After being under house arrest for over a month, what do you have to show for it? What have you learned from this experience? Have you been listening to what God has been trying to teach you?
We wake up to what? Turn on the TV and the airwaves are jammed with celebrities and other people telling you how they entertain themselves. Celebrities who have made millions of dollars from entertaining this world. They can teach you how to be as self centered as themselves. But where does that get you when you don’t have the money they have? The news tells you how many people have been infected and how many people died. Death sums up this world. In the world today there is no escaping death, sickness, misery, and isolation. Is that what money brings, or does money free you from death, sickness, and isolation? Today we all have one thing in common, isolation. Why not learn to use that isolation to your advantage?
My study of the Bible has taught me how to escape this world for a moment, a few minutes, and maybe an hour. To place myself in a special place where birds are singing. A place where I can appreciate the peace, quite, and solitude. A place where I can be with God and hear His voice much like Enoch did. What has your study of the scripture taught you?
No one can really describe Heaven or God’s throne. Human words will never be adequate. You first have to realize why God always uses symbols in dreams and visions. That is the key that opens the door to understanding. Then you can begin to learn to communicate in the language of Heaven.
For generations humans have been trying to explain God’s symbols. That has been a total failure. Symbols are explained in the Bible. Symbols are explained in the stories they are found. Many times in the same chapter. Keep in mind, stories in the Bible often go on for a number of chapters. Some books in the Bible are one long story. You first have to recognize the beginning and end of a story before you can hope to learn how to find the interpretation to symbols used in that story. Learning to read the Bible is nothing more than paying attention to the literary arrangement of the books in the Bible. How each story is constructed. When you see the construction and layout of each story, understanding becomes as simple as looking at a blueprint or looking at a full picture instead of trying to imagine the scene in a picture by examining only a small, isolated segment of that picture. Everyone knows that in their heart. But the way the world teaches understanding is contrary to true understanding and infinite knowledge. No one can ever explain scripture from a view point based on this world or human understanding. That is like trying to explain peace in the middle of a war.
We are in a constant state of war in this world. The first son born to Adam and Eve killed his younger brother. The brother he was supposed to care and watch over. The first son born in this world was totally caught up in this world of sin and lost sight of Heaven. That is a lesson this world should have never forgotten. But the world was destined to rally into the the world Cain forged in his imagination. Heaven was gone. Paradise was lost. Working the fields was time spent blaming God for those loses. Cain never gave a moment of thought to how his father turned his back on God and accepted the advise of his wife and the devil who influenced her. Blame was placed on the Creator, and the truth has been ignored since the beginning of mankind.
Things would have been different if Cain gave thanks to God for the little things in life. The earth, the ground he dug in, and the seeds he planted. Thanks for the sunlight and water God provided to nourish the seed. Thanks for the minerals in the ground that helped the plants grow. God created the perfect system. Unseen elements worked in conjunction with one another to produce food. God placed little unseen factories inside each seed to combine water, sunlight, minerals from the soil, and carbon dioxide to produce fibers. God gave each seed the knowledge to place each molecule in perfect strands to produce a wide variety of elements to carry nutrients, add strength and stability, and yet sway in the wind. Each seed had the ability to produce and multiply cells with specific tasks. Some gather sunlight. Other cells gather water. Some cells knew how to separate carbon dioxide from the air and send those atoms to the right place where other cells did the task of combining the right amount of water, carbon dioxide, and the right minerals to produce the cells the plant needed to grow. Other cells carried those cells to the right place and laid them all in perfect order. This happens millions of times a day in every plant. God placed all of that knowledge in each seed and every cell that seed produces. All of those cells work in a perfect harmony with no other leader, commander, or individual other than God. God’s little factories are unseen, but they still work. Every cell in every living plant and creature has a role and fulfills that role without question. That was until Eve decided to question God. Then Adam questioned God. And that habit was passed onto Cain. Who passed it onto the rest of mankind.
Everyone knows what happened to Enoch. And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24 KJV).
The Bible doesn’t fill in a whole lot of details about Enoch, but we have to remember, the Bible communicates in symbols. What does Enoch’s son represent? In human terms, a father and son relationship represent a relationship with God. What does it mean to walk with God. As usual, we need a Hebrew dictionary. When we look at the Hebrew word for walk, it encompasses much more than the English standard definition. It means to walk beside, exercise, grow along side, and a host of other words and terms that help to define a relationship. We know for certain Enoch walked along side God and they conversed. They had discussions. Enoch got to know God and of course God knew Enoch. Since that series of short stories in the Bible fails to disclose other encounters with God at that time, we have to look at the actual picture it paints for us. Enoch’s meeting with God were exclusive. Enoch had to get away from the world to meet with God. They didn’t meet in public places for a cup of coffee, or at the village square for everyone to see. No one recorded such a meeting and the Bible paints a picture of one man walking with God. Only one man left this planet to be with God in Heaven. Enoch got away from this world and meet God in secluded places. That is what we need to do. That is the first step to walking in Enoch’s footsteps and meeting with God like he did.
Imagine yourself in a secluded spot. Or better yet, get in a secluded area away from this world. Separate yourself from this world and prepare to meet your Creator. Listen to the birds. In the city you are more than likely to hear crows. Scavengers that remind you of this world and distract you. In the wilderness you can hear, feel, and see God’s creation. You can smell the scents God placed in this world for you to enjoy. You can see how birds, animals, and insects interact with nature. You can see how God provides for them even in a world of sin. You can feel the sunlight, soft breezes, and hear the leaves rustle in the wind. A symbol Jesus once used to describe the Holy Spirit. Now you are in God’s world. Or something close to His original creation. The main thing is to avoid and eliminate every distraction so you can walk with God. Now you are following in Enoch’s footsteps.
What do you hear? What do you see? Remember, God communicates in symbols. Is God giving you a promise or a warning? When I went into that secluded world I saw a house and somehow knew that house would unfold and reveal something. The roof had a dividing line where it would separate. I needed ropes to pull the house down from the top of the roof and I knew the house was designed to rotate along the walls to fold down and reveal what was inside. It was a team effort to pull the one side of that house down. Inside was a nasty looking old man, green in complexion from the lack of a healthy diet. He was fat with a long distorted chin, thin pale lips, inset eyes, super skinny long hands and fingers with long wicked looking finger nails. His left hand reached over to mounds of cockroaches he scooped up and piled into his mouth. The man was fake news. He fed off people with no common sense, only a primitive drive to survive and please themselves. No matter how many he ate, his food supply was not exhausted.
Most Christians seem to believe there will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days. According to Peter, that outpouring began on Pentecost and has continued ever since.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: “And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon My slaves and My slave women, and they shall prophesy. And I will give wonders in the heaven above, and miracles on the earth below, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious Day of the Lord. And it shall be that everyone who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
And hearing this, they were stabbed in the heart, and said to Peter and to the other apostles, Men, brothers, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all those afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:16-21, 37-39 MKJV)
The Bible never talks about an outpouring then a withdraw of the Holy Spirit. That is a man made concept started by those who joined forces with the one who placed himself above God and refused to listen to the Holy Spirit. Those who considered themselves wiser than God. Teachers who do not believe God cannot understand modern society.
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,’ yet you are but a man, and no god, though you consider yourself as wise as a god– you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have gotten wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth– therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you consider yourself as wise as a god, therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They shall thrust you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who slay you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who wound you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 28:1-10 RSVA).
I’ve lost count of the Christian churches who insist the church and its committees have taken the place of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. “A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” (John 16:13-16 RSVA). According to Jesus, the Spirit will guide us. The Spirit is all truth. Jesus never mentioned any person, church, or committee. That is all man made lies designed to distract and control people.
This world is filled with distractions. Satan introduced those distractions in Heaven and was thrown out of Heaven because he thought his trade system was better than God’s.
I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. “You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” (Ezekiel 28:14-19 NLTse).
Look at all the distractions we face today that are tied to money. Fake news is a prime example. Fake news is based on lies. Lies attract the attention of masses of people. Those lies do nothing but waste time and make tons of money for the website owner. I saw one fake news website with over 60 ads. No one knows for sure how much those sites make. Google, the leading ad service provider publishes one set of rates for average websites, but has a totally different pay scale for mega sites with thousands of views a day.
Advertisers bid for ad space on a website. The more views the website has, the higher price they demand for ad space. Many of those sites receive $20-$30 for every 1000 views. Whenever someone opens one of those sites, it counts as one visit or hit. For every viewer the website is paid 2.5 cents per ad. With 60 ads, the website is paid $1.50 for every visit, or every page viewed. Visit 4 pages on that site and you put $6 in the pocket of the website owner. People share the strangest stories. The greater the lie, the more the story is shared. Everyone who shares that story on social media puts at least $15.00 in the devils pocket. Share that fake news story on social media, 10 people view that story, and each one of them places $1.50 in the pockets of the devil. Not only that, but everyone who shares fake news adds to the devil’s plan to distract people and waste time.
Fake news may be the largest distraction the devil uses today. Fake news covers religious sites that hit the Internet with an endless stream of guesses at prophecies that do nothing but steal time from personal study and persuade innocent sheep some group or qualified person has some special gift to do their studies for them. If one of those fake news religious sites actually had one minute of contact with the Holy Spirit, they would be publishing stories about their contact with the Holy Spirit and telling people how the Holy Spirit communicates with this world. They would also be teaching people how to study scripture on their own. The Holy Spirit would teach them how to use scripture to show God exists, and is in control of this world.
Fake new distracts people with false stories along political lines. Artificial intelligence has been introduced to computer systems for nearly a generation. Since about 2011 artificial intelligence has been used to market products via the Internet.
Companies are using systems that employ data-mining algorithms that analyze the customer database, giving further insight into the customer. This information may refer to socio-economic characteristics, earlier interactions with the customer, and information about the purchase history of the customer. Various systems have been designed to give organizations control over their data. Automation tools allow the system to monitor the performance of campaigns, making regular adjustments to the campaigns to improve response rates and to provide campaign performance tracking.
Artificial Intelligence has been integrated into news and media sites to track viewers, analyze viewers habits, and post news stones designed to attract their attention. A story is written, added to the artificial intelligence program and the computer customizes the story for the individual viewer. News sites love to use artificial intelligence to reconfigure political stories and offer articles designed for the taste of each particular viewer. Not only are ads designed to lure viewers, so is the news you read.
Turn on the TV and their broadcasts are designed around distractions during this stay at home order. TV stations flood the airwaves with every idea to entertain yourself. Stories on how famous people cope with being shut ins. And of course the latest movies and other distractions. The devil doesn’t want you to have a moment to yourself. Not when you can watch news about the latest protests. Protests designed around regaining the worldly definition of freedom. A brand of freedom the devil invented in Heaven and was banished to this world to experiment with. Well how has that experiment been working?
The devil believes angels, and all of God’s creation can obtain a higher level if God loosened up a few laws. The devil believes in a system where competition brings out the best in God’s creation and the most able beings will display a higher level of intelligence and understanding if given the opportunity. Those individuals will display their leadership and organizational skills and help shape a society above and beyond what God created. In this world we call the devil’s idea the monetary system. This world runs on money. Everything in this world relies on money. When this virus hit, the world was faced with two major concerns, death and money. Plans were simultaneously initiated to solve both issues, contain and cure the virus, and prop up the economy. Think of this. The virus and the economy were both Satan’s invention. Within hours the Internet and media shifted all the attention off God and placed all the attention on that virus and the economy. The devil did exactly what he wanted to do, place all the attention on himself. Not that there was a lot of attention on God before that virus hit. But when it did hit, the devil was able to control the attention of even the most devoted Christian.
The devil has been investing in other distractions. Spaceship sightings, super sized meteors threatening this world, a thousand conspiracy rumors, and all of those one world government and mark of the beast stories. All lies. All distractions invested by the devil and his agents to take attention off God and place it where? On the people running to be the first to use lies to find fame and fortune.
One of the most threatening distractions the world faces today is the political promise of making lives easier with more equality and freedom for all. We have come to know those ideals are socialism. The promises of a free and equal society with a central government that ensures all people are a part of one common class. The devil is rather sly. On one hand the devil is promising the very society he despised in Heaven. In Heaven everyone is equal. God provides everything. Food, clothing, homes, and more. The devil knows the Spirit is trying to reach people by teaching them about Heaven. So the devil distorts a few of the facts and offers his own personal brand of social equality. The proof is in what the devil actually offers and has delivered. World history is filled with promises of an advanced society based on total equality. We have to look at who the devil recruited to establish those societies. Hitler,Lennon, Marx, Poe Pot, and others made promises of an advanced society where everyone is equal. Look at what those people delivered. As soon as they were in power, each of those leaders set out on a mission of genocide. Next to viruses, socialism in all its forms is responsible for killing more people than anything else in this world. Well wars may be responsible for more deaths. But those are the top three weapons the devil uses, viruses, wars, and socialism.
It may seem rather strange to think God’s judgment is mentioned during the last seven plagues. Once we look at the context, we can understand why the world is reminded about God’s judgment at that particular time.
Revelation 16:1-8 RSVA Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” (2) So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and foul and evil sores came upon the men who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. (3) The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea. (4) The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of water, and they became blood. (5) And I heard the angel of water say, “Just art thou in these thy judgments, thou who art and wast, O Holy One. (6) For men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink. It is their due!” (7) And I heard the altar cry, “Yea, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are thy judgments!” (8) The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch men with fire;
In both cases the angels are glorifying God by agreeing His judgments are just. Those angels witnessed every step of the judgment process. They spent years watching the dead being judged. They reviewed the lives of the dead. Angels knew the people who were being judged. Angels came to save those people, aided them in times of crisis and were with them every step of their lives. Angels saw those people sin, take advantage of other people, learn evil crafts, and pass those energies off to other people. Angels from Heaven saw the influence Satan’s angels had on them. Heavenly angels tried to break those chains Satan’s team of angels wound around them. Time and time again Angels from Heaven sent them good people to confer with and learn from. The good angels tried to surround their lives with aspects that would lead them to Christ, back to God, and to salvation. Time and time again those angels and the influences they sent were rejected. Time after time the healing, favors, and miracles Heavenly angels brought into their lives was accepted with little or no appreciation. Finally the breath left their bodies and there was nothing anyone could do for them. All they could do is rest in the dust until they were raised to hear the verdict.
Some did listen to those Heavenly angels. Some people became human messengers for the angels in Heaven. Some people constantly prayed to God and listened to the voice of God’s Spirit. Some people understood and appreciated the sacrifice Jesus made for them. They knew they could never pay Jesus back for what He had done for them, but they could dedicate their lives to being His servant. “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12 RSVA).
There will only be two classes in the end. Those who are saved, and those who are lost. Suffice to say, those who are lost have nothing to loose. The enemy denies their loss, defends them, and convinces the lost, they have everything to gain. Hence the battle between good and evil reaches its apex. And the universe will witness the outcome.
God’s followers become an instant target. Satan can and will point out everyone of them. Satan knows he’s been judged. And he knows the outcome. Satan has nothing to loose. One goal is to take as many people down with his as he can. But what about God’s people?
Satan enjoyed nothing more during his exile on this planet than to watch Christ suffer. Christ is in Heaven and untouchable. Christ has the power and authority to destroy Satan and all his follows with a single word. Satan has nothing better to do than take advantage of the time he has left. He’s seen millions die in thousands of ways. The best Satan can hope for is a quick, painless death. In the mean time, he can work his magic and make the last living followers of God pay for the fate Satan is about to face.
Of course there is more to the story. The living will eventually be judged. They have to be judged so the Heavenly angels know who to protect, and who to leave to Satan and his ways. What will life be like when Satan has almost total control over this world? I don’t think anyone can imagine what can happen. How far will he go with wars, persecution, slavery, and seeking revenge on the few remaining people who choose to follow God during those perilous times? No one can imagine that scene. No one will be ready for that scene.
I am not going to try and interpret those plagues. Thousands have tried and failed. Most of them place many of the events in the past. Based on the fact many of today’s modern day prophets have used a dozen or so world events to pin point the day one or more of those plagues were going to be fulfilled, you can easily see why. Satan wants to take the minds of all of his followers off the inevitable. Satan wants them as confused as possible so that when it comes time for him to unleash his plan, no one will have any idea what John recorded 2000 years ago.
When we take a brief look at those plagues, the first will place an identifying mark on the lost. They will be covered with boils. God’s followers will stick out like a sore thumb. Or in this case, the only good thumb. We can take a fictitious look at the first plague. Keep in mind. This is not a vision or any claim this is the way the first plague will actually happen. It is only an educated guess based on a lot of prayer, and a few details from similar issues.
At first only a few people break out with infectious boils. Not enough to cause any instant alarm, but it was quickly evident these were no ordinary boils. The sores were contagious. Not deadly, but very irritating and noticeable.
Within a few days the same sores began to show up in different parts of the world. But who was interested in a few sick people scattered in different parts of the world? The sores spread quickly. One person could easily effect fifty in a day. One person would show up to work with a small sore and by the end of the week an entire office building would be infected. Then the local markets, apartment buildings, and it seemed like the entire city was infected. Some countries began to quarantine entire cities. That didn’t seem to stop the virus.
By the time the news media noticed the story, millions were infected and the soars were spreading faster than the wind. The media interviewed everyone they could. Scientists with no actual experience in the matter made claims on national and worldwide TV. Some said it was a wind born virus. Other claimed it was carried by birds. People blamed the airlines for the quick spread. Investigations showed airlines had no virus detection system and was ill equipped to deal with the situation. Government officials blamed the airlines for having less than adequate air filtration systems on planes. New laws were passed. Apartment buildings and businesses were the next victims on the wave of new laws designed to impress citizens with the concern and quick response from governments. But all the laws were made void by the fact the virus spread so fast, companies were shutting down.
Police and medical personal were the first to begin using charcoal filtered breathing masks that seemed to help. Sales shot up and in days shelves were cleared. Plants were understaffed at first. At first companies banned infected personal from working. When staffing became so lean, management asked infected worker to report to work. It seemed like the end of the world. Many workers wondered why they would show up and work for the few who remained uninfected. They felt like they were being used. Production of all kinds ground to a halt. First is was only a few offices. Factories quickly followed. Then stores, fuel production and distribution, and then food production as the virus reached the out skirts. Now it was time to panic.
Satan had no idea what to do. He didn’t want to arouse suspicion. Of course he pointed people so far away from the Bible, no one thought of checking scripture when it was being fulfilled. It was best to allow science to introduce guesses from one end of the spectrum to the other. The more he had people guessing the better. That of course was the beginning of some rather deep divisions.
Countries began to blame countries. Scientific communities accused one another of withholding information. Medical professionals introduced cures that caused more harm then good. It seemed like the sores covered the entire world in just a few months and science was no closer to explaining the cause than when it first appeared.
Countries began to launch investigations to locate the original source. Some countries used this as an opportunity to accuse their enemies of planing an attack or experimenting with germ warfare.
When we look at this series of plagues, we can see how one plague can turn the world upside down. But a series of plagues. Plagues no one can explain. Of course there will be hundreds of explanations. People will bow down to their favorite news media gods for answers and solutions. The news media will do their best to tell the world their future. But none of that will help.
If we looked back, we would see how those plagues remind us of the plagues in Egypt. If we want to learn anything about those plagues to come, why don’t we look at the plagues that have past? One detail stands out. Pharaoh was a type of symbol pointing to Satan in a few small ways. We have to give Satan the benefit of the doubt. All symbols point to something greater. And of course Satan is greater than Pharaoh. What parts of Pharaoh help us to understand Satan?
Both started their own religions. Both considered themselves gods. Both had plans to control the masses. Both enslaved people. Both fought against and tried to annihilated God’s people. Pharaoh and Satan did seem to have a lot in common. But its not our role to study the devil and give him credit for the world he messed up. Our job is to keep our eyes on Heaven.
When was the last time you heard about water turning into blood. That would have been Moses and Aaron when they were trying to get their flock out of Egypt. Interesting how many parallels there are to the exodus and the last plagues. Not exactly alike, but enough to send us to a place to study. But who wants to be told where and what to study when they can fabricate their own assumptions? As always, men will be men. Or shall I say boys when it comes to scripture.
I don’t think we should ignore the news. But we have to be careful about how the devil is using news to conform minds and led them in the direction he wants them to go. Then when it is time, he can direct people in the direction he wants them to go. I’ve seen a perfect example of that on the news this week.
You can search that prostitution ring in Florida all you want. The only news you are going to get is page after page of a football team owner and other billionaires having sex with women in a message parlor. Well maybe that is all people are interested in. Or maybe this type of manipulation is part of Satan’s plan.
Sure people are guilty of paying for sex. But that’s not one tenth of the story at hand. What about the girls? What about the people who are running the massage parlors? They are kidnapping young woman, bringing them to the US, and making sex slaves out of them. But how? The police have hundreds to women to question. Can’t they get information from those girls and come up with a plan to warn those in other countries trying to get into the US? I am tired of hearing stories about illegal aliens in the country, and when we hear a story about women being enslaved, no one seems to care. No one seems to have made the connection. Why? Has America been so dumbed down by the media? Their minds are working at 1/100th speed? If we gave the story a moment and a shred of thought, we’d see there are greater victims than the billionaires. Those women were made slaves in the United States. And no one seems to give a hoot.
Satan is having a field day with this. He just proved how he controls the media and how people are controlled by the media. Set up a human sacrifice, and no one seems to know the time of day. All they want to do is see a rich guy hung. That ain’t gonna happen. So don’t hold your breath.
Remember the story about Saul? Satan used Saul. Satan sent demons to control Saul. When Satan was done using Saul, he couldn’t wait to tell Saul he was going to die. That’s what Satan does. He uses people then throws them away.
Satan will make people successful for a reason. Satan uses successful people to restrain, control, and persecute the masses. Satan used Pharaoh and a host of others. The Bible is full of stories where God controlled people. God controlled kings, nations, and armies. God told then to go, and they went. On the same token, the devil uses people, kings, and armies to do his own bidding. This planet is like one big chess board with God and the devil shifting pawns around to different parts of the board. Of course God has a set of rules. And God knows every move the devil is going to make before he makes it.
Then of course Satan has limits, and he knows how to push them. Satan is not as smart as some people make him out to be. Satan knows little about the Bible. He couldn’t know the Bible without the Spirit. When you talk to someone about the scriptures, you can tell if they have the Spirit or not. And it is getting difficult to find people with a connection with the Spirit.
Satan has no choice but to test humans to find out what makes them tick, think, and react. It is not all that difficult to figure out. It is much like training a dog. Once you train a dog, you always know how they will react to a specified command. It is that simple. If you think I am making that up, look up the word worship. Or you can page back to chapter 13 in this book where worship was covered.
The Greek just happened to use the loyalty of a dog to help define worship. That wasn’t my choice. The Greek did it long before I was around. It does seem rather odd. What do we do when we find strange things in the Bible? Of course we put on our thinking caps and blurt out the first thing that pops into our mind. Sorry– that’s social media. Here, our task is to study scripture, we put it aside for a time and pray about it. And I mean listen when we pray.
The Greek inserted that little blurb about a dog for a reason. God isn’t training us like dogs. Otherwise we’d still be in Eden. Satan is the one trying to train us to be like and react like dogs. And this is how.
A news story comes out about a rich guy having sex at a message parlor. People are trained to sniff for blood. They want to see heads roll. Especially the heads of rich people. Satan has one class that has its own rich people, but the majority is poor. They are against everyone – sometimes for no reason at all. A different political party seems to be their favorite motive for the time being.
So a rich guy from the other side of the tracks makes a major mistake. Forget the fact those women were slaves. And many of the people shouting for blood also make a host of comments about slavery. But their minds are so controlled, they can’t see any connection. Both sides of the tracks are looking for blood based on the fact, that guy is filthy rich. People from both sides of the tracks cry out for blood like they are getting that guy’s money when he goes to jail. But that ain’t gonna happen. Satan has a way of introducing subjects that don’t exist, and making it seem like they could exist. It is like offering a dog a treat.
Now Satan knows what type of reaction he will get when he offers a human sacrifice. People will look at the sacrifice in front to them and not notice the army of demons behind them. They have no idea how hard those demons had to work to pull that stunt off. People just call the act, human nature. It is human nature to look at the set of facts the master, or teacher present and pay total attention to that one fact and ignore the rest. Satan is gathering a host of information from this stunt. And he will soon use that knowledge.
If those last plagues are around the corner, Satan has to know how many people he controls and how far he can push them. If someone doesn’t want to cooperate, no problem. Satan has people waiting in line. When the plagues do come. Satan has to push and push hard. He has to put a few key people into action. This time he has to convince the general public into calling for the sacrifice of innocent people – God’s people. That may not be as easy as it sounds. So Satan has to practice his dark art for the time being.
John 16:1-33 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. (5) “But now I am goingaway to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’srighteousness, and of the comingjudgment. (9) The world’ssin is that it refuses to believe in me. (10) Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) 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. (14) He will bring me glory by tellingyou whatever he receives from me. (15) All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tellyou whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciplesasked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (23) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speakingfiguratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesusasked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
How many chapters in the Bible begin like this one? “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” What does that say to you? Shouldn’t we go back and and review what Jesus told them? Let me ask you a question first. How much do you remember? ……… Do you think we need a review?
Do you remember how Jesus began this discussion? “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2 NLTse). But wait, we have to go back to the beginning of this long lesson John recorded. Call it respect. Do you remember where this lesson began? Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (John 13:1 NLTse).
These become really serious lessons when we look back at them with the context of chapter 16. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Jesus told them all those things He taught and all those lessons were given to them so they wouldn’t abandon their faith.
What is that foot washing lesson teaching us about keeping our faith? If you don’t know, there is a lot you have to review. Jesus told them, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” When will that day come?
Don’t feel bad. The disciples didn’t understand either. So Jesus explain the meaning. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15 NLTse). Now all you have to do is experience the act to learn the lesson. It is a personal lesson no one can explain. The fact of the matter is, Jesus washed their feet to show them the close relationship He wanted with them. So He did something they would never forget. Do you remember what it’s like to be in love? It’s not unusual to do something for the one your in love with they will never forget.
Jesus also wanted them to learn how to serve each other. Learn that process. Love Jesus. Help people close to you and encourage them. That will make you ready to help people you meet along life’s road.
Jesus told them the love they show for one another will prove to the world whose disciples they are. Their knowledge of the Bible, doctrines and traditions they keep won’t prove a thing. Only that love they show for each other will prove it. No wonder the work is progressing so slow.
Then Jesus told them about that house He is building for them. This is my favorite part. I like thinking about that house and some of its features from time to time. If nothing else, that helps keep my faith strong. It helps me from being discouraged. It helps me build and maintain a vision of Heaven.
That’s when Jesus told us, He is just like His Father. Or we can look at it as God is just like Jesus. Can you imagine a God, the God and Creator of the universe is a servant just like Jesus? Is God really as simple and unassuming as Jesus? Is God really willing to give up everything for us on this tiny little planet in this solar system? That’s hard to imagine. It is worth keeping the faith just to see God, meet Him, to find out He is as humble and patient as Jesus.
Jesus emphasized the point, He is just like His Father and His Father is just like Him, and repeated it a number of times so His disciples would remember the lesson. Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him. The detail that haunts me is how Jesus remained silent throughout His trials. Not just one trial, but the trial in front of the priests, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again. Four trials and hardly a word. Do you some times feel Jesus is silent when you pray?
There is a lesson in Jesus’ silence far deeper than we can imagine, but shouldn’t be difficult for us to figure out. First we have to put ourselves aside to understand why Jesus is silent when we pray. By ourselves, I mean our selfishness. We always seem to pray like it is all about us. Make my life more comfortable. Help me with this. Give me that. And to be safe, we close with, “if it’s your will.” And of course, I think most people have been taught to add, “in Jesus’ name,” at the end of every prayer. It may seem strange, Jesus told us in those chapters, if we ask anything in His name it will be given to us. But let’s back up a little here.
When we pray in God’s will, are we listening in God’s will? We are in John chapter 16 in this book. Are there any examples where Jesus told anyone how to make their life more comfortable, or gave them anything like we ask for, lowered taxes, solved a dispute, gave advice, or told them what to do next in life? There’s not one example of any of that happening. Don’t stretch the healing Jesus did as a license to ask for specific things in your life, not material things. Don’t look at the advice Jesus gave Nicodemus or the woman in Samaria as a sign Jesus tells you want to do in life. Jesus offered knowledge, and pointed them to God’s Spirit. Jesus gave us few simple processes to follow to reach out to people. Those stories were recorded for us to learn from. The lessons are so vast, distinct, and personal, no one can list all of the details or lessons.
It seems like when we pray for answers in our own lives, Jesus goes as silent as He was in those trials. Why? What were those people trying to do? I don’t want to jump ahead at this point to study specific details, but we will look at the general back ground.
The priests made up their minds and decided on a verdict before Jesus’ trial. This is how a lot of people pray. Why would Jesus defend himself in front of a room full of priests who made up their minds before He was delivered to the masquerade party they called a trial? Prayers can become much like that trial. Minds are made up before a request is made and people want God to perform a predetermined outcome.
I am going to skip to Herod next. He wanted Jesus to preform a miracle. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because He didn’t really believe in Jesus. Herod had a lust for power and he would have used Jesus’ ability to perform miracles to his advantage. Herod was a fool. He never thought things through. His wife tricked him into killing John the Baptist.
Pilate on the other hand had a desire to know the truth. Like Herod, Pilate heard every detail about Jesus. It was their job to know everything that went on under their jurisdiction. Their lives depended on it. But Pilate really wanted to know. Pilate was fairly, but not completely convinced Jesus was from God. Pilate didn’t want to kill Jesus, but eventually caved into pressure. Even if Jesus told us what to do next, would we do it, or cave into the pressures of the world? Remember, the enemy is always trying to stay a step ahead. Just a side note here. Did you notice a parallel to prayer and the parable of the farmer sowing seeds?
When we pray in God’s will, why don’t we look into scripture to find out what His will is? God had sixty six books written by dozens of inspired authors over I don’t know how many generations. All of those books contain stories about people and most of those books, maybe all of them contain prophecies about Jesus or their recorded fulfillment. Put them all together and we can easily see how Jesus understood what was going to happen and why. Jesus also saw what He needed to do. How many times did Jesus ask His disciples if they saw Him? He meant actually saw Him. If they searched the scriptures, they would have seen the real Jesus and what was about to happen. Look at where this lesson is placed and tell me you can’t see the spiritual significance.
How many times did Jesus tell His disciples to be just like God over the past few chapters? If we’re supposed to be like Jesus, where will we find answers to our prayers? The same place Jesus found them, in scripture.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:12-20 NLTse).
I never saw this before until the first verse in John chapter 16 lit up like a neon sign. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Looking back we can see the details unfold. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Scripture verified what was about to happen after that dinner. God’s Word is one of the keys to hearing God’s voice in prayer.
Jesus next talked about following the commandments. There is also a process to follow in prayer as well as studying scripture. God followed all of His commandments as faithfully as He follows His process in prayer, writing, and understanding scripture. God established His own process, rules, and we can call them laws when He dictated His inspired Word to His faithful servants.
Jesus introduced another key to both prayer and understanding scripture, the Holy Spirit. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” I also noticed a process Jesus told us about concerning the Holy Spirit. First the Spirit will lead or guide us. Then the same Spirit will teach us. “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” He teaches us by reminding us about everything Jesus told us. Do you see the process?
Jesus would not have told us about the commandments, God perfect law and order, if He didn’t want us to learn from it, and apply the same lesson to the subject that followed, God’s Spirit. Jesus just showed how God’s Spirit follows the command to follow a specific order. First to guide, then teach by reminding us. How can we remember something we have not already seen, heard about, or read?
This process tells us, God’s Spirit has to first introduce us to scripture. Then we have to go back and be taught. Then we review, and of course learn more. The same is true after we’ve read through the Bible many times. The process repeats every time a new subject is introduced. First we are guided to a subject. We are guided to a process to examine that story, parable, or lesson. Then we are taught the spiritual meaning. Much of what we are taught is based on how much we remember. I prefer to look at it in simple terms, how much we review. If we had not followed instructions in the beginning of John 16, we would have missed a vast array of lessons. We’ve been shown the lesson by example. God’s Word first sent us back to review. Our review showed us all the steps involved. It begins with recognizing the need to serve one another. We have to learn to love each other. This is how the world will see our connection with Jesus. We’re also told God and Jesus are one, and we are one in them. Our connection to God has to remain strong. We pray in God’s will, which includes praying, listening, and hearing God’s voice like Jesus did. We have to follow God’s commandments. This gets us in a position to study scripture which is one of the most important steps. Another step, just as important as reading scripture is to be first guided, then taught by God’s Spirit. Remembering everything Jesus taught is one more step in the process. This is how the Spirit communicated with Jesus, taught Him, prepared Him for the tasks He had to preform that day, as well prepared Him for all those trials He faced. Scripture and God’s Spirit played the main role in Jesus’ knowledge of what He was going to face. God would not change His established process because we don’t want to follow it, or create our own process. If we’re asking God to bless us, or give us things, should we follow God’s process, or our own. Has following your own process worked?
When we get to chapter 15, we’re given a parable telling us how branches, our habits need to be trimmed away. When you pray to God, you better be ready to hear about habits you need to remove from your life. That is part of the process.
Jesus wants us to understand that trimming process. So He explained how it is done with love. Jesus explained how He loves the disciples, and how God loves them. Jesus also explained how we need to love each other. When we pray, we just can’t pray about ourselves. We have to remember to pray for our enemies.
Jesus told them how this change will bring joy. Could love bring anything else? These simple steps will free us from the slavery imposed by this world. All of these aspects are important parts of prayer. Jesus saved the most important detail for last. Jesus repeated the command to search scripture, and learn what they say about Himself. Jesus also repeated the other most important part of prayer, God’s Spirit. Those two are the most important parts.
I know from experience, when I pray about myself, or problems, I seldom hear God’s voice. But I still go through the process everyday to ask to be forgiven. Then I go through subjects bothering me. I pray about people I know and their needs. But I don’t hear God’s voice at that point. But when I pray about scripture I’m studying or about to write about the next day, God’s voice is loud and clear. I can clearly hear God describe the scene. I can see the people there, and Jesus. He tells me what is on His mind when He was talking to people, and what He hoped they would learn. I can see the expressions on their faces, and see the reaction to what Jesus is teaching, especially when He pauses.
The point is, Jesus always loves to talk about scripture. The key is, if Jesus is going to answer questions about our lives, or people we pray for, He will give us answers the same way God answered Jesus’ prayers, through scripture and the Spirit.
Although learning to listen to God’s Spirit in prayer and finding out how He communicates with you about your personal questions through scripture is important, we have a whole chapter to study. The best place to begin at in the introduction.
I Have Told You These Things
John 16:1-4 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.
The first thing I want to do is jump to the summation and compare it to this introduction. This will tell us if we are dealing with contrasts or the lessons build to a climax.
Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesusasked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Jesus began by telling His disciples the lessons He taught that day were meant to reinforce their faith. Jesus didn’t want to loose any of them. He already lost one disciple. Jesus told them what was going to happen. Jesus not only saw what was going to happen to Himself, He also know what was going to happen to His disciple. So he warned them. As we’ve already seen, Jesus also taught them how to pray and listen to God. Jesus didn’t directly explain that prayer process, but He included all the steps and requirements.
The world will persecute them because the world won’t understand what their teaching, how, or where they got their information and instructions from. At this point, Jesus didn’t explain all the details, but He did tell them what they needed to know, to remain faithful.
Jesus not only wanted them to remember His warning but everything He taught them. After His resurrection, Jesus explained everything in greater detail than what has been recorded. That’s why we need God’s Spirit, who will first guide us to find that information, then teach us what it means.
Jesus’ disciples told Jesus they understood. They understood Jesus talked in symbols. That explained why the world can’t understand. The disciples commented on of the most important steps, to believe Jesus came from God. Jesus questioned them. Did they really believe? They needed that belief to face the future.
Jesus told them they would be scattered, each disciple going his own way. Jesus was talking about His arrest when the disciples ran off and left Him alone. When we look back, we see a sequence. Judas betrayed Jesus. The disciples abandoned Jesus and Peter denied Him. Things did not look good. It was almost as if God had to start over.
Both the introduction and summation dwelt with problems and trials the disciples would see. Jesus was trying to prepare them. First He tried to prepare them for what was about to happen to Him. Then Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what was about to happen to them. Usually Jesus put His disciples first. He followed the same process here. Jesus knew how His death was going to crush their hopes and dreams, how they would feel when they lost their friend, and how confused they would be by loosing their leader. If your confused, I would suggest you go back and review those chapters and pray about them. Approach God’s throne and let Him explain the details.
We also have to see how Jesus led into this phase of the lesson by reviewing how chapter 15 ended. We also have to keep in mind how this is one long lesson and consider it as a whole. That is why Jesus reminded the disciples He told them important information.
“They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.” (John 15:21-27 NLTse).
Now we see how Jesus reminded His disciples about what He told them in between His warnings about what they were going to face. Jesus actually pointed out the prophecy they fulfilled. Jesus repeated the promise of God’s Spirit and added another role the Spirit fulfills, their testimony about Jesus. This is where Jesus introduced the disciple’s role of also being a witness for Him. Not at His trial, but after His resurrection as history has shown.
Looking at the introduction of chapter 16 and its summation, then comparing them to the summation in chapter 15, we can’t help but notice how Jesus repeated the same details. He did this to draw attention to them. Jesus repeated the most important details a number of times. When we consider chapter 13 to 17 one long lesson, we can’t help but see how Jesus followed basic rules of context, repeating not only key words, but phrases, and subjects.
I Am Going Away
John 16:5-9 NLTse “But now I am goingaway to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’srighteousness, and of the comingjudgment. (9) The world’ssin is that it refuses to believe in me.
Is this like deja vu all over again. I’m sure you feel like you’ve heard this before. As a matter of fact, this is the third time Jesus brought up the subject of going away.
Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:20-24 NLTse)
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going. (John 14:27-31 NLTse)
In fact, Jesus repeated the words going away four times in chapter 16. All together, the term is repeated nine times. When Jesus repeats Himself, it is time to pay attention. What is the significance of the term? Why did Jesus repeat it so much?
Jesus first introduced the term when He was teaching inside the temple court. Jesus used the term to convey a somber message. Jesus told those people in the courtyard, they couldn’t follow Him, and they would die in their sins. The simple lesson was, they were from this world, and He was from above.
Jesus also used the term, “I am going away,” earlier in this lesson. The message to His disciples was a contrast to the message given to those people in the courtyard. Jesus told His disciples about the gift of peace He will return with. He also explained where He was going, to be with His Father. But Jesus included a warning when He told His disciples He was leaving. He told them about Satan coming. Later Jesus added more details about what they would face.
Because Jesus included a contrast, it’s easy to see some people accept Jesus’ resurrection and other won’t. That’s a detail easy to apply to stories telling about when Jesus rose from that tomb, but holds more of a spiritual meaning today. Because we don’t have eye witnesses today, we have to go by recorded words and faith. Which is easier to come by and which is easier to believe? Most people would assume the written word. But how many people actually read God’s Word? Most of the Christian world never read the Bible. They may have heard sermons and a few verses, but their only experience with Jesus’ resurrection comes from a movie or two. What kind of a relationship is that?
Jesus was careful to repeat certain words and phrases to draw attention to them. How important was it for Jesus to go away? If we know the Bible, we know Jesus refereed to His death, resurrection, and return to Heaven. This was by far the most important event in the history of this world. Well worth repeating. But how many people notice how Jesus tried to draw attention to it?
Jesus also promised the Spirit again. This is another subject Jesus repeated a number of times. When we look at the main theme introduced at the beginning of this chapter, we are reminded, Jesus told us He already taught this lesson. Because He is repeating it, He actually introduced the rule of first mention.
There is another study rule called the rule of first mention. When a word is repeated throughout a chapter, look back at the first verse it is mentioned in. Look how it is used in that verse. This will establish a direction sometimes based on the emotional side of the spiritual context used in the chapter. Don’t forget to look at similar and related words.
I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:31-34 NLTse)
Not even John knew Jesus was the Messiah until He saw God’s Spirit on Him. What does this tell us about the Spirit? He will show people we are connected with God. It makes sense. How are people supposed to know we have a connection with God if we can’t show a relationship with God’s Spirit? If Jesus needed God’s Spirit to show John the Baptist, He is the Messiah, how are we going to prove anything, or gain anyone’s confidence if we can’t show the same?
This was an important point, so John repeated it. When we look at Jesus’ ministry, we can see how important is was for Jesus to point people to God and His Spirit. The first time God’s Spirit is mentioned, Jesus explained that connection is with one of the best illustrations in the Bible.
“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. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:4-10 NLTse)
Jesus pointed Nicodemus the religious teacher to God’s Spirit. Jesus didn’t teach Nicodemus much, He knew He had very little time, so Jesus pointed him to the source of all knowledge and the One who could be with Nicodemus all the time. Jesus knew Nicodemus would be filled with a lot of questions, doubts, and fears. Jesus pointed Nicodemus to the only source He knew could help him through everything the enemy planned on throwing at him. Jesus prepared Nicodemus for the spiritual battle ahead. Not by providing a small weapon like a knife, but one with a magnitude of power beyond our imaginations. Jesus didn’t sent Nicodemus into battle with one meal, but the only source of unlimited spiritual food to last an eternity.
“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)
What an I writing for? We look at the next mention of God’s Spirit and Jesus explained God’s Spirit much better than I ever could. All we need to do is link those verses together and we get the vision of God’s Spirit we really need. God wasn’t fooling around when He inspired John to write this book. Not only are we given information on the Spirit, but an example of Him at work.
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24 NLTse)
We’re given not one example of Jesus introducing someone to God’s Spirit, but two. Notice how Jesus used different methods? See how each was tailored to the individual? You may not notice, but this is another example of God’s Spirit at work. Jesus knew how to communicate with God’s Spirit and listen to His voice. When Jesus followed instruction, He was able to do exactly what He was told to do, successfully lead two people to the Spirit.
If you’ll notice, Jesus saw the effect the Spirit had on the woman, but not on Nicodemus. That taught us, we’re not always going to see the result, but that doesn’t mean God’s Spirit stopped working. Introducing people to God’s Spirit is the beginning of a process that doesn’t end when we drop out of the picture.
Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (John 6:61-64 NLTse)
We’re given the perfect example of how hard God’s Spirit works in the back ground with Jesus’ own disciples. We’re constantly reminded how little they understood. John was one of those disciples and he wasn’t ashamed to admit, he had a difficult time understanding. It took him a long time to catch onto exactly what Jesus was teaching. One of the disciples never caught on. Judas is also used as a contrast of how the Spirit leads to eternal life. Quite a bit to think about.
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.) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” (John 7:37-40 NLTse)
We’re also shown one symbol pointing to the Spirit, living water. Many people think spiritual water pointed to Jesus, but John’s comment made it clear, Jesus was pointing them to God’s Spirit. After reading the previous examples, we can understand that lesson. Jesus’ role was to point people to God’s Spirit. When people exclaimed, Jesus was a prophet, we’re reminded of a prophets role, to point people to God.
“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:15-20 NLTse)
Now we see another pattern emerging. Now we are covering the same event which is recorded from John chapter 13 to 17. If we looked ahead, we’d see additional verses describing the Spirit. At this point we’ll stick to rules of context and only look back.
We see a condition, to obey God’s commandments. This is another role of God’s Spirit, to help us understand those commandments. Not the way men teach, but the way they were meant to be understood.
We’re also shown the Spirit will first guide us into all truth about those commandments, as well as other subjects. We also see the close, intimate connection between Jesus and the Spirit. Having God’s Spirit in our lives is the same as having Jesus guide us. This is what He meant when He promised not to abandon us.
I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (John 14:25-29 NLTse)
Jesus remaining with us is such an important point, He repeated it and added more details to the subject. Jesus remains with us through God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will move from leading or guiding us to teaching us which will, or should bring comfort. If it doesn’t, you’d better go back to reexamine your relationship with Him, or the process your following. If you don’t feel that comfort God’s Spirit brings, you are missing something.
From a few short verses we’ve seen how Jesus sent us back to review two subjects He’d been teaching during His ministry. While we study these, we have to keep in mind how important they are to our faith. Keep that in mind as you think about how God’s Spirit and Jesus’ return effect your spiritual life.
There Is So Much I Want to Tell You
John 16:10-14 NLTse Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) 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. (14) He will bring me glory by tellingyou whatever he receives from me.
We’ve already covered many of the details Jesus taught about God’s Spirit. After reviewing another important subject, judgment, Jesus continued to explain the role of the Spirit. He added a new subject. This time Jesus went back to God’s Spirit guiding you and this time added a new detail. “He will tell you about the future.” I know most Christians consider this a very important subject. This subject will perk up the ears of most Christians. The future is the subject many Christians are interested in and some are obsessed with it. But what is the process?
Has anyone been able to explain the process God’s Spirit uses to speak with us? If we look back at the Old Testament, we see a simple process. God spoke directly to Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, David, many of the prophets, and others. God spoke to some of those and others like Jacob and Joseph in dreams. When we get to the New Testament, we see a greater role introduced with God using angels. We also see few examples of Jesus talking directly to God which was replaced by prayer. Why the change? I’m not sure, but it has to do something with what we see here. Jesus wanted to tell the disciples more, but they had to wait until the Spirit came. We also see another change symbolized by the disciples, first the twelve, then the seventy. The process was expanded to others like Nicodemus, the woman Jesus met at the well, the man Jesus case a thousand demons out of, and others. Peter and John explained what was happening. You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 NLTse).
God was moving from speaking through a few channels at a time to many. Since the method of delivering the message to this world changed, so did the way God communicated with this world.
Another factor came into play. The mystery of the Messiah was made clear. Lessons changed from telling about what the Messiah will be to what He accomplished. The message still includes what Jesus has to accomplish before His return, which is the future Jesus spoke about. We can prove that by reading the texts. “He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by tellingyou whatever he receives from me.”
God’s Spirit is all about Jesus. He has never been about us, although His role is to guide, teach, comfort, and encourage us, as well as help us to remember what Jesus taught. Since Jesus is repeating the subject of judgment, we should look up the previous lessons to see if we are following a new pattern.
“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. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21 NLTse)
John 3:16 takes on a whole new meaning when we understand it from the point of view describing how Jesus came not to judge but save this world. We see an interesting link between the cross and judgment which will be described later in more detail. When you read the statement Jesus made about judging, it is eye opening as well as sobering. It is also one example showing how people take one section of a subject, make it a doctrine, and misled people into thinking they’ve been taught all the facts. Let’s be serious here, the first time we see judgment mentioned in John’s book happened to be one verse people separate from his book to make a simple doctrine. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” Look at the word Jesus followed that sentence with. The word, “but.” That word should make us read the rest of the lesson which involves light and walking into that light. Is stopping at one verse walking into the light, or standing still? How much do we need to know about that light? I’d say that’s a personal question between you and God’s Spirit.
“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)
We can apply what is written about Jesus to God’s Spirit since we’ve already seen how Jesus and God’s Spirit are one. These verses show the connection between God’s Spirit and judgment. Since there are two view points to consider, Heaven and earth, there will also be two views on the judgment. We’re told about two sides of the judgment, remaining under it, or believing in Jesus and the Spirit He sends. The alternative to judgment is eternal life. It seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t stop people from creating a way around the simple process.
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
(John 5:19-30 NLTse)
We have another series of verses showing how God’s Spirit is linked to the process of judgment. Jesus began this part of His lesson by describing how God directs Him to do everything. We’ve seen how God’s Spirit communicated with Jesus. Once again, we’re shown how God and Jesus are linked together, teamed up to accomplish the same goal. There is one sentence that I really like. Once we see the connection between Jesus and His Father, Jesus said, “Then you will truly be astonished.”
Giving life to the dead is one of those gifts or powers Jesus received from God. It may be the one that most astonishes us. We are also shown that God gave the role of judging to Jesus. Later we’ll be told how God judges. Later we’ll look into that a little deeper.
Giving honor and believing in Him and His son is part of receiving eternal life. Jesus added another condition. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” We also have to listen to Jesus’ message. What is that message? One part is covered here. Hearing Jesus’ voice when He returns to open the graves and raise the dead. How will anyone know Jesus’ voice when He opens the graves if they don’t know it when they were living?
The beginning of this chapter tells us what we have to do to keep our faith. This section of John chapter 5 covers part of the process to obtain eternal life, which is the same as avoiding judgment. More of that process is explained after Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (John 8:14-18 NLTse)
These texts contain another one of those verses some people like to take out of the chapter and use it to prove a preconceived idea. In essence, they don’t hear Jesus’ voice, nor do they know His Spirit. They try to make the claim, Jesus never judges anyone. They use one portion of a sentence to claim everyone is saved. Look at the portion of texts they use. “ I do not judge anyone.” Then look at the entire sentence. “You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.” Jesus was referring to human standards. Jesus does not judge anyone by human standards, as He made clear in His previous sentence. “For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me.” Jesus told them there is a difference between Him and them. Then told them, He doesn’t judge by their standards.
There are more texts dealing with the subject of judgment. You can go over the rest yourself to pray and think about what they mean, what they teach, and how they are related. You can see how some statements seem to contradict others, if you don’t know the full story.
“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (John 8:49-51 NLTse)
Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment–to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (John 9:39 NLTse)
Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:30-32 NLTse)
Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. 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. 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. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” (John 12:44-50 NLTse)
In a Little While
John 16:15-22 NLTse All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tellyou whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciplesasked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
Jesus repeated this subject a number of times. We looked at a list at the beginning of this chapter. When we see something like this, scripture is telling us there is something we missed, or there is something added here God’s Spirit is telling us we need to see.
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.
We saw a pattern established in chapter 16 by three subjects recorded in earlier chapters. Jesus intentionally repeated those lessons. We followed instructions from verse 1 and looked at what was taught in previous events. Then Jesus went back to the first lesson He introduced. What are we supposed to do? Go back to study the first subject again? We could do that. But when a pattern is broken, it often means the lesson is moving in a new direction requiring a new way of looking at it. The question of course is always, what is the new way of examining this part of the lesson? This is a good time to stop and pray.
Look at how many times the phrase or thought is repeated. The introduction and summation agree Jesus going away and coming back is the main theme in this chapter. Some people may try to apply this to what many they refer to as Jesus’ second coming, but the context makes it clear Jesus is teaching about His arrest and execution. What did we miss? Look at what John added.
First Jesus concentrated on the word going, and term, going away. He later changed to, in a little while you won’t see me anymore. We can see how they are related, and really should be highlighted the same color.
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.
When we take a close look at this section of scripture, we can see one important detail added to the main theme. Some of the disciplesasked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? The disciples repeated the phrase Jesus used. It’s important to pay attention to who said what. The important change to notice is, they asked each other.
A close look will show the disciples repeated the question, then added the fact, they didn’t understand. Those changes are important. Jesus pointed out this detail. This is one of the easiest places to see Jesus’ pause. You can see how Jesus gave them time to think. Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant?” Then Jesus repeated the term, “in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again.” The way that term is repeated stands out like book ends with all the information between them.
The problem sticks out like a sore thumb. The disciples thought they could figure out the situation themselves. Now look at the situation. What is Jesus talking about? His arrest, trial, and execution, then finally resurrection. When was that going to happen? In the future. The disciples had no way of figuring out the future on their own. But that didn’t stop them from trying.
Jesus continued with a parable. This time He used the symbol of a woman having a baby. He told the disciples that’s what they would feel like. Not in a physical sense, but on an emotional level. Jesus told them, their grief was coming.
We see another side of Jesus. And let’s not forget, a side of God we really have to get to know. Jesus is about to face four humiliating trails, He will be beaten, whipped, and face the most painful execution derived my mankind. Jesus know everything in His future, and He is concerned about His disciples experiencing emotional grief. What does that tell you about God?
Do You Really Believe?
John 16:23-31 NLTse At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speakingfiguratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesusasked, “Do you finally believe?
I guess you’ll have to wait for this answer like I had to. I had to pray about those last few verses and then I was shown their spiritual connection. Jesus showed His concern, His love for the disciples by being more worried about them then He was about Himself. Don’t miss this point. In the parable Jesus used the symbol of a woman giving birth. Now we see Jesus asking them if they really believe. What does that word believe mean? This is another one of those moments the Spirit tells you to pause and look up the word.
G4100 πιστεύω pisteuō
From G4102; to havefaith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.
G4102 πίστις pistis
From G3982; persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.
G3982 πείθω peithō
A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.
I wonder how many people can figure out the definition on the emotional level Jesus was in at the time. The emotional level that brought Him here in the first place. The emotional level Jesus was in at the time, the day before He lost His life. People wake up! Jesus died!
When we look at Jesus’ question on the deep emotional level of Heaven, we can’t, or shouldn’t help but see Jesus was asking, “Do you really love me? Do you really believe in me? Let’s look at the definition of the word believe and break it down to the emotional level of love. Not that counterfeit love found in this world, but that special love from Heaven.
Did the disciples have faith and trust in Jesus like God has in Him? Were they committed to Jesus like His Father is? I wrote another book based on Mark’s Gospel. As I was writing that book, it became evident, Jesus was teaching His disciples about a real relationship. The sequence of events showed how Mark recorded lessons about a relationship. That was the common theme that connected them. It became evident, Jesus was teaching them about a relationship because He wanted a real relationship with them. Jesus reached out for their love. He needed their love to make it through the trials He had to face. But those disciples couldn’t catch on. They couldn’t give Jesus the love, support and commitment He needed. They were too busy arguing who was the greatest. They were too busy being in love with themselves.
I remember what it was like to be in love. Then I found out love never works on a one way street. Love amounts to nothing if it is not shared on the same level by both people. Now I feel humbled to have been through an experience close to what Jesus had to go through. I am also humbled and even more in love with Jesus because He tried to stop it, but I wouldn’t listen. I could list at least a dozen signs telling me not to marry that woman. But I was in love. I remember one in particular over the past few days. The day I my flight was scheduled to go to her and get married, I received a call. It was from someone who wanted to by my house. She offered full price, cash, no contingencies. I turned it down and left for the airport. Now I can’t sell the house for $50,000 less than that offer. And if I do, well the ex-wife gets a good portion of the money. That’s all she is concerned about. That is one lesson that sits heavy on my mind. I ignored warnings Jesus sent and paid the price. It was a heavy toll, but now I can look back and see the lesson.
When I heard about the divorce, I was devisated. I couldn’t eat for weeks. I lost so much weight it really showed. I was always normal, or close to ideal weight. 5′-8” and between 150-155 pounds. I was less than 140 pounds before I regained my appetite. I would not accept the divorce and was convinced I could fix it. I prayed to God constantly to help me fix it. Pain was on my mind and heart constantly for months. It was the only thing I could think about from the time I woke up to when I was finally able to fall asleep. After a few hours I’d wake up and it would be the only thing on my mind. She knew how emotional I would be and used it to her advantage. She used my emotions to not only manipulate me, but to extend and increase the pain I felt. She made no attempt to cover up her adultery but praised it. She bragged about it. She used it to hurt me.
I lost count of the number of months before we consummated our marriage. She always had an excuse. I thought that was just the way a good Christian woman acted. After that, we had sex every few months. Again I convinced myself that must be the way good Christian women act. They put away the lusts of the flesh and for some reason that made me love her even more.
Before we married, we prayed together everyday, and studied together. We would stay on the phone for hours and make sure we called each other before and after work. But that all changed as soon as we got married. She never prayed or studied the Bible after we married. I continued to do both as well as call her on the way to work, and when I was on my way home. That was another one way street.
Now that I look back, our marriage was one long one way street. She didn’t work much. But the few times she had a job, she always complained about it. And I was right there to support her. I’d tell her how they didn’t appreciate her and didn’t’ see the skills and potential she had. I supported her when she quit. Of course she always cried like it was a big emotional step for her. Looking back I can see how she used her tears as another tool or weapon.
I was reminded about another detail. She always told me stories about how she would constantly almost get into car accidents. After she told me her account of the story, I would always support her and agree it was the other person’s fault. I was in love and I could never see what she was doing. In her eyes she was perfect. She never made a mistake. As long as she has people to agree with her, she could convince herself she was always right. Sounds a lot like the same emotion and pride the disciples placed above their love for Jesus. She loved herself more than me like the disciples loved themselves more than Jesus.
After about a year of anguish, I finally started listening to God. One of the first things He told me was I stopped praying out loud to Him. That was because she didn’t like it. I stopped praying, thinking, what could go wrong? After all, I was in love. Love has a way of blinding you. I finally accepted the fact, God had to work on her and as long as I was there offering faithful and unlimited encouragement, she wasn’t going to accept any type of change. She was convinced she was perfect – adultery and all.
I had to go back and examine what love really was. I had to pray long and hard about it. I was determined to get Jesus back in the center of my heart. I saw how I placed my wife there and asked Jesus to leave. How do I get Him back where He belonged and how do I make sure no one ever takes His place in my heart? That is a difficult question to ask. And a hard answer to accept.
What took Jesus to that cross and through all that pain and suffering? We’ve seen how Jesus could look into the future and understand what was about to happen. He saw how the cross would change them. Jesus saw how they would accept the pain and let it remold and change them. I felt that pain for nearly a year.
I have to say, I have not found a woman close to that kind of love and commitment I felt for my wife when we were married. I hear a lot of women say they love Jesus, but their love is not even close to what I felt for my ex-wife. This time I am looking and waiting for much more.
As I learn more about Jesus and how much He loves me, and the love He offers to all of us, I am reminded about another part of my life. My mother died of cancer when I was very young. My dad never remarried. He loved her so much, he never did find another woman close her. My dad never found another woman who sparked the depth of love he had for her. Maybe it runs in the genes?
How do we get that kind of love for Jesus? I have to ask, how would you feel if someone stole your wife or husband from you, or they suddenly died? How would you feel? How empty would you feel? Would the meaning and purpose of life disappear without them? Would you feel like life had no meaning? Wouldn’t it hurt so much, days would drag on without purpose. Food wouldn’t taste the same. Sights and sounds, the little things in life like shopping, sitting together, a view of a full moon, or a sunset would pass without joy. Wouldn’t you feel like you’d never feel a happy moment again? Wouldn’t it feel like nothing had any meaning because you had no one to share it with? I felt that way for years. I still feel that way at times.
Multiply that sadness by an infinite number and you know what those disciples felt. Look at the scene. We normally suffer alone. I was alone in a big house. I had about four people to support me. But I felt so alone. Like happiness had fled only to be replaced by a deep feeling of dispair, hopelessness, loneliness, and sadness forever. The disciples gathered together to share their grief, support, and encourage each other. The lesson of washing each other’s feet was unfolding. Did they see the lesson and understand it. Not until after they saw Jesus when their grief was lifted.
This feeling and lesson of love is so personal, you have to take it up with Jesus on your own. You owe it to yourself and owe it to Him to sit down and talk about it. I can’t express or explain all the lessons He taught me. Some of them are too personal to share. But I praise the LORD because now I can look back and see why I had to live through that horror and experience all that pain for all those years. It gave me a glimpse of what Jesus’ disciples felt for a few days after they saw their friend executed and placed in a tomb. I hope you didn’t have to experience anything that drastic, but if you did, I hope what I shared has helped to release you from the pain. Now it’s time to go to Jesus to be healed and learn what love really is.
When we look at that definition of the word believe in John 16, we can’t help but see how closely the definition is to love. The word Jesus used definitely is a view from Heaven, which is far different than this world. Faith, entrust, spiritual well being, commitment, moral conviction, truthfulness, conviction, consistency, assurance, fidelity, reliance, and obedience are all factors of love as well as belief. We can see how the definition from Heaven far exceeds the expectations and commitments of this world. The question is, what is it going to take for this world to move from the love it understands, to the love Jesus, God, and His Spirit offer? Not only accept that love but be totally committed to it.
Once we understand and see the Heavenly meaning of belief, it opens up a whole new view into the difference of love and commitment between this world and Heaven. One example was on the news last week. The US has been locked in an unbelievable cold front for about a month. The east coast saw more snow than they could handle. Government studies showed how that severe weather caused more than four billion dollars in losses to the economy. I don’t know who does those studies or what criteria they actually use, but common sense paints a totally different picture.
Talking to some people around Milwaukee where we are experiencing record cold temperatures but not much snow, they tell me how busy they are. Common sense tells us plumbers are busy as well as people repairing and replacing furnaces. Record number of car batteries are being sold. Auto body shops as well as repair shops are seeing record income. On the east coast where it has been constantly snowing, people in the snow removal business are making more money than expected. The kid next door is making more money shoveling snow than he ever dreamed about. But government reports say the economy lost so much money. Their statement reveals where their love lies. . Not with the small businesses making record profits, but with large corporations facing a decrease in profits. And we can bet those figures are exaggerated so people feel sorry for them like my ex-wife thrived on. When we experience that love from Heaven, we can see that misguided love in this world and where their true intentions and commitments really lie.
Jesus told them a little bit of what was going to happen and then He shared the results. Jesus gave them a taste of what we find in Hebrews 10 where it explained how Jesus opened up a direct path to God’s throne for us. I’ve also been praying about why – for the most part, it seems God voice has fallen silent to this world. How do you think Jesus felt when He saw His love was on a one way street? I mean, can you imagine what He really felt? When I found out I was on that road, I couldn’t explain how much it hurt. I can tell you, I have not spoken to my ex-wife since the divorce. I have no need to communicate with her at any time on any subject. I have to be honest. A love like I had doesn’t die, but wisdom and knowledge tell me that love is nothing to waste. Especially on someone who has no idea how to return it. Does Jesus feel the same way? I talk to Jesus, and He answers. Jesus met and talked to His disciples after His resurrection. He saw the joy in their faces and felt the transformation in their hearts. He finally experienced and felt the love He gave them returned. Why does so much of this world believe Jesus stopped talking to us?
Why does it seem like Jesus doesn’t talk to so many people? Is it only because they aren’t listening? Or is a part of the reason because Jesus felt the pain of a one way relationship and chose not to communicate? Is it because He doesn’t want to feel that pain again? We’re created in God’s image and if we feel that pain, you’d better believe Jesus feels it to.
I can only speak from experience in human terms, but maybe that’s what this world needs to hear. Maybe that’s all this world is ready to hear. Maybe human terms and an understanding of that love Jesus has for us is a bridge they need to begin giving back the love they receive.
I have to be honest. There is a part of me that wants to protect myself from the pain. I never want to feel like that again. So I chose not to communicate with my ex-wife in any way, shape or form. I can be honest and tell you why. I would fall in love all over again in a minute. She wouldn’t have to put in any effort or show any love at all and I would lay myself at her feet and remain totally committed. I would give her much more than explained in that definition of believe and much more. Oh how I wish I could love Jesus that much and feel that strong about Him. But with my ex-wife, I know I have to protect myself. I’ve already lost so much.
We can’t explain the depth of Jesus’ love any more than we can understand or feel the pain He went through. Come on now, don’t you understand He came here as a human and felt much more than the cold, heat, exhaustion, hunger, the lash on His back, nails through His hands and feet, thrones on His head, and those other physical pains. Jesus felt more emotion and heartbreak than we could imagine. Because His love is so much deeper than ours, so is the emotional pain. Does that explain why people don’t hear Him communicate with them? Is it because they have no intentions or desires to return His love and Jesus is protecting His heart from the pain? Can we blame Him?
Lucky thing for us we have the Bible to help us understand and hear Jesus calling out to us. His disciples couldn’t provide the support He needed when He needed it, or return the love He gave them when He needed it most. But Jesus went back to them and couldn’t wait to fill their hearts with joy. After suffering the worst pain those disciples could imagine, it was gone in a moment. It was a pain only Jesus could heal.
Look at Paul as another example. He hated Jesus and all of His followers. But that didn’t stop Jesus from reaching out to Paul with all His love. And look what happened with Paul, how he changed. There are other examples in the Bible and many more in God’s book of life. He keeps a record of all of them like many of us record precious moments we want to remember. Imagine what those mean to Jesus when someone opens up their heart and returns the love He gives them. Can you feel that joy? Have you felt those emotions in this world? Do you remember what it felt like? Now multiply that by the infinite number of eternity.
Jesus opened a new door for this world. He loves us so much He promised to give us anything and everything. Don’t we make the same promises to the people we really love? Jesus wasn’t selfish with His love. He showed us where it came from. His love is so great it has to be shared. When He rose from that tomb He opened up a new door, a new era, “ At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” Jesus gave us the greatest love, gift, and joy of all. He opened a direct path to God’s throne for us. How much does Jesus want us to understand that love?
Jesus explained that answer to His disciples. “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speakingfiguratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”
First off, we should be happy because Jesus told us He returned to be with His first love, His Father. Up until this point, Jesus spoke in symbols and examples. As far as the disciples were concerned at that point in time, the love Jesus spoke about had not yet been revealed. Jesus told them, “soon I will stop speakingfiguratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father.” But the time had not yet come for them to understand or feel that love. First they had to share the pain.
The disciples thought they understood, but at that time, there was no way for them to know. A lot of people think they understand Jesus’ love, but do they really? Are they 100% prepared to return that love? Look what’s not in the Bible. There’s no record of any of the disciples falling in love or getting married. Like my dad, they found one love that could not be equaled. Some times the things we go through in life prepare us for what is ahead. Lessons are often difficult to learn. Those four Gospels all agree, Jesus’ disciples found it impossible to understand Jesus’ love and God’s plan of salvation until after they passed through the pain. I think a lot of us are the same. We each feel our own personal pain. We all have our own way of dealing with it. We all have our own level of asking Jesus to get involved and help us to heal. And we all have our own level and quality of love we return to Jesus.
Jesusasked, “Do you finally believe? We all have our own level of belief. The point is to remember how Jesus reached out to people in the Bible and learn from those examples.
You Will Be Scattered
John 16:32-33 NLTse But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Have you gone through that? Did you leave Jesus alone when He needed you? Image the Son of God needing people. Jesus pointed out, He was never really alone as long as He has His Father. Did you ever feel like that? The only one in the universe who could understand you was God? Then you would feel a little of what Jesus felt. When you can feel a little of what Jesus felt, you are ready to find that peace He offered.
Jesus made another promise. Well two of them. He didn’t want to hide anything, so He told His disciples the road was not going to be an easy one. I remember when I was in love, I felt like nothing in this world could hurt me. I wish I had that kind of love with Jesus. But I’m working on it and it is growing. It is getting there. That’s the kind of love and confidence Jesus wants us to have. The kind of love that can overcome anything and everything this world can throw at us. We just have to keep in mind, Jesus faced this world and won! And we can do the same when we finally figure out how to return the love He gives to us. There is no greater gift we can offer Jesus than to return the love He gave to us.
Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalms 51:15-17 NLTse)
the last few days of the Presidential news conferences, the US
witnessed President Trump doing what he is best known for, training
and encouraging people to be the best at their jobs. April 6, 2020 we
saw President Trump basically attacked by news reporters. Those
reporters were using the nationally televised conference to market
their fake news stories. At times President Trump blasted those
reporters for attempting to use such tactics. Other times the
President simply refused to answer their questions.
April 7th we saw President Trump initiate a new plan. The
President and his entire staff were very careful to identify sources
and provide information and locations to study additional
information. I other words, the President and his staff were
training reporters how to properly investigate and report on the
press conference on April 8th was a completely different
story. On April 8th reporters asked questions, identified
their sources, and offered statistics and data uncovered during their
research. President Trump displayed the same skills used during his
TV show The Apprentice where he outlined a project, provided basic
steps, set goals, and allowed the contestants to display their
skills. The show was based on teams competing on a project to show
organizational and creative skills.
is rare to see anyone use everyday situations to educate people much
less direct and encourage people to be the best at what they do for a
living. President Trump displayed those skills and passions on
national TV. On April 8th the President and his staff
praised reporters for investigating the questions at hand and
offering information they were able to verify. We’ve seen President
Trump blast fake news in the past. Instead of condemning those
reporters, the President proudly displayed his passion for bringing
the best out of people and making them the professionals they long to
a side note. If Hydroxychloroquine turns out to be a vaccine for
COVID-19, it just may be a cure for the common cold, another variant
of the coronavirus. Imagine a President putting a team of researches
together to not only discover a vaccine for COVID-19, but cure the
common cold. This may only be a personal opinion at this point, but
it is something to consider.
more thing happened. I called a very spiritual friend who sent me a
video. In the video a young man claimed to hear God’s voice. He
warned there was something strange going on, but could not place his
finger upon what was happening. I can tell you for a fact, that is
how the Holy Spirit works. He can only share what you are ready for.
Based on where we are in our spiritual walk, how much we rely on
doctrines, what those doctrines are, and hundreds of other factors,
we can hear a message, but who we are and what we believe limit the
information we receive and or understand.
can tell you for a fact, there are a hundred ways to explain what is
happening today from a spiritual aspect. How do I know this? I was an
instructor in the army where we were required to explain the same
detail in a number of ways because different people learned from
different examples and explanations. On the spiritual sides all we
need to do is look at the Gospels where Jesus taught the same lesson
by telling three or four parables. There were two reasons for that.
Some people caught onto the first explanation, some the second, and
some the third. The serious student of the Bible caught onto the fact
that a deeper spiritual interpretation could be seen when all the
details from each of the parables was combined. Almost two hundred
years ago a man named William Miller wrote a set of Bible Study Rules
that were widely accepted throughout the world by most Christian
denominations. One of those rules applies here.
To understand doctrine, bring all the Scriptures together on the subject you wish to know;then let every word have it’s proper influence, and if you can form your theory without acontradiction, you cannot be in an error (Isaiah 28:7-29; 35:8; Proverbs 19:27; Luke24:27, 44, 45; James 5:19; 2 Peter 1:19, 20).
course the other rules also apply, but this is one we need to
concentrate on. What does it take to gather all the facts on a
was not by accident that President Trump took the time and put in the
effort to teach reporters how to study a subject by collecting all
the data. If that is important for a news story, how much more
important is it to gather all the details on the spiritual subject at
watching that video with the young man with a burden to deliver a
message he did not fully understand, I could see how he brought up
some valid points to consider. The government displayed some rather
insightful control over the population we have not witnessed in this
generation. There are socialists and communists openly running for
President. The young man exaggerated a few points like the
possibility of people being herded into camps after contacting the
virus. We all have to admit those lock down laws to curve the virus
have been put into effect and for the most part obeyed by the
majority of people. Is that a sign of things to come? According to
that video those lock down and stay at home laws were a warning God
wants us to pay attention to. The main purpose of that video was to
warn the world something much bigger is coming.
the man got into some comments based on doctrine. He started talking
about the rapture. Basically the rapture belief is based on a single
verse from the Bible. I can tell you, that goes against all Bible
Study rules and for the most part, common sense. There is no way
anyone can take a single sentence out of any book and explain the
entire book. There is no way they could possibly explain the
different scenes in the book, people, events, or timelines. But
someone, actually a number of groups took the same sentence, actually
a few sentences out of the Bible and constructed a number of stories
are dozens of views and doctrines on the rapture theory. None of them
agree on all the points. All the concepts have different timelines
and events. How can that be? God is only following one timeline and
series of events.
understand what events lead up to and occur in the last days, you
have to understand the Book of Revelation. It is a rather simple book
to understand. I’ve written a series of books on Revelation and the
judgment process. I’ve looked at and studied a number of beliefs
and doctrines on the judgment process from different religions in the
world and a host of Christian denominations. There is one thing they
all have in common. There is one mistake they have all made. Not one
of them accepts Revelation as a book. A literary book recorded in the
proper sequence. The sequence that was given by Jesus to John the
like to brand Revelation as a book of mystery. A book that can only
be understood with years of education. Education from where? An
institution that teaches people to measure, judge, and interpret
every verse in the Bible according to their standards we refer to as
me make this perfectly clear. You cannot interpret the Bible, a
spiritual book based on worldly doctrines. Those doctrines basically
establish a barricade between the reader and the Holy Spirit. The man
in the video testified to that fact. He did hear a spiritual message.
He did try to deliver a spiritual message. A warning. But then he
made the mistake by taking a message and attempted to interpret that
message according to the doctrines he has been taught to believe.
Those doctrines tell him to accept events and timelines based on
interpretations not found or verified by scripture. Like the
President asked those reporters, what is your proof? What are your
references? If those basic questions cannot be answered, the question
or stated facts are based on nothing more than a personal opinion
backed up by nothing but imagination.
did not take John to Heaven to give him a book, take it back to
earth, withdraw the Holy Spirit, then later send a few men to a
college to learn how to interpret that book. The sequence in
Revelation is simple to understand. Jesus dictated the book to John
in a series of visions. One following the other. John recorded those
visions in the order they were given. The beginning of the book of
Revelation actually teaches us how to study the book and the Bible as
a whole. The first chapter in Revelation contains a description of
Jesus. That description is broken up into seven parts. Each part is
given to each of the seven churches. Take every description of Jesus
given to those seven churches, put them together, and you have all
the information about Jesus given to the churches, the world. That
agrees with William Miller’s Bible Study Rule.
is one lesson in Revelation. The other is to accept Revelation as a
book written by Jesus. A book any eight year old could read and
understand. All you need to do is pay attention to the details in the
stories. Look at how those stories are introduced. You will see an
undeniable pattern throughout Revelation. John sees a vision. John of
course does not understand that vision because portions of that
vision deal with the future. A future John of course does not
understand. After the vision is given, we see an angel standing next
to John ready, willing, and able to explain that vision to John.
Naturally the angel backs up in history, progressed into John’s time,
then proceeded into the future. After the explanation of that vision
was finished, another vision followed. Visions were explained to John
one at a time. For some people that makes it difficult to follow the
timeline Jesus gave this world. But if you take time to study
Revelation the way it was written and pay attention to who and how
John received information, Revelation can and will explain itself
with no outside sources. That is when Revelation becomes its own
reference book. The way it was written and meant to be understood. We
will look at one example about the end of this world here.
14:15-20 NLTse (15) Then another angel came from the Temple and
shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle,
for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.”
(16) So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over
the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. (17) After
that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a
sharp sickle. (18) Then another angel, who had power to destroy
with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the
sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the
clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe
(19) So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded
the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. (20) The grapes
were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed
from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a
can see how the end of Revelation chapter 14 describes the end of one
step in the judgment process. The swinging of the sickle is repeated
four times. Jesus teaches using repetition to point out key points.
In this case it is the harvest which is ripe for what? Judgment.
we review a few of Jesus’ parables we get a better understanding of
one phase of that judgment process we gather more information on the
13:27-30 NLTse “The farmer’s workers went to him and said,
‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds!
Where did they come from?’ (28) “‘An enemy has done this!’ the
farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
(29) “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.
(30) Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will
tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and
burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.'”
13:36-39 NLTse Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the
house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of
the weeds in the field.” (37) Jesus replied, “The Son of
Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. (38) The field is the
world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The
weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. (39) The enemy who
planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest
is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.
we see Jesus telling us the harvest is at the end of the world and
the harvest symbolizes the judgment, no one can argue with the point,
the judgment is at the end of time in this world. That establishes a
timeline many disagree with. But here we gathered information on the
subject and allowed the Bible to be its own interpreter. Now that we
established one point on a timeline, we can see how that timeline
progresses by turning the page in Revelation.
15:1 NLTse Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great
significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues,
which would bring God’s wrath to completion.
following the end of that phase in the judgment process, the last
seven plagues begin. Before John sees the seven plagues released on
this world, he is shown another vision in Heaven.
15:2 NLTse I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with
fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the
beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were
all holding harps that God had given them.
the saints in Heaven at that point in time, or was that a vision
using symbols? We have to follow the sequence given in this story to
answer that question.
16:1-2 NLTse (1) Then I heard a mighty voice from the Temple say to
the seven angels, “Go your ways and pour out on the earth the
seven bowls containing God’s wrath.” (2) So the first angel
left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible,
malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the
beast and who worshiped his statue.
first plague identifies the people who are lost. Those who have been
judged and found guilty. You have to know something about the basic
concept of God’s judgment to understand the sequence of events. God’s
judgment process is much like court procedures here on earth. Someone
is accused of a crime. A court date is set. Evidence is reviewed. A
decision is made and the person is either pronounced guilty or
innocent. When the verdict is guilty, the punishment or sentence is
of course carried out at a later date.
Jesus explained in His parable. The angels will know the difference
between the saved and condemned. The first plague in Revelation
chapter 16 verifies that point. Malachi included a prophecy about
that day, event, and sequence.
3:17-18 NLTse “They will be my people,” says the LORD of
Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will
be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an
obedient child. (18) Then you will again see the difference
between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God
and those who do not.”
only Heaven, but people on earth will see the difference between the
righteous and the wicked. And that is one of the spiritual lessons we
have to see and understand about the coronavirus. What happened at
the beginning of that virus? As soon as people heard about that
virus, many people ran to the stores to hoard, of all things, toilet
paper. Toilet paper became a symbol of that virus. Pictures of white
toilet flashed all around the world. Toilet paper marked the wicked.
People hoarding toilet paper showed their greed. They marked
themselves. The world could tell who was looking out for themselves
and days later could see those who placed the welfare of others
always teaches in pairs. Jesus always uses repetition to teach. If
the first plague will mark the difference between the righteous and
the wicked, wouldn’t Jesus send a warning before He moves from
judging the dead to judging the living? Of course He would. We have
that assurance in the fact, Jesus taught about the end of this world
in pairs and sets.
is one other aspect about those seven churches we have to realize.
Not one church received a full view of Jesus or all the details about
the other subjects covered in the letters John wrote to those
churches. The churches had no choice but to come together with their
letters from Heaven and put them together to get the full story.
course some people are going to look at those seven plagues and try
to explain them. Many denominations already have their personal
interpretations on those plagues that of course aligns with their
doctrines. Which of course does not fit into the timeline and
sequence of events recorded in Revelation. Some people are going to
point to one or more of those plagues and use world history to try
and prove some of those plagues have already been fulfilled. Now who
do we believe? Do we believe Jesus and trust that John recorded
Revelation in the proper sequence? Or do we believe college educated
theologians who need to convince people those events and timelines in
the Bible are wrong? And why do those theologians believe the
timeline and events in the Bible were recorded in the wrong order?
Because the timeline and sequence of events in Revelation do not
agree with their doctrines. Like the priests and Pharisees who killed
Jesus, theologians today insist their interpretations had to be
written and taught because God, the Author of the Bible omitted
important details, and for some reason wanted to hide the timeline
and sequence of events from mankind. But as we’ve seen, the
timeline and sequence of events has been clearly recorded. It is up
to the individual to accept the sequence recorded in Revelation,
accept the sequence offered by theologians, or ignore the entire
sequence and hope it never actually happens.
I am really surprised at what the LORD revealed about the condition of this world by using of all things, toilet paper. Has anyone prayed about this situation? Well that is the first thing the LORD revealed about this world, how people have no idea how to pray. In the LORD’s eyes, many self professed Christians decided to use prayer to direct God. They wanted to be the first to tell Jesus and the Holy Spirit how to solve this virus problem. They are as guilty and self centered as those people hoarding toilet paper and other goods. Imagine, people actually believing they have the solution to this epidemic and thinking all they need to do is tell God how to solve the problem and God will follow their directions. Those people don’t know the first thing about being Christian. They are doing more harm than good.
Those who mastered the art of listening to God’s voice see this epidemic for what it is. The saints can see how God just showed us a glimpse of the judgment process. Remember, when we finally reach Heaven, the first thing we are going to do is join Heaven in praising God because His judgment is just, true, and perfect. How are we gong to praise God from the heart if we don’t know that judgment process and we had no idea it was happening in front of our eyes?
I’ve always known God to have a sense of humor. But to sit back, watch Satan manipulate the world through fear, then use of all things, toilet paper to teach what will be the most important lesson in this generation. We truly serve a living and all knowing God who shows us He is in total control.
I’ve been waiting for someone, anyone to use scripture to compare the object lessons in scripture to what we see in this world during the great toilet paper crisis. There are dozens of stories. God opened a window of opportunity to reach out to people. But for the most part, Christians are wrapped up in themselves and the answers they come up with using their own imaginations. I have seen saints opening their doors and hearts to help people. But they are few and far between. Let’s look at a few stories that could help this world.
So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:9 RSVA).
When we look at any story in the Bible we have to ask if the context matches the situation in this world we are comparing it to. We see that parallel when we pray and read the entire story. In the story about the bronze serpent we see parallels. Israel was not happy with what God gave them. That brought out God’s wrath. The only thing to save them was a symbol of Jesus none of them understood at the time.
For thus says the LORD the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'” (1 Kings 17:14 RSVA).
With a single prayer Elijah stopped the rain. People were starving. You can believe people had been hoarding food and supplies. They had no faith in God. They relied on themselves and their selfishness. Just like today. The point of that story is, the plague will continue until people turned back to God. The God who made sure the oil and flour would not fail.
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 Kings 18:38-39 RSVA).
Even the people who witnessed this unquestionable sign turned to God for a time, then eventually left Him. We see people praying, demanding God stop this epidemic. People use prayer to direct God like they are in charge and God was created to serve them. They are from the order of Baal. They chant, repeat themselves, but will never direct God to do a thing that would only bring glory to themselves. One man acting alone made the difference. No one offered to help Elijah move those stones to build an alter. No one believed God existed until they saw fire come down from Heaven. Then they only believed for a short time. God will not allow people like that into Heaven.
So he went and did according to the word of the LORD; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. (1 Kings 17:5-6 RSVA).
And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:5-7 RSVA).
And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12 RSVA).
How many more stories in the Bible were designed to share at times such as these? Plenty. But it seems few people know how to pray and listen to that still small voice. Hardly anyone wants to get out of the spectator stands, put on their pads and get into the game for the LORD.
And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. (Mark 8:8-9 RSVA).
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. (John 6:10-11 RSVA).
There are dozens of stories people could have shared on social media. But no one was listening. How do you know what story to share? How do you know when to share that story? How to you know who to share that story with? God knows everything. God knows what people need and when they need it. Those people praying for an end of that virus never met God. They don’t know God, the Holy Spirit, or the way God operated. Look at all those stories. The people had to wait until they were ready to receive the message. They had to be broken. They had to face a situation where there was no place to turn. They had to see their priests and leaders fail. They had to be prepared to return to God. The main theme from all those stories was to return to God. Telling God to stop His plans is not Christian. It is not even close to Christian. Telling God to fix this world and leave them alone is exactly why one Israelite generation died in the wilderness. Listening to God is what saved Elijah and gave him that power. Are you beginning to see the power of Elijah now?
“Behold, I will send you Eli’jah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 RSVA).
I know most of you will not understand this because you have no idea what prayer is. Prayer is listening to messages from Heaven. I was praying last week about the judgment process asking if there will be a sign showing the world that Jesus has moved from judging the dead to judging the living. I was shown a white light covering the world in a flash. It was like a single flash of lightening around the entire world in a flash. I knew no one could possibly miss that sign. And I knew most people would have no idea they even witnessed a sign showing the beginning of one of the most important events this world will ever see.
Today I continued in prayer and the white flash all over the world was brought to my attention and the LORD explained what that sign meant. The pictures of white toilet paper flashed around the world on the World Wide Web pointed to one thing. God used toilet paper to show the greed of this world and the first sign showing the difference between the lost and saved people living in this world today. Those who decided to live in fear and hoard toilet paper will not change. They choose to be lead by fear and greed. A long time ago they choose to live for themselves and no one else.
And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” (Revelation 14:15 RSVA).
The earth was destroyed by a flood because God saw how people thrived on evil. Their hearts were set on themselves. Greed controlled the world. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 RSVA). What is the difference today? When God destroyed the world with a flood, the saints perished with the sinners. This time the saints will suffer at the hands of sinners for a short time before Jesus returns to take His people home.
Has the judgment of the living begun? That flash of white toilet paper across this world has shown the saints lessons they will carry with them for eternity. They will live forever remembering how Satan used toilet paper to show how far mankind has drifted from God. There is one thing for certain, after the judgment process ends, everyone on earth will see the difference between those who are saved and those who are lost for eternity. Immediately after the judgment ends, the last seven plagues begin.
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and foul and evil sores came upon the men who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. (Revelation 16:1-2 RSVA).
Those plagues begin with a sign placed on the outside of those who are lost. The people who chose the devil, his agents, and themselves over God will have physical attributes that will clearly distinguish them from the saints. Everyone in the world will see the difference. When the judgment period is over all the saints will know Jesus has finished the judgment process and left the Heavenly Sanctuary.
And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD, and when he comes out, lest he die. (Exodus 28:35 RSVA).
The saints who will take the last message out to the world during the judgment period will know what is happening in Heaven. They will know what Jesus is doing in Heaven. They will know the urgency of the message. They will know lives and eternity are at stake.
Look at those people hoarding toilet paper and other goods. They are controlled by fear. They are controlled by the devil. Here in America many of those people believe a godless leader can benefit them. They believe a man has all the answers. They don’t believe in God. They never met Jesus. They have no compassion. They are greedy, self centered, bitter, and lost. Nothing anyone says can reach them. They are beyond reach of the Holy Spirit and His convicting powers. They are ripe for the harvest. Bitter grapes will remain bitter and have no place in Heaven. If those people were allowed in Heaven, they would introduce greed far worse then Satan introduced during his time in Heaven. God will never allow a repeat of that in Heaven. God will not allow those people and their twisted minds to infect Heaven with their greed. They have chosen their path and forfeited eternal life. They have made their choice and ignorance is no excuse.
If you get to the end of this article and want to know more about God’s Judgment Process, click on the book link and download the book, The Judgment Process for free. Use the code Judgment2020 to download this book for free.
Romans 4:1-3 MKJV What then shall we say that our father Abraham has found, according to flesh? (2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast; but not before God. (3) For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”
There are a number of details that tie this chapter in with the previous chapter. For one thing, this is part of one long letter. Paul is still explaining the same subject. Now Paul is using another example straight from scripture, the story about Abraham. As usual, Paul knew just where to point us to review the story.
Genesis 15:1-10 MKJV After these things the Word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward. (2) And Abram said, Lord God, what will You give me, since I am going childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? (3) And Abram said, Behold, You have given no seed to me. And behold, one born in my house is my heir. (4) And behold, the Word of Jehovah came to him saying, This one shall not be your heir. But he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir. (5) And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. (6) And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness. (7) And He said to him, I am Jehovah that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it. (8) And he said, Lord God, by what shall I know that I shall inherit it? (9) And He said to him, Take Me a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (10) And he took all these to himself, and divided them in the middle, and laid each piece against one another; but he did not divide the birds.
There are more sides to this story than Abraham’s faith, and how God appreciated that faith. We see how Abraham had to rely on God for a son. That shows how God had a plan. It also shows how we have to be patient with God when it comes to His plan. This story also shows a two way conversation between God and Abraham. This showed how God is able to talk to people, and how God chose to communicate with Abraham. God gave Abraham a son, blessings, land, and more. If we looked at the entire story, we would see how Abraham agreed to change one little part of God’s plan, and how that turned out to be a major mistake. Abraham’s first son, Ismael was the father of a whole group of nations that plagued Israel for generations.
God told Abraham to perform a rather odd ceremony. That ceremony lead to a prophecy about Israel and how they were held as slaves in Egypt. Did Abraham understand anything about that prophecy? What if he understood that prophecy? What could Abraham have done to change it? Nothing. Abraham couldn’t get God’s promise right. What could Abraham do about a prophecy he didn’t understand? Not a whole lot. That’s a lesson we need to look at.
Too many people are stuck on prophecies. That is their life, and the only thing they know about religion. They follow self made, modern day prophets who seem to never be right, but that never seem to loose a single member. Being wrongs brings publicity and more members. Why that happens is beyond me. But it does happen. Those modern day prophets make themselves out to be wiser than Abraham, and all the other prophets combined. Isn’t that something David and Isaiah warned about when we looked at the scripture Paul sent us to in the second chapter in his letter?
God made Abraham a promise, and Abraham accepted that promise. Accepting that promise made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes. Is it that easy? Could it be that easy? How did Abraham’s attempt at changing that promise effect his righteousness? The main point is, that one on one conversation with God. That’s where Paul is telling us where we need to be.
Righteousness Without Works
Romans 4:4-8 MKJV But to him working, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. (5) But to him not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (6) Even as David also says of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, (7) saying, “Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; (8) blessed is the man to whom the Lord will in no way impute sin.”
There are a number of ways to look at Paul’s comment on reward, grace, and debt. Based on Abraham’s life, we can see the lesson showing us what happens when people do a little work on God’s plan. That indeed turned out to be a debt. That is one example. Paul linked the word work to grace. Once again we have to ask, is Paul tying the two together, or using them as a contrast? The word, not, tells us, works and grace are contrasts. The next question to ask is, how do they contrast one another, and what is the lesson?
We can go on for what seems to be forever trying to pin point the difference between works and grace. Grace is free, and works is a form of trying to pay your way into Heaven. Does that mean we put aside all form of works and do nothing but rely on grace? Is that what Paul was trying to explain? I’ve heard it put that way. “We are under grace.” People use that term to more or less reinforce other beliefs. Some people insist grace has canceled the law. As we’ve seen in the previous chapter where faith and the law were compared, faith requires a certain amount of work. Faith requires investigation to formulate a decision. That is a part of faith people tend to ignore, because they confuse faith with grace. Grace is free, and for lack of a better term, faith requires a certain amount of work.
Does grace require any work at all? Let’s take a look at the definition of the word grace.
GraceG5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece
From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
G5463 χαίρω chairō khah’ee-ro
A primary verb; to be full of cheer, that is, calmly happy or well off; impersonal especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: – farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.
We can see that grace is a, “manner or act.” That has nothing to do with the common concept of accepting a gift of grace from Jesus and doing nothing. Grace is a, “divine influence up the heart.” And grace is a reflection upon one’s life. That is one of the definitions of communication with Jesus, and one of the major forms of communication used by the Holy Spirit. In a sense, grace is linked to faith by communication. In a sense, grace requires a certain amount of dedication, growth, and that is achieved with the right form of communication.
On the other hand, work means to labor or toil. Within the context Paul wrote, does work mean to worry, labor over decisions, over think the situation, second guess the information you have, and let the subject consume you? Let’s look at that a moment with the example Paul gave us to examine. Abraham was given a promise. He had no idea how God was going to give him a son. Abraham and Sara thought about the subject so much, they came up with their own solution. They over worked the situation and came up with their own solution. Is that what Paul is trying to teach about works?
On another level, works is often associated with keeping the laws and traditions to work or buy your way into Heaven. In modern Christianity that is so rare, that phase of works is hardly worth commenting on. I have never met a Christian who actually believes they can work their way into Heaven. But I can’t count the number of Christians who preach that side of the subject, leave it at that, and think the answers are covered.
Paul went back to quoting David. In this case, Paul sent us to a Psalm where David expressed his view of forgiveness. Paul is expanding his explanation on the plan of salvation.
Psalms 32:1-11 MKJV A Psalm of David. A Contemplation. Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (2) Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah does not charge iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (3) When I kept silence, my bones became old through my roaring all the day long. (4) For by day and by night Your hand was heavy on me; my sap is turned into the droughts of summer. Selah. (5) I confessed my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgression to Jehovah; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (6) For this let every godly one pray to You, in a time when You may be found; surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near him. (7) You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall circle me with songs of deliverance. Selah. (8) I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you, My eye shall be on you. (9) Be not like the horse, or like the mule, who have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, so that they do not come near you. (10) The wicked has many sorrows, but mercy embraces him who trusts in Jehovah. (11) Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
David covered the all important part of confessing our sins. That is an important part we do not want to skip over, or take lightly. Is confession works? What roles does confession play in grace? A large role.
When we look at David, we see a man who made his share of mistakes, and knew a forgiving God. After David confessed his sins, he found peace, which is part of the definition of grace. David described that peace as a resting place, a place of refuge, a stronghold, a place where he felt protected. Coming from a guy with the military back ground David had, that was the ultimate compliment he could pay to God. When we look at the the definition of grace, we find that definition in David’s Psalm. There is no doubt, David never thought he could work his way into God’s presence, much less Heaven. David knew he had to ask for forgiveness to enter God’s presence and find that peace. That is the lesson we need to learn. How to ask to be forgiven, to be cleansed by the blood Jesus shed, so we can enter into His presence to learn.
Faith and Righteousness
Romans 4:9-15 MKJV Is this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. (10) How then was it reckoned? Being in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (11) And he received a sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith while still uncircumcised; so that he might be the father of all those believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be imputed to them also; (12) and a father of circumcision to those not of the circumcision only, but also to those walking by the steps of the faith of our father Abraham during uncircumcision. (13) For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if they of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is made of no effect; (15) because the Law works out wrath, for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Paul wants us to go back and review Abraham’s story. And we should.
And Abram continued, Look, You have given me no child; and [a servant] born in my house is my heir. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This man shall not be your heir, but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir. (Genesis 15:3-4 AMP).
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you. (Genesis 17:10-11 AMP).
God gave Abraham the promise of a child in Genesis chapter 15. The covenant of circumcision was given in chapter 17. Abraham received the promise before he was circumcised. That made a point Paul took advantage of. God called and blessed Abraham before he was circumcised. A lesson the Jews in Rome had to learn.
When we go back to David, we see the lesson Paul is teaching about the law. How could David, or anyone confess sins without laws? That would be impossible. Without the law there could be no confession. Without confession, there would be no cleansing of the heart or soul. Without the cleansing, there would be no way to approach God’s throne, no refuge, no peace, joy, or safety. The law serves its purpose. Grace serves another purpose. Faith and righteousness serve their own purpose. The problem is, people try to bundle them all together and miss all the little details, the steps to the feet of Jesus.
Faith and Grace
Romans 4:16-25 MKJV Therefore it is of faith so that it might be according to grace; for the promise to be made sure to all the seed, not only to that which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (17) (as it has been written, “I have made you a father of many nations”)–before God, whom he believed, who makes the dead live, and calls the things which do not exist as though they do exist. (18) For he who beyond hope believed on hope for him to become the father of many nations (according to that which was spoken, “So your seed shall be”). (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead (being about a hundred years old) or the deadening of Sarah’s womb. (20) He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for him alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but for us also to whom it is to be imputed, to the ones believing on Him who has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) who was delivered because of our offenses and was raised for our justification.
I did something a little different here to help you follow along with the way I look at scripture. I made a few of the key words BOLD, and underlined what Paul quoted in scripture. Those are two of the most important Bible Study methods I follow. First the key words.
A lot of theologians and authors tend to group words like faith, grace, and righteousness together, giving them the same weight and meaning. We have seen how faith includes a great deal of research, looking to God, and relying on the Spirit for answers to of course, make a decision. What is grace?
GRACEG5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece
From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
G5463 χαίρω chairō khah’ee-ro
A primary verb; to be full of cheer, that is, calmly happy or well off; impersonal especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: – farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.
From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: – righteousness.
G1342 δίκαιος dikaios dik’-ah-yos
From G1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): – just, meet, right (-eous).
G1349 δίκηdikē dee’-kay
Probably from G1166; right (as self evident), that is, justice (the principle, a decision, or its execution): – judgment, punish, vengeance.
G1166 δεικνύω deiknuō dike-noo’-o
A prolonged form of an obsolete primary of the same meaning; to show (literally or figuratively): – shew.
When we look at grace, we see the easy, and most acceptable term used in the definition. Grace does include the concept of a free gift, which is how many people define grace, and stop at that point. Grace includes gratitude, joy, and happiness. Can we be joyful or happy with things we can’t see, or understand? Paul tied faith in with grace for a reason. Faith is the act of searching out the truth. Grace is more than a free gift. Grace is understanding that free gift to the degree, you are happy about it. You are so joyful, you can’t help but share that information. That is another Christian concept that is not poorly explained, and blurred by common Christian traditions.
What does the traditional Christian worship service consist of? Sitting in an audience, listing to someone preach, or teach. That basically covers the investigation process for a lot of Christians. Is that the type of faith, or investigation Paul was teaching about?
Are you happier when you see someone receive a gift, or when you receive a gift? You see, there are degrees of happiness. Marriage, seeing your new baby for the first time, winning the lottery, and a host of other events can bring a great deal of joy. The type of joy people can’t help but see on your face. On the other hand, there are a number of events, like a TV program, reading news in social media, seeing a driver stop their car to let you in, and other minor events that bring a small sense of joy. What level does grace reach in your life?
Can grace ever reach the highest level of joy when you receive the news from anyone else? You have to admit the fact, you feel something missing inside if you have not found that one on one connection with Christ where He explains what He has done for you. Not only on the cross, but during His ministry in Heaven. If a preacher tells you only about the cross, you are missing 99% of the news, and 99% of the joy.
What do we get when we look at righteousness? We see righteousness is equity. What is equity? The most common term for equity relates to a home. People gets a loan to buy a house, makes payments, and a small part of that payment builds equity in the home. Equity relates to value that is built in over time. Paul used Abraham as an example, because Abraham was a great example of a man who built a friendship with God. Abraham had to build up his trust in God, as well as his love for God. Abraham did that through real life events.
Not only did Abraham leave his homeland, Abraham went into Egypt, made a mistake, and came out a rich man. That mistake, lesson, and blessing were repeated. Those events showed how forgiving God was, and how gracious He can be. Each time God blessed Abraham, those blessings built trust, and respect. A process we need to pay attention to.
Genesis 17:1-8 RSVA When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. (2) And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” (3) Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, (4) “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. (5) No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (8) And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
We can see how loosely Paul quoted the story about Abraham. This shows how Paul sends people back to read the entire story about Abraham’s life. The good as well as the bad. Abraham’s story tells us about his relationship with God. We all make mistakes, and God will be with us during our mistakes. And, there is always a blessing on the other side of those mistakes. That is a part of God’s grace we don’t hear about everyday. No preacher in the world could stand up and make a list of all of your mistakes and how Jesus walked through them next to you. Of course, who would want a preacher telling them about all the mistakes they made? That is between you and Jesus.
Somehow, Abraham having a child at the ripe old age of 99 is supposed to be an example that can build our faith. In my opinion, that is something you need to sit down with Jesus and talk about. That is a personal issue. The birth of a son always brings joy, especially when you live as long as Abraham did and decided long ago to set aside all hope. Everyone has issues like that – giving up hope before seeing Jesus step in with an answer. That is part of the relationship with God no one can share in the classic worship service. We have to go beyond standardized worship services to find God.
After looking at the lost, there has to be the lingering question on your mind, how are you saved? Of course that’s the goal. The goal is to make it Heaven, to see God’s throne, to meet Jesus, receive your crown, and a stone with your name on it. At least that is what we learn in nominal Christian circles. Why don’t we talk more about Heaven? Why don’t we study more about Heaven? What is with this world? We explore the oceans, dig in the earth for fossils, and remnants from lost civilizations, we’ve even sent people to the moon. We have telescopes and cameras all over the universe, but few people search out a distinct and clear view of Heaven. Why is that so?
I’ve already written a book based on visions of Heaven found in the Bible. I would consider those visions clear and accurate. It was an interesting book to dwell on and write. But books about Heaven just don’t sell. Not at all.
This chapter may not give a view of Heaven, but we will look at what the Bible says about people who are saved. How are they saved and why are the saved? This of course will not be a complete view, but a look at some of the most popular scripture on the subject. Our journey begins in Romans.
Romans 5:15-21 RSVA But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (16) And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. (17) If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (18) Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (20) Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (21) so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I’m sure most of you have read this chapter, or at least a few sentences from this chapter. There are three main themes many Christians concentrate on in this chapter. The first is, sin entered this world through one man, Adam. Actually sin came into this planet through Eve, then Adam. The point is, this story leads us back to another story in the Bible found in Genesis.
The part about this story that has confused me for some time is the part about sin entering this world through one man, and grace through of course, Jesus, who is mentioned as one man. What is Paul trying to get to? I had to read this many times and pray about the information Paul presented before I could begin to understand it. Paul is using a simple example. An example we should find easy to understand. To get the meaning of the story, we have to go back a review the story Paul pointed to and used as an example.
Eve was the first person to sin. Eve was of course tempted by Satan. Eve gave into a minor suggestion. Satan appeared to offer more than what God had given Adam and Eve. And Eve fell for that deception. That of course was the first sin. As far as we know, the first sin in the Universe. But Satan was busy in Heaven questioning God, looking for more, and for lack of a better term, plotting a rebellion in Heaven. We have no idea how many years of experience Satan accumulated in Heaven. We do know, Satan became an expert in deception in Heaven. Satan was in daily contact with God. Satan knew Jesus. But Satan decided that was not enough for him. He convinced himself, then thousands of angels that there was more than what God had given them. We don’t know what Satan saw, believed, or was after. That information was not recorded in scripture. We do know, Satan was able to deceive angels. Angels who saw and knew God. Angels who once worshiped in front of God’s throne. If Satan could accomplish that, what chance do we have?
There is something in the fact, Satan was able to deceive Eve. Why didn’t Satan go after Adam? When we look at scripture we see, God warned Adam about the fruit on that tree. It was Adam’s job to inform and protect Eve. Did Adam do his job? There is something mysterious about those circumstances.
Eve was the first to eat the forbidden fruit. Somehow Eve was able to convince Adam to eat the fruit. In other words, Eve was able to accomplish what Satan was unable to do, or maybe afraid to try. Adam took the word of his wife over God. In short, Adam sinned on more than one front.
Paul used Adam as an example for a reason. Is it because Adam took the word of the only other human being on this planet over God’s word? That could be one of the reasons. But to get to the facts, we have to follow that story a little further.
Sin of course introduced a set of curses. On the surface those curses may look simple to understand. But do we look at those curses based on the way this world chose to understand them? Or do we look at those curses from a point of view from Heaven? After all, those curses did originate in Heaven.
Genesis 3:14-19 RSVA The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. (15) I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (16) To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (17) And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; (18) thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (19) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We all know, that first curse on Satan was a prophecy. It had a spiritual meaning. Why would God move from the prophetic and spiritual state to a physical state of thinking at this point? When we look at the curses as book ends, we find the answer. Adam and all men and women will return to dust. Satan will crawl along his belly and eat the dust of the earth. Put the two together and what do we have? We have Satan eating up people. Is that true? If it is, we can continue along this train of thought.
Satan has one goal in mind. To take as many of us into the pit he is responsible for making. He goal is to eat up people, the dust of this earth. Now let’s go onto the next curse.
There will be a hatred between Eve and Satan. Eve is given the role of a warrior. Her hatred for Satan is the key Eve needs to protect her family. Eve made a mistake she can never make up for and she can never correct on her own. But one of her offspring will crush Satan’s head. Satan heard that. Satan knows that. And of course, Satan did everything in his power to save his own skin. But he failed.
Eve was also cursed with the pain of giving birth. Every woman who has given birth knows about the physical pain. Every good husband has witnessed that suffering and knows how unqualified he is to relieve that pain. There are a host of spiritual lessons attached to those physical attributes. After birth, Eve had to protect her sons and daughters from Satan’s relentless and never ending attacks. Let’s look at the odds. A third of the angles in Heaven were cast down to this planet. They had nothing better to do than to tempt and torture a few human beings. Can you imagine the pressure Adam, Eve, and their family faced? Can you imagine the spiritual pain and suffering Eve had to face everyday of her life knowing she was responsible for the condition of this world. Eve had no choice but to live with it. We can see how that child bearing pain went way beyond the few hours it takes to bring a new life into this world. The curse was no doubt spiritual.
The curse on Adam was of course also spiritual as well as physical. God reminded Adam, he listened to his wife, and took her word over the direct instructions he received from God. In a sense, that hurt God. That struck at God. Adam didn’t fall to the temptation Satan laid on Eve. Adam received his temptation second hand. That made it worse. Sin was rolling downhill and gaining momentum. Now we can begin to see one of the points Paul was making in Romans. People have a choice. They can follow after Adam and take the word of someone who has not received a direct command or message from God, or we can go to Jesus who has chosen to live every minute of His life on this planet being open, willing, and able to receive instructions, knowledge, and wisdom from God. In most cases, which path do people prefer to choose? How can we miss that point in the example Paul laid out for us in Romans?
The curse on Adam gets deeper. The soil Adam, the tree, and that fruit came from was cursed. When God created soil, it was good. Sin changed all of that and more. Thorns and thistles popped up all over the earth. A direct reference to other stories in the Bible and a clear description of the fallen angels who now had a new planet to call their own.
Adam was sentenced to a life of toil. A life of hard word. How else would you describe the relentless attacks those fallen angels launched on the only two people on this planet. Raising a family was not going to be easy. In modern terms, we can never hope to remove all the thrones and thistles in our hearts and lives. That is a never ending battle. Caring for a garden is a prime example. Pull out all the weeds, and you are sure to miss a few. After a few weeks, new weeds pop up all over the place and you find yourself back on your hands and knees sweating just like Adam. At times it all seems hopeless. Paul offered an alternative. The God who created the ground knows how to clean it up once and for all.
Eventually Adam would physically return to the dust God formed him from. The Lord gives and takes away. God knew how to make a man out of dust. And God knew how to make dust out of men. Something we should never forget. God didn’t want Adam to forget about Him. God didn’t want Adam to forget who created him, and who is always in control. That was one of the points Paul was pointing to on his letter.
Paul also mentioned grace in his letter. If we base our salvation on a few choice verses, Romans chapter 5 would contain one of them. Some people look at a verse or two and walk away with the impression, Jesus died for their sins. Jesus fixed what was broken by Adam and there is nothing for anyone to do. That’s not what we learned in previous studies in this book. Finding out about Jesus is only one step in a long journey. Jesus talked about that journey and John recorded key components to that process in his Gospel. But who wants to learn about a process with a number of key steps when the church down the street advertises an easier one step process.
It seems we have a choice. We can follow Adam’s lead, and take the word of another human being, or we can choose to accept what God has told us with His own voice. But this world seems to teach us that, God has left this world on its own. Is that true? Did God leave Adam and Eve on their own? Or did He continue to look over them, and talk to them? If Adam heard God, why don’t we accept that aspect of Adam and make it part of our own lives? God talked with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, a host of prophets, Jesus, the apostles, and more. Why not you and me? Is God selective, or is it one of our problems? We do have a host of religions who insist, God only talks with a few choice people. Or, after the Bible was finished, there was no reason for God to talk to anyone on this planet. There are a million excuses and false conceptions people have about God. Just because they have a license to preach, a wall full of diplomas, and other credentials handed to them from who knows where, does that mean they have an open line to God we can’t have? Come on now. Let’s look at God and accept Him and His written word with an open mind. Does God love any less than He loved Adam, Eve, Samuel, David, Moses, or His own Son? Could God love one person less than He loves another? Does God have a way of measuring His love and rationing it out? If God’s love is limitless, so is His communication.
Paul outlined a choice. We can either choose to face death, or the free gift of righteousness. Do we need to work for that free gift? What happiness do we receive from any gift if we don’t open the package? Is there work involved in the free gift Jesus has prepared for us? We would have to dig into the subject to find out. Now to ask one question. Is studying the subject of grace work? Would studying grace and learning more about God, Jesus, the plan of salvation, and other related subjects disqualify us from receiving the the salvation Paul wrote about?
Romans 11:29-36 RSVA For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. (30) Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, (31) so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. (32) For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. (33) O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (34) “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (35) “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.
It wasn’t by mistake Paul blended mercy with the unsearchable wisdom, knowledge, and judgments of God. It’s true, God has to make a decision. Not everyone will be saved. Paul tells us, we are not going to find that judgment process easy to find nor understand. God’s judgment is way beyond the understanding of this world. Does that mean we give up? Does that mean we leave the search to qualified and specially trained individuals? Who do you think Paul was wring this letter to? When we look at the last chapter in Romans, we see Paul wasn’t writing to institutions of higher learning or church leaders. Paul was writing to common, everyday people. Paul was writing to people who didn’t have all the answers, but were interested in finding them. As a matter of fact, Paul sent them to a place in scripture so they could find a portion of that answer.
Isaiah 40:10-18 RSVA Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. (11) He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (12) Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? (13) Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? (14) Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? (15) Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust. (16) Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. (17) All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. (18) To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?
We can instantly see the connection between Romans chapter 11 and Isaiah chapter 40. We should be able to see how Paul was influenced and inspired by Isaiah. We know God is coming. We know God’s strength. Or at least how God’s strength exceeds anything and everything in this world. We also know how Jesus feeds and cares for His flock. What we have to learn is, how this world fails to know God. We have to face the fact, many people prefer to rely on themselves. We learned this lesson when we looked at Genesis. Adam took Eve’s word over God. After that, God explained that mishap in a number of different ways. It is repeated in the Bible so many times, we know this is an important point. No one can do what God has done, can do for us, or is going to do with this world. All we can do is hope to find God, and gain a little more understanding about God. Is that what being saved is all about? Would you consider that a form of works? Of course – searching for God requires a bit of effort. But when Paul tells people to search out God, and blends it in with grace and salvation, do we start messing with the ingredients, or do we follow the recipe?
Who is saved? Paul and Isaiah agree, that is not for us to decide, and difficult for us to understand. Do we avoid teaching about subjects we don’t understand? It is wrong to present yourself as an authority on a subject you know little about. On the other hand, it is healthy to share. There is so much information on the subject of salvation, none of us could learn all the details in a lifetime. But we can share what we know. And we can learn from other people. Isn’t that what Paul told us to do?
Exodus 16:21 KJV And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
After a number of plagues Pharaoh finally gave up for a time, letting Israel go free. It was an answer to a question Moses asked when he first approached the man he grew up with as a brother. To me it rose the question, why couldn’t Moses reach someone he grew up with as a brother? Look at the discussion when Moses first approached Pharaoh. After his presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went to meet with Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.” “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:1-2 NLTse).
What is the lesson? We all seem to experience the same problem, members of our own family do not know God. It seems this is a lesson repeated time and time again in Israel’s journey through the wilderness. With all the miracles God performed before their eyes, Israel’s faith remained small. God gave the head of the household the responsibility of performing the detailed ceremony for the Passover to show them the role of the priest in the family was not only a right, but a requirement.
After going through all of these experiences, many of the Israelites showed how much their confidence grew in God. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!'” (Exodus 14:10-12 NLTse).
Looking back a few verses we see how some people doubted, being more concerned about themselves more than God’s plan. Not only had they failed to see God’s power, they also misunderstood the reason behind the sequence of events. “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. (Exodus 14:2-4 NLTse).
Don’t we often have the same problem. Isn’t this the reason many people try to avoid God when a trial first arises? We try as hard as we can to fight and worry our way through a problem while the Creator is only a prayer away. We trust and rely more on our limited wisdom than our original manufacturer. If only we knew the plans and details God puts into solving our problems. If we did, we may never worry about, or let those situations get to us.
As Israel journeyed to the promised land it became evident they had not planned properly for the trip. After all, they had no idea where they were going or how long it would take. After a few days the little food they brought ran out. They went to Moses, complaining as usual. If one man’s faith was growing, it was Moses. He turned to God and prayed. He knew God would answer. Moses knew God had a plan.
As God looked down at the more than one million people following Moses out of Egypt, He knew exactly what He was going to do. Part of His plan was to wait a little bit to test each individual faith. Some were going to complain no matter what happened. Others waited for real trials to show up before complaining. Many of them could endure the trial for a time before eventually joining what seemed to be the majority of complainers. How many endured until God moved His hand? Did their joy and praise reflect their faith in God? In a way there is a parallel between testing of Israel’s faith and Jesus’ parable of the sower.
When the time was right, God brought bread from Heaven. We are told the Israelites had no idea what it was and called it manna, which means, what is it? Is this also a type of prophecy? John explains what this manna from Heaven represented. It was not only physical food, but also taught a spiritual lesson.
John 6:33-35 KJV For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (34) Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
It seems the simple message about this bread is often misunderstood. Jesus had to explain exactly what this means. Today everyone claims to know what the bread represents but do they understand what it means to never hunger or thirst? This was such an important point, Jesus went on to explain it in more detail.
John 6:49-51 KJV Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. (50) This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. (51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
When we look at what Jesus is explaining, we see He is referring to His sacrifice, which gives us eternal life. The flesh Jesus gave was His life. How do we eat Jesus’ flesh, His life? How many aspects and details does this cover? All of them?
We need to have Jesus living in our hearts, minds, every part of out physical body and spiritual life. We consume Him through His word, like this study. Every time we open His Word, the Spirit prepares a feast. Jesus comes to our hearts, knocks, and can’t wait to sit down and dine with us. This spiritual connection feeds our faith. He answers our prayers, solves our problems, send us blessings though nature, relationships with others, unexpected blessings, every aspect of our lives. Like Israel’s journey through the wilderness, God knows the trials we will face long before we see them.
What other ways do we take Jesus into our lives? How do we take in His spiritual bread and water? What would our lives be without His influence in our life? Are their parts of our lives we still insist we can manage better than Jesus? Why did the manna in the wilderness melt away when the sun rose.
John 2:1-25 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus‘ mother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (12) After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchantssellingcattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who solddoves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signsJesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
If nothing else, John’s style of writing as well as his book are unique. John included stories such as these found in chapter 2, as well as others not found in other gospels. Why, I don’t know why, but Bible writers have a way of introducing a subject then adding details later. Is this what John is doing on a spiritual level when we look at the gospels as a whole? The only way to know is to compare what John gives us and follow the law of context that tells us to look back to see how the author led into the subject.
Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:
Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.
John 2:1-11 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus‘ mother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Because John didn’t record anything about Jesus leaving for forty days while He faced Satan’s temptations, it’s difficult to determine timing between those stories in John’s book. John began this story by pointing out it was the next day. The original Greek tells us it was the third day. We can assume this may be the third day after His baptism. But we’re not here to examine the exact timing of every event in John’s book but to look at his story as a whole. The first step is to look back at the link between the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:43-51 NLTse).
I think the last verse is the one to concentrate on here. Jesus promised Nathanael he would see Heaven open up and angles going between Heaven and earth. John followed that with Jesus at a wedding with His mother and some disciples. This is where Jesus performed His first miracle. Is that the spiritual view of the stairway Jesus promised Nathanael would see? Jesus called Nathanael, “a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” Was Jesus referring to Nathanael’s ability to see the spiritual side of issues and events?
We also have to compare this introduction to the summary in the chapter. This will help us to understand the theme as well as the style John used to write this chapter.
Examine chapters by first comparing the introduction to the summation. This will give you clues by telling you want to look for within that chapter. If they are contrasts, the chapter will have contrasting stories and characters teaching the same lesson. If the introduction contains contrasts, the summation will most likely contain a contract. When you see this, stories within the chapter will also contain contrasts. The literal form of the introduction and summation will show what types of details to pay special attention to.
But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signsJesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
We see a number of details in this summation. Jesus talked about destroying the temple. John explained, Jesus was referring to His body, which of course points to His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection. We see Jesus’ first miracle performed in the introduction and an explanation of His greatest miracle.
John pointed out how those miracles made a difference after Jesus rose from that tomb. This makes us ask what impression they made on the disciples while they saw Jesus performing those miracles. What went through their minds when they saw Jesus turn clay pots filled with water to wine? Does that water point to a spiritual lesson? The water was used for ceremonial cleaning. Water was also used for baptism, a sort of New Testament ceremonial cleaning in addition to the symbol of a new individual beginning.
John pointed out, Jesus didn’t trust people because He knew human nature. What did that mean? It’s early in Jesus’ ministry. He prepared for about thirty years before He began His ministry. At the wedding Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.” What was He referring to? It may be pointing out, He hadn’t defeated Satan before that wedding. If that was on His mind, Jesus would have been observing how Satan’s agents controlled people. That would have been something on Jesus mind throughout His ministry and life.
We also see the word servant repeated in this story. They prepared the water for Jesus and carried the wine to the person in charge of the wedding. This showed how Jesus needed people to assist Him throughout His ministry. This is another detail to look out for as we progress through John’s book.
John 2:12-25 NLTse After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchantssellingcattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who solddoves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signsJesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
This is a rather short chapter containing only two stories. The question is, what is the connecting factor? One stands out above all. At the wedding John tells us, “But you have kept the best until now!” The story about the temple closed with Jesus telling about His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection.
John is the only author who tells us about the first time Jesus cleared out the temple court. His story reflects the same effects and reasoning as the other author’s account when Jesus cleared the temple court before He returned to teach a number of parables and answered a number of questions asked by different groups of religious leaders. John also added a detail telling us what Jesus did before He went into the courtyard. “Jesus made a whip from some ropes.”
This is another time you want to sit and think about this scene, putting yourself into it. Imagine Jesus sitting outside the courtyard gate weaving a whip out of ropes. I’ve heard dozens of sermons claiming this story proves Jesus got angry. Some sermons try to call it a sort of controlled anger. But look at the details and ask yourself, how long did it take Jesus to weave a whip out of ropes, and what was He thinking about while He was weaving a series of ropes?
Jesus wasn’t displaying any type of pent up anger. Jesus thought about what He was about to do and prayed why He sat outside that gate. He knew what He was doing and the lesson He was about to teach. Nothing was a spur of the moment outburst in any part of Jesus’ ministry. What was the lesson Jesus taught here?
We get our first clue by looking at the key words. Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to details. Words like merchants and dealers combined with exchanging foreign money, and marketplace tell us why Jesus formed that whip. How many people lost their money during the time Jesus formed that whip, and how many people wasted their money thinking it was buying them forgiveness for their sins? Jesus had to show them it was time for a change.
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.
Cattle, sheep, and doves are also repeated. Neither one of those do a thing to forgive sins. In the Old Testament they were referred to as an atonement, which is a reminder. The book of Hebrews goes into detail to explain that change.
Once again we see Jesus quoting scripture. Let’s look at the entire verse. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalms 69:9 NLTse). This is usually all most people will look at. But if we examine a few verses around that verse, we see one of the messages Jesus pointed to.
Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, LORD, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. (Psalms 69:8-13 NLTse).
Once we look at a few other verses, we see why Jesus quoted this scripture. He pointed them to a prophecy about Himself. We see how much Jesus cared about those priests when we see the prophecy refereed to them as His brothers. We also see they thought of Jesus as a stranger, or a little strange. What would they think of Jesus when He walked into their courtyard and put them out of business during the busiest time of the year, Passover? Would that scripture have been enough for them to overcome their financial losses and attitude toward Christ? Look at the detail we see in the introduction to Psalms 69.
Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. (Psalms 69:1-4 NLTse).
Another prophecy about Jesus. This shows how Jesus felt and what He thought about while He was outside forming that whip. One look at that courtyard and Jesus felt like He was drowning. Jesus was just beginning His ministry and He was tired of crying. He was crying His whole life. It was time to get up and do something, to put God’s plan of salvation into action on time and on course. Jesus was definitely outnumbered. He was facing off against the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, temple guards, Roman guards, Herod’s people, and a bunch of people who couldn’t understand His message. That didn’t slow down Jesus. You think David had to have a lot of faith to face his giant, think of what Jesus went up against.
If you still don’t believe Jesus pointed people back to scripture to see at least ten times more than the small message He gave them, look at the summation in Psalms 69.
Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the LORD more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety. (Psalms 69:30-36 NLTse).
I don’t think I need to explain what’s been recorded in Psalms 69 and how it relates to John chapter 2. Can you see Jesus thinking about this Psalm as He’s sitting outside working on that whip? If those pastors trying to make an excuse to release their anger, or trying to explain their personal interpretation on that story had spent a little time, turned and few pages and looked where Jesus pointed them, where God’s Spirit was trying to lead them, they couldn’t have missed this message. The sad fact is, if those religious leaders had looked at that scripture, they would have never put Jesus on that cross.
To think, when I try to teach this simple study method, some people argue, saying there’s no need to waste time looking up scripture Jesus quoted. How can you hope to understand half of what’s in the gospels or New testament if you don’t look at Old Testament scripture Jesus and other people quoted? Those people who argue with me think it’s a simple matter of looking at a few texts going with whatever pops into your head. Isn’t that a form of eastern religion – relying on your inner being? Isn’t that in conflict with relying on God’s Word and relying on His Spirit? Not only are those people hurting themselves, but they are holding other people back from the simple things God is holding out to them. What could be easier than following clear and simple instructions in the Bible?
We see the words miraculous sign repeated. Those religious leaders asked what authority Jesus had in addition to asking for a sign. If they were listening, they would had seen, Jesus gave them everything they needed. That whip showed how all the words in scripture are woven together. They didn’t listen to Jesus. They didn’t go back to scripture. They didn’t know how to rely on God’s Spirit. No wonder Jesus didn’t trust them.