on the main thought in that chapter.
God not only has a unique way of repeating words, God has His own unique way of introducing a subject. How do you think that committee broke Bible books into chapters? The people who translated that Bible recognized God’s unique writing style and knew when a new subject was being introduced. God also has His own way of summarizing every subject. When the Bible was broken into chapters and verses, it was easy to follow God’s writing style to determine when one subject began, ended, and a new subject or thought began. In Bible Study we refer to that as the Rule of Introductions and Summations. The beginning of every chapter in the Bible contains an introduction to the main theme in that chapter. The end of every chapter in the Bible contains a summary of that subject.
Linking words is another unique style God used from Genesis to Revelation. Every inspired writer used God’s pattern or style of writing. Linking words were an important part of that pattern. When we see a chapter in the Bible begin with a simple word line, “and,” we know the present chapter at hand somehow followed the previous chapter. God used the simple word, “and,” to establish a link He wanted us to see. God also used other simple words and terms such as, “then,” and, “after that.” Those may seem like simple words of little consequence, but they are more important than many people thinks they are. For one thing, linking words establish an inspired link between one chapter and the next. In many cases linking words established a chain of events showing how one event followed another.
Whenever we read the Bible, we have to realize, we are making a connection with the God of the Universe. We have no idea how large that Universe is, how many beings God has to look over, what God has to do to keep the Universe functioning, or how much of God’s time is absorbed by the rest of the Universe. Here we are on this dismal little planet, with no way of knowing how the rest of God’s kingdom lives, what they do, what they eat, how long they sleep, or how they communicate. We can assume a lot of those details, but the point is, God sets apart time to explain the inspired book He gave this world. Do we appreciate the time God sets apart for us? Do we properly use that time God sets apart for us?
If we really knew God, we would see His DNA or fingerprint in every verse in the Bible. We would recognize a forgery in a second. We would find ourselves in God’s loving care 24/7. We would never have to rely on another living soul past, present, or future to explain a single detail in scripture. We would know how to call up God’s help line and go to the only reliable source for every answer, the original Author of the Bible.
There is something referred to as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the most important ingredient in Bible Study. You cannot efficiently or accurately study the Bible without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, interpreter, and will reveal all the mysteries in the Bible. That is, the mysteries we are ready, willing, and able to accept. When we study the Bible with the Holy Spirit, we should be able to explain how we made contact with the Spirit, how the Spirit led us to the information, what the Spirit showed us, and what we were told to do with that information.
Some people think the devil knows how to read and interpret scripture. The devil does not have the Holy Spirit to guide him. At best, Satan can only guess at what the Bible says. The devil proved he has no idea what the Bible says when he tried to use scripture to tempt Jesus. Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'” (Luke 4:9-11 NLTse). The devil used a few lines out of the Bible to try to make a point. In Bible Study we refer to that as proof text. What the devil didn’t see was the next few verses that told the outcome of his encounter with Christ. For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. (Psalms 91:11-14 RSVA).
That story basically sums up the common proof text method running rampant all over the world today. Just pick out a verse that suits your needs. Who cares about the time and effort God put into writing that series of books. After all, isn’t that God’s job to fulfill our needs? That is not the way Bible Study works. The Bible was not created to fulfill our desire of looking smart, answering questions, or putting people to the test. Most people who use that proof text method will insist the devil knows scripture better than anyone who has ever lived. The Bible proved Satan does not know scripture and his goal is to hid certain facts from us. Like the fact, Jesus is going to walk all over that snake.
I don’t want to concentrate on all the wrong ways people study scripture. That would never accomplish a thing. I could never list all the mistakes people make when studying the Bible using less than reliable methods. Even if I was able to make a list and tell the world, the devil would create another hundred bad study methods.
I did search Bible Study on the Internet. For the most part I find studies that jump all around the Bible to prove a point. People try to identify symbols, solve prophecies, and explain subjects with a handful of text, or maybe one or two. Is that a proper study method? Doubtful. Would you ever sum up a classic novel using a few sentences out of a few chapters? No one in their right mind would to that. Then why are some of the most respected theologians doing that to the Bible? A better question would be, why are people falling for such inadequate and unorthodox studies?
The first step in any Bible Study is to make contact with the Holy Spirit. Most people refer to that as prayer, which is opening up a direct channel to God’s throne. After that contact is made, who is the teacher and who is the student? I think you have those roles figured out. Once that contact is made, and you are at the foot of God’s throne, what do you do? You can be a little like David and throw in a praise or two. You can tell God how great He is and how you appreciate the time and attention He gives in your life. Then you may want to ask a question. This is where people get their wires crossed. People tend to think, since they are dealing with the all knowing God of the Universe, they should have no problem asking a dozen or so questions. Then what happens? In most cases nothing. In an attempt not to cross wires, God remains silent. Why? You just asked a dozen questions, and if you are like me, I don’t remember the order. If God started answering questions, chances are we would mix up the questions with the answers and be in worse shape then before we prayed.
Get into the habit of asking God one question, waiting for an answer, then if you don’t hear an answer, go onto the next question. As soon as you receive an answer, there will be no doubt the answer is from God. You will hear a hundred ideas, stories from the Bible explaining more than you could ever think of, and more than you are ever going to remember. If you sit down to write about your experience, many of the details will come back to mind.
When you are studying the Bible with the Holy Spirit, you will see dozens of details you never saw before. Give the glory to God. He wrote the book.
Now we are about ready to look at a few methods to study the Bible. Each example contains scripture as an example of what to look for, how to see the patterns, links, and connections God placed in His word, and the step by step methods used so you can use them in your own studies. Now let’s get started, and don’t forget to pray before each lesson.
How are we judged? When we look at the many different beliefs in this world today, we are going to get dozens of different explanations. Christian denominations read the same Bible, the same books in the Bible, compare the same proof text, and come up with a wide range of conclusions. The strange thing is, other religions parallel Christian beliefs on how this world will be judged. Or in some cases, has been judged, or is being judged. How do we determine which explanation is true, and which explanations are added to, or subtracted from the Bible? The first step is to remove all those explanations and start from scratch with an open mind, and a vision of learning at Jesus’ feet.
This may seem rather strange to you at this time, but look at the John’s Gospel as a whole. John’s Gospel seems to be the easiest story to follow. Jesus taught in a particular sequence. How many times did Jesus quote scripture? How many times did Jesus tell His followers and His enemies, He was doing His Father’s will? That included teaching this world about Heaven, and the judgment process in particular. When you read John’s Gospel with an open mind while focusing on the judgment process, you will see dozens of references Jesus made to the judgment process. Every time Jesus mentions the judgment process, let you mind go over previous stories, parables, chapters, and explanations Jesus offered. You will find yourself putting the judgment process in the prospective Jesus explained it. All those cloudy areas will disappear.
Jesus emphasized another important subject. Being born again. Hearing the Shepherd’s voice, born of water, living water, and other stories all were focused on that subject. The need to put aside preconceived ideas. That included all the ideas and concepts men taught about the judgment process. When we take one little portion of a story and attempt to explain what it means, we will fail. When we try to explain a story in the Bible based on our limited human knowledge, we will fail. Why is that? Look at how Jesus taught. Jesus repeated lessons with His followers. That was because they were listening. But not to the degree they needed to listen. They were in the process of learning. When and who to listen to was part of that learning process. Jesus explained subjects to His enemies once. Later Jesus built on those lessons. Why? Jesus didn’t feel a need to repeat Himself because His enemies were not listening, and would not listen. Why repeat yourself when the other person or party refuses to listen? The subject matter was important and had to be covered. Jesus had no choice but to offer the information. It was up to the listener to either accept or reject those messages. Chances were, if they missed the first lesson, the second, third, and all future lessons were lost. It was up to the individual to go over the entire process and put all the pieces together. In other words, look back. We have the opportunity to look back when we read John’s Gospel as a whole. We can compare one story with previous stories and see the spiritual meaning unfold. Bits and pieces should be fitting together. We should be able to see how Jesus added to subjects such as the judgment process. The moment we think we have it all figured out, we loose our connection with the Holy Spirit, our guide and teacher. We are left on our own. Whether or not we admit it, subjects become confusing, out of sequence, and difficult to explain. Why? Explanations in the Bible do not agree with what we have been taught. We lost our ability to look back and see how Jesus was given one subject from His Father, and added to that subject at a later date. Why did Jesus teach that way? The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit worked as a team. God gave the messages to Jesus who of course delivered them. People needed time to digest messages, and time for the Holy Spirit to work with them. Some people took advantage of that simple process while other people rejected the Holy Spirit, and of course they rejected Jesus. They thought they were serving God. They convinced themselves they were following God, But in fact they rejected God.
The same is true with the Holy Spirit. Try arguing or correcting the Holy Spirit during a study and the Spirit will withdraw. That’s it. You can continue to study, but everything will be interpreted by you and what the world has taught you. There is little chance any of your interpretations will be correct. They may sound good. The world may accept them. But that does not make them right.
We will begin our study in John’s Gospel. We could go all the way back to chapter 1 to see where this discussion actually began. But that is a task for you to accomplish. I will look back at the previous chapter so I can add a few examples showing how information in the Bible is introduced and build upon.
John 12:37-50 NLTse But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. (42) Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
This story makes a distinct reference to previous stories in the Bible. We should know what miracles Jesus performed and why they were rejected. When we look at the beginning of the chapter we see the story about Lazarus. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. Isn’t that a direct reference to the judgment? Of course it is. This is one example showing how Jesus taught in a particular sequence. First Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. That of course was an example showing Jesus had the power and authority to raise the dead. Of course Jesus needed His Father’s cooperation as well as permission. This also showed how they worked together.
Looking back a few more chapters we see Jesus also healed a blind man. That attracted the attention of the religious leaders who questioned and rejected that miracle. In chapter 12, Jesus quoted from Isiah where he predicted that would happen. Now we not only have a prophecy and its fulfillment together, we also have something in Isaiah to consider. But first, let’s look at parallel chapters a moment. Parallel chapters are the prophecy matched to the fulfillment recorded elsewhere in the Bible. They are parallel chapters based on the fact, the two chapters cover the same subject. They will have similar introductions and summations. When you study those chapters together, the Bible will reveal more than ten time the information you ever expected to see. That’s one of the ways the Bible works and confirms itself. Now we can look at a little bit from Isaiah.
Isaiah 53:1-6 NLTse Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? (2) My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. (3) He was despised and rejected– a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. (4) Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! (5) But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (6) All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.
Many Christians are familiar with Isiah chapter 53. This chapter explains how Jesus was executed. What would have happened if His followers and enemies read this chapter? Would they take it to heart? Isiah was telling the future. Jesus was showing people the future. Of course we can look back and see how all of this was planned, and how it turned out. But if we are in fact more advanced than those people who missed the message Jesus gave, why aren’t we using this knowledge? The Bible just showed us a simple way to study the Bible. Why don’t we all take that lesson and put it into action?
In terms of the judgment, Isiah also offered some information.
Isaiah 53:10-12 NLTse But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. (11) When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. (12) I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
In simple terms, Isiah explained how Jesus died for our sins and how this was part of God’s plan. We are not given a great amount of detail, but when we see additional explanations given in John chapter 12, we should be able to see the pieces of the puzzle come together.
“I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
Now we have a few pieces of the puzzle in writing to examine. Jesus died for our sins. That is true, but there is more to it than that. Jesus had to earn the authority to judge. The Father granted Jesus that authority. But with authority comes responsibility. Jesus was also responsible for telling the world about God’s plan of salvation. We can’t be held responsible for a plan we don’t know. On the other hand, ignorance is no excuse.
We are not judged by our knowledge of this plan. But we are judged on our willingness to either listen to that plan, accept, or reject that plan. Why do you think Jesus and the prophets talked about that plan so much? That plan was introduced through baby steps over a great amount of time. People in the Old Testament understood next to nothing about the plan of salvation. They did have the responsibility of knowing God, His laws and commandments, and obeying those laws. Of course everyone failed at that task. That was why Jesus had to come to this planet to die. But what about those people who knew the laws and ignored them? What about those people who never heard about God? What happens to them? I hope you don’t expect me to answer that question. But maybe with a little more studying, we can begin to get a clearer view on that subject.
What about those people who never heard of God or Jesus? Let’s take another look at that list of religions and their beliefs on the judgment in Wiki. They all seem to be pretty much the same. Christian religions should be the same. They all got their information from the same book. On the other hand, what about those other religions? How did they get a concept on God’s judgment if they never heard about God or Jesus? They must have gotten their information from somewhere. That brings us to the obvious answer.
We can all agree God’s judgment is in the future. Where did all those religions get the ability to see into the future? We have only two choices. Either God or the devil told them about the future. Of course the devil lacks the ability to see into the future. The devil didn’t see how Jesus defeated him in the wilderness. The devil had no idea Jesus was going to raise from that grave. Those simple facts leave us with one conclusion to draw on. Only God could have reached those people with ideas and concepts on the judgment process. Judgment must be a rather important subject for God to reach the entire world on the idea and concept of judgment. So where does that leave us on our search to find out what happens with those people from other religions? They seem to be in the same boat as all the different Christian religions. All the Christian religions claim to communicate with God in one way or another. So why do they all seem to have different concepts on what God told them? Easy. Some people listen better than others. And of course some people like to add their own ideas to what they heard. Others prefer to eliminate a few details because they don’t entirely agree with God. Where does that leave us? Look at how much Jesus blended the judgment process with the Holy Spirit, listening to the Spirit, and learning from the Spirit. If anything, this book has shown how the judgment process is learned step by step. People don’t tear apart a V8 engine without first starting on a small single cylinder engine, learning the concepts, and moving onto bigger and better things. What makes people think they can master the plan of salvation after a five minute conversation with God?
It may seem rather strange to some people when a modern writer talks about the connection between the Holy Spirit and the judgment process. Can we call it God’s plan of salvation for a moment? I’m not making this stuff up. I’m taking popular proof text major Christian denominations use to explain the judgment process and reading a few extra sentences found in those chapters. In other words, I am simply doing what every good Christian should do. I am testing what is being taught, preached, and spoon fed all around this world. Is it a crime to go a little further in the Bible. Or in most cases, review the introduction to that popular proof text? I don’t think so.
John recorded a lot about what Jesus taught on the judgment process. To me it would be a crime not to look at what John and other inspired authors wrote about the judgment process and study exactly how those inspired authors introduced and explained this subject. You see, I know I have two choices. I can either accept what people are teaching. Since I already know different religions have different concepts on the judgment process, I feel it is my responsibility to look into this subject myself. Not by myself. But as the Bible teaches, and the point Jesus tried to make. I want to study along side the Holy Spirit.
John 16:7-13 KJV Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (8) And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (12) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
I decided to use the KJV for this part of the story because I know there is at least one word we need to look up in the Greek dictionary. If you didn’t see at least one word to look up, you’re not listening to the Spirit. That is one thing the Spirit does during Bible Study. The Spirit will tell you to look up certain words. When you follow instructions, you’ll see how the definition of certain words in the Bible have been twisted around. In this example we will look at the word REPROVE.
G1651 ἐλέγχω elegchōb el-eng’-kho
Of uncertain affinity; to confute, admonish: – convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.
In most cases the definition of the word reprove many people use and teach will omit that part about conviction and telling a fault. When we look at the word sin, we can see how conviction falls into place. But when we get to the word judgment, that conviction part of the definition is often left out, or is changed to something along the lines of, “we can prove we are right and the world is wrong.” But who is right and who is wrong? Why did Jesus tie in judgment with a word that means, “to tell a fault.” Common sense would tell us, judgment has a very close relationship to pointing out faults. But who is supposed to point out those faults? It has become common practice for churches to substitute words and phrases like, “church, God’s chosen people, and the saints,” with what John actually recorded. Take a look at what John recorded. Jesus said, “the Comforter.” Who of course is the Holy Spirit. Go ahead. Check the chapter. Jesus was talking about an increased relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not teaching about some modern church age with some new enlightenment that somehow replaced the Holy Spirit. To a large degree it has become acceptable for the modern church to replace the Holy Spirit with one term or another pointing to their particular church. Is that correct? And is that acceptable in Heaven’s court?
When we look at how Jesus presented His defense to the Jewish authorities, we not only see Jesus answering their questions based on their level of knowledge, but we see Jesus going far into the future establishing a new set of warnings for a church that was not even conceived in the mind of a single person back in those days.
Jesus introduced the concept of the Holy Spirit early in His ministry. One night a religious leader by the name of Nicodemus came to see Jesus. Jesus tried to explain the concept of the Holy Spirit to Nicodemus,who seemed rather lost on the subject. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:10 NLTse). Was Nicodemus saved at that moment? We have to admit, Jesus did explain the concept of being saved to Nicodemus. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. (John 3:14-18 NLTse).
One of the most famous verses in the Bible is found in John chapter 3. But most modern Christians start and stop at one verse, knowing little to nothing about the rest of the story that spans more that one chapter. Looking at the context, which is the verses around John 3:16, we can’t help but see there is much more to the story that most modern philosophers are able or willing to explain. We see how Jesus pointed Nicodemus back to a rather short story Moses recorded. This brings up a few valid points to consider. Jesus sent an advanced student of the scriptures back to a story he needed to review. Something was in that story Jesus knew Nicodemus didn’t understand. The story is short and blunt. Israel was once again complaining about the long journey and the manna they grew tired of eating. We know manna was a physical bread from Heaven and also contained a spiritual meaning. It wasn’t by chance that Jesus also sent Nicodemus to a story about that spiritual bread and also talked to Nicodemus about spiritual water. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (John 3:3-6 NLTse).
Many people will miss the majority of those points because they don’t understand how Jesus and the scriptures point willing students to the right information at the proper time. As Jesus made clear to Nicodemus, you may think you are an advanced student of the Bible, but you will never stand a chance of understanding the Bible until you make a connection with the Holy Spirit and learn to follow directions given by the Spirit. Jesus followed those instructions and was able to give Nicodemus the instructions he needed to open his mind and heart to the Spirit. Between John chapter 3 and chapter 7 we find evidence showing us how the Nicodemus established a connection with the Spirit and the effects of that connection. Much like Jesus, Nicodemus was able to send the Pharisees back to the right scripture at the proper time. 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!” (John 7:50-52 NLTse).
Ir took more than an understanding of the spiritual water Jesus talked about. Nicodemus also had to read the story about the snake Moses made and see the connection between salvation and the living bread Jesus also talked about. Jesus added more information about the Spirit the second time we see Nicodemus mentioned in John’s Gospel. On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (John 7:37-39 NLTse). That reminded Nicodemus about their first meeting when Jesus introduced the living water. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (John 3:3-6 NLTse). When we put those two stories together we can see how the Holy Spirit had been teaching Nicodemus to see the spiritual meaning behind that living water and how to put real life events together to see the deeper meaning of spiritual symbols.
Jesus used more than water as a spiritual symbol. Jesus mixed the spiritual water with the spiritual bread. When Nicodemus had only one symbol to consider, he was confused. When Nicodemus put the bread and water together, he began to see spiritual lessons his counterparts could not understand. Jesus and the Holy Spirit placed Nicodemus in a unique position. Nicodemus could see and understand spiritual symbols. Nicodemus could also see how his fellow teachers misunderstood and misused those symbols and other information in scripture.
No one can argue the point, it is easy to see how Jesus pointed out the symbol of living water. John recorded that portion of the conversation. It may be a little difficult to see where the bread comes in. That takes a bit of investigation. Which is what faith means, an investigation. We how see Jesus point directly to bread when He told Nicodemus about the bronze snake Moses made.
When we look at how this information was presented, we have to ask why. Jesus of course was trying to teach Nicodemus how to connect with the Holy Spirit. Jesus used some of the best teaching methods known to mankind. Jesus used actually life examples. In this case, a real life experience. The lesson goes much deeper than that. When the Spirit uses life experiences to teach, the student has to learn how to look back at events. Bible study follows the exact same standard. Notice how the story in John chapter 7 references miracles. Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” (John 7:31 NLTse). To find out what miracles they were referring to, we have no other choice but to look back in John’s Gospel. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. (John 6:11 NLTse). With a free meal comes a free lesson. That is the way Jesus operated. Jesus physically and Spiritually fed people.
After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. (John 6:31-36 NLTse).
Jesus went a step further by tying in spiritual bread with spiritual water. No one made that connection except for Jesus. Now we have a direct connection between spiritual bread, water, and of course the Holy Spirit. We also see how scripture established a connection between spiritual bread, water, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and judgment. According to scripture they are all related, connected, and need to be studied together. Which is what we are doing after we see how those subjects have been linked in scripture.
What does all this teach us on the subject of judgment? There is no doubt, everyone will be judged. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are, or what religion you are. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you know about the judgment process. What matters is, the connection you establish with the Holy Spirit and how much you are willing to learn. Is there salvation without a learning process? Based on the evidence we gathered from two short stories about Nicodemus, we see there is a learning curve. We also see two sides of the story. The Pharisees and other religious leaders rejected the Spirit. They wanted to kill Jesus. They questioned everything about Jesus and judged Him based on their personal understanding of the scriptures. When we look deep enough, we can’t help but notice how the groups disagreed and had different views on the Messiah. They went as far a contradicting themselves. We have to read the entire story to see that. Based on what we’ve seen and read, we should begin to see how those stories not only showed the mentality in Jesus’ day, we also see a prophetic warning for our day.
Denominations still can’t agree on who Jesus was, His role in Heaven, nor the judgment process. That is a living fact today. We cannot trust anyone. We owe it to ourselves to investigate the judgment process by teaming up with the Holy Spirit to find out what that process is, what role we play if any, and exactly what we need to do to be saved.? Is that so difficult to understand?
As students of the Bible, we also want to exercise our freedom, privilege, and responsibility to check other sources. Up to this point we have been looking at information provided by John, Isaiah, and of course Jesus. What did Paul add to this subject?
1 Corinthians 6:1-6 KJV (1) Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? (2) Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (3) Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (4) If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. (5) I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? (6) But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Paul pointed out the responsibility we will take on in the judgment process. We will judge the world as well as angels. That explains why we have to develop an understanding of that judgment process. It is not as simple as some people make it sound. Maybe those people do not want to face or take on the responsibilities. That does not add up to a valid excuse for anyone to use.
Paul is not giving the church any authority to judge, but simply pointing out how important it is to study the subject. “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NLTse). Paul pointed people back to Deuteronomy chapter 22 which has a collection of laws. Most of which dwelt with adultery. Which has a spiritual meaning all its own. Along side of those laws on adultery are a number of other laws. Some are plain and simple to understand. Others seem to have more of a spiritual meaning than a physical real life application. The lesson is. The Pharisees couldn’t agree on all the laws. The Pharisees often twisted laws to suit their own ideas. In any case, an honest Christian with an open mind should see how confusing those laws can be and the point Paul was making. When it comes to the law, we need help from Heaven. We also need help from Heaven to understand any type of judgment. In short terms, no one with less than a perfect understanding of the law should be judging anyone. If the Pharisees couldn’t understand the law, what chance do we have? Sure you can go with the old excuse, “we have Jesus and the New Testament.” Well ask yourself this question. Do you really have Jesus? Or do you have the word of a modern day teacher of the law? Do they have it right? Are they correctly interpreting the New Testament? In most cases, I could prove them wrong. I’m not bragging. Based on what you learned from this book, take those Bible Study concepts and go over what people teach. Test them yourself. Get into the Bible yourself. Not by yourself, but with Jesus. You see, having Jesus is the main thing. The most important thing. The only thing that will keep you on the right side of the judgment process. The only side you want to be on. We don’t have to understand every detail about the judgment process. But based on what we’ve read and studied in this chapter, there is a lot more to the judgment process that most Christian denominations are wiling to teach. The easy way draws crowds, new members, and money. That’s a sad fact in modern Christianity, but it is true. Christians have been making their own brand of nets for hundreds of years. When Jesus called His first disciples, they dropped their nets, their main source of income, and left them behind. Today the fondness of income has become a necessary evil. Income at all cost has became the driving force for some denominations. You know who they are. At least the worst offenders. But how much of that drive has your church borrowed from the money making prosperity movement? I’ve studied the history of a few major denominations to see how they grew from their original conception when they were called from God to break away. Sad to say, they seemed to loose touch with God after a while. Then began to form their own opinions, write their own rules, doctrines, whatever you want to call them. They broke away from the world, then rejoined the world to a degree they felt was safe. Like Cain, they each compromised on the sacrifice they owed God. How could this be? We call that human nature. We go so far with God then reach a point where we say, “God really doesn’t understand how this world works.” That’s when we join with the world to better reach the world. It seems like a plan that cannot fail. It seems like a good plan. We may be able to collect a hand full of scripture to build a base concept. But when YOU look at what they used for proof text, I can bet that the context will show it was from something similar to Paul’s letters where Paul used a man made concept as an example to show what NOT to do. I see that happen all the time. That is what makes proof text so dangerous. A dusty Bible on a shelf may look harmless and innocent, but the devil has uses dusty Bibles to steal eternal life from more people than you can imagine. You’ll never know. You’ll never have an idea how much control the devil has been enjoying in this world until you pick up your Bible and begin reading.
Mark 9:1-13 Some Will Not Die Before They See The Kingdom of Heaven
Mark 9:1-13 NLTse Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” (2) Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, (3) and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. (4) Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. (5) Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials–one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (6) He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. (7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (8) Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and only Jesus was with them. (9) As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (10) So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” (11) Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” (12) Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? (13) But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
Before we can understand chapter 9, we have to look back to see how it relates to chapter 8 where Jesus repeated a lesson the disciples failed to learn the first time Jesus fed a large group. To illustrate His point, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 NLTse). Observing the blank looks on their faces, Jesus asked, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21 NLTse). For some reason the disciples were having a difficult time understanding the lessons Jesus was teaching, information they needed to carry on the ministry once Jesus was gone. To show the disciples how much they were missing, Jesus healed a blind man. Sooner or later the disciples were bound to make the connection.
Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. (Mark 8:31 NLTse). Jesus tried to explain the prophecies concerning His ministry in this world, but the disciples could not understand. They had a difficult time putting away concepts taught by the religious leaders. Jesus knew it was time for a change. If He was going to reach His disciples, He had to explain everything in a whole new light. Jesus told them. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35-38 NLTse). Jesus knew it was time for a new beginning. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5 NLTse).
The lesson Jesus was teaching continued. Jesus was not about to give up. It was time to introduce a new phase, another chapter of their education. Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” To draw attention to the importance of the next lesson, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.
By taking only three disciples, Jesus drew attention to the fact they had to learn how to put away distractions, one of the lessons they should have learned from the parable of the sower and seeds. Jesus needed their undivided attention. He wanted their minds to concentrate on every detail with the understanding they would be teaching the other disciples. The responsibility would help them to remember every detail.
Jesus did not waste any time. Instantly He began to transform. His clothing turned to a brilliant white, a reminder of the parable about the light and how it represented understanding. The disciples noticed the light surrounded Jesus as if it was a part of Him, or radiated from Him. It was a light like no other they had ever seen.
Once Jesus knew He had their attention, the theme was introduced. The disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter continued in his old ways, talking when He should be listening. He suggested they should build a tabernacle for each of them as a memorial. He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. What were they going to build a tabernacle with? There were only three of them. How did Peter, the fisherman plan on accomplishing his idea? It seemed Peter missed the point.
Jesus wanted them to see how Moses and Elijah left the glory of Heaven to comfort Him. There was one point for the disciples to consider, the relationship Jesus had with Moses and Elijah. Jesus spoke with Moses, giving him the ten commandments and the pattern for the Tabernacle. Jesus was with Moses every step through the wilderness, encouraging and testing him. Moses developed a strong relationship with Jesus, praying often, listening, and following instructions to the letter in all but one instance. That one mistake cost Moses the right to enter the promised land until this moment. On this day the disciples saw Moses standing in the promised land with Jesus. He had to wait until now, to show the disciples how to encourage Jesus.
Elijah had his own journey through life to Heaven. He was easily distressed. Jesus was always there to encourage him. Jesus told Elijah about 8000 faithful followers still serving Him. Elijah went from total faith to a complete lack of memory, much like the disciples were experiencing. Elijah’s life was a lesson for the disciples, who also swayed from side to side with their faith. Jesus’ encouragement remained consistent through all of Elijah’s trials. Now it was time for Elijah to encourage Jesus.
This was one of the major lessons Jesus was trying to teach on the mountain. He needed comfort from His friends. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. Like all of us, there is a part of Jesus longing for companionship, a friend, support, an intimate relationship of love, dedication, and mutual support. Jesus already referred to His followers as His brothers and sisters. This is why Jesus left Andrew behind, so Peter would feel the loss, see and understand the lesson in a much deeper and personal manner. Peter could not wait to share every detail with his brother.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” God the Father did not want them to miss the lesson. He was trusting His Son’s feelings and emotions in the hands of the disciples. God wanted them to be as close to Jesus as He and the Holy Spirit were to Christ. God’s heart poured out in ways they could not imagine. He wanted the disciples to feel the same love He felt for His Son. If only they would accept the gift.
In an instant Moses and Elijah were gone, but the image of the meeting was burned in their memories. On the way down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” Even though Jesus explained His death to them, they had no idea what He meant by, “rising from the dead.” Jesus was glad to see them discussing it among themselves. They were beginning to form the bond Jesus had been praying for. That was another reason Jesus left Andrew behind. Jesus did not want them to tell the others, He wanted them to review the scene over and over in their minds, going over each detail to help develop their memories so they could see one lesson after another formulate in their minds with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the three disciples to learn to wait for the entire lesson to be revealed before teaching the details. This was the first in a long series of lessons about relationships.
It was already beginning to work. A connection was forming between James, John, Peter, and the Holy Spirit. Questions were forming in their minds, so they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
Jesus introduced another important facet in their education process, the scriptures. Without them, they would be lost. Their question showed how they still relied on concepts they had been taught as children. They had to learn to put those concepts behind them and look at the written Word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (John 16:12-13 NLTse). Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13 NLTse). This was part of the lesson. The disciples saw how much John’s death effected Jesus. They wondered why Jesus did not visit John in prison. Maybe it was because it was not time for Jesus to appear in Herod’s court. With all the crowds following Jesus, it would have been impossible for Jesus to visit John unnoticed. Not only the crowds, but the Pharisees keeping a constant watch over Jesus. The disciples thought about how lonely John must have been. Suddenly they began to think of how Jesus felt. Was it possible for Him to feel lonely with all the people following Him day in and out? After teaching and healing all day did Jesus need more than what people were offering in return? What could they do to make Jesus feel appreciated?
What did the three disciples learn from this experience? How do we apply it to your walk with Jesus today? Jesus began a new lesson in chapter 9. Jesus is beginning a series of lessons on relationships. He introduced this lesson by showing three disciples His relationship with Moses, Elijah, and God. What do you get out of the lesson when you envision Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah on a mountain? What does the mountain represent? What does Moses and Elijah represent? When you envision the scene, what do you get out of seeing Jesus meeting with Moses, Elijah, and God? What does this teach you about relationships?
Revelation 6:7-11 RSVA When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” (8) And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (9) When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; (10) they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” (11) Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
There may be no better Bible Study Rule than to gather all the information on a subject BEFORE you come to a conclusion. That is an interesting rule. One I wish everyone followed. One of the reasons people find the Bible difficult to understand is the fact, they have to forget so much before they are ready to take a look at what the Bible is actually saying. With that said, let’s see what this chapter is telling us, and how the chapter explains what all those signs, visions, and symbols actual represent.
This chapter of course deals with a series of seven seals. The seals are of course symbolic. The Lamb is symbolic, and of course everything in the vision John saw is symbolic. There is no doubt, John saw those visions in Heaven. There shouldn’t be any doubt, that after each of those visions, someone in Heaven came to John to explain what those symbols represented.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:13-17 RSVA).
At times an angel in Heaven explained one detail. Other times an angel had to go back in history to explain how certain events unfolded, and why the world is going to find itself in some rather precarious positions. The key to understanding Revelation is to pay attention to each vision, and the beginning of each explanation. The entire book follows a pattern of, visions then an explanation for each vision. Common sense tells us the angels provided John with a detailed explanation of the vision he just saw. Why would an angel in Heaven begin a conversation about some unrelated series of events when John expected to hear an explanation for the question at hand? But that’s what some people believe and teach. John saw a vision, then an angel in Heaven came to John and began a conversation about some unrelated event. On the contrary. John did not record a book with the idea of hiding or withholding any information. John did not record a series of events placed in some random, hidden, or coded order. The book of Revelation was recorded with every detail John saw in the order those events unfolded in Heaven. The conversations John experienced in Heaven illustrate Heaven’s perfect order and ability to answer questions. God’s intention was to tell this world what will happen and the sequence those events will follow. God did not lie, and neither did any of those angels. The only deceivers are those people who claim John’s book is a set of events presented in some unknown, mysterious order, and God left this world on its own to figure out the proper sequence.
In other words, the visions John recorded in Revelation are events that would happen in the future, after John wrote his book. Most visions were followed by an explanation. Those explanations backed up in history, then led to the time frame of the vision John had seen. With that in mind, the Book of Revelation begins to clear up. For some reason that seems to confuse people.
The events in Revelation chapters 6 and 7 all pointed to future points in history. An angel asked John what he saw. Of course John didn’t know what any of those symbols represented. So the angel explained what those people in the white robes represented. In this case both the vision and explanation are based on future events. But they are the same event. This writing style is common throughout the Bible beginning in Genesis where chapter 2 added more details to chapter 1. At the very beginning of the scriptures, God explained how all the scriptures are interpreted. One chapter provided an introduction and the following chapter added details. God used this pattern as a type of signature or fingerprint on His Word. That is one method scholars used to verify authentic inspired books and weed out copies, or commentaries non inspired authors wrote. There are of course other patterns and fingerprints God used to verify the books He inspired.
John was not given a specific time frame in this vision. The events could have taken place any time after John wrote his book. Some people think those events happened in our past. Other prefer to think the are going to happen in our future. And some think those events will repeat themselves over time. When we look at a few facts, we can see how death and pestilence have been repeated since John’s time, and even before Johns time. The fifth seal is a controversial issue.
The fifth seal has some facts to consider. “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?”
When we see souls in Heaven, we tend to jump to the world and its views to interpret scripture. But we are not going to do that here. We are going to allow scripture to interpret scripture. Where does the Bible tell us who those souls are, and what they are doing in Heaven? Let’s look at a few details.
No time frame is given. Without facts from the Bible, all we can do is guess. We also have to remember, those souls are symbols. By rule, a symbol always points to something far greater. Some people prefer to think those souls are not symbolic, but are physical. We have to consider all the facts to determine if those souls are physical or spiritual.
The souls are under the altar. What altar? If we began to guess or assume, we may be playing with fire. The Tabernacle had two alters. The sacrificial altar that was outside the tent. And the altar of incense. If we assume the altar of incense, what did that altar represent? We only have to look back one chapter to see that explained.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; (Revelation 5:8 RSVA).
Now we see how the Bible explains the Bible and how symbols are interpreted within the story they are found in. There is never any reason to guess. Now we notice that those souls cried out to God. When we put two and two together, we see how the alter is the altar of incense, and the souls under represent those who pray earnestly to God.
After listening to them, God gives them white robes, and tells them to rest a little longer. We are given the first time frame in this section of Revelation. “Rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete.” From that we know this event takes place before the judgment process is complete.
Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:2-3 RSVA).
After John saw those seals opened, he saw a new vision with four angels holding back the four winds. We know those winds are also symbolic. What about that seal in the saints foreheads? I’ve seen thousands of people studying and telling the world what they think the mark of the beast is. But how many people study God’s seal? Something seems rather strange about that.
Since some people receive a seal, and other people do not, there had to be some sort of decision process before this event. Can we call that a judgment process? It seems as if Revelation is getting ahead of itself. And to a certain degree, it is. But the entire Bible is written with examples showing how God provided a series of warnings. All those warnings pointed to the same event. Each successive warning contained more details. Put them all together and what do you have? A clearer picture of what is about to happen in the future. But there is a catch. No one seems to understand a prophecy until it has been fulfilled. That’s just the way this world is. We have to accept that fact.
So far John was shown a series of visions that eventually led to a brief introduction to the judgment process. Remember, we are going to stick to the judgment process in this series of studies and not get side tracked by guessing at any particular event, or attempt to rely on what the world has been teaching about the symbols John say and wrote about. Instead we are going to allow the Bible to slowly reveal each and every event and symbol concerning the judgment process. I have to warn you. The temptation to interpret symbols based accumulated knowledge is great. And most times nearly impossible to avoid. Let’s be honest about how how the the world views the judgment process. For one thing, very little is known about the actual judgment process God inspired authors to write about. On the other hand, man made concepts thrive in this world. Some people are hooked on the concept, their understanding of the judgment process plays a part in their salvation. Look at how human nature exposes its flaws. Some churches claim they are God’s chosen church. Their proof is rather flimsy to say the least. They claim to hold a sort of key by claiming God revealed more to them then to other churches. But what is that truth they cling onto, and exactly how did God reveal that extra bit of truth to them? I’ve heard churches or at least evangelists claim they have all the truth. If they had all the truth, they would have no problem explaining the law of the prophets Jeremiah wrote about, nor would they have any problem explaining exactly what method God used to provide the exclusive information they are privileged to have.
Thus far we have looked at one example showing how the Bible is designed to answer questions. We have also seen how visions John saw in Heaven were explained by angles and other beings living in Heaven. Based on the few facts the Book of Revelation has revealed, we can fasten onto a few basic study concepts. Symbols are explained in the story they are located. Angels and other beings in Heaven understand the visions and symbols John was shown in Heaven. That tells us not only how the Bible is interpreted, but where to go for those interpretations. No where does the Bible tell us to rely on this world, its teachers, evangelists, or preachers. John never told us, one person or institution will understand his letter, and the rest will be lost. That is a man made concept. If you are stuck on that concept, you have to work to get yourself out of that belief. If you prefer to rely on the world to interpret John’s book for you, that is your loss.
I am going to skip over a great deal of Revelation so we can stick to the judgment at hand. The next mention of the judgment is in chapter 11.
Revelation 11:15-19 MKJV (15) And the seventh angel sounded. And there were great voices in Heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He will reign forever and ever. (16) And the twenty-four elders sitting before God on their thrones, fell on their faces and worshiped God, (17) saying, We thank You, O Lord God Almighty, who are, and who was, and who is coming, because You took Your great power and reigned. (18) And the nations were full of wrath, and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth. (19) And the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant, and there occurred lightnings and voices, and thunders and an earthquake, and a great hail.
Some people may argue the point, how can anyone jump from Revelation chapter 6 all the way to chapter 11 and possibly explain God’s judgment process? This is really following basic Bible Study concepts. Search the Book of Revelation yourself. The judgment is found in chapters 6, 11, 14, 16, and 17-20. I didn’t write the Bible. God did. And that is the way He laid out the judgment process in Revelation. I know we slipped over some of the favorite chapters some people claim to have studied. I hear it all the time from PhD’s and well as common people. There are a number of chapters I skipped over that people talk about all the time. Some churches hold seminars based on some of those chapters. Some churches hang their claim to fame on some of the chapters I skipped over. And yes, some will claim those chapters hold the key to understanding the judgment process. Well they don’t. Go ahead and search the words judge and judgment in Revelation. They jump from chapter 6 to 11. That’s just the way it is and all the arguing isn’t going to change a word in scripture.
After writing a number of chapters on how to get saved, and what Paul, Peter, James, and John wrote about faith, salvation, and the quest to draw closer to God, I have to leave the major part of this study in your hands. I know how people will question this book based on the fact, it covers Revelation, but not the chapter they are familiar with. They will question how anyone can make a comment on God’s judgment process without their coveted chapters.
I’ve attended a lot of seminars, watched a lot of videos, and listened to a lot of sermons on those chapters I decided to omit. I’ve heard so much about those chapters, I could write a dozen books on each of them. But after preparing the material for this book, leaving it sit, praying about it, and waiting for an answer, I decided to go with what was recorded in Revelation and how John recorded it. As I look back at what was covered in those other chapters, I could see how answers the world is familiar with concentrates on the best guesses on what is going to happen in this world. When I follow the sequence John laid out in this book, I can see how we should be concerned with what is happening in Heaven. In my book we will stick with what is happening in Heaven.
The seventh trumpet is the last trumpet in this sequence of events. Like many other books in the Bible, and the collection of books found in the Bible, facts are offered here and there. And it is up to us to gather those facts, verify that they are discussing the same subject, then look at the subject the hand with all the facts we’ve gathered. We aren’t supposed to stop, then look at facts the world has to offer, or tends to offer. Whenever we deal with a future event in prophecy, we are supposed to rely on the Bible and Bible only. I think we can all agree with that fact.
The seventh trumpet obviously points to the closing moments of this world. It is safe to assume, since we are still here, the events symbolized by the seventh trumpet are in the future. When we see something mentioned in the Bible like, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He will reign forever and ever.” What are we supposed to do? Number one, admit we don’t know the answer. We can look at different scenarios, but we still have to keep the door open to information we find in scripture at a later date. What could John mean when he makes reference to the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of the Lord and Christ? Obviously the introduction of the seventh trumpet is pointing us to a time when God gives the kingdoms of this world over to Christ. That is a good place to begin a study on that time period and events describing that particular period. That I can leave up to you so you can hone your skills.
Once we identify a particular time frame, do we guess at the actual events? No. We stick to the facts. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:15-16 KJV).
Of course it helps when you know where to look. The Book of Revelation tells us, King of Kings is a title Jesus will wear. The seventh trumpet pointed us to Jesus’ return. And the Book of Revelation chapter 19 explained why the seventh trumpet introduced the concept of God taking possession of the kingdoms of this world. Of course Revelation chapter 19 contains a lot more details you can read on your own.
John mentioned one important event, the judgment of the dead. Why only the dead? This is showing an import part of the judgment sequence. Those people symbolized by death receive judgment. Saints receive a reward. If we gathered all the facts on this subject, we would find a judgment period only the lost will face.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15 KJV).
So far we have seen how the Book of Revelation introduced one judgment period and explained what that judgment period was in a later chapter. This is not unusual for the Bible to explain itself. And for books in the Bible to explain the symbolism they contain. There is another event or symbol we have to look at. “And the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant, and there occurred lightnings and voices, and thunders and an earthquake, and a great hail.”
What event was this describing? We know the Tabernacle was designed to explain events in Heaven. Many of those events were to be fulfilled long after the Tabernacle disappeared. One service in the Tabernacle describes how the high priest is to enter the Most Holy place once a year.
And he shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times. “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood within the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat; thus he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. (Leviticus 16:14-16 RSVA).
Once again, it is up to you to read the entire chapter. If you do you will see numerous parallels to the few chapters in Revelation mentioned in this chapter. An atonement is a covering. Plain and simple. Strange as it may seem, the same Hebrew word for atonement was also used to describe the covering of tar Noah used to cover his ark. If you think of that and give it some time, you will see a host of underlying spiritual parallels between the flood and Jesus’ return. Also the cleansing of the sanctuary that once a year ceremony inside the Tabernacle represented.
As we move forward in our study on God’s judgment, we have to realize one simple fact. The Bible can and will point us in the right direction to answer questions, identify symbols, and events. That is just what the Bible was designed to do.
In the previous chapter we looked at why it is so important to study the Bible with God’s Spirit. That requires a high degree of communication with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Moses learned to increase that communication skill. But Moses was restricted by the group he had to serve. But how far can we get with our communication with God? We’ll never know until we try.
Most Christians know the stories about Israel crossing the wilderness was a lesson. All those people didn’t die for nothing. We have to learn to look back at a few of those lessons. Israel turned their backs on God. Israel rejected God. Israel second guessed God. They also decided to look at the promised land based on their own senses and ignore God’s command to walk right in and take it over. Israel could not get past their worldly, human senses. That is one lesson we have to learn before we can understand the judgment system.
There’s no doubt, God judged Israel and the outcome was not good for the people who decided to put Moses between themselves and God. All the people who chose to accept the eyewitness account of the promised land over God’s view lost their lives. They never made it to the promised land. Which of course is a symbol of reaching eternal life in the Promised Land. Here we will take a look at a few of the warnings God shared with Israel.
Deuteronomy 28:44-48 NLTse (44) They will lend money to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail! (45) “If you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and to obey the commands and decrees he has given you, all these curses will pursue and overtake you until you are destroyed. (46) These horrors will serve as a sign and warning among you and your descendants forever. (47) If you do not serve the LORD your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, (48) you will serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The LORD will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.
See entire chapter
What does that have to do with God’s judgment process? We have to look at the lessons that were supposed to be handed down from one generation to the next. Whenever we place anyone between us and God, who are we serving? Are we serving God with joy and enthusiasm? Or are we looking for an easy way out? Are we serving God or the person we place between ourselves and God?
Do you know how to test what you are taught by human beings? Do you read the entire story they quote from? Do you compare what they tell you to other stories in the Bible? If you’re not, all you are doing is taking the easy way out. You are cheating yourself of time with God. And cheating Jesus who is patiently waiting for you to spend time with Him.
You will be left spiritually hungry, thirsty, and naked. Where will that leave you? When you hear something new, will you reject it? Or will you run to your teacher to have them test it for you? Neither one of those choices does nothing to get you closer to God. In a sense, you are serving an idol. Is that idol yourself or another person you put in place of Christ? Let’s take a look at another part of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 29:17-21 NLTse (17) You have seen their detestable practices and their idols made of wood, stone, silver, and gold. (18) I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you–no man, woman, clan, or tribe–will turn away from the LORD our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit. (19) “Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin! (20) The LORD will never pardon such people. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will come down on them, and the LORD will erase their names from under heaven. (21) The LORD will separate them from all the tribes of Israel, to pour out on them all the curses of the covenant recorded in this Book of Instruction.
Here is a reference to God’s judgment. Taking your name out of the names under Heaven is a rather serious action. It points to a loss of eternal life. When we look at those lessons under the viewpoint of the judgment process, we can see a few spiritual lessons. Idols and false gods take on a whole new meaning. False gods can be anything. Money, items, people you idolize, sometime it can be beliefs or doctrines contrary to the Bible. Those can be muddy waters.
A stubborn heart can be an idol and false god. Those are the ones we have to learn to put away. Do you know everything about God’s judgment? Of course you don’t. If you did, you’d know exactly what Jesus is doing today. There are a lot of questions we don’t have the answer to. We have to learn to be patient. We have to learn to be open. We have to learn to know God’s voice and instructions. We don’t seem to hear God’s voice the way Israel did. But we have the New Testament with a much clearer view of God’s plan of salvation. We have all that information at our finger tips, but what are we doing with it?
The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37 RSVA).
Jesus built upon those lessons Moses recorded and explained those lessons in plain, easy to understand language. A good man does good. A evil man hands out evil. That includes all kinds of problems. In the end, your words will either justify you, or condemn you.
Do your words really justify you? That all depends on what your words are. If your words plead with Jesus to forgive you and claim His blood and sacrifice as your shield and protection, you will be forgiven. And on the other hand, of you depend on yourself, you think you have everything figured out, and try to appear like you know it all, you better watch out. Let’s take a look at the next story in Matthew chapter 12.
Matthew 12:40-45 KJV For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (41) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (42) The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. (43) When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (44) Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (45) Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
We see the word judgment pop up in this story. It appears some of the last people we would expect to see in Heaven will he there judging other people. We can take a closer look at that process later. The point here is, the judgment process is noting like any of us imagine it to be. When it comes to God’s plans, there are always twists and turns we find difficult to wrap our human minds around.
Then Jesus told a story about a demon leaving a person and returning with seven other spirits. In other words, when you begin that transformation process, that preparation process to accept the scriptures, don’t turn back. The devil is patiently lying in the weeds ready to send out reinforcements.