I recently had a friend visit from Colorado, and we decided to attempt to go through Hosea while she stayed here. These are the sessions… the Hosea files.
I recently made a video that traces the communion table from Genesis through Revelation, expressing the common theme behind it. It also looks at the table of demons, which instead of feasting upon Christ we feast upon our brethren. If you’re interested, check out the video, and here are the notes that go along with it:
Malachi 1:7, Ezekiel 41:22, 44:16
-Here in the prophets the altar is called “The table of hte LORD”.
-Here God calls the offerings “the food of God”
+This idea of food being provided by God comes up over and over again throughout the Bible.
-God gave every herb and tree for food – specifically anything bearing seed.
+There is an eternal provision, just like we previously learned of the eternal tabernacle. This “food” here is again made very apparent in other key places.
-If the altar = Table of the Lord and food of God, let us consider the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture.
-Cain brought from the cursed ground, by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17)
-Abel brought of the flock, which God had multiplied and blessed
+Abel brought from rest. It is in the wisdom and eternal pattern of God to bring a firstborn yearling lamb, for “God will provide tha lamb”, and even the meekness portrays God’s character.
Ezekiel 34:1-10, Micah 3:1-3, Zechariah 11:15-17, Jeremiah 10:25, Psalm 14:4
-Over and over again there are these people working by their own toil, according to their own knowledge. Just like with Cain, the result is to slay their brethren.
+God provided good food, and said to eat of every tree, but this one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – do not eat. Don’t take in the food of your own toil and knowledge, leaving rest as you do so. There is no seed in that – only death.
Leviticus 6:26, Deuteronomy 18:2-3, Numbers 18:11-12
-The sacrifice was not intended to be “feeding God”, but rather as the allotment for the priests and Levites. In offering the sacrifice, you feed your brethren and give them provision.
+Malachi 1:7-14 – In bringing bad sacrifices, the people aren’t providing for their brethren. In this, they again show the mindset of the bad shepherds who feast themselves, while others go hungry.
-1 Corinthians 11:21-22 – Paul rebukes Corinth for this very thing.
Jacob and Esau
-Esau despised his birthright, even the blessing of all nation, and sold it for lentils.
-Jacob, perceiving the provision for many nations, inherited the birthright and blessing, while Esau sought it with many tears.
+Just like Cain, the response to his brother’s righteousness was murder (1 John 3:10-12)
Joseph and his brothers
-God gives Joseph dreams, which he then shares. There is a certain favor upon Joseph from his father.
+Just like God favored Abel’s offering, bringing what God blessed.
-Joseph’s brothers despised their brother because of his dreams and favor, and just like Cain they desired to kill their brother.
David and Eliab
-David brings bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders, so they might look with favor upon the sons of Jesse.
+Just like the sacrifice is provision for priests and Levites
-Eliab, David’s oldest brother, shows hostility and accusation against David, even after witnessing him be chosen of God, and anointed, filled with the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:14-22
-The context before this is Israel being fed and provided for in the wilderness, and yet they served idols, committed sexual immorality, and tested God.
+Though they ate of the bread and cup, they showed in their actions which table they feast from.
-Manna from heaven was given – the bread of life
+Jesus is the bread from heaven (John 6)
-Drank from the spiritual rock
+1 Corinthians 10:4 – Jesus was the rock, water representing His blood (Jn 19:34, 1 Cor 10:16)
-In all these things, they partook of Christ as we. For them it was a tqable prepared in the wilderness (Ps 78:19-20), sacrifices offered upon an altar. For us, we see Jesus our high priest (Heb 3:1) offering Himself upon the heavenly altar (Heb 9:24).
-Do we not partake of one bread? Are we not that broken Body, divided of Jew and Gentile? Yet, we are divided, some feasting from the communion God provides, laying our lives down as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), an offering of the Gentiles made holy by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16). Others take of the table of demons, despising their brethren, and biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:15), whether their brethren be Jews or Christians.
+You cannot eat of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. They who minister at an altar with sacrifices have no right to eat of the table we eat upon (Heb 13:10). They are within a system built on the wisdom of the principalities and powers. Though they minister at “God’s House”, they are not in Zion, the eternal City, whose builder and maker is God. So let us join Jesus, who suffered outside the gate, and leave the camp to find His provision in the wilderness.
Table in the Wilderness
-There are many end time passages that speak of God preparing a table in the wilderness. These are passages that hint at an end time “exodus”.
+Hosea 2:14-15, Amos 9:8-10, Micah 7:13-15, Revelation 12:6, 14
+”They should nourish/feed for her…”
+Psalm 102:13-14, Luke 12:42, Matthew 24:45
Matthew 25:31-46 – The Least of These My Brethren
-They are judged uppon how they treat Jesus’ brethren.
+To not act is to act. It is to repeat the sins of the wicked leaders/shepherds who save themselves at the expense of God’s flock. It is feasting upon the people of God for your own nourishment, rather than nourishing them. This shows your identification with the table of demons, for who else comes to steal, kill, and destroy?
Generation After Josiah (Parts of this section are not in the video)
-Daniel and his companions refused to eat of the defiled meat. Where did they gain the wisdom it was defiled? In eating from the Table of the Lord, they were granted wisdom and discernment.
+1 Corinthians 10:21, 1 Corinthians 6:12 – Everything is permissible, so why can’t we eat from this table? It is even more repulsive than not being beneficial. It is defiled.
-Who can bring them meat in due season? (Mat 24:45, Luke 12:42)
+Luke 15:29-30 – The youngest son in the parable of the prodigal is accused of “devouring your livelihood with harlots”. Yet, the “faithful and wise servant” in the parable brought the fatted calf for this son. He has passed from death unto life, and therefore again eats from the proper table.
+Matthew 24:45-51 – At the end of the age we will either feed others nourishment, or we will beat our fellow servants. There is no in between.
-Matthew 25:31-46 – “What did you do to the least of these my brethren?”
-Parable of prodigal, the eldest son complains because he isn’t given even a young goat. “Where’s my meat?”
+Exodus 16:2-3, “Oh that we died in Egypt, when we had meat to eat and we ate bread to the full…”
-Psalm 78:19-20, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
+The eldest son complains that the younger brother “devoured with harlots”. Jerusalem/Israel is often called a harlot in the prophets.
Revelation 17 – Babylon
-Revelation 17:15-18 – The description of the judgement upon this harlot fits many Old Testament prophecies concerning Jerusalem.
+Ezekiel 16:23, 37-42, Ezekiel 23:29, Jeremiah 22:20-22, 50:41-42, Hosea 2 describing Israel as a harlot
-They who call themselves God’s people, Israel, or Jerusalem go through this chastisement. However, they who are truly God’s people shall come out refined, purified, and made white (Daniel 11:35).
Revelation 12:6 – “They provide for her…”
-The woman is Israel, fleeing in the wilderness.
+Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
+Who is the faithful and wise servant to provide meat in due season?
-They who are like Abel, but the Cain people/false shepherds feast upon Israel, beat their fellow servants, and despise their own inheritance/roots.
-The Abel people bring an “offering” to God to provide for thise woman. 1 John 1:9, Revelation 7:14, Daniel 11:33-35, Romans 15:16 (12:1)
-Revelation 17:6 – Cain (Daniel 11:32, Isa 25:18)
-Who is that wise and faithful servant who shall prepare the way, being an ambassador of that City, building the highway of holiness, so that they may say, “This isthe way, walk ye in it”?
-Psalm 102 – The Set Time to Favor Zion
+The psalm opens up to imagery of horrendous persecution. It describes an Israel in Holocaust-like scenario.
+Verses 12-14 then speak of a time that has come, a set time, where God now has mercy upon Israel. This set time to favor Zion is contingent upon one thing: God’s servants cherish Zion’s stones, and show favor to her dust.
-These servants cannot be a part of the persecuted and judged Israel, for they are bearing the mercy of God. They must then be something distinct, and yet still in God’s Household to be called “servants”.
-What does it mean to cherish her stones and show favor to her dust?
+Luke 12:42 – Who is that wise and faithful steward, whom is master will make ruler over his avadim, to give them their okhel (food)?
-For thy avadim cherish her stones…
-Psalm 145:15 – For the servants to give food in due season is for God to give food in due season (Ezekiel 22:33-35 – I will plead)
-Genesis 42:10 – Joseph provided food for his brothers without cost (Gen 42:25-26, Isa 55:1, Rev 22:17)
Cities of Refuge
-Revelation 12:6 – A place prepared in the wilderness, for refuge
+Numbers 35:6, 1 Timothy 2:2
-We don’t wait until “one day” to be this, for the saints have always lived like this in their own generations.
+Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household (Heb 11:7)
+Shem expressed something of God in the covering of his father’s nakedness, and therfore received the greatest blessing (Gen 9)
+Abraham believed God, and in leaving nation, family, and father’s house he became God’s nation to bless all nations.
+Melchizedek brought unto Abram bread and wine (Gen 14:18)
+Abraham slaughters the fatted calf and bakes 70 pounds of bread for three strangers (Gen 18)
+Lot takes in the two strangers and protects them under the shadow of his roof (Gen 19)
+Joseph was used to provide food to his brethren and to all nations
+The sacrifices provided for the priests and Levites
+David brought bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders
+Ziba, the servant of Saul, brought David’s men cakes and wine to feed the faint (2 Sam 16:1-4)
+Nabal denied David’s men food, but Abigail provided lavishly (1 Sam 25)
+The widow offered two mites, all that she had, and was honored above everyone else’s offering
+Jesus tells His disciples to feed the people, even in such a solitary place (Mark 8)
+The Shunamite woman provided for Elisha a room he could always call home
-As God’s people, we are called to be that solace in the wilderness in our own generation, If we won’t do it now, then we simply never will. All these died having not received the promise. Why do we think we shall receive with much less effort, and with much less willingness?
Hebrews 13:10-16 as benediction
These are notes that I used in a video with the same title.
The Bible cannot be about “salvation history”, as if all of the Bible describes only the means to redemption. God created in the beginning, and that creation was “good”. The degree to which creation was not fallen is the degree to which the Bible expresses something larger than salvation history alone.
Our Bible/Gospel doesn’t begin with Genesis 3 and end @ the cross
This verse expounds to us God’s purposes are larger than “salvation history” to envelop even the creation itself.
To the degree Genesis 1:1 is about a physical heaven and earth, this is also about a physical new heaven and new earth (resurrected)
1 Heaven and earth, light
2 Atmosphere and oceans (sea)
3 Land and vegetation
4 Sun, moon, and stars – separate light and dark as rulers
5 Birds and fish
6 Animals, reptiles/amphibians, humans
What God created on the first three days, He also made distinction and separation. What God created on the next set of three days, He used to fill what He made on the first three.
Genesis 2 – Revelation 21-22 comparison
2 trees (Gen 2:9) – 2 trees of life (Rev 22:2)
River (Gen 2:10) – River (Rev 22:1-2)
Beauty (Gen 2:11-14) – Beauty (Reve 21:10-21)
Purpose (Gen 2:15) – Purpose (Rev 22:5)
Marriage (Gen 2:18, 21-24) – Marriage (Rev 21:2, 9)
No shame (Gen 2:25) – No curse/shame (Rev 21:4, 22:3)
Sea (Gen 1:6-8) – No sea (Rev 21:1)
Darkness (Gen 1:2-5) – No darkness (Rev 21:23-24, 22:5)
God’s presence (Gen 3:8, 10) – God’s throne (Rev 21:22, 22:3)
The question is: How do we go from the Garden to the City? This gets at the heart of God’s purposes, the theme of the Bible, and eschatology.
Most people read the New Testament as the new covenant, and assume that we must look back at the Old Testament through our New Testament filter. The Old Testament is said to be looking forward to Jesus, and the New Testament looking backward to Jesus.
Hebrews 4:1-4 seems to indicate that the rest we enter into is not a New Testament thing, but established from the Garden. The Gospel itself is said to have been preached to they who came out of Egypt as well as to us. What Gospel is it that they heard, if Jesus had not yet been crucified to take away our sins?
The reality that God’s people of every generation live from is that eternal rest.
The earthly reflects the heavenly
When we read the Old Testament, we need to understand that they were at a different part of God’s plan, but that God had still revealed to them His ultimate intention.
Garden compared to Tabernacle/Temple
Sea (Gen 1:6-8) – Water from rock (Ex 17)
River (Gen 2:10) – River (Eze 47:1)
Precious stones (Gen 2:11-12) – Breastplate of High Priest 12 stones (Ex 28:15)
Sun, moon, stars – 3 Types of light (outer, inner, Most Holy)
Stars – Menorah (see Rev 1:20-21)
Mist (Gen 2:6) – Smoke (altar of incense)
Abad and samar (Gen 2:15) are the same words used for temple service (Num 3:7-8, 1 Chron 23:32)
I know some of these are a stretch, but notice the connection. The Old Testament sacrificial priesthood was about restoring unto Eden, which we’ve also seen is parallel to Zion, the New Jerusalem.
Tabernacle compared to Sinai
Washing basin – Water from rock
Altar – Altar at base (Ex 24:4)
Menorah – Lightning/fire (Ex 19:6/19)
Smoke of Incense – Smoke (Ex 19:16)
2 Trumpets (Num 10:2) – Trumpet blast (Ex 19:16, 19)
Showbread – Manna
Ark of Covenant – God enthrones (Ex 24:11)
The Tabernacle was a traveling Sinai
Exodus 25:9, Hebrews 8:5
Moses goes up the mount and beholds the heavenly/eternal Tabernacle. That is the pattern the earthly is based off of. The entirety of the Old Testament priesthood and sacrifice is a reflection of something eternal.
Tabernacle/Temple compared to Rev 21-21
Ark of the Covenant = God’s throne (1 Sam 4:4, 2 Sam 6:2, Isa 37:16)
24 priestly families (1 Chron 24) – 24 elders (Rev 4:4)
Menorah – Seven lamps (Rev 4:5)
The Sea (1 King 7:23) – Sea of glass (Rev 4:6)
4 Cherubim (Ex 25:18, 1 King 6:23) – 4 cherubim “in the midst of throne” (Rev 4:6)
4 Levites carry Ark (Ex 25:14, 37:4-5) – 4 cherubim carry throne (Eze 1:22, 26-28)
Tablets of Testimony (Ex 32:15) – Scroll w/writing on 2 sides (Eze 2:9-10, Rev 5:1-2)
2 Altars (offering/incense) – 2 Altars (Rev 6:9, Rev 8:3-4)
Ex 19:16 compared to Rev 4:5
The tabernacle on earth reflected the tabernacle in heaven
Sinai was a manifestation of heaven on earth, and the tabernacle was a traveling Sinai. But God did not choose Sinai; He chose Zion.
God tells Abraham to offer Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah. It doesn’t specify upon mount Moriah, but in the land of Moriah.
Abraham declares God will provide the lamb
God provides a ram
Exodus 12 – Passover requires a lamb, but God requires Israel to provide their own
John 1:29 – Jesus is called the Lamb of God (Gen 22:8)
Moriah has been identified as the area around Jerusalem
Notice Gen 22:14 – Mountain of the Lord
The Mountain of the Lord almost always refers to Zion, upon which the Temple sat (2 Sam 24:18-25, 2 Chron 3:1)
Ezekiel 28:13-14 – Eden was called the Mount of God
Would God be so specific to place Eden in a specific location upon the earth, which would later be called the region of Moriah, which would even later be called Jerusalem and Zion?
This isn’t replacement theology. This is the expression that we’re a part of the eternal reality, manifested in the earthly.
You have not come unto the reflection, finding the end in itself as the Tabernacle and priesthood of Aaron, but unto the eternal thing itself.
The whole Bible is attempting to explain and portray to us how God intends on making the eternal/heavenly unified and one with the earth. Eschatology (study of the end times) is the answer to that question.
If God chose Zion, then the physical Land is still important
If God chose Israel as His people, then they still matter
If God chose Jerusalem, then that Mountain is still the place where it shall be provided (Israel’s redemption, the Kingdom, nations’ redemption, judgment and mercy, etc).
God does not change His mind. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t mean that everything must now be ethereal and spiritual. The Kingdom is always spiritual and physical at the same time, ruled from one place, with one nation as God’s elect chosen people – Gentiles always having been grafted in.
When I spend time in prayer, it is a time of silence. I sit still before God, and I wait for His words, for His heart. His heart is almost always something that I’m not even considering. I’ll be thinking upon whatever Scripture I’ve been reading/wrestling, or I’ll be considering a life circumstance, or a theological question, but this is never what God seems to be considering…
He speaks to me about things that seem absolutely out of left field for everything that I would like to hear Him say. One of those times regarded this passage of Scripture. My mind went from Exodus 1, when Pharaoh slaughters the Hebrew children, to this passage, where Herod kills the children of Bethlehem, and unto Revelation 12, when Satan desires to devour the male-child. In that same instant, I hear the words of God, “Why does he always go after the children?”
In God’s eyes, children are not ‘mere’ necessities to perpetuate the human race. They aren’t annoyances that suffocate the patience of adults. Children are the innocent. They are the ultimate representation of the needy. God’s heart for those who are unable to speak for themselves, unable to take care of themselves, unable to fend for and protect themselves, unable to bring justice, etc is so juicing with compassion that if you glimpse it you’ll burst. God loves those who are unbearable and unlovable.
We find it a nuisance to have to take care of the elderly, infants, or the sick. I confess that I say “we”, because I am not altogether different. My grandmother who is wheelchair bound, and often gets hurt because she doesn’t want to use the wheelchair, I haven’t seen in months. The heck of it is that I don’t want to go see her. Of course, it should be said that the reason is more than just that she needs someone else to take care of her. It isn’t that I’m unwilling to help. Instead, it is because of the lifestyle and mentality that she has. It is at enmity with everything that I stand for.
Even so, this is often true of those who are in need. The point remains, though. Children are often spoken of as these ‘beasts’ who throw temper tantrums and drive their parents berserk. Too often I hear parents who speak about how much their children are annoying, or worse. My wife and I have both said, to each other and to parents, “If you don’t like your kids, then why did you have them?”
The point is that in God’s eyes, children are the pristine example of those who are unable to take care of themselves. God’s heart toward the poor, the oppressed, the helpless, and those who have no voice is one of compassion. He cannot tolerate when there is injustice against those who have no ability to defend themselves. I’m not sure there is anything that makes Him more angry…
Can you feel the sadness? When you see someone who is defenseless being persecuted or mistreated, can your heart break for them? These children, not even old enough to understand what is happening, are being slaughtered.
Why does Satan always go after the children?
It is interesting to me that when we think of biblical Egypt, we often think of the place of oppression and slavery. Yet, in the previous passage, the place where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all found safety and freedom was in Egypt…
Behold Israel under Herod:
The New Egypt.
But how can this be? The City of God, the Holy City, the Place with God’s Name, where all nations shall one day come unto to find God, and to hear God, and to be atoned before God has become a place of every evil spirit and wicked practice.
Oh how the mighty have fallen! He has cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel! She was once the princess of all the nations, the very apple of God’s eye, the very place of all that is perfect and true! But now, behold, now God has made her a public spectacle, and a shame and a curse! Why, O Israel, have you gone so astray? What has the LORD ever done that makes you wayward? Did He not find you as a youth, seeing you mistreated and naked before your adversaries, only to take you in, and cleanse your wounds, and heal them fully? Has He not clothed you with splendor and honor? Why, then, O Israel, do you now seek to reject Him, and to mourn at His coming, and to slay His children in the streets, until the blood runs, and the sound of lamentation and woe is all that is heard?
You are not Israel, though you call yourself Israel! You are not Jerusalem, though you claim that title and name! You are Egypt and Sodom! You are Babylon, playing the harlot with all nations, getting drunk from the blood of the saints, killing until there is none other to kill! Which of the prophets have you not slain, O Jerusalem? And which of the righteous saints have you not murdered, O Israel? You are Cain, and his prime city Enoch, O Israel and Jerusalem.
But let us not forget:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more…”
When we turn back to Jeremiah 31, where this statement is made, we find the context to be quite interesting. In fact, with both places, I’ve often asked why it is mentioned that Rachel weeps. Why not Leah? Why Rachel? The previous verses were just expressing how those who survive the sword shall find grace in the wilderness (verse 2), and how God will bring redemption unto Israel, so that there will be no more weeping, but instead rejoicing. It speaks of how the young men and old together will comfort one another, and will dance, and will rejoice rather than sorrow. It speaks of how the souls of the priests will satiate with abundance, and all of God’s people Israel will be satisfied with His goodness.
And then, after all this is said, we find “a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping…” Why is there bitter tears? Why this lamentation? Why such sobs that are causing convulsions, and making it impossible to even stand? Notice the next verse in Jeremiah 31: “Thus says the LORD: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy…”
This is altogether a bizarre passage for Matthew to be quoting. It’s like when Matthew quoted Micah 5:2, to remind the readers of a time when the natural branches would be cast off for a season, but shall be grafted back in after “she who is in labor gives birth”. Interjected straight into the heart of the story, Matthew almost seems to change focus altogether in referencing Jeremiah.
Why does this segment end with this quotation? It is my opinion that we must comprehend something a bit more ethereal, which does translate into the physical. Follow me to Genesis 37:9.
“Then [Joseph] dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?'”
When did that take place? When did it happen?
You cannot tell me that it took place at the time when Jacob and his sons came into Egypt. First of all, Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him before this. Second of all, there is no mention of Jacob/Israel bowing before Joseph. Instead, they embrace and weep upon one another’s neck. Third of all, Rachel had died while giving birth to Benjamin, so this dream seems somewhat absurd to begin with.
Then, when we come to Jeremiah 31:15, why is Rachel mentioned? We can see the context is for Ephraim, so it makes sense that it is Rachel and not Leah. However, I want to ask the question of possibility. Is it possible that Jeremiah was perceiving something beyond in Joseph’s dream? We can go to Revelation 12:1, and find the woman standing upon the sun, clothed with the moon, and having twelve stars upon her head. I believe this to be Israel, connecting it back to Joseph’s dream.
Move to Judges 5:7, “Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” Deborah was called “a mother in Israel”, or “the mother of Israel”. What is this? Go to Galatians 4:26, “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Now go to Hebrews 12:22, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”
Notice this. Deborah is called the mother of Israel. Then, the “Jerusalem that is above” is called our mother. Then, we collect from Hebrews 12:24 that Zion is another name for “the Jerusalem that is above”. Go to Isaiah 49:14, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you. Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.”
Do you see how similar this passage in Isaiah is with Jeremiah 31?
I think that there is a nuance here. There is something beyond just the obvious interpretation. Rachel was to come and bow before Joseph, along with Jacob. But, Jacob never bowed, and Rachel wasn’t alive to bow. So, there waits a future fulfillment of this, even if not with the exact people. Instead, there are ‘types’ (I truly hate that word, but I have no better alternative). Rachel is patterning Zion, just like Deborah was a type of Zion, the mother of us all.
Look at Isaiah 62:4-5, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
God says that the land itself will be married at the marriage supper. This is the end of the age, when the Bride has made herself ready, and the wedding of the Lamb is at hand. We then come to Revelation 21, and the City is described, being called the Bride of the Lamb. But, why is it a City? I thought the Bride was the people…
We find the twelve foundations represent the apostles, which would represent “the Church” (I hesitate to say such a thing). Then, the twelve gates of pearl represent the twelve tribes of Israel. This is not two separate entities, or two separate “peoples of God”. This is one Body, unified by one Spirit, culminating together as one Bride of the Lamb, in one City called “New Jerusalem” and “Zion”.
What am I getting at?
There is a Jerusalem that is distressed at the coming of her King, who is ruled by men like Herod, who will slaughter children in order to destroy the threat of the true King. We find this to be the Babylon of Revelation, that the Antichrist finds his rule and epicenter in Jerusalem (see Revelation 11). Somehow, there is a Jerusalem that is ruled by the principalities and powers, a Jerusalem that looks more like Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon, where the Lord was crucified. But there is another Jerusalem, the eternal City, the heavenly City, the City whose builder and maker is God. That Jerusalem, which is above, is our true dwelling, and it is the true Jerusalem of God. But that heavenly dwelling is not the fullness, for the earthly Jerusalem is the physical counterpart. Just like the soul has the physical body as its counterpart, so too does the true inheritance of God have the physical land of Canaan, the true Holy City have the physical Jerusalem, the true heavenly Temple have the physical tabernacle and temple, and etc.
Rachel is weeping, even from beyond the grave, because Rachel is not simply a character in the Bible. She is an eternal reality, just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead, but living. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Therefore, Rachel weeps, for her children are no more. They who are defenseless, who are the people of God, who are the eternal people, who are the very representation of the heaven upon the earth are being slaughtered.
Rachel weeps. Can you hear it?
Within this passage is a mandate to all. First, let me explain a bit of what it meant to be within the first century Church. Second, we’ll look at the passage directly. Third, we’ll ask the question of how we get there.
Within Acts 2:42-47, we read that they who were added to the Church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, having all things in common, selling their possessions and distributing as anyone had need, and spending time together daily, whether in the temple, going from house to house, or or otherwise. It was completely natural. You didn’t have to tell anyone to sell their possessions; they did it naturally. You didn’t have to tell people to live in obedience to the apostles’ teaching; they did that naturally. It was the logic of the salvation and outpouring of the Spirit that caused them to come together daily, and not merely weekly.
It is within this context, spending day after day with the other believers throughout your city, that we have a definition of Church. The Greek word (ekklesia) actually comes from the Hebrew Kahal, neither having any kind of religious connotation. It simply means an assembly, or a group of people who have gathered together. The sunagoge (synagogue) was where they met. Once again, there was absolutely nothing religiously affiliated with that word in the first century. Herod called the scholars together, and that gathering was called a sunagoge (Matt 2:4). In Hebrews 10:25, the “gathering together” is sunagoge. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, the place where Jesus gathers His Church is called an epi-sunagoge.
From this context, let us ask again what “Church” is. Within that first century manifestation, the Church was simply the people of God. For this reason, we find that Paul writes to whole cities, and not congregations within those cities. They met together daily, and anyone who had need was provided for. How did they have so much money? They didn’t. Everyone lived within their means, living a peaceful and quiet life. They didn’t spend their money on large homes, fancy clothing, or “things”. Rather, they spent their money on one another, putting it to a greater use than themselves.
This all came down to the eschatological dimension. The end times were not something far away and outside, but were a dynamic that was lived out in daily life. There was an expectation of imminent judgment upon the House of Israel, and a knowing that the righteous should be preserved. There was a knowledge that God was progressing His people forward in an ultimate drama, and therefore every day was another chance to grow and develop, progressing with God toward that ultimate climax of the age.
When we come to Galatians 6:6, we find Paul telling the people to give to they who teach. For you who are being taught, and who are finding much growth spiritually through a certain teacher, you should do what you can to provide for their needs. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul uses the idea of sowing and reaping in a similar context. But, notice that Paul doesn’t remain with providing for they who teach, but the conclusion in verse 10 is to do good to all. Given the context, it must be that Paul is speaking about physical need, and giving to those who have need.
Why is this stressed?
It is the logic of our salvation, the logic of love, to provide for one another. Simply living what we’ve received demands that we would take care of one another. And how do we even get back to such a thing? In our day and age, especially here in the West, we are enshrouded with debt, with expenses, and with financial trouble. How do we get free of this? Let me be clear: Dave Ramsey might speak about getting free from debt, but he doesn’t give the biblical answer.
From the New Testament text, it seems that the way that we get free from debt is selling everything. You have your house paid off? Invite they who don’t have their homes paid off in, and allow them to live with you until they have the necessary provision to buy a home without debt. Are you still paying on your car? Sell it and get something much less exotic. Are you struggling to pay your bills? Get rid of the cable, the Internet, the cigarettes, the Netflix, and anything else that is unnecessary, and ultimately is a waste of life and time. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Sell your possessions, give to the poor, THEN come and follow me.” How many of us would also go away saddened, and not follow Jesus?
You want freedom? How much? You want the first century reality in your midst? How much? Are you willing to buy your brother or sister a new roof on their house because they need it? Are you willing to ding-dong ditch some groceries? Are you willing to purchase a car for the single mom who can’t afford to fix the minivan that she is currently driving at 250,000 miles? Are you willing to get to know the people around you well enough to know their needs, and know whether you can provide or not? It is a shameful testimony that you can have someone who can’t even afford to feed their child and someone who has tens of thousands of dollars in their bank account gathering at the same building for “church”.
My wife and I live at a level that is so far in poverty that we don’t even register on the chart. Yet, we don’t have debt, we pay our bills, we have clothes, we have food, and everything is provided in its time. I confess, we often do have struggle, and we’ve gone without meat, we’ve gone without reasonable shoes, we are currently going with clothes that are worn out and falling apart, we have no computers, our apartment is so small that the living room is our bedroom, when car insurance or veterinarian bills come we get nervous, we’ve known hunger, we’ve known what it is to only afford water, we’ve known what it means to have a drafty house that chills you in the winter, we’ve known what it means to skip changing the oil in the car because you can’t afford it, we’ve known what it means to debate paying the electric bill or buying groceries, we’ve experienced the ghetto poverty even outside of the ghetto, and yet I boast in these things because His grace is sufficient.
You want to know why my words are often so powerful? You want to know why I speak so much of resurrection? It is because if my God is not real, then my wife and I will perish. Everything is cast upon God. If He doesn’t come through for us, providing us our daily bread, then we don’t eat. It’s not expedient, and it certainly isn’t comfortable, but it’s life from the dead.
So I ask again:
How much are you willing to experience the first century phenomenon?
In Exodus 5, we left off with Pharaoh tormenting the Israelites, and Moses lamenting before God. Here in chapter 6, God is beginning to respond. He affirms to Moses that He shall indeed redeem and give inheritance. In verses 2-3, God even says, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name YHWH I was not known to them.” I have heard it said, and seen it written, that this verse is often interpreted that the patriarchs didn’t know the name YHWH.
Here is my contention with that: in Genesis, they address God as “YHWH”. Even within Genesis 2, we find LORD God, YHWH Elohim, and this is only in verse 4. So, if from the very start of human history recorded in Scripture, YHWH is being used, then how can we claim that the patriarchs didn’t know this name? To claim Moses wrote these books doesn’t cut it for me. Instead, I would like to suggest something else.
Associated with the names of deity are their power and character. We have something similar today. When you give someone your word, you are putting forth your reputation and everything that people know of you on that promise. We can even think of sayings like, “smeared his name through the mud”. To smear someone’s name is to smear their reputation, their esteem, through the mud. It isn’t about making their “name” ignominious, but but rather the very person and character.
What I want to posit is that this promise to the patriarchs was based utterly upon God’s character. God promised to Adam and Eve a deliverer (Gen 3:15), He promised to Abram a son who would inherit the land of Canaan (Gen 15:4, 7, 18-21), but He didn’t show them the fulfillment of that promise. In fact, when you get to the book of Hebrews, you find the author saying, “having obtained a good testimony through faith, all these did not receive the promise”. The next verse does not say, “But you…” Instead, it says something better is presented to us, that together with us they might be made complete.
Unto the patriarchs, God has promised the inheritance of Canaan, which is seen in the Hebraic mind as being the very place where heaven and earth meet. This is the very place where God dwells – a Garden of Eden restored. But, the patriarchs didn’t receive the inheritance. Moses is being told here that God had given them the promise, but didn’t give them inheritance. Therefore, the patriarchs did not experientially know the power and glory of the name of YHWH like God will reveal to Moses and his generation. It is about God’s name, His honor, His power, and His character. It is about an experiential knowledge of that Name.
To trace this thought forward in the narrative, not just unto Sinai, but beyond Sinai, we find that God’s name is repeated throughout Scripture. For example, you have God revealing Himself through His name quite directly to the Hebrew children. They experience His power and majesty in the wilderness, and eventually in the Land itself. Joshua leads Israel to inheriting the Promise. Yet, we then find later that the psalmist declares, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’.” (Psalm 95:7-11)
Let us think this through. The psalmist is not writing about this “today” in the generation of Joshua, who was promised to inherit that rest, but rather centuries after Joshua. The psalmist is writing this while in the land. Somehow, Israel is in the land, inherited the promise, and yet there is a promised rest that if that generation, paralleled with the generation that was killed in the wilderness, will hear God’s voice, they can enter into that promised rest.
It is then the whole point for the rest of the book of Hebrews to show how it is that we haven’t come to the physical promises, but the eternal, which are not separate from the physical, but are interwoven. It is the physical promise that reflects the eternal and heavenly. We have not come unto Sinai, the physical mountain upon which God came down, but unto Zion, the New Jerusalem, which is the throne of God, revealed to us in explicit detail in Revelation 4. It is not Sinai that the prophets envisioned with theophany, in places such as Isaiah 6 or Ezekiel 1-3, but the heavenly Zion.
And so, we see the “better” inheritance that we have, not exclusively as the Church, but together with “them” who are mentioned in Hebrews 11, the saints eternal, they who are called “Israel” by most theologians. There is an connection, then, that cannot (and certainly should not) be severed. It has always been that the prophets perceive beyond the physical and tangible into the spiritual and equally tangible. That is our inheritance as the saints. And, there is an eternal “today”, that if you are willing to humble yourself, ceasing from your own works (namely, righteousness through our own efforts), we can enter into that rest, which from the beginning has been established for all who by faith will enter.
Yet, we cannot conclude that this is the fulfillment. Remember that God put His name upon the physical inheritance – not the spiritual. There must be a physical that is coupled with the spiritual. It is for this reason that we read various texts in the New Testament about the “inheritance” at the end of the age. Jesus promises that His disciples will rule over all Israel upon twelve thrones (Matthew 19:28-29). Paul speaks about we, as Gentile believers even, who shall receive an inheritance with the “redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14). He then further explains what this means in Ephesians 3:1-6, in which he makes the statement that “Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel…”
What is this “body” that is spoken of? It cannot be the Church exclusive, for that would demand a “new” body. The context of Ephesians 3:6 is that this body apparently is already in existence, and hence “same body” instead of “new body”. Don’t quote to me Ephesians 2:14-15, that Christ has made “of the two” “one new man”, and therefore the Church is new and distinct. That isn’t what Paul is saying at all, for only if you skip Ephesians 2:12 can you come to that conclusion. It is because we, even we Gentiles who were aliens and at enmity with God, have been brought near, and made to be partakers of the promise and covenants, being grafted in (to use the language of Romans 11) to the already existent House of Israel. We are not the elite, but the remnant.
Therefore, we know that we have received a spiritual inheritance, even being sealed by the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 1:13, but that isn’t the fulfillment. It is only the guarantee of the future inheritance at the end of the age, which is not ours exclusively, but unto the whole House of Israel – both the natural and the wild branches. Interestingly to this study, one of the promises to the seven churches in Revelation is that “I will write on 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 I will write on Him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)
That promise, in the context of what is written to the rest of the seven churches, cannot be understood as the New Heaven and New Earth, but at Jesus’ return. There might be legitimacy to saying that it is fulfilled to the uttermost in the New Heaven and New Earth, but don’t squash the beauty that is presented in that we rule with Christ for 1000 years. When you parallel the statements of Revelation 2-3 and Revelation 20, you find that there are certain things that are doubled.
Notice again Revelation 22:4. Here it is that having the name of God written upon our foreheads is coupled with seeing God face-to-face. There is a revealing of God intimately that cannot take place apart from the judgment that we experience during Tribulation (not judgment as in condemnation, but judgment as being within the nations who are being judged, and within Israel [the people] who are under judgment). Just as Elijah endured the judgment alongside of his fellow Israelites, and just as Joshua and Caleb had to endure forty years before being permitted to enter the land again, so too must we wait for the second coming – after seven years of Tribulation – before we shall see the fulness of our inheritance in Christ.
The blessed hope of Titus 2:13 is not rapture, as I’ve heard so many say. It is the coming of the King, and with Him the Kingdom of God. It is the redemption of Israel, and with them all the nations. It is worldwide peace. It is the obliteration of the kingdom of darkness. It is the inheritance of promise – heaven and earth becoming one. It is the climax of the covenant, the culmination of the ages, unto which we’ve been progressing since “God separated the light from the darkness”. The blessed hope is the longing of every heart, whether we know how to intuit it or not, whether we’re believers or not. It is a Kingdom that is ruled in justice, equity, and righteousness, instead of bureaucracy, greed, and patriotism. To then take that verse out of context completely, simply to hold that we’re not supposed to endure “wrath” (as if that is even what 1 Thess 5:9 means), is to cast down all hope and all eternal weight of glory that might make out suffering and affliction momentary and light.
We’re progressing to a climax. The age is crescendoing. It is our opportunity to work with God or to do our own thing. We can either play church, play Christianity, or we can be the saints in our own generation. The hope that God is giving to Moses in this passage is the very blessed hope that is to give us satisfaction and perseverance unto the end.
I find it interesting that the chapter opens to Moses and Aaron going to Pharaoh, inquiring that he let the people of Israel go three days journey into the wilderness to have a feast. What is interesting about this is that there God tells Moses that He will deliver Israel, and they shall come back to Sinai and worship the Lord there. When we read later of that journey, it takes 50 days to get there. It causes me to wonder what a three day journey into the wilderness meant.
What I find equally interesting is that Pharaoh’s response invokes the reaction that God has visited the Israelites, and that they want to harken unto His voice, lest He bring forth curses and plagues upon them. Once again, when we look at what God has said, He has decreed plagues upon Egypt – even declaring that He would take Pharaoh’s firstborn. So, I wonder where this comes from. Why are they appealing to Pharaoh in this manner?
The Pharaoh then responds by enforcing a harsher slavery upon the people. He claims that the reason these people are crying out to their God is because they are idle without anything to do. How ludicrous does this sound to you? They’re in such terrible oppression they can’t do anything but cry out to the Lord, the Lord hears their cry, and now Pharaoh thinks that they’re just lazy. It’s so obviously a mock that it’s almost humorous. Pharaoh can’t be that ignorant.
What happened to the original plan? Wasn’t the plan to go to Pharaoh and show forth the signs, and let him know that God means business? Yet, there is no mention of this, and even with the end of the chapter, you find Moses crying out to God because all that has taken place is worse bondage than before. It is precisely here that my mind questions where the steadfast Moses is that we will come to know and love later? Why is he so manipulated by the people’s jaunts and complaints, and why is he so quick to doubt what the Lord has told him?
I admit that I see this passage as having end time significance. It is a pattern. The people Israel are held in bondage by a Pharaoh that is not simply “pharaoh”. Just as I discussed last time that the political infrastructure called “Egypt” was ruled by the principalities and powers, so too do I claim that the Jerusalem that we currently see, which represents rabbinic Judaism to the uttermost, is a Jerusalem of bondage. The law, as it is so called, is an object of oppression, seizing the one who attempts to live according to it through the flesh, salvation by works.
Yet, it is to that Israel, the one in bondage, the one who doesn’t yet obey the Lord, the one who grumbles and declares, “The Lord judge between us”, that God has called “my people”. He goes to the Moses, who is the deliverer, and He tells this Moses to go unto Pharaoh. Now, here is where we have a bit of a double meaning. The deliverer is Christ Jesus, who made a public spectacle of the principalities and powers through triumphing over them by the cross. Yet, it is not to Jesus alone that this call goes, but to all who hold to the testimony of Jesus, and who obey the commands of God. Who could that be but we Christians? We are the deliverer unto Israel.
It is our mandate to go unto the pharaoh of this world, wrestling with the principalities and powers, declaring to them boldly in the authority of our God, “Let my people go!” Yet, if we don’t really believe them to be His people, then how can we make such a demand? And, if we don’t really believe that we have the authority, then how can we say such things with confidence? To this we find Moses, who questions the Lord here, as he has done time and again in the past up to this point. It is like the prophet Ezekiel who looks at the valley of dry bones, and God asks, “Can these bones live?” The prophet doesn’t say, “Yes”, but “you know, Lord”. The question demands a faith beyond the prophet, and yet it is the prophet who is told to prophesy.
Why is it that when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, anything but the peace of Jerusalem comes? Are we not praying hard enough? It isn’t understood by most that there must be hard times. It must happen that Pharaoh reacts the way he does. It is for this reason that we read in Exodus, as well as in the prophets, that Israel “scatters” (Ex 5:12). In Exodus 5, they scatter throughout Egypt. In the last days, they shall scatter through the whole world. Jesus has predicted it, that when you see the abomination of desolation that they in Judea shall flee to the mountains. Why? Because when the armies surround Jerusalem, its desolation is near.
There is a parallel happening here. The prophets used a language that suggests a last days exodus for the people Israel. They are sifted (scattered) through the wilderness of the nations, completely groping as one who walks in the darkness, while God has declared that He has prepared a place for them in that selfsame wilderness (Revelation 12:6). That preparation is His Church, for it is written, “and they shall take care of her 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6). Who is the “they” if not the church? For this reason, the result is that the dragon turns his focus upon “her other children”, who are they that hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).
The plagues of Revelation parallel the plagues of Egypt (at least some of them). It is a reiteration of this same story. In Exodus, it leads to the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and it continues unto Joshua where they inherit the land. All things in their time: first the natural, and then the spiritual – just like Adam came before the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). First it was Israel to be redeemed from the physical Egypt and into the physical land, but at the end of the age it shall be from the spiritual “Egypt” and “Pharaoh”, who are Satan and the kingdom of darkness, to come unto the spiritual “land”, which is Zion. That doesn’t discredit the actual physical land and sifting, but all the more heightens it. There is deeper spiritual significance here, and that spiritual significance doesn’t get annulled simply because Israel shall be redeemed spiritually at the end of the age. Indeed, just as the prophets have spoken, they shall be redeemed, and shall return unto the land of Israel, unto their messiah, and shall dwell with Him as His people forever.
As we saw last time, Galatians 3 is tracing the story of Abraham in Genesis 12-17. That will come in handy in Galatians 4 as well. Here at the end of Galatians 3, the point is about how we’ve been adopted in Christ Jesus. Here is where many of you were probably asking questions in my last post. I emphasized Israel and the Kingdom of God through Israel, but then the tendency that I’ve noticed from Gentile Christians is to ask, “What about me?”
Here it is, folks. This is the answer to the question “what about me”. You and I, as Gentiles, were outside of the promises and covenant with God. Yet, even the Jewish people are living in a manner contrary to that covenant (as we’ve seen in Paul’s point regarding the law). So, the question is now formed into, “How can anyone enter the Kingdom of God?”
The answer to that is adoption.
Adoption is one of the most fundamental and important words of the New Testament. In a sense, we’ve all be outsiders. We’ve all gone our own way. We’ve all been led down a path that is not God’s intention. Therefore, we’ve all received an adoption of sorts. For the Gentile, it is to be grafted in as a wild olive branch. For the Jew, it is to be grafted in as the natural branch. (This is the whole point of Romans 11, by the way.) There is a “spiritual Israel”, by which the word Israel actually defines the term (see Gen 32:28), that has ever and always existed. There have been both Israelites and Gentiles who have been a part of that “spiritual Israel”. Yet, what is important to remember from Romans 11 is that Paul never says the spiritual Israel supersedes, or replaces, natural Israel.
The issue of being “spiritual Israel” is the issue of adoption. This is where it gets interesting. In Galatians 3:24, Paul made the statement that the law was a “tutor” until the “seed” (Jesus) should come. In Galatians 4:2-5, the same point is being made. Here is the point:
Israel in its infancy, coming out of Egypt, could not bear the eternal covenant in maturity, and was therefore placed under “tutors” (namely, the law and the ‘elements of the world’) until there would come a time (indeed, the fullness of time) when God could send His Son as redeemer, and we might be taken together with Him into that eternal covenant.
It isn’t as though there were none in the Old Testament to be a part of that eternal covenant. This has been Paul’s whole argument from the beginning. When you see Noah finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, is that because Noah did something special? Did Abraham receive the call and the promise because of some merit within Abraham? Do we believe that Moses was called deliverer and mediator because of something intrinsic within Moses?
Yes, we do, but no we don’t.
There is something intrinsic within these saints that gives credence to God’s call, but it isn’t because of the individual. Rather, it is because the eternal covenant has ever and always been something that brings forth this kind of redemption that Paul is speaking (which, once again, is his whole point). So, no there is nothing within the person themselves, for it is of faith and not of works. Yet, we can’t just throw away the whole point that God chose them for a reason.
Anyway, the scripture at hand is explaining to us that these “tutors” had been placed in charge over Israel, which remain to this day, until there would be the time that God would give a means of redemption, a means of coming out from and into. Here is the difficulty of Old Testament revelation. If we believe that Jesus is the messiah, and that redemption only comes through Him, then how were the saints in the Old Testament redeemed, and how is it that we do find attributes of new covenant resurrection/regeneration in the Old Testament? The answer is that we’re not looking at a covenant contained within time, but a covenant that is “eternal”, and therefore beyond time. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and that isn’t a rhetoric and fancy use of wording. This is the eternal covenant, the Lamb slain on the heavenly altar, the covenant that stems back to the Garden of Eden and Adam being a son of God.
Here is the point.
We find in Colossians 2:8 and 20 the same discussion regarding these “elements”. Here Paul calls them “tutors”. There he leaves no question when claiming the law to be tied together with the principalities and powers. In Psalm 82, we read of these “judges” (sometimes translated kings) who rule wickedly, and shall be held accountable. They are told that though they are greater than men, they shall be judged like men. The chapter ends, then, with all of the nations coming to worship the Lord. Does anything seem bizarre to you about that?
These judges of Psalm 82 are actually the principalities. They are demons in the place of influence and authority over nations, who have used their influence and authority to manipulate, deceive, usurp, and oppress. Therefore, they shall be judged as men (meaning, they shall ‘die’, though they are not subject to life and death as we know it), and the judgment of those powers results in the nations coming to God. Compare this with Isaiah 25:7, where God says “upon this mountain (Zion) He will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations.” The context of the statement is redemption for the nations.
Again, we ask ourselves how this has anything to do with “tutors” being set up over Israel. And, again we must conclude that the law was given through a mediator (Moses), that God was marrying Israel, but that Israel desired a mediator rather than God Himself. Therefore, because we read in Exodus 20:19 that the people took Moses rather than God, it was allowed that Israel would for a time be ruled over by “elements” (whether judges, kings, or priests who were under the influence of demons and not God), not the least of these elements being the simple “do this; don’t do that” mentality of the law.
To try to tie together some of the loose ends and make sense of what I’m saying, then, I think we can consult Ephesians 2:1-7. There was a time in yours and my past where we were not in Christ. We lived according to a different mindset, a different wisdom. That wisdom was not a wisdom from God, but rather of demons. They had an influence over us, a way of causing us to think, that promoted righteousness via works and “doing or not doing”. Because I haven’t killed anyone, I must not be as bad as the murderer, right? Such a mindset is blatant error, as Jesus points out, because murder doesn’t start with the act. It starts with the heart that would think someone so worthless that the world would be a better place without that person. That I am guilty of, and therefore I am indeed guilty of murder.
It was to that kingdom, the darkened kingdom, that I subscribed, and therefore lived and breathed and had my being in the demonic perspective. Even while being an atheist and not believing in demons, I still gained my understanding and worldview from the wisdom of demons. However, there came a point in time – a divinely orchestrated point in time – when God sent His Son so that Israel might indeed be heirs and receive the inheritance due her. They who have been promised the eternal covenant, and the inheritance of that eternal covenant all died without receiving that inheritance (Heb 11:39). Notice that the statement does not then go, “but to you…” No, we also have not inherited, because we’re told quite plainly that we shall receive our inheritance with them at the end of the age (Ephesians 1:13-14, 3:1-6).
Our adoption has been one of coming out from being under that darkened kingdom and into the Kingdom of Light. Adoption in the New Testament doesn’t necessitate that we were outside of Israel. In fact, even the Jews had to receive an adoption of sorts, or else Paul wouldn’t make the point that Jesus redeemed “those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons”. Who was it that was “under the law”? Was the law given to Gentiles or to Israel? But now, in Christ, we have all been redeemed, so there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ, and made to be sons instead of children, inheriting the eternal covenant rather than being under the supervision of “stewards”.
Sonship is the issue of covenant. It is the issue of maturity. It is the issue of adoption. All of these things go hand-in-glove, because all of these things are essentially defining the same thing. The same issue is behind it all. Though they be different from one another, the issue behind the issue for all three of these things is the Kingdom of God, the rulership of God, the eternal purpose of man (to rule), and all of these things being made manifest on the earth. This was the purpose of the covenant made with Abraham (to be God’s nation among the nations), and it continues to be God’s prerogative.
In Exodus 4:11-17, Moses is arguing with God. Up to this point, there is no mention of God being angered. Thought Moses does say a few things that we assume displeased the LORD, ultimately Scripture does not attest to that. It is here, and here alone, that mentions Moses causing the Lord’s anger to be kindled. And what, exactly, is it that caused for God to be upset? Can we simply say that because Moses didn’t believe God could do this thing through him that God was angered, or is there another reason?
The import of this question is obvious. If Moses made God angry, what exactly was it that angered God, and how might we avoid such? I believe that what Moses kindled is the same anger that we will find later when God declares that the generation that comes out of Egypt shall not inherit the land, but shall die in the wilderness. The same thing that Moses is guilty of here is what Israel shall at a later time be guilty of. It is this selfsame sin that many today are guilty of.
What precisely am I speaking of?
There is a certain kind of unbelief that really irks God. It is the kind that can witness God manifesting Himself most impressively, and yet still refuse to be united with him. Moses’ disregard is not in that he simply doesn’t want to go to Pharaoh, nor that he fears what might happen to him back in Egypt. These things might be true, but that isn’t the driving reason why Moses is objecting. I know this because I’ve been the Moses who has objected to God’s call.
There is an inconvenience, a place of freedom that makes larger demand than our bondage, unto which God calls us. In Egypt you might have severe oppression, but at least you have figs, pomegranates, lush fields for your sheep, different meals every day, wine, and all of the things that represent our modern conveniences and luxuries. All the while we’re in bondage to such things, and even in bondage via other mediums.
But we don’t know our bondage. Who would know that they have an addiction to orange juice unless they come to the place where they can’t afford orange juice anymore? Who would know that they don’t simply like meat, but are actually in bondage to the need of having meat unless they come to the place that they can’t afford it? Who would know that they can’t tolerate spending day after day with their spouse, not knowing how to communicate with them anymore, when they both go off their separate ways for 8 or more hours of the day every morning?
It is not that Moses is objecting directly to going before Pharaoh, but that God is calling Moses to something beyond what he is capable. These reasons that Moses give are not the real issue, for if they were, God wouldn’t have gotten angry. I know God well enough to know that much. What really angers God is when we use silly excuses to cover over the real reason we don’t want to do what He has called us to. God has called us to community. Moses wasn’t supposed to speak to Pharaoh alone. We just read that God was telling him to go with the elders of Israel. God has called us out of Egypt, out from our sin and death, to come unto a mountain (in our case it is Zion, and not Sinai), where we might meet with God face-to-face.
Zion is heavenly. It is the throne of God. It is where brethren dwell together in unity. It is the beauty of holiness. It is the union of Deity and flesh. It is the place where we see God’s face and yet live. It is where we hear God speak directly to us. It is where angels cry in joyful chorus. It is where angels cover their faces. It is where the twenty-four elders lay down their crowns. It is where the congregation of the Firstborn, the eternal Church of Jesus Christ that stems from righteous Abel unto all generations future, gather in ecstatic worship and adoration. Zion is what the heart longs for, but doesn’t know how to express.
It is unto Zion that we have been called, and that is our problem. We don’t want Zion. Just as the Israelites told Moses to go speak with God, but they would rather not hear Him for themselves, we too have forfeited glory for shame. We have rejected eternality for temporality. We have scoffed the eternal covenant for the sake of law. We have cast off freedom for the comfort of bondage. We gnash our teeth at Zion, because Zion requires that we LIVE by faith. Instead, we desire Sinai, where we can say that Zion is too scary, too much to handle, but with these rules and regulations, and the traditions of our denomination, we might attain unto life everlasting.
Because Moses is now standing before God, speaking with Him as you would speak to a human being, and is coming up with lame excuse after lame excuse, God gets angry. Is He “the Lord”, or is He “your Lord”? Are you willing to heed the call, or like Moses are you going to banter? Ultimately, God doesn’t allow Moses to walk away. It almost seems like God bargains with Moses. I do believe something similar has taken place in our own day and age. We have rejected what God has called us to, that glory we read of in the book of Acts, and so God has allowed us the grace to continue according to our willingness. I do ask, though, where the saints of God are that they might reveal that what we’re doing is not the original intention of God, and therefore we need to reevaluate what precisely we’re doing.
Are you willing to live your life in convenience, a nice Christian culture, which has moral warrant, but lacks the authentic and apostolic reality? Are you willing to dwell in cliche and truism, while declaring that you believe there is truth beyond such cliches and truisms? Are you willing to embrace a social norm, a status quo, established by who knows who from centuries past, based entirely off of a Catholic and pagan tradition?
Are you waiting for the “or”?
There is none.
Either you are willing to embrace such things, or you’re not. If not, then why do you continue to embrace them? It isn’t like you have no alternative. The alternative is to seek through the Scriptures prayerfully to understand what God’s intention truly is. For Antioch it was that these men, who’s names suggest different backgrounds and races, would be able to gather together, and not simply next to each other, to worship the Lord in unity. For Jerusalem it was that the apostles would teach daily at Solomon’s Porch, and that the Church might go from house to house daily breaking bread. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians suggest that they were established with prophets, who Paul said were to be able to speak to the entire Body, but their words must be weighed by the other prophets, and not simply by the pastor, teacher, or layman.
My point is that every specific city seems to have its own nuance. Yet, the bare bones are the same. It is still coming unto Zion instead of Sinai. It is still perceiving the eternal covenant, eternal because it stems from before Sinai, and living according to that instead of law. It is still embracing the reality of God, that the just shall live by faith, and to every day, in every moment, live and move and have your being in God. This is what Exodus 4:11-17 speaks to us. Are we going to embrace what God has called us unto, or are we going to hesitate and argue? Ultimately, there will come a day and age when we will dwell in Zion. If you have built your life around Sinai, and utilized God’s grace as a means to live cheaply, then you will find yourself out of place, or outside of Zion altogether. As always, the choice is yours.
In my Bible, at the end of Galatians, I wrote the following note:
“To walk according to the law is to say that God has given us His ‘manual’ and we only need to live in accordance to it. This is taking the holy things in carnal manner – walking out our faith by our own strength and power – and thus utilizing the wisdom of demons to achieve a preconceived notion of righteousness.”
The entirety of Galatians is dedicated to the discussion of law versus grace. At least, this is what the commentators say. I think we often have a misunderstanding of what Paul means when he says law, and therefore we have a misunderstanding of law and grace. By law, what is meant is the substitute of the eternal covenant for anything less than that eternal covenant. To put it more plainly, it is the embrace of regulation and sacrifice for the sake of not having to know God intimately enough to understand what He approves of. It is the embrace of someone “over” you for the sake of not having to hear God yourself. It is the embrace of a system or institution of religion for the sake of not being inconvenienced or changing your lifestyle.
What makes Galatians such a monumental book is not simply its unrelenting rejection of our own work, but the genius way in which it at the same time declares how to actually walk according to the Spirit. Here is the amazing part. We find on the one hand the exegesis of law, and therefore the understanding of what not to do/be. On the other hand, we find the exegesis of grace (or life by the Spirit), and therefore clear-cut instruction on how we ought to live.
The general flow of the epistle is to introduce the problem, that there is an abundance of people within the Church who have embraced “law” for the sake of righteousness, but in embracing “law”, they have thus rejected life by the Spirit. It moves from this first introduction to Paul uses his own call as an example. Is it by faith that he has been called an apostle, or by his own merit? He even goes into the story of his standing up to Peter, opposing him to his faith, because Peter is acting one way when the Jews from Jerusalem are not around, and a different way when they are around. This, says Paul’s analogy from the story, is the same as “law”.
Therefore, the conclusion is the question of whether it is by observance or by faith that they were saved. If it be by faith, then why would our sanctification be by any other means? It is this point that is the pivot of the whole epistle. Before it are two examples from his own life that Paul uses as analogy. After it are two examples that Paul uses from the life of Abraham (the father of faith) to drive this point home.
Interspersed are discussions of sonship, adoption, Zion, and circumcision. Together we have a cohesive attack on the observation of the Torah (first five books of the Bible) as means of salvation and sanctification, as well as an attack on any striving to live out a preconceived idea of righteousness. We also have a cohesive foundation for the whole of Christian ethic and life. What exactly does it mean to walk in the Spirit, and how exactly do we do so? The answer is put plainly throughout the whole book.
May God give grace enough to open up the words upon the page, that they may be more than mere statements about something, more than just doctrinal teaching, but that they might be the eternal, apostolic, and prophetic declaration that brings forth transformation within the believer. God, give us ears to hear and hearts to receive such difficult words.