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. Other prefer to think the are going to happen in our future. And some think those events will repeat themselves over time. When we look at a few facts, we can see how death and pestilence have been repeated since John’s time, and even before Johns time. The fifth seal is a controversial issue.
The fifth seal has some facts to consider. “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?”
When we see souls in Heaven, we tend to jump to the world and its views to interpret scripture. But we are not going to do that here. We are going to allow scripture to interpret scripture. Where does the Bible tell us who those souls are, and what they are doing in Heaven? Let’s look at a few details.
No time frame is given. Without facts from the Bible, all we can do is guess. We also have to remember, those souls are symbols. By rule, a symbol always points to something far greater. Some people prefer to think those souls are not symbolic, but are physical. We have to consider all the facts to determine if those souls are physical or spiritual.
The souls are under the altar. What altar? If we began to guess or assume, we may be playing with fire. The Tabernacle had two alters. The sacrificial altar that was outside the tent and the altar of incense 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.
After looking at the lost, there has to be the lingering question on your mind, how are you saved? Of course that’s the goal. The goal is to make it Heaven, to see God’s throne, to meet Jesus, receive your crown, and a stone with your name on it. At least that is what we learn in nominal Christian circles. Why don’t we talk more about Heaven? Why don’t we study more about Heaven? What is with this world? We explore the oceans, dig in the earth for fossils, and remnants from lost civilizations, we’ve even sent people to the moon. We have telescopes and cameras all over the universe, but few people search out a distinct and clear view of Heaven. Why is that so?
I’ve already written a book based on visions of Heaven found in the Bible. I would consider those visions clear and accurate. It was an interesting book to dwell on and write. But books about Heaven just don’t sell. Not at all.
This chapter may not give a view of Heaven, but we will look at what the Bible says about people who are saved. How are they saved and why are the saved? This of course will not be a complete view, but a look at some of the most popular scripture on the subject. Our journey begins in Romans.
Romans 5:15-21 RSVA But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (16) And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. (17) If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (18) Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (20) Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (21) so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I’m sure most of you have read this chapter, or at least a few sentences from this chapter. There are three main themes many Christians concentrate on in this chapter. The first is, sin entered this world through one man, Adam. Actually sin came into this planet through Eve, then Adam. The point is, this story leads us back to another story in the Bible found in Genesis.
The part about this story that has confused me for some time is the part about sin entering this world through one man, and grace through of course, Jesus, who is mentioned as one man. What is Paul trying to get to? I had to read this many times and pray about the information Paul presented before I could begin to understand it. Paul is using a simple example. An example we should find easy to understand. To get the meaning of the story, we have to go back a review the story Paul pointed to and used as an example.
Eve was the first person to sin. Eve was of course tempted by Satan. Eve gave into a minor suggestion. Satan appeared to offer more than what God had given Adam and Eve. And Eve fell for that deception. That of course was the first sin. As far as we know, the first sin in the Universe. But Satan was busy in Heaven questioning God, looking for more, and for lack of a better term, plotting a rebellion in Heaven. We have no idea how many years of experience Satan accumulated in Heaven. We do know, Satan became an expert in deception in Heaven. Satan was in daily contact with God. Satan knew Jesus. But Satan decided that was not enough for him. He convinced himself, then thousands of angels that there was more than what God had given them. We don’t know what Satan saw, believed, or was after. That information was not recorded in scripture. We do know, Satan was able to deceive angels. Angels who saw and knew God. Angels who once worshiped in front of God’s throne. If Satan could accomplish that, what chance do we have?
There is something in the fact, Satan was able to deceive Eve. Why didn’t Satan go after Adam? When we look at scripture we see, God warned Adam about the fruit on that tree. It was Adam’s job to inform and protect Eve. Did Adam do his job? There is something mysterious about those circumstances.
Eve was the first to eat the forbidden fruit. Somehow Eve was able to convince Adam to eat the fruit. In other words, Eve was able to accomplish what Satan was unable to do, or maybe afraid to try. Adam took the word of his wife over God. In short, Adam sinned on more than one front.
Paul used Adam as an example for a reason. Is it because Adam took the word of the only other human being on this planet over God’s word? That could be one of the reasons. But to get to the facts, we have to follow that story a little further.
Sin of course introduced a set of curses. On the surface those curses may look simple to understand. But do we look at those curses based on the way this world chose to understand them? Or do we look at those curses from a point of view from Heaven? After all, those curses did originate in Heaven.
Genesis 3:14-19 RSVA The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. (15) I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (16) To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (17) And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; (18) thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (19) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We all know, that first curse on Satan was a prophecy. It had a spiritual meaning. Why would God move from the prophetic and spiritual state to a physical state of thinking at this point? When we look at the curses as book ends, we find the answer. Adam and all men and women will return to dust. Satan will crawl along his belly and eat the dust of the earth. Put the two together and what do we have? We have Satan eating up people. Is that true? If it is, we can continue along this train of thought.
Satan has one goal in mind. To take as many of us into the pit he is responsible for making. He goal is to eat up people, the dust of this earth. Now let’s go onto the next curse.
There will be a hatred between Eve and Satan. Eve is given the role of a warrior. Her hatred for Satan is the key Eve needs to protect her family. Eve made a mistake she can never make up for and she can never correct on her own. But one of her offspring will crush Satan’s head. Satan heard that. Satan knows that. And of course, Satan did everything in his power to save his own skin. But he failed.
Eve was also cursed with the pain of giving birth. Every woman who has given birth knows about the physical pain. Every good husband has witnessed that suffering and knows how unqualified he is to relieve that pain. There are a host of spiritual lessons attached to those physical attributes. After birth, Eve had to protect her sons and daughters from Satan’s relentless and never ending attacks. Let’s look at the odds. A third of the angles in Heaven were cast down to this planet. They had nothing better to do than to tempt and torture a few human beings. Can you imagine the pressure Adam, Eve, and their family faced? Can you imagine the spiritual pain and suffering Eve had to face everyday of her life knowing she was responsible for the condition of this world. Eve had no choice but to live with it. We can see how that child bearing pain went way beyond the few hours it takes to bring a new life into this world. The curse was no doubt spiritual.
The curse on Adam was of course also spiritual as well as physical. God reminded Adam, he listened to his wife, and took her word over the direct instructions he received from God. In a sense, that hurt God. That struck at God. Adam didn’t fall to the temptation Satan laid on Eve. Adam received his temptation second hand. That made it worse. Sin was rolling downhill and gaining momentum. Now we can begin to see one of the points Paul was making in Romans. People have a choice. They can follow after Adam and take the word of someone who has not received a direct command or message from God, or we can go to Jesus who has chosen to live every minute of His life on this planet being open, willing, and able to receive instructions, knowledge, and wisdom from God. In most cases, which path do people prefer to choose? How can we miss that point in the example Paul laid out for us in Romans?
The curse on Adam gets deeper. The soil Adam, the tree, and that fruit came from was cursed. When God created soil, it was good. Sin changed all of that and more. Thorns and thistles popped up all over the earth. A direct reference to other stories in the Bible and a clear description of the fallen angels who now had a new planet to call their own.
Adam was sentenced to a life of toil. A life of hard word. How else would you describe the relentless attacks those fallen angels launched on the only two people on this planet. Raising a family was not going to be easy. In modern terms, we can never hope to remove all the thrones and thistles in our hearts and lives. That is a never ending battle. Caring for a garden is a prime example. Pull out all the weeds, and you are sure to miss a few. After a few weeks, new weeds pop up all over the place and you find yourself back on your hands and knees sweating just like Adam. At times it all seems hopeless. Paul offered an alternative. The God who created the ground knows how to clean it up once and for all.
Eventually Adam would physically return to the dust God formed him from. The Lord gives and takes away. God knew how to make a man out of dust. And God knew how to make dust out of men. Something we should never forget. God didn’t want Adam to forget about Him. God didn’t want Adam to forget who created him, and who is always in control. That was one of the points Paul was pointing to on his letter.
Paul also mentioned grace in his letter. If we base our salvation on a few choice verses, Romans chapter 5 would contain one of them. Some people look at a verse or two and walk away with the impression, Jesus died for their sins. Jesus fixed what was broken by Adam and there is nothing for anyone to do. That’s not what we learned in previous studies in this book. Finding out about Jesus is only one step in a long journey. Jesus talked about that journey and John recorded key components to that process in his Gospel. But who wants to learn about a process with a number of key steps when the church down the street advertises an easier one step process.
It seems we have a choice. We can follow Adam’s lead, and take the word of another human being, or we can choose to accept what God has told us with His own voice. But this world seems to teach us that, God has left this world on its own. Is that true? Did God leave Adam and Eve on their own? Or did He continue to look over them, and talk to them? If Adam heard God, why don’t we accept that aspect of Adam and make it part of our own lives? God talked with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, a host of prophets, Jesus, the apostles, and more. Why not you and me? Is God selective, or is it one of our problems? We do have a host of religions who insist, God only talks with a few choice people. Or, after the Bible was finished, there was no reason for God to talk to anyone on this planet. There are a million excuses and false conceptions people have about God. Just because they have a license to preach, a wall full of diplomas, and other credentials handed to them from who knows where, does that mean they have an open line to God we can’t have? Come on now. Let’s look at God and accept Him and His written word with an open mind. Does God love any less than He loved Adam, Eve, Samuel, David, Moses, or His own Son? Could God love one person less than He loves another? Does God have a way of measuring His love and rationing it out? If God’s love is limitless, so is His communication.
Paul outlined a choice. We can either choose to face death, or the free gift of righteousness. Do we need to work for that free gift? What happiness do we receive from any gift if we don’t open the package? Is there work involved in the free gift Jesus has prepared for us? We would have to dig into the subject to find out. Now to ask one question. Is studying the subject of grace work? Would studying grace and learning more about God, Jesus, the plan of salvation, and other related subjects disqualify us from receiving the the salvation Paul wrote about?
Romans 11:29-36 RSVA For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. (30) Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, (31) so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. (32) For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. (33) O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (34) “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (35) “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.
It wasn’t by mistake Paul blended mercy with the unsearchable wisdom, knowledge, and judgments of God. It’s true, God has to make a decision. Not everyone will be saved. Paul tells us, we are not going to find that judgment process easy to find nor understand. God’s judgment is way beyond the understanding of this world. Does that mean we give up? Does that mean we leave the search to qualified and specially trained individuals? Who do you think Paul was wring this letter to? When we look at the last chapter in Romans, we see Paul wasn’t writing to institutions of higher learning or church leaders. Paul was writing to common, everyday people. Paul was writing to people who didn’t have all the answers, but were interested in finding them. As a matter of fact, Paul sent them to a place in scripture so they could find a portion of that answer.
Isaiah 40:10-18 RSVA Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. (11) He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (12) Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? (13) Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? (14) Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? (15) Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust. (16) Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. (17) All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. (18) To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?
We can instantly see the connection between Romans chapter 11 and Isaiah chapter 40. We should be able to see how Paul was influenced and inspired by Isaiah. We know God is coming. We know God’s strength. Or at least how God’s strength exceeds anything and everything in this world. We also know how Jesus feeds and cares for His flock. What we have to learn is, how this world fails to know God. We have to face the fact, many people prefer to rely on themselves. We learned this lesson when we looked at Genesis. Adam took Eve’s word over God. After that, God explained that mishap in a number of different ways. It is repeated in the Bible so many times, we know this is an important point. No one can do what God has done, can do for us, or is going to do with this world. All we can do is hope to find God, and gain a little more understanding about God. Is that what being saved is all about? Would you consider that a form of works? Of course – searching for God requires a bit of effort. But when Paul tells people to search out God, and blends it in with grace and salvation, do we start messing with the ingredients, or do we follow the recipe?
Who is saved? Paul and Isaiah agree, that is not for us to decide, and difficult for us to understand. Do we avoid teaching about subjects we don’t understand? It is wrong to present yourself as an authority on a subject you know little about. On the other hand, it is healthy to share. There is so much information on the subject of salvation, none of us could learn all the details in a lifetime. But we can share what we know. And we can learn from other people. Isn’t that what Paul told us to do?
Exodus 16:21 KJV And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
After a number of plagues Pharaoh finally gave up for a time, letting Israel go free. It was an answer to a question Moses asked when he first approached the man he grew up with as a brother. To me it rose the question, why couldn’t Moses reach someone he grew up with as a brother? Look at the discussion when Moses first approached Pharaoh. After his presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went to meet with Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.” “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:1-2 NLTse).
What is the lesson? We all seem to experience the same problem, members of our own family do not know God. It seems this is a lesson repeated time and time again in Israel’s journey through the wilderness. With all the miracles God performed before their eyes, Israel’s faith remained small. God gave the head of the household the responsibility of performing the detailed ceremony for the Passover to show them the role of the priest in the family was not only a right, but a requirement.
After going through all of these experiences, many of the Israelites showed how much their confidence grew in God. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!'” (Exodus 14:10-12 NLTse).
Looking back a few verses we see how some people doubted, being more concerned about themselves more than God’s plan. Not only had they failed to see God’s power, they also misunderstood the reason behind the sequence of events. “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. (Exodus 14:2-4 NLTse).
Don’t we often have the same problem. Isn’t this the reason many people try to avoid God when a trial first arises? We try as hard as we can to fight and worry our way through a problem while the Creator is only a prayer away. We trust and rely more on our limited wisdom than our original manufacturer. If only we knew the plans and details God puts into solving our problems. If we did, we may never worry about, or let those situations get to us.
As Israel journeyed to the promised land it became evident they had not planned properly for the trip. After all, they had no idea where they were going or how long it would take. After a few days the little food they brought ran out. They went to Moses, complaining as usual. If one man’s faith was growing, it was Moses. He turned to God and prayed. He knew God would answer. Moses knew God had a plan.
As God looked down at the more than one million people following Moses out of Egypt, He knew exactly what He was going to do. Part of His plan was to wait a little bit to test each individual faith. Some were going to complain no matter what happened. Others waited for real trials to show up before complaining. Many of them could endure the trial for a time before eventually joining what seemed to be the majority of complainers. How many endured until God moved His hand? Did their joy and praise reflect their faith in God? In a way there is a parallel between testing of Israel’s faith and Jesus’ parable of the sower.
When the time was right, God brought bread from Heaven. We are told the Israelites had no idea what it was and called it manna, which means, what is it? Is this also a type of prophecy? John explains what this manna from Heaven represented. It was not only physical food, but also taught a spiritual lesson.
John 6:33-35 KJV For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (34) Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
It seems the simple message about this bread is often misunderstood. Jesus had to explain exactly what this means. Today everyone claims to know what the bread represents but do they understand what it means to never hunger or thirst? This was such an important point, Jesus went on to explain it in more detail.
John 6:49-51 KJV Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. (50) This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. (51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
When we look at what Jesus is explaining, we see He is referring to His sacrifice, which gives us eternal life. The flesh Jesus gave was His life. How do we eat Jesus’ flesh, His life? How many aspects and details does this cover? All of them?
We need to have Jesus living in our hearts, minds, every part of out physical body and spiritual life. We consume Him through His word, like this study. Every time we open His Word, the Spirit prepares a feast. Jesus comes to our hearts, knocks, and can’t wait to sit down and dine with us. This spiritual connection feeds our faith. He answers our prayers, solves our problems, send us blessings though nature, relationships with others, unexpected blessings, every aspect of our lives. Like Israel’s journey through the wilderness, God knows the trials we will face long before we see them.
What other ways do we take Jesus into our lives? How do we take in His spiritual bread and water? What would our lives be without His influence in our life? Are their parts of our lives we still insist we can manage better than Jesus? Why did the manna in the wilderness melt away when the sun rose.
John 2:1-25 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus‘ mother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (12) After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchantssellingcattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who solddoves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signsJesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
If nothing else, John’s style of writing as well as his book are unique. John included stories such as these found in chapter 2, as well as others not found in other gospels. Why, I don’t know why, but Bible writers have a way of introducing a subject then adding details later. Is this what John is doing on a spiritual level when we look at the gospels as a whole? The only way to know is to compare what John gives us and follow the law of context that tells us to look back to see how the author led into the subject.
Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:
Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.
John 2:1-11 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus‘ mother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Because John didn’t record anything about Jesus leaving for forty days while He faced Satan’s temptations, it’s difficult to determine timing between those stories in John’s book. John began this story by pointing out it was the next day. The original Greek tells us it was the third day. We can assume this may be the third day after His baptism. But we’re not here to examine the exact timing of every event in John’s book but to look at his story as a whole. The first step is to look back at the link between the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:43-51 NLTse).
I think the last verse is the one to concentrate on here. Jesus promised Nathanael he would see Heaven open up and angles going between Heaven and earth. John followed that with Jesus at a wedding with His mother and some disciples. This is where Jesus performed His first miracle. Is that the spiritual view of the stairway Jesus promised Nathanael would see? Jesus called Nathanael, “a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” Was Jesus referring to Nathanael’s ability to see the spiritual side of issues and events?
We also have to compare this introduction to the summary in the chapter. This will help us to understand the theme as well as the style John used to write this chapter.
Examine chapters by first comparing the introduction to the summation. This will give you clues by telling you want to look for within that chapter. If they are contrasts, the chapter will have contrasting stories and characters teaching the same lesson. If the introduction contains contrasts, the summation will most likely contain a contract. When you see this, stories within the chapter will also contain contrasts. The literal form of the introduction and summation will show what types of details to pay special attention to.
But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signsJesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
We see a number of details in this summation. Jesus talked about destroying the temple. John explained, Jesus was referring to His body, which of course points to His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection. We see Jesus’ first miracle performed in the introduction and an explanation of His greatest miracle.
John pointed out how those miracles made a difference after Jesus rose from that tomb. This makes us ask what impression they made on the disciples while they saw Jesus performing those miracles. What went through their minds when they saw Jesus turn clay pots filled with water to wine? Does that water point to a spiritual lesson? The water was used for ceremonial cleaning. Water was also used for baptism, a sort of New Testament ceremonial cleaning in addition to the symbol of a new individual beginning.
John pointed out, Jesus didn’t trust people because He knew human nature. What did that mean? It’s early in Jesus’ ministry. He prepared for about thirty years before He began His ministry. At the wedding Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.” What was He referring to? It may be pointing out, He hadn’t defeated Satan before that wedding. If that was on His mind, Jesus would have been observing how Satan’s agents controlled people. That would have been something on Jesus mind throughout His ministry and life.
We also see the word servant repeated in this story. They prepared the water for Jesus and carried the wine to the person in charge of the wedding. This showed how Jesus needed people to assist Him throughout His ministry. This is another detail to look out for as we progress through John’s book.
John 2:12-25 NLTse After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchantssellingcattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who solddoves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signsJesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
This is a rather short chapter containing only two stories. The question is, what is the connecting factor? One stands out above all. At the wedding John tells us, “But you have kept the best until now!” The story about the temple closed with Jesus telling about His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection.
John is the only author who tells us about the first time Jesus cleared out the temple court. His story reflects the same effects and reasoning as the other author’s account when Jesus cleared the temple court before He returned to teach a number of parables and answered a number of questions asked by different groups of religious leaders. John also added a detail telling us what Jesus did before He went into the courtyard. “Jesus made a whip from some ropes.”
This is another time you want to sit and think about this scene, putting yourself into it. Imagine Jesus sitting outside the courtyard gate weaving a whip out of ropes. I’ve heard dozens of sermons claiming this story proves Jesus got angry. Some sermons try to call it a sort of controlled anger. But look at the details and ask yourself, how long did it take Jesus to weave a whip out of ropes, and what was He thinking about while He was weaving a series of ropes?
Jesus wasn’t displaying any type of pent up anger. Jesus thought about what He was about to do and prayed why He sat outside that gate. He knew what He was doing and the lesson He was about to teach. Nothing was a spur of the moment outburst in any part of Jesus’ ministry. What was the lesson Jesus taught here?
We get our first clue by looking at the key words. Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to details. Words like merchants and dealers combined with exchanging foreign money, and marketplace tell us why Jesus formed that whip. How many people lost their money during the time Jesus formed that whip, and how many people wasted their money thinking it was buying them forgiveness for their sins? Jesus had to show them it was time for a change.
Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.
It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.
Cattle, sheep, and doves are also repeated. Neither one of those do a thing to forgive sins. In the Old Testament they were referred to as an atonement, which is a reminder. The book of Hebrews goes into detail to explain that change.
Once again we see Jesus quoting scripture. Let’s look at the entire verse. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalms 69:9 NLTse). This is usually all most people will look at. But if we examine a few verses around that verse, we see one of the messages Jesus pointed to.
Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, LORD, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. (Psalms 69:8-13 NLTse).
Once we look at a few other verses, we see why Jesus quoted this scripture. He pointed them to a prophecy about Himself. We see how much Jesus cared about those priests when we see the prophecy refereed to them as His brothers. We also see they thought of Jesus as a stranger, or a little strange. What would they think of Jesus when He walked into their courtyard and put them out of business during the busiest time of the year, Passover? Would that scripture have been enough for them to overcome their financial losses and attitude toward Christ? Look at the detail we see in the introduction to Psalms 69.
Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. (Psalms 69:1-4 NLTse).
Another prophecy about Jesus. This shows how Jesus felt and what He thought about while He was outside forming that whip. One look at that courtyard and Jesus felt like He was drowning. Jesus was just beginning His ministry and He was tired of crying. He was crying His whole life. It was time to get up and do something, to put God’s plan of salvation into action on time and on course. Jesus was definitely outnumbered. He was facing off against the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, temple guards, Roman guards, Herod’s people, and a bunch of people who couldn’t understand His message. That didn’t slow down Jesus. You think David had to have a lot of faith to face his giant, think of what Jesus went up against.
If you still don’t believe Jesus pointed people back to scripture to see at least ten times more than the small message He gave them, look at the summation in Psalms 69.
Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the LORD more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety. (Psalms 69:30-36 NLTse).
I don’t think I need to explain what’s been recorded in Psalms 69 and how it relates to John chapter 2. Can you see Jesus thinking about this Psalm as He’s sitting outside working on that whip? If those pastors trying to make an excuse to release their anger, or trying to explain their personal interpretation on that story had spent a little time, turned and few pages and looked where Jesus pointed them, where God’s Spirit was trying to lead them, they couldn’t have missed this message. The sad fact is, if those religious leaders had looked at that scripture, they would have never put Jesus on that cross.
To think, when I try to teach this simple study method, some people argue, saying there’s no need to waste time looking up scripture Jesus quoted. How can you hope to understand half of what’s in the gospels or New testament if you don’t look at Old Testament scripture Jesus and other people quoted? Those people who argue with me think it’s a simple matter of looking at a few texts going with whatever pops into your head. Isn’t that a form of eastern religion – relying on your inner being? Isn’t that in conflict with relying on God’s Word and relying on His Spirit? Not only are those people hurting themselves, but they are holding other people back from the simple things God is holding out to them. What could be easier than following clear and simple instructions in the Bible?
We see the words miraculous sign repeated. Those religious leaders asked what authority Jesus had in addition to asking for a sign. If they were listening, they would had seen, Jesus gave them everything they needed. That whip showed how all the words in scripture are woven together. They didn’t listen to Jesus. They didn’t go back to scripture. They didn’t know how to rely on God’s Spirit. No wonder Jesus didn’t trust them.
This is one of the most amazing lessons in the Book of Revelation. This small section in chapter one is a rather lengthy description of Jesus. What a lot of people don’t realize is, this description is broken down and distributed among the seven churches. Why is it broken down and distributed? That repeats the lesson we have already read about and covered in the previous chapter. Gather all the facts and study them. Here we will list the example Jesus gave us to study.
Revelation 1:12-16 MKJV (12) And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. (13) And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the midst of the seven lampstands I saw One like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and tied around the breast with a golden band. (14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And His eyes were like a flame of fire. (15) And His feet were like burnished brass having been fired in a furnace. And His voice was like the sound of many waters. (16) And He had seven stars in His right hand, and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. And His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
It may be easier to make a list from the text above and put it together with the text from the letters to the seven churches.
And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the midst of the seven lampstands I saw One like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and tied around the breast with a golden band.
Revelation 2:1 MKJV To the angel of the church of Ephesus write: He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, says these things.
Revelation 1:17-18 MKJV (17) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying to me, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, (18) and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.
Revelation 2:8 MKJV And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The First and the Last, who became dead and lived, says these things:
and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword
Revelation 2:12 MKJV And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: He who has the sharp sword with two edges says these things.
And His eyes were like a flame of fire. And His feet were like burnished brass having been fired in a furnace
Revelation 2:18 MKJV And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, He who has His eyes like a flame of fire and His feet like burnished metal, says these things:
I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the midst of the seven lampstands I saw One like the Son of man
Revelation 1:19-20 MKJV (19) Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be after this, (20) the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
Revelation 3:1 MKJV And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars says these things. I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead.
Revelation 1:17-18 MKJV (17) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying to me, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, (18) and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.
Revelation 3:7 MKJV And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts; and shuts and no one opens, says these things:
Revelation 1:4-5 MKJV John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming; and from the seven spirits which are before His throne; (5) even from Jesus Christ the faithful Witness, the First-born from the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
Revelation 3:14 MKJV And to the angel of the church of the Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Head of the creation of God, says these things:
Of course the description of Jesus is also scattered throughout the first chapter of Revelation as well as the entire Bible. The lesson being, we have to search to find all the descriptions and stories about Jesus. This may seem like a difficult task for some people. But how many people claim to love Jesus? Shouldn’t they put time and effort into that love affair? Doesn’t that make sense? Is that asking too much from a God who gave His life for you, me, and the rest of this planet? So we need to put in a little effort into collecting all the details about Jesus. I think Jesus used the perfect example at the beginning of Revelation to make the perfect point. Number one. Not many people have taken the time to study Jesus in Revelation. What does that tell you? Their mentality when the approach the Bible. They are more concerned with this planet than the God who created it. The Creator of this world is one of the descriptions included.
When we look at the letters to the seven churches we also see other sets of parallel messages. Among other things, we see what each church did right, what they did wrong, and a description of Heaven. We also see an emphasis on learning. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Since we studied the first chapter in Revelation, we know we have to learn at Jesus’ feet. There is no other source of reliable information. Now we will see how this study rule applies to other subjects in those letters to the seven churches.
Revelation 2:2-3 MKJV I know your works and your labor and your patience, and how you cannot bear those who are evil. And you tried those pretending to be apostles, and are not, and have found them liars. (3) And you have borne, and have patience, and for My name’s sake you have labored and have not fainted.
Revelation 2:9 MKJV I know your works and tribulation and poverty (but you are rich), and I know the blasphemy of those saying themselves to be Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Revelation 2:13 MKJV I know your works, and where you live, even where Satan’s seat is . And you hold fast My name and have not denied My faith, even in those days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells.
Revelation 2:19 MKJV I know your works and love and service and faith and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first.
Revelation 3:2-3 MKJV Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die. For I have not found your works being fulfilled before God. (3) Remember then how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
Revelation 3:8 MKJV I know your works. Behold, I have given before you an open door, and no one can shut it. For you have a little strength and have kept My Word and have not denied My name.
Revelation 3:18-20 MKJV (18) I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be clothed, and so that the shame of your nakedness does not appear. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, so that you may see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; therefore be zealous and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me.
Once we put all the good aspects of every church together, we get a much better view of what a good church is. I know a lot of people and denominations claim, they are the last day church, the church of Laodicea. By doing that, they omit the lessons recorded for the other churches. The first church had patience. Isn’t patience still a factor today? What about their works and labor? I know words and labor are bad words for some denominations. Maybe that’s why they choose to take another route by creating a new way of viewing the letters to those churches. Then we hit a big one. Ephesus knew how to test and verify people were false apostles. In other words, they knew the scriptures. They knew the Old Testament and knew what Jesus’ real apostles wrote and taught. They had the truth and knew how to compare the truth to lies and half lies Satan was spreading around. Is that attribute dead and gone? Is that type of knowledge and dedication a thing of the past? Is that old fashion? According to some preachers it is. According to them, Ephesus is a thing of the past and should be ignored.
I wish one of those teachers could present a shred of evidence proving their theories. They make claims that those seven churches reflect the history of the church, but only point to Laodicea, the last church. When we look at those two chapters, and chapter 1, there is no evidence of time setting. There is no timeline involved. The invention of a timeline is man made and built upon a foundation of speculation.
The last day church should reflect at least a few of the attributes recorded in the letter to Laodicea. The last day church should also display attributes listed for the other six churches. The last day church should have patience, know how to tell the truth from lies, they should have knowledge of all the scriptures, they should hold fast to Jesus, and keep the faith.
As a matter of fact, when we look at Laodicea, we don’t find a lot of positive traits. We see a church teetering on the brink of destruction because they lack the spiritual eyesight and fortitude to do the works the other churches are known for. So the last day church lacks spiritual eyesight like Laodicea. Does that mean they can’t study the scriptures because that’s the way its supposed to be? Was that Jesus’ plan? To withhold the ability to understand His written word? I doubt if that is true. But when you listen to some of those people preach about Laodicea, you walk away with that impression. And what good is that attitude? You skip over the letters to the other six churches. You don’t care what those letters said because you’ve been trained to ignore their message. You have 1/7 of the message and you are convinced, that’s the way it is supposed to be. You are happy being in a rut, because someone told you to stay where you are. So like a well trained dog, you sit and wait for the next command. You don’t see how works and other related words are mentioned eight times. People are telling you works is dead, gone, buried, only for the Jews, and other excuses to keep you away from those other letters. You ignore the instructions Jesus wrote to six churches, but concentrate on the pitfalls of one church. And where does that get you?
It seems the devil has been hard at work trying to keep as many people as he can away from those letters to the other six churches. And his work is largely successful. Those other letters warn about the devil creeping in. And tell us how to avoid that situation. Maybe that’s what the devil wants you to ignore. Maybe the devil doesn’t want you to see the Bible Study lesson involved in those seven letters. The last thing the devil wants is people collecting all the information in the Bible on a subject so it can be studied as a whole. That method of study can and will identify the fake apostles and false prophets. That study rule will expose Satan, his tricks, and plans. Satan wants to keep people away from that information. Jesus wants you to learn and use that study method. That’s why Jesus had John record this exercise in the first three chapters in Revelation. And will will use that study method throughout this book. That is what I want to base this book on. Collecting all the information on a number of subjects in Revelation.
The next set of subjects is a combination of the poor attributes those churches had and a set of warnings. What to watch out for. It takes a little time to copy and paste those sections into a set of lists. For some of the churches the information is a little off topic. For some churches Jesus listed some of the poor qualities they had to deal with. Jesus told some of the churches what to watch out for, because Jesus knew the devil’s plans, and saw what he was able to accomplish in other churches. Wouldn’t you consider all that that valuable information in the last days?
Revelation 2:4-6 MKJV But I have against you that you left your first love. (5) Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent. (6) But you have this, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Revelation 2:10 MKJV Do not at all fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the Devil will cast some of you into prison, so that you may be tried. And you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:14-16 MKJV (14) But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication. (15) So you also have those who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (16) Repent! But if not I will come to you quickly, and will fight with them by the sword of My mouth.
Revelation 2:20-24 MKJV (20) But I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel to teach, she saying herself to be a prophetess, and to cause My servants to go astray, and to commit fornication, and to eat idol-sacrifices. (21) And I gave her time that she might repent of her fornication, and she did not repent. (22) Behold, I am throwing her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of their deeds. (23) And I will kill her children with death. And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the reins and hearts, and I will give to every one of you according to your works. (24) But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak, I will put on you no other burden.
Revelation 3:3 MKJV Remember then how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
Revelation 3:9-11 MKJV Behold, I give out of those of the synagogue of Satan, those saying themselves to be Jews and are not, but lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. (10) Because you have kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation which will come upon all the habitable world, to try those who dwell upon the earth. (11) Behold, I come quickly. Hold fast to that which you have, so that no one may take your crown.
Revelation 3:17-19 MKJV (17) Because you say, I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, (18) I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be clothed, and so that the shame of your nakedness does not appear. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, so that you may see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; therefore be zealous and repent.
The last set of details Jesus gave to the churches was a short vision of Heaven. This is one of the most amazing parts and examples using this form of study method. Each church received one little vision of Heaven. Put them all together and you have a much larger, more detailed vision of Heaven.
Revelation 2:7 MKJV He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 2:11 MKJV He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
Revelation 2:17 MKJV He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it .
Revelation 2:26-29 MKJV (26) And he who overcomes and keeps My works to the end, to him I will give power over the nations. (27) And he will rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter they will be broken to pieces, even as I received from My Father. (28) And I will give him the Morning Star. (29) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:4-6 MKJV You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. (5) The one who overcomes, this one will be clothed in white clothing. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (6) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:11-13 MKJV (11) Behold, I come quickly. Hold fast to that which you have, so that no one may take your crown. (12) Him who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My new name. (13) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:20-22 MKJV (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me. (21) To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His throne. (22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
It’s not by accident that Jesus included a view of Heaven in each of the letters to the churches. The descriptions were meant to be gathered and studied as a whole. Christians should have a basic understanding of Jesus, how He communicates with us, and a vision of Heaven to share. What is a Christian without those three things?
When we have a vision of Heaven, we have an opening to begin a conversation with almost anyone. We are always prepared to share the Gospel, tell a story, let people know there is a better choice, and a better life ahead. We are always prepared to encourage fellow Christians. And we have a reason to approach God’s throne without fear.
It’s not surprising that every church is told, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Jesus repeated this for a reason. He wants the churches to listen to Him. He wants the churches to be trained, and ready to face every opportunity and trial. Jesus wants the churches to know, they are not in this fight alone. Jesus wants the churches to know about Heaven and tell the world about Heaven. The message is obvious. When we see words like that repeated seven times, we can’t help but pay attention.
What does it mean to have an ear and hear? The answer should be obvious on the physical as well as the spiritual side. Jesus is more than spiritual. Jesus is not an unknown, unseen entity we cannot see or hear. We can hear Jesus when we learn to listen. We can listen in prayer, life experiences, and of course when we read His messages. Our hearing is honed when we combine all three. And there may be other ways of listening to Jesus. We know listening requires work, time, dedication, and concentration.
That completes our study on two rules that Jesus established and wrote about to prepare us for the rest of Revelation. We just passed our elementary training. We know how to look for repeated words and phrases. We also know how to gather all the information on a subject, put it together, and study all the facts we are able to gather. Now we are ready to look at other subjects in Revelation.
What sets this book of Revelation apart from thousands of other books? Number one, this book is not written to reveal anything about Revelation or any type of future prophecies. On the contrary, the Book of Revelation reveals the meaning of the visions John saw, the symbols God uses, and the timeline recorded in Revelation. The Book of Revelation is designed so we see exactly how John’s book explains each and every detail. It is not my intent to guess at any prophecy or insist I have any type of special gift available to a select few people. I do not rely on the world to fill in the blanks people claim the Book of Revelation has. John’s book has no blank sections. John recorded exactly what he was told to record in the order Jesus provided the information.
Within Revelation is a series of lessons showing us how to read and study the book. As well as other books in the Bible. One of the most important rules is to gather all the information on a particular subject. When chapter one is combined with chapters two and three, that rule is evident. The remainder of Revelation further verifies that rule.
My intent is to go through the Book of Revelation from cover to cover showing how John’s book reveals a few easy to use study rules that must be followed. The entire Book of Revelation was inspired from Heaven. Jesus wrote the entire book and placed special instructions throughout the book. In fact, those same instructions and rules are found throughout the Bible.
One of the first rules we want to test is, the rule of introductions and summaries. The first few sentences in a chapter or book sets the theme for that chapter and of course introduces the main idea. What do we find in the first few sentences in Revelation?
Revelation 1:1-3 NLTse This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, (2) who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (3) God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
Like many other books in the Bible, John sets the tone for an inspired manuscript by explaining how he received this message and who gave him that message. In this case the message was given to John by Jesus. This should peak our interest. Jesus pointed out one important detail at the beginning of His message. “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.”
We have to first READ the Book of Revelation. Jesus described the Book of Revelation as one long message. No where in Revelation does Jesus tell anyone to separate or segregate one prophecy in Revelation from the others. The timeline in Revelation is very important. Without the other prophecies, the timeline is lost. That is one thing that causes most of the problems we see in modern day interpretations. The world has adopted a study method not found or explained in the Book of Revelation or anywhere else in the Bible. The art of taking one or two sentences out of the Bible and running to the news media in this world, or any other source originating in this world is a man made study rule. It is a rule designed with no rules at all. Taking one or two sentences out of scripture and using the world to interpret that passage is a free for all, no holds barred form of Bible Study. In this book we will take the Book of Revelation step by step to see how Jesus explained sound study methods. After all Jesus, “blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says.”
One of the first things you want to do when you begin studying anything in the Bible is to look at the introduction. We already saw why that is important. Now we can look at the last few lines in Revelation chapter 1 to see what details Jesus added to His opening message.
Revelation 1:17-20 NLTse (17) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. (18) I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (19) “Write down what you have seen–both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. (20) This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jesus introduced Himself to John by using a few symbols. This is important. When we see Jesus using symbols to introduce and describe Himself, we know how Jesus set the tone for the entire book of Revelation. Jesus introduced symbols. Jesus knows how to use those symbols, and Jesus knows how to explain what those symbols mean. In short, Jesus is the source of those symbols, and the only reliable source who can explain the meaning of each and every symbol in Revelation. Going outside that source is turning your back on Jesus. Going to other sources can be compared to idol worship. Even relying on yourself crosses the line Jesus established in His conversation with John.
Jesus explained exactly what those seven stars, angels, and lampstands represent. Jesus is the author of Revelation. The author chooses which symbols they will use, and what those symbols represent. No one else in the world can over ride the author. And in this case, the Author of Revelation is the One who will decide the final outcome of the judgment process. When we put the introduction together with the information found at the end of the chapter, we can see the warnings involved. Along with those warnings, we see specific instructions designed to keep us inline with the wishes of the Author. Jesus wants us to understand every detail in Revelation. And Jesus established the foundation of that understanding.
If we were to turn the page, we would see how the end of chapter 1 introduced the subject matter in chapter 2. That tells us, Revelation was written much like any other novel. You would never skip a chapter in a novel that interests you. So why skip chapters in Revelation?
At this point we are going jump to the very end of Revelation to see how it parallels the summation in chapter 1.
Revelation 22:18-21 NLTse (18) And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. (19) And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. (20) He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (21) May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
By design the warning at the end of the book echos the information at the beginning of the book. “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” The introduction to Revelation contains the blessing. The end of Revelation contains the curses. Put the two together and we see how the first few and last few sentences create book stand to hold the entire book together. The warning in Revelation is obvious to most people. But its spiritual meaning is lost without the blessing. Without the blessing, what do we have?
The blessing establishes the Christlike attitude we need to approach the Book of Revelation as well as share the information revealed. When we put Jesus in the center of our studies, we can’t loose. We may not have everything revealed to us on the first, second, or even twelfth attempt. But we will continue to see details we missed. That is one way Jesus keeps us humble. Don’t forget, Revelation is an inspired book and we have to accept lessons designed for personal, spiritual growth.
We don’t want to skip over any details in Revelation chapter 1. This chapter sets the ground work of understanding. Jesus told us, this book is designed for those in His church to read and understand.
Revelation 1:4-6 NLTse This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; (5) and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. (6) He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
When we see the word, Amen, that tells us, this is a good place to stop, go back, and review the information presented. We see how John introduced himself as the messenger. The one who penned the inspired words. We see how John introduced Jesus using a series of symbols. It may seem rather strange to see how Jesus used those same symbols at the end of the chapter to describe Himself. We have to look at a number of reasons why chapter 1 used that particular pattern.
The Bible uses something referred to as repetition. Certain words or phrases are repeated to attract the readers attention. In most cases, those words and phases carry a spiritual meaning the casual reader will miss. It may seem rather strange for John to introduce Jesus with a set of symbols, then to see Jesus repeat that same series of symbols. Jesus is establishing a few general rules here. Jesus knows the meaning of each and every symbol. In this particular example, Jesus is using John to show us how He is able to meet and work with us on whatever level we are on. Yes there are different levels of learning. There are different levels of spiritual awareness. It wasn’t by accident that Jesus used spiritual symbols to emphasis that point. We know it is an important point based on the fact we see those words and phrases repeated. So remember, the author repeats words and phrases to catch our attention. At that point we have no other choice than to review the information so we do not miss its spiritual meaning.
We also saw how we had to gather all the information in the chapter before the spiritual meaning was unlocked. Collecting all the information on a subject is another important rule we need to follow.
We have the opportunity to collect information. The kingdom of priests is a phrase used in only a few stories in the Bible. The first time it was mentioned was a short time after God freed Israel from the slavery in Egypt.
Exodus 19:3-6 NLTse Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: (4) ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (5) Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. (6) And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
Of course Israel instantly accepted the invitation. But after hearing the Ten Commandment, most of the Israelites changed their mind. They told Moses to talk to God and fill them in on the details.
We just leaned another valuable lesson. The term, kingdom of priests led us to another story with a vital connection. Jesus asks us to follow His commands as a condition to understanding the message. When we look at the original offer to becomes God’s kingdom of priests, we can’t help but notice the Ten Commandments. A link no one in their right mind could deny.
That’s exactly what we are looking for. Links in the Bible that explain the spiritual meaning of the message at hand. What is a priest dedicated to God? The Bible tells us, it is a person who keeps God’s commandments. That is one clue. Of course some people will argue, that is only for the Old Testament people. Is it? We can look at a few additional facts from the Bible.
1 Peter 2:5-10 NLTse And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. (6) As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (7) Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” (8) And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. (9) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (10) “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”
Peter tied in God’s holy priesthood with the spiritual temple designed with Christ as the corner stone. Once we examine the link between these books, we can’t help but find how one story explains the other. Some people find it difficult to explain what that spiritual temple is. When we look at what Peter explained, and what Christ added in Revelation, there is no other definition than God’s people who take up the priesthood originally offered when God took Israel out of Egypt.
Some churches have long drawn out rules and regulations describing what they think a priest is, who can be a priest, and other aspects about priests and pastors they claim are Biblical. The fact of the matter is, Peter described a priest as a part of that spiritual temple. Jesus described that priesthood as anyone who reads and understand His message in Revelation. That can be a can of worms in modern Christianity. Almost every church claims they can read, understand, and interpret Revelation. Many churches claim their powers of interpretation prove they are some type of chosen or special church. Some claim to be the only true church. Many of those claims are centered on the Book of Revelation. Those claims are based on a few select lines in Revelation. When we look at those sentences as they were recorded, and where they lead us, we see quite a different story.
Some of the most popular priests or pastors today host television shows that concentrate on Revelation and prophecy. Week after week they make predictions. Week after week they prove their spiritual connection with Jesus is false and misleading. Their predictions rarely come true. Or as so vague, they hold little water. When we look at the kingdom of priests Jesus, Moses, and Peter described, we see the Biblical meaning of a priest. Which of course is far different than the earthly definition. The same is true for the majority of visions, symbols, and prophecies taken from Revelation and interpreted using any other method than those described in the Bible.
Based on the fact most churches boast about their knowledge of Revelation, no one can argue the fact, Jesus’ priests are those who read and understand His message. There is no other source of training required outside the Bible. With that in mind, we will continue to look at Revelation chapter 1.
Revelation 1:7-8 NLTse Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him– even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! (8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.”
John took a giant leap from his time to Jesus’ return. John must have jumped ahead for a reason. Remember how we jumped ahead to look at the last few sentences in Revelation? We followed a study rule. Look what we found. Now we find John sending us to the last chapter in Revelation. See how those connections exist inside scripture? We have a guide in Jesus’ Spirit. What more do we need?
Revelation 1:9-11 MKJV I, John, who also am your brother and companion in the affliction, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the island that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (10) I came to be in the Spirit in the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (11) saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Also, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
Jesus being the first and last, the Alpha and Omega repeat throughout the first chapter. We can’t ignore that fact. We have to put that information in its place. Jesus is the Teacher. He is the first and last source of information for us to rely on. We don’t need any other source of information. We also see how this letter was to go out to the frontier of the Christian world. There is a lesson is that. We still have Christian frontiers.
The testimony of Christ is another phrase we have to look up. It is mentioned in a couple of stories in Revelation. This gives us the opportunity to look at other parts of the story, put the details together, and see what they say.
Revelation 6:9-11 MKJV And when He had 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 testimony which they held. (10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Until when, Master, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? (11) And white robes were given to each one of them. And it was said to them that they should rest yet for a little time, until both their fellow servants and their brothers (those about to be killed as they were ) should have their number made complete.
When we read the description of the fifth seal, we see the price may be rather high. Following the testimonies of Jesus, which is described as reading and understanding His message is not going to be a bed of roses, or an easy road to travel. If we were merely reading Revelation, it would have taken us five more chapters before we got to that part of the message. Collecting all the information on what Jesus’ testimony is took us directly to that information.
Revelation 12:15-17 MKJV (15) And the serpent cast out of his mouth water like a flood after the woman, so that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. (16) And the earth helped the woman. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. (17) And the dragon was enraged over the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Here John once again tied in God’s commandments with Jesus’ testimony. None of us made that connection a second time. Jesus the Author did. Again we see how rough the road is. We also see who is responsible for adding all those bumps and pot holes in the road. We also see why the devil is angry. He tried to kill the baby Jesus. Satan is angry because he failed. So Satan took that anger and focused it on the people who continued to follow Jesus.
Revelation 19:7-10 MKJV (7) Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. (9) And he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God. (10) And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See, do not do it! I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Of course Jesus is going to describe the benefits in store for those who follow His Word. The road may be rough, but the destination is well worth the journey. Jesus doesn’t hide anything. He gives us the good news, and the warnings. Jesus tells us how rough the journey is going to be before He explains the benefits.
What is that prophecy John is trying to explain here? When people take that one line out of the story, they tend to drift off in different directions. In most cases they attempt to link that one line about Jesus’ testimony and prophecy to their church, and the advanced knowledge they claim to have. Thus far we have seen no evidence to support such a claim. On the contrary, we have written evidence telling us, Jesus’ church is made up of those who accept the role of priest with full knowledge of the pitfalls and benefits. There is no mention of weekly paychecks, degrees, retirement funds, collecting funds, and the other roles mankind has attached to the priesthood. You won’t find those roles in Revelation because that was never part of Jesus’ message.
On the other hand, understanding this letter is a part of Jesus’ promise, and a part of the benefit package. Not the way the world understands, or tries to explain John’s book. but the way Jesus designed Revelation to be explained and understood. The more we study Revelation, the more will will see and understand that difference.
It may come as a surprise to some people when they read the literally progression Jesus used to write the Book of Revelation. Jesus used the same literally progression all successful writers use. Jesus first described a scene, then the events that occurred in that scene.
Of course we are supposed to compare the Tabernacle built on this planet to the actual Heavenly Sanctuary containing God’s throne. The Tabernacle consisted of symbols. People have been studying those symbols for generations. So why not study John’s eyewitness account of Heaven?
Revelation 4:3-6 KJV And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (6) And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
What exactly did John see? Were all those gem stones John used to describe God’s throne real, symbols, or both? Writers do one thing with symbols. Writers use symbols to captivate the imagination. Writers also define those symbols. Why look for the definition of a symbol when the author doesn’t provide one? I guess that is human nature.
Some people may say, “John used the best words he could to describe God’s throne.” John didn’t write Revelation, Jesus did. All John did was dictate Jesus’ words. So we have to ask why Jesus used a series of gems to describe His Father’s throne.
In this world gems are a thing of value. But Heaven does not operate on the currency method this world uses. In Heaven, currency is a foreign, unknown subject. So throw out all those man made concepts centered on currency. As a matter of fact, that is what Revelation chapter 4 is trying to convey with this description of God’s throne. We cannot reply on any earthly item, material, concept, idea, or doctrine to describe God’s throne. We have to rely on the Author who just happens to have a seat next to God’s throne. If we turn to any source outside of Jesus, all we are ever going to receive is a false interpretation.
Jesus told John to use gemstones to describe God’s thrown for a reason. Look at the rainbow. What story does that point us to?
Genesis 9:12-16 KJV21 And God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: (13) I do set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth. (14) And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud. (15) And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (16) And the rainbow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”
That rainbow was a symbol of a reminder. Jesus wants us to see God’s throne has a rainbow around it. A constant reminder of God’s covenant with us. One in a long list of covenants. When we look at the Ark, it is referred to as the Ark of testimony, and the Ark of the covenant. Now that we’ve read the description of God’s throne, we are shown how God has a constant reminder surrounding His throne. But why does God need a reminder? For us that rainbow is a symbol showing us how we need to constantly review all the covenants God made with this world and all its people.
I know a lot of doctrines insist there are old and new covenants and only a select few matter anymore. But who is making those choices? Is there clear evidence in the Bible telling us to ignore some of God’s covenants, and pay attention to others? Or is that claim another man made concept? I think we hit upon another subject to study. So far in our studies we’ve seen how important it is to gather all the facts and read the entire story. We’ve learned how Satan loves to hide the majority of facts found in those stories. Time to cast off those chains and approach God’s throne for answers.
Jesus also described His Father by using gemstones. A jasper and sardine stone. What do those stones mean? A quick glance at a Concordance will tell us, jasper is a gem stone. The base word means to polish. Sardine is also a gemstone with a base word which simply means stone. Put the two base meanings together and we have a new view of God polishing a stone. That takes us to a number of stories. “Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. (Exodus 28:9 NLTse). Another is found in a previous chapter in Revelation. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17 NLTse).
There are of course other stories you can choose from. In the examples I supplied, I showed how the base words for those two stones led us back in Revelation as well as to another story about the Tabernacle. When people say, “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” I wish they would supply examples like this. Every time we turn around, God’s Word is proving it is inspired.
Jesus also described twenty elders wearing crowns. Jesus is not the only one at God’s throne. God has somehow dictated responsibility in Heaven. Doesn’t God do the same thing here on earth? God could show Himself to this world at any moment, answer every question in heartbeat, prove He exists, and send a whole list of false doctrines, ideas, and concepts to the grave. Many people ask why He doesn’t operate that way. Jesus showed us why. It’s God’s policy to dictate responsibilities. He does it in Heaven and earth. Who are we to argue. Jesus described those people as elders. People who learned a lot through experience. When we are on the right tract to God’s throne, we can see those lessons and learning curve in our life. In a sense, those elders are symbols we can understand. But we are only going to understand when we are on the right path and in the proper frame of mind.
What about that lightning and thunder? Is Jesus using that as a symbol to point to Himself or another story?
Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (John 12:28-31 NLTse).
We will never know what those stories will tell us if we never read them. In John’s Gospel, Jesus talked about the judgment, and thunder. Some people only hear the rumble. Some people hear the message. The evidence given in the Bible is self explanatory.
Then we get to that sea of glass. Why did Jesus use that symbol? I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:2-4 NLTse).
Looking ahead in Revelation, we see how that sea of glass represents the victory God’s saints will secure over Satan and this world. There is no guess work involved when we let the Bible explain itself. Of course we have to examine the context. Since both visions originate in Heaven, we are assured there is a connection.
Of course God’s throne has its seven lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God. Since we know the lamp in the Tabernacle is linked to God’s Word and how it guides us, we now have a link to the Spirit and how He guides us through our studies of scripture.
It’s amazing how a look at a few key words can clear up so many questions. It’s even more amazing how the story identified those symbols. Each may have used a different method, but each had a per-designed method embedded in this story. The methods are rather simple to use and didn’t rely on any input from this world. What we need to remember is, Jesus arranged every word in the Bible. When we see descriptions of Heaven, we are seeing how Jesus views Heaven.
What does a misunderstanding of the commandments have to do with Jesus’ return? John covered the subject in detail. Preachers today fail to make the connection. Why? Preachers today teach one subject at a time. They fail to cover material designed to lead into the next subject. Once they miss the introduction to a subject, they miss the entire spiritual message contained in the next story. That is one general rule of Bible Study many people miss. Why? There are factions in this world who stand against Jesus’ return and are working hard to spoil that return in any way they can.
John 8:1-59 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesusstooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (12) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. (21) Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Fathertaught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (33) “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children!God himself is our true Father.” (42) Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” (48) The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the truejudge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.
I have to admit. I spent years looking forward to writing about John’s book. I always considered John’s Gospel the most passionate of the four gospels. Some of his chapters capture a unique relationship with Christ as well as the necessary and personal connection God is looking for from each of His servants. But those last two chapters and this one paint an entirely different story.
John has been focusing on frustrations Jesus faced throughout His ministry. The disappointment Jesus faced when dozens of His followers walked away. John wrote about the human side of Christ. You can imagine what He felt when those people turned and walked away because they either didn’t get their way, or couldn’t understand. Jesus felt that sinking, empty feeling in His chest. His heart ached. Jesus felt the sting of rejection.
After spending generations planning each event, talking with His prophets, and recording every detail, Jesus finally came to this world. He had to grow up like every other child. He worked in the home and helped His mother like any little boy. Jesus worked with His father like any other young man. Finally His Heavenly Father told Him it was time and Jesus began the ministry He trained for all His life.
Jesus had hopes and dreams like all of us. He had a desire to succeed like most people do. Jesus wanted to make a better life for His family like every father sets out to do. This world is Jesus’ family. All of us are like brothers and sisters to Christ. We are more important than children to His Father. Jesus dreamed of success. He thought of how the day would go, always expecting the best. Constantly praying and most importantly, listening to God’s voice and of course following directions. Jesus knew if He followed each and every step in the plan of salvation recorded in scripture, everything would work out. Of course Jesus knew He had to suffer. But could anyone or anything prepare Jesus for the continual heartache and disappointments He faced day after day?
Jesus was constantly hounded and hunted by religious leaders of all types. Those religious leaders couldn’t agree among themselves on hardly any subject, but something brought them together. They united to put an end to Jesus’ ministry and His life. But that wasn’t the tip of the iceberg when it came to disappointments and set backs Jesus had to endure. People constantly pierced His heart and tried to nail His hands and feet long before they put Him on that cross. Not physically restraining Jesus, but spiritually.
Priests tried to stop Jesus from using His hands to heal because he healed on the Sabbath. Pharisees tried to stop Jesus from moving forward when they questioned His view on the law. Other religious factions attempted to hold Jesus back in every way they could imagine. All of them were guilty of condemning Jesus without a trial. But this was only a small portion of the trials Jesus faced.
People from the town He grew up in doubted Him and spread rumors about Him. They focused on the miracles and how they could profit from them. They insisted Jesus was born in Galilee and joined the priests in hiding His real birth place, Bethlehem. If people knew, it wouldn’t be good for business.
People followed Jesus around because of the miracles He performed. Gentiles and even the Samaritans turned away from Jesus as soon as the miracles passed. It was like a repeat of the Exodus when Israel and all the people with them forgot the miracles they saw in Egypt. No wonder Isaiah told us the path to God’s throne is on a mountain. It always seems like an uphill battle. If life’s road is not that easy, why would the path to eternal life be any easier?
A Woman Caught in Adultery
John 8:1-11 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesusstooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Jesus returned to Jerusalem after the Festival of Shelters. Also known as the Festival of Tabernacles. He wasn’t going to give up. The previous chapter showed how Jesus was rejected by groups of religious leaders as well as people He grew up with in Galilee. Was Jesus returning to face more of the same treatment? How many of us would have given up?
One strange thing I’ve noticed about John’s style of writing over these past few chapters is Jesus’ disciples are hardly mentioned. John called attention to the people Jesus was trying to reach. John put the emphasis on how Jesus was able to reach people and what He had to deal with when people didn’t want to accept Him or His message. It’s evident, John left us with a valuable training tool.
Were the disciples there when those religious leaders brought that woman to Him? We don’t know for sure by only looking at John’s book. What we see is a few words and phrases Jesus and John repeated to focus our attention. We see the words taught, teachers, and teacher. So we know those words are drawing attention to a lesson.
We also see the phrase, “caught in adultery,” repeated. We should ask how the Pharisees caught the woman in the act and what happened to the man? Doesn’t adultery take two? Those are the types of questions most people ask and preach on. It’s only natural. Those are details on the surface. But we are searching for the spiritual messages in each story.
Looking at other key words, we find an unusual combination in accusers and condemn. When we look at the story, we can see how the Pharisees wanted Jesus to either condemn the woman or let her go. If Jesus forgave her, the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of acting like he’s greater than the law and condemned Him.
How did this woman get herself in that position. She was at the mercy of the Pharisees who put her at Jesus’ mercy. In later chapters we will see the same attempt at shifting responsibility in condemning a person. John didn’t tell us how the woman got into that position, but we can look back to see how John led us into this story.
Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home. (John 7:50-53 NLTse).
John wanted to make it evident those religious leaders condemned people without a trial out of habit. You might say it was one of their traditions. Now that we have that information, we can see one of the reasons they didn’t want to listen to Jesus. That’s one major reason He had such a hard time reaching them. What lesson can we learn from that?
Look at people you’ve tried to reach. It seems for the most part, Christians reach out to other Christians. There seems to be three major groups. People who support you, who actually support one another. People who are looking for help and answers. The third group is Christians with all the answers who look for people to either debate or argue with. The Pharisees belonged to which group?
People who like to argue also tend to condemn people without knowing them. Like those Pharisees, their mind is made up and no one is going to change it. They may also try to trick you so they’ll have something to use against you. I think of those people as modern Pharisees. I think you’ll agree, they can’t see that in themselves. I have no idea why.
I wish we knew what Jesus wrote in that dust. But John doesn’t seem to give us any hints. If we followed general rules of context, we can look back to see if John included any hints. We can take a look at a list of verses that may give a clue.
My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.
Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.
Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves
Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly
These are only a few. Other texts may be in previous chapters. Part of the answer may be seen later in this chapter. So far we see, Jesus had a message. He wanted to get that message across to them. Jesus knew their pride. Maybe if they wouldn’t listen to His messages, they might read them in the dust on the ground. Whatever He wrote, it made them leave. The older, wiser men left first, followed by younger Pharisees. Jesus got them to look below the surface. There is one more place we can look for an answer, in the summation.
Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.
We don’t see a lot here telling us what Jesus wrote in the dust, unless it had something to do with Abraham. But we see something. They couldn’t stone the woman, so they picked up stones to kill Jesus. Another example of playing judge, jury, and executioner. Jesus kept returning because those Pharisees needed a lot of help. In a way, Jesus took the place of that condemned woman.
I Am the Light
John 8:12-20 NLTse Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.
When John pointed out Jesus spoke to the people once more, he showed us how much Jesus cared. He wasn’t about to give up. He couldn’t give up. Jesus introduced another new symbol, light. Jesus kept this new symbol simple and provided the spiritual interpretation. Jesus is the light given to this world. He is the light that leads to eternal life. What Jesus didn’t do was repeat the word darkness, nor did He define it. That’s not to say He didn’t point to it’s interpretation. But the emphasis is on Jesus the light that leads to eternal life.
The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus was talking about. What happened to that lesson they learned when they dropped their stones and walked away? That was the problem. As soon as they began learning, they walked away. After showing they understood what Jesus wrote in that dust, it didn’t take long for them to go back to their way of thinking and way of doing things. Who was really guilty of adultery?
Jesus fired back at the Pharisees with the truth, they didn’t really know Jesus. They already showed they didn’t know where Jesus was born. Or they wanted to hide that information. Their comments showed how they didn’t understand what Jesus taught, or didn’t want to hear. Jesus pointed out their ignorance in a way they didn’t understand.
Jesus also pointed out their flawed judgment. It was only human. If those Pharisees were honest, they would have found one point they could agree with Jesus. But their instincts put them on the defense.
Jesus also told them how He and His Father are one and how God is His witness as well as He is God’s witness. This is a new concept for everyone in Jesus’ time. I don’t know why Jesus kept introducing new concepts at such a rapid rate. John chapter 7 and 8 took place over a few days. Over that time period Jesus introduced quite a number of subjects. He told them He brought a message from God. His teaching is from God. God sent Him. He will return to God. Jesus introduced the symbol bread and living water. He also told them to search scripture for proof of what He told them. Then Jesus told them, He is the light.
Jesus could have explained a lot more details about all the subjects He was teaching. If only they would listen. Jesus couldn’t force them and Jesus couldn’t wait for them to decide when they wanted to learn. Jesus was on a tight schedule. Another subject those religious leaders didn’t understand.
Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer. If they didn’t know Him, they didn’t know the God. It was true when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and it’s still true today. There is a process with specific steps. God works with people where they are, but the goal is always the same. People have to know Jesus to be saved. They have to know both Jesus and God to get ready for eternal life.
You Cannot Come Where I Am Going
John 8:21-32 NLTse Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Fathertaught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We suddenly see a pattern forming here. As we look back, we can’t help but see the same event occurring. Jesus talks to people and they walk away. A group of Jews and Gentiles sailed across the lake, found Jesus in Californium, listened to Him, then walked away. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus what they thought He should be doing, then left for Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Jesus went to Jerusalem, talked to one group of religious leaders after another, and many groups of people. Jesus introduced one symbols after another, and one piece of a puzzle after another that would open up their understanding of the plan of salvation, and understanding all the prophecies about the Messiah. They all walked away. They all had one thing in common, none of them understood. They all questioned Jesus because they didn’t understand. Instead of listening to Jesus and learning about the Spirit He was trying to point them to, they walked away and left Him and His message behind. Instead of opening scriptures Jesus sent them to, they shut the door to understanding and God’s Spirit.
The scary part about this whole situation and one of the lessons in this story shows how all those religious factions united against Christ. Something drew them together to destroy and silence Him. This created a new religious movement known as unity. The first man made religious unity put Jesus on that cross.
That man made unity was broken when Jesus rose from that tomb defeating death and the grave. Jesus gave the world a clear and unmistakable view of God’s Spirit. After all those prophecies were fulfilled and Jesus, along side of God’s Spirit explained how and why each of those prophecies were fulfilled on time and to the letter, people could see solid evidence of God in His Word. For the first time in world history since Enoch, people had an understanding of God and how to communicate with Him. The new Christian church grew at a rapid pace because they knew how to teach others how to communicate with God.
Generations later, people began to forget how to listen to God’s voice. They forgot how to understand His Word. Men introduced their own messages one after another. Some groups clung to one message, others to another message. The church became fragmented. The work slowed. It finally stood still. Without God’s Spirit, the work stopped and so did the message which was soon forgotten.
No one knows where it started or who came up with the idea, but it made sense to a lot of men. If people all worshiped the same thing at the same time, God would once again hear us. The world thought a universal church where everyone followed the same course would bend God’s ear to this world once again. It sounded like a good idea, so a central church was formed, approving what they referred to as a unified form of worship.
A committee wrote out a step by step form of worship distributed throughout the world. When the world united in a single form of worship, God would once again hear us. Everyone who agreed followed their step by step worship service and preached the same message week after week. But there was no evidence God heard. So they standardized the way priests dressed, the appearance of the churches, and created new traditions for people to follow. One detail was added upon another in the hopes it would please God and they could find His Spirit once again.
Finally they decided what they really needed was to follow one man. So they elected one man to be the source of communication between Christ and His church. That seemed to work. People were so far removed from God’s Spirit and His word, they thought that one person who they choose could hear. When that one man told them he heard God, they believed him.
To them all of that made sense. After all, God had one service for His Tabernacle in the wilderness. But they forgot how that Tabernacle was arranged so every item, detail, and color pointed to Christ and His ministry. God dressed all the priests alike. But they forgot how that priestly order was abused and Christ died to put and end to it. They borrowed other points from scripture and changed them around to suit their needs and concepts of worship. But without God’s Spirit, all they had was one more man made from of worship. Copying it thousands of times did nothing to please God. What they needed to do was get back to what Jesus came to teach. They also needed to go back to understanding prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The prophecies taught by the early church at Jesus’ command.
Every change initiated under the disguise of unity shut God’s Spirit out of worship and sucked God’s Spirit out of each member of what they called their church. There was no way for people to communicate with God’s Spirit when every facet of worship and study was locked in chains of human control. Men recreated the system Jesus came to abolish.
Jesus warned about a big change about to come. People will search for Him but not find Him. We can’t restrict that search to Jesus’ resurrection. People didn’t stop searching for Him after His resurrection. Common sense tells us, that is when people began searching for Jesus. That was one giant landmark in earth’s history that changed this planet forever.
Jesus told them one important detail about their search. “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.” There is no way anyone is going to find Jesus if they don’t put away their worldly views and what the world told them about searching for Jesus.
I’ve noticed one thing most preachers have in common. Some are very good preachers. They can cover a lot of good points in their sermons. They tell people not to trust any man, or woman. They tell people to search scripture. They tell people how their lives depend on it. They don’t have a problem backing up what they say with scripture. But what most preachers can’t do is teach people how to study God’s Word on their own. They have no idea how to sit down and show people the step by step process. Most preachers follow a particular process to study but they don’t have the ability to sit down and show people what they do. That is a different spiritual gift from the same Spirit.
They may also have a great relationship with God. They may pray 90-99% of the day. They know how to see God in His Word, see Him in action in this world, wonder about Him in nature, and praise Him in song and prayer. But few pastors are able to preach a sermon telling people the step by step process to read and understand God’s Word.
This book is designed to show you patterns in God’s Word so you can learn to use them in your own studies. Like in this section of the book. You can see how I’ve taken my time over these last three chapters. It takes 1-3 days to write a chapter. That gives God’s Spirit a long time to confirm what He is telling me. I’ve had people call me and confirm what I was thinking about or writing at the moment. I’ve chatted with people half way around the world who were influenced at that moment to share details I was just about to write about or had written a few minutes before. None of those people had any idea what I was writing about. God will always confirm His message.
Look at the Old Testament. How many prophets did God send to the Jews when Jerusalem fell? I never counted all of them, but there is a whole list of them. What about the time they spent in Babylon and scattered all over the world? Got sent prophets where they were. God confirmed His messages then and He still follows guidelines He established. And He will continue to do so no matter what men think or say.
“That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Is there a difference between accepting Christ and knowing Him? How can you accept Jesus if you’ve never known Him? How can you know Jesus if you’ve never met Him or His Spirit? How do you meet the Spirit Jesus promised to send?
I hope I’m not getting ahead of God or John’s book at this point, but there are a few details I think we need to cover. God still speaks to us as clearly as Jesus spoke to those crowds. The problem is, we spend too much time arguing or making excuses. In other words, the lack of reception is our fault. God didn’t loose control or have His connection go bad. We’re at fault. Admitting we’re the problem is the first step.
I don’t really think it matters what you do to talk to God. Everyone I’ve talked to about this subject has their personal way of talking with God. All of them are simple. Some people actually use a prayer closet. Other people find a quite place. The key is a quite place to listen. When people begin to listen to God the enemy is there with a thousand demons to shut out God’s voice, which is like a thought, but clear, unexpected, and if you listen to those preachers who back up what they say with scripture, you better get ready to listen to the Preacher who wrote the book. He is going to flood your mind with so many pieces of scripture you’ll think your swimming in it. Every scripture will be related to the others in ways you never imagined. Things you didn’t understand will become so clear you’ll feel like smacking yourself because you didn’t see it before. You’ll hear God’s voice as soon as you learn to shut out distractions from the world. It takes a little practice.
As you progress, scripture will have a new meaning on everyday life. You’ll see connections you never imagined. You are going to places most people never thought about or knew existed. You’ll see how God’s Word lives, breaths, grows, and multiplies, all without leaving the page. Congratulations, you just found Jesus!!! You are finally following Him.
One thing I need to warn you about. Your meeting with Jesus is personal. Like everyone who talks with Jesus, you’ll remember a great deal of the information He shared with you, but you’ll only be able to explain about 10%. But when He gives you a message to share, He will always confirm that message. Jesus will confirm the message in His written Word. When you read the Bible you’ll see the exact same message within a day or two. Jesus will also send His followers, your friends with faith will confirm the message, and you’ll be able to freely discuss it with them.
Keep in mind, almost all the messages Jesus gives you will be close and personal like the examples we’re seen with Nicodemus and the women He met at that well. And don’t forget, some people will immediately understand the message while other people will be like Nicodemus and take years to understand.
I found out writing is a good way to talk with God. It slows me down. He has a way of showing when it’s time to stop. That’s a signal it’s time to pray or go back and read scripture for the day as I read through the Bible in about 6-9 months. I don’t know how He does it, but He always seems to have a part of the lesson I’m working on in the scripture I read that day.
Sometimes life events blend into the lesson God is teaching at the time. So I have to wait to go through a personal experience before I understand what lesson God is teaching at that moment. Or like I’ve mentioned before, God will send someone with that missing piece of the message.
This may all seem strange to some people but I know, this is the way God works and I know why. God’s method of talking to us and teaching us is designed to keep us humble all the time. When I receive one message from 3-4 different sources, it can never be my message. Only God could have arranged all of those events. We can see the events of our lives unfold and pages of our life story turn like pages in scripture. God is perfectly consistent with the methods He uses. If God created the perfect method of teaching in His Bible, how could he improve on it when it comes to teaching us lessons in our own lives?
Now you can see why I keep showing the simple methods of looking back and comparing scripture, and looking for connections. Those study methods aren’t only used to study the Bible, they are used to listen to God when He teaches us about lessons we need to learn in our lives.
“I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” Jesus doesn’t condemn, but I have to warn you. When you first begin talking with His Spirit, Jesus can be surprisingly honest. I’m talking about an honesty that cuts to the bone and pierces the heart. Jesus used that method with that woman at the well. He will tell you personal details only you know about.
“Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Fathertaught me.” This shows how we won’t understand what Jesus tells us until after we experience it. And like the Gospels tell, Jesus will have to explain those details.
None of those people understood what Jesus was talking about until after His resurrection and He explained all the details to them. Jesus will share details you won’t understand at the moment. You’ll have to be like His disciples and the rest of those people and wait until the event unfolds. Then you’ll have to return for another talk so Jesus can explain all the details in your life.
“The one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” All the messages you receive from Jesus will be directly from God and will follow all of God’s laws. This is also why important lessons will be verified with scripture.
Many who heard him say these things believed in him. Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
But remember, only a few understood while many walked away. Not everyone will accept messages you deliver even when your certain they came from God and have been verified a number of ways. Look at the process and learn from it. God put people in your life you can share your success and disappointments with. Look how many times Jesus was disappointed over the past few chapters. Don’t expect your path to be all downhill. The only path up God’s mountain is uphill. God be with you.
We Are Descendants of Abraham
John 8:33-41 NLTse “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children!God himself is our true Father.”
John showed the selective memory those people had. If we look back a few verses, we see Jesus was talking to the people who believed in Him. We also see an illustration of selected beliefs. People listen to Jesus up to a point. They listen to what sounds good to them and what they agree with. But when something gets a little rough, they change their minds about Jesus.
Those people forgot the Jewish captivity in Babylon. They mentioned Abraham. That goes back generations before the captivity in Babylon when most of the Jews were carried away as slaves. Jesus had to explain, He was talking about being slaves to sin.
Before Jesus was telling them they were going to die in their sins. Now He is telling them they are slaves to sin. Put the two together and you have people dying as slaves. What a life to live. But people don’t feel like their slaves. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “God gives us freedom of choice.” I often wondered what people meant by that. I finally found out when my ex-wife started an affair then filed for divorce. I couldn’t believe people in church thought that cliché took precedence over God’s law. Jesus had another definition for it. He called sin slavery leading to death. Jesus never called sin an option.
Of course Jesus had His own way of explaining this new symbol He introduced. Jesus used the illustration of a family. Some people own slaves who are in their homes but not really part of the family. Slaves are bought and sold. Some owners treat slaves well, other not so well. You can imagine. But children are family. Compared to a slave, family is free. We have to remember, Jesus is talking about being part of God’s family. We can’t confuse God’s family with any family in this world, no matter how good they may be. Jesus used family as another illustration to remind us, we have to leave the world behind when we consider spiritual matters and lessons.
Some of those people in that crowd wanted to kill Him. Jesus was addressing a wide range of personalities. Some accepted His message while others ignored it. What was He supposed to do? Jesus couldn’t make people listen. I guess that was the freedom of choice people were talking about. Jesus summed up that choice in His own way. “I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” You are free to choose who you want to listen to.
It didn’t matter what Jesus said or how He tried to reach them. Those people who made up their minds to kill Him thought they were following God and everyone else was lost. I’m sure you’ve faced the same dilemma. Not much has changed in two thousand years.
Children of the Father of Lies
John 8:42-47 NLTse Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”
This is a subject I looked at, and didn’t really want to get into. My marriage and divorce keep coming to mind. I wonder how a woman can be married for six years and live what was nothing less than a split personality. She eventually told me, she never intended to stay married. Her plan was to marry and have me support her while she finished her degree and got a job. She told me it was all my fault it took her six years to finish her degree. She planned on only two years, three at the most. So she blamed me for the delay. And took her anger out on me in ways I never imagined anyone was capable of.
Her mother and sister told me, it was tradition from where they came from. They were never meant to remain married to American men. It was their custom to marry American men until they were ready to move on. Even though my ex-wife had been in the US since she was eight years old. Those traditions were still strong. Stronger than common sense. Stronger than God’s law.
God only wrote ten commandments. One of them tells us not to lie. Since when is tradition an excuse to dishonor God’s law? I was shown how lies lead to breaking all the commandments. Lying dishonors God and parents. In her case, lies led to adultery which led to more and more lies. In her anger, she made twisted attempts to drive me over the edge. To use my emotions against me. She went as far as trying to push me into taking my own life by using more lies. She tried to commit murder. Lies also led to character assassination. She tried to do those things because she had no idea Jesus was a far greater force. I saw how Jesus used truth to battle lies. He brought back to mind all the warnings He sent me before I married her. It was not easy to take, but I could not argue with the truth.
I often look at presidents. They look young or at least normal when first taking office. But after four or eight years in office, they often leave, looking like tired old men. Especially now when I see a president younger than me looking so old. Hair turns gray. Faces develop lines. Their bodies show a distinctive stoop. Many people say it is the pressure from all those decisions they have to make. I wonder if it is pressure from trying to keep tract of all the lies they tell.
I saw my wife once, just before she filed divorce papers. I took a few pictures. I was still deeply in love and as we know, love can be blind. I looked at those pictures after I came to terms with the divorce and saw how old she looked. Those lies took a deeper toll on her than they did on me. I healed, but she still lives with the effects of all those lies.
Jesus called the devil the father of lies. He didn’t call him the father of lies to set up a comparison with His Father. Jesus would never compare the two. Not even in a contrast. Jesus called attention to the way the devil spawns lines. The devil cannot create anything. He doesn’t have power to create. All he can do is manipulate. Jesus referred to his followers as children. This is a contrast to God’s children like life and death are contrasts. But the devil cannot produce children. Looking back a few verses we see, all he can do is change them into slaves. His slaves.
The point Jesus was making is, the more we hear lies, the harder it is to hear God. The difference between lies and truth isn’t like a light switch where we have control to turn one on or off. It’s not like we flip a switch and suddenly our lives are filled with light and truth. It is an uphill battle to get away from those lies. This is the point Jesus was trying to make when He said, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.”
People can and will get so deep into lies they control every aspect of their lives. One little white lie turns into another. I don’t have to explain the process or effect. What people don’t realize is how the devil uses lies to turn people away from God. How lies make people mistrust God to a point, they are repulsed by God because He is truth. “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”
Anyone Who Obeys Will Never Die
John 8:48-59 NLTse The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the truejudge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.
Those people proved the point. As soon as they were faced with the truth, they were repulsed by it. Notice how they changed the subject? Jesus just told them the devil is the father of lies. They didn’t take it well when Jesus called them his children. That struck a sour cord. They shot back without thinking. They called Jesus a Samaritan devil. A little while ago they said Jesus was from Galilee. Now they claim He is from Samaria. Which is true and which is false? Notice how they jumped into a lie to defend themselves?
Now we see how far lies will draw people away from God and what they do to people. Those people showed they had no concept of eternal life. Those people showed how little they knew about God. In this lesson Jesus told the cold, hard truth. Something few people are able to accept. Lies pull us away from God as well as eternal life and and understanding of both. Lies distort our concept of right and wrong just like they did in Eden.
Satan wasn’t trying to give Eve anything. He wanted her to serve him. Like Jesus pointed out, Satan wanted to make Eve his slave. That tree didn’t do anything for Eve other than show her what it was like to sin and eventually the consequences. It didn’t give any special powers to her to be like God. She knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. But one lie from Satan made the sin look more attractive then the consequences.
How far did the truth get Jesus? He tried to tell them He is the living water. They couldn’t go where He was about to go. They would search for Him but not be able to find Him. For that they tried to arrest Him. Jesus told them if they never sinned, they have the right to cast the first stone. Jesus told them He is the light to this world. He has been given the right to judge, but He prefers not to judge people. Jesus gave them one view of His ministry after another using signs and symbols. But those teachers and priests couldn’t understand.
Jesus once again told them, they couldn’t follow Him to where He was going because they were going to die in their sins. They already proved they were sinners when they dropped those stones and walked away. But they couldn’t bring themselves to accept Jesus and all He was offering them. A portion of their sins were lies, which led to other sins and more lies. Their thoughts proved they were sinners and in need of healing and a savior. They just didn’t want to be saved in the manner Jesus offered them.
Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? All day long you plot destruction. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar! (Psalms 52:1-4 NLTse).
Jesus knew all of those trials and disappointments were coming. They didn’t take Jesus by surprise. Neither did their answers or the way they tried to change the subject. Jesus knew what was behind their lies and mistrust. Jesus knew money and status played a major role. But what could Jesus do? He kept on course and introduced lessons they had to hear. Yes, God gave us freedom to choose. Look at the choices those religious leaders and other people made. We see how they made those choices and if we look a little deeper into those stories, we can see why they made those choices.
Finally those people wanted to pick up stones and kill Jesus. They couldn’t do that to the woman caught committing adultery, but they wanted to stone Jesus. Why? Who was committing spiritual adultery in Jerusalem that day?