The following are topics being developed in MyRedeemer.org. Some will be moved to their own page when complete.
Oct. 13, 2017
There are two kingdoms in this creation –identified by two laws –pictured by two trees. The first kingdom is life (the kingdom of heaven –a.k.a. the kingdom of God). Romans 8:1-2 denotes its law as “the Law of the Spirit of life” –he who has the Holy Spirit is alive –because he has eaten from the tree of life (Jesus blood and flesh which hung on the cross). The second kingdom is death. Its law is “the law of sin and death” –not sin from bad deeds but from not putting faith in Jesus (the author of life). It’s tree is the one that God said “when you eat from the tree of knowing good and evil, you will certainly die.”
The citizens of that latter one –the kingdom of death– revere judgment above all else. They are obsessed with getting justice –bellowing out who’s innocent and who’s guilty –and then demanding punishment. As judgmental heirs of Eve, we were formerly citizens there too –fully convinced that God’s primary purpose for us was to be righteous and to condemn those nasty unrighteous people –or at least to denounce their wicked ways. But when we became citizens of the kingdom of life, that old citizenship was stripped from us –there’s no dual-citizenship with death.
Jesus was referring to those kingdoms when He said to the self-declared-righteous religious men, “But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
The Law of Moses proves that none of us was born righteous (innocent, good) –everyone is unrighteous (guilty, evil). Paul quoted David (Psalms 14 and 53) when he said “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). That proof can be seen in the required sacrifices and offerings that were presented daily, seasonally and annually –by all, without exception– to gain God’s acceptance. This whole matter of righteous and unrighteousness, innocence and guilt, good and evil, is the currency of the kingdom of death.
Being found righteous (or unrighteous) is accomplished through judgment –according to a law. Although we can presume that we’re using God’s official Ten Commandments, we’re truly using the law of our flesh. He hammered that fact home during His Sermon on the Mount when He said God examines the heart –and concluded that all are guilty.
What did Jesus mean when He said that God desires compassion (mercy) rather than sacrifice? He wants people to understand that God has been relating to us compassionately –mercifully. He didn’t destroy us any of the times that we did bad things. He waits patiently for us to believe that He has provided everything we need to enter the kingdom of life –the kingdom of heaven –the kingdom of God. Only then can we show His compassion –His mercy– to others.
That’s been the way of the world since the beginning has been about ensuring justice is served. We’re deeply concerned with establishing guilt and innocence –mostly with handing out punishment fairly. And it’s all tied back to what wasn’t ours in the first place. Judging –“knowing good and evil”– was only for God, but we took over His role so that we can “be like God.” That’s what has kept us separated from Him.
Jesus routinely railed against the religious leaders of His time for claiming to be righteous –upstanding models of goodness, innocence, perfection in the eyes of God. Yet, He called them fools, blind, hypocrites, white-washed tombs and even sons of the devil. We might claim –in some humble way– that we aren’t at all like them. But the fact is that no one is good –or innocent –or righteous. That’s what David was stating when he said “There is no one who does good, not even one.” Everyone has set himself on the throne as Judge and does according to what he thinks is right.
The Law of Moses is founded on a system of offerings and sacrifices to restore God’s favor.
Dec. 14, 2016
Sometimes I feel like I’m being confronted with the memories of circumstances involving a red stain (usually blood or wine) that refuses to come out of clothes or towels or worse, carpet. I wonder why it is that the color red is so penetrating. You don’t suppose it could be part of the design to make us choose to believe or reject Jesus could it?
Sep. 18, 2016
Take a look at Ted’s blog. He started his own site to capture the wonders that God is showing him through an artist’s view. Judgment has been a favorite topic over the last several months. With that in mind notice the image at the top of his page –it’s by Vermeer –a woman holding a balance. Within that picture are several sublties: a judgment taking place in a picture in that picture’s background, precious items of the world on the woman’s desk, the woman’s “condition” . . . Ted says he’s going to write more about her. I’m looking forward to it.
Aug. 31, 2016
I like to ride my bike on some of the local backroads but there are a few that can be downright scary. They’re only two lanes wide (one going each direction) with sharp curves and posted warning signs stating “Shoulder Drop Off.” That means if I lose concentration and am too far to the left, drivers are going to be irritated and let their thoughts be known. And if I’m too far to the right, I’ll crash –and no doubt I’ll have at least some minor injuries. The dangerous parts of these roads are only a few hundred yards long –so most of the time, it’s only for a few minutes.
Riding is a good time for reflecting –though not at those parts of the roads. I’ve found that whenever I look at something other than where I need to travel, my bike heads in that direction. It’s a natural phenomenon. If I look at a car that’s passing me, I drift toward the middle of the road. And if I look off into a field (or other distraction) on the right, I drift toward the shoulder. And in these spots that could be disastrous.
Well it reminds me of that Hebrews chapter twelve verse that says “keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.” It’s an encouragement to the Hebrews to take them away from a life of religious traditions –head to Him for their salvation.
There’s also an old love song with lyrics ”. . .keep your mind on your drivin’, keep your hands on the wheel, keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead. . .” (It’s called “Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat” by Paul Evans.)
The message is clear to me. When I’m looking at something I’ll end up there. I’m sure that’s what Paul was talking about when he said “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
Aug. 05, 2016
Some progressive reasoning:
God does not judge, but already has. He has determined that this is the way it should be. And it’s all good.
But of course, we disagree.
So Jesus called the religious leaders evil. Is that because they were, in spite of any sincerity, the appointed judges of right and wrong, taking on the role of God – who, at the creation called all things good?
All things, that is, except for separation. Heavens from the earth were not declared good. And separation of man from God- that man should “be alone” - was called “not good?”
Then it all comes down to a simple question: “Who told youthat you were naked?” God asked Adam and Eve. The questionis not about the nakedness, but the “who?”
In other words, “Who judged?”
It wasn’t God.
(Completely different than the conventional thinking. And if true, this message is to good to keep quiet. ;-) )
Aug. 03, 2016
I was watching a Midsomer Murders episode last night. All of the plots are the same really. And driven by these two themes: sex and money.
Have you noticed that the Pharisees criticized Jesus for dining with tax collectors and sinners? And of the sinners, prostitutes were singled out?
Sex and money.
And aren’t sex and money above all (except, I argue, the need to be right), the most powerful tyrannies that handicap a weak flesh?
But in Luke 3, Jesus responded once (about tax collectors and prostitutes), that he came for the sick. And the Pharisees needed to understand what was meant by: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
The sick, of course are like the leper who, after being healed (a matter of faith), needed to render a sacrifice and show himself to the priests as a testimony to them. (The sacrifice wasn’t for the sake of the former leper, but for the priests.)
Had the sacrifices been understood as an accounting system as oppose to evidence of God’s unconditional mercy? I think so.
Sex and money are necessary in this world. But their tyrannies are then a sickness, like leprosy, to a weak flesh. And ALL of us are weak.
So the just shall live by the faith of the leper? Not by changing behaviors?
The kingdom of heaven is within reach of the kingdom of the world. Justice is the accounting system of this world. And the only alternative, handed to us freely by mercy and grace, is faith in the one who has personally reached out with a silver platter.
Then Elihu’s words that you texted me (thank you): “I will ascribe justice to my Maker” is another way of saying the just shall live by faith? (Profound, even the word “ascribe” is an accounting term.)
And if Jesus were to visit and hold dinner parties, his guests (in modern terms) would include Wall Street insiders and gay cruisers at the dismay of many church members.
Jun. 10, 2016
The things of God are everywhere about us. Although we attribute them to naturally evolving circumstances, He’s even impregnated them into our daily language.
When debts are cancelled, they are “crossed out.” The same is true for mistakes –so that we can ignore them.
Years ago, when literacy was infrequent, a person signed his name with an x –a cross. And when the king signed his name it too was done with an x –hence the safety in children’s games of king’s x. Covered with the king’s cross was saving grace.
Pedestrians pass through traffic in the cross-walk. It’s the zone where they are protected.
Trains pass over roads with a well known sign –the x, the railroad crossing. Don’t get in their way or you’ll get run over by the one who has authority and priority over all other traffic.
And at the end of a letter, it symbolizes the love of the author –God’s love was expressed through the cross (John 3:16).
Today’s video games allow for a warrior to be killed and come back to life. As a child (sixty years ago) we would play out war, or battle, games and when someone “was killed” a designated person could bring back life to the dead.
Various religions teach that people can return from the dead –some in miserable states. There are TV shows and movies about the living dead.
The resurrection brings new life. We see it in nature every spring –after plants die off in the winter.
Jun. 9, 2016
In Matthew chapter nine Jesus spoke about the consequences of putting a patch of new cloth on an old garment and new wine in an old skin.
He was talking about the Old and New Covenants being incompatible with each other. The former was a set of pictures or dramas that predicted His coming and what He would accomplish. The latter was the reality –the object of what those pictures portrayed.
Under the Old, righteousness (the old covering) was attained through the blood (wine) of animals (old wineskins). Putting a bit of the New Covenant on the Old –or– equating His blood to that of routine animal sacrifices– ruins both the prediction and the fulfillment of His coming.
Religion tries to mix those two by requiring people to attempt to do the works of the Law –the things that only Jesus could do, and did complete. And it leaves a person in doubt about his salvation and his value to God.
Apr. 19, 2016
The following is my response to a recent email asking: “Have I sinned by encouraging my family to take communion if they aren’t members of the church?”
Unfortunately what the church has declared as sins and what God has said about them have become two very different things. It shouldn’t be that way since the church is supposed to be His ambassador here on earth.
His purpose is to show everyone that they need to realize that no one is worthy of eternal life. There is only one person who is between all individuals and the Father –no one that the church has chosen for whatever office. Only Jesus Christ is our go-between –our High Priest. (In the gospel of Matthew, He says to call no one else father –and He meant it literally.)
His message in the sermon on the mount proves that all are eternally dead and need of the life that He offers. Jesus has said things like “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
He explained that a person must receive this new life as though it was re-birth –a very strange saying and yet He meant everything He said. It’s a way of expressing our relationship to God as being like a woman to her husband. (The apostle Paul talked about that in Ephesians chapter five.)
Just as the Holy Spirit hovered over Mary and impregnated her to bring new life, He has planted the seed of God in each one of us. Matthew’s gospel chapter 13 describes four kinds of soil –referring to four kinds of human heart. There’s the one that gets all excited about Jesus but doesn’t allow Him to take root within us. There’s the one that has so many problems of daily life that doesn’t accept the possibility of such good news. There’s the one that believes liars and they steal it away. But then there’s the one that believes Jesus is who He says He is and becomes a brand new person.
The purpose of His giving us the Ten Commandments and all the other laws as well as a conscience is to show that we are all dead and need to become like new-born babes. Then He begins to show us something amazing.
Our natural bodies with our natural ways can never get better. But He puts His Holy Spirit into us so that we can get to know God –to trust Him more with each circumstance in life. In fact those circumstances are in our paths for that very reason.
Wives and husbands grow closer as the experience things in this life –but mostly when they face problems together. When we allow His seed to grow in us and become that new creation, we are His bride and we grow closer to Him as we depend more on Him.
The church has led you this far in your relationship with God. It has shown you your need for Him. Like children who go through school and graduate into adult life, sometimes we need to let God take over and let go of the old comfortable ways.
God says that only the death of His Son can pay for sins. That was all done at the cross. There are no barriers between man and God anymore. All sin was forgiven for all men. That means that nothing and no one can hold us back from a one on one relationship with Him. There is no more penance to be paid because only His blood was sufficient to pay for sin. And He will not come back and die again.
I know people have twisted these sayings in the Bible to appear to mean something else, but He means them just as they are spoken. He gave us our religion to teach us about Himself. But He really wants us to personally know Him just as a wife knows her husband –in a very close and dependent way.
Ask Him to explain Himself to you and then as each day unfolds, ask Him again how the events you’ve experienced are bringing you closer to Him. By the way, asking Him means letting Him answer –and without your own expectations of what He is doing. Everything He is doing, regardless of what you might think is good or bad, is Him shaping you into the perfect person. He is the One who has declared it to be truly good.
Maybe you think I didn’t answer your basic question so after digesting all the above, and hopefully re-reading it, you’ll see that there is no sin in taking the sacraments. From God’s viewpoint they are to teach us about His love for us to draw us to Him –never to push us away. No man is qualified to separate us from Him. His Spirit leads us toward Him with His love.
Feb. 19, 2016
Some closing words from the movie “Transcendence” are:
“He created this garden for the same reason he did everything—that they could be together.” So there is still the promise of hope because of Will.”
The Holy Spirit immediately reminded me of a Biblical parallel of the why God made the Garden, how He loses man and creation, how He dies for man and how He restores man completely to the Garden again through a tree called the cross.
The last book closes as the first book began with two trees and a river. The tree of “the knowledge of good and evil” has been replaced by a tree of life. Now both trees are the tree of life and the river between them emanates from the throne. God loved us so much that He made the most beautiful place imaginable for us and wanted to dwell with us forever. He gave us free will knowing the cost and He is repairing the damage we did. He is God and he will restore all things back to himself. Relish this beautiful picture of what has been done for you. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could see Him, the way He is?
Just wonder though about the people outside the city in the beautiful passage in Chapter 22. That part is very sad.
Jan. 15, 2016
I noted in the section below about Genesis chapter one, that my expression for the Bible’s theme has recently become “compassion, separation and reunion.” It’s a shortened version of “God’s compassion for humanity, our separating ourselves from Him, and His efforts to unite us with Himself.”
So Ted writes:
Then, what if the world is just a necessary separation? A creation formed of division with light/dark, water/earth, earth/vegetation, etc. And the union is its creator?
Being a painter, for instance, I begin with a blank canvas. Mine is white. But it’s formless and void, so, I add darkness, dividing ranges of value (dark to light) to create form. Then I add color to break it up even more. (If I was a sculptor, I would also have dimension to work with. If a robotics engineer, I would have animation.)
It’s all about organizing opposites: To paint something red, for instance, I will start out with its compliment (opposite), green - otherwise the reds would be flat and lifeless. It might look like chaos at first because I need to divide in order to bring together. But not to worry, all things will work together for good when I’m done.
Jan. 11, 2016
God made our flesh (our natural body, soul and spirit) to be autonomous. It makes decisions for the soul as though it was God. It’s the judge who has displace The Judge and (in our minds) sits on His throne. However, a question has been planted within each of us. “If I’m not God, then who is?” God has answered it by saying “I AM.” That’s my premise. Below are some of Ted’s thoughts (extracted from lots of e-mail exchanges).
Jan. 5, 2016
I call the flesh a pawn. It only obeys its master. And it has been given only one master. Us.
Choices are one thing in light of God’s Spirit. But our judgment gives license to the flesh and is embedded in it. Where the break is, I can’t define except to say that the Spirit works in us by faith alone.
The flesh is unimportant. It counts for nothing.
Jan. 6, 2016
I used to battle thinking my enemy was the flesh. But this isn’t a battle –unless I pick up the battle sword of judgment. I have been crucified with Christ means judgment has been fulfilled in him and satisfied for me. This is a walk of faith.
Jan. 7, 2016
As Jesus pointed out in Matthew 5-7, all of this runs deeper than murder and adultery.
And the problem is, I have taken the judgment of good and evil upon myself. Seems innocent enough. And being that I’m taking responsibility, it’s even noble. What else is there? What else should there be?
Makes God’s question of “who?” to Adam and Eve so perfect. Not “why?” or “what?” or “how?”, which all would have validated their judgment (or reasoning), but “who?”
Would they have thought of this had he not asked? Would we think of this had we not had our judgment put to the test by his wrath?
Like you said, the unspoken question of the ages, “who is God?” And there’s only one answer.
Jan. 11, 2016
Then in the sermon, Jesus WOULD ask the question, not “who?” but “why?” concerning worry (which comes from taking on this responsibility of judgment).
It happens to be over the first two things of concern to Adam and Eve: food (that fruit) and clothing (their nakedness).
And he reasons according to the world with “Why?” Like asking “It’s been a while, now… how’s that working for you?”
Dec. 8, 2015
In this Christmas season, it gives me pause that Jesus is the Lamb.
And we are the sheep.
Although “sheep” may be a mix of lambs, ewes and rams, Jesus is a lamb, not a ram. Humility and innocence? Ease of relationship? Those qualities appeal to the world’s point of view.
How about God’s point of view?
Spiritually mature at birth, While Jesus grew physically, he was spiritually complete at birth, and his life was one of spiritual revelation, not developmental growth.
So now we must be born a second time and become like children ourselves - not mighty warriors. Counter-intuitive. But we’re also complete. And as we received him, so we walk - babes in our awareness, but with a trust relationship with our Father that leads to revelation.
Dec. 7, 2015
Revelation 21:23 - ." . . the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
This is the point: that everything - even the sun - is complete in the Lamb.
So with my achievements, satisfactions, righteousness, etc. having been fulfilled in Christ already, it becomes no moral disappointment to fail in this worldly picture of him. Failure instead becomes only one more step in the discovery of all that there is - and as a consequence, in the discovery of all that God is.
The resolution to God’s warning in my favorite verse about Cain after his failure, “If you do well. . .” (Genesis 4:6)
Nov. 30, 2015
Maybe it was hearing all those sermons demanding my obedience to the law –and then being elated to find an acceptable excuse for not being able to keep it– that formed my misunderstanding of the word flesh. (Some translations use the phrase sin-nature.)
Paul takes most of Romans chapter seven to describe its effects. “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:14-15)
Based on his realization –and those words echoing my situation– I concluded that the flesh must be the disobedient part of us.
But no, that’s just another partial description of its effects. . .
That word flesh describes our natural being –the physical body and the soul. It was created to operate autonomously (i.e., independently, without needing intervention). It has a full set of natural motivations for daily life. It governs what we do –and don’t do; what we eat –and abstain from; who we associate with –and avoid; what we accomplish –and put off until later. It forms our habits, ambitions, hobbies and careers.
It’s this flesh that Adam was talking about when he said “she is flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:20-24). He was pleased to have Eve –someone to share all of himself –to participate in every part of his life.
Then comes the question, “Obviously, God created us with a flesh. So why does it get seem to get berated, especially in Paul’s letters?” Here’s the one from Romans, in context.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
Paul didn’t say that the problem was his flesh –it’s neither good nor bad. He said it’s the sin that dwells within the flesh.
Being the autonomous creatures that we are, we make evaluations based on our flesh (experiences, desires, etc.). I’m not talking about turning left or right at an intersection; but rather the judging of people and circumstances as being good or evil.
The prime example is Eve. She and Adam were kind of like gods. They could do what they liked –and they had a kingdom over which they reigned. It was when she decided to become the judge over good and evil that her independence turned into separation from God (death).
Paul referred to himself as being trapped in a “body of death.” He was convicted when he realized that his desires were actually in opposition to God’s. He had been conducting his ministry with zeal –proclaiming what was good and persecuting what was evil– but independently from the One that he claimed to represent.
He really wanted to obey God’s commands –yet a dependence upon God was what he needed. It’s the next short passage of Romans that Paul states the resolution.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1-8)
However grand the first few verses are –stating that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ– the rest of this passage still seems to establish a case against us just because we have what God gave us.
Jesus has fully paid for what we’ve done apart from God –there is no condemnation for us. We were autonomous, independent, separate from God. It was an emptiness that drove us to try to be Him. But He filled that emptiness with His Holy Spirit. Now we are connected directly –joined permanently– with Him.
Unlike his old ministry, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 that God has appointed us to be His ambassadors of reconciliation –telling the world that He is not counting men’s sins against them. Life and death are what matter –and we are to point them to Him so they may gain His gift of life through His Son.
Nov. 26, 2015
The Old Covenant was given to the Jews to present the gospel to the world through pictures. (The word types –as in types of Christ– tends to minimize the importance so I like to say pictures.)
They explained Jesus and His purpose –through the Passover, the Day of Atonement, the tabernacle (and temple), the Levitical Priesthood, the exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan, the promises (especially the land), the Patriarchs, the battles won and lost, the good and bad kings and priests, the prophets, the feasts and the traditions.
The Law that God gave to Moses told them exactly how to demonstrate and perpetuate their gospel so that the message about the Messiah would remain accurate. If they changed the male lamb to a female (for the Passover) then John the Baptist would have been looking for a woman to fulfill the Law –and missed Jesus’ arrival. And the tradition of inheritance through the son wouldn’t convey our being joint-heirs of eternal life with Jesus.
Those aren’t the only pictures we have of Him though. He put them in the entire creation. There’s life after death –the concept of being born-again. That’s a desire for physical life to somehow continue on –it was built into us so that we would seek God for life. We find the picture repeated in a forest fire which destroys the body and sprouts new life from seeds.
There’s the picture of life being complete when a man and woman are joined together in marriage. Its fulfillment is in the marriage feast of the Lamb –we are the bride and He is the groom. We see that picture everywhere with the joining of a male and a female –they’re designed to fit together. It’s throughout His creation –from water running downhill to its designated path, to the way air fills a vacuum. He put those same concepts of designing things within us and we make plugs to fit outlets, doors to fit in their frames, tools to fit in hands. We even use the term in putting things together “marrying them.”
There’s the picture of colors –they evoke emotions. Red stirs discontent and blue brings calm. Facing life’s problems can bring about embarrassment, fear, anger, rage –all make the face turn red –or end in death, the color of flowing blood. Looking up to the blue sky brings a soothing calm (it’s also the color of death when blood is no longer circulating). Mix them together and you have purple –the color of royalty with the ultimate Royal being the One who wore a purple robe before His death.
Another picture is justice –good triumphing over evil. It’s presented everywhere in our world because it came when Eve (and we are all like her) ate the fruit from the tree of death. She –and we– have usurped God as the Judge over what’s right, acceptable, good –and what’s wrong, despicable and bad. As a picture, justice is intended to convey wanting eternal life with God to win out over eternity spent apart from Him. He’s repeated the picture in the physical with light and dark, hot and cold, moving and still, together and alone.
Back to the importance of pictures. . .
Although we really, really like the pictures, they aren’t the reality. And correcting them is certainly not what needs our efforts. We can’t feed every starving child, save the mistreated animals, change the climate, correct the definition of when life begins, what marriage is, or who’s right in the many social ills. Those problems will go on until He comes back. The only problem that’s common to us all is death.
And that’s the one that the reality –Jesus– came to resolve. He’s the One who came to live among us so that we might better know God and His ways. He’s the One who died to make us perfect in His sight. He’s the One who rose again so that we can live eternally with Him. He’s the loving, doting Groom who accepts us as we are. He’s the One who set us apart for conveying His message to the world. He has reconciled us to Himself. He is not counting our sins against us. He has made us righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
The pictures all intentionally lead us to Him –to seek Him for life, righteousness, fulfillment, peace.
My bottom line is let’s not worship the pictures with life’s energy –rather let’s offer our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice so that He cans use us as He pleases (Romans 12:1-2).
Nov. 23, 2015
This one is now complete. It’s in the foreshadows section at A Leper Healed.
Nov. 4, 2015
My expression for the Bible’s theme has recently become “compassion, separation and reunion.” It’s a shortened version of “God’s compassion for humanity, our separating ourselves from Him, and His efforts to reunite us with Himself.” I hope your interest will be piqued with this very first case and you will begin finding them throughout the Scriptures.
Over the years I’ve found that God has filled the Bible with word pictures to tell us about Himself –like the various depictions of Jesus via the arks (Noah’s, Moses’ and that of the covenant). But there are many, many more that are tucked away in familiar passages –and even more lying in the mundane passages.
No doubt you’ve read the first few verses of the Bible zillions of times. . .
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
Time for a quiz.
Question #1: Consider the Bible-theme that I presented above (“compassion, separation and reunion.”). Based on it, what do you notice about the first verse?
Answer: It’s the first mention of separation –the heavens and the earth were created as separate entities. Heaven is where God is –and earth is where we are. (If you’re curious about heavens being plural, let me explain. The first heaven is the sky, the second is space and the third is spiritual. Likewise the depths are the bottom of a pit, the sea and Hades.)
Question #2: What’s not stated in verse two?
Answer: Let me begin by summarizing what is stated. The earth had problems. It was formless, empty, dark. Sure the earth is a description of our planet, but it’s also about humanity. We’re born into this world without purpose, without a lasting identity, without eternal life. We’re covered over with troubles, tears, death.
What isn’t stated is that heaven doesn’t have any troubles. It’s because that’s where God is. He has everything that we need –especially life.
Continuing with my newly derived theme –”compassion, separation and reunion”– I pointed out its first example of separation. But right there in this same passage is a wonderful picture of His compassion. The Holy Spirit is hovering over like a mother hen over her chicks. He’s waiting for us to accept His gift of salvation –our new birth.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5)
The rest of the chapter begins a story of reunion. Light (Jesus) enters the dark world to show us the way to Himself. The separation of the waters tells about His death on the cross. And the dry ground coming out of the water pictures His resurrection. Those first three days speak of what He went through to reunite us –He, the bridegroom –we, the bride of the King, the risen Lamb.
Nov. 4, 2015
What about the river that flowed out of Eden, watered the garden, and split to become four other rivers?
Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:10-14)
The river is noted again in chapter 19 of Revelation.
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)
Here are the meanings from Strong’s Thesaurus for some of the words with meanings that go deeper than what is stated in Genesis.
|Eden||Delicate, delight, pleasure|
|Garden||A fenced, protected area|
|Havilah||To writhe in pain|
|Bdellium||Cause to divide|
|Gihon||To burst forth from labor|
|Cush||Son of Ham, son of (and cursed by) Noah|
|Assyria||Second son of Shem (Asshur)|
The story in Genesis seems to culminate in Revelation (maybe a reversal). It refers to the healing of the nations.
The tree of life is on both sides of the river. Maybe it is the source of the river. Maybe the tree of life on the one side is the throne of the Father –that was His goal since the beginning. And the tree of death –that later became the tree of life is the throne of the Son –what He did to bring it all to fulfillment. . .
Oct. 30, 2015
There’s that thing that Eve said in verse 3 –supposedly quoting God– that’s never resolved for me:
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:2-3)
Some say that this was added by Adam when he related it to her after God told him the rules. But that can’t be. She and he were in the same physical body when God spoke to them so they both heard the same words.
She merely referred to the tree as being in the middle of the garden. She didn’t call it the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I think the words “you must not touch it” were her words for part of the name of the tree: “the knowledge of.”
And there’s the passage in Colossians 2:
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23)
They both (Genesis 3 and Colossians 2) are about familiarity. This view certainly resolves the “added words” for me. . .
Then in verse 15 God is talking to the serpent (Satan) saying “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
We’ve heard and accept the link between her offspring and Jesus –striking the heel and crushing the head. But there were two other things that stuck out.
Some say that his offspring were the demons; but they would be the “children of the Devil” in John 8:44, Ephesians 2:2 and 1 John 3:10 –those who refuse Him.
Another curious thing is that God only put enmity between the Serpent and Eve (mankind) – not Adam (Jesus). . .
Updated Nov, 9, 2015
Yea! This article is finally finished and moved to its home in the Meditations section: Satan’s Purpose.
Have you wondered what how far Satan can go in affecting us –and what purpose he serves?
Most of what we know about him comes from his descriptive names –and from his notorious deeds. Some of his names are: the father of lies, the accuser, the deceiver, the adversary, the evil one, the enemy, the devil and the tempter. His most noted deeds are: asking Eve if God really meant that she would die after eating the fruit; tempting Jesus three times –in body, soul and spirit; and bringing havoc into Job’s life.
However, it’s this last item –his interactions with Job– that’s most revealing about his dealings with us.
Read the whole article, Satan’s Purpose.
Oct. 28, 2015
The parallel between Adam and God is profound. He had the perfect environment –Eden just as God had heaven. Adam was created like God in image –body, and in likeness –soul. But then all of the animals had that much. To complete Adam, God breathed spiritual life into him –something the animals didn’t have.
Yet Adam wanted someone like himself. None of the created beings matched his needs –none were like him. The same might be said about God –none were like Him.
God did say “let Us (the Trinity) make man in our image and in our likeness.” So there must be much to find out about Him through His description of man.
In order to make a being like Adam –in body, soul and spirit– God tore off a piece of him. Presumptively, I think that God tore off a piece of Himself to make mankind.
Keep in mind that the account of God and mankind is clearly recorded for us all to read. That implies that He wants us to know more about Himself.