That little number 666 has baffled scholars for generations. The number 6 points us back to creation. God created the earth in 6 days and rested on the seventh day.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. (Gen 1:31).
Satan fell short of the 7th day. Satan never entered into God’s rest. Satan lost his position at God’s throne. Satan lost the connection with the Holy Spirit at God’s throne. The number 6 tells us Satan has nothing to work with but this world.
So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. (Gen 2:1-3).
The number 6 is repeated 3 times to remind us of Satan’s 3 defeats.
Satan was defeated in Heaven.
Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon–the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world–was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last– salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth– the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (Rev 12:7-10).
Satan was defeated by Christ’s ministry on earth.
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. (Rev 12:11).
Satan will be defeated at the lake of fire.
Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev 20:10).
There was no need for any government until people began to disagree. This world started out with only two people. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. (Genesis 1:27 KJV21). There was no need for any type of government with only two people. The world needed something to disagree upon before the concept of a government could be conceived.
The first disagreement was with God. And He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you that you should not eat? And the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. (Genesis 3:11-12 MKJV). The very first political move in this world was of course the blame game. Adam blamed his wife, the only other person on earth. As time marched on so did the blame game and politics.
When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift–the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (Genesis 4:3-7 NLTse).
Disagreeing with God started with Eve, spread to Adam, and of course worked its way into Cain. Freedom of choice and the blame game blended into one early in history. The Bible recorded a series of events spanning generations to show us how things turned out when people followed God and how things turned out when people made their own decisions. Cain’s decision led to the murder of his brother. Cain was banished. But the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:10-12 NLTse).
The earth had two groups of people. Those residing with Adam and Eve, and those who lived with Cain. It didn’t take long for their numbers to grow and their differences to divide the two groups. One day Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; listen to me, you wives of Lamech. I have killed a man who attacked me, a young man who wounded me. If someone who kills Cain is punished seven times, then the one who kills me will be punished seventy-seven times!” (Genesis 4:23-24 NLTse). Those who followed Cain looked at murder as a way of life. The earth faced differences we take for granted today. It always seemed like war and violence have always been the only way to solve disagreements. People banned together for protection.
Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.” In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times. The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. (Genesis 6:1-5 NLTse).
Marriage between the two groups seemed to be the logical solution. Instead it bred warriors. People bent on destruction and control at any cost.
God didn’t have perfect people to led. But God worked with the best He had. Noah followed orders, built an ark following specifications and plans from God. Noah and his family made it through the flood. Later we see Abram. One of the few who listened to God and followed orders. Abram made mistakes. He lied about his wife not once but twice. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sar’ai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful to behold; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.” (Genesis 12:11-13 RSVA). For some reason Abram left Egypt and Negeb with more than he came in with.
We see one of the most important lessons about following God and following your own ideas between those two stories. Abram’s and Lot’s flocks grew. Lot decided to take the best land. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw that the Jordan valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zo’ar; this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomor’rah. So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan valley, and Lot journeyed east; thus they separated from each other. (Genesis 13:10-11 RSVA).
How did that work out for Lot? Lot walked into Sodom a rich man. A group of kings came in and took everything. When Abraham heard about the attack, he went after the world’s largest army with 318 men. When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. (Genesis 14:14 RSVA).
It had to take a supernatural faith for 318 men to go up against the world’s largest army. Abraham’s government was simple. He led people to God. Abraham returned Lot to his home and returned all his riches. Later Lot lost everything when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot lost all his flocks, all his riches, his home, most his family, and his wife. Lot was left with two daughters and how did that work out. Where did Lot’s decision get him?
The agreement between God and Abraham was simple. 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. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” (Genesis 17:1-2 RSVA). Even though Abraham worked with God, he wasn’t a perfect man. After seeing God work miracles, Abraham displayed little trust. He lied about his wife a second time.
Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you, and all that are yours.”
(Genesis 20:5-7 RSVA).
Those two lies are arranged like bookends to show us an important lesson. Abraham was not perfect, but God still worked with him and blessed Abraham beyond imagination while Lot, who trusted in his decisions lost everything. Abraham of course made poor decisions and paid the price, but never gave up on God.
We would be hard pressed to find an example of a perfect government on earth in the Bible or in history. Was Egypt a fair or corrupt government? Egypt was one example, there is always hope with God. After 400 years God took the Israelite slaves out of Egypt. We were given an example showing how a corrupt government does not like to loose and will do everything in its power to hold onto total control with no compromises.
After Moses led Israel out of Egypt, he was a part of a simple government with God in charge. As usual, people objected. Moses’ brother decided to follow suggestions from the radicals. How did that work out?
While Moses was on the mountain receiving instructions for the Tabernacle and specific instructions for Aaron to preform his duties as high priest, Aaron was at the bottom of the mountain building a new god.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, “Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
(Exodus 32:1-4 RSVA).
After making all the furnishings and erecting the Tabernacle, Aaron assumed his duties as high priest. That didn’t seem to be enough for Miriam who rebelled against Moses. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed; and when the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. (Numbers 12:9-10 RSVA).
The simplest form of government was rejected by Israel. They wanted to make their own decisions and be just like the nations who threatened their existence.
Moses faced his share of opposition. Eventually leadership was passed onto Joshua. Like Moses, Joshua was reluctant to lead and needed encouragement. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and of good courage; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:5-7 RSVA).
All God really wanted was a leader who depended upon Him to lead. When Moses faced a problem, he went to God for the answer. Joshua followed orders and the walls of Jericho fell. Joshua and his generals were instantly over confident and lost the battle at Ai. So about three thousand went up there from the people; and they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six men of them, and chased them before the gate as far as Sheb’arim, and slew them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. (Joshua 7:4-5 RSVA).
The push to be like other kingdoms reached God’s ears. Eventually God had no choice than to let them have their way and learn lessons the hard way. Israel’s first king was reluctant in the beginning. Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my family the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?” (1 Samuel 9:21 RSVA). But that was soon to change. Saul had problems taking orders. All Saul had to do was obey a few simple commands. But that proved too difficult for Saul. So he lost his kingdom. Did Saul lead a good government or a corrupt government?
What about David? As a boy David had great faith in God. As a boy alone in the fields, David had time to reflect, think, pray, and listen to God. David had the faith to slay giants. Then something happened. It took time for David to relearn how to listen to God. David knew that Saul was plotting evil against him; and he said to Abi’athar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” (1 Samuel 23:9 RSVA).
David went from a boy who talked with God to a man who waited for yes and no answers using the two stones on the breast plate. David had to relearn communication with God. When we look at David’s history we see how David had instances where he relied upon his own judgment, the opinions of those around him, and God’s commands. We have a rich history to look back on and study. We can see the results when David made his own decisions, and when He followed God. When David followed God, he was safe. But when David ignored God, or tried to distance himself from God, things didn’t go well. David had Uriah killed so he could marry his wife Bathsheba. That cost them the life of their first born. David decided to number Israel. And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1 KJV21). Following Satan was not the best decision David made. So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. (1 Chronicles 21:14 KJV21).
We can see the lessons accumulate. We can see where the ideas and temptations come from. We see the situation repeat itself throughout Israel’s and Judah’s history. At the end of David’s reign one of his sons attempted a coup. And Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king. And he prepared himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. (1 Kings 1:5 MKJV). So were governments in those days corrupt or good?
Solomon made mistakes. He was convinced the best way to protect his kingdom was to marry women from other countries to establish treaties. Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD. (1 Kings 11:1-3 NLTse). Solomon began his reign by ordering a number of assassinations. And now, do not hold him guiltless. For you are a wise man, and you know what you ought to do to him. But bring his gray head down to the grave with blood. (1 Kings 2:9 MKJV). Are governments getting better or drifting further away from God?
Was David’s kingdom a good kingdom or was it corrupt? What about Solomon’s kingdom? Solomon built the temple using slave labor. Solomon also built a new palace and homes for his wives. After Solomon we see taxes were an issue. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!'” (1 Kings 12:9-11 NLTse).
God saw that coming and decided to divide Israel.
One day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh met him along the way. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone in a field, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you! But I will leave him one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. For Solomon has abandoned me and worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of the Ammonites. He has not followed my ways and done what is pleasing in my sight. He has not obeyed my decrees and regulations as David his father did. (1 Kings 11:29-33 NLTse).
You would think Jeroboam would have been thankful and followed God’s commands. Instead Jeroboam decided to set up his own religion, his own gods, and his own government. Was that a good or corrupt government? Look back at Egypt. If we follow the story, we see Jeroboam spent some time in Egypt and learned their ways. Nothing changed in Egypt over the years. Egypt still had the same gods and Pharaoh was looked at as a god. Jeroboam decided to follow that pattern when he set up his government. In modern times we saw this same system was used in Japan before and during WWII. It is difficult for Christians to wrap their minds around that concept. But we can look back and see how people were willing to sacrifice their lives for their emperor and god. Something takes hold of those people and their leaders. We see governments have different degrees of control and none are perfect.
Israel’s government, the ten northern kingdoms was focused on false gods. The Christian mind naturally focuses on those false gods and rarely considers the concept behind them. Egypt taught us one aspect of that concept. Governments are famous for using religion to control the masses. On the top the leaders made themselves gods. That is what we need to examine. Today we have corrupt leaders who stand against every form of religion. In a sense they make themselves gods. In general those leaders suffer from a inferiority complex. They live in total fear and hatred. They use that fear to control people. Fear becomes their god and the god of the people they control. That is only one aspect of an inferiority complex.
Hatred is another symptom of an inferiority complex. In sever cases people live, breath, and eat hatred which becomes their overall controlling factor. From a spiritual view we see hatred is used to suppress their conscience. God’s Spirit is always reaching out to people trying to convict them of their sins and repent. The earliest lessons in history show how people decided to oppose God, second guess God, and make their own decisions. We’ve seen how things turned out when people decided to strike out on their own. It is also human nature to blame others when their mistakes come to the surface and the time comes to pay for their mistakes. Instead of learning from their mistakes, they blame those mistakes on anyone and everyone. That inferiority complex now controls their every thought and action. They become their own god. They are self centered, self serving, and care about no one. They make promises, lie, and do anything to increase their power, control, and wealth. They make empty promises and fill their lives with empty hope. They shun God and His promises replacing them with worldly power, control, and riches. In short, they loose their view of Heaven and eternal life. Which is sad, but a reality since the establishment of earth’s earliest governments.
This world has never established a perfect government. We can look at the Bible in the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus, Peter, Paul, and all the others faced corrupt governments. You can search every history book in the world. The perfect government never existed. So why do people in the US today think a revolution will lead to the perfect government? What are their plans? Who can they really trust? If the devil could reach David, what chance do the rest of us stand? People can do their best, but they will also fail to one extent or another. That is human nature. There is little we can do about it.
When I look at what is happening in the world in 2020 and 2021 I have to admit. If God wanted to make a point, He would allow the corrupt people to take total control. No one wants to listen to God and learn the easy lessons. We can look at the Bible all we want. We are going to see example after example showing us how great things worked out when they did follow God. We can see how God protected them. We can see how God knew exactly what was going to happen. Then we see how people accepted God for a time, then wandered off on their own. That is human nature. We all do it to one degree or another.
God allowed the left to take total control. We have to ask why. If we refuse to listen to God, and most of this world has made that choice, God has no other choice than to let the world learn from the choices they make. So what does that mean?
Millions of people remain uninformed, misinformed, and for lack of a better term, have given up hope, or cling onto false hope like people in the Old Testament clung onto false gods. God knows how to wake those people up. God knows how to push those people away from the influence of those offering false hope and a modern version of false gods. Put the liars in control and let the world witness their skills, dedication, compassion, wisdom, or lack thereof. When people want to place their hope on worthless factions, what choice does God have other than let them have their way and learn lessons on their own.
Romans 9:1-5 NLTse With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. (2) My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief (3) for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed–cut off from Christ!–if that would save them. (4) They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. (5) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.
How do people confirm that messages are indeed from the Holy Spirit? How is the Holy Spirit supposed to be our witness? It seems to me, when we are on the same team, there is a way to support one another in all facets of life. How do we get that ball rolling? Is it as simple as we hear in church, or on the Internet?
Let’s face it. Most messages we hear come from someone’s imagination. What spirit influenced that person? When we ask questions, we usually receive the standard answer. “Of course I prayed.” Or they may be defending their leaders by saying, “of course they prayed.” Then what was the answer? How did the Holy Spirit communicate with that person, group, or committee? If they received a direct communication from God, I doubt if it would quickly be forgotten. On the other hand, if the message came from human resources, I could see how a standardized answer would be offered.
David wrote a list of Psalms telling us, he prayed, and how he received answers. All of the prophets in the Bible did the exact same thing. Moses wrote about how he first met God, and a series of communications with God after that. Some times God would speak directly with Moses. As was true in most cases. Moses has a special relationship with God. On the other hand, David’s story contained another twist. As a boy, David had a great relationship with God. In the fields, David had no trouble hearing God’s voice. David found it a little strange to find other people lacked that communication with God. But something happened. Influences inside Saul’s palace, an endless stream of wars, battles, a marriage, and other factors drew David away from God to a degree. David had to leave, get out on his own for a while, get back to nature, and back to God. That began a retraining process for David that started with one priest, and a set of stones that answered yes and no questions. David eventually grew back into a relationship with God, that was on and off to say the least. There were times David listened to God, sought out God’s advice, and went to God as a type or refuge. And there were times David didn’t think he needed God’s advice on a subject. David was human.
Daniel wrote a book that is one of the best sources of information about how God communicates with us. Daniel heard God in prayer, visions, dreams, and through messengers. Daniel played the part of a messenger, telling people what God thought about subjects, what their dreams were, and of course, all those messages about the future. Which brings up a good point to examine. All of the information written in Daniels books came from a direct revelation from God. No one can argue with that point. David’s book is the focus of study for many preachers, pastors, and teachers these days. If every word they are quoting is a direct revelation from God, shouldn’t each and every one of their explanations also be a direct revelation from God? If that was the case, wouldn’t each of their messages identify how and when God communicated with them? Why doesn’t that simple concept spread throughout the Bible seem to apply to the world today?
Paul is simply attempting to deliver a simple message, God loves the Jews and wants them to remain as His children. To deliver that message, Paul went out of his way to make sure the Jews knew the message was from God. If such a simple message in scripture required so much clarification, than why not other messages?
It seems that some of the Jews felt as if God abandoned them, because the priests and Pharisees killed God’s Son. It may seem rather difficult for us to share that type of guilt. If religious leaders committed a sin, would the entire congregation share in the guilt? And why, or why not? Maybe some of the Jews were more like Paul than what we generally considered. Maybe more Jews support Jesus’ death, and the persecution of His followers. Then in their own way, met Jesus while traveling their own roads. If it happened to Paul, it could happen to others. While Paul was blind, Jesus sent him to a Christian home to heal. There had to be a reason. That act of kindness and trust had to make an impression on Paul. When we look at the Gospels, we can’t argue the point, there were a number of Jews who called for Jesus’ death. People from all over the world were standing in Pilot’s courtyard. It was one of the most important Passovers in history.
There is no doubt Satan and his angels were in that courtyard on the day Jesus was sentenced to the cross. Demons influenced people. Many of them from distant parts of the world knew little about Jesus, or what was going on. All they did was follow the crowd. Of course they were prompted on by demons. Those people may have heard a story or two about Jesus. But how accurate were those stories? Were they first hand accounts, second, third hand, or nothing more than rumors? Were those stories from Jesus’ supporters, followers, friends, or foes? How well did those people know Jesus?
There is a ton of information we would have to examine to get to the truth about every Jew Paul wrote to in Rome. People don’t think about actual events and how they shaped lives and beliefs in Paul’s day. People don’t stop long enough to consider how modern day events effect people today. We could learn so much from the letters Paul wrote, if we stopped long enough to consider how one of the world’s most important events shaped lives, effected people, and changed them in one way or another.
Paul had to send the Jews in Rome all the way back to Abraham so they could see how God chose one man to begin a whole new movement on earth. Jews should have known that history. Christians should also know that part of scripture. Paul took that line from Abraham all the way up to Jesus. Jesus was a Jew. For the most part Jesus was rejected by the Jews. Which was one of the points Paul was trying to make. Why should the Jews continue to reject Christians, or certain Christians?
How Does God Choose
Romans 9:6-16 NLTse Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! (7) Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. (8) This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children. (9) For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (10) This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. (11) But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; (12) he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” (13) In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” (14) Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! (15) For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” (16) So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
Paul dropped a bomb on the Israelites. Telling them, not all of them were God’s children, may have been blaspheme in the eyes of some of those Jews. That was not at all what they have been taught. Some Jews believed, they were born into God’s family based on their family line, which was traced all the way back to Abraham. There was nothing that could change that. But with that family line came responsibilities. They had to bring their sacrifices. The most important being the animal sacrifices. There was also the temple tax, first fruits from whatever business they ran, and a host of other donations to keep the temple up and running, and the priests employed. Along side the priests were a host of other people to interpret the laws, write books, explain just about every question people may have on scripture, and of course, enforce the laws, and provide security for the temple. The process required a huge amount of funds. Providing for those operations was part of being a Jew.
We should look back and read the entire story whenever an inspired author records a small part of scripture. The Christian mentality may be, that was only for the Jews, or they may think they know the scriptures so well, there is no need to review. But there is. As we’ve already reviewed, God’s Spirit communicates in various ways. Scripture may be the most important, and for many people, the first door to a lasting relationship with God. Be honest. Ask yourself, “was the Spirit really with me the last time I read that story?” Of course you may answer, “yes,” to that question. But consider this. Was the Spirit with you in the frame of mind Paul is trying to establish? God’s Word is a living word. Admit it. You open up the Bible, read a little bit, and there is little or no impressions on your mind. A few days or weeks later, you open the Bible, read the same passage, and guess what. Suddenly the story comes alive, and seems to center on your life at that particular moment. It is like you and God are in the same room, and He understands every detail in your life. Now why would you deny the Holy Spirit the chance to set the stage for a new and exciting lesson? Does the Bible always have to be about you, or are there dimensions you have been missing?
The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. But Sarah saw Ishmael–the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar–making fun of her son, Isaac. So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave-woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!” (Genesis 21:1-10 NLTse).
I just inserted a small part of the story. I would never deny you the opportunity to spend some quality time with the Holy Spirit, to see what He has in store for you. Based on what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 9, this story shows us how Sara rejected Ismael and his mother. Did God reject Ismael? Only to a degree. God actually blessed Ismael and his sons. Sara was the one who started all the trouble. Ismael was to grow up to be the leader of a nation, and his sons would be given nations to lead. Sara demanded that Ismael leave. How different things may have tuned out if Ismael had a real father figure in his life. Especially a father figure like Abraham.
Was that the point Paul was trying to make? When we get back to Romans, we can see how family, and God the Father is a larger than life figure in the story. Isn’t Paul trying to explain how one child from Abraham grew up without the benefit of a kind and loving father? How does that apply to our lives with God? Do we really have the influence of a kind and loving Heavenly Father in our lives?
See how the Spirit can influence the way we perceive simple ideas, concepts, and lessons in scripture? One day we have no idea that lesson was in the story. The next day, we are asking why we never way that before. It happens all the time when you invite to Spirit to study with you, and when you learn how to let the Spirit lead in your studies.
As Paul gets into the story about Isaac, he sends us back to another story in scripture. Once again we have another story to relate to in ways we have never seen before.
But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the LORD about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. And the LORD told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born. (Genesis 25:22-26 NLTse).
Imagine children in competition before they were born. There has to be a lesson in that. And how does it relate to the world today? All of us live in different places, have different jobs, environments, issues to deal with, and of course, follow different faiths at different levels. In certain parts of the world people are greatly effected by Ismael’s descendants. Some may be effected by Esau’s descendants. We will all view this story and its lessons in different ways. Sticking with the subject of the father, and his influence on his children, we can see how children can and will cling to certain aspects of their parents, be influenced by the world around them, and make good and poor choices. That is something we see in this world all the time.
Another aspect of this lesson is, how the events listed, and all the events that stemmed from the birth of Ismael and Esau effected this world. But the main point still remains, how the birth and death of God’s Son effected this world. With the help of the Spirit, we can have a look at how they effected the world immediately following Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.
Paul faced a group of Jews in Rome he had to remind about the origin of God’s children on this planet. Paul had to encourage those people to go back and review those stories. Not in the way they have been taught those stories, but examine them in the new light they received. Of course that light came in varying degrees to different people. Some people left Jesus. Some people followed Jesus for years. Some people saw and listened to Jesus for only a day. Some people witnessed the miracles Jesus performed. Some people were in fact healed by Jesus. Because few people in Rome actually saw any of those events, the Book of Romans gives us in in-depth look at how one inspired writer teamed up with the Spirit to reach a small number of people in the world capital.
Imagine the influences Rome had on people. It was a republic led by an emperor. Quite a strange combination showing how man made governments don’t work, and won’t last. How was Rome as a whole effected by Ismael and Esau? To my knowledge, not very much. I could be wrong, but I am not using history books to bring out the essence of the Bible. The question should be, how did the children of Ismael and Esau effect individuals? Did any of those children down the lines of either of the two spawn the gods found in Rome after Jesus’ resurrection? They may have had more influence than we can imagine. The facts are not important. The main message is, not all of those people associated with Abraham had a good influence on this world. They were not a part of God’s family. As a matter of fact, they often stood against God’s children.
There has always been a division between God’s actual children, those who choose to follow Him, and those who choose to follow their own paths. It began with Cain and Able, and continues today. The Lord started over with Noah. Then over again with Abraham. Finally God took a group out of Egypt. This world never seems to get the simple message. Paul sent the Romans back to another story to review.
One day Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest–everything will be fine for you.” Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me–on me and on your people–if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The LORD continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” (Exodus 33:12-23 NLTse).
What did we learn from that part of the story, and how does it relate to Romans? There is one line that should draw our attention. God’s presence is what sets His people apart from the rest of this world? Isn’t that what Paul has been teaching in this chapter?
There was no doubt Moses shared a special relationship with God. They were close to each other. Moses moved as close to God as he could get. That was what that story was all about. But that wasn’t the same for every Israelite. For the most part, those people were descendants of Abraham. They should have known God and talked to God like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But did they? Did they miss that aspect of being with God? What happened to it?
John 14:1-31 NLTse “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) 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? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) “No, we don’t know,Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (7) If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (8) Philip said, “Lord,show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (9) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. (11) Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. (12) “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. (13) You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. (14) Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (15) “If you love me, obey my commandments. (16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. (17) He is the HolySpirit, 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. (18) No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. (19) Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. (20) 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. (21) Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (22) Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” (23) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (24) Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. (25) I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. (26) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the HolySpirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. (27) “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. (28) 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. (29) I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (30) “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, (31) 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.
This is the beginning of three of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Jesus told His disciples about God, His Kingdom, the disciples role, and how God’s Spirit will help them. Those chapters also tell about Jesus’ love for this world in greater detail than any other story in the Bible.
We’ve seen how John can get into details. He surpassed himself in those three chapters. I have no idea why other authors didn’t record any of those details, but they seem to be the focus of John’s book.
Jesus got right to the point. “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?” Jesus doesn’t want us to worry. If we can’t physically see Him, we can be sure we are on His mind. The symbol of building a home shows how much He cares. It used to be a tradition for a man to build a new home for His wife to be. It was a pledge to his future wife as well as a form of security to her parents. This was Jesus’ way of introducing the concept of an engagement and with it comes a commitment. We all know how Jesus feels about divorce. Because an engagement involved such a commitment, it was viewed much like a marriage. Look back at Jesus’ conception. Mary wasn’t married when she became pregnant, but since the engagement was set, Joseph would have to go through the same process as a divorce to put her away.
We don’t have to worry about any divorce. As long as we remain committed to Jesus, He remains committed to us. Those who wonder away aren’t necessarily put out of His mind, memory, or concern. He will do anything to get them back. Hence the parable of the lost sheep, and other parables.
Did you ever talk to Jesus about the house He is building for you? Did you every talk about the layout, features, and colors? I’m not sure of the layout, but I asked for jasper with the ability to change colors. Can you imagine crystal walls with all kinds of different colors? Why is Jesus building a home for you?
When everything is ready, Jesus promises to come and take us all home. Just think, no more mortgage or rent to pay. No more taxes, electric bills, phone bills, freezing cold and unbearable heat will be a thing of the past. No more food bills. We can walk out the door to a feast of fresh fruits, nuts, and can you imagine your garden? God planted one for Adam and Eve. We’ll all have one. Can you imagine the taste with no fertilizers or pesticides. I don’t know about you, but I want to go home soon.
The best part is, we can talk with Jesus and other people we’ve read about in the Bible. I don’t know about you, but I have about a million questions. I hope I remember all of them. I’m not worried, I’ll have an eternity to think about those questions.
Jesus said we should know where He is going. What does He mean by that? Jesus doesn’t just mean the destination, He means the details He wants to tell you about now. He doesn’t want us to wait to hear the details. He is as excited about sharing those details as I am excited about being there. I hope you are to.
“No, we don’t know,Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” It seems strange to see Thomas didn’t know what Jesus was talking about, where He was going, or how to get there. Jesus had to remind them. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
I guess that answered the question. Do you understand now? If your a little foggy on the subject, your not the only one. Philip said, “Lord,show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Those two disciples showed the misunderstanding many in this world will have in every generation. It’s rare to read or hear about visions of Heaven. What are those preachers doing if they don’t have enough time to spend a few minutes with Jesus to talk about Heaven? I’m not sure what their priorities are, but I hope they get them straightened out.
Jesus couldn’t figure out why His disciples couldn’t understand. Weren’t they listening? Didn’t they care? Were they happier on this world? What was the problem? Jesus had to resort to the same method He used with the Pharisees. Jesus began repeating Himself. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”
I don’t comprehend why the disciples didn’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. When I look at the gospels, I see time frames in between the stories. What did Jesus talk to them about during those periods? There must have been times Jesus reminisced about home. Didn’t they see a vision of Heaven in the day to day events and blessing while they were with Jesus? They always had food. God provided everything they needed. They saw a bit of Heaven when Jesus fed thousands. They experienced the joy of Heaven when they saw Jesus heal people. How many times did they witness the love from Heaven? After seeing all of that, His disciples said they didn’t know. What about all the things Jesus told them?
“The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.” Jesus had to remind them. He paused for a long time giving them time to think. Jesus knew He didn’t have to explain everything. Then it was time to get to work.
“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!” Sounds simple enough. If we need anything to do work for God, all we need to to is ask. I can tell you for a fact, I am trying that right now. I’d like nothing more than to retire, write all day, and do a full time ministry teaching people how to get closer to God. But I guess Jesus is already Taking care of that.
“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 HolySpirit, who leads into all truth.” That shouldn’t be to difficult. But why aren’t any of us able to keep all the commandments? We can try, but we always seem to fail. Maybe that’s why we don’t get everything we ask for.
This is one of my favorite parts. The promise about God’s Spirit. Imagine a full time guide, friend, and protector. That is when we listen. Listening can be as difficult as keeping all the commandments. Has anyone been able to get a perfect score on both for an entire day? I doubt it.
Before we get too far into this chapter, let’s look at how John led into this chapter. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me. (John 13:34-38 NLTse).
John ended the previous chapter with the same theme in this chapter. Love each other. Then Jesus told about how Peter would deny Him. We see that theme continued here when Jesus’ disciples didn’t know where Jesus was going, or how to get there. Imagine, Jesus was going be in this world as a mortal man for a few more hours and His disciples still don’t understand.
Did the disciples know more about God’s Spirit than they knew about where He was going? What is God’s Spirit? Is it a manifestation or extension of God? It is God’s way of communicating with us? Is the Holy Spirit brought to us by God’s angels, those Nathaniel was told he would see going up and down from Heaven? Or is God’s Spirit a combination of all of them? If it’s one thing I’ve learned is not to guess at details we cannot be sure of. And never to claim to know everything about an Infinite God.
Jesus told us, the first role of God’s Spirit is to guide. He leads us into all truth. A guide is not a teacher. I’ve seen too many people confuse the definition and purpose of the two. Jesus claimed and fulfilled the role of teacher. Even though Jesus received His instructions from God, Jesus has been and will continue to be our Teacher. Principals and school board leaders don’t teach. They may be administrators. They may determine what classes are offered and to a great degree determine how subjects are taught, but teachers have direct contact with students and are responsible for results and failures. Jesus is the only one who came here, experienced and suffered through life in this world, and the only one equipped to teach us. Jesus has a special bond with us and is a conduit between us and God.
What does it mean to guide? If you study the Bible on your own, you should know that answer because you’ve heard the whisper in your ear to look back a few verses, compare another verse, look up the definition of a word, and the many other instructions God’s Spirit uses to guide. But it is still Jesus and His experience that teaches. Why do you think He gave His disciples the instructions, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. (Luke 24:44-48 NLTse). Jesus pointed them back to the experiences recorded about Him. Jesus had more to teach about God’s Spirit.
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. God’s Spirit covers the world like water covered the world before creation. His Spirit is everywhere, but can’t reach everyone. Not everyone will accept God’s Spirit who only guides, but will not force people to follow. Jesus’ sheep follow Him because the hear His voice, but Jesus doesn’t force them to follow.
How do we … I’m not sure of the proper words except to say, work with those conditions? I know the answer is not, tell people your doctrine and tell them they’re lost if they don’t believe. Belief has nothing to do with man made doctrines, no matter how many proof texts they collect. Jesus never provided a list of doctrines or told anyone to believe in anything more than God, Himself, God’s Spirit, God’s Kingdom, and eternal life. There may be a few others, but that covers the majority of the list. Jesus also told His disciples and all of us to follow God’s commandments. But Jesus didn’t make a doctrine out of it because that is part of His teaching job. Not our job. That is another role people are confused about. They confuse the gift of teaching with the authority to teach. We can or should only teach what God’s Spirit has guided us to, Jesus and His Word has taught us, and God has verified. Here again, one out of three in the process is not good enough.
Jesus made a promise not to abandon anyone. He also told them this world won’t see Him much longer. That’s why He promised to send God’s Spirit. He wants us to know He is with God. Then Jesus said something hard to understand, “and you are in me, and I am in you.” Jesus is in us now, not some time in the future. Some people want to wait. I’m wondering what they’re waiting for. Most people know Jesus is within us. A lot of people say Jesus is in their hearts, but really don’t know what that means. All they do is repeat what they’ve been told, but don’t know the love it takes to hold Jesus in their heart, or share that love.
The other part of that statement is the difficult part to understand. We are in Jesus. Not many people preach this, or know what it means. I can’t really be sure, except to point to Hebrews 10 where it shows how Jesus died to open a direct path to God’s throne. Spiritually we are meant to be with Jesus. All I can say is, that is a personal experience. I can include a short list of steps I take to approach God’s throne.
Pray to Jesus in the evening and the morning and throughout the day.
Pray out loud whenever you can.
Night time is time to rest and get away from this world.
Take this time to reconnect with God.
God can reach you through His Word.
Read scripture in the evening and in the morning.
Keep in contact with God like a friend.
God communicates through a series of events.
Look for patterns in His Word, your life, and world events.
Pay attention to conversations with people. God also communicates through people.
Approach God’s throne by praying to Jesus to cleanse you with His blood.
Lay your sins in front of Jesus.
Listen to what He has to say.
Ask Jesus to purify you and place you at the foot of God’s throne.
Ask about a few subjects one at a time and wait for an answer.
Ask God about scripture you are studying.
Listen to scripture that comes to mind.
Pay attention to parallel themes.
Pay attention to parallel events in your life and the world related to the subject your studying.
Learn to identify and suppress distractions while in prayer.
Don’t let your mind wonder.
Repeat the details you learned.
Write to keep a record.
Other details will come out while writing.
Learn to share.
When Jesus talked about love, He included the commandments and obeying.
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.
All who love me will do what I say.
Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.
Jesus also explained the direct connection between loving Him and His Father. They come as a package deal. If we love Jesus, He will love us and so will His Father. This shows the love Jesus and His Father share. A love we have to go to Him to learn about. We have to give up a lot to learn about and experience that love. It is the most expensive purchase you will ever make. You have to give greed, envy, contempt, hatred, and of course fear. Don’t take that list as a complete list. I’m sure once you talk to Jesus, He will have more details to add. Listening to Jesus is the most important aspect of a relationship with him.
I wonder why one of the disciples asked the question he did. Jesus just explained the love relationship between Himself and His Father. Jesus also explained their love for us. Then one of His disciples asked, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” What would you have asked Jesus if you were there?
If Jesus was talking about love, I would have asked Him to tell more about that love. What it really is. How we receive it. How we share it. How do we experience the fullness if that love? How do we make sure we never loose it? There are so many questions. I doubt if I would of asked why much of the world can’t see that love.
I think Jesus viewed that question much the same way. Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” We see Jesus repeating Himself again. That tells us how important this subject is. There is no subject more important than love. When we consider the love from Jesus and God, we have to see, it is what made the air we breath, water we drink, the sun that warms us, food we eat, everything in this world. Love is what makes the world rotate. Love is what keeps God from destroying sinners who cause many of us so much pain and sorrow. Love is what gives thieves, adulterers, and those who force people into slavery and prostitution one more day to live. Love is what brings a man and wife together in an emotional and spiritual state we are meant to live. Love is what sent Jesus to the cross.
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 HolySpirit–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.
Here we see God’s Spirit in the role of teacher. We have to look at what He is teaching. In this example the Spirit is reminding them about what Jesus told them. It is more of a role of a substitute teacher reviewing what has already been taught. Of course there is more to His guiding and teaching role. There is a lot of individual guidance required in your life. Questions to be answered, problems and defects to straighten out, people to guide you to, and messages to deliver. All of those things are details of a personal nature between you and Jesus.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be happy He was going back to His Father. At that time they didn’t know where Jesus was going. But we do now. And we should rejoice in it by learning more about what Jesus is doing in Heaven right now. How else can we share in His joy and what He is experiencing? But when Jesus was telling them this, He still had a major trial to face, and He knew what the enemy was planning. “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.”This was only the beginning of Jesus’ lesson and His introduction to God and His Spirit.
I think this is a good chapter to introduce another rule of context known as the Five W’s, Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
This is one Bible Study method many people are familiar with. It is refereed to as the 5 – W’s of Bible Study. Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Each question is listed and answered. Make sure you stick to information in the Bible and do not add in outside reference material. Think of using this method to place God’s Word on trial. Think of yourself as cross examining God’s Word. Anything outside the Bible is circumstantial evidence and not allowed. This can take some digging, but as a general rule, answers are found by looking back a chapter or two. References can also be used from other books in the Bible.
If you ever searched the Internet looking for information on Inductive Bible study, you have seen rules of the five “W’s” Who, What, When, Where and Why. Has anyone explained how to draw information from Scripture in a manner you can understand and apply? We will dwell on each of these points in an effort to provide an example you can understand.
I prefer to use the term personality. In this example the major who is easily answered Jesus. There are three of His disciples we should also examine. But where do the names get you? There is another important rule to follow. The rule of context. To understand the texts you have to answer each question, who, what, when, where and why in context. What does that mean? When answering the question who, we have to determine at least a few very important details. Where is the person on their spiritual walk? What events led to the circumstance or event being studied? What lesson did the person in the story learn? How did the lesson make them stronger? How does the lesson apply to their spiritual walk and yours?
In this case, where is Jesus as the spiritual leader and the disciples are His pupils as the name implies?
This may be the most difficult to explain. Look at what is happening. Jesus is teaching His disciples.
The question of when is closely related to who. Many studies concentrate on the date. The date is what? A value set by the world. A date is fine if you are studying a president, king, or general, but Bible study should center on the spiritual lesson. In this example when is answered in in the previous chapter.
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).
The physical location is easy to find. It’s found in the previous chapter in verse 2. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. (John 13:2 NLTse). In this case, John blended a strange fact with the location. John wanted us to understand what the disciples were up against and how Jesus was threatened. Remember, a Bible study will always look for the spiritual lesson being taught. There is a reason God went to great lengths to record specific locations. More of the spiritual lesson is understood when the story is studied as a whole.
This question can only be answered by reviewing previous texts, which brings up another important detail of Bible study. The context of the chapter is found in the first and last few verses of the chapter. Because we had to look back at the previous chapter to gather details, we can see Jesus having an intimate dinner with His disciples while Satan was present.
We can begin by reviewing a few details about Jesus. Because the time and location drew us back to chapter 13, we have to consider details introduced during that dinner. One was Judas possessed by the devil. Jesus introduced the symbol of wine, blood, bread, and His body. Those were reminders of what Jesus taught them. Jesus also washed their feet, a new tradition Jesus introduced to remind how He served them and how they are to serve each other.
Jesus also reminded them, God gave Jesus His authority and He wouldn’t be with them much longer. Jesus also told them, the world will know them by their love for each other.
Judas is one of the disciples introduced. He was the one with the devil in him. Judas is the one who turned Jesus over to the religious leaders. He did it for money. Jesus used the sign of eating together to identify the traitor, showing how someone close to Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean they know Him. When Judas left, the other disciples assumed he went out to give money to the poor. In fact, Judas was taking away the greatest treasure those poor people would ever see with their own eyes. Through God’s grace and plan, they would receive the greatest reward anyone could receive.
Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. He thought it would be to embarrassing. After Jesus explained, Peter wanted Jesus to wash his hands and head. He wanted more than the other disciples were getting. Later, after Jesus told them He was leaving and they couldn’t follow, Peter insisted he would follow Him even onto death. That’s when Jesus told Peter he was going to deny Him three times.
It may seem strange why chapter13 ended with Jesus telling Peter he will deny Him three times, but when we get to the what and why, we can look at the reason behind why this story is arranged like this. At this point you should be noticing why it is important to look at those chapters as one story. After all, John wrote a book, and books have chapters that all relate to the same story line. Many books finish chapters with one sort of climax or another, leading to the next event in the story.
After Peter, Thomas told Jesus, he wanted to know where Jesus was going. Thomas also asked the way. Jesus’ explanation was simple. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
The next disciple we see in this story is Philip. He wanted Jesus to show Him the Father. Remember, Jesus told Philip’s brother, he would see a stairway between Heaven and earth with angels going up and down.
We also have to take a look at Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name). He wanted to know why Jesus was only going to reveal Himself to them and not the whole world.
Much of the what has already been explained when I listed the names. I’m sorry for getting ahead of myself in this lesson, but now you can see how exciting it is to get into the details. If your not ready to jump in with both feet, your not connected with God’s Spirit.
What was Jesus doing? What He does best, teaching. What was He teaching? All kinds of spiritual details and lessons. Remember Jesus was teaching a group of people. Some caught onto some parts of the lessons, other people understood other details. Jesus taught about humility, helping each other, and that He was soon going away. Jesus also taught about His love and connection with God and how they both shared the same love with this world.
It was during a dinner the day before the Passover. I can’t be sure if it was the Passover dinner, or a preparation for it. Some people say it was the Passover, but Jesus actually died the next day on the Passover. Some say Jewish custom celebrated the Passover a day early when it fell on the Sabbath so there wouldn’t be a conflict between the celebration and Sabbath. That’s not an important detail. What is important is, this is what Jesus was teaching a few hour before He was arrested. Jesus was putting a summation on His ministry with His disciples.
This scene took place around a dinner table. This draws us all the way back to the Tabernacle with the table set as an invitation. That table in the Tabernacle was a symbol of not only that dinner, but Jesus’ invitation to share meals with us.
I could add another nine pages to why. But like we’ve seen, Jesus taught a series of topics to reach each person in a different way at different times. As we can see when we read the story, the disciples didn’t understand.
We can see Judas didn’t understand a whole lot. He ignored what Jesus taught because he already had his mind made up. That’ why the devil inside Judas was introduced at the beginning of the story. The devil could have influenced any of those disciples. He would have had his way with Jesus if there was an opening. We can see different degrees of influence the devil had on some of those disciples. It’s easy to see how Judas didn’t listen. If we look at little closer we can see how other disciples had a difficult time listening.
Peter was mentioned in a few parts of the story. He didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet because he didn’t understand the lesson. Jesus had to remind him, feet are something that can get dirty very fast. Jesus washing their feet was a spiritual lesson. A spiritual cleansing.
Peter was also told he would deny Jesus. Looking back a few verses we see why. Jesus just told them, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 NLTse). Jesus tells them to love each other. He not only tells them, He commanded them. Suddenly Peter jumped in and asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (John 13:36 NLTse). Jesus gave a new commandment about love, and Peter asked a question about what Jesus was talking about a few sentences ago. This showed how Peter’s mind was working a little slow. It also showed how all the disciples and we think on different levels and at different speeds.
Why may be the most difficult answer to look into. It does require to most amount of prayer. It takes Jesus to open up a vision to His life and ministry. It takes a prayerful and open heart to see why Jesus was at that dinner.
Why would Jesus leave His throne in Heaven to be at that dinner? Why would God’s Son listen to people doubt Him? Why would He stand there while people argued with Him? When we look back, we see those religious leaders and all kinds pf people arguing with Jesus, doubting Him, and leaving Him.
We have to look back to see Jesus sitting on His throne in Heaven. His Father and Him created a vast universe. Together they ruled and stayed in constant contact with all their creation through their Spirit. Jesus knew everything that was going on. Jesus had a relationship with all those created beings in the universe they created. Then God decided to create one more world. God simply spoke everything into existence and it appeared just the way He wanted it. Everything was perfect. In this new world, God knelt down to form a new creature from the dust. He fashioned every detail by hand. When it was completed He called this new creature man and named Him Adam.
God showed all of His new creation to Adam. Although Adam only knew God for a few hours, God gave everything in this new world to Adam. After a while, Adam noticed there wasn’t any creature like himself. Something wasn’t complete. He didn’t have a mate. God took a rib from Adam and used it to form him a new wife named Eve. Adam gave everything he received from God to Eve and she returned all of it to him. All she wanted was to be by his side, where she came from. To be there and complete Adam as a creation of God.
It didn’t take long for Eve to stray, make one mistake, then another. This world was far different than the others when sin set in. Blame was the first negative effect. The universe watched in horror as God sacrificed the first animals to make coats for Adam and Eve. Why didn’t God just create coats like He did everything else? What did they need thick heavy coats for? No one else in the universe needed them. Sin changed this entire world. Everything from man to the elements suffered.
Jesus could have ended it all right there. One word, one thought could have cast this planet into the cold darkness of space or towards the sun. This world would have melted quicker than a single snow flake drifting into a raging fire. Why was this planet allowed to exist after that first sin?
Jesus tried to explain why. Every time He explained a portion of the subject, one disciple or another would change the subject, or ask a question about something Jesus previously explained. Just like those religious leaders and other people who walked away from Jesus, His own disciples questioned Him. They just weren’t questioning Jesus, they were questioning His love for them.
John 13:34-38 NLTse (34) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (35) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (36) Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (37) “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” (38) Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
John 14:1-31 NLTse “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) 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? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) “No, we don’t know,Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (7) If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (8) Philip said, “Lord,show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (9) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.
John 14:20-24 NLTse (20) 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. (21) Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (22) Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” (23) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (24) Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.
To understand why, we have to look at the pattern. We have to understand who asked the questions, what those questions were, when they asked the questions, what was the the response, and why. Peter of course had a habit of trying to be the first to ask a question or offer an answer. We have to look at what Peter said and when.
Jesus gave them a new commandment: Love each other. Jesus used His love for them as an example. That love was proof they were Jesus’ examples. What would you have asked Jesus? Wouldn’t you ask Him to explain every detail of that love? Wouldn’t you do everything to learn more about a love that created and looked over a universe? Wouldn’t you want to learn about a love that brought Jesus to this world instead of destroying it and starting over again? But what was Peter’s response to the love Jesus wanted to teach them? Peter asked where Jesus was going? Wasn’t that reaction a little selfish? Wasn’t it a little out of context?
Peter didn’t have the love Jesus talked about. He tried to prove his love in a different way, his own way. Peter told Jesus he would die for him. Of course Jesus knew better. Now we can see when Jesus met with Peter after His resurrection, He asked Peter if he loved Him, not once, but three times. Jesus had to teach Peter not only how to think about love, but how to pray about it.
Immediately after Jesus told Peter how he was going to deny he knew Him, Jesus told them not to worry. Jesus told them about a place He is going to personally prepare for them. “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” At that point Thomas had to tell Jesus, he had no idea where Jesus was going nor did they know the way. Once again, how would you have reacted? If they really believed Jesus is God’s Son, wouldn’t a more appropriate response be centered on details about that new home? Imagine the God who created the universe building a new home for you. That sparks a thousand question in me. Is Jesus going to speak it into existence or build it by hand? How will it look? Where will it be? What about the rooms, the view, the yard? Who is gong to be my neighbor? Think of a thousand other question about the plants and animals around the house. But Thomas asked which way Jesus was going. His response seems as out of place as Peter’s question.
Jesus wondered why they didn’t understand. Why they could see how He was, “the way.” Did they miss something in the parable about those sheep following the good shepherd? Sheep don’t ask questions, they just follow.
Jesus didn’t let the interruption slow Him down or knock Him off course. Jesus only had a few more hours to explain those details. He told them about knowing His Father. “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.” This confused Philip. His response was also out of place. “Lord,show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
What had Jesus been showing them over the past few years? Why did He leave Heaven to talk to those people, perform all those miracles, freeze in the cold, sweat in the summer, face threats, and live like one of the poor people on this planet? Jesus did all of that and more. But they still couldn’t understand. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”
Jesus only told them a few details about what was going to happen in a few hours. Then He got right to the point. “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” It was pretty simple. We show Jesus we love Him by keeping His commandments. Jesus already pointed them to God’s commandments, and there was no need or time to repeat Himself on the subject. That’s when Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
Was this question also out of place? Did Jesus leave Heaven to come here and teach only a few people? Did Jesus intend on showing only a few people God and His love? Why was Judas out of place? Why were those disciples out of place? Did they have trouble hearing or understanding?
Let’s look at this short sequence of events from Jesus’ perspective. He taught them about the love between Him and His Father, and the love the two have for those disciples, and all of us of course. Then Jesus talked about knowing His Father. If they knew Jesus, they knew God. Knowing someone has a lot to do with loving them. How can you love someone if you don’t know them?
Jesus wanted to show how much He loved them. He told them He was going away to build a new home for them. This should have drawn them back to creation when God formed Adam by hand. Jesus continued to teach them about seeing God’s personality and know all about His personality from what they’ve learned and the type of life He led. Also the way He washed their feet a few hours ago.
Finally Jesus told them the connection between God and His law and the connection between His love and His law. Jesus began with love and finished with love. In between Jesus explained how we can see God’s love and what He will do for each of them and us.
I would suggest you do what Jesus wanted them to do. If you can’t see God through what has been recorded about Jesus’ life and ministry, you should be praying, talking to Him, and listening to what He has to say. All I can tell you is, Jesus is waiting to share details about His love you can’t imagine. I’ve seen more. A few I’ve been able to explain. There is so much more words cannot properly explain. And a special type of love the world is not ready to accept. This world is not ready to understand. I have no idea what you’re ready for. But I know Jesus knows exactly what you are ready to listen to and except. So far this story has shown us how Jesus’ disciples weren’t ready to accept that love. I can tell you, John didn’t include all the details. There is much more. And we’re not done this this story yet. There are a few chapters that follow.
1 Corinthians 1:4-10 RSVA (4) I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, (5) that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge– (6) even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you– (7) so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; (8) who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (10) I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
It seems like the majority of Christians prefer to ignore or avoid the subject of God as our supreme judge. Why avoid the obvious? There are a number of reasons people tend to avoid the subject of God as our judge. How does a view of God as judge fit into the image of the all loving God people like to mold and present? In other words, if you bring up the views of God as all loving and a judge, you open the door to a paradox that is difficult to explain. In today’s world, God as judge may be offensive. Let’s face it, modern media has done everything in its power to make harsh subjects, for lack of a better term, illegal. They tend to call that, being politically incorrect. But God is above and beyond politics. God would not dirty His feet in this world wind of political correctness. To a large degree, God stands on the side and allows people to form their own paths to happiness and security. God allows people to go so far to build their image of the perfect utopia, before He steps in and introduces His plan. In the hope people can and will learn from their mistakes, God allows people, institutions, governments, and countries to pursue their own course before He gets involved. But do we really learn from mistakes made in the past?
The Bible contains a collection of stories designed to shape and guide our course in life. To a certain degree, those stories are read, discussed, and sometimes people will preach on those stories. Not often enough though. More often than not, preachers take a sentence or two from one story, then a few sentences from another story, then go way off track by telling their own story, a personal view based on a few sentences taken from the Bible. People listening to those stories somehow are convinced, the story is Biblical. The preacher started his story in the Bible. So why wouldn’t it be Biblical? The sad fact is, the Jews who killed Jesus formed the same sermons, concepts, and ideals from a few sentences in scripture. Then of course blended them with a host of man made concepts they agreed with. Those concepts led to the arrest, trial, conviction, and execution of God’s Son. In other words, the worldly views held by the Jews were 100% wrong. Of course we have the New Testament to help us clear up a few of the mistakes the Jews made. But why do people keep using the same failed system the Jews used to interpret and understand scripture?
No one can argue the fact, God is in charge. God is the judge. God has passed that role unto His Son. But to what degree? We’ll never find the answer to that question when we prefer to ignore the subject in scripture. We’ll never find the answer if we use worldly views and rely on personal experiences. We won’t find the answer in a pew, on TV, we certainly will not find the answer on social media, or in a book. Not even this book. Common sense will tell us, God decided to omit specific details on His role as judge for a reason. God wants each of us to approach His throne as individuals so He can personally explain His role as judge, and how that effects our lives. All the sermons, books, and videos in the world can never amount to a single second in God’s presence.
When we think about God’s judgment, we can’t help but remember views of some guy in his painted station wagon with loud speakers mounted on top. A few select scripture are brush painted along the side of the flat black station wagon. Speakers are blaring the same message over and over again about how God is going to judge this world, and we are all going to burn in hell. It seems some people are obsessed by the judgment period, and feel it is their duty to tell the world their view of the judgment process. It’s not difficult to look at that approach as offensive. Maybe that is why so many people decide to ignore the subject. We could go on forever about the worldly view on God’s judgment. But what good would that do? We would never reach an understanding more than one step above that of the Jews, priests, and Pharisees. We could look at the New Testament and see what that adds. But for the most part, we are not going to find the details we need to paint a complete picture. But Paul and other writers did give us a wealth of information. We just have to learn to follow their train of thought. After all, their words were inspired, and that is all we have to go on.
Paul made it clear, we need Jesus to teach people about Jesus. It really doesn’t matter what subject we are going to cover. There are many sides to every subject. We have radical views, peaceful views, and all kinds of views in between. For the most part, they are views from the world, formed and tainted by this world of sin. Some subjects require a total escape from this world before we are able to find accurate and reliable facts. Paul told us, we are supposed to be, “united in the same mind and the same judgment.” How can we be united without talking about the subject, opening up the Bible, and finding a few bits and pieces of scripture to define our stand on the judgment? Let’s take a step back for a second. How do you think you are going to be judged? Maybe you should think about when you are going to be judged. We’ll cover that subject in a later chapter. In the mean time, will you be judged on an individual or corporate level? That establishes one view of God in your mind. Your view may be quite different than mine.
Once a view of God is established, that is a starting point to draw closer to God. How is that done? Paul hit on a few details for us to consider. First, as Christians we are prepared or trained on the subject, life, and ministry of Jesus. Paul placed that training where it belongs, in a personal meeting with Jesus. After Jesus rose from the grave, He returned to this world to retrain His disciples. Those disciples had to experience a number of growing pains before they were ready to drop everything they were taught, and open their eyes to what Jesus was saying. Before Jesus was arrested, He explained everything about the Holy Spirit, and how the Holy Spirit was going to take His place in this world. When we are communicating with the Spirit, we are communicating with Jesus. The two are one mind, thought, and action.
Paul added a brief comment about spiritual gifts. Those gifts are from the Spirit, and the Spirit provides training for those those gifts. The church can’t train you. The online video can’t train you. You have to be in personal contact with the Holy Spirit to receive the proper on the job training. Somehow that training leads to a total understanding and unified view of the judgment. We are not going to find all the answers in one chapter. So we will take a look at other popular text on the subject.
1 Corinthians 4:1-10 RSVA (1) This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (2) Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. (3) But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. (4) I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God. (6) I have applied all this to myself and Apol’los for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (7) For who sees anything different in you? What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? (8) Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! (9) For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. (10) We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
Up to this point we have not learned a great deal of actual, definitive points describing God’s actual role as judge. We could pour over scripture, search the Bible, and pray about those details. But what would we find? How can we find the unified view Paul wrote about?
Of course Paul covered a great deal of details between chapters 1 and 4. In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul enters into an interesting discussion. Christ’s servants should have insight into the mysteries concerning God. Paul mentions trust, which has a direct link to a relationship. How can Christ trust you if He doesn’t know you? Of course if God sees everything, He knows all about you. So Jesus definitely knows if He is able to trust you. There is nothing to hide. On the other side of the relationship, what do you know about Jesus, God, and those mysteries?
It seems some people question Paul on his knowledge and motives. That was nothing new. Paul knew it was going to happen, and it was something he had to deal with. Paul introduced another type of judgment. The one people practice between one another, anyone who is different, and in what we all should expect, a judgment process where we weight the facts being presented. It will clear up matters when we take a look at the actual Greek word Paul used to explain this judgment process.
G350 ἀνακρίνω anakrinō an-ak-ree’-no
From G303 and G2919; properly to scrutinize, that is, (by implication) investigate, interrogate, determine: – ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search.
We should know, there are different types of judgment, as well as different judgment processes. We have judgment related to court systems. We have God’s judgment process. And of course we have a type of judgment that occurs between Christians. To say, “we should never judge,” is an understatement. Most likely coming from people who never looked up the definition of the different judgments found in the New Testament.
When we use the right judgment process the proper way, we are not judging people in a condemning manner. We are simply weighing the evidence they submit. That is a skill all Christians should have. But what criteria do we have to judge, scrutinize, and investigate what other people are teaching? We have the Bible. But what good is the Bible without the Holy Spirit? It is no good at all. That brings up another good point. Does the teacher or preacher exhibit and display any connection with God’s Spirit. If they did, they should be ready, willing, and able to prove it. We also run the risk of weight evidence based on what we’ve been taught. We have to be honest and examine those sources. Paul identified Christ as the only reliable source of information. Paul presented his relationship with Christ as his most important credential. Paul had no problems describing the direct view and meeting he had with Christ. What about those preachers you learned from? Are they as reliable as Paul?
Paul made it clear, we have one type of judgment to perform, and God’s judgment process is far different than ours.
1Co 4:3 ButG1161 with meG1698 it isG2076 a(G1519) very small thingG1646 thatG2443 I should be judgedG350
1Co 4:5 ThereforeG5620 judgeG2919
When we look at the KJV+, we see it pointing us to two different Greek words. One is a type of judgment process. The other points to the results only God is allowed to determine. So we do have a role in one type of judgment, but the definition of other types of judgment tell us to keep our noses out of it. We should have a minimal knowledge of those different types of judgment. The thing we have to remember is, where we got that knowledge. God chose Paul as a voice and pen. When we learn something from Paul, it is more than learning something from words in a book. We are learning from a direct revelation Jesus gave to Paul. So we can’t take any credit for ourselves. We have to send all that credit back to Jesus. We are not in the business of unlocking mysteries in the Bible to bring fame and fortune to ourselves. We are in the business of bringing people to Jesus. Not to a church or preacher claiming to know the truth, or possess some secret power to interpret inspired scripture. Scripture was written for all of us to read, study, pray on, and receive personal revelations on. Some for our personal benefit. Others to share.
Paul made a point by placing himself at a lower level than the people he was writing to. That was designed to accomplished 2 things. To prove his personal relationship with Christ is worth more than anything in this world. Even more than the words of one of the most reliable teachers this world has known. It also reminded people how that increased knowledge will be shunned by this world. As you learn more and more about Christ, and as you share that knowledge, be prepared to be questioned, scrutinized, and condemned. People will cross that line on judgment without batting and eye. They may do it out of ignorance. But that is the way of the world.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-11 RSVA (4) Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. (5) This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering– (6) since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, (8) inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (11) To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power,
In this letter, Paul makes it more than clear that we need to place revenge in God’s hands. If we know God, we know He sees everything that goes on around us. Especially the plots, slandering, and when it happens, the persecution. Why sweat it when we can leave all that work to God?
Hebrews 6:1-8 NLTse So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. (2) You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (3) And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. (4) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened–those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, (5) who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come– (6) and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. (7) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. (8) But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
This seems to be one of the strangest chapters related to God’s judgment. Its relationship with God’s judgment may be missed by most people. If you read the entire chapter, you will see how the author wrote about God’s promises and rewards. Although God’s judgment carries the death penalty, the other outcome is of course, eternal life. Another subject we have to investigate to understand the entire story. How much do we know about God’s promises, why He gave those promises, how and why those promises have a progression, and how God intends to fulfill those promises. We also have to look into who is going to see those promises fulfilled. Actually live that fulfillment.
Here the author wrote about subjects the average Christian should know. Based on the author’s comments, some people get stuck on those subjects. If you are out in the Christian world, you’ve seen how some people get stuck on one subject, look at themselves as a leading authority on that subject, and feel it is their duty to get the world to think like them. Is that what a Christian is? Is that all it takes?
Hebrews talks about an advancement. A constant growth. The question is, how do we grow. Hebrews seems to be written to people who were are not your basic Christians, but to Christians on a definite path or course. And dedicated to keep moving along that path. The Book of Hebrews is like no other book in the Bible. It doesn’t tell us anything new. But that book does explain details other books linger upon but for lack of a better term, lack the depth many of us search for. The Book of Hebrews ties together a number of stories, places events in the proper order, explains symbols, and the reasoning behind them.
The Book of Hebrews may be a little different that other books in the Bible, but follows a familiar pattern found in other inspired books. It contains promises and curses. Why did God use that pattern in so many books in the Bible? There must be a reason. My engineering experience tells me to get as close to the original design to understand the concept behind it.
We could do a study and look at how God’s promises progressed over the years. Every few generations received a new detail on that promise. But we only want to look at the first promise God gave to this world. That promise followed the first sin in this world. Adam the man was to work and sweat for his food. Eve was to suffer during child birth. What about the promises. One of Eve’s sons, after quite a few generations was going to crush that snake’s head. What about Adam? He would receive food to survive, but at a cost. Hence, this world reached a new age with a whole new set of rules brought on by sin.
No mention of working our way back into God’s grace was ever given. God never outlines a method or series of steps to work our way out of sin. In other words, sin had to run its course. Not only was the Book of Hebrews telling us, we had to spend time and put in effort to find out about God, we also had to beware of sin’s progression. Over the generations, we have grown rather far away from God. Some people may think books and technology have brought us closer to God. But let’s get real. Jesus waited a number of generations before coming here to save this world. Part of saving this world was retraining this world. Getting at least some people to give up the grasp this world had on them. To break away into a far better world. The one God promised. That promise has always been there. And those curses are still holding us down. Keeping us from getting as close to God as we’d like to be.
That’s why the Book of Hebrews told us, some people are stuck. They know a little about God, but are afraid to take that next step. They use the world as an excuse. They think they have to get the world up to their speed before taking the next step. That is not reality. That is nothing more than an excuse. That is giving into the fears this world creates.
The most interesting part of this portion of Hebrews is the comment of those “who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come– and who then turn away from God.” That is the part I had to pray about, and a part I had to give God some time to set a few personal experiences into play.
What chance do people who constantly drift away from God stand in the judgment process? When we look at this in simple terms, how would Jesus answer when the Fathers asks, “Son, do you know this person?” How would Jesus answer? He may say, “I knew them at one time, but they turned their back on Me.” How else is Jesus supposed to answer? Would Jesus take time to go over the hundred or so times He tried to reestablish a relationship with them? Would Jesus mention the countless times He asked them for help, but they chose to ignore the request? These are the type of details the Book of Hebrews is trying to get us to consider.
After a few weeks of living on the edge of a number of Internet scams, I was shown how some people drift away from God. It’s just not me. Internet scams are on the rise and coming from some rather high places. Major companies are involved, and government is making some rather poor decisions by passing new laws that don’t help the average person, but help to hide scammers. All of that amounts to one thing. People moving further away from God.
If you have a Christian based profile or are on a Christian dating site, and run into a scammer, you’ll be up against someone who knows enough about Christianity to lure in the average, unsuspecting victim. Hence, we need to be on guard and up to date in the latest scams. We have to have an idea how they work, and how to identify a scammer taking advantage of recent laws that hides their identity, making it impossible to find out who we are communicating with.
In 2018 it was easy to find the general location an email was sent from. The Header on the email contained an entire map showing us where an email originated and which servers transferred that email. In an effort to protect the identity of people who didn’t want to be traced or identified, Congress and some world organization making new Internet laws changed all of that. Today all we get is one address showing the business location of the last server that delivered the email to your computer. In other words, there is no way to figure out if you are emailing a person down the street, or on the other side of the world.
That is one example of people who are drifting away. Somewhere they learned enough about Christianity to make you think they are loyal, follow God, are caring, read the Bible, and are exactly what you have been searching for. But they just want to set that hook and make some money. What scammers have been doing is influencing people in rather high positions to pass laws that protect their identity. They hide behind a computer or phone. Scammers prefer to use Google Voice that has been designed to hide your identity and location. There are other things Google has been doing to protect scammers and put the rest of us at risk. At this point, I’ve seen some rather unfair business tactics Google has been using in their Internet ad industry that gives them an unfair advantage. Check out the Internet and I am sure you will find a series of complaints, lawsuits, so on, and so forth.
Internet scammers and large Internet corporations pretty much fit the description of people God warned us about throughout the Bible. The only thing is, God used rather basic descriptions. But when we put 2 and 2 together with the growth the Book of Hebrews tells us to pursue, we can easily see how they fit into the scheme of things.
Scammers have grown at a faster rate then the Internet itself. They focus on new ways to part a fool from their money. They have no respect for people, target Christians, and the elderly. Scammers dedicate themselves to perfecting their black art as well as doing what they do best, hide in the shadows. When someone dedicates their life to sin, does a quick prayer asking to be forgiven make everything right with God? Are they saved at that point? Or does our all knowing God see their plans, and make a decision based on the evidence presented?
That is one question we have to consider when we study the subjects of God’s judgment, and the judgment process we as Christians are supposed to conduct. Which is investigating situations. Not condemning people, but learn to tell a real Christian from a pretend Christian. We can and should plant seeds when given the opportunity. But with some people, there is only so much we can do. The author of Hebrews spelled out our limitations. We need to respect our limitations, as well as work to higher levels to be more productive working with the Holy Spirit.
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?
The information recorded in Revelation chapter 22 is trustworthy and true. But who studies and investigates those words, the facts presented. Hardly anyone. They are caught up in Satan’s web trying to figure out what just happened in this world and what is going to happen next. That is the way of the world. Try to out class the next guy in your field. That road leads to no where.
To understand how much the world has missed, let’s take a look at the previous chapter.
Revelation 21:16 NLTse When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles.
Revelation 21:16 KJV And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
The square form of this city probably denotes its stability; while its vast dimensions, being 1,500 miles on each side, are emblematical of magnificence, and of its capability of containing all the multitude of inhabitants which should ever enter it, however immense or innumerable.
We can see how there are a number of translations for the size of the city. Some may think the dimensions are across the city. Others insist God could make a city that large so the size in the measurement around the city. We can do a little math to see which interpretation may be true.
If the city is 1500 miles around, it would be 375 miles across and 375 miles high. When we cube 375 miles we come up with 52,734,375 cubic miles. If we divided that by a billion people, each person would have 0.052734375 cubic miles of space in that city. That may not sound like much, but it is in fact 7,762,392,000 cubic feet per person. Now we have to make an educated guess at how tall each room may be in that city. If the rooms are 10 feet tall, that would leave each person 776,239,200 square feet of living space. That is much larger than the average 1200 square foot home today. If the ceiling height was 20 feet, that would reduce the living space to 38,811,960 square feet. That is if the city held a billion people.
One estimate places the total number of people who ever lived on the earth at 108 billion. We have no reliable estimate Biblically based or otherwise. The best we can do is guess. Maybe that is why Jesus told us His words are trustworthy and true. To remind us how reliable this world is.
How many people lived on this world is not what we are looking for. We are looking for a number of people who are saved. If we borrow a number from the Bible, we know a third of the angels followed Satan and those angels will be lost. If we us that 1/3 number and apply it to round figures of 100 billion people who ever lived in this world, we come up with 66 billion souls who may be saved. Of course this is only an estimate designed to look at the square footage available in the New City Jerusalem. If that city held 66 billion people, each person would have 117,612,000 cubic feet of living space. If we estimated 20 foot ceilings, each person would have a 5,880,600 square foot apartment.
That appears to be rather large. Time to recheck the math.
375x375x375= 52,734,375 Cubic miles
52,734,375 Cubic miles = 7,762,392,000,000,000,000 cubic feet.
Now we can look at the square feet of the city and estimate the square feet per person based on a few figures.
With a billions people living in the city. 388,119,600,000,000,000 / 1,000,000,000 = 388,119,600 square feet per person.
With 66 billions people living in the city. 388,119,600,000,000,000 / 66,000,000,000 = 5,880,600 square feet per person. Is there any reason to recalculate this for a city that is 1500 miles across?
Of course the ceilings may be 100 feet tall. They could be for all we know. That would reduce the 5,880,600 square feet per person to 1,176,120 square feet per person. That is a lot of living space. Now if Jesus is preparing a place for us, we see how busy He must me.
Of course Jesus or God can speak such a city into existence. But what about the personal preferences each person has? Do you think each room will look alike, or each room will have its own variations based in personal preferences? The Jesus I know wants to design a room for you based on personal tastes. The question is, have you discussed those design preferences with Jesus? If not, don’t you think you have better things to do than worry about this world?
Jesus is building a future home for us and wants our input. Are we too worried about the little things of this world to sit down with Jesus and discuss building plans? What is more important in your life, the things of this world, or the place Jesus is preparing for you at this moment? Are you holding up production? Are you causing delays? Or are you helping Jesus build eternity? I’m in Real Estate and I an smart enough to know, I’ll be out of a job in Heaven. What about you? Are any of your work skills going to be useful in Heaven? Then why worry about them.
As a new believer I have to wonder if Luke knew the significance of what he was writing and why he placed it in such a particular order. If we look at it in a reverse order we can see the interpretation.
Luke 3:4-6 Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him! (5) The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. (6) And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'”
We know mountains represent both governments and religions. God called people to His holy mountain, as well as other religions having their own particular mountains. But what mountains will be made low, or level? If we look back a few verses we see God already provided the answer in the introduction to the chapter.
Luke 3:1-2 It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. (2) Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.
Are any of these world powers any longer? Where is their influence now? There is one verse in between these. When we look at it we see God’s plan revealed.
Luke 3:3 Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins.
Now the question remains. Does the power of Elijah appear twice? The final chapters of the OT talk about the power of Elijah appearing during the final days of judgment. We know when this time period began, but ask yourself this question: why are the religious leaders against studying this subject and finding out when this period ends? What will the answer reveal? Will it be like digging through a wall to find the sins of the priests in Ezekiel?
Ezekiel 8:7-9 Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see a hole in the wall. (8) He said to me, “Now, son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and found a hidden doorway. (9) “Go in,” he said, “and see the wicked and detestable sins they are committing in there!”
We also know Jesus revealed the sins of all the religious leaders when He taught in the temple court. Are these sins being repeated, like the rest of the details in this prophecy?
What is Bible Study? You may have pondered that question yourself. Or you may never have given it much thought. What is Bible Study? Did you ever wonder how some people came up with facts they took out of the Bible? Where did they get those facts from? How or why did they jump from one book in the Bible to another? It seemed to sound good. All the information seemed to fit together. The subject at hand seemed to be thoroughly explained. The teacher seemed to have gathered information from the Bible to explain the subject at hand. But did they? Was their study guided by the Holy Spirit?
Has anyone ever explained to you what Bible Study is? Have you ever asked anyone to explain the process they used to study the Bible? There are processes to use. We can refer to each of those steps as Bible Study rules, guides, standards, or styles. I prefer the term style. Others may prefer the term rules. Does the Bible contain a set of rules to follow? To an extent the Bible contains and explains its own set of rules and procedures for Bible Study. The serious student of Bible Study will see those patterns, or styles established by scripture.
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Do you have a favorite author? What do you like about that author? Each author has a particular writing style. Writing styles can be much like fingerprints. Every fingerprint may look similar to one degree, but a closer look will reveal unique differences. Think of writing styles more along the lines of DNA. Who really knows what DNA is? You may have have seen an artists conception of DNA drawn on a computer. It looks something like multiple beads arranged along a spiral shaped strand. Every strand is different for each person, animal, bug, and plant in this world. DNA can’t be seen with the human eye, so we are taking the information we read with a measure of faith. That faith requires a degree of trust. Which is in fact a lot like Bible Study. When we receive information from other people, we really don’t see or understand how they put their facts together, so we assume they knew what they are doing. In other words, we are placing a measures of faith and a degree of trust in the hands of some person. Does that sound about right?
Every Christian should know what is at stake. We face two options, eternal life, or eternal death. Okay, there are variations on that choice, but that fact brings up the point, how do we really know? Which brings up the ever popular Bible Study method of, let’s see who can collect the most amount of information on a subject to see who wins the debate. Is that how we are supposed to study the Bible? Do we collect as much information on a subject to see which team on the debate can collect more words? Is there a precise way of measuring those words so we can place our faith and trust on the proper outcome? That may be like trying to identify DNA with the naked eye.
There is another far safer way of researching subjects using the Bible. God’s writing style is unique to say the least. How do you think a group got together to choose those sixty six books we find in most Bibles? Do you think those people on that committee read those books and decided, this one sounds good, that one looks reliable? How deep do you think that committee looked into the available books to decide which made the cut and which didn’t? We have to keep in mind, that committee had to look for books that were inspired by God. Each book had to show links to the other books, the same writing style, patterns, and other details such as sentence structure, use of symbols, key words, and a host of other evidence designed to examine the fingerprint or DNA that went into each book we find in the Bible today. Don’t you think God had that all planned out before He had Moses pen the first word?
Fingerprints, DNA, writing samples, and signatures are all admissible evidence in a court of law. All the evidence is introduced, examined, and presented in a very formal and precise manner in every court system. Why don’t we use the same care and common sense when it comes to Bible Study? Lives are at stake in courtrooms. What do you think is at stake whenever you read and study the Bible? The question is, what kind of evidence do you look for? How do you examine God’s writing style? Is one Bible more reliable than another? How do you know you can trust Bible translators? Don’t people have a tendency to interject personal thoughts and creeds into the Bible translation they are writing? Do transactions loose God’s DNA mark on His Word? Has the fingerprints been wiped clean? It seems we will never run out of questions about Bible Study. What is Bible Study?
God had a monumental task in front of Him when He told Moses to start writing things down. God had to trust Moses. Moses had to know God’s personality to a certain degree. Moses began to write a book God was prepared to spread over generations before it was complete. God had to ensure His writing style survived over a number of generations and could be recognized while using two major languages. Then those Hebrew and Geek manuscripts had to be translated into dozens of different languages all over the world. On top of that, each language was going to have dozens of different translations printed and distributed. Some of those transactions were word for word. That didn’t pose much of a problem or threat. But then the English language came on the scene. English sentence structure is quite different than Hebrew and Greek sentence structure. Other languages posed their own issues to deal with. Somehow God had to put together a collection of books recorded over generations, then deal all those translations, and still maintain the unique signature of the original Author. That sounds like an impossible task. But we have to realize, God created all those languages.
There are a number of ways to examine an author’s writing style. Their choice of words. Each author has a series of favorite words they use though out the books they write. Some authors thrive on using big, important sounding words. Most books on Bible Study are packed with words the average person never heard of, has trouble pronouncing, and in most cases, has no idea what those words mean. That is one signature or writing style to examine. Other authors stick to simple words. Words people can easily associate with and know what those words mean. An authors choice of words is normally consistent.
Writing is a way to convey information. There are technical styles, informal styles, suspenseful styles, descriptive styles, and other variations that a writer develops. An author may use a few of those styles in a book and mix them into any given chapter. That is one type of fingerprint an author leaves on the pages they write. In addition to an author’s choice of words, the combination of styles they use, sentence structure is another piece of evidence to look at. Are sentences short, long, drawn out, how does the author pose questions, comments, and follow up with questions they pose? There are different styles. Some authors are born teachers. That brings up a set of styles to look into. Many teachers like to provide answers before posing questions. Other authors or teachers prefer to ask questions then explain the answers.
All great teachers repeat important details to draw attention to the main theme at hand. How the author chooses to repeat important or key words is another fingerprint an author places in their books. Some authors think nothing about repeating the same word over and over again. Other authors repeat the key word once or twice then substitute similar words with the same meaning. And some authors love to use contrasts to teach a lesson. How an author repeats key words is one of the most important aspects of a writing style to examine.
How does an author flow from one subject to another? How does the author introduce a new subject? How does the author link their thoughts? Are their thoughts scattered, is there a consistent flow from one detail to the next? Does the author emphasis distinct links between one particular subject and the next in their book? The way an author links details is another aspect to examine.
How does an author introduce a subject? Does the author clearly point out the main subject, elaborate, then add a short summary at the end? Does the author pin point the subject, add in the details to make their point, then shift to the next matter to discuss? How concise are the points, how are they presented, and how does the author follow up on details presented? Those are all styles to consider.
Some authors are very good at writing scenes. They can arrange words in such a way, you can picture the scene in your mind. Other authors write in more of a technical manner. You are given enough facts to picture a scene in your mind, but specific details are scattered here and there. Setting the scene is a way of introducing the reader to what is about to happen in the story. Each author has a unique way of introducing a subject or scene.
Every good teacher will summarize subject matter. How an author summaries the lesson they are teaching is another unique writing style to examine. The summary will generally follow the same pattern or style as the introduction. Technical writes will use a technical slant, suspense writers will have their own style, and descriptive writers will generally use one style for an introduction, and another style of writing to sum up that part of the story, or the chapter.
When we look at the Bible, we have to notice how God repeated words. We should be asking why God repeated words. Repetition is not only a good way to teach, but a great way of keeping the student’s mind on the right subject. When we see the God of the Universe repeating Himself, that should tells us there is a good reason to pay attention. One of the most important aspects of Bible Study is to examine the words God repeated, then ask why He repeated certain words. Repetition is one of the most important ways of identifying the author, and extracting information. In Bible Study we refer to that as the General Rule of Repetition. At least in this book I will refer to it as the Rule of Repetition.
Highlighting a copy of the Bible can get you to see details a lot of other people will often miss. As soon as the chapter is highlighted, you can focus on key words God repeated, which sets your mind on the main thought in that chapter.
God not only has a unique way of repeating words, God has His own unique way of introducing a subject. How do you think that committee broke Bible books into chapters? The people who translated that Bible recognized God’s unique writing style and knew when a new subject was being introduced. God also has His own way of summarizing every subject. When the Bible was broken into chapters and verses, it was easy to follow God’s writing style to determine when one subject began, ended, and a new subject or thought began. In Bible Study we refer to that as the Rule of Introductions and Summations. The beginning of every chapter in the Bible contains an introduction to the main theme in that chapter. The end of every chapter in the Bible contains a summary of that subject.
Linking words is another unique style God used from Genesis to Revelation. Every inspired writer used God’s pattern or style of writing. Linking words were an important part of that pattern. When we see a chapter in the Bible begin with a simple word line, “and,” we know the present chapter at hand somehow followed the previous chapter. God used the simple word, “and,” to establish a link He wanted us to see. God also used other simple words and terms such as, “then,” and, “after that.” Those may seem like simple words of little consequence, but they are more important than many people thinks they are. For one thing, linking words establish an inspired link between one chapter and the next. In many cases linking words established a chain of events showing how one event followed another.
Whenever we read the Bible, we have to realize, we are making a connection with the God of the Universe. We have no idea how large that Universe is, how many beings God has to look over, what God has to do to keep the Universe functioning, or how much of God’s time is absorbed by the rest of the Universe. Here we are on this dismal little planet, with no way of knowing how the rest of God’s kingdom lives, what they do, what they eat, how long they sleep, or how they communicate. We can assume a lot of those details, but the point is, God sets apart time to explain the inspired book He gave this world. Do we appreciate the time God sets apart for us? Do we properly use that time God sets apart for us?
If we really knew God, we would see His DNA or fingerprint in every verse in the Bible. We would recognize a forgery in a second. We would find ourselves in God’s loving care 24/7. We would never have to rely on another living soul past, present, or future to explain a single detail in scripture. We would know how to call up God’s help line and go to the only reliable source for every answer, the original Author of the Bible.
There is something referred to as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the most important ingredient in Bible Study. You cannot efficiently or accurately study the Bible without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, interpreter, and will reveal all the mysteries in the Bible. That is, the mysteries we are ready, willing, and able to accept. When we study the Bible with the Holy Spirit, we should be able to explain how we made contact with the Spirit, how the Spirit led us to the information, what the Spirit showed us, and what we were told to do with that information.
Some people think the devil knows how to read and interpret scripture. The devil does not have the Holy Spirit to guide him. At best, Satan can only guess at what the Bible says. The devil proved he has no idea what the Bible says when he tried to use scripture to tempt Jesus. Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'” (Luke 4:9-11 NLTse). The devil used a few lines out of the Bible to try to make a point. In Bible Study we refer to that as proof text. What the devil didn’t see was the next few verses that told the outcome of his encounter with Christ. For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. (Psalms 91:11-14 RSVA).
That story basically sums up the common proof text method running rampant all over the world today. Just pick out a verse that suits your needs. Who cares about the time and effort God put into writing that series of books. After all, isn’t that God’s job to fulfill our needs? That is not the way Bible Study works. The Bible was not created to fulfill our desire of looking smart, answering questions, or putting people to the test. Most people who use that proof text method will insist the devil knows scripture better than anyone who has ever lived. The Bible proved Satan does not know scripture and his goal is to hid certain facts from us. Like the fact, Jesus is going to walk all over that snake.
I don’t want to concentrate on all the wrong ways people study scripture. That would never accomplish a thing. I could never list all the mistakes people make when studying the Bible using less than reliable methods. Even if I was able to make a list and tell the world, the devil would create another hundred bad study methods.
I did search Bible Study on the Internet. For the most part I find studies that jump all around the Bible to prove a point. People try to identify symbols, solve prophecies, and explain subjects with a handful of text, or maybe one or two. Is that a proper study method? Doubtful. Would you ever sum up a classic novel using a few sentences out of a few chapters? No one in their right mind would to that. Then why are some of the most respected theologians doing that to the Bible? A better question would be, why are people falling for such inadequate and unorthodox studies?
The first step in any Bible Study is to make contact with the Holy Spirit. Most people refer to that as prayer, which is opening up a direct channel to God’s throne. After that contact is made, who is the teacher and who is the student? I think you have those roles figured out. Once that contact is made, and you are at the foot of God’s throne, what do you do? You can be a little like David and throw in a praise or two. You can tell God how great He is and how you appreciate the time and attention He gives in your life. Then you may want to ask a question. This is where people get their wires crossed. People tend to think, since they are dealing with the all knowing God of the Universe, they should have no problem asking a dozen or so questions. Then what happens? In most cases nothing. In an attempt not to cross wires, God remains silent. Why? You just asked a dozen questions, and if you are like me, I don’t remember the order. If God started answering questions, chances are we would mix up the questions with the answers and be in worse shape then before we prayed.
Get into the habit of asking God one question, waiting for an answer, then if you don’t hear an answer, go onto the next question. As soon as you receive an answer, there will be no doubt the answer is from God. You will hear a hundred ideas, stories from the Bible explaining more than you could ever think of, and more than you are ever going to remember. If you sit down to write about your experience, many of the details will come back to mind.
When you are studying the Bible with the Holy Spirit, you will see dozens of details you never saw before. Give the glory to God. He wrote the book.
Now we are about ready to look at a few methods to study the Bible. Each example contains scripture as an example of what to look for, how to see the patterns, links, and connections God placed in His word, and the step by step methods used so you can use them in your own studies. Now let’s get started, and don’t forget to pray before each lesson.
It may be a little difficult to explain what key words are, and how the Bible uses them, but an example should answer a lot of questions. First off we need to review the general Bible Study rules related to Key Words.
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. Highlighting key words helps to show the main thought in scripture as well as patterns you may otherwise miss. 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.
Key words are also contrasts. In this case a simple contrast is shown between new and old. Always look for contrasts used as key words. When contrasting key words are used, look for contrasting examples teaching the same lesson in the chapter.
Authors repeat key words to draw attention to their use as symbols. Remember, symbols always point to something far greater.
The best thing to do is read through the example. Look at how key words are grouped together in sets, and how key words are used in parables.
Thank you for reading the introduction to this study. This study explains how to highlight words in scripture. Unfortunately WordPress will not work with highlighted words. But PDF will. Please click on the PDF link below to view this study in full color.