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 as placing 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.
The key point to using the 5 W’s is to stick to the Bible. This Bible Study method can and will sharpen your Bible Study skills. You learn to look back, review, research, list, and in most cases, write down what you find. All of those steps are designed to slow you down so the Holy Spirit can get in a few words, comments, and ideas.
Who seems to be the easiest question to answer. in most cases you will be studying a person in a story. In most cases the name is prominent and repeated throughout the story. Which should make the name easy to find. This helps you to focus on a single subject. In this case a single person. We all need practice at focusing when we study scripture.
What may be a little more difficult to explain. That is why this book is packed with actual Bible Study examples showing how each rule is applied and used within a Bible Study. What is usually linked to the subject, or event the person is going through.
When can be expressed in a date, time, or series of events. Dates can be found at the beginning of the story, and at times, the beginning of a book in the Bible. When can also be an explanation of the previous event. This event or story followed that event. Try to avoid commentaries when trying to place a date. In many cases commentaries can be nothing more than guesses or personal opinions.
Where is generally the location. Where can be a city, field, mountain, or other physical feature that may have a spiritual bearing on the subject and lesson at hand. Concentrate on the location and let your mind linger on the scene. This often helps to see reactions on the faces of people involved. The scene can also get your mind into the political or religious motives at that particular time. Where will help tie together all the W’s.
Why is where you want to spend your majority of time. As soon as the first 4 W’s are tied together, the why will begin to reveal itself. Why is normally found with a combination of stories that led into the event being studied, and later chapters or stories that recorded the results. Why takes a lot of time and study. Why is listed at the end of the 5 W’s because it takes the What, When, Who, and often times the Where to understand the Why. As soon as you examine the Why, you will see how they all fit together.
The 5 W’s also help identify a loose, sloppy Bible Study from one that put in the right combination of study methods. Many word studies and proof text studies take little or no effort. And as usually designed to convey a preconceived idea. On the other hand, studies like the 5 W’s show a level of interest, time, and attention not found in every Bible Study.
Patterns in the Bible may be a little difficult to spot. When you find a pattern in scripture, how do you use that pattern? What do you learn from those patterns you find? In a sense, patterns open up a new view on scripture. When you begin to see how patterns were added to the Bible, you will see another portion of God’s literary skills. God has unlimited ways of teaching lessons. Patterns are one method with limitless ways to open new views of information that was in the Bible all that time, but you skipped over it a number of times.
Isaiah 25:6-9 NLTse In Jerusalem, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat. (7) There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. (8) He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The LORD has spoken! (9) In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”
What crosses your mind when you think of God’s banquet? Do you think of the banquet Jesus is preparing in Heaven? Do you think about the emotions you’ll feel when you see Him serving? What impression will that make on you? Do you think about the food laid out on the table? How many varieties of nuts will there be? Almonds, pecans, cashew, pistachio, Brazil, Hazelnuts, and more. Fruits of all varieties. Apples, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, pears, peaches, apricots, persimmons, figs, dates, papaya, and many more we never heard of. They are all different. Eat all you want! God will make more. We haven’t even mentioned vegetables. What a feast. How will grains be prepared? How many varieties of fresh bread will there be?
Is that the only feast you think about? Is that the only feast you want to attend? Is the feast in Heaven the only banquet your concerned about? What about the last supper Jesus shared with His disciplines before He was taken to the cross? Do you think about those lessons or do you wait for someone to explain the details? Don’t you think about your reaction when Jesus bends over to wash your feet? Would you have listened when He tried to tell the small group about what was about to happen? Do you listen now when Jesus tries to explain the prophecies He fulfilled? Are you listening or are you numbered with the majority of Christians claiming God doesn’t talk to us anymore?
What about the banquet Jesus invites you to everyday? Do you ever think about the table set in the Tabernacle? The small personal table Jesus sets to invite you to diner and a chat. Do you accept His invitation or are you like people in the parable? They were too busy to attend a wedding banquet the king planned for his son. What happened to those people? It seems everyone is concerned with one person wearing the wrong clothes. No one wants to think about those people who decided not to attend. That lesson is too personal. The point cuts too close to the heart to pray about or preach.
People say bread on that small table in the Tabernacle represents God’s Word. Do they think Jesus only offers one type of bread day after day? Is that why people want to turn down the invitation? Did the god they serve run out of lessons to teach, experiences to share, and love to give? Or is life too busy with too many other more important matters to think about, too many issues Jesus won’t understand because He grew up in another time and age, too many problems in life you want to solve yourself, or maybe it’s a lack of interest, or a lack of love. Maybe it’s a lack of, faith, or knowledge about Jesus. Why do people turn down His invitation day after day leaving Jesus to dine alone, waiting for your company?
When we examine the key words it’s not difficult to see banquet and feast stand out. The difficult part is finding a chapter with the same theme in the introduction and summation. In other words the same context and lesson. The New Testament has a number of stories about banquets. A quick search of banquet and feast will show a number of parables about banquets as well as accounts recording details of the last dinner Jesus shared with His disciples before the cross. There is also a description of the banquet prepared in Heaven after Jesus’ return. Most of the parables point to that banquet in Heaven. They all use a number of spiritual symbols. One of those chapters with a parable about that feast prepared in Heaven contains an introduction and summation with spiritual ties to Isaiah 25.
Luke 14:16-24 NLTse Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. (17) When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ (18) But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ (19) Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ (20) Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ (21) “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ (22) After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ (23) So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. (24) For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.'”
This is the simplest parable in the gospels explaining the banquet Jesus taught about. Some writers say a king prepared a wedding feast for his son. Luke kept the details simple, repeating only a few key words, banquet, excuse, and servant. In this translation servant is singular which placed a different view on the story. Many people will agree the man represents God, the banquet here shares the theme of the wedding feast, which points to Jesus’ return. Now look at the excuses and symbols which are not repeated, but related on spiritual terms. The first man wants to work in his own field. What is that telling you? On the spiritual level the field represents the world. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. (Matthew 13:38 NLTse).
Isaiah is leading us into an unexpected study once we investigate the impact those banquets have on our lives. Where are you at on your Christian walk? Are you still into the milk of the word? When I challenge people to step up, they often use the excuse they are not at a level to share the word. They are only qualified to share information given to them by their preacher or conference to share. They don’t know how to talk with God. Most people have no idea the pathway to God’s throne is open to them. Either that or they don’t like to face the severe honesty it takes to face God.
Approaching God’s throne is an easy process. All you need to do is follow simple instructions in Hebrews 10 and other parts of the Bible. Plead for and accept the cleansing of Jesus’ blood. Ask Him to cover you and wash your sins away. Ask Jesus to make you clean so you can approach God’s throne to sit at His feet and learn. Then LISTEN.
When you approach God’s throne, Satan will cast all his seeds at you – all the cares of the world. Satan will tell you – “you deserve an answer on this or that.” Satan will fill your mind with a thousand distractions and do anything to keep you from hearing God’s voice. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13 NLTse). What are your thoughts on? Satan wants you to fail. He wants you to ask God for a hundred favors. Satan wants your prayers to focus on what God can do for you and neglect asking what you can do for God. Satan does not want you to see or hear the knowledge He is holding out for you. God is your Father. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:16-17 NLTse). God wants to do more than solve your problems. He wants you to understand everything about those problems and learn from them so you don’t repeat mistakes. That way you’ll be equipped to help teach others. It’s such a simple process. If you are not hearing God and He is not taking you into visions to show you stories in the Bible related to problems you face and the studies you are working on, you need to begin right away. You can’t delay. You’ve already wasted too much time, wasted too much of your life, and missed too many opportunities to serve God. That was the main reason Judah was sent to Babylon. They had to learn how to serve. They also had to learn how to look for the Messiah when He arrived. That’s why Daniel was given a vision. It contained a message to the Jews in Babylon. It showed them not only what to look for in the Messiah, but when to look for Him. How much more could God have done? People we’re just not listening. You can decide to either repeat those mistakes or learn from them. All of this is so simple I can’t see why the world doesn’t understand. Sometimes I feel the world does not want to listen. Like the parable says, people were too busy making excuses.
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.
With a little practice you’ll be able to listen to God’s voice in ways you never imagined. While praying about scripture your studying, pay attention to scenes in your mind. Look at people, their reactions to events, the scene they are in, clothes they are wearing, how they are considering choices their facing. Soon you’ll be seeing details in single scenes as well as how they relate to other stories in the Bible. And as always, consider context. Once you begin seeing how God’s Spirit is able to relate stories from different books and time periods, you’ll understand God’s timing and develop skills to see repeated patterns you never saw before, as well as gain a respect for God’s Spirit few people are brave enough to experience.
When you dine with Jesus are you going to stay with milk or are you ready for meat? In the Bible meat refers to anything solid. You can read the details in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Two of the major offerings for the Tabernacle consisted of the first fruits and a second offering before the final harvest. There is one thing about milk you have to realize. Milk will do nothing to produce more milk, cattle, or anything. If you are stuck on milk you will never be able to produce anything. Look at the first fruits. A cherry has one seed to produce another tree which will make more cherries. Other fruits have many seeds. Consider the pomegranate. If you’ve ever eaten one you know it’s filled with seeds. This is the reason Jesus used pomegranates in the Tabernacle. Pomegranates have very little flesh. They hardly seem worth the trouble to eat. Jesus used this as a symbol of His humility. Jesus takes very little for Himself because He placed the majority of His attention on the seeds He planted.
This translation shows the servant as singular. Luke wanted to emphasize the point Jesus is the one who came to invite us all to the banquet in Heaven. Even when Jesus invited people like the priests and Pharisees, they looked for excuses not to believe, not to accept the invitation He extended to them. After everyone was invited there was still more room. God will always make more room like the food He has prepared for the banquet. Eat all you want, God will make more. This also shows the invitations have to continue. Jesus pointed to our work and cooperation in His ministry. The most important thing about the invitation is what people will see and experience. There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever!
What does it take on our part? Isaiah tells us God only requires a little trust from us. In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!” Remaining on milk and refusing solid food with seeds to spread is doubting God and His ability. It’s not our works that changes people, it is God’s. All we need to do is become a living example and deliver messages God designed. One more detail we need to review is shown in Isaiah’s introduction to chapter 25.
Isaiah 25:1-5 NLTse O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them. (2) You turn mighty cities into heaps of ruins. Cities with strong walls are turned to rubble. Beautiful palaces in distant lands disappear and will never be rebuilt. (3) Therefore, strong nations will declare your glory; ruthless nations will fear you. (4) But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, (5) or like the relentless heat of the desert. But you silence the roar of foreign nations. As the shade of a cloud cools relentless heat, so the boastful songs of ruthless people are stilled.
Isaiah opened this chapter like no other in his book. This introduction mirrors many of David’s prayers in Psalms. It may seem strange to find an introduction explaining important aspects of prayer in a chapter containing a prophecy about the banquet God is preparing a banquet. But how do you plan on making it to that banquet? What steps are you going to take? We know Jesus is the bread of life. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (John 6:47-51 NLTse). It goes a lot deeper than believing Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus’ life represented much more than salvation. “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NLTse). Jesus meant more than physical bread… we need much more than a casual knowledge of Jesus and a prayer for the salvation He offers. We have to know His Word. We have to commit ourselves to preparing our heart, mind, and soul to be His servant.
Praise to God has to be personal. It has to come from the heart. It has to be real and tangible. It takes practice. Soon you will see a direct relationship between your praise for God and the answers He gives you. Praise God for everything. Praise Him for your house you live in. Praise Him for all the times He came trough for you when everything looked hopeless. Review the details and how God arranged a sequence of events to teach a lesson as well as see you through those rough times. Praise God for your family and friends. Praise Him for the moments you spent alone with Him. Praise God for the message and beauty He sent through a sunset. Praise God for the messages He gave you and the people He sent you to. Review little details in your praise. The more you praise God the more you will see His protection and tender loving care – the easier you will hear His voice. Notice how God always seems to do the unexpected? Notice how problems are solved in ways you never imagined? Notice how God sends you to people you never expected? God reaches out to more people in more ways than anyone can imagine. It is like the generous variety of food He prepares for His banquet. God not only loves diversity, He also loves, cares for, and reaches out to all individuals as we see in the Introduction to Luke 14.
Luke 14:1-6 NLTse One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. (2) There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. (3) Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” (4) When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. (5) Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” (6) Again they could not answer.
There are two questions that instantly come to mind. What does the introduction to prayer in Isaiah have to do with Jesus eating dinner with a Pharisee? The other question is what dinner is Luke referring to? Luke’s simplicity brings to mind a number of dinners recorded in the gospels. One day Jesus met Matthew and told him, “follow me.” Matthew got up and not only followed Jesus, he was so excited he invited Jesus to dinner and invited all his friends. Being a tax collector the only people who associated with Matthew were other tax collectors. This was early in Jesus’ ministry when priests and Pharisees only started to gather information on the man who healed a leper and send him to the priests to administer the offering. Eating with tax collectors was a mark on the negative side as far as the religious leaders were concerned.
Near the end of his ministry Jesus had dinner with Simon, a man Jesus cured of the leprosy. During that dinner Mary came in to anoint Jesus for burial and wash His feet. Some people at that dinner were not happy with a sinner like Mary being around while they were eating.
At another dinner four men lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof of the build, placing him right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:5-11 NLTse).
What do those dinners have in common? Religious leaders opposing Jesus were present. Here is a very important point you need to learn before you understand Isaiah or any of the other books of the Bible. Isaiah is a lesson book unlike other books in the Bible. Isaiah communicated with God in many ways. Isaiah teaches us how God communicates with us. God spoke to Isaiah. God also gave Isaiah visions. God also communicates in dreams. Isaiah also shows us how to see common threads in the Bible. Isaiah also teaches us how God’s Spirit leads us to other common threads. Here we see common threads in dinners Jesus attended. Jesus healed people at each of those dinners physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Those were points religious leaders couldn’t see. Now ask yourself why. The answer is plainer than you think. Those religious leaders did not communicate with God. What would God’s Spirit tell them about Jesus if they knew how to listen? How much do people miss today if they don’t know how to communicate with God? If they don’t know how to listen to His voice?
Those religious leaders forgot how to pray. Compare yourself to them. We all make the same mistakes. We all think it’s no use talking to God about what He already knows, or details we think we have figured out. The most important aspect they forgot about prayer, and we forget, is confessing our sins then listening – really listening. God’s Spirit can be brutally honest. People know that. That’s why people avoid that aspect of pray. It’s called confession.
Let’s look at the mistakes those religious made to see if we can learn a few lessons about ourselves. Put yourself in their place. Be honest about what those religious leaders thought and how they justified things they did. The sacrificial system was a big item. Their system consisted of inspecting lambs, rejecting them, paying a small price to take the animal off the hands of the sinner, then charging a high price for an animal they deemed perfect. Of course the lamb purchased from the sinner was taken around the back of the court to a waiting bin. Then transferred to the bin holding perfect sacrifices for sale the next day. Those religious leaders convinced themselves it was a way of serving God by raising money for God. How much money did God get? How much of that money was used to alleviate pain and suffering of poor people, orphans, and widows? That was a second sin those religious leaders neglected to confess. They justified their neglect by convincing themselves widows, orphans and poor people were suffering vengeance from God based on past sins. Those religious leaders convinced themselves they served God by inflicting more pain and suffering on widows, orphans, and poor people, as well as lame, blind,.and sick people. Religious leaders created their own little world where they lived lives of luxury with additional privileges, while people they were supposed to serve suffered under heavy burdens. Another piece of their plan was convincing themselves part of their role in serving God was to go to extremes showing how God blessed them. Those religious leaders led a life masquerading like priests, while no one with as much authority and responsibility was farther from God then themselves.
That was one example showing how people drift from God. The distance is small at first. Change a rule here, another there. Finally they forget to confess sin altogether. Pride is a dangerous cliff with a big drop. Now take this example and compare it to kings in Jerusalem Isaiah had to deal with. Didn’t those kings forget how to pray? Didn’t they forget how to listen to God? The Bible compared those kings to David for a reason. Other kings in Jerusalem were not like David. What were the differences? David spoke to God. When David didn’t want to listen, God sent a prophet. David listened to the prophets then confessed his sins. David was a man after God’s heart. David could never give up His relationship with God. It would have broken his heart – like loosing his first love. God was David’s first love. The last kings in Jerusalem forgot how to communicate with God like David did. Then God sent prophets. A lot of them. They still didn’t listen. Like those religious leaders in Jesus’ time, the kings didn’t want to confess their sins, they couldn’t see their sins, they didn’t talk to God, and they didn’t listen. The Bible says they hardened their hearts.
So what do we do now with these examples from the Bible? We’re seeing how Isaiah leads us to texts with the same theme. As we see how lessons build and expand, we learn to understand context and how God wrote the Bible. We also see how God’s Spirit brings parallel chapters together for us to see how spiritual lessons are taught using a series of examples.
It’s easy for me to see patterns because my training and experience in engineering helped tune me into looking for patterns as well as focus my mind on learning how things are constructed. I was in engineering when drawing with computers was introduced. The first computer was as big as a room. I had to lay the pattern out on paper to calculate points, angles, and distance with a hand calculator. Then I went to the computer to draw a roll cage and cab for a new tractor design. In an attempt to make things easier, I draw half the cab then asked the computer administrator how to select and flip one half , mirroring it to make up the other half. I was surprised to hear, “the computer can’t do that.” No one thought of that. As years passed computer programs grew. We worked on one advanced system with a lot of features built in to make our job easier. Unfortunately that company didn’t corner the market like one of their competitors. As you can imagine, we had a lot of problems because customers with the more popular system couldn’t read the files we sent them. Once emailing files became popular, we had to switch to the more popular program other companies were using. I was surprised to find the most popular program which became an industry standard was missing a lot of the features the system we had been using included as standard. So I found out how to write simple programs called macros. After I finished writing macros, also known as short keys to put the features I needed into the new program, I began keeping track of processes I constantly repeated. When I noticed I used the same process everyday, I would jot down the steps on a post it note. Next time I needed to repeat that process, I entered into the macro mode to create a new short cut. I went through the alphabet with the control key, also the alternate key as well as a third method added in an updated version, the shift-alternate key combination. I created more than a hundred short cut keys to draw on a computer more efficiently.
God doesn’t use short cut keys to reveal lessons in the Bible, but we can use lessons in the Bible to save us the trouble of learning lessons the long, hard way. What you need to do is develop skills to see patterns repeated in the Bible. The Bible is written like a song. Songs will teach a lesson or tell a story then go into a refrain, words that are repeated. The first and easiest part of a song to memorize and repeat is the refrain. Right? God repeated lessons in a rhythm. Learning a few simple Bible Study rules will show you how to find those rhythms. The easiest way to teach a child is with rhymes. Now we can look for the rhyme on the summations for Isaiah 25 and Luke 14.
Isaiah 25:10-12 NLTse For the LORD’s hand of blessing will rest on Jerusalem. But Moab will be crushed. It will be like straw trampled down and left to rot. (11) God will push down Moab’s people as a swimmer pushes down water with his hands. He will end their pride and all their evil works. (12) The high walls of Moab will be demolished. They will be brought down to the ground, down into the dust.
Luke 14:27-35 NLTse And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (28) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? (29) Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. (30) They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (31) “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? (32) And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. (33) So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. (34) “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? (35) Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
As usual, Isaiah is using symbols again. This time it is Moab. Isaiah is using Moab to send us back to scripture. Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. So that night they got him drunk with wine again, and the younger daughter went in and had intercourse with him. As before, he was unaware of her lying down or getting up again. As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites. When the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.(Genesis 19:30, 35-38 NLTse). We have to look a bit further back to understand why God is allowing Moab to be pushed around. It wasn’t only because of their birth. Their father had problems long before their time in the cave. We have to look at these types of symbols in a constructive manner. What made Moab what he was? Where did he get his influence and education from? Who brought him up? We can see Moab and his brother Ben-ammi grew up in isolation influenced by three people. We’re not told much about Lot’s daughters, but we are told a great deal about Lot.
Lot left his home when God called Abram. Lot’s cattle grew much like Abram’s showing us Lot was also blessed by God. Soon there wasn’t enough grass and water for all of Lot’s and Abram’s cattle, so they decided to separate. Lot took the best fields near Sodom. One day Abram heard Sodom and a number of other nations were over thrown by a confederation of kings. After talking to God, Abram called 318 of his faithful friends to attack the vast army that carried Lot and his family away captive. Those 318 men must have had a close personal relationship with God to face the world’s largest army at that time. Even though the odds were against them, those 318 men followed Abram to victory. Not a soul was lost. Once again God led a small number of people against a large army, who days and weeks earlier defeated an army made of number of combined nations.
Later Sodom’s wickedness reached levels beyond imagination and control. God had no choice but to destroy the city. God sent His angel who visited Abram before destroying Sodom. Abram pleaded with the angel who agreed to spare Sodom if five righteous people could be found. In the end, Lot left with his wife and two daughters. The angel only found four people willing to accept his word and leave the city. Of course the experience in the cave showed how righteous Lot’s daughters were. The point is, Abram knew 318 men willing to risk their lives to save Lot and his family. Lot could not convince a single person to leave the city with him. Once Lot separated from Abram, he lost something. Lot lost the ability and drive to lead people to God. Something in Lot’s life took God’s place in his heart. The inability to share God showed up in his two sons Ben-amm and Moab.
It’s not difficult to see the Lesson in Isaiah 25 repeated in Luke 14. Lot took the best for himself but never really thought ahead in spiritual terms. Lot saw fields of green grass and an abundance of water for his cattle translating into profit for himself. Lot not only took his eyes off Abram, he took his eyes off his duty to God. Once again we see God using a contrast to teach a lesson when we compare Abram’s victory to Lot’s failure. By the way, whatever happened to all of Lot’s cattle? In Sodom we find Lot living in the city. A strange place to find a shepherd. Lot left with nothing. Lot withdrew to that mountain retreat with nothing but his daughters. Everything Lot thought was important was taken away.
That’s the same lesson Jesus was trying to teach. Sure Lot did nice things. He opened his home to strangers. But he lost the ability to reach people. How? Lot lost communication with God. Remember David talked with God. The worse things got, the more David talked with God. Lot saw the city around him falling into all kinds of sin. Not much different than we see the world today. The closing moments of Sodom showed how little Lot was able to share with his family and neighbors. Other members of Lot’s family decided to stay because they didn’t believe him. A last second show of faith is not enough to change hearts. That’s why Jesus talks about building. It takes time. It takes a foundation, walls, roof, planning, hard work, dedication, and funds. All the things it takes to build a spiritual relationship with God. Of course God provides funds, but how do we use them? To glorify God or take the best for ourselves. Think about that.
Jesus draws our minds back to battle fields Isaiah walked through. Jesus knew the relationship between these chapters long before anyone discovered the spiritual connection long before they were written. Look at key words Jesus used. Construction, building, calculating, cost, complete, and finish are a process leading to carrying your cross. Jesus didn’t tell them to know about the cross. He told them to carry their cross. To know the cost of that cross they had to carry. Jesus also repeated the word discuss to draw your attention to it. Who are you going to discuss your cross with? Does your preacher know anything about the cross you carry? Only what you can tell him about it. So the information he gives back to you can only be less than the information you give him. That’s what people do. They go to someone they trust and the image and meaning of the cross diminishes. The only way it can increase is to go to the One who knows what it’s like to not only carry a cross, but die on it.
It wouldn’t be right to put the meaning of those symbols together without teaching you how to repeat the process so you can use it to properly interpret other symbols, not to mention using this pattern to see if interpretations other people teach are correct. How do we know Moab represented Lot’s relationship with God? Or shall we say lack of a relationship? People come up with a number of interpretations for Moab in Isaiah 25. How do we know which one is correct? How do we know Moab is a symbol pointing to Lot’s relationship with God? We learn to look at context. Moab is mentioned in the summary, so it has to agree with the introduction by following the same theme as well as teach the same lesson. Look back at the introduction. “O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.” Isaiah is praying to God. The introduction is a window looking into Isaiah’s relationship with God. Remember Isaiah is teaching us how God communicates with prophets as well as how prophets communicate with God. In this case God used a contrast to teach the same lesson. As we looked back on the story of Lot’s life we found other contrasts teaching the same lesson. This is what’s known as context. Plain and simple. It is so simple no one should forget those lessons once they learn them.
There should be no doubt the prophecy and its fulfillment are related. They have to be. We also know key words in prophecies lead us to texts explaining exactly how its been fulfilled. There is no guess work. Since the prophecies and fulfillments are related, so are the chapters. Based on God’s pattern in His Word, the introductions and summaries are spiritually related. In this example Isaiah 25 began with a personal prayer to God. Isaiah recorded an example showing how he communicated with God. So the introduction to the parallel chapter must also teach a theme about relationships with God. Jesus showed His relationship with God in the introduction of Luke 14 which also contains a contrast, religious leaders showing the lack of a relationship. Isaiah used Moab as a symbol in the summary. Since the introduction in Isaiah 25 shows a relationship with God, the summary must follow the same theme. This shows us what aspect of Moab to use in Isaiah 25. As a symbol Moab represented a number of things at different times depending on the context. Now we see how the introduction in Isaiah 25 led us to the proper interpretation.
How deep does the lesson go? Isaiah 25 tells us about God pushing Moab away. Why? To answer that question we can look at the contrast in the introduction of Isaiah 25. Isaiah, God’s prophet is drawing closer to God looking for an answer. Since Moab is being pushed away, context shows a lack of communication with God. Isaiah 25’s parallel chapter Luke 14 shows more details in its summary. Moab never took up their cross. They weren’t interested in measuring the cost. They didn’t lay a foundation. Moab had a history of fighting their own wars. We see another parallel between Isaiah 25 and Luke 14 in the summaries when we compare Moab pushed away like water and salt thrown away. If you look back at the two texts you can see other related words I didn’t highlight. Once we understand the lesson we can go back to see how push is related to thrown. Now you can look back at the two related texts and see a new list of related words. This gives us a brief view of measuring the cost of our cross. Part of that cost is understanding God’s Word. Part of that cost is taking time to develop our relationship with Christ and His Spirit to see one detail after another open up, then look back time and time again to see what details were missed the first time. I can tell you for a fact, every time I study, God takes me back over what I’ve learned and shows me a list of details I missed. This always happens. It will always happen when you put time into a relationship with the Infinite God.
There’s been a lot written about the unforgivable sin. An Internet search of the unforgivable sin will display 1,440,000 results in 0.61 seconds. Of course they don’t agree. People have their own ideas about the unforgivable sin and few have any Biblical proof to back up their concepts and idea. What does the Bible actually say about the unforgivable sin? Is the unforgivable sin one sin or an accumulation of sins?
A lot of people feel it’s their duty to narrow the unforgivable sin down to a single sin. Yes. You commit that one sin, you crossed the line and are lost forever with absolutely no chance of being forgiven. If you pay attention you’ll find out the people suggesting the idea a single sin is the unforgivable sin are the same people writing a million articles claiming there is a single anti-Christ, and a single world leader will take over in the last days. When we put all those stories together we can see how all those claims lack evidence. Those stories turn out to be nothing more than an attempt to make the authors look wiser than the rest of the human race. Those type of studies prove nothing else outside of human pride.
Today we are going to look at three major changes in world history. Actually a number of changes in world history because we need to be true to a Bible study by looking at the events that lead up to the greatest changes in world history. No one can argue the flood that destroyed the earth in Noah’s time was one of those events. The other is the fall of Jerusalem. For good reason Christians study those events knowing they have some kind of connection with the last days we are looking at in 2021. And if we want to study the unforgivable sin, we have to study what Jesus said about the unforgivable sin and the events that led up to that conversation.
The first event is of course the flood.
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. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing–all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7 NLTse).
The question of course is, what led to God’s decision? We can of course look at the verses that let to this decision.
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. (Genesis 6:1-4 NLTse).
We see a lot written about the sons of God with daughters of the earth and giants having intercourse with women. The key word here is warriors. Those giants bred warriors, which leads us to the thought of war. Men are called warriors after fighting and winning battles. Which is where they gain their reputation as warriors. We should notice the first word in this chapter is, “then.” Which of course tells us, this chapter is a continuation of the previous chapter. In short, the Bible tells us, the previous chapter will explain why the world needed warriors.
Genesis chapter 5 contains a written account of the descendants of Adam. There is only one verse in that chapter that actually leads us in the opposite direction.
Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him. (Genesis 5:23-24 NLTse).
Whenever we back up in scripture, it reveals details normally overlooked. In this case, we instantly notice there was one man who didn’t have to live through the flood, the destruction of every living creature on the land. Of course God chose Noah and his family, but there was also Enoch and the lesson he teaches. Enoch was close to God. This closeness to God is what prompted God to take Enoch to Heaven, thus sparing Enoch the experience of seeing the earth destroyed in the flood. This is one lesson God wanted us to see.
As we search backwards to find what caused the destruction of the earth, we find a number of events that lead to God’s decision.
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. (Genesis 4:3-5 NLTse).
One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. (Genesis 4:8 NLTse).
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).
The first sin we see is Cain refusing to follow God’s orders. Cain decided to do things his own way. Which mirrors or builds upon Eve’s and Adam’s sin. Which was to disobey God. In the Bible, disobeying God quickly moved to murder, which is the highlight of Genesis chapter 4. Whenever God repeats something, He wants us to pay attention to that detail. Disobeying God quickly led to murder. We are given two physical examples of murder. We would have to dig much deeper to see the spiritual side. At this we need to stick to simple terms the Bible is telling us. Disobeying God, doing things your own way leads to murder. The destruction of life.
The seconds event is the fall of Jerusalem. When we look at the fall of Jerusalem, we see how it boiled down to a single event, a single command from God those in Jerusalem chose to accept then chose to ignore.
This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves. He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves–both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage. The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command, but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again. So the LORD gave them this message through Jeremiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt. I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me. Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name. But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again. “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth. Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows. Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people–for you have broken your oath. I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals. “I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although Babylon’s king has left Jerusalem for a while, I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.” (Jeremiah 34:8-22 NLTse).
The agreement was rather simple. If Jerusalem released all the slaves, they were safe. They released the slaves, and God kept his part of the agreement by sending Babylon’s army away. As soon as things appeared to be going their way, the people in Jerusalem went back on their word and placed the people back into slavery. The single determining factor leading to the fall of Jerusalem was slavery.
The third story we need to look at is of course Jesus’ discussion on the unforgivable sin.
“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” (Luke 12:8-12 NLTse).
Looking at that small portion of Jesus’ discussion presents a number of questions to most people with an open mind. We can’t expect to take a small portion of any spiritual conversation and expect to understand what it means. First of all, we have to look at what led Jesus into that discussion.
Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees–their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. “What is the price of five sparrows–two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:1-7 NLTse).
Most Christians know the yeast of the Pharisees is their teachings. Their opinions on spiritual matters. How do Christians know this? Because Jesus clearly identified the symbol. Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:12 NLTse).
After looking at a symbol Jesus clearly identified, we learn a simple Bible Study rule. Symbols are more often than not defined within the story they are found in. In this case, Jesus gave the clear definition in a different story found in a different book. The fact of the matter is, in Matthew chapter 16 Jesus revealed the meaning of the symbol yeast in the story he told that day. Now we will look at how Jesus used a series of spiritual words to identify the spiritual meaning of yeast on Luke chapter 12.
“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!”
What is covered up, in the dark, and in secret? Nothing fits this answer better than the truth. When the truth is defined as hidden, whatever has been shared and taught up to that point is nothing short of a lie. Which is the deceptive teaching Jesus clearly identified in Matthew chapter 16. The fact of the matter is, without the Holy Spirit guiding us through the scriptures, we cannot see the spiritual meaning unless it has been revealed in clear, simple terms. If the definition carries the slighted hint of a spiritual overtone, we will miss it. Unless we have the Spirit and we know how to slow down and examine the structure of the conversation, we will miss the spiritual meaning.
The good thing about the Bible is, people can be taught how to pray, slow down, work with the Spirit, and properly examine the text until the spiritual meaning is revealed. In this example found in Luke chapter 12, Jesus repeated terms to draw our attention to the spiritual meaning. A Bible Study rules tells us to look at key words. Key words are words that are the same, similar, or related. At times key words can be contrasts. When we look back at Jesus’ explanation of yeast, Jesus used similar and related words. Covered, secret, and dark are related within the context of the conversation. Whispered is also related within the context of the conversation. Jesus also used a contrast for each of those key words. Covered and revealed are contrasts. Secret and known are contrasts. Dark and light are contrasts, and whispered and shouted are contrasts. That leaves us with a list of 4 contrasts and a total of 8 key words all used to define the spiritual meaning of yeast. Jesus used all those key words to reveal the spiritual meaning of yeast. There is something hidden that will be revealed. Look at a loaf of bread. The yeast appears hidden by the crust. Slice into that bread. You still cannot see the actual yeast, but you clearly see evidence of yeast in the hundreds and thousands of air bubbles that cannot be hidden. Common sense tells people, yeast made those air bubbles. The Spirit shows us how to cut through the crust to get to the clear and evident message inside. Common sense tells us the yeast and hypocrisy of the Pharisees is what has been taught up to that point.
We are trying to define the unforgivable sin Jesus talked about in Luke chapter 12. Before Jesus talked about the unforgivable sin, like every great teacher, Jesus gave us the answer before we had the opportunity to ask the question. Not only did Jesus give us an example of an unforgivable sin, He also gave us an example of working with the Spirit to read and understand scripture. Then Jesus repeated another word, kill. That word point us back to our first example of sin past the point of being forgiven. The word kill links us back to what lead up to the flood.
Of course there is not one sin that leads to damnation and eternal death any more than there will be one world leader, or one deception the devil will use to trick the world. I have no idea why so many preachers teach along those lines. Which is exactly what Jesus warned about at the beginning of this lesson. All I know is, the doctrines of one sin, one world leader, and one deception is always followed by a plea for donations. Those teachers use 1-3 verses out of the Bible they claim to be proof texts. Proof of what? That form of study proves one thing. They are not working with the Spirit to read and understand scripture. They are not following the pattern of teaching Jesus followed and the Spirit reveals, and shouts out to those who are listening. The pattern of key words Jesus used is only one method used to understand scripture. When people are working with the Spirit, they can see those patterns and understand the spiritual message. If people choose to work on their own, they will miss every spiritual message in the Bible.
No one will argue the point, we need the Spirit to understand scripture. Almost all preachers pray before teaching from the Bible. Then disconnect the open line and go about business using their own wisdom. The point is, if we pray for guidance and receive it, we should always be able to explain exactly what the Spirit revealed, how, and why it was revealed. That is one area many teachers are lacking. We need the Spirit to study scripture and teach from the scriptures. The Spirit leads us into all knowledge. The Spirit also convicts us of our sins. The Spirit teaches us what is right and wrong. Without the Spirit, we are nothing but evil, just like the world was when it was destroyed by the flood. We don’t want to get to that point. But we are only responsible for our own decision to listen to the Spirit when studying the Bible, and listening to the convicting powers of the Spirit when we sin. That has always been a personal choice.
When we put these three events together we see a spiritual message we would most likely miss if we relied on our own common sense, knowledge, and skill. In the Bible, God’s decision to destroy this world in a flood was foreshadowed by stories about murder, killing people. Jerusalem’s fall centered on slavery. And Jesus’ lesson on the unforgivable sin centered on denying the Holy Spirit. Together these three points tell us a spiritual story. There is a physical death and a spiritual death. There is physical slavery and spiritual slavery. Both define a life without the Holy Spirit who saves us from a spiritual death and spiritual slavery.
The conscience is a difficult thing to explain, because everyone faces their conscience on their own level. We are all guilty of ignoring our conscience to one degree or another. Some are guilty of fighting against their conscience with every waking moment. There is not a single sin that anyone fights against. It is always a multitude of sins people struggle with. One sin leads to another, and another until we are buried in our sins. Christians who pray to be forgiven cannot imagine or teach about people who are at war with their conscience. You cannot teach about fighting against the Holy Spirit when you are working with the Spirit. But we can see the signs. Sure, science tries to define those battles, and at times claim they can cure the side effects of a guilty conscience. In reality, science is powerless when it comes to God’s convicting Spirit. They cannot wish the Spirit away, teach he Spirit away, nor can they prescribe drugs to counteract the Spirit. Christians who deal with God’s Spirit on a daily basis only know what it feels like to be forgiven and can only teach about that forgiveness to one degree or another. Which brings up another factor preachers love to teach about. That one way to be forgiven. The doctrine that teaches, all you need to do is pray to Jesus to be forgiven. Pray to Jesus and no matter what your sin is, no matter how many times you have sinned, you are forgiven. Some go as far as teaching, it only takes one prayer and you are forgiven for life. The once saved always saved doctrine. Although those doctrines consist of shreds of truth, like their studies reveal, they are not telling the full story. Like their studies show, their concepts are made up of a few select samples from scripture and a ton on human understanding. The Spirit is lacking from their studies, doctrines, and examples.
The convicting power of the Holy Spirit is personal, to be experienced on an individual basis. There is not a single person who can deal with the Spirit on a convicting level for you. Anyone who suggests they can deal with your sins on any level is a liar. They are trying to take the place of the Spirit. Exactly what Jesus warned about. Without the Spirit there is no true repentance. Everyone who read Jesus’ lesson on the unforgivable sin know that. Sure they will read explanation after explanation until they find one that seems to calm their conscience for a period of time. But that type of peace is temporary at best.
People have been trying for generations to calm their conscience. Cain tried it. Cain tried to side step what he did and get God to feel sorry for him. Imagine, trying to get God to feel sorry for the sinner and forget about the one who was harmed. God does not work that way. Adam tried to deal with his convictions by playing the blame game. First Adam blamed Eve. Then Adam tried blaming God. We can see that didn’t work. But the blame game has been alive and thriving all these years.
When we look at the fall of Jerusalem, we some a detail that brings us to the doors of 2021. The rich people in Jerusalem owned slaves. Why did God use that as the final, determining factor for the downfall of Jerusalem? On the physical side God taught a valuable lesson. The rich people freed the slaves like God told them. They agreed to free the slaves. If the rich people made an agreement with God, why did they break that agreement? After a few days it became more than evident, rich people in Jerusalem could not perform day to day activities to survive. Rich people couldn’t cook, clean, fetch water, wash their cloths, or do any of the other day to day activities the vast majority of people did with little thought. Rich people found it impossible to do what the vast majority of people did naturally. God showed us, rich people are the last people in the world we should choose as leaders.
Today in the so called, democratic societies we find all over the world, people choose leaders who are just like those rich people that caused the fall of Jerusalem. Common sense would tell us, that is the worst possible choice. God gave us a clear example showing how dangerous that choice is. But people all over the world throw common sense out the window by choosing rich people who are unable to survive on their own to rule over their nation. Look at a few examples we see today. Governments all over the world claim they can control the weather. They claim they can change the weather. They claim, without their leadership, the world will soon self destruct. There is no mention of God. As a matter of fact, a short review of world news will reveal a number of governments attempting to destroy God. China is one of those countries. China is famous for religious persecution. Communists are famous for religious persecution. Marxism knows it cannot exist along side religion. Marxist have plans to eliminate religion on a world wide basis. Many democracies throughout the world are now quick to join marxists teaching, including the elimination of religion.
Looking back on 2020, we see churches were first on the list to attack and close down when the media and political factions focused on the covid-19 crisis. Social media persecuted Christians long before the covid crisis. Christians have been censored by social media giants for years while at the same time establishing a new social media dedicated to witchcraft, demons, satanism, and sacrifices to demons. TikTok is a meeting place for satanists. Other social media such as Facebook and Twitter censor Christians on a daily basis while sponsoring the spread of satanic thoughts and teachings. Hatred, prejudice, discrimination, and favoritism are just a few of the practices they pull out of their playbook to alter views and eventually eliminate God. When was the last time you saw those social media networks discuss love, forgiveness, or justice? On the contrary, social media, news media, and political groups have been working over time to redefine love, forgiveness, and justice. Love is now centered on obscure sexual practices and the right to conduct those practices at any cost. Forgiveness has been replaced by shame. Justice has been replaced by their personal brand of equality. An equality they are of course exempt from practicing. Media networks are making billions of dollars and not one of them is willing to set an example of equality by sharing any of their funds. They are just like the rich who caused Jerusalem to fall. They are greedy and unable to survive without their slaves.
Slavery causing Jerusalem’s fall carries a number of lessons for today’s modern world. China relies on slave labor. China cannot survive without slave labor. North Korea’s rice crop failed in 2020. To survive, North Korea has been selling slaves to China for $700 a head. But slavery is only the tip of the iceberg. For the past four years radical factions in Europe have been protesting and rioting over what they refer to as sexual suppression. People demand sexual equality. What the hell is sexual equality? Sexual practices are supposed to be an intimate act between 2 people in private. Most prefer those acts to be between a man and a woman. But extremists in Europe want those practices out in the open and they demand everyone accept those practices. On one extreme, radicals demand the state pay for sex change operations. Far extremes involve bondage and other other sexual practices. Extremists complain they cannot reach their sexual potential by play acting master and slave. They claim they need the right to own real slaves to fulfill their fantasies. We all know, sacrifices and murder are next on their list. In short, the flood and fall of Jerusalem foretold the decrepit society we are experiencing today.
Killing and murder were rampant before the flood. Today the world has borrowed on old concepts to invent new methods of legalized murder. These new concepts borrow from concepts of human sacrifice. And of course appease the demons who introduced them. Abortion is one of the obvious links to human sacrifice. Most people know about the normal, everyday abortions performed hundreds of times a day. That has been extended to scientific research using parts of aborted babies to conduct experiments to develop cures and of course tests and research to develop drugs as well as military weapons. The abortion industry is also involved in organ harvesting and resale. A form of harvesting that can only be compared to ancient sacrificial rituals based on the fact, organ harvesting is performed on live babies outside the womb without the use on anesthesia. Science would like people to believe babies cannot feel pain. The media and many politicians support and defend that belief. How could they support such a thing? Because organ trafficking is a very profitable business and politicians are getting their piece of the pie.
Organ harvesting has been extended to adults in China. Justifying the sacrifice of one human life to save another based on the fact, China harvests organs from convicted criminals. Some of those so called criminals are guilty only of crimes China classifies has religious practices. At this point is is not known if China includes slaves purchased from North Korea and other nations in their organ harvesting industry. Many of the people linked to prostitution, sex trades, including minors, are also linked to slave trading, and organ trafficking. Just one example of how one sin leads to another, and another. In short, people involved in those trades have shut down their conscience, trading a conscience for profit.
The world is to a large degree led by people who mastered the art of dulling their conscience. World leaders began their political carriers giving into little temptations usually beginning with accepting bribes, which turned into misappropriation of tax dollars, to kick backs, to all out theft of tax dollars, and using inside information for investments. Each of those are highly illegal. Of course the Spirit is alive and well and is working over time to convict politicians and turn them away from the inevitable course the Spirit has seen thousands travel over the years. In an all out personal battle, politicians war against their conscience. At times feeling like they have it under control. The weapons they use include denial. They deny the existence of the Spirit and God. They convince themselves it is a myth used to control masses. They substitute science for God. When those don’t work they advance to phase two. They convince others to commit the same crime with the belief there is safety in numbers. From there they advance to the next weapon, convincing the general public they did nothing wrong. They believe if they can hide their crimes from the general public they can hide them from God. When that doesn’t work, they lead others to a life of sin. Not as sever as their own, but they believe there is safety from God in numbers. Then something happens. Their conscience leads them to greater sins promising higher profits, and with increased funds they seek the peace that has always eluded them. That is nothing short than a fall into the grave. Nothing they can do will give them the peace and satisfaction they desire. No amount of money can buy them one moment of peace. That is when they strike out at others. They strike out through fear. The fear of being discovered. The fear of facing their crimes. The fear of loosing their souls. There is nothing left than to create diversions to avert those fears. In short terms we refer to that stage as insanity. In the Bible that insanity is linked to demon possession. Christians may not be able to understand those deeper phases, but they can see the signs.
The devil is not that creative. It seems he ran out of new sins to commit. After all, God only needed 10 Commandments to cover all sin. The devil has been taking sins and mixing them together to create his own brand of new, deeper sins. Satan’s demons influence people with a lie. Then teach people how to make it appear that lie is the truth. Demons teach people to talk to others, convince them their lie is the truth. After that black art is perfected, it is time to move on to stealing. Demons teach people to justify stealing. Demons tell people, those people owe you. With politicians the excuse is wrapped around the false impression they are actually helping people, or defending the government they stand for. The thefts grow, branch out, pull people so deep, murder becomes the next step. Threats to cover up their theft. Demons constantly teach people how to create and use excuses. The blame game takes center stage in the life of lies, theft, and murderer. The battle within the conscience pushes out God by silencing the conscience until the demon’s victim is considered lost forever.
Hundreds of times a day young girls about 13 years old are kidnapped, bought, and sold. They are drugged, threatened, beaten, and forced into the sex trades. Men force those girls into the most heinous, degrading sex acts. Those girls live in a world of control, fear, and endless shame. Demons work with their owners to break down the will of those girls to dehumanize them. If the girl gets pregnant, the baby is sold on the black market. When the woman is no longer useful to their owner, they are sold to organ traffickers. Their hair, skin, blood, eyes, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and more is sold on the black market. If their organ traffickers have a shred of humanity, the women are killed or anesthetized before being dismantled. Science believes the best organs come from living victims and drugs can ruin the organs. When we consider science, we have to consider the source. Governments have been known for spending much more money on ending human life than on efforts to cure cancer and other diseases. By now we should know, we should fear the government who tells us to trust the science. We never know what they are involved in and where that will lead.
Isaiah 58:6-12 Your Salvation Will Come Like the Dawn
Isaiah 58:6-12 NLTse “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. (7) Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (8) “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. (9) Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! (10) Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. (11) The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (12) Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
Luke 6:20-38 NLTse Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Godblesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. (21) Godblesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. Godblesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. (22) What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. (23) When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. (24) “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. (25) What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. (26) What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets. (27) “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. (28) Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (29) If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. (30) Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. (31) Do to others as you would like them to do to you. (32) “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinnerslove those who love them! (33) And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (34) And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. (35) “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. (36) You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (37) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. (38) Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Okay, I can see your all thinking – if this prophecy about helping the poor and depressed, which is a major part of our commission was fulfilled or taught by Jesus on His sermon on the mountain, than why not use Matthew? Well Matthew is spread out over three chapters and we need to follow the general rule of Bible Study — the introductions and summations have to agree. As we can see, Isaiah sets the tone for the prophecy and Jesus explained details. I would suggest you read Isaiah 58 and Matthew’s detailed account together. This will give God’s Spirit the time He needs with you to explain more details than found in this study. And of course, the goal is to get you to a point of learning to work on your own with God’s Spirit to understand His Word.
I have to admit, I had a bit of trouble locating parallel chapters to this prophecy. Looking at the key words, the first word I used to search was oppressed. That didn’t lead to any parallel chapters with matching introductions and summations. I went onto the next choice, hungry, which led to a number of interesting chapters. Luke 6 was the best match when comparing the introduction and summation.
Isaiah introduces a concept not exactly new to the Bible. Moses told Israel a set of concepts to live by known as the Law of Moses. Maybe that’s why that list of common sense guides showing how to live peacefully in this world has always been difficult to follow. Man has never been known for following laws viewed more like suggestions. Before God gave Moses that set of laws, Israel was of course freed from bondage in Egypt. Now do you see why this sequence of studies follows a particular pattern? One thing Israel’s release from bondage represented is found in their attitude towards the law. Living in an environment where every moment of their lives, following rules and regulations, they left a bad taste in their mouths. The last thing any of those Israelites wanted was a new set of rules. Isaiah did nothing more than repeat those concepts of how to live together. Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Do any of those laws seem too difficult to live by?
Although those seem like simple guidelines to follow, this world has a difficult time living by them. Is it so hard to treat people with justice, lighten burdens of people who work for you, and share what you have with those in need? It must be a difficult thing to do because Moses laid down the law, Isaiah reminded them, and Jesus repeated it with details so plain no one had an excuse to ignore them. Jesus told us, God will bless those who follow His command and help others. Isaiah tells us a part of the blessing. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” Why does Isaiah link helping others, treating them with justice and dignity with salvation? Doesn’t most of the world think all you have to do is claim Jesus’ sacrifice as your own to receive forgiveness for all your sins? If that’s true, than what about the learning process mentioned throughout the Bible? What about Jesus telling His disciples to take up their cross? Why did His disciples have to suffer and die for God’s Word if all they had to do was claim Jesus’ death to be saved? Let’s admit it, nothing but Jesus’ sacrifice can provide forgiveness for all the sins we committed. Without His sacrifice we would be lost. But as Paul tells us, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6 NLTse). Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27 NLTse).
Maybe this is why the world has so much trouble listening to God’s voice. Isaiah tells us if we follow God’s simple instructions, “Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” What is the connection? Does the Bible explain the answer or is the explanation basically common sense like those laws Moses recorded?
The main theme in Isaiah’s prophecy, although explained in detail by Jesus, seems to escape many Christians. I remember years ago in a study class with about 30 adults capable of repeating every interpretation to their coveted future prophecies could not answer a simple question that came up in the preprinted class study guide. The question was, “how do you share the love of Jesus?” The teacher read and skipped over the question. I raised my hand and asked, “how do you share Jesus’ love?” The teacher answered, “you share the love of Jesus by teaching about Jesus.” I asked, “what do we teach about Jesus?” The teacher answered, “the love of Jesus.” I asked, “what are we supposed to teach about Jesus’ love?” Not one person in that class had an answer. None of them had any type of relationship with Jesus. They were like those Pharisees who thought they knew all the prophecies but didn’t know a thing. So they rejected any type of relationship with Jesus who stood in front of them. Since that time I’ve asked that same question in many churches when the opportunity came up. No one was able to answer the question. No one seems to have studied Isaiah 58 or any of the New Testament chapters adding more details on the subject of Jesus’ love or how we are supposed to act towards one another.
What kind of end time church are they in when they don’t know anything about Jesus’ love, but claim to be the chosen church based on their doctrine? Pride tells them they are the only church able to accurately interpret future prophecy. To them, those interpretations and doctrines out weight common sense, the ability to love, and the ability to communicate with Jesus.
Isaiah was pretty vague. What does it mean to lighten burdens, let the oppressed go free, and remove chains binding people? My guess is people’s minds become confused because they drift back into Isaiah’s time, then convince themselves we don’t have those problems any more. They relate Isaiah’s theme to slavery, and since not many Christians today are involved in slavery, consider this message obsolete. Well they’re wrong. Don’t you feel oppressed at work some times? Don’t you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again at work then suddenly one day you have an idea how to ease your burden? When you take your idea to management, what was the reply? If your a manager, do you allow pride to shoot down every idea from the people your in charge of? Do you think Satan stopped using oppression to distract people? What do you think Satan is trying to achieve with oppression? Are you hearing sermons with a shallow view on oppression, summing it up with a vague explanation? Let’s look at what Satan plans on accomplishing with oppression. For one the oppressor is drawn away from God by power, prestige, and wealth. What about people who are oppressed? It forces them to take a new look at God. Some people may draw closer to God while other people will question Him and His existence.
What about big business? They oppress just about everyone with high energy prices and other costs like health care. Then there’s taxes. The Bible tells us about high taxes Solomon imposed that were increased by his son. Taxes continued as kings collected more money from everyone, especially the poor. They collected taxes for all their projects. Solomon built houses for his wives, the women he was in bed with. Today we pay taxes to support businesses government officials are in bed with. Those kings claimed high taxes were necessary for a proper military. But when invading armies posed a threat, everyone important person was called into the city and those gates locked out the majority of people paying those high taxes. Has anything changed?
It’s one thing to identify oppression, quite another to learn how to alleviate it. How well would you score? Do you talk to people in line at the store and comfort them when God’s Spirit puts you in position to bless others? When the cashier just faced the customer from hell, do you pray to find a way to cheer her up and remind her the whole world is not like the customer no one can never please? What about the parking lot? Do you help the old woman load her bags into the car? Do you let rude drivers pass you so they can pester the next driver, or recognize your act as a blessing? How does helping one another work at home? Do you assign tasks then help? Do you plan little surprises for your spouse? Do you email or text them little messages during the day to let them know you care? When you hear someone request prayer, do you stop everything and pray for them so they can see love and concern in action? Most people only promise to pray. It’s been said so many times, the words, “I’ll pray for you,” have become only a cliché. How many chances do you have to change the world around you? How many of those chances do you let slip by? In a way neglecting those opportunities puts a burden upon you. Those missed opportunities are either softening your heart or hardened it. You know there is a reason people share bad news with you. Admit it, there is a reason you share your burdens with people. Now that you know these secrets, learn how to treat people the way you want to be treated.
There’s a reason Jesus reworded Isaiah the way He did. Jesus wanted to make it personal. God blesses those who are poor, hungry, and weep. How do you think God blesses them? Did you ever hear of God making money, food, or a tender word suddenly appear out of thin air to help people? Come on you know the answer. God uses His people to reach out and help those people. That’s the way the world is supposed to work. But too often people calling themselves Christians are too scared to leave their fox holes. They want to remain as secluded as they can. They are afraid to reach out to help people with the gifts and blessings God gave them to share. For a great reward awaits you in heaven.
Most Christians heard this line, but how many actually know what it means? “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” Why do most sermons stop at the first sentence but don’t dwell on the rest of what Jesus said? Is it because He provided the answer and preachers like to impress you with their stories? Is it because they don’t understand the answer? Or is it because they think those people listening to them aren’t ready to understand or accept the simple answer? “Do good to them.” Ask that question about how to love Jesus and see what answer you receive, if any. People aren’t sure how to do good. Why not? There are two types of love. One is from Heaven while the other is an earthly fabrication. You guessed it. Love from this world is a compromise. Loving like the world teaches is not showing your a child of Heaven.
Every once in a while I see people breaking up in what they call a love affair by posting updates on Facebook. They post all those worldly concepts about love, something like, “deceptions are easy but truth is hard to find. Trust is easily broken. Lies are soon revealed. You never know what you had until its gone.” You can see the pattern. People speak from emotions inherited from the world. None of those sayings will ever accomplish anything. Wisdom from this world will never show you what true love is. All it will do is provide a moment of comfort followed be a deeper need to seek real love. But few will ever find true love. They search with their eyes but they are blind. They listen with their ears but they’re deaf. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Let’s face it, people get involved in relationships based on what they can get out of them. Relationships seeded in greed can only sprout thistles and thorns that will eventually sting. I’ve seen the effects. I think we’ve all seen the effects of those thorns. So where do we learn about the love that only comes from Heaven? The key word is learn. Did you miss it? Did it slip by? Here it is again. Now pay attention. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinnerslove those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.” “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.”
Now do you get it? Love doesn’t drop out of the sky when the right person comes along. Love has to be learned before it can be experienced. You have to learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide before you can do algebra or calculus which reveals the wonders of mathematics. You have to work on love like working out. Body building takes time. No one walks into a gym, does a few bench presses and walks out built like an athlete. Why would love be any different? You have to build up everything else in this world – your vocabulary, the ability to write, a knowledge of science, geography, stamina, muscles, everything. Why should love be any different? Our problem is we want to fall in love when everything else in the world has to be built up and conditioned. So we convince ourselves all we need to do is wait for the right person who we think will make us whole and for a while everything seems so much better. That’s the concept of love in this world. Like the toxic weeds Satan developed, that kind of love is like a drug. It’ll give you a great high for a while but coming down is a pain. Yep – love from this world is like a drug. It’ll cost you some money. It’s easy to take. Then it lets you down and leaves you looking for more of the same.
Now look at Jesus’ solution. He is saying your not ready until you’ve learned to love your enemies. Jesus doesn’t want to send you out into this cruel world until you’re ready. God is like a Father. He doesn’t want to see you hurt. His advise is to be ready. Work out your love until it is so muscle bound the world can’t help but take notice. Develop your intellect to a degree you are ready to solve any problem the world can throw at you. If that sounds impossible it is. You’ll never be prepared for every problem, but God is. Before your ready for love you have to first learn to love God who will show you how to love your enemies. Then you’ll be ready for the one love God has prepared for you. You don’t want God to send them a product half assembled? Think about it. Two lives with missing pieces will not make a whole. But that’s exactly what the world wants you to believe.
Sure there will be learning curves. Satan doesn’t want you learning how to leave this world behind. He feels safe when you rely on him. He feels threatened when he sees you going to God. Satan feels like he lost and he is a sore looser. But trials make us stronger. But watch out. Don’t dwell on set backs. As we’ve seen, oppression leads to distraction, which leads to wasting time, which leads to spending less time with God. If we dwell on set backs it delays our learning process. It’s the same with any relationship. If only one person dwells on negative aspects it will rob you of time together and what you can accomplish. When it comes to a relationship with God, He is never the one that dwells on problems. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Together these two chapters teach us about the love coming only from Heaven. Time to begin the lesson.
Isaiah 58:1-5 NLTse “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! (2) Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. (3) ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. (4) What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. (5) You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD?
Isaiah’s introduction reminds me why I had to leave the organized church. All I saw was people bragging about what they knew. Everything was centered about their interpretations on future prophecies and those doctrines and traditions they coveted and defended so vehemently — as if their salvation depended on it. Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes– so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”
(Matthew 15:8-9, 13:15-17 NLTse). Isn’t it time to listen?
Preachers today have given up on love, substituting man made knowledge for one of the greatest gifts from Heaven. Piety has taken the place of God’s voice. Obedience is given to a stone church and its leaders – while it is being withheld from God our Creator. They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. Like the Pharisees, preachers today place knowledge of the law in place of knowing its Author. Generations separated Isaiah from Jesus but nothing separated that attitude from those religious leaders.
Luke 6:1-12 NLTse One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. (2) But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” (3) Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? (4) He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.” (5) And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.” (6) On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. (7) The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. (8) But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. (9) Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” (10) He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! (11) At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him. (12) One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
Jesus pointed those religious leaders back to David and of course scripture. We’ve already looked at this text in a number of studies. But general Bible Study rules tell us to look at texts and the chapter to see a far deeper lesson Jesus is pointing to.
1 Samuel 21:1-6 NLTse David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?” (2) “The king has sent me on a private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later. (3) Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.” (4) “We don’t have any regular bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently.” (5) “Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when they are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!” (6) Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread–the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the LORD in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.
Because the texts Jesus is pointing to is located in the introduction of a chapter, we also have to look at the summary and look for the related theme.
1 Samuel 21:10-15 NLTse (10) So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. (11) But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” (12) David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. (13) So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. (14) Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? (15) We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”
Notice the theme? David lied to a priest than a king. See the spiritual lesson hidden in the texts? Why did David lie? David was running away from Saul who wanted to kill him. What’s your first reaction to a problem? You try to solve it yourself. In David’s case he resorted to lies in an instant. Jesus sent us back to scripture to gather more knowledge, so let’s take a look back to see how the author led into the story. At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town. (1 Samuel 20:42 NLTse). Notice the important point, “the LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Now we look ahead to see what those events led to. So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming–men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented–until David was the captain of about 400 men. (1 Samuel 22:1-2 NLTse). See the connection and progression? David’s responsibility is growing. As a boy he only had to worry about his father’s flocks and a giant. Working for Saul, David was in command of a company of soldiers. God was teaching David lessons about leadership. Remember how lessons about love have to be learned? Here is an example containing lessons related to love and leadership. Jesus’ disciples had a problem with both those subjects. They wanted leadership roles before they learned how to love like Jesus. They didn’t see how love and leadership had to intertwine and grow together.
When we look ahead we see those events led to another serious point to consider. A point we would miss if we weren’t looking at the progression in the story and of course praying. One day the prophet Gad told David, “Leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah.” So David went to the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:5 NLTse). See what happened? David was relying on himself so God sent a prophet. Why? David forgot to pray. Don’t you think David prayed before he ran off after a that lion or that bear? Don’t you think David prayed before he went after that giant? What about those battles he fought for Saul? When we look at David’s progression we see two things. His increased reliance on God and increased knowledge. The two are connected. David’s responsibilities increased parallel to his communication with God. That’s what people saw in David and trusted in. People trusted more in David’s relationship with God than they trusted in David the man. They believed David was God’s anointed king because they could see David’s relationship with God. Think about how that relates to the lesson on love.
David’s life teaches us positive aspects of following God, but like all of us, David had a history of drawing close to God then drifting away. When times look good we all have the tendency of making decisions on our own. Like children who only call their parents when they need help, we only pray from the heart when we’re in trouble. When David become comfortable, things changed. One time he sent his army out to fight without him. While the people he was supposed to be serving, protecting, and teaching were off fighting a war, David stayed behind to run the country. One night he looked across the street and saw a woman. David already had more wives than any of us care to count, but to David, this one was different. While his men were off fighting a battle, David pursued a conquest of his own. David knew the woman was married. Having drawn away from God and making his own decisions it didn’t seem to matter to David. He invited her over for a fling. After all, who would know? Once wasn’t enough for the king. After a while the woman gets pregnant, so David does what he got used to doing. David comes up with a new sure fire plan. After all, when he lied to a priest and king God still protected him?
David’s momentary lack of communication with God destroyed his common sense. David had that woman’s husband killed and married her. David made her the queen of Israel. God had enough. David refused to listen so God sent the prophet in. So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.” David was furious. “As surely as the LORD lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own. (2 Samuel 12:1-10 NLTse).
You might ask why after so many sins, God still loved David and called him a man after His own heart. It’s because David repented after seeing his sins. David repented of his sins as well as his lack of communication with God. As soon as David saw how far he drifted away from God, he prayed to restore that connection. David fell to the ground and prayed for the child as well as the mother and himself. David re-connection with God was so deep, his advisers could not understand it. That’s another point David missed. He neglected to explain that connection to people, not even his closest friends. After the child died, David got up to eat. After talking with God and listening… David knew he had a son waiting for him in Heaven. David knew when we get there he would receive the little child and raise him in the perfect environment of Heaven. David also knew God was concerned about him and wanted him to take care of himself. So David got up to eat. There is one detail we have to learn from David’s prayers. David remained focused on the subject at hand. David’s Psalms are an example of prayer. Notice how he always concentrated on one subject?
Psalms 11:1-7 NLTse
(1) I trust in the LORD for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
(2) The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right.
(3) The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”
(4) But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.
(5) The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence.
(6) He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds.
(7) For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.
David learned to pray in order. Many of his prayers share the same structure. David praised God, told God his problem, then let God know he had confidence God knew the right answer. The only thing we don’t see in David’s prayers is how God answered them. David’s prayers should be studied. David recorded some of his conversations with God when Saul was chasing after him. But let’s stick to the details at hand. David prayed on one subject at a time. You never see David praying like we see people pray today which consists of a list of items to drop in God’s lap like we expect God to solve all those problems without any further participation on our part. When God sent a prophet to David there was a major lesson to learn. Today we see little if any listening when we pray. We may as well write out a prayer list and E-mail or text it to God. “Here God this is what we want you to do today. Let me know when you finish.” Does the pot tell the potter what to do? Then why do we give God orders then hang up the phone? Prayer has become much like ordering a pizza and waiting for it to be delivered. When David laid on that stone floor for hours, he listened to God. When David prayed to God while on the run from Saul, David listened to God. The first time God answered through a prophet. As David honed his listening skills, God personally spoke to David.
My favorite Psalms are those where David praised God, presented his petition, then praised God at the end of his prayer by telling God he knew God would do the right thing. The main point is, David stuck to one point in his prayer and didn’t jump around from subject to subject like we do today. I’ve read a number of books on prayer. Not one of them teaches people how to listen. I’ve talked to many people about how they listen to God and I hear the same answer over and overt again. When they try listening to God their minds are filled with a hundred details and they can’t concentrate. We’ve been conditioned by the world to write a prayer list then run through the whole thing in one sitting. Is there one verse of Biblical proof showing that’s how we should pray? None that I can find. All the examples in Psalms show us to concentrate on one subject at a time. A prayer list is okay, but shooting it up to God like a shotgun blast doesn’t hit the target. How are we supposed to listen when we pass on a long list to God and sever the prayer connection? Prayer was never meant to be a one sided connection. Study those Psalms and look for a prayer pattern you like and use it. Try a couple of different styles. But remember to stick to one subject at a time and spend time listening to God’s reply which is infinitely more important than your list. By the way, God already knew what was on your prayer list long before you wrote it. That is one detail you may want to praise Him for when you begin praying. “LORD I thank you for knowing what is on my prayer list and I come to you today to discuss one matter. I really want to know what you want to do about this subject. Jesus cleanse me with your blood, remove all my sins, make me pure, and especially purge me of all those worldly thoughts and preconceived ideas about you and what you are capable of. Jesus place me at the foot of your Father’s throne and let me learn from His infinite wisdom.” Then sit quietly and listen to God’s answer on that one subject of prayer.
So what do prayer skills have to do with the introductions to Isaiah 58 and Luke 6? Everything! Look at the introduction to Isaiah 58. “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!” How are you supposed to know what to shout if the message doesn’t come from God? Prayer is everything. It is communication with God. Read between the lines. “Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” Those people didn’t listen to God so they drifted away. The only way to stay close to God is listen to Him. The trend continued past those religious leaders who questioned Jesus when His disciples ate grain on the Sabbath. “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.” And who would complain about healing a suffering man on the Sabbath? If they knew how to pray and listen to God, those religious leaders never would have questioned Jesus. Notice they watched Jesus, but we can see they didn’t listen to what He taught.
We all have trouble listening to God. David had his problems. One time the king of Tyre came to David. He wanted to learn about the God David served. But David didn’t think a Pagan king would have any interest in God. And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies was with him. Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. (2 Samuel 5:10-12 NLTse). We can see how David let the distractions of this world stop him from performing his duty to God. After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more concubines and wives, and they had more sons and daughters. (2 Samuel 5:13 NLTse). David fell victim to one of Satan’s greatest deceptions – success and power. Doesn’t that happen to all of us? Things are going well and we forget God or put our relationship with Him on the back shelf? No wonder Peter told us to welcome trials. Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14 NLTse).
What could have happened if David or Solomon witnessed to Hiram? He was the king of Tyre, the world trade center at the time. Hiram believed in staying out of religion to the extent of allowing every religion to freely practice within his kingdom. To Hiram it was the only way to increase trade through Tyre’s port, keep peace, and reduce the chance of an invasion. During his reign no one would dare attack Tyre because of its relationship with other kingdoms, both economical and religious. Having contact with all the worldly religions peaked Hiram’s search for the one true God. It’s strange to think the man anointed king and given the gifts, ability, and responsibility to tell the world about God missed the opportunity of a life time. If David had shared God with Hiram and told Hiram how God’s Spirit communicates with us, it would have opened streets and avenues within the world trade center no one could have imagined. Hiram could have reached people from all over the world from every religion. God doesn’t need more people hiding in fox holes. God needs people able to step out to face those giants, no matter what form they come in.
Keeping the gospel away from people goes way beyond David. When Jesus wanted to heal the man with that deformed hand in the synagogue those religious leaders used the Sabbath as an excuse to withhold one of God’s blessings. Don’t you think that giant David slew made an impression on the whole nation of Israel? Those religious leaders didn’t stop to think about how healing one man could have impressed all those people in the synagogue and beyond. Those religious leaders didn’t think of how one gift would glorify God. They were only thinking about themselves. “At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.” What was Jesus’ reaction? “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” Jesus didn’t rely on what He learned in the past or felt at the moment. Jesus went back to DAD to discuss the situation. Jesus didn’t know how to explain the Sabbath to those religious leaders who thought they knew everything. Jesus knew He had to be patient and wait for God’s Spirit to set up the right circumstances to reach those people. It’s amazing to see a part of that answer is in this chapter of Isaiah.
Isaiah 58:13-14 NLTse “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. (14) Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Those religious leaders were concerned only about their own interests. They followed their own desires and idle talk. Now you can see how Jesus answered more than their initial question. When Jesus referred to Isaiah 58, He included scripture around that lesson about helping the poor and depressed. We see the same result when we study other texts Jesus quoted. Now we can see why Jesus prayed. Answers He received were for questions before anyone asked them. Imagine the impact this had on Jesus’ faith. It could have had the same effect on other people if they spent time to look back into God’s Word. Jesus also taught lessons using parables like He did in the summation for Luke 6.
Luke 6:43-49 NLTse “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. (44) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs never grow on thornbushes, nor grapes on bramblebushes. (45) A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (46) “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? (47) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. (48) It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. (49) But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”
Jesus presents a choice. Good and evil are the only choices. There is no middle ground. Those priests made a carrier out of middle ground. Their religion was based on sitting in the middle trying to work their way up to God’s grace. Anyone who didn’t agree with them was deemed to far away to be saved. Unless of course you got back in line with their doctrines which takes your eyes off God placing your faith in man made doctrines. We have the same circumstances today. Of course every religion claims they got it right this time. But what about their fruit. When they produce members condemning the rest of the world are they producing good fruit or brambles? If they preach isolation are they spreading good seeds or weeds? When they make salvation a one step process, are they showing their good fruit or is their tree bear?
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” There is a direct relationship between Isaiah 58 and Luke 6 when you compare the introduction of Isaiah with the summation in Luke 6. This may seem unusual, but God has a way of teaching through repetition. We have to be prepared to notice and contemplate. As long as we compare the same parallel chapters we know we are learning the same theme. I remember my dad would always say, “don’t complain unless you have a better idea.” I think that was the best advise a father could give a son. Jesus also gave that advise, in His own way. Jesus told us how to worship God. “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”
Let’s face it, it’s never easy to turn a large ship around in a storm. If your waiting for your local or national church to turn around, you’ve got a long wait ahead of you. With God change has always been and will always be an individual effort. Jesus fed masses but healed individuals. Are we feeding people or healing them? The answer is both, but face the facts. When Jesus fed people they carelessly left baskets of bread lying on the ground. You have to expect that when you begin your ministry feeding people. But healing is another matter. Like Jesus we can heal. Like Jesus we have to place people in the capable hands of God’s Spirit to let them work it out together. We really can’t expect to accomplish more than Jesus did even though He said, “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.” (John 14:12 NLTse).
Time for you to experience some of those greater works. Matthew 27 is another chapter explaining how Isaiah 58 was fulfilled. Take your time, highlight those repeated words, give time for God’s Spirit to work with you. Look up the Old Testament scripture Jesus quoted. Look back and look ahead. Hone the skills you are learning – the most important being – draw closer to God and learn more about His Son Jesus.
Matthew 27:32-43 NLTse Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (33) And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). (34) The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. (35) After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. (36) Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. (37) A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (38) Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. (39) The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. (40) “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” (41) The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. (42) “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! (43) He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”
Matthew 27:1-10 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. (2) Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. (3) When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. (4) “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” (5) Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (6) The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” (7) After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. (8) That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. (9) This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, (10) and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.”
Matthew 27:61-66 NLTse Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. (62) The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. (63) They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ (64) So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (65) Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” (66) So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
There is no doubt that Jesus identified the dragon in the vision He showed John. The dragon represents Satan. But how many preachers take the extra moment to show you how the vision identified the symbols it contains? How many preachers show you how Revelation was designed to teach you how to read and understand that book? Not many. Let’s not forget the fact, Satan introduced the monetary system this world uses and depends on. That is the key. The world depends more on the monetary system Satan invented than on the Creator of this world. And Satan knows how to use that money system to control and manipulate people. Especially when they have no idea who is manipulating them, how, or why. That’s why we have to be extra cautious. That’s why it is a lot safer for us to study on our own at Jesus’ feet. We have to learn to put away those worldly sources of information and learn to rely on Heaven for all the answers. One other detail we have to consider. Satan wants nothing more than to hide, remain in the back ground, and not be seen, or identified. So his army of battle horses is gong to flood this earth with lies, half lies, false leads, and empty hope. And he is doing a rather fine job of it.
Revelation 12:7-9 NLTse (7) Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (8) And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. (9) 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.
We have to realize, Satan was kicked out of Heaven and sentenced to this world where he spends the rest of his life trying to deceive everyone. Satan has more experience than we could imagine. But Satan does not have the Holy Spirit. When Satan interprets scripture he is only guessing. That should help to identify close to 2/3 of the teachers you need to avoid. Guessing at symbols is a sure sign of a distance or void between that person and God’s throne.
Satan was able to deceive a third of the angels in Heaven. Angels who saw God, worshiped God, and talked with God. Angels who saw a perfect Heaven, and understood every letter of God’s law. You may think you are safe with the odds in your favor at 2:1. But you have no idea how often you reject God and His angels. When you reject God and His angels, who do you think steps in to take their place?
Satan has more experience deceiving people than anyone on this planet. We have no idea how many years Satan was allowed to deceive the angels in Heaven. That’s another factor we have to keep on mind. Especially when we hear those theories and watch those movies about a few people out witting the devil after he ceases world power. Based on scripture, that is impossible.
Since we stumbled upon the devil, we should look at a few details about him. But I do not want to enter into a full study about the devil. I have seen far too many people lead downhill with such an obsession.
Isaiah 14:12-21 NLTse “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. (13) For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. (14) I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ (15) Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths. (16) Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble? (17) Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?’ (18) “The kings of the nations lie in stately glory, each in his own tomb, (19) but you will be thrown out of your grave like a worthless branch. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will be dumped into a mass grave with those killed in battle. You will descend to the pit. (20) You will not be given a proper burial, for you have destroyed your nation and slaughtered your people. The descendants of such an evil person will never again receive honor. (21) Kill this man’s children! Let them die because of their father’s sins! They must not rise and conquer the earth, filling the world with their cities.”
Isaiah was told to record this description of Satan for a reason. Once we see how close Satan was to God, we can see how we have no chance against him on our own. We also see how high Satan had his sights set. He wanted to take God’s throne. No wonder there was a battle in Heaven. Jesus stepped up to defend His Father. That’s what every good son should do. But Jesus defended God by coming to this world to die at Satan’s hands. The Universe had to be shown how far Satan would go. If Satan wanted God’s throne, murder was not out of the question. We can see how Satan loves to destroy nations and all the people in them. There is more.
Revelation 12:10-12 NLTse (10) 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. (11) 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. (12) Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
We can see how John and Isaiah reflected each other’s views on the devil. He is sentenced to this planet and has his sights set on destroying everyone and everything. If Satan can’t rule Heaven, he can at least rule this world. With that in mind, we can see how we have to deal with his distorted idea of power. The more people he can get to follow that distorted version of power, the better he feels about himself. People follow that distorted idea of power without realizing where that idea originated. They don’t read scripture with the Spirit who can explain those details. God uses His power to teach people in this world. Satan uses his power to hide and distort that information.
We also see how Jesus had to use His own blood to defeat Satan. That is far from a normal way of winning a war in this world. In this world wars are won by making more people on the other side shed blood. That is not the case in this war between Jesus and Satan.
When we see how different this war between Christ and Satan is, we can see how important it is study the details we are given. It is also important to listen to Jesus, who sees everything happening behind the scenes. What chance do we have against an enemy we can’t see, feel, our touch? We are all but helpless. If we ever plan on winning a single battle, we have no alternative than to take orders from the One who has already defeated the enemy.
When Satan was thrown down to the earth, it was a sign showing how he lost the battle and war in Heaven. For the time being Satan is allowed to torment this world. He will spread out grief and suffering. His main focus will be on those who witness for Jesus. Satan can tell the difference between those who witness based on their own ideas and concepts, and those like John who witness for Jesus based on their visits to Heaven and the information Jesus shared with them. Satan uses man made ideas and flaws to his advantage. Satan finds it easy to plant seeds in the minds of people who don’t believe God and the Holy Spirit communicate with this world. Satan can introduce, formulate, and manipulate ideas. Look what happened in the dark ages when laws were passed telling the world only a select few were capable of reading and understanding scripture. Satan loved those days and would like nothing more than to brings those days back to one degree or another.
What about Jesus’ victory? We have a collection of stories about Jesus’ life and His sacrifices here on this planet. But do we study them enough? The Old Testament is filled with over three hundred prophecies about Jesus and His ministry. What kind of general publishes books about His plans hundreds of years before He puts them into action? Not any General from this planet. Imagine that. Place your plans in a number of books, then enter into a new phase of the war with your greatest enemy. Why did Jesus do that? Was that to impress us or send us a message? How often have you studied those battle plans? How often have you heard people preach about those battle plans? One thing is certain, Jesus’ followers know something about those battle plans and the lessons they teach.
We know very little about that war in Heaven. There are no casualty reports like other stories in the Bible. We have no reports about numbers in the two armies. But we do know Satan had one third of the angles on his side. Jesus must have gathered every other angel in Heaven for that war. No one was neutral. Everyone dedicated their time and effort to the war. We also know God spoke everything into existence in this world. Why was there a physical war in Heaven when God could have put an end to Satan and his followers in a second? There are a number of spiritual weapons mentioned in scripture. Did the angels use weapons? We have no way of knowing. Statues have been made with angels carrying swords. But that information was conjured up by man’s imagination. We know little about Heaven and less about that war that was once fought there. Even placing a date on that war is difficult. Was that war fought before or after Jesus’ sacrifice on this planet? Many details point to after Jesus’ sacrifice and ascension. Wars consist of battles. There may have been a series of battles to win before the final victory was achieved. Revelation offers us some comfort by telling us that Satan and all his followers will be utterly destroyed in the future. That will end sin in the Universe.
There has to be a reason why sin was able to rage in Heaven for a time. Satan was able to build forces to stand against God. To plan on taking God’s throne. Why? Based on accounts in Eden, Satan has a history of promising more. Satan cannot create. There is no account or record of any angel creating anything. Only God and Jesus have been credited with creation. Satan may be able to manipulate what he was given. Which is this world. Scientists have been able to come up with a variety of new and specialized creatures by cross breeding, and more recently, genetics. Was Satan able to manipulate life forms through genetics? Where did weeds, thorns, thistles, and mosquitoes come from? When were insects given the ability to carry diseases? We have seen some manipulations in our generation. Did Satan work through human agencies or is he able to manipulate life forms on his own? We don’t know. At this point we don’t have the answers. We do know it is possible. Look at genetic manipulation on the Internet. Men have been experimenting with that science for years. Some times the results can be beneficial. Sometimes the results are hazardous. There are a number of highly funded research projects in the field of military genetics. It makes sense on the human side to develop super soldiers. But is Satan using that research to one day develop a line of super angels to defend himself and defeat God? Think about that. God waited until Satan gathered one third of the angels in Heaven. If God would have waited any longer, the odds may have turned in Satan’s favor. Of course God could have ended everything with one word or thought. But what if Satan is working on a new plan to manipulate angels and humans? Satan is not giving up until he turns to ashes in that lake of fire. What might we see in the future that points to the last moments before those last seven plagues begin hitting the earth? At least one branch of science may not be too far from the truth.
Revelation 12:13-18 NLTse (13) When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (14) But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time. (15) Then the dragon tried to drown the woman with a flood of water that flowed from his mouth. (16) But the earth helped her by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that gushed out from the mouth of the dragon. (17) And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children–all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. (18) Then the dragon took his stand on the shore beside the sea.
Based on the information John provided, our best guess can be that Satan was thrown down to earth after Jesus rose from the grave.
She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.
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. 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. (Revelation 12:5 NLTse), (Revelation 12:7-11 NLTse)
When we look at the sequence of events, we see a few details that become relevant. Jesus defeated the devil with His blood. That could be taken in the physical sense, but at what time, and what is the exact repercussion for the devil? Satan may have been restricted from Heaven before Christ died. Jesus’ blood may be a sign pointing to the final defeat of Satan, or the evidence God needed to pass a final verdict in Satan’s trial.
From the Book of Job we can see how Satan was allowed to pass between this world and God’s throne for a time. When and if that privilege ended, we have no way of knowing. We do know that God can and will restrict Satan. Why does Satan obey those restrictions? Does Satan understand that he could be destroyed with a single word from God? That would mean that Satan feels fear and has to deal with it. Satan knows his time is coming, but he clings onto life as long as he can. In some ways, Satan has human attributes.
What if God destroyed Satan? What if Satan crossed the line and lost his life? Would this world change? There are a million concepts on temptation. Some believe temptation comes from the devil like we all have a good angel and evil angel telling us what to do, and what not to do. If Satan was destroyed, would that put an end to sin? Or is sin ingrained in men’s minds, and they will continue to sin without the influence of outside sources?
There seems to be a change in symbolism here. At first the woman appears to be a physical woman delivering a physical child through birth. If we compared stories in the Gospels, the woman would have to be Mary giving birth to Jesus. That is physical in nature. But after Jesus returned to Heaven, the symbolism seems to turn take on more of a spiritual tone. Are there other examples of this in Scripture? Of course there are. Moses was a physical man. Moses was also a type of symbol pointing to Christ. So was David and others in the Bible. The same with cities and other locations such as Jerusalem, Babylon, and others. Why not this woman in Revelation?
There is another factor we cannot over look. “When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27 NLTse). In this scene Jesus not only assigned John the task of taking care of His mother, but also made John part of His family. Joseph had sons from a previous marriage and the Bible does mention the fact, Jesus had brothers who could have taken care of Mary. But Jesus had a good reason for making this request. On the spiritual side, John became the son of the woman that was persecuted by the dragon. And John experienced that persecution first hand. John was a disciple, then an apostle. John worked hard to bring more disciples and apostles to Christ. In essence, John was a living symbol of the people who the dragon waged war against.
I know there is a lot of date setting and details other people read into this section about the dragon pursuing the woman and her offspring. I also know there are a number of churches who take a few words out of this story in Revelation and use them to place a label on their faith and identify themselves as God’s one and only remnant church. But John never wrote a word about a remnant church.
As for those 1260 days. That same number was mentioned in the previous chapter. We can take a look at it to see what details we can find there.
Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, “Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.” (Revelation 11:1-3 NLTse).
In Revelation chapter 12 the woman was protected for 1260 days. God sent down two witnesses for the exact same time period. Is that a coincidence, or are they related? Since the two witnesses represent the Old and New Testament, how are they used to protect the woman? Isn’t the entire book of Revelation written to protect Jesus’ followers? Those who have God’s seal upon them. When we put those two stories together in the sequence they were presented, we can finally make sense of all the conjecture and guesses this world has been feeding Christianity as a whole. The book of Revelation mentions a limited number of symbols and physical items assigned to protect God’s people who are sealed. The alter is a one of those symbols. Being at God’s throne is another location mentioned a number of times in Revelation. Jesus’ blood, is another. Knowledge is a large part of that protection plan. Where we get that knowledge is covered in a number of chapters in Revelation. Chapter 11 identified the Old and New Testament as one of those protective measures. But no where does John write about an institution. Common sense would tells us that churches manipulate God’s Word to attract people. To call them into their church. We know the definition of a church is to call people out. When we look at how a few words have been manipulated and for what purpose, a few questions should cross our minds. If we compare those actions to what we’ve learned while reading Revelation like a book, like it has been written, we can see a cross section of Satan’s forces at work. Take a few words out of Revelation. Tell people how difficult it is to understand a book about prophecy. Give people with advanced training the task of unraveling those prophecies. Make it sound like it takes years of training to understand more than three words in Revelation. Satan does his best to place his own seals on Revelation and the rest of the Bible. Satan never earned the right nor was given the authority to remove a single seal from the book John described in Revelation. That angered Satan. So he created ways of placing his own seals upon the entire book of Revelation. But each of Satan’s seals are fake. Those who have God’s seal can and will see how fake those seals are. They will be like John. God’s seal comes with an angel to stand next to you and explain each and every word, symbol, and event in every one of those stories and visions in Revelation. If those warnings apply to you, you will hear and understand those warnings. If those events coincide with a message you need to deliver, you will understand each and every one of those symbols, the events, and how that event relates to the world around you. Compare Revelation to the other books John has written. John’s Gospel told us about how the Holy Spirit worked behind the scenes in Jesus’ ministry on earth. John’s letters talk about Jesus’ love and concern for this planet. Revelation is no different. It is a combination of Jesus’ love and the Holy Spirit working in your ministry. When your ministry in this world parallels Jesus’ ministry in Heaven, you will know it. You will feel it. You will know Jesus’ true witnesses in a heartbeat. All the doubts and confusion about Revelation will disappear. You will hear God’s voice and feel His seal upon you.
I felt I had to take a break from Revelation to add in a sort of educational chapter. After reading and writing about Revelation chapter 4, I asked a number of people if it was still possible to approach God’s throne. For the most part, people didn’t want to answer, or didn’t know the answer. But a few did.
Approaching God’s throne is a personal matter. Each person has their own unique way of approaching God’s throne. Some people skip God’s throne while still meeting personally with Jesus while others grasp onto the theme in Hebrews chapter 4 telling us to, “boldly stand before God’s throne.” Let’s face it, personally talking with God and Jesus have been a rather obscure subject to say the least. Either people will agree or disagree. Few people will look at the subject of approaching God’s throne and a learning opportunity. There are a few, but that is a minority of people. An even smaller minority are those who want to share their moments at God’s throne. Those people are few and far between.
When it comes to direct communication with God, doubters go as far back as Moses. No one heard God’s voice for about 400 years. Then one day this well known figure, who could have, and should have done something about slavery in Egypt when he was next to Pharaoh’s throne shows up dressed like a common shepherd. What happened Moses? You were a prince then disappeared. Now your back here telling us God is going to free us from slavery. Why didn’t you do something about it when you were a prince?
It seems God placed Moses in a tight spot. Moses could have taken action when he was next to Pharaoh’s throne. In a sense, Moses did take action by killing a single Egyptian. That didn’t solve anything. Moses had no idea about the big picture. Maybe God had a plan to use Moses when he was in Pharaoh’s court. We have no way of knowing if Moses altered God’s plan to a certain degree. That will be interesting to find out when we get to Heaven. In the long run, God had a plan that worked. In hindsight, Moses placed himself in a tight spot.
No Israelite in Egypt heard God’s voice for over 400 years. Of course they prayed. If you were a slave, you would be praying to. But God didn’t answer. So when Moses showed up and said he talked with God, people doubted. We are still plagued with that mentality. Try sharing something new with someone who thinks they have a direct line with God. Some people have the attitude, “if God didn’t go through them with a message, that message must have come from the other side.” I’ve run into that mentality many times. I ask them how they communicate with God, and they normally shot back with a few verses about false prophets, which has nothing to do with the subject at hand. But those verses about false prophets is their man made defense mechanism they use for every circumstance they don’t agree with.
It took a few choice miracles or plagues, depending on their point of view to convince people, Moses was meeting with God and delivering messages from God. And then there was Pharaoh. The guy who knew each and every one of those Egyptian gods were fake. He thought he was in control and that God Moses talked about was as fake as the gods Pharaoh and his family made up. Pharaoh was a tough nut to crack. In his world everything outside his control was fake. People still have that mentality today.
Eventually God got Israel out of Egypt and into an environment they could mellow out and think. One day God decided to show Himself to Israel so they could believe He was real and could talk to them. Of course every Israelite that left Egypt with Moses saw all those plagues. They saw Egyptian crops being ruined as their crops flourished. They saw Egyptian cattle dying when not one of their cows or sheep showed any signs of being sick. They saw water turn to blood, hail from from the sky, frogs, locusts, and other bugs controlled by God. They should have had a firm belief in God. Something went wrong. After spending their entire lives learning how to fear every god from A to Z, that fear clung onto Israel like the chains that kept them as slaves. Since they were used to someone telling them what the gods demanded, they asked Moses to play that part as a go between themselves and God.
God offered the priesthood to every Israelite that came out of Egypt. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6 KJV). They turned down that offer.
We see the same pattern repeated when Jesus began His ministry. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way, (Luke 4:28-30 KJV).
No one seemed to hear God’s voice for a few hundred years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Once again God was silent for a time, and people just thought that pattern would continue. Or they invented new ways to make people think, God spoke to a select few in some mysterious way. So don’t ask for details, just follow their lead.
After the apostles, the same thing happened. No one seemed to hear God’s voice. It seemed the contact with the Holy Spirit Jesus promised was meant for a few choice people, and when they died, this world was left to figure things out on their own. The world grew dark and it seemed it needed a new religious leader. So a group of people got together and selected the most likely candidates God would eventually speak to. One after another was set in solitude to see if they heard God’s voice. After a number of attempts, one man came out of the room and told the committee, he heard God’s voice. That was good enough for that pious committee. They made that man their new leader and created a new religion based on the belief that God talks to one man here in earth, and the rest of the world has to follow dictates from that single man for God to bless this earth. That concept has stuck with this world ever since, and people who don’t fall in line are looked upon as outcasts or part of a cult. The devil won. He convinced the majority of this world that concept of one man between themselves and God was the only choice this world had. For some reason people read the Bible, and instead of taking God’s Word, and following God’s instructions, they decided to take the word of slaves. They decided that the choice that group of slaves made was the only choice. Scholars sipped right over God’s offer to be a nation of priests and clung onto the decision that Israel made. They convinced themselves and much of this world that Israel’s decision was somehow inspired. Reading that story the way it was written shows how Israel rebelled against God. But Satan took out the few words he needed to form a new religion, and had his agents spread it all over the world. Satan thought he had his prison door shut and locked. But God has always been at His best when it came to reaching people in prison.
Today it is rare to find people who approach God’s throne. It is rare to find people who know anything about approaching God’s throne. Or are open minded enough to learn anything about approaching God’s throne. Why is that? We just covered a few of the concepts the devil found to be effective. There are more. Take out a few choice lines in the Old Testament, add in a long speech about how God chose a few choice prophets to talk to, and you have a theology that forges the same chains that one man concept created. In the long run, the devil doesn’t want anyone to approach God’s throne, talk to Jesus, work with the Holy Spirit, or read scripture. Those are a few things the devil fears the most.
As soon as you enter God’s presence, you are in a place the devil can’t touch you. His influence is gone, and you are opening yourself to total, untainted truth. The thing is, you have to learn to put away so many thing this world has taught you. But when you approach God’s throne, you take the first step to separating truth from fiction.
I’ve talked to a number of people over the past week to get their view points on approaching God’s throne. It’s good to know God still has a number of people who will talk to Him. It may seem rather strange to think of God as feeling lonely or rejected. After all, God has billions or requests to deal with from billions of people everyday. God hears their prayers. People ask for favors, blessings, and ask God to deal with countless situations every second of every day. God knows how to deal with each of those situations. If you ever approached God’s throne, you know how God will tell you how to deal with your situation. God will give you step by step instructions you can’t argue with. If you follow those instructions, the problem is solved. The problem is, the devil is watching, and launches a hundred more attacks.
At times God will take you back a few steps to remind you how you got yourself into that mess. God is also a Teacher and Father who never wants you to repeat your mistakes. Correction from God may be a little difficult for some people to accept. That is one reason some people avoid God’s throne. You just have to learn to get over your pride.
I have may own way of approaching God’s throne. It may not be right for you, but at least you have something to think about. I look at Jesus as a way to God’s throne. To me it makes sense to cleanse myself, to make myself pure enough to approach God’s throne. After all, Aaron the high priest had to wash himself and dress in the proper way to enter the Tabernacle and to offer a sacrifice. I ask Jesus to be forgiven for my sins and to be cleansed. Then I find myself in God’s presence. Not so much to make requests, but to listen and learn. I may ask one question, then another. I may go through three or four questions before I hear a response. When I do hear a response, I know it is God’s voice. I could never second guess or argue with any of the answers God offers. They make total sense. God backs them up with stories from scripture. God’s answers are often verified by real life events that confirm His answers and messages.
There are of course as many ways to approach God’s throne as there are people. We all have our own unique personalities. One person may see God’s throne as this, another as that. When we approach God’s throne, we have respect for other people and their stories about being at God’s throne. There is no doubt about that.
The thing about books like Revelation is, people tend to get caught up with trying to figure out the future. That’s something the devil has planted in our brains. The devil wants people to believe, if they can figure out the future, that somehow draws them closer to God. That could not be further from the truth. Common sense tells us, God knows everything about the future. So why would anyone think, God wants us to figure out the future, then tell God what the future holds? That is reverse thinking. It is actually insane. All God wants is people to go to Him for answers. But this world has been trained to go to every other source but God. People have been convinced, God doesn’t talk to this world. But David tells us different story.
The one thing I ask of the LORD– the thing I seek most– is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music. Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalms 27:4-8 NLTse).
If David could enter God’s Sanctuary, why not us? If God protected David, why not us? God does not play favorites. God can’t love one person more than another. So why does the world teach us, God favors some people over others? That doesn’t make sense when we take the Bible as a whole. It’s time to make a decision. Is your view of God based on what the world wants you to think, what the devil wants you to believe, or direct contact and communication with God? What is our source of information?
Chapter 7 is where the Book of Revelation begins to take a turn. The sixth seal was just opened and described. It is by far the strangest seal with twists and turns all its own. Trying to figure out what a darkened sun, blood moon, falling stars, and an earthquake have in common is not an easy thing to do. For some people it is so easy, they pass through that seal in a nanosecond without ever giving it another thought. But that’s not what we learned from the first five seals, or the first five chapters in Revelation. We learned to take our time. To allow the Bible to provide each and every explanation. We learned how the Bible points us in one direction to find the answer and more than confirmed the answers and interpretation for every symbol.
The Book of Revelation is not much different than any other literary work. Like every other book, it follows a theme. Like every other author, Jesus has His personal style of writing, and sticks to it. Like many other books, Revelation uses symbols to add back ground and meaning to the story. And like every author who uses symbols, those symbols are explained within the story. The author explains what those symbols mean. Why does this world have respect for every other classic novelist, but when it comes to Jesus, that respect flies out the window. It doesn’t make any sense to take any book or novel, take out a few choice sentences, then offer long winded explanations on what they think it means. Or what they think the author should have written. Or what they think the author should have added. Or tell people how some strange culture effected the thought pattern of the author. That explanation is totally ridiculous. But I’ve heard it before. People try to identify John as the author of Revelation. They take Jesus out of the picture. Then they try to present themselves as the authority on the times and society John lived in. Then they try to play psychologist. They make it sound like John had some type of disorder or suffered from illusions. Then they try to tell people what John meant to write. For one thing, they never lived in the time or society John lived in. How could they be the expert they claim to be? To claim Jesus choose a man suffering from some mental illness is utterly ridiculous. Jesus could have cured any type of illness in a second. To make the claim, “John misquoted Jesus,” is the greatest mistake I’ve seen people make. Jesus is the Author of Revelation. Jesus proof read and checked every jot and tittle John penned. There are no mistakes. The inspired Word stands perfect. That is exactly what people have a difficult time understanding. How can this sinful world hope to identify and recognize perfection when it appears? What does this world have to measure against perfection? Nothing. So this world invents new ways to pick apart Revelation and other books in the Bible. This world invents new ways to pick apart, dismantle, question, criticize, and critique each and every word throughout the Bible. No one stands a chance of standing up against an entire book in the Bible. No one can argue with any book in the Bible when it is taken as a whole. So they cut it into little tiny pieces like they are preparing to view it under a microscope. That is nothing but a distraction.
The most difficult thing for people to do when they approach the Bible is to forget everything they have been taught about the Bible. People cannot lay doctrines, ideas, and concepts aside long enough to read an entire story or scene in the Bible and accept it in the literary form it was written. One popular Bible Study method is called higher criticism. It is so popular and common, they don’t try to hide the fact their study methods are meant to criticize the Bible, its Author, and every inspired word.
I don’t claim to be an expert on higher criticism, nor do I want to be. Talk to twelve people using that method and you’ll wind up with twelve different explanations. They hardly agree with themselves. How are they ever going to agree with God? Take a critic. Any critic. No two critics are going to write the same review on a restaurant, motel, plane flight, book or any product in existence. Why expect a hoard of critics to agree on God’s inspired word?
That form of study is based on human nature, personal experiences, and views. Many of those circumstances are products of the critics choices in life. They created their own life, their personal environment, and life style. They claim to be experts on ancient Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and other cultures. But they never lived in that period or experienced those cultures. Their concepts and ideas are based on books they’ve read, and in many cases, stories based on a few artifacts dug from the ground and accompanied by long winded explanations with few facts to back them up.
Take a rich man. A man who tasted the best in life and excepts the best in every phase of life. Sit him down and put a burger from a fast food chain in front of him. Have him taste that burger, then write a review. Take a homeless man. A man who searches a dumpster for his next meal. Give him the same burger. Will he write the same review as the rich man? No. Views on the Bible based on the higher criticism method show the same results. Whether or not they admit it, their comments are based on the culture they live in. Not some culture they claim to be experts on.
To accept any story in the Bible, we have to know how to leave all the concepts, ideas, and doctrines forged into our heads over the years behind in Egypt and Babylon where they belong. Those were empires famous for forcing religion upon people. Modern Christian religions do the same thing today. They repeat the same ideas over and over again until the masses are convinced, it is the truth. And there is never any reason to research the matter any further. But let’s look a little deeper for a moment. Are those concepts based on scripture? Do they in fact allow scripture to support and verify scripture? Or do they use the age old approach of using one example to show how scripture identified a symbol. Then they switch over to the critical method of their choice, and use methods outside the Bible to make whatever point they want you to believe. It happens all the time. The old bait and switch trick. To be on the safe side, you have to put all of that behind you whenever you open the Bible. You are approaching God’s throne for answers. And this world and its opinions no longer matter.
Revelation 7:1-4 MKJV And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth so that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. (2) And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, (3) saying, Do not hurt the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. (4) And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousands, having been sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.
Between the sixth and seventh seal, Jesus inserted another story. Why is there a chapter between the sixth and seventh seals? That has stunned and confused people for a number of years. It confuses me. Some authors use this form of writing to highlight important points they want to emphasize. Why would Jesus be any different?
This chapter begins with the words, “after these things.” Which can be taken in a number of ways. If chapter 6 ended with a sequence of events, this would be the next event to follow. If it was a comment by the author, it would mean that after John saw the vision of the six seals opening, the scene changed and he was introduced to a new vision. That explanation reminds us how Jesus is in control of everything John sees and hears.
John is in Heaven. Looking over the edge of Heaven, so to speak, John sees the earth. Four angels are at four corners holding back something we can’t see, the wind. We can’t see the wind, but we can see effects winds have on this planet. Will there be winds in Heaven? Just a question to ask to help get your mind off what you have been taught about this chapter.
Those winds are identified as, “winds of the earth.” They surround the earth and are placed there to effect the earth. How John was able to see winds, without seeing their effect is a mystery. We can’t see the effects winds have on this world until after they pass. Then we see how the wind moves flags, trees, and at times causes mass destruction. We can feel wind on or skin. At times we can hear wind moving objects. But those winds are being restrained. How do you restrain wind? No man can. So how can any man possibly translate the meaning of those winds based on personal experience? All of mankind’s experiences with wind are based on after effects. John is being shown a scene that includes wind before it is allowed to do its thing. No one on earth has any experience with any type of wind before its creation. We have no choice but to place the interpretation of those winds in Jesus’ hands. What an introduction to a new chapter.
Sticking with the subject of wind, the symbol is interpreted and identified using the simple rule of repetition. The phrases, “to hurt the earth and the sea,” and, “ Do not hurt the earth or the sea or the trees,” identified the four winds. Somehow John caught a glimpse of the damage those winds were about to cause on the earth.
Now that we’ve seen how Jesus arranged this story to introduce and define a symbol, we can look at one of my favorite symbols, God’s seal. It has long intrigued me. Not the symbol itself but the fact, most people waste countless hours studying the mark of the beast, while ignoring God’s seal. It makes me wonder whose side they are on. What is God’s seal? Can we see it?
We have to look at, examine, and respect Jesus’ literary style. He first introduced wind. Something we can’t see, but we see the effects. Jesus then introduced God’s seal. In effect, Jesus defined that seal as something we can’t see, but we can see the effects. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the inability of theologians to explain the simple literary process Jesus used, and how to study and accept that style over all the gibberish we receive from this world.
How do we explain God’s seal? There doesn’t seem to be a lot written about that seal. But when we accept that seal as a symbol of something we can’t see, but we do see the effects, that may be enough to lead us to another story in the Bible. My choice is found in John chapter 3.
John 3:5-8 NLTse Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (6) Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (7) So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ (8) The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
Like everything else, when we look at the full story, we get the answers we are looking for. In this case I didn’t include the full story. But I did include Jesus’ answer to one of Nicodemus’ questions.
We are questioning God’s seal. What is God’s seal? We know that seal identifies people who will make it to Heaven. When we looked at another story about wind, we found that story is based on the same context as the Revelation chapter 7, who will enter Heaven’s gates. In John chapter 3, Jesus tells us who. Those who are born of water and the Spirit. We are going no where without the Spirit. As for water. That is another symbol all together. But we can see why the angels are told to hold those winds back from harming the water while the sealing process is on progress. The water has something to do with those who receives God’s seal.
Revelation chapter 7 has a rather long list of tribes with a designated number from each tribe who received God’s seal. Did you notice sealed written in the past tense. Does that mean those people were sealed before the vision? Or does the way it is written give us a new clue?
I know there are a million people who think they figured out what those numbers represent. With so many guesses out there, which one is right? Which one can explain exactly how Jesus defined those numbers. They are His people. Jesus should know. But we have all those people insisting they have an answer. At times they act like those people numbered in Revelation chapter 7 are their people. Some even make that claim. But right after those numbers are listed, Jesus introduced a new number.
Revelation 7:9-10 NLTse (9) After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. (10) And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”
How could any number of those interpretations be correct when they ignore the sentence directly after that mysterious number? And most of them are not Jews. They are, “from every nation and tribe and people and language.” When people remove facts, they can make anything from the Bible appear as if it supports their concept.
At the very least those people know something about salvation. Wasn’t that what Nicodemus went to talk to Jesus about? Nicodemus knew there was more to salvation than what he had been taught. There was more to salvation then Nicodemus taught. The Spirit was able to make a connection with Nicodemus before that meeting with Jesus. Something was working inside Nicodemus. Something he couldn’t explain. But something Jesus was able to explain. Important facts we have to consider whenever we read the Bible.
Those people from that mass number knew about God’s throne, and were able to sing praises in front of God’s throne. Something a lot of people have a difficult time explaining. Something a lot of people never experienced. But something the Bible explains and John saw scenes of. In this case the number is once again symbolic. The crowd John saw was symbolic. Everything in Revelation chapter 7 is symbolic. And everything is explained when you approach God’s throne.
Revelation 7:11-12 NLTse (11) And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. (12) They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Jesus added a countless number of angels to that countless number of people in front of God’s throne. Then Jesus listed a specific number of elders and living beings? Why did Jesus use such a wide variety of numbers in such a short space? It could be showing the countless number of people who do know and follow God. It could remind us not to number, and for lack of a better phrase, judge people, or try to determine who is sealed and who isn’t. Those numbers are designed to remind us about a lot of facts.
The song they sung shows us those angels, elders, and beings know something about God. It is very different than the song people from this world sang. A reminder that we have to learn to work with those from Heaven to get the full story.
Revelation 7:13-17 NLTse (13) Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” (14) And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. (15) “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. (16) They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. (17) For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
To emphasize the cooperation between Heaven and this world, Jesus included an example. John had no idea who those people were. One of those elders had to explain it to John. We have a reliable explanation and interpretation direct from God’s throne. How many times does Jesus have to explain this before it hits home? Jesus knows how difficult it is for some people to let go of this world. Jesus has first hand experience with people like that. They killed them. Jesus had to die to show how He knows about those people and understand them. Jesus also forgave them. There are so many points we had to learn before that seventh seal was opened.
Many people will read this sequence and disagree based only on the fact they never heard or read about it before. Is that a proper basis to judge the sequence John recorded, in the order he recorded it. After we look at the sequence John wrote, you have the right and responsibility to measure that up against what other people wrote about and preach. But you better ask how they came up with the sequence they preach about. Look at the way they present it and compare it to how information is presented in this chapter, and following chapters in this book.
Revelation 6:7-11 RSVA When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” (8) And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (9) When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; (10) they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” (11) Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
There may be no better Bible Study Rule than to gather all the information on a subject BEFORE you come to a conclusion. That is an interesting rule. One I wish everyone followed. One of the reasons people find the Bible difficult to understand is the fact, they have to forget so much before they are ready to take a look at what the Bible is actually saying. With that said, let’s see what this chapter is telling us, and how the chapter and book of Revelation explains what all those signs, visions, and symbols actual represent.
This chapter of course deals with a series of seven seals. The seals are of course symbolic. The Lamb is symbolic, and of course everything in the vision John saw is symbolic. There is no doubt, John saw those visions in Heaven. There shouldn’t be any doubt, that after each of those visions, someone in Heaven came to John to explain what those symbols represented.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:13-17 RSVA).
At times an angel in Heaven explained one detail. Other times an angel had to go back in history to explain how certain events unfolded, and why the world is going to find itself in some rather precarious positions. The key to understanding Revelation is to pay attention to each vision, and the beginning of each explanation. The entire book follows a pattern of visions, then an explanation for each vision. Common sense tells us the angels provided John with a detailed explanation of the vision he just saw. Why would an angel in Heaven begin a conversation about some unrelated series of events when John expected to hear an explanation for the question at hand? But that’s what some people believe and teach. Many people believe and teach that John saw a vision, then an angel in Heaven came to John and began a conversation about some unrelated event or started a new conversation on a different subject. On the contrary. John did not record a book with the idea of hiding or withholding any information. John did not record a series of events placed in some random, hidden, or coded order. The book of Revelation was recorded with every detail John saw in the order those events unfolded in Heaven. The conversations John experienced in Heaven illustrate Heaven’s perfect order and ability to answer questions. God’s intention was to tell this world what will happen and the sequence those events will follow. God did not lie, and neither did any of those angels. The only deceivers are those people who claim John’s book is a set of events presented in some unknown, mysterious order, and God left this world on its own to figure out the proper sequence.
In other words, the visions John recorded in Revelation are events that would happen in the future, after John wrote his book. Most visions were followed by an explanation. The angel or being offering the explanation began by going over a series of events John was familiar with. That is to say, events that happened in the past, then led to the time frame of the vision John had seen. In other words the future. Events John was not familiar with. With that in mind, the Book of Revelation begins to clear up. For some reason that seems to confuse people.
The events in Revelation chapters 6 and 7 all pointed to future points in history. An angel asked John what he saw. Of course John didn’t know what any of those symbols represented or the events, people, places, or things those symbols represented. John had no way of knowing because the time frame as well as the events were in the future. It is impossible for anyone to explain a symbol pointing to something they never saw. It is impossible for any human being to describe any event, person, or thing they have never seen. So the angel explained what those people in the white robes represented. In this case both the vision and explanation are based on future events. But they are the same event. This writing style is common throughout the Bible beginning in Genesis where chapter 2 added more details to chapter 1. At the very beginning of the scriptures, God explained how all the scriptures are interpreted. One chapter provided an introduction and the following chapter added details. God used this pattern as a type of signature or fingerprint on His Word. That is one method scholars used to verify authentic inspired books and weed out copies, or commentaries non inspired authors wrote. There are of course other patterns and fingerprints God used to verify the books He inspired.
John was not given a specific time frame in this vision. The events could have taken place any time after John wrote his book. Some people think those events happened in our past. Others prefer to think they are going to happen in our future. And some think those events will repeat themselves over time. When we look at a few facts, we can see how death and pestilence have been repeated since John’s time, and even before Johns time. The fifth seal is a controversial issue.
The fifth seal has some facts to consider. “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?”
When we see souls in Heaven, we tend to jump to the world and its views to interpret scripture. But we are not going to do that here. We are going to allow scripture to interpret scripture. Where does the Bible tell us who those souls are, and what they are doing in Heaven? Let’s look at a few details.
No time frame is given. Without facts from the Bible, all we can do is guess. We also have to remember, those souls are symbols. By rule, a symbol always points to something far greater. Some people prefer to think those souls are not symbolic, but are physical. We have to consider all the facts to determine if those souls are physical or spiritual.
The souls are under the altar. What altar? If we began to guess or assume, we may be playing with fire. The Tabernacle had two alters. The sacrificial altar that was outside the tent and the altar of incense inside the first compartment. If we assume the altar of incense, what did that altar represent? We only have to look back one chapter to see that explained.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; (Revelation 5:8 RSVA).
Now we see how the Bible explains the Bible and how symbols are interpreted within the story they are found in. There is never any reason to guess. Now we notice that those souls cried out to God. When we put two and two together, we see how the alter is the altar of incense, and the souls under represent those who pray earnestly to God.
After listening to them, God gives them white robes, and tells them to rest a little longer. We are given the first time frame in this section of Revelation. “Rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete.” From that we know this event takes place before the judgment process is complete.
Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:2-3 RSVA).
After John saw those seals opened, he saw a new vision with four angels holding back the four winds. We know those winds are also symbolic. What about that seal in the saints foreheads? I’ve seen thousands of people studying and telling the world what they think the mark of the beast is. But how many people study God’s seal? Something seems rather strange about that.
Since some people receive a seal, and other people do not, there had to be some sort of decision process before this event. Can we call that a judgment process? It seems as if Revelation is getting ahead of itself. And to a certain degree, it is. But the entire Bible is written with examples showing how God provided a series of warnings. All those warnings pointed to the same event. Each successive warning contained more details. Put them all together and what do you have? A clearer picture of what is about to happen in the future. But there is a catch. No one seems to understand a prophecy until it has been fulfilled. That’s just the way this world is. We have to accept that fact.
So far John was shown a series of visions that eventually led to a brief introduction to the judgment process. Remember, we are going to stick to the judgment process in this series of studies and not get side tracked by guessing at any particular event, or attempt to rely on what the world has been teaching about the symbols John say and wrote about. Instead we are going to allow the Bible to slowly reveal each and every event and symbol concerning the judgment process. I have to warn you. The temptation to interpret symbols based accumulated knowledge is great. And most times nearly impossible to avoid. Let’s be honest about how the the world views the judgment process. For one thing, very little is known about the actual judgment process God inspired authors to write about. On the other hand, man made concepts thrive in this world. Some people are hooked on the concept, their understanding of the judgment process plays a part in their salvation. Look at how human nature exposes its flaws. Some churches claim they are God’s chosen church. Their proof is rather flimsy to say the least. They claim to hold a sort of key by claiming God revealed more to them then to other churches. But what is that truth they cling onto, and exactly how did God reveal that extra bit of truth to them? I’ve heard churches or at least evangelists claim they have all the truth. If they had all the truth, they would have no problem explaining the law of the prophets Jeremiah wrote about, nor would they have any problem explaining exactly what method God used to provide the exclusive information they are privileged to have.
Thus far we have looked at one example showing how the Bible is designed to answer questions. We have also seen how visions John saw in Heaven were explained by angles and other beings living in Heaven. Based on the few facts the Book of Revelation has revealed, we can fasten onto a few basic study concepts. Symbols are explained in the story they are located. Angels and other beings in Heaven understand the visions and symbols John was shown in Heaven. That tells us not only how the Bible is interpreted, but where to go for those interpretations. No where does the Bible tell us to rely on this world, its teachers, evangelists, or preachers. John never told us, one person or institution will understand his letter, and the rest will be lost. That is a man made concept. If you are stuck on that concept, you have to work to get yourself out of that belief. If you prefer to rely on the world to interpret John’s book for you, that is your loss.
I am going to skip over a great deal of Revelation so we can stick to the judgment at hand. The next mention of the judgment is in chapter 11.
Revelation 11:15-19 MKJV (15) And the seventh angel sounded. And there were great voices in Heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He will reign forever and ever. (16) And the twenty-four elders sitting before God on their thrones, fell on their faces and worshiped God, (17) saying, We thank You, O Lord God Almighty, who are, and who was, and who is coming, because You took Your great power and reigned. (18) And the nations were full of wrath, and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth. (19) And the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant, and there occurred lightnings and voices, and thunders and an earthquake, and a great hail.
Some people may argue the point, how can anyone jump from Revelation chapter 6 all the way to chapter 11 and possibly explain God’s judgment process? This is really following basic Bible Study concepts. Search the Book of Revelation yourself. The judgment is found in chapters 6, 11, 14, 16, and 17-20. I didn’t write the Bible, God did. And that is the way He laid out the judgment process in Revelation. I know we slipped over some of the favorite chapters some people claim to have studied. I hear it all the time from PhD’s as well as common people. There are a number of chapters I skipped over that people talk about all the time. Some churches hold seminars based on some of those chapters. Some churches hang their claim to fame on some of the chapters I skipped over. And yes, some will claim those chapters hold the key to understanding the judgment process. Well they don’t. Go ahead and search the words judge and judgment in Revelation. They jump from chapter 6 to 11. That’s just the way it is and all the arguing isn’t going to change a word in scripture.
After writing a number of chapters on how to get saved, and what Paul, Peter, James, and John wrote about faith, salvation, and the quest to draw closer to God, I have to leave the major part of this study in your hands. I know how people will question this book based on the fact, it covers Revelation, but not the chapters they are familiar with. They will question how anyone can make a comment on God’s judgment process without their coveted chapters.
I’ve attended a lot of seminars, watched a lot of videos, and listened to a lot of sermons on those chapters I decided to omit. I’ve heard so much about those chapters, I could write a dozen books on each of them. But after preparing the material for this book, leaving it sit, praying about it, and waiting for an answer, I decided to go with what was recorded in Revelation and how John recorded it. As I look back at what was covered in those other chapters, I could see how answers the world is familiar with concentrates on the best guesses on what is going to happen in this world. When I follow the sequence John laid out in this book, I can see how we should be concerned with what is happening in Heaven. In my book we will stick with what is happening in Heaven.
The seventh trumpet is the last trumpet in this sequence of events. Like many other books in the Bible, and the collection of books found in the Bible, facts are offered here and there. And it is up to us to gather those facts, verify that they are discussing the same subject, then look at the subject the hand with all the facts we’ve gathered. We aren’t supposed to stop, then look at facts the world has to offer, or tends to offer. Whenever we deal with a future event in prophecy, we are supposed to rely on the Bible and Bible only. I think we can all agree with that fact.
The seventh trumpet obviously points to the closing moments of this world. It is safe to assume, since we are still here, the events symbolized by the seventh trumpet are in the future. When we see something mentioned in the Bible like, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He will reign forever and ever.” What are we supposed to do? Number one, admit we don’t know the answer. We can look at different scenarios, but we still have to keep the door open to information we find in scripture at a later date. What could John mean when he makes reference to the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of the Lord and Christ? Obviously the introduction of the seventh trumpet is pointing us to a time when God gives the kingdoms of this world over to Christ. That is a good place to begin a study on that time period and events describing that particular period. That I can leave up to you so you can hone your skills.
Once we identify a particular time frame, do we guess at the actual events? No. We stick to the facts. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:15-16 KJV).
Of course it helps when you know where to look. The Book of Revelation tells us, King of Kings is a title Jesus will wear. The seventh trumpet pointed us to Jesus’ return. And the Book of Revelation chapter 19 explained why the seventh trumpet introduced the concept of God taking possession of the kingdoms of this world. Of course Revelation chapter 19 contains a lot more details you can read on your own.
John mentioned one important event, the judgment of the dead. Why only the dead? This is showing an important part of the judgment sequence. Those people symbolized by death receive judgment. Saints receive a reward. If we gathered all the facts on this subject, we would find a judgment period only the lost will face.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15 KJV).
So far we have seen how the Book of Revelation introduced one judgment period and explained what that judgment period was in a later chapter. This is not unusual for the Bible to explain itself. And for books in the Bible to explain the symbolism they contain. There is another event or symbol we have to look at. “And the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant, and there occurred lightnings and voices, and thunders and an earthquake, and a great hail.”
What event was this describing? We know the Tabernacle was designed to explain events in Heaven. Many of those events were to be fulfilled long after the Tabernacle disappeared. One service in the Tabernacle describes how the high priest is to enter the Most Holy place once a year.
And he shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times. “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood within the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat; thus he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. (Leviticus 16:14-16 RSVA).
Once again, it is up to you to read the entire chapter. If you do you will see numerous parallels to the few chapters in Revelation mentioned in chapter 12 of this book you re reading. An atonement is a covering. Plain and simple. Strange as it may seem, the same Hebrew word for atonement was also used to describe the covering of tar Noah used to cover his ark. If you think of that and give it some time, you will see a host of underlying spiritual parallels between the flood and Jesus’ return. Also the cleansing of the sanctuary, the once a year ceremony inside the Tabernacle represented.
As we move forward in our study on God’s judgment, we have to realize one simple fact. The Bible can and will point us in the right direction to answer questions, identify symbols, and events. That is just what the Bible was designed to do.
James 2:10-18 NLTse For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. (11) For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. (12) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. (13) There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (14) What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? (15) Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, (16) and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”–but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? (17) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (18) Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
It is pretty common knowledge throughout the Christian community that everyone has broken the law in one way or another. Most of Christianity agrees that, everyone is guilty under the law, and we need Jesus’ sacrifice to set us free from the law. In some cases that means, we need Jesus to avoid that judgment process. Other Christians believe we all face some type of judgment and we need Jesus to stand in our place. That is pretty much splitting hairs. We may be spending too much time nit picking a process we really don’t understand. A process many people are afraid to investigate. The judgment process we would just as soon place on the back burner, or put in a closet and forget about it. But here, we will look at a few key statements to see what scripture reveals. Then one day we may know enough about that judgment process to tell the world about how and why God needs that judgment process in His plan of salvation.
It seems every Christian religion, and many other religions in the world agree, there is a judgment process. The problem is, when it comes to describing that process step by step, every religion and denomination branches out in different directions. Why? Maybe because God didn’t include a step by step explanation in any of the books in the Bible. Or did He? If we look back in history, we can see how many beliefs we take for granted today have been missed, or hidden for generations. If nothing else, change is slow in the Christian world. If we look back in the Old Testament at stories about Israel, no one can deny the fact, they forgot details faster than Moses or God could explain them. It is like watching the news with someone. Then making a comment about a news story and the other person has no idea what you are talking about. You just watched the same story together, but the other person has no recollection of that story. Why? Maybe that story didn’t interest them. Maybe they had something else on their mind. Maybe their mind is never in tune to what is in front of them.
In the Christian world, people seem to tune out the second they hear anything new. They seem to come across someone, or some book, video, or set of doctrines they agree with and follow that train of thought like a run away freight train. No one is going to stop them. They take that mentality with them everywhere. Even to the grave. Whenever a word is spoken that doesn’t fit the groove they live in, they shut down, reject it, and their mind refocuses on what they agree with. How are we ever going to unravel the mysteries surrounding the judgment process if we are stuck in a rut we made by going over the same two or three details we heard years ago? We have to make use of the judgment process Paul told us to use. We have to investigate the matter. We have to dig deep. We have to be ready for the Holy Spirit to reveal the unknown. We have to be ready for any new information the world is ready for in this generation. Which just may be the last generation on this planet. If we’ve not open to new information God is willing to share, how are we supposed to help get this world ready for the judgment process that is about to come?
James brings out the fact, we should have a lot of questions whenever we approach the subject of God’s judgment. Look at one sentence James was inspired to record. “ So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.” Looking at this one sentence should invoke a question or two. For one, how can a law that judges you set you free? I know there must be 1000 explanations out there in the world. But like that judgment process, which one is right? How do we begin to investigate it? This is my book, so I am going to follow a process I’m familiar with, and I’ve seen work. The first thing I do is go back to the original language. I prefer to get as close to the original sentence the author recorded. I know a lot of people like to open up a number of Bible translations until they find one they agree with. Then they run with that. The only reason I never use that method is because, I know all I will get is a bunch of opinions on the subject. One translator thinks it says this. Another translator thinks it says that. After opening up a number of translations, all you get is a collection of opinions. No one offers any explanations explaining how and why they came up with their particular translation. On the other hand, when we look at the KJV+, we get something close to the original sentence structure. And few changes to the original words. Of course the English sentence structure is far different than original Greek sentence structure. But we have to remember, God inspired the Bible and knows how to construct a sentence that can and will be understood by every language in the generation He chooses to reveal its spiritual meaning. Now let’s look at the KJV+ version.
Jas 2:12 SoG3779 speakG2980 ye, andG2532 soG3779 do,G4160 asG5613 they that shall beG3195 judgedG2919 byG1223 the lawG3551 of liberty.G1657
When we look at what James was inspired to record, we see the simple message that happens to be much like the old saying, “actions speak louder than words.” It may also be explained by another old saying, “do what you say and say what you do.” In other words, James is telling Christians not only to talk the talk, but walk the walk. We see the same message in other stories throughout the Bible, as well as a lot of common cliches used in this world.
This world would be a far better place if people were honest. How to we obtain that honesty? We basically follow the laws and threat people like we want to be treated. We don’t steal, lie, or scam. In other words, we live a life outside the commonly traveled highway of this world.
What about going back to the basics in the area of law? Why don’t we follow God’s simple Ten Commandments? Why does this world have Christian leaders and followers who oppose God’s Ten Commandments by telling people, “the law was made only for the Jews. The law was nailed to the cross, “ and other such terms? Why do people insist we have been delivered from the Ten Commandments and all of God’s laws and ordinances without any type of judgment process whatsoever? If James, John, Paul, and other Bible authors discussed God’s law and the part it plays in God’s pan of salvation, why do some people insist all of God’s laws have been swept under the rug and have nothing to do with any judgment process? That doesn’t make any sense. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
I believe God gives us explanations to some of these difficult questions by putting us through certain experiences in life. I wish I could come up with a list of examples showing how people walk the walk and talk the talk. There are some good people out there who are good Christians, would never hurt a fly, would give you the shirt off their back, and would stop at nothing to help a stranger. They live life without fear, and don’t seem to have a care in the world. Those type of people are few and far between. Then there is the dark world we call reality. The cold, cruel world we call home. We see examples of people living without God’s law because someone told them that law is old fashion. We don’t need it anymore. God just doesn’t understand how this world works anymore. So we have to fashion our own laws, republic, democracy, way of living, and refine this world based on experience. In other words, try to exist without God. The world doesn’t hear God anymore because in their minds, God and His laws are past history. Or something like that. So let’s take a look at how this world has done on their own.
At this particular time the federal government in the US is shut down. Most of us can’t tell the difference. No one knows for sure exactly how many people are out of work, or how much money the government is saving. All we know is what the news media chooses to tell us. We are like sheep led to slaughter. But let’s take a look at what is on the news and dig a little deeper with some good old fashion common sense.
Federal employees have been without a pay check for one month. Many can’t pay their bills, and have no idea where their next meal is coming from. Some are afraid of loosing their homes. That’s the facts we hear on the news. But what is happening behind the scenes? Congress is going over a number of Bills to chose one to sign into law that would pay those federal employees, even though they didn’t work. I wish we all had those kinds of benefits. Those federal employees have access to the same unemployment benefits the rest of us have. But the federal employees interviewed by the news media call unemployment benefits, “peanuts.” They are unable to live on funds Congress and other agencies claim is more than enough for the common person to live on. Millions of tax dollars have been spent to set up food pantries for federal employees. Another special benefit the rest of us don’t enjoy. As far as having their homes foreclosed. Check the laws. Most state have laws that requires the lender to wait a number of months before they can file the first set of papers in court. Then there is another waiting period. Followed by another waiting period. During that time that could take more than a year, people can make up the payments. The rest of us have to figure that situation out on our own. But Congress feels a need to step in and lend a helping hand the rest of us will never see.
Now consider the fact, most of those federal employees make more money than the rest of us could ever dream about. With all that money, why don’t they have any savings? This is not the first time the federal government has shut down. Nor will it be the last. We are supposed to believe the federal government hired the top people to do a job the rest of us are unqualified to do. They are supposed to be the cream of the crop. The best of the best. The best in the world. People who are impossible to replace. People who keep this country running in tip top shape with the highest degree of efficiency. And those people have no savings. They make far more money than the rest of us, and they can’t plan for an event that happens every few years. That is sad. If they were as good as they claim they are, why don’t they have companies climbing over one another to hire them? At least for a little while. Why can’t they get a job in the private sector to hold them over during the shut down?
We see one set of laws for federal employees, and another set of laws for the rest of us. In short, this is one example showing what happens when God and His laws are rejected, and humans think they can write a better set of laws.
Other, more personal events also showed how man made laws, and a lack of better judgment can and will effect people. I just started a new business in Wisconsin. The state elected a new governor. The governor ran on the platform, he needed to raise taxes to fix the state school system. A brief look at his history shows, he was in charge of that school system for more than 16 years. The thing that gets me is, why would anyone elect a governor to fix a system he says does not work? A system he designed, installed, and spent more money on than other branch of government or government project. Over the past 16 years Tony Evers has caused the greatest increases in property taxes than anyone else in government. Check out your property tax bill. The school system is a separate line item and has the greatest increases during those 16 years when Evers ran the school system.
If you took your car to a mechanic and he broke more things on the car, and never fixed the original problem, would you give that mechanic more time and money to fix your car? Or would you take that car to another mechanic? It seems voters either have no common sense, or are easily fooled. We have to admit, there wasn’t much of a choice in the final election, but why don’t tax payers do something about it?
On one level of government we have changes to make it easier for people to start new businesses. Another branch of government sees how businesses are due to save money and devise ways or draining those savings and more. On the business level, the start up cost, fees I had to pay to the state just about doubled. That cut into my budget. Those fees will cut into every company budget. In the long run, common sense will tell us, good businesses will have a training plan in place. Why not consider the fact, on the job training is the best education system this world has to offer. But when government cuts into any business budget, what is bound to suffer? In many cases, training programs suffer. That’s the type of mind set we have to deal with in the real world when the average voter is duped into electing carrier politicians. It happens every time.
Would you take your car to a mechanic with no experience, no training, and no idea where to begin? People do that in voting booths. Running government, especially a government the size we have to contend with is a lot like running a business. People have to be hired, supervised, trained, and plans have to be made, scrutinized, and finally initiated. All those steps require skills carrier politicians don’t have. But people keep putting all that power in their hands. The mistakes they make cost billions of dollars. Just raise taxes to make up for those mistakes. People accept that type of behavior as status quo. Electing unqualified politicians is normal operating procedure and nothing is going to change. Just blame all the mistakes on the other party.
So far this new plan for Wisconsin has cost me a boat load of money. And will cost me more. In the long run, who suffers? Plans to hire people are on hold. Other entities I have to deal with jumped on the band wagon of grabbing the golden ring – the federal tax deduction offered to small businesses. Every entity involved in my line of work has raised their fees and added new fees. So much for a bright and strong beginning. Every business is in the same boat. The common mentality is, if government can do it and get away with it, why can’t we grad a piece of the pie?
That mentality is a far cry from what James wrote about, treat others like you would like to be treated. Our government sets a rather poor example. People in high places don’t argue the point. They take the cue government gives them, jump on the bandwagon and ride it all the way to the bank. Always taking more and more. Is that all that makes America strong is a good bottom line at the end of the year measured in dollars? Whatever happened to good old fashion integrity, honor, valor, and common sense? We live under the mentality of, “everyone does it.” Getting back to God’s law. We may have the freedom to elect the worst people and put them in higher positions. But all the votes in the world are not going to change one letter of God’s law. Not one of them. Politicians may be able to hide their mistakes from the average voter. But they will never be able to hide one backroom deal or sin from God. Eventually they will have to answer for the errors of their ways. What about the responsibility of the average voter? Aren’t they somehow responsible for the mess we are in? Do they share responsibility for those sins carrier politicians make? Didn’t Paul or Peter write something about that subject? I’m not sure at this point.
There are other lessons I had to learn in life. Why it took me over six years is beyond me. There were reasons why I was trapped in certain situations, but the lessons didn’t go unnoticed. It doesn’t matter what line of business I was in. The fact of the matter is, there is no reason to point fingers. Except at myself for being so foolish. The number one lesson is, no one is going to help you. You have to learn to help yourself. Isn’t that the lesson Jesus taught when He healed the paralyzed man at the pool? Jesus asked the man what he was doing there. The man answered with a list of excuses. “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (John 5:7 NLTse). Why didn’t the man have the faith to ask God for healing, or ask Jesus to heal him? It seems the man was stuck on the idea, everyone else believes that pool can heal me.
We all use excuses to hold us back. But one day, the Holy Spirit tells us to get up and walk out of that dismal situation. The thing is, if we don’t learn from those less than fortunate situations, we are doomed to repeat them. And those are mistakes I don’t want to repeat.
I worked for an employer who stole all my leads. At least those he knew about and was able to act upon. I was paid strictly commission. On top of that, I had to pay some rather steep company fees. Some of those fees offset operating expenses. Some of those fees went into profit for the company. The fact of the matter was, part of the commission went to the company and I received a share. All the leads went through the office. In six years, I didn’t receive a single lead from that office. I had my own website, but a few choice rules funneled all those leads through the office. I spent time and money on my personal website only to find out, the vast majority of leads went strait to the office, and I was cut out of the loop. That is only one of the dirty little secrets some companies have.
In hindsight it seems rather foolish to pay someone to take away your means of income. Praise the LORD I had just enough funds to pay the never ending list of fees to get out of that mess and start a business of my own. Before that happened, I switched offices and worked for another company. It was rather short lived. I thought I endured an isolated incident. Quite the contrary was true. Using a different motive and process, the new company began stealing leads, and clients. Leaving me with fewer and fewer chances of making a sale and earning a living.
I’m sure that happens in a number of businesses. I’m sure other people have experienced similar situations. The point is. Companies and certain business fields make laws and regulations the rest of us have to try to live with. In the long run, they are laws and rules that create different classes. The haves, and have nots. People who can and will take advantage of those laws, and those who suffer at their hands. Nothing at all like God’s law was designed to protect. Maybe that is what James had in mind when he called God’s law, “the law of liberty.” Maybe if we gave that law a chance, we would see a far friendlier world.
Romans 4:1-3 MKJV What then shall we say that our father Abraham has found, according to flesh? (2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast; but not before God. (3) For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”
There are a number of details that tie this chapter in with the previous chapter. For one thing, this is part of one long letter. Paul is still explaining the same subject. Now Paul is using another example straight from scripture, the story about Abraham. As usual, Paul knew just where to point us to review the story.
Genesis 15:1-10 MKJV After these things the Word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward. (2) And Abram said, Lord God, what will You give me, since I am going childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? (3) And Abram said, Behold, You have given no seed to me. And behold, one born in my house is my heir. (4) And behold, the Word of Jehovah came to him saying, This one shall not be your heir. But he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir. (5) And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. (6) And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness. (7) And He said to him, I am Jehovah that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it. (8) And he said, Lord God, by what shall I know that I shall inherit it? (9) And He said to him, Take Me a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (10) And he took all these to himself, and divided them in the middle, and laid each piece against one another; but he did not divide the birds.
There are more sides to this story than Abraham’s faith, and how God appreciated that faith. We see how Abraham had to rely on God for a son. That shows how God had a plan. It also shows how we have to be patient with God when it comes to His plan. This story also shows a two way conversation between God and Abraham. This showed how God is able to talk to people, and how God chose to communicate with Abraham. God gave Abraham a son, blessings, land, and more. If we looked at the entire story, we would see how Abraham agreed to change one little part of God’s plan, and how that turned out to be a major mistake. Abraham’s first son, Ismael was the father of a whole group of nations that plagued Israel for generations.
God told Abraham to perform a rather odd ceremony. That ceremony lead to a prophecy about Israel and how they were held as slaves in Egypt. Did Abraham understand anything about that prophecy? What if he understood that prophecy? What could Abraham have done to change it? Nothing. Abraham couldn’t get God’s promise right. What could Abraham do about a prophecy he didn’t understand? Not a whole lot. That’s a lesson we need to look at.
Too many people are stuck on prophecies. That is their life, and the only thing they know about religion. They follow self made, modern day prophets who seem to never be right, but that never seem to loose a single member. Being wrongs brings publicity and more members. Why that happens is beyond me. But it does happen. Those modern day prophets make themselves out to be wiser than Abraham, and all the other prophets combined. Isn’t that something David and Isaiah warned about when we looked at the scripture Paul sent us to in the second chapter in his letter?
God made Abraham a promise, and Abraham accepted that promise. Accepting that promise made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes. Is it that easy? Could it be that easy? How did Abraham’s attempt at changing that promise effect his righteousness? The main point is, that one on one conversation with God. That’s where Paul is telling us where we need to be.
Righteousness Without Works
Romans 4:4-8 MKJV But to him working, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. (5) But to him not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (6) Even as David also says of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, (7) saying, “Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; (8) blessed is the man to whom the Lord will in no way impute sin.”
There are a number of ways to look at Paul’s comment on reward, grace, and debt. Based on Abraham’s life, we can see the lesson showing us what happens when people do a little work on God’s plan. That indeed turned out to be a debt. That is one example. Paul linked the word work to grace. Once again we have to ask, is Paul tying the two together, or using them as a contrast? The word, not, tells us, works and grace are contrasts. The next question to ask is, how do they contrast one another, and what is the lesson?
We can go on for what seems to be forever trying to pin point the difference between works and grace. Grace is free, and works is a form of trying to pay your way into Heaven. Does that mean we put aside all form of works and do nothing but rely on grace? Is that what Paul was trying to explain? I’ve heard it put that way. “We are under grace.” People use that term to more or less reinforce other beliefs. Some people insist grace has canceled the law. As we’ve seen in the previous chapter where faith and the law were compared, faith requires a certain amount of work. Faith requires investigation to formulate a decision. That is a part of faith people tend to ignore, because they confuse faith with grace. Grace is free, and for lack of a better term, faith requires a certain amount of work.
Does grace require any work at all? Let’s take a look at the definition of the word grace.
GraceG5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece
From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
G5463 χαίρω chairō khah’ee-ro
A primary verb; to be full of cheer, that is, calmly happy or well off; impersonal especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: – farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.
We can see that grace is a, “manner or act.” That has nothing to do with the common concept of accepting a gift of grace from Jesus and doing nothing. Grace is a, “divine influence up the heart.” And grace is a reflection upon one’s life. That is one of the definitions of communication with Jesus, and one of the major forms of communication used by the Holy Spirit. In a sense, grace is linked to faith by communication. In a sense, grace requires a certain amount of dedication, growth, and that is achieved with the right form of communication.
On the other hand, work means to labor or toil. Within the context Paul wrote, does work mean to worry, labor over decisions, over think the situation, second guess the information you have, and let the subject consume you? Let’s look at that a moment with the example Paul gave us to examine. Abraham was given a promise. He had no idea how God was going to give him a son. Abraham and Sara thought about the subject so much, they came up with their own solution. They over worked the situation and came up with their own solution. Is that what Paul is trying to teach about works?
On another level, works is often associated with keeping the laws and traditions to work or buy your way into Heaven. In modern Christianity that is so rare, that phase of works is hardly worth commenting on. I have never met a Christian who actually believes they can work their way into Heaven. But I can’t count the number of Christians who preach that side of the subject, leave it at that, and think the answers are covered.
Paul went back to quoting David. In this case, Paul sent us to a Psalm where David expressed his view of forgiveness. Paul is expanding his explanation on the plan of salvation.
Psalms 32:1-11 MKJV A Psalm of David. A Contemplation. Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (2) Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah does not charge iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (3) When I kept silence, my bones became old through my roaring all the day long. (4) For by day and by night Your hand was heavy on me; my sap is turned into the droughts of summer. Selah. (5) I confessed my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgression to Jehovah; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (6) For this let every godly one pray to You, in a time when You may be found; surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near him. (7) You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall circle me with songs of deliverance. Selah. (8) I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you, My eye shall be on you. (9) Be not like the horse, or like the mule, who have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, so that they do not come near you. (10) The wicked has many sorrows, but mercy embraces him who trusts in Jehovah. (11) Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
David covered the all important part of confessing our sins. That is an important part we do not want to skip over, or take lightly. Is confession works? What roles does confession play in grace? A large role.
When we look at David, we see a man who made his share of mistakes, and knew a forgiving God. After David confessed his sins, he found peace, which is part of the definition of grace. David described that peace as a resting place, a place of refuge, a stronghold, a place where he felt protected. Coming from a guy with the military back ground David had, that was the ultimate compliment he could pay to God. When we look at the the definition of grace, we find that definition in David’s Psalm. There is no doubt, David never thought he could work his way into God’s presence, much less Heaven. David knew he had to ask for forgiveness to enter God’s presence and find that peace. That is the lesson we need to learn. How to ask to be forgiven, to be cleansed by the blood Jesus shed, so we can enter into His presence to learn.
Faith and Righteousness
Romans 4:9-15 MKJV Is this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. (10) How then was it reckoned? Being in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (11) And he received a sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith while still uncircumcised; so that he might be the father of all those believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be imputed to them also; (12) and a father of circumcision to those not of the circumcision only, but also to those walking by the steps of the faith of our father Abraham during uncircumcision. (13) For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if they of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is made of no effect; (15) because the Law works out wrath, for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Paul wants us to go back and review Abraham’s story. And we should.
And Abram continued, Look, You have given me no child; and [a servant] born in my house is my heir. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This man shall not be your heir, but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir. (Genesis 15:3-4 AMP).
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you. (Genesis 17:10-11 AMP).
God gave Abraham the promise of a child in Genesis chapter 15. The covenant of circumcision was given in chapter 17. Abraham received the promise before he was circumcised. That made a point Paul took advantage of. God called and blessed Abraham before he was circumcised. A lesson the Jews in Rome had to learn.
When we go back to David, we see the lesson Paul is teaching about the law. How could David, or anyone confess sins without laws? That would be impossible. Without the law there could be no confession. Without confession, there would be no cleansing of the heart or soul. Without the cleansing, there would be no way to approach God’s throne, no refuge, no peace, joy, or safety. The law serves its purpose. Grace serves another purpose. Faith and righteousness serve their own purpose. The problem is, people try to bundle them all together and miss all the little details, the steps to the feet of Jesus.
Faith and Grace
Romans 4:16-25 MKJV Therefore it is of faith so that it might be according to grace; for the promise to be made sure to all the seed, not only to that which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (17) (as it has been written, “I have made you a father of many nations”)–before God, whom he believed, who makes the dead live, and calls the things which do not exist as though they do exist. (18) For he who beyond hope believed on hope for him to become the father of many nations (according to that which was spoken, “So your seed shall be”). (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead (being about a hundred years old) or the deadening of Sarah’s womb. (20) He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for him alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but for us also to whom it is to be imputed, to the ones believing on Him who has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) who was delivered because of our offenses and was raised for our justification.
I did something a little different here to help you follow along with the way I look at scripture. I made a few of the key words BOLD, and underlined what Paul quoted in scripture. Those are two of the most important Bible Study methods I follow. First the key words.
A lot of theologians and authors tend to group words like faith, grace, and righteousness together, giving them the same weight and meaning. We have seen how faith includes a great deal of research, looking to God, and relying on the Spirit for answers to of course, make a decision. What is grace?
GRACEG5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece
From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
G5463 χαίρω chairō khah’ee-ro
A primary verb; to be full of cheer, that is, calmly happy or well off; impersonal especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: – farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.
From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: – righteousness.
G1342 δίκαιος dikaios dik’-ah-yos
From G1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): – just, meet, right (-eous).
G1349 δίκηdikē dee’-kay
Probably from G1166; right (as self evident), that is, justice (the principle, a decision, or its execution): – judgment, punish, vengeance.
G1166 δεικνύω deiknuō dike-noo’-o
A prolonged form of an obsolete primary of the same meaning; to show (literally or figuratively): – shew.
When we look at grace, we see the easy, and most acceptable term used in the definition. Grace does include the concept of a free gift, which is how many people define grace, and stop at that point. Grace includes gratitude, joy, and happiness. Can we be joyful or happy with things we can’t see, or understand? Paul tied faith in with grace for a reason. Faith is the act of searching out the truth. Grace is more than a free gift. Grace is understanding that free gift to the degree, you are happy about it. You are so joyful, you can’t help but share that information. That is another Christian concept that is not poorly explained, and blurred by common Christian traditions.
What does the traditional Christian worship service consist of? Sitting in an audience, listing to someone preach, or teach. That basically covers the investigation process for a lot of Christians. Is that the type of faith, or investigation Paul was teaching about?
Are you happier when you see someone receive a gift, or when you receive a gift? You see, there are degrees of happiness. Marriage, seeing your new baby for the first time, winning the lottery, and a host of other events can bring a great deal of joy. The type of joy people can’t help but see on your face. On the other hand, there are a number of events, like a TV program, reading news in social media, seeing a driver stop their car to let you in, and other minor events that bring a small sense of joy. What level does grace reach in your life?
Can grace ever reach the highest level of joy when you receive the news from anyone else? You have to admit the fact, you feel something missing inside if you have not found that one on one connection with Christ where He explains what He has done for you. Not only on the cross, but during His ministry in Heaven. If a preacher tells you only about the cross, you are missing 99% of the news, and 99% of the joy.
What do we get when we look at righteousness? We see righteousness is equity. What is equity? The most common term for equity relates to a home. People gets a loan to buy a house, makes payments, and a small part of that payment builds equity in the home. Equity relates to value that is built in over time. Paul used Abraham as an example, because Abraham was a great example of a man who built a friendship with God. Abraham had to build up his trust in God, as well as his love for God. Abraham did that through real life events.
Not only did Abraham leave his homeland, Abraham went into Egypt, made a mistake, and came out a rich man. That mistake, lesson, and blessing were repeated. Those events showed how forgiving God was, and how gracious He can be. Each time God blessed Abraham, those blessings built trust, and respect. A process we need to pay attention to.
Genesis 17:1-8 RSVA When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. (2) And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” (3) Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, (4) “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. (5) No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (8) And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
We can see how loosely Paul quoted the story about Abraham. This shows how Paul sends people back to read the entire story about Abraham’s life. The good as well as the bad. Abraham’s story tells us about his relationship with God. We all make mistakes, and God will be with us during our mistakes. And, there is always a blessing on the other side of those mistakes. That is a part of God’s grace we don’t hear about everyday. No preacher in the world could stand up and make a list of all of your mistakes and how Jesus walked through them next to you. Of course, who would want a preacher telling them about all the mistakes they made? That is between you and Jesus.
Somehow, Abraham having a child at the ripe old age of 99 is supposed to be an example that can build our faith. In my opinion, that is something you need to sit down with Jesus and talk about. That is a personal issue. The birth of a son always brings joy, especially when you live as long as Abraham did and decided long ago to set aside all hope. Everyone has issues like that – giving up hope before seeing Jesus step in with an answer. That is part of the relationship with God no one can share in the classic worship service. We have to go beyond standardized worship services to find God.