Jesus Reverses the Outcomes of Forbidden Unions

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 23-25

Deuteronomy 23:2-6 says, “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. But the Lord you God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace of their prosperity all your days forever.”

Jesus taught the disciples in Luke 24 where he was in all the scriptures. In the Old Testament sometimes we see certain people as a type of Jesus, doing certain works that foreshadow the work of Jesus. Other times we see shadows of Jesus in religious service, such as the tabernacle and its furniture or the offerings. But, there are also times when we see an event, a cultural practice,  or a law completely reversed by Jesus.

Why do we see Jesus bringing about this reversal of fortune?

God created and everything was good, even very good. But, man sinned, went his own way, and the creation was subjected to futility. So, Jesus comes to bring a reversal of all the futility the creation has been subjected to by ushering in his own new creation. Therefore, he reverses the fruit of forbidden unions.

JESUS REVERSES CHILDREN OF FORBIDDEN UNIONS BANNED FROM ISRAEL FOR 10 GENERATIONS

Deuteronomy 23:2 says that not a single child born of a forbidden union could be a part of the people of Israel. A child of a forbidden union and his descendants would be banned from the assembly of the Lord, the people of Israel, for ten generations.

There are many unions that are forbidden in the Bible. In fact, all unions other than one man cleaving to his one wife are forbidden. But, the key forbidden union for understanding Deuteronomy 23:2 is found in Leviticus 18:15 and 20:12.

Leviticus 18:15 says, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.”

Leviticus 20:12 says, “If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them.”

Why is this forbidden union important?

We need to start in Genesis 38. Judah saw a Canaanite woman and slept with her. This relationship produced a son named Er and a second son named Onan. Judah took for his son Er and wife named Tamar.

Er died. So, Judah told his son Onan to sleep with Tamar to perform the duty of a brother-in-law and raise up offspring for his brother. It was expected that a brother would produce a child for his dead brother to keep his name and inheritance alive in Israel. But, Onan refused because the offspring would not be his.

Therefore, Judah told Tamar, his daughter-in-law, to wait as a widow in her father’s house. Then, when his son Shelah grew up, Judah would give his son to Tamar.

After a period of time, Judah had not given Shelah to Tamar as he promised. So, Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law Judah. Judah slept with his daughter-in-law, which was a forbidden union.

As a result, Judah was ashamed and disgraced. In Genesis 38:26, Judah says, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.”

The fruit of this forbidden union was Perez and Zerah. This is important because Matthew especially calls out this relationship in his lineage of Jesus and Jesus’ right to the throne of Israel. Matthew 1:3 says, “And Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar.”

Matthew is acknowledging that Jesus was ultimately the fruit of a forbidden union. But, Jesus was not just the fruit of a forbidden union thousands of years later. No, Jesus was a descendant to the 10th generation that was forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord.

How so?

Perez was born of a forbidden union. Therefore, none of his descendants would be permitted to enter the assembly of the Lord for 10 generations. So, who does Matthew list as the descendants of Perez? Perez fathered

  1. Hezron who fathered
  2. Ram who fathered
  3. Amminadab who fathered
  4. Nahshon who fathered
  5. Salmon who fathered
  6. Boaz who fathered
  7. Obed who fathered
  8. Jesse who fathered
  9. David who fathered
  10. ???

It’s the son that fills the question marks in the 10th generation that would still be forbidden from the assembly of the Lord. Now, many of us would automatically assume that is Solomon. Even Matthew says that David fathered Solomon.

But, was Solomon the son of David that would sit on the throne? Was Solomon the son that David was promised?

Nathan spoke to David a vision from God in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 that says, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”

On a first reading, it’s easy to think that this prophecy is about Solomon. He was David’s son from his body. Solomon’s kingdom was established in peace. Solomon did build a temple for the Lord’s name. Solomon committed iniquity – lots of it.

But, Solomon’s throne was not established forever. He lost it by violating the three requirements of a king of Israel that Moses prophesied. God was not the father of Solomon and Solomon was not the son of God. Solomon committed iniquity, but he did not receive the stripes of men. In a sense, God’s steadfast love departed from Solomon like it did Saul, which is why Solomon lost his kingdom. Solomon did not establish David’s throne forever.

The true fulfillment of this vision from God through Nathan is Jesus. Jesus is the only one that meets all the requirements of the vision Nathan gave to David. Jesus is the son of David and the descendant of the 10th generation from Perez that was banned from the assembly of the Lord as the fruit of a forbidden union.

In Matthew 9:27, the blind men call out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”

In Matthew 12:23, the people were amazed and asked, “Can this be the Son of David?”

Perhaps most amazingly, since the forbidden union was between Judah and a Canaanite woman, in Matthew 15:22 a Canaanite woman cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

There are many other references to Jesus as the Son of David. And, almost every single time, the individual crying out to the Son of David is asking for mercy. Jesus as the product of this forbidden was the Son of David that brought mercy. Therefore, he reverses the shame and disgrace that Judah felt as a result of his forbidden union with his daughter-in-law.

JESUS REVERSES THE FORBIDDEN UNION WITH PROSTITUTES

Proverbs 23:26-28 says, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind.

Proverbs 29:3 says, “He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.”

Prostitutes were a means for men to squander their wealth. Therefore, it is quite interesting that Matthew includes a prostitute in Jesus’ lineage. Matthew 1:5 says, “And Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab.”

Joshua 6:25 says, “But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive.” The prostitute Rahab married Salmon. This forbidden union produced Boaz.

Ruth 2:1 says, “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” Other translations say Boaz was a man of great standing or great wealth. Boaz would not have acquired his great standing or his great wealth in just his lifetime. Certainly, he would have inherited some of it from his father Salmon. Therefore, Salmon’s forbidden union with Rahab the prostitute did not squander his wealth.

And, Jesus, as the fruit of the forbidden union with a prostitute, did not squander his fathers’ wealth. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

Like Boaz, Jesus reverses the expected squandering of wealth from our forbidden prostitution with false gods and idols.

Just read Ephesians 1 and 2.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will.”

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”

We “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

JESUS REVERSES THE FORBIDDING OF AMMONITES AND MOABITES IN THE ASSEMBLY OF THE LORD

Not only were the descendants of forbidden unions forbidden from the assembly of the Lord for ten generations, Moses specifically forbids an Ammonite or Moabite from entering the assembly of the Lord. While their descendants could not enter even to the 10th generation as well, Moses went even further saying that none of them could enter the assembly of the Lord forever.

We just saw that Boaz was the fruit of a forbidden union. But, Boaz also participated in a forbidden union. Boaz married Ruth, who was a Moabitess. Ruth is recorded in Jesus’ lineage as well. Matthew 1:5 says, “And Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth.”

Moses forbid the Ammonites and Moabites from entering the assembly of the Lord because they refused to meet Israel with bread and water on their way out of Egypt to the promised land. But, the Moabites, and therefore Ruth, were the fruit of a forbidden union.

In Genesis 19, after Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, Lot went to live in the hills with his two daughters. His daughters said there were no men on earth to bear them children, so they hatched a plan to sleep with their father. Genesis 19:33 says, “And the firstborn went in and lay with her father.” And, Genesis 19:35 says, “And the younger arose and lay with him.”

But, Lot’s daughters sleeping with him were forbidden unions. Leviticus 18:6-7 says, “None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am the Lord. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father.”

What was the fruit of these two forbidden unions?

Genesis 19:37-38 says, “The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.”

So, the Moabites were the fruit of a forbidden union. And, as I said above, Boaz’s marriage to Ruth was forbidden. Numbers 25:1-3 says, “The people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor.”

Israel entered into unions with Moabite women and began to worship false gods and idols. So, in Numbers 25:5, Moses said, “Each of you kill those men who yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.” Moses was trying to prevent the worship of false gods and idols by forbidding the unions of Israelite men and Moabite women.

But, the ultimate fruit of the forbidden union between Boaz, an Israelite man, and Ruth, a Moabite women, was Jesus. And, because no Moabite was to be allowed in the assembly of the Lord forever according to the word of Moses, Jesus should have been barred from the assembly of the Lord.

But, Jesus reverses the result, the worshiping of false gods and idols, of the forbidden unions between Israelite men and Moabite women.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10, Paul says, “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.”

JESUS REVERSES FALSE GOD AND IDOL WORSHIP BY GIVING BREAD AND WATER

While Israel journeyed on the way through the wilderness to the promised land, Moab and Ammon refused to meet them with bread and water to refresh them.

Jesus was the fruit of a forbidden union between an Israelite man and a Moabite woman. But, instead of being like the Ammonites and the Moabites and refusing Israel bread and water, Jesus gave to Israel the true bread from heaven and living water. As one who had a Moabite in his lineage, Jesus reverses what the Moabites failed to do for Israel by giving himself.

In John 6:48-51, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And, the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

In John 4:13-14, Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

JESUS REVERSES THE CURSING OF FORBIDDEN UNIONS INTO BLESSING

The whole reason Balaam and Balak conspired to get Israelite men to sleep with Moabite women was to bring a curse upon Israel. Balak had tried three times to pay Balaam to speak a curse over Israel, but God would not allow it. God turned the curse into blessing.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:2, “You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.” And, in Galatians 4:8, Paul says, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.”

Not only did Gentiles follow false gods and idols, Israel did so when they played the whore with Moabites. The Moabites had cursed Israel. In a sense, now all were cursed to worship false gods and idols.

But, in Galatians 3:13-14, Paul says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the Spirit through faith.”

Jesus reverses the expected outcome of forbidden unions by becoming a curse for us. Thereby he fulfilled his own word to us, “Bless those who curse you.” (Luke 6:28)

JESUS REVERSES THE FINAL FORBIDDEN UNION – THE SPIRITUAL AND THE NATURAL

When God formed man, he breathed into man the breath of life, his Spirit. But, man’s heart became so wicked that in Genesis 6:3, God said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh.” It was then that the sons of God, angels, took the daughters of men. Jude 1:6 speaks to this forbidden union of angels and men, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” The angels entered into a forbidden union with women.

But, Jesus was also the fruit of a forbidden union between the spiritual and the natural. Matthew 1:16 says, “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.” Notice carefully what Matthew says. Joseph was the husband of Mary, but Jesus was born to Mary. Even though Joseph was betrothed to Mary and she was a virgin, Joseph was not the father.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24 says, “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

Luke 1:27 says that Gabriel was sent from God “to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph.” Mary, the betrothed virgin, was in the city of Galilee. The angel told Mary that she would conceive a son and that God would give to him the throne of his father David (remember what I wrote above about Jesus being the son of David) and of his kingdom there would be no end.

Mary asked the angel how this could be since she was a virgin.

In Luke 1:35, the angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Mary, a betrothed virgin in a city, did not cry out. And, the Holy Spirit “violated” (and I use that term very loosely) his neighbor’s wife. Not only did Mary not cry, she sang a song of praise to God.

Jesus was born of a forbidden union between spirit and man, the spiritual and the natural. Based on the first of this forbidden union, the expected outcome was threefold:

  1. God’s spirit would depart from men.
  2. The earth would be filled with violence.
  3. The earth would be destroyed.

But, Jesus completely reverses the expected outcome of the forbidden union of spirit and man.

When Jesus came he gave the Spirit back to man. John 20:22 says, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was recreating man as he was formed in the garden, and he reverses the previous departure of the Spirit.

What did Jesus say prior to breathing the Spirit on the disciples? In John 20:19, 21, Jesus says, “Peace be with you…Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Jesus breathed the Spirit on his disciples to restore peace to the earth. He reverses the violence that filled the whole earth from the first forbidden union between spirit and man. Indeed, at his birth, a heavenly host said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Finally, the forbidden union of spirit and man that produced Jesus began the recreation of the earth instead of the destruction of it. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” We are his new creation, his bride. And, in the end, we, his bride, come down out of heaven, and he who is seated on the throne says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

Matthew 1 gives the linage of the true king of Israel. Jesus had four women listed in his lineage, which was very unusual for the day. Each of the four women represented a forbidden union for Israel. Each of the four forbidden unions would have carried an expected outcome based on the scriptures.

But, Jesus reverses all of the expected outcomes of these forbidden unions. In this way, Jesus, the true king, the Son of David, shows mercy on all. He obliterates the notion that there are any who are the product of a forbidden union that cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom is open to all who believe and are born of the Spirit. All are welcome in the assembly of the Lord!

While Moses told Israel not to seek the peace or the prosperity of these forbidden unions, that is all Jesus does. He continually works for our peace and our prosperity.

What a reversal of fortune Jesus brings!

War: Do You Believe Jesus or Moses?

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 20-22

War. Enemies. Purge. Evil.

War against your enemies. Purge the evil from your midst.

These three chapters of Deuteronomy repeatedly talk about how Israel should go to war against their enemies, the nations in the promised land, and purge evil, any abominable act that displeases God, from their midst.

MOSES’ METHOD OF WAR

Moses’ instruction for warfare against our enemies and purging the evil in our midst included:

  • “you shall put all its males to the sword”
  • “you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction”
  • “stone him to death with stones”
  • “hang him on a tree”
  • “take the man and whip him”
  • “stone her death with stones”
  • “stone them to death with stones”

Have you paused to truly consider what Moses was advocating?

This is nothing short of genocide for the enemies of Israel and torture for anyone who has done wrong. Moses’ method of war was completely carnal and fleshly. It sounds exactly like the kind of wars that are waged today, except that are weapons are more destructive. And, Moses proclaimed this to be God’s will, God’s doing.

When Moses waged war:

There was no mercy, just cruelty.

There was no forgiveness, just condemnation.

There was no light, just darkness.

There was no love, just fear.

There was no life, just death.

MOSES’S VIEW OF WAR: IT WAS LIMITED AND VEILED

Yet, the majority of Christians throw their hands up in the air and say, “Nobody can explain God. His ways are beyond our ways. He’s funny that way. I don’t know what to tell you. God was cruel back then. He condemned people, even children, all the time. I don’t know why God would do such a thing when I would never do that. God was dark and mysterious. He was trying to show people they need to walk in fear before him. If you don’t, then he just might kill you. It’s best to just accept this and not ask to many questions.”

Really? That’s the best we can do?

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

So, let’s ask God for wisdom. Let’s reason together and consider Moses for a second.

In Exodus 33:18, Moses said to God, “Please show me your glory.” God responded in Exodus 33:21-23, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take my away my hand, and you shall see my back, but may face shall not be seen.”

If you only saw someone’s back, then would you be able to identify them clearly? Does someone’s back provide much insight about them? No, we learn about a person by looking at their face, seeing its expression. We learn the most by seeing someone’s eyes. This tells us that Moses lacked a clear view of who God is.

Exodus 34:35-35 says, “Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”

Moses may have heard from God directly, but he did not communicate what he heard clearly to the people of Israel. Israel got a veiled view of who God was. You cannot know what someone looks like if they go around with a veil on their face all the time.

In 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, Paul writes extensively about this veiled view of Moses. He says that Moses was a minister of the old covenant. It was a covenant “of the letter” and “the letter kills.” Paul called Moses’ ministry the “ministry of death, carved in letters on stone” and “the ministry of condemnation.” These are just what we see from Moses’ instructions for war in Deuteronomy 20-22.

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-15, Paul says, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.”

Paul is saying that if you still see Moses’ ministry of death and condemnation as the correct way to wage war, to achieve glory, then your mind is hardened. Your mind is hardened is because you are still reading Moses, you are still seeing God, through a veil. Your heart has not received who God truly is.

Paul continues by saying that if the gospel is veiled to you then you are perishing. For those with a veiled view of the gospel that are perishing, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)

Because Moses saw God through a veil, his ministry of death and condemnation was perishing, coming to an end. The veil represented the blinding of the minds by Satan. Therefore, when Moses talked about war, he proclaimed himself, which is in contrast to Paul who does not proclaim himself but Jesus Christ as Lord.

WHEN IT COMES TO WAR, DON’T BELIEVE THE TESTIMONY OF MEN

In 1 John 5:9, John says, “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater.” While all scripture is inspired, many Christians refuse to acknowledge or accept that the Old Testament is the testimony of men. Jesus came to show us the testimony of God and how to find it in the Old Testament.

In Matthew 11:11, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” John the baptist was the greatest person of the old covenant. He was greater than Moses, who’s testimony of war many Christians accept and agree with.

Jesus says in John 5:32-34, “There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony I receive is from man.” John’s witness was that of a man, the greatest man of the old covenant. His witness was greater than that of Moses. But, Jesus did not receive the testimony of men.

Jesus continued in John 5:36-38, “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Fathers has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he sent.”

Do you hear what Jesus is saying?

He is the son of God. Therefore his testimony is greater than that of men. Even God, his Father, is testifying of him. Certainly, God’s testimony is greater than that of men. You have never heard God’s voice or seen his form.

But, Paul said Jesus is “the image of God.” Jesus is what God looks like and sounds like. Therefore, Jesus says even if you haven’t heard God’s voice or seen his form, then look at the works he is doing.

What were the works that Jesus was and is doing?

Just the opposite of the works that Moses did in his waging of war.

Moses was cruel, but “the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 1:5)

Moses condemned to death, but in death Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Moses walked in darkness, but Jesus said, “The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their works were evil.” (John 3:19) “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

Moses walked in fear of the enemy and the evil present among Israel so he wanted to destroy the enemy and punish the people who had evil in them. But, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) And, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Moses’ ministry was one of death and condemnation. But, “whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not life. (1 John 5:12)

The Jews went to the scriptures, Moses’ writings, Moses’ ministry of death and condemnation, to get life. But, in John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

As Paul said, we have to turn to the Lord for the veil to be removed. If we want to know the kind of war that Jesus wages we have to turn to the Lord so that the veil over Moses can be removed. Then we can see God clearly. Having turned, we can go to Jesus for life.

This is the testimony of God that is greater than the testimony men.

1 John 5:9-12 says, “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”

Further 1 John 5:20 says, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

Paul completely understand this testimony. We know this from 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 and how he compared Moses’ ministry of death and condemnation to the ministry of Jesus and the Spirit. The new covenant  is “of the Spirit” and “the Spirit gives life.”This ministry of the new covenant through the Spirit was permanent and would have much more glory.

JESUS’ METHOD OF WAR

It seems almost silly to write Jesus’ method of war. Every Christian knows the words. Even non-Christians know how Jesus wages war.

Jesus says:

  • “Love your enemies.” – Matthew 5:44
  • “Do good to those who hate you.” – Luke 6:27
  • “Bless those who curse you.” – Luke 6:28
  • “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” – Luke 6:35

And he gave example after example after example of this in his life and ministry.

Isn’t it obvious that Jesus’ testimony is completely different than Moses’ testimony about God?

PAUL BELIEVED THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS AND WAGED WAR HIS WAY

Paul condoned murder of the followers of Jesus and thereby persecuted Jesus. In this way, Paul said, “I was a blasphemer.” (1 Timothy 1:13). That means Paul took the Lord’s name in vain by saying it was right to kill for God. Paul believed the testimony of Moses, of men, and made God a liar.

While Paul once believed the testimony of Moses, he was converted by the testimony of Jesus, the testimony of God, that God is life and not death. Paul learned that God does not seek to kill but to give life.

He learned what Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

I could go on and talk about how Paul came to know that Jesus and God don’t wage physical, carnal warfare and that neither are we to wage war after the flesh in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. And, I could go on to quote that Paul said we don’t wage war against flesh and blood but in the Spirit just like Jesus and God in Ephesians 6:10-18. But, almost every single person that reads this will know that already.

Therefore, I have just two questions.

First, will the testimony of God and Jesus remain just empty words and nice things to say while you continue to believe the testimony of Moses and of men to justify your violent tendencies and desire for war to satisfy your passions and desires?

If you answer yes and ascribe your violence and your war to God and Jesus, then you are making God a liar and a blasphemer like Paul was.

Second, will you repent and turn to the Lord so the veil over Moses can be removed so that you can hear what God and Jesus are virtually screaming at you through the life and words of Jesus, which is the testimony of God? Will you repent and turn to the Lord so that you can see God for who he truly is – a God of light in whom is no darkness, a God of love in whom is no fear, and God of life in whom is no death?

Just remember, truly fighting a spiritual war looks like dying on a cross not nailing someone to it.

Who Says “I Destroy” – God or Satan?

Who says, “I Destroy?” The Bible gives a clear answer. Do you know what the Bible reveals? More importantly, do you believe what Jesus says about it?

Jesus: Fulfilling Moses’ Prophecy of a King, Priest, and Prophet

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 16-19

As I was reading through these chapters this morning, it struck me for the very first time that Moses prophesied in one fell swoop about Jesus as the king, the priest, and the prophet. It’s all right there from Deuteronomy 17:14 to 18:22.

JESUS: A KING WHOM THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL CHOOSE

Deuteronomy 17:14-15 says, “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”

For many of us, the above passage of scripture will immediately bring to mind what Israel said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:4-5, which says, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.'”

The words set and appoint in the above two passages are the same Hebrew word, sim. Sim basically means to put, place, or set. It can also mean appoint or install. But, it does not mean to choose. Moses prophesied that Israel would set or place a king over themselves, but God would ultimately choose the king he wanted.

In 1 Samuel 8, we read that Israel asked Samuel to set a king over them just as Moses prophesied. But, we also read in 1 Samuel 8:18 that the first king of Israel was one “whom you have chosen for yourselves.” But, Moses prophesied that God would choose the king.

The king that Israel would put over them and choose for themselves and the king God would choose is foreshadowed in Saul, David, and Solomon.

Saul is a picture of the fleshly or carnal king that Israel chose and set over themselves. Saul had all the attributes of the kings of the other nations that Israel desired. According to 1 Samuel 9:1-2, Saul was from a wealthy family, he was more handsome than any man in Israel, and he was a full head taller than anyone else. Israel chose a king based on external characteristics.

David is a picture of the king that God would choose. While God brought Saul to Samuel, in regards to David, God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:3, “You shall anoint for me him whom I will declare to you.” Israel chose Saul as their king based on his external appearance. But, in 1 Samuel 16:7, God told Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Solomon is a picture of the resurrected king that would rule in a time of peace and build the temple of God.

Ultimately though, these three kings, even all the kings of Israel, are not the king God would choose.

Even though Jesus was God, Philippians 2:7 says that he was “born in the likeness of men.” Hebrews 2:14 says “since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things.” Galatians 4:4 says Jesus “was born of woman, born under the law.” And, Hebrews 2:17 says Jesus was “to be made like his brothers in every respect.” Jesus was a brother and not a foreigner to all Israel.

Moses prophesied that Israel “may indeed set a king over you.” Interestingly, the Hebrew word set can also mean plant. Israel indeed set a king over themselves when they took the seed of Abraham and planted him in the ground.

While God choose Jesus as king, indeed Israel set or planted this brother as king over them. They planted him through his crucifixion and burial. Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus took “the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him.” God exalted Jesus to throne.

Israel set or planted Jesus as their king, but God choose Jesus as king just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: HE ALONE MEETS THE THREE REQUIREMENTS OF ISRAEL’S KING

Deuteronomy 17:16-17 says, “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.”

While Solomon is a picture of the resurrected king, he was not the king God ultimately chose for Israel because Solomon violated all three of the above requirements.

1 Kings 4:26 says, “Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses.” 1 Kings 10:28 says, “Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt.”

1 Kings 11:3 says, “He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.”

1 Kings 10:21 says, “All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon.”

Even though Solomon is a picture of Jesus as the resurrected king, Solomon did not met any of the three requirements for the king that Israel would set over themselves and the king that God would choose.

Normally, a king made his triumphal entry into the city on a great war horse. But, not Jesus. Unlike Solomon, Jesus did not have a single horse. He didn’t even own a donkey. John 12:14-15 says, “And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!'”

There is no verse that says Jesus did not have wives like Solomon. But, surely the Holy Spirit would have told us if he even had one. However, we know that Jesus solely devoted himself to doing Father’s will. He repeated this over and over. Jesus had no distractions. He was not divided in any way from pursuing the will of his Father. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” If Jesus had been married, then his interests would have been divided between his Father’s will and the things of this world. Jesus would have been trying to do what he told us not to do – serving God and mammon. Therefore, not only did Jesus not have many wives like Solomon, Jesus did not have even one wife.

Jesus’ family was poor. At the time of her purification, Mary offered two turtledoves (Luke 2:24). Women were instructed to offer a lamb for their purification, but Leviticus 12:8 says that “if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons.” In addition to his family being poor, 2 Corinthians 8:9 says “that though he was rich [in heaven with his Father], yet for your sake he became poor.” While Solomon had so much gold that it was used for goblets even in the pagan houses of worship he built for his wives and so much silver it was considered as nothing in his kingdom, Jesus was poor, so poor that he did not even had a place to lay his head.

Jesus is the king the Lord chose that met his three requirements just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: HE KEPT THE LAW AND HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 says, “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Leviticus priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that may not turn aside from the commandment either to the right hand or the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”

When did Jesus sit on the throne of his kingdom?

In Matthew 2:2, the men who came from the east said, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” Notice carefully what they said. They did not say that Jesus was born to be king. No, they asked for the one who was born king. Jesus was the king at his birth. Herod would not have been troubled by a baby that would be king in 20-30 years time. But, he would be troubled by another in his territory who was king at that very moment.

From the time Jesus took the throne when he was born, he obviously did not have a book of the law. In fact, he probably could not have afforded one. But, he constantly meditated on the law of God. Jesus was about one thing and one thing only – doing his Father’s will. Jesus declares this in John 5:19, 5:30, 6:38, 8:28, 8:38, and 12:49.

His understanding of the law was so otherworldly that when he taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, Mark 1:22 says, “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” Scribes made copies of the law. Jesus didn’t need a copy of the law because he taught with the authority of the Father because the Father, and therefore the law, was in him from birth, from the time he took the throne.

And, on the cross, having done everything, having fulfilled every dot and iota of the law, Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

We just saw that Jesus born king, that he took the throne immediately. In Luke 1:31-33, the angel says to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Jesus was born king and took the throne of David immediately. From that moment on Jesus reigned and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Jesus is the king who would perfectly keep the law and who’s kingdom would continue forever without end just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: HIS INHERITANCE WAS THE LORD, NOT WITH ISRAEL

Deuteronomy 18:1, 2 says, “The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel…They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance.”

Ultimately, Jesus’ priesthood was of a different order than Aaron’s, but Aaron as the high priest was still a picture or type of Jesus.

The Levites were not given any land to inherit in Israel. Jesus was just like them. In Luke 9:58, Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus had no land, not even a house in a city. Jesus had no portion or inheritance with Israel.

The Levites had the Lord as their inheritance. They served him and ministered to him. And, the Levites had God’s presence as their inheritance. They could enter farther into the tabernacle than the rest of Israel. And, the high priest, as a type of Jesus, could enter the most holy place, albeit only once a year.

Jesus was God’s servant and ministered to him by mediating his presence to everyone. Jesus had the Lord as his inheritance because they were one.

In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”

In John 16:15, Jesus said, “All that the Father has is mine.” Because Jesus was one with the Father and was his perfect servant, all the Father had was his. The Father gave this to him. The Lord was his inheritance.

While God gave the nations their inheritance, their land, his inheritance was the people. Deuteronomy 32:9 says, “But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” In John 17:6, Jesus said, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me.” Jesus perfectly served God but shared in the Lord’s inheritance, his people.

Jesus had no inheritance with Israel but had the Lord as his inheritance just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: HE ATE THE LORD’S FOOD OFFERINGS

Deuteronomy 18:1, 3, says, “They shall eat the Lord’s food offerings as their inheritance…And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep; they shall give the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach.”

Because the priests did not have their own land, they were given food to eat from the offerings the people gave to the Lord. The portions they received to eat were symbolic of the work they would do.

The food offering would come from the ox or the sheep. The ox was the animal that served man. The ox is a type of Jesus as God’s servant. We see Jesus as the ox in Mark’s gospel. The lamb is the innocent one that was slain. We see Jesus as the lamb in John’s gospel as John the baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

The priest was given the shoulder. The shoulder is the place of strength. The shoulder is where women bore jars of water (e.g. Genesis 21:14 and 24:15). When Jacob prophesied over his 12 sons, he said Issachar “bowed his shoulder to bear.” (Genesis 49:15) On the priest’s garments, there were two stones that were engraved with the names of the 12 sons of Israel. Exodus 28:12 says, “And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance.”

Like Aaron, Jesus would bear the people on his shoulders. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son if given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Jesus bore the government, which ultimately means their welfare, of the people on his shoulder. When Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep, he said, “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15:5) Of course, Jesus is the shepherd that goes out to find his sheep that are lost and carries them back to the fold on his shoulders.

Not only did Jesus eat the offering of and become the shoulder, he also ate the offering of and became the two cheeks.

The word cheek(s) is only used 15 times throughout the whole Bible. It is often associated with some form of disgrace.

Six of the 13 Old Testament verses with the word cheek(s) speak of someone being struck on the cheek. A couple of these are prophecies about Jesus.  Isaiah 50:6 says, “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” An Israelite man was always to wear a beard. It was a sign of maturity.

But, an enemy would shave off your beard to bring shame upon you. So, when Isaiah 50:6 says “I gave…my cheeks to those who pull out the beard,” it’s not saying that Jesus’ beard was pulled out but that he let his cheeks be slapped by his enemy.

And, Micah 5:1 says, “with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek.” Of course, Jesus is the judge.

Matthew 26:67 says, “Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him.” You slap someone on their cheeks.

Mark 15:19 says, “And they were striking his head with a reed.” The enemy was striking the judge of Israel with a rod on his cheeks.

This is precisely why Jesus says in Matthew 5:39, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Jesus gave both of his cheeks to the enemy to be slapped and he bids us to do the same.

And, as Jesus was the priest that ate the shoulder and the two cheeks, he was the priest that was to eat the stomach. I wrote about this yesterday in Eat Only Animals that Part the Hoof and Chew the Cud – Why? Jesus’ food was to do the will of his Father. He would eat this food and then store it in his stomach to be brought up at a later time for more chewing. In this way, Jesus was the animal that chews the cud, which is symbolic of his meditation on the scripture and the will of his Father.

Therefore, Jesus was the priest that ate the food offerings from the ox or the sheep of the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the stomach just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: THE PRIEST WHO MINISTERS FOR ALL TIME

Deuteronomy 18:5 says, “For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for all time.”

Levi was chosen out of the 12 tribes to be the priests before God. Notice how most of the pronouns in this section are in the plural, speaking of all the priests. But, in verse 5, Moses talks about him, singular. A priest shall stand and minister before the Lord, him and and his sons for all time.

Certainly, Aaron didn’t stand before the Lord and minister for all time. Even his sons didn’t. Hebrews 7:23 says, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office.” Aaron and his cons couldn’t serve forever because they died.

But, Hebrews 7:24 says of Jesus, “He holds his priesthood forever, because he continues forever.” Jesus is alive forevermore and always ministering before God as the great high priest.

Not only does Jesus minister as priest forever, but all those who believe in him, his sons, have been made a “kingdom, priests to his God and Father.”  (Revelation 1:6) We have been made priests with Jesus and serve with him forever.

Jesus was the priest who ministers forever before the Lord with his sons forever just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: A PRIEST WHO COMES OUT OF THE TOWNS TO EAT EQUAL PORTIONS PLUS WHAT HE RECEIVES FROM THE SALE OF HIS PATRIMONY

Deuteronomy 18:6-8 says, “And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives – and he may come when he desires – to the place that the Lord will choose, and ministers in the name of the Lord his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand to minister there before the Lord, then he may have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.”

Jesus came from Nazareth. Nazareth was a despised place, nothing good came from it according to many of the Jews. But, Jesus came from Nazareth to Jerusalem to offer himself as the burnt sacrifice. Jerusalem was the place that Lord chose to put his name. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus performed his last act of his earthly ministry.

One result of Jesus doing this is that he would “have equal portions to eat.” Equal to whom? The other priests, who are us. What is the equal portion? Both Romans 8:17 and Ephesians 3:6 say that we are fellow heirs with Christ. We share an equal portion in the inheritance with him.

The second result of Jesus doing this would be “what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.” What does that mean?

Patrimony means what you inherited from your father. Jesus sold his. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “That though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Jesus sold his patrimony, his inheritance, to us, for nothing, so that we could be joint heirs with him.

But, Deuteronomy 18:8 says that he received something for this. What did Jesus receive?

Philipians 2:6-9 says, Christ Jesus “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”

Besides becoming a joint heir with us, Jesus received the name that is above every name for the sale of his father’s inheritance.

Jesus was the priest that came out of the towns, ministered in the place that God made his name to dwell, and had an equal portion with the other priests plus what he received for the sale of his patrimony just as Moses prophesied.

JESUS: THE PROPHET RAISED UP FROM AMONG YOU AND TO WHOM YOU SHOULD LISTEN

Deuteronomy 18:15-16 says, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen – just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly.”

In Matthew 17, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. Jesus was transfigured before them as his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Suddenly, next to Jesus was Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets. Jesus was talking with them.

Peter pipes up and says they should make three tabernacles, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Peter was trying to do Jesus a favor by making him equal with Moses and Elijah. Matthew 17:5 says, “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and the voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'” Then, Moses and Elijah disappeared. Matthew 17:9 says, “And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, ‘Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

Horeb was the dry place where Moses struck the rock to get water for the people. Jesus was the dry place on the cross as he said, “I thirst.” But, once he was resurrected he was able to pour out the water of His word through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told the disciples to tell no one until he was raised from the dead because that’s when the fulfillment of the transfiguration would take place. The fulfillment is found in Luke 24. Here, Jesus became the translator of all the scriptures – Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms – for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and all the other disciples. It was after Jesus was raised from the dead that we were finally able to listen to him and not all the men that wrote in the Old Testament. It was after he was raised that we could listen only to the voice of Jesus as Moses and Elijah disappeared.

Jesus it the prophet that was raised up for us to listen to as we desired at Horeb just as Moses prophesied.

Moses was right. Jesus is the king, the priest, and the prophet.

Eat Only Animals that Part the Hoof and Chew the Cud – Why?

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 12-15

God gave Israel laws regarding what they could eat and what they could not eat. Within the three realms that God created – heaven (sky), earth, and sea, Israel was told there were clean animals they could eat and unclean animals that they could not eat.

Deuteronomy 14:3-8 contains a portion of these dietary laws. The verses say, “You shall not eat an abomination. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.”

This same law is found in Leviticus 11:2-8 too. Since God repeated these laws twice, there must be some important truths we can learn from them.

But, what exactly are we to learn? What Israel should eat to be separated from the nations around them? What Israel was to eat to be healthy? What we should eat today if we want to please God?

I hope not that last one because I really like bacon.

WE NEED A HERMENEUTIC

We need the right hermeneutic to understand these obscure passages of the Bible. A hermeneutic is simply a method for interpreting the Bible. The following is just one example (others will emphasize different points but this one is representative) of a hermeneutic that many Christian universities, professors, pastors, and teachers espouse.

  1. Definition – abide by the plain meaning of the words
  2. Usage – stick to how the words and figures of speech were used at the time the text was written
  3. Context – context, context, context; don’t pull anything out of context, don’t use proof texts (this one has been drilled into the heads of Christians ad nauseum)
  4. Historical Background – you can’t know what the writer meant if you don’t know the history
  5. Logic – does the interpretation make sense applying the laws of language and grammatical analysis
  6. Precedent – do not violate the known usage of a word and invent another
  7. Unity – an interpretation must be consistent with the rest of scripture
  8. Inference – draw inferences from facts that would satisfy an unprejudiced mind beyond a reasonable doubt

Now, if you try to apply these eight hermeneutical laws to the passage on dietary laws under consideration to answer the questions I posed above, then you are likely to get some really weird answers. At best, using just these eight hermeneutical laws to understand these food laws of Israel would help us understand in the natural sense what Israel did. And, since Israel was God’s people, maybe we should try to follow these laws too.

If you read the New Testament and carefully trace the scriptures that Jesus and the disciples quoted, then you will find that they violate almost every single one of these hermeneutical laws all the time.

JESUS IS THE HERMENEUTIC

The reason Jesus and the disciples repeatedly violate the laws of hermeneutics so many are taught today is that the laws of hermeneutics leave out one key rule. In fact, they leave out the only rule that actually matters – Jesus.

Jesus is the hermeneutic that we use to study scripture.

He demonstrates this to all the disciples in Luke 24. He first showed the two disciples on the road to Emmaus how to read the scriptures. Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Then, Jesus repeated this a second time to all the disciples. Luke 24:44-48 says, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'”

What is Jesus saying? Every single scripture is about him. They are not about Jesus in some sort of random way. The scriptures are about Jesus in a very specific way – they preach the gospel, the good news, of Jesus. Jesus suffered, was crucified, resurrected and forgave the sins of people from all nations.

So, let’s make Jesus our hermeneutic and put him  into the middle of the dietary law at hand and see how the Holy Spirit leads us to understand it.

WHAT YOU EAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU CLEAN OR UNCLEAN

The emphasis of the dietary laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus is that you had to eat certain animals to be clean. Conversely, if you were to eat other animals that were forbidden then you would be unclean.

But, Jesus tells us directly what we eat does not make us clean or unclean.

In Matthew 15:10, Jesus calls the people to him and says, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Jesus just blew up the dietary laws the Jews had lived under for more than 1,000 years. Every Jew knew that if you ate the wrong food you would be unclean. But, Jesus said that what you eat does not defile you. Food does not make you unclean. The Pharisees were offended by this because they held to these dietary laws scrupulously. It was a key component of their righteousness.

Even the disciples are stumped by what Jesus meant. So, Peter asked Jesus to explain the parable. In Matthew 15:17-18, Jesus says, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Food goes in and out of the body. Therefore, it does not defile you. But, what comes out of the heart will defile you. What proceeds from the heart can make you unclean.

So, what goes into the heart? This is a key question we will answer later.

ALL ANIMALS ARE CLEAN TO EAT, THEREFORE ALL PEOPLE ARE NOT UNCLEAN

Acts 10:9-48 records Peter’s dream about clean and unlcean animals and the result of that dream.

Peter was hungry and went up to the roof top while the meal was being prepared. While on the roof top, Peter fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened. Out of the heavens came a sheet that had all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds – creatures from each of the three parts of creation – in it.

A voice spoke to Peter and said “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Peter recognized this voice as Jesus. He responded, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Now, this is likely years after Jesus ascended to the Father, years after Peter heard Jesus translate all the scriptures. But, Peter still had not violated the dietary laws regarding what was clean and unclean to eat.

The voice came a second time, saying, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This sequence of events happened three times. It takes Peter a while to get the message.

The next day, Peter visits Joppa and goes to the house of Cornelius. It’s there that the Holy Spirit finally gives Peter the interpretation of the dream. Acts 10:28 says, “And he [Peter] said to them, ‘You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.'”

So, the Lord used the dietary laws under consideration to show Peter that they were not to be applied to people. Jesus told Peter to kill the animals and eat. But, Jesus never told the disciples to kill anyone. Indeed, Jesus took the sword out of Peter’s hand. Therefore, Peter knew that the command to kill and eat was not related to people. People in and of themselves should not be called common unclean.

Because of this revelation, Peter preaches the gospel to Cornelius and his household. Peter fulfills the command to feed his sheep that the Lord gave before he ascended back to the Father.

What did Peter feed Cornelius and household?

Acts 10:36, 42-43 says, “As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)…And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Peter fed Cornelius and his household the word of God, the gospel, Jesus.

WHAT YOU EAT FEEDS THE HEART

Peter fed the sheep as the Lord commanded. He fed them the word of God, the gospel, Jesus. What Peter fed the sheep went to their heart, baptizing them with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said what we physically eat is just food that passes through the stomach and exits the body. But, through Peter, we see that there is a spiritual food that we eat that feeds the heart.

Jesus taught this himself. Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” There are some things that our eye feeds on that fill us with light. And, there are some things that are eye will feed on that will fill us with darkness.

The scripture repeatedly says that what we hear and see feeds our heart. We just saw Jesus saying there are things that will make our hearts light, or clean, and there are things that will make our hearts dark, or unclean. So, as we eat clean or unclean things we feed our hearts. What we feed our hearts, it comes out of our mouths. And, what comes out of our mouths either shows we are righteous, clean, or defiled, unclean.

DO NOT EAT ANY ABOMINATION

Deuteronomy 14:3 says, “You shall not eat any abomination.”

There are four Hebrew words translated abomination. Basically, each of them has a meaning related to filth, abhorrence, a detested thing. The words for abomination are linked with the idea of sin and a foul smell.

When something is burnt it emits a smell. If that thing has anything abominable in it, it will emit a foul smell. Foul smells are abhorrent and displeasing. They make you want to leave the area.

Jesus is typified by the burnt offering. Jesus had no sin in him. He never did anything abominable. Regarding the burnt offering, Leviticus 1:9 says, “And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Because Jesus had no sin in him, when he was burned on the cross he emitted a pleasing aroma. Leviticus 1:3 tells us that the burnt offering and the pleasing aroma emitted by it was for acceptance by the Lord.

In Romans 12:1, Paul says we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice. In effect, we are a living burnt offering. Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” And, 2 Corinthians 3:14 says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

When we are in Christ, we are a burnt offering that emits the pleasing fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go. According to Paul in Romans 12:1, this will present us holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.

But, to be in Christ, we cannot have anything abominable in our hearts. We cannot eat anything that is an abomination. If we do eat something abominable, then when we are burned as a living sacrifice we will emit a foul odor.

How do we avoid eating something abominable?

Deuteronomy 1:4-6 says, “These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat.”

What does that mean? Why am I supposed to eat animals with cloven hoofs and that chew the cud? Why are these not an abomination?

JESUS: THE ANIMAL WITH CLOVEN HOOFS

The Hebrew word for hoof or divided hoof is parsah. It comes from the root word paras, which means to be divided; to break or divide. These two words are used 34 times in the Old Testament. But, 24 of the uses come from the instances of the dietary laws under consideration.

So, in order to not eat anything abominable, we need to eat animals with divided hoofs. Oxen, animals with cloven or divided hoofs, were used to tread out the grain. When oxen treaded out, or threshed, the grain, they separated the wheat from the stalk. So, cloven-hoofed animals were used in the first step of separating, or dividing, the wheat from the chaff.

These cloven-hoofed animals that were used to divide represent Jesus. In Luke 12:51-53, Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Division, or separation, is the process by which God creates. The first three days of creation are marked by separation. On day one, God separated light from darkness. Then, on day two, God separated the waters above from the waters below. Finally, on day three, God separated the seas from the land.

I wrote in Creation: A Witness to Jesus that these first three days of creation are a picture of God’s light, love, and life – his three invisible attributes. In the gospels, we see Jesus recreating as he separates light from darkness, love from fear, and life from death.

Therefore, the animal with cloven, or divided, hooves represents Jesus as the one who divides spiritual from natural, or clean from unclean.

JESUS: THE ANIMAL THAT CHEWS THE CUD

How was Jesus able to recreate? How was he able to separate light from darkness, love from fear, and life from death?

Jesus did this as the animal that chews the cud.

The word cud is a relatively obscure Hebrew word and appears almost exclusively in these two sections of the dietary laws.

Cud is food that has been swallowed into the stomach but is brought back into the mouth for further chewing. Therefore, cud is food that has been partially digested but is brought back up into the mouth to be chewed, or digested, some more.

The word chew only appears in the Old Testament in the two sections of the dietary law under consideration. However, the English word chew is translated from a very common Hebrew verb, alah. Alah means to ascend, to lead up, to lead out, to bring up, to cause to rise. It is the root word for sacrifice or offering. In a sense, that which has been partially digested, the cud, is brought back up for further chewing so that it can be raised up as an offering.

Why do animals chew cud?

A cow first chews it food just enough to get it moist so that it can be swallowed. Then, it enters the stomach to be softened. After the food is softened, the food is chewed on some more. Then the food goes back into the stomach for further digestion.

It is thought that cows, sheep, and other ruminant animals eat this way because they are animals that flee dangerous situations. They don’t stay to fight. By chewing the food just enough to swallow it, the animal can eat a lot of food quickly and store it in the stomach in case it has to flee. If the animal had to flee a dangerous situation, then it could bring up the cud for further chewing and continue to feed itself. Another reason cud chewing is necessary is because ruminants eat food that is really tough and hard to digest.

How then is Jesus the animal that chews the cud?

From at least the age of 12 on, Jesus could be found in dialogue with rabbis. He was studying the scriptures, learning from his Father. At the age of 30, Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. Mark 1:12 says, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Like the ruminant that had to flee its feeding ground quickly, unable to eat anymore, Jesus was driven into the wilderness immediately after the Spirit descended upon him.

Once in the wilderness, Jesus was driven from his place of normal feeding like the animal that chews the cud. Matthew 4:2 says, “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” Jesus had no new food to eat while he was in the wilderness.

After Jesus’ long journey and conversation with the woman at the well, the disciples urged Jesus to eat. But, in John 4:32, Jesus says, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

While in the wilderness without food, Jesus had food that we do not know about. He had the cud, the food that he had partially digested, that he could continue to chew on for further nourishment.

What is this chewing the cud that Jesus was doing? Psalm 1:2 speaks of the blessed man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” To chew the cud is to meditate on the law of God, the scriptures. Jesus did this for 40 days and 40 nights before he was tempted by Satan.

Therefore, when he was tempted, Jesus was immediately able to quote the truth of scripture to refute the devil’s temptations and lies. After chewing the cud, Jesus was able to separate truth from lie and so do the Father’s will.

WE EAT JESUS

So, Deuteronomy 14:4-6 tells us to eat the animal that has cloven hoofs and chews the cud. These are a picture of Jesus. Therefore, we are to eat Jesus.

In John 6:47-51, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

To eat Jesus is to set our minds on him. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 6 when he said that we should have a single eye. Our eye should only be focused on him. Colossians 3:1-2 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.” To eat Jesus and fill our hearts with light is to set our minds on Christ and the things that are above. If we set our minds on the things of the earth, then we will be feeding on abominable things that will fill our hearts with darkness, which will eventually come out of our mouths and defile us.

So, what are the things above we should think about? Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” All of those things are Jesus, and only Jesus.

We must remember that Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible. We need to eat Jesus. The Bible is important because it points us to him. But, we need to eat Jesus, not the Bible.

EAT JESUS AS THE ANIMAL WITH CLOVEN HOOFS

So, what does it look like to eat Jesus, the word of God, the animal with cloven hoofs?

Remember, this represents Jesus as the one who divides to create.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When we eat Jesus, the word of God, he is in us separating soul from spirit, earth from heaven, discerning our wicked intentions from the pure intentions of the will of the Father that we are to do.

We must remember that the division, the separation, that Jesus performs is on the inside of us. This is why Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Jesus separates ideas, thoughts, motives, and intentions in our minds. This is not something that we do for others. Paul says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, Jesus. Jesus is the sword that divides, just as he said he was bringing. But, note the sphere of this sword’s activity. Ephesians 6:18 says the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, Jesus, is wielded by “praying at all times, with all prayer and supplication.”

What is the result of the Spirit wielding Jesus through prayer at all times? In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Through this process of internal, not external, war Jesus recreates us through a process of division. In 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, Paul says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

EAT JESUS AS THE ANIMAL THAT CHEWS THE CUD

When we are first saved we are like newborn infants. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”

But, eventually we are to outgrow milk and move to solid food if we want to continue to grow in the Lord and righteousness. The author of Hebrews was trying to explain some deeper things about the scripture’s witness to Jesus. But, he was struggling because the people he was writing to had become dull of hearing, which means what they were eating was not feeding their hearts properly.

Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

When we are young in Christ, we feed on milk. We need to eat as much as we can quickly. We should read as much of the scripture as quickly as we can so that we can learn as much about Jesus as possible and grow quickly. But, later we need to eat solid food, which is harder to digest. We still need to eat a lot of the word of God, but we should chew him just enough that we can swallow him. Then, when we enter the wilderness, where we don’t get fed, we can chew the cud. Now, we can meditate on the deeper things to grow in a our powers of discernment and ability to separate good from evil.

Romans 7:22 says, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.”

WE CAN’T EAT ONE OR THE OTHER THOUGH

Notice though that the dietary law says that we must eat an animal that has cloven hoofs and chews the cud. We should not eat an animal that has only one or the other.

Deuteronomy 14:7-8 says, “Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud and do not part the hoof, are unclean for you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof and does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.”

Why can we not eat an animal that just chews the cud?

Eating an animal that just chews the cud is symbolic of us continually meditating on scripture over and over and over without allowing it to actually divide anything in us. We may read and think about scripture a lot, but we won’t allow the living and active word, Jesus, to actually separate us from the things of this world. Therefore, we will be unclean.

Why can we not eat an animal that just has cloven hoofs?

If we eat an animal that only has cloven hoofs but does not chew the cud, then we become focused on division and separation only. We aren’t taking the time to understand the deeper things of God, to meditate what the separation and division of God actually is. In fact, we get so full of the idea that Christ divides that we apply the sword of the Spirit wrongly. We begin to apply the sword to people. We separate people by either casting them out of our presence, war, or any number of other ways. When we get focused on separation and division without meditating on the word of God to understand that the division and separation gets applied internally to our own thoughts and motivations, then we will be unclean.

Now, if I had followed the eight hermeneutic rules at the beginning that virtually everyone teaches, then do you think the Holy Spirit could have explained the dietary laws this way?

It’s only possible when we eat Jesus and he becomes our hermeneutic.

The Voice of Jesus: Listen to It

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 9-11

God wants you to listen to his voice. This is not a new thing. This is always what he has wanted.

Deuteronomy 9:23 says, “And when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God and did not believe him or obey his voice.”

To listen to God’s voice is to obey him. But, to not listen to God’s, or to listen to any other voice, is to rebel against God.

Let’s look at some instances of not listening to God’s voice, how God communicates with us when we don’t listen to his voice, and listening to his voice. And, let us consider what this says about Jesus and our relationship with him.

LISTENING TO ANOTHER VOICE

Genesis 2:16 says, “And the Lord commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that eat of it you shall surely die.” The man, Adam, heard God’s voice. Notice that this was not a written command.

Adam disobeyed and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam where he erred in Genesis 3:17, which says, “And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it…'” Adam erred by listening to a voice that was not God’s. The point was not that Adam listened to his wife’s voice or a woman’s voice, as there are numerous times in scripture when a man listened to the voice of his wife or a woman and was lauded for it by God. No, the problem was Adam listened to a voice, and it could have been any voice, that was in contradiction to the voice of God.

In Genesis 15, God promises and makes a covenant with Abram that his very own son will be his heir.  How did Abram receive this promise? The word of the Lord came to him. How would the word of the Lord come to you? Words come by a voice. Abram heard the voice of the Lord.

But Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not borne any children to Abram. Genesis 16:2 says, “And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”

Abram had a son, Ishmael, with Sarai’s servant, Hagar. When God reiterated his promise and covenant to Abraham, Abraham pleaded with God that Ishmael might live before him. But, God said no. That was not God had spoke to Abraham. Abraham had listened to another voice besides God’s.

ISRAEL WAS TO LISTEN TO GOD’S VOICE

In Exodus 14, Israel was delivered from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. Having crossed the Red Sea, Israel entered the wilderness of Shur and found no water to drink in Exodus 15. Israel grumbled against Moses, but Moses threw a log into the bitter water and made it sweet for Israel to drink.

Exodus 15:25-26 says, “There the Lord made for them a statue and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes.” God delivered Israel from Egypt and tests them to see if they will diligently listen to his voice.

When Israel camped before the mountain in the wilderness of Sinai, God said in Exodus 19:5-6, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'” God tells Israel that they will be his inheritance, his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, but they need to obey his voice. God is, and always has been, after a people that will obey his voice.

ISRAEL REJECTS GOD’S VOICE AND GETS A WRITTEN LAW

But, when God showed up at Mt. Sinai, Exodus 19:16 says “there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.”

I believe a careful reading will show that the chapters around the giving of the law in Exodus 19-24 are not in chronological order. There is some bouncing back and forth in time. Therefore, we find Israel’s responses to God showing up on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:16-20 in Exodus 20:18-21.

Exodus 20:18-21 says, “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you many not sin.’ The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”

God was testing Israel to see if they would listen to his voice. But, when God showed up at Mt. Sinai Israel became afraid. Israel told Moses they did not want God to speak to them directly because they thought they would die. In effect, Israel told Moses they did not want to listen God’s voice. Instead, they told Moses that he should speak to God. So, Israel chose for themselves that they would rather listen to the voice of a man instead of the voice of God.

It was after Israel rejected listening to God’s voice that Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Therefore, it was after Israel rejected listening to God’s voice that Israel was given a written law through Moses.

Listening to God’s voice requires an intimate relationship with him. This is because God wants his voice to be heard in the heart. But, notice how Israel “stood far off” when they rejected listening to God’s voice. So, Israel put themselves at a distance from God. Therefore, the consequence of rejecting the intimate relationship required to listen to God’s voice was to receive a written law on tablets of stone.

MOSES GIVES HIS LAW TWICE IN WRITING

In today’s reading, we read that Moses received the law on tablets of stone on two separate occasions.

The first is recorded in Deuteronomy 9:9-11, which says, “When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. And the Lord gave me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the Lord had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And at the end of the forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.”

But, when Moses came down from the mountain, he saw Israel worshiping a golden calf that Aaron had made for them. So, Moses took the two tablets of stone, threw them, and broke them.

It’s at this time that Moses received the law on tablets of stone a second time. Deuteronomy 9:25 and 10:1-5 says, “So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights…At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the Lord commanded me.”

There are two very interesting differences between these two givings of the law on tablets of stone.

First, Moses spent forty days and forty nights on the mountain with God in both cases. But, in the first instance, Moses said he neither ate bread or drank water. However, in the second instance, Moses says nothing about fasting.

Second, in the first instance, Moses carried the law down the mountain in his hands on two tablets of stone. But, in the second instance, Moses was instructed to make an ark of acacia wood and put the two tablets of stone with the law written on them inside the ark that he had made.

JESUS GIVES HIS LAW TWICE WITH HIS VOICE

Like Moses, Jesus gave his law twice. Both involved 40 day periods of time. Jesus’ first giving of his law was a sort of external giving, like Moses. But, the second giving of Jesus’ law became an internal giving, like Moses. However, while the law Moses gave was written, in both cases Jesus gave his law with his voice.

In Matthew 4, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. While in the wilderness Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. Jesus was hungry, and, clearly, he would have been thirsty too. Just after this forty days of fasting, Jesus saw the crowds and went up on a mountain. From the mountain, Jesus spoke his law with his voice from Matthew 5-7.

Notice the similarities between the first time Jesus gave his law and the first time Moses received the law:

  • Moses fasted forty days and forty nights and Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights.
  • Moses went up a mountain to receive the law and Jesus gave his law from a mountain.
  • While Moses was on the mountain, Israel was gathered around the mountain as an assembly. Jesus went up the mountain when he saw the crowds assembling.
  • Moses came down the mountain with the tablets in his hands and Jesus gave his law to all that gathered. Both were a sort of external giving of the law.

But, there were two critical differences:

  • Moses’ law was written. Jesus spoke his law with his voice. Jesus did not write his law down to give to the people.
  • Moses’ law was about external actions of the body while Jesus’ law dealt with the internal motives of the heart.

These two differences are so important. Any written law can only deal with external actions. Do this and don’t do that. When Israel rejected God’s voice, they were given an external law written down for them to follow.

But, Jesus comes to give a law that deals with the heart. He wants to deal with the motives of the heart that drive the external actions. A written law cannot do this. So, Jesus speaks his law because it is only the voice of God that can reach the heart.

Therefore, throughout his law Jesus says, “You have heard that it is said of old…But I say to you.” Virtually every time Jesus refers to a specific act that was forbidden from the written law – what was said of old. And, every time Jesus says something about the inward motive of the heart that produces that outward act.

But, there is a second forty day period in Jesus’ life. Acts 1:3-4 says, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'”

What was Jesus doing with the disciples during these 40 days?

One he was eating and drinking with his disciples throughout this time.

Two, Jesus was speaking his law, the truths of the kingdom of God, to his disciples. But, instead of an external giving of his law on a mountain, Jesus was speaking his law with his voice right to the heart of the disciples. Luke 24 tells us that during these 40 days Jesus was showing the disciples everywhere he could be found in the law and the prophets, the entire Old Testament. As Jesus translated the scriptures for them, their hearts burned within them.

Jesus told the disciples that when he ascended, going up the mountain to heaven, then the Holy Spirit would come down and reside in their hearts. In John 14:25-26, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Are you seeing any similarities with Moses’ second giving of the law and Jesus’ second giving of his law?

  • Moses was with God 40 days and Jesus was with his disciples 40 days.
  • Moses did not fast this 40 days and Jesus was eating and drinking with his disciples all throughout this 40 days.
  • Moses made an ark of acacia wood to put the two tablets in when he came down the mountain. Jesus would ascend the mountain of heaven to return to the father but would send down his Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts to remind us of everything he had said.
LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF JESUS

Moses knew that another prophet would come who would not give a written law but would speak and should be listened to.

In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen.” Jesus was raised up a prophet among his brothers. In Luke 9:35, on the mount of transfiguration, “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” When that voice spoke, Moses and Elijah, who were standing next to Jesus, disappeared. Therefore, God says we should listen to the voice of Jesus and no other voice but his.

In John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” If we are his sheep, then we will know his voice. And, if we know his voice, then we will follow him.

Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The word of Christ comes through his voice. We need to listen to him to receive wisdom in our hearts.

This is how we receive faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” We need to hear the voice of Jesus to receive faith.

In Genesis 15:1, the word of the Lord came to Abram and spoke to him a promise that his very own son would be his heir. Yesterday’s post, The Word of the Lord – What, or Who, Is It?, showed that the word of the Lord is Jesus. Genesis 15:6 says, “And he [Abram] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

What did Abram believe? The voice of Jesus. Genesis 26:4-5 says, “And in your offspring [which Paul says is Jesus] all nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statues, and my laws.” Abraham obeyed not what was written but the word of the Lord, Jesus, spoken by God’s voice. These verses about Abraham believing God’s voice and being counted righteous are quoted multiple times in the New Testament.

LISTEN TO JESUS’ VOICE: THE COVENANT GOD MAKES WITH US

Exodus 31:18 says, “And he gave Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” These two tablets contained the covenant God made with Israel through Moses. Deuteronomy 4:13 says, “And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone.”

Now, according to Hebrews, Jesus was a priest after a different order than Aaron. Hebrews 7:12 says, “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.” A change in the law is synonymous with a change in the covenant as we can see from the previous paragraph.

Because of this change in priesthood, Hebrews 7:18 says, “For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” Remember, Israel stood far off at the giving of the law/covenant through Moses. But, we draw near to God.

According to Hebrew 7:22, Jesus, as the priest of a different order, is a guarantor of a better covenant. Hebrews 8:6-7 says, “But as it is Christ, has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.”

In 2 Corinthians 3:7, Paul calls the ministry of Moses, the old ministry that Christ’s is better than, “the ministry of death, carved in letters of stone.” In the previous verse, Paul says he is a minister of the new covenant, the one Jesus is a guarantor of. This new covenant is “not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

What exactly is this new covenant?

Hebrews 8:10-12 says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

In this covenant, the Holy Spirit speaks the law of God directly to our heart. This is the better hope that was introduced by Jesus. Romans 5:5 says, “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.” The Spirit is now in us crying out, “Abba! Father!”

The period of God writing to us on tablets of stone is over. Now we are listen to God’s voice speaking directly to our hearts through the Holy Spirit. This is what God has always desired.

“This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

Isn’t it amazing that we do not have single writing from the greatest man that ever walked the earth?

All we have is his voice, which carries the “word of God [that] is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Jesus’ voice brings his word that goes right to the heart of every matter, leading us exactly in the way that we should go.

 

 

 

 

 

The Word of the Lord – What, or Who, Is It?

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 5-8

“The word of the Lord.”

In Deuteronomy 5:4-5, Moses says, “The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, while I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord.”

This phrase occurs 276 times in the Bible. Of the 276 occurrences, “the word of the Lord” is found 262 times in the Old Testament and just 14 times in the New Testament. All but three of the New Testament uses of “the word of the Lord” are found in the book of Acts.

Of the 276 instances of “the word of the Lord,” 109 of them say “the word of the Lord came” to someone. All of these are in the Old Testament.

What is “the word of the Lord?”

Is It just the words that God spoke to a prophet? Is the word of the Lord the writings of Moses and the prophets?

Maybe a better question is – who is “the word of the Lord”?

THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME

The first time we see the phrase “the word of the Lord” is Genesis 15:1, which says, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.”

Abram had rescued Lot and all his people and possessions from Chedorlaomer. Then, he had an encounter with Melchizedek. It was after these things, that “the word of the Lord came” to Abram.

The word came in Hebrew is hayah. Hayah generally means to come to pass, occur, happen; to be, become, have. But, this simple word is used in many ways, sometimes with much more importance than an event simply happening or taking place.

Perhaps the most extraordinary use of hayah is that is the root word in the name of the Lord given to Moses – I Am That I Am. That alone tells us the word can take on very special meaning.

The Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament has some interesting things to say about hayah. I will quote a few of the more interesting comments.

  • “The use of hayah generally gives rise to a more fully packed and dynamic statement concerning the being of a person or a thing, a being expressed in the entity’s actions or deeds, fate, and behavior toward others.”
  • “Miracle accounts use numerous verbs of action, but hayah appears at the climax of the narrative to describe the wondrous event…In each case, the report uses hayah to describe not a simple historical process but the reality of the event that intervenes in earthly affairs and manifests the absolute power of Yahweh.”
  • “The final literary context of the theological usage of hayah to be treated is that of the covenant formula…Here hayah indicates the mutual behavior of the covenant partners in the present and the future in its active and dynamic character.”

Note how these statements give emphasis to “the word of the Lord came” in Genesis 15:1-18. When the word of the Lord came to someone it was a very special event.

So, that the word of the came to Abram is a significant event. The word of the Lord said to Abram “I am your shield.” The word of the Lord said to Abram “your very own son shall be your heir.” The word of the Lord was making promises to Abram.

After the word of the Lord finished speaking to Abram, Genesis 15:6 says, “And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Now, “the word of the Lord” is equated with the God himself.

Genesis 15:7 says, “And he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” Now the word of the Lord says he is the Lord.

THE WORD OF THE LORD MADE A COVENANT

As the account continues, we read that it is the word of the Lord that makes a covenant with Abram. Abram brought the animals required for the covenant and cut them in half. But, Genesis 15:12 says that “a deep sleep fell on Abram.” Therefore, Abram did not participate in the actual making of the covenant. The covenant was one-sided, made and fulfilled completely by the word of the Lord.

Except that Genesis 15:18 says, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.” Here, it is God that made the covenant with Abram. Again, we see an equality, a oneness, between the word of the Lord and God.

The word of the Lord that came and made a one-sided covenant that he completely keeps sounds a lot like Jesus.

In Matthew 26:28, Jesus says, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus poured out his blood to make a covenant with us for the forgiveness of sins.

In Jeremiah 31, God says this covenant that Jesus would make is not like the covenant that he made with Israel after he brought them out of Egypt. That covenant had obligations on that needed to be fulfilled by both parties. Basically, if you, Israel, keep these laws and statutes, then I, God, will bless you.

The covenant that Jesus would make would be kept completely by him. It be completed and kept by one party, not two. Jeremiah 31:33-34 says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall me by people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”

Everything is done by the Lord in this covenant. But, through this covenant, all will know the Lord directly. He will be in their hearts to direct them personally.

Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Jesus was the word of the Lord that came to Abram to make a one-sided covenant completely fulfilled by him alone. And, Jesus is the one that comes to make a one-sided covenant with us that is completely fulfilled by him. Note that Jesus will “equip you with everything good to do his will.” It is Jesus “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight.”

THE WORD OF THE LORD IS A SHIELD

The first time the word of the Lord appears in scripture in Genesis 15:1 he says to Abram, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield.” The word of the Lord said this to Abram after he had delivered Lot and all his people and possessions from the enemy.

David wrote Psalm 18 on the day when the Lord delivered him from all his enemies. In Psalm 18:30, David says, “This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

“The word of the Lord proves true.” Jesus is the way. And, Jesus is the truth. But, not only that, Jesus is also our shield.

Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” How does Jesus give us this faith? Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” And, Ephesians 6:16 says that “in all circumstances take up the shield of faith.”

So, Jesus both gives and completes our faith. We receive that faith by hearing the word of Christ, that is Jesus himself. And having received faith through the word of Christ, we have the shield of faith we can use in every circumstance.

THE WORD OF THE LORD IN ACTS

The book of Acts contains some very interesting uses of the phrase “the word of the Lord.” Almost all of these show that the phrase means much more than some spoken or written words. Indeed, most of the time “the word of the Lord” in Acts is referring directly to Jesus.

In Acts 11:16, Peter says, “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” Peter calls the word of the Lord a he. Peter directly says that the word of the Lord is Jesus because he remembered something that Jesus, the word of the Lord, said.

Acts 13:46-49 says, “And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”‘ And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”

In this passage, the word of God spoken to the Jews is linked to the word of the Lord. When the Gentiles heard the word of God was being given to them as a light for salvation, the glorified the word of the Lord. The Gentiles weren’t glorifying the message that Paul and Barnabas brought. They weren’t glorifying the words Paul and Barnabas used. No, they were glorifying Jesus, the word of the Lord.

And, the word of the Lord spread through the whole region. This doesn’t mean that the actual words Paul and Barnabas spoke continued to spread. It doesn’t mean that scriptures of the Bible continued to spread. Writings and books don’t spread. No, Jesus, the word of the Lord continued to spread because each new believer expanded the territory in the earth that his body occupied.

Acts 15:35 says, “But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” This does not mean Paul and Barnabas were teaching the scriptures. It doesn’t mean they were teaching the Bible. The Bible didn’t even exist yet. And, the Bible is not the word of God. No, they were preaching and teaching Jesus, the word of the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul says, “we preach Christ crucified.” Paul explains this further in 1 Corinthians 2:2 when he says, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

THE WORD OF THE LORD IS JESUS

In Acts 13:46-49, we saw the word of the Lord was linked to the word of God. They are one and the same.

John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Here, the Word of God is clearly identified as a he, a person. That person is Jesus Christ.

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” I find this fascinating because when the Word of God became flesh, when Jesus became flesh, the phrase the word of the Lord was never used.

I don’t know if you noticed, but the phrase the word of the Lord was never used in the gospels. That is, during Jesus’ earthly life in the flesh, the phrase the word of the Lord is never mentioned. But, after he died, was resurrected, and ascended back to heaven, the phrase the word of the Lord returns in the book of Acts. I think this clearly shows that the word of the Lord is the spiritual coming, the spiritual manifestation, of Jesus, the son of God, from heaven. The word of the Lord is the non-flesh-and-blood-as-we-have Jesus.

We must also remember that only those instances were the word of the Lord is doing something that Jesus in the flesh would have done are actually the word of the Lord. Just as not everything attributed to God in the Old Testament is actually an act of God, so too everything attributed to the word of the Lord in the Old Testament is not actually an act of the word of the Lord.

Nevertheless, when we see the phrase the word of the Lord, we need to first think of Jesus. We need remember that this is Jesus acting. Jesus didn’t just start working when he has born in the flesh. He has always been at work in his creation.

 

 

 

 

 

Who Says “I Destroy” – God or Satan?

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 3-4

Destroy. Devote to destruction “every city, men, women, and children.” War. Deeds of terror. Burn the city and everyone in it.

Many want to take all of these actions literally. And, when Moses, a man, says God did these things, most Christians accept it as literal fact.

(Another way to read these is allegorically, which virtually every one of my blog posts shows. Just go read some previous posts for how that could be done with today’s reading.)

But, if you take the Bible literally, then who does the Bible say does these actual acts of destroying, destruction, murder death, terror, etc.

Who does these things? Who says, “I destroy?”

These are simple questions. But, they are questions that many Christians refuse to acknowledge, refuse to think about when they are posed, shout down with other Old Testament scriptures, and cannot answer clearly from the teachings of Jesus.

By the way, it is Jesus, not Moses, that God says we should listen to.

“I DESTROY”: MOSES IS CONFLICTED

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses told Israel to listen the statutes and rules he was teaching them. If Israel did them, then they would live and take possession of the land that God was giving them. Moses told them not to add or take away from these statutes and rules.

Immediately after this, in Deuteronomy 4:3-4, Moses said, “Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor, for the Lord your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor. But, you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today.”

So, how does Moses answer the question of who says, “I destroy?” According to Moses in the verses above, the Lord says “I destroy.”

Later in the chapter in the very same speech to Israel, in Deuteronomy 4:31, Moses said, “For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that we swore to them.”

Here, Moses proclaimed that God is merciful. Now, Moses said God does not destroy.

On the one hand, Moses says that it is God who says, “I destroy.” On the other hand, Moses that God will not destroy you.

What is going on here?

Either God is a destroyer or he is not. He doesn’t change based on the circumstances. We are the one’s like to change how we respond to people based on circumstances.

MOSES SAW THROUGH A VEIL

Because he struck the rock a second time to get water, Moses was forbidden from entering the promised land. Deuteronomy 3:23-25 says, “And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do suck works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.”

Moses had just begun to see who God was during the time Israel wandered in the wilderness. He truly wanted to know more of the greatness of God. In fact, Moses pleaded with God to know him more. Moses saw that if he could get into the promised land, the land of Canaan, he would know more of who God really is.

But, Moses believed that God was angry with him and would not listen to him. And, time after time, Moses blamed the people of Israel for his not going into the promised land. I cannot find one instance were Moses took responsibility for his striking the rock the second time. In a sense, Moses refused to repent.

Symbolically, we are told why Moses could not see or present God more clearly to the people of Israel. Moses wore a veil.

Exodus 34:34-35 says, “Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”

Why did Moses wear the veil? What was he afraid of revealing to Israel?

THE LAW ONLY LEADS TO CHRIST

Moses was able to lead Israel to the promised land. But, Moses was not able to enter the promised land. Joshua was the one that led Israel into the promised land.

What is this a picture of? What do Moses, Joshua, and the promised land represent?

Throughout the Bible, Moses is a picture of the law, Joshua is a type of Jesus, and the promised land is a picture of the Spirit-filled life – receiving the fullness of Christ in us and resting from our works so that Christ can work through us.

So, the law, symbolized by Moses, cannot lead us, Israel, into the Spirit-filled life through abiding and resting in Jesus, the promised land. The law can lead, or guide, us up to the point until we receive Christ, but we can only attain the Spirit-filled life through faith in Jesus.

This is exactly what Paul said in Galatians 3:24-26, which says, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But, now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Instead of guardian, other translations say schoolmaster, tutor, and child-conductor. As the law, Moses had a limited understanding of Jesus. He could teach and train Israel to a point. But, he could not lead them into true life.

Therefore, as we saw above, Moses said he has only just begun to know the Lord and pleaded with God to enter the promised land.

JESUS REMOVES THE VEIL

We saw above that Moses wore a veil to hide something about his relationship with God from Israel. Paul addresses this very issue in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4.

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-16, Paul writes, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

Moses wore a veil because the glory of the law was fading. He didn’t want Israel to see that what he knew of God was temporary. Not only was it temporary, but in 2 Corinthians 3:7, Paul says Moses had a “ministry of death, carved in letters on stone.” In 2 Corinthians 3:9, Paul calls it a “ministry of condemnation.”

To this very day, when Moses is read the veil remains. Therefore, even today when Moses is read we cannot see God clearly. To see God clearly, the veil must be removed. The veil is removed when we turn to Jesus. The veil is removed when we repent, which, as far as I can tell, Moses never did.

Jesus tore the veil when he died on the cross. When we turn to Jesus and see him as the crucified and risen Lord, then we can see God clearly. It is only when we read Moses, “the old covenant,” through the lens of a crucified God, a crucified Lord, Jesus, that we can see God clearly in the Old Testament. Jesus is our filter. Jesus is our translator as he showed the disciples in Luke 24.

Paul said there are those that have not turned to Christ though. For those, the gospel, the true good news of a crucified Lord, who forgives us so much that he even forgives our murder of him, is veiled. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Uh-oh!

Jesus removes the veil and let’s us see God clearly in the Old Testament. But, the god of this world, Satan, blinds those who do not believe. Specifically, Satan keeps unbelievers holding to the testimony of a man, Moses, instead of believing the testimony of God.

What is the testimony of God?

1 John 5:9-12 says, “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

God gives life. Jesus gives life. Jesus and God are one and the same. There is no difference between them in this. Because God and Jesus are life, they are not death. Not only are they not death, because they are not death, God and Jesus do not cause death. To say otherwise, is to make God a liar. To say otherwise is to believe the testimony of men, Moses, and not God, Jesus.

So, Moses was conflicted on who says “I destroy.” On the one hand, Moses said that God is the one who says, “I destroy.” On the other hand, Moses said God will not destroy you.

Jesus reveals the truth about who says, “I destroy.”

“I DESTROY”: JESUS CLEARLY REVEALS WHO SAYS THIS

Jesus clearly reveals who it is that says, “I destroy.”

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.” The thief, Satan, is the one who destroys. Satan, not God and not Jesus, is responsible for destruction. It is Satan who says, “I destroy.” When we read claims of destroying and actual destruction in the Old Testament that is Satan.

Also, in John 10:10, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus does not destroy. He came to give life. This is the testimony of God and Jesus that John wrote about above. This is the testimony we are to believe about Jesus and God.

In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”

And, in John 14:7, 9, Jesus said, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him…Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

We know what God is like through Jesus and only Jesus.

Do we ever see Jesus destroying? Do we ever see Jesus killing? Do we ever see Jesus mass murdering whole cities, men, women, and children?

No! No! No!

Jesus never does these things. And, Jesus only does what the Father does. Therefore, since Jesus did not do these things, God does not do these things.

Moses did not see God clearly. Because of this, he attributed the works of Satan, the one who says, “I destroy,” to God. Moses is the testimony of man. We are to believe the testimony of God, not men.

Paul makes it very clear that God was not the one destroying Israel or anyone else in the wilderness. In 1 Corinthians 1:9-11, Paul writes, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

Who do serpents represent throughout the Bible? Satan!

Who does Paul say destroyed Israel when they put Christ to the test (think the water from the rock, the manna from heave, the spies going into the land, etc.) and grumble in the wilderness? Satan!

Satan is the destroyer! Not God!

Paul even says that this was written as example for our instruction. These things were written so that when Christ is revealed in our hearts and we turn to him the veil will be removed so that we can clearly distinguish between God and Jesus, who gave life, and Satan, who destroys.

In fact, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the destroying of Satan. John says in 1 John 3:8, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who trough fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Jesus became flesh and blood like us to destroy Satan. Satan is the one with the power of death. Not God! Not Jesus! Jesus destroyed death through death. He destroyed death through his death on the cross, through love. Jesus, God, does mighty works of love, not death and destruction.

This very work of Christ is the mighty work of God that Moses wanted to see more clearly back in Deuteronomy 3.

Jesus says in John 8 that Satan was the murderer from the beginning. God and Jesus do not murder. Satan does.

In John 14:30, Jesus says, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.” Satan is in the world murdering and destroying. But, he has no claim on Jesus. Satan has nothing in Jesus. Jesus has nothing of Satan in him.

So, every time we read of murder, destroying, destruction, mass murder, etc. in the Old Testament we are reading about the works of Satan. Satan is the one that steals, kills and destroys. It has always been so.

Why is this so controversial? Why do those who profess Jesus as their Lord refuse to accept this?

Because their hearts are hard. Because they read Moses through a veil. Because they believe the testimony of men instead of the testimony of God, which we have received in and through Jesus Christ.

God says, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Listen to Jesus, not Moses or Elijah. That is the lesson from the mount of transfiguration.

Remember, Satan is, and always has been, the one that says, “I destroy.”

Jesus has clearly revealed that. If we will only listen to him.

A Short Journey Becomes a Wilderness Wandering

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 1-2

Deuteronomy 1:2 says, “It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea.” But, instead of the journey lasting eleven days, it took Israel 40 years. What happened?

JOURNEY FROM HOREB

Israel was to start its eleven day journey at Horeb. Why did Israel’s journey begin here?

Horeb is first mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 3. It is the place where Moses met the Lord, the I Am, in the burning bush (see my post Jesus: I Am the Burning Bush). It was at Horeb that God revealed himself as the self-existent one. God first revealed himself as the I Am at Horeb. At Horeb, we come to know that God’s name is a fact, I Am. As the I Am, God is everything we need. His name is a fact, a present reality, which is far greater than a promise for the future.

Horeb is mentioned a second time in Exodus 17. It is the place where Moses struck the rock to get water for the people to drink. This story is a picture of Christ on the cross being struck by Satan and yielding his water, the Holy Spirit, for us to drink.  I wrote about this in Jesus: The Rock that Was Struck.

What is significant about Horeb? Why does the journey begin in Horeb?

Horeb means to dry up, be dried. Therefore, Israel’s journey began in the dry place.

What does this reveal about us?

Our journey begins in the dry place. The journey to know God begins when we are thirsty.

Isaiah 55:1 says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!” God calls the one who is thirsty to come to the waters that he gives freely. These waters to quench the thirst of our soul can be bought without money. Isaiah goes on to say that we get these waters by inclining our ear to the Lord, hearing that our soul may live, seeking the Lord while he is near.

In John 4:14, Jesus said to the woman at the well, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus gives the water that will quench our thirst.

John 7:37-39 says, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed were to receive.” Here, we see that the water that Jesus gives to quench our thirst is the Holy Spirit.

In Revelation 21:6, Jesus says, “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of water of life without payments.”

And, one of the last things we hear said in the Bible is the Spirit and the bride saying, “Come.” John writes in Revelation 22:17, “And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Israel’s journey, my journey, and your journey begin when we admit that we are thirsty and go to Jesus for a drink.

JOURNEY BY THE WAY OF MOUNT SEIR

Israel was to journey from Horeb, the dry and thirsty place, by the way of Mount Seir. Throughout the Bible, mounts are pictured as high places or places of worship.

So, what is Mount Seir a picture of?

Seir means to have bristly hair. The first use of the word hairy is found in Exodus 25:25, which says, “The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau.” Esau is a picture of the natural man. The natural man has a wild nature and does things his own way.

Therefore, Israel was to journey from the dry and thirsty place by the way of their wild nature. But, as we will see below, the journey to was to deliver Israel from this wild nature to control by the Holy Spirit.

JOURNEY TO KADESH-BARNEA

Israel was to journey from Horeb, the dry and thirsty place, to Kadesh-barnea.

Where exactly was this journey taking Israel?

Kadesh means to be holy, removed from common use, subject to special treatment, and forfeited to the sanctuary. The meaning of barnea is not as clear. But, when we put the two together, a possbile meaning of Kadesh-barnea is holy purifying wanderings.

We saw above that when Jesus bids us to come drink from the water he gives that he is talking about giving us the Holy Spirit. As believers in Jesus, we are to be filled by the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, and to walk in the Spirit. All of this time with the Spirit is so that he will sanctify us in obedience to Christ. In other words, we are to be made holy, set apart for use by God, forfeited to use in his sanctuary. We are to put off our old, our wild nature.

Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:1-2, “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.”

Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” We are the firstfruits, bearing fruit in this world, by the sanctification, or setting apart, by the Spirit.

Therefore, Israel’s journey was to Kadesh-barnea, the place where they would be set apart for use by God. It was from Kadesh-barnea that Israel would go up to possess the promised land.

For us, Kadesh-barnea is a picture of the place where we receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus. It is then that we are ready to enter into his rest, the land of Canaan, so that Jesus can do his work through us to possess the inhabitants of the land (see yesterday’s post – The Inheritance of Jesus – What Is It?). It is at Kadesh-barnea that we realize the work – none of it – is no longer ours to do. All of the work is for the Lord to do in and through us.

A JOURNEY OF 11 DAYS

Why was the journey to take eleven days?

Esau was also known as the nation Edom. Edom was given possession of Mount Seir. Esau, Edom, and Mount Seir have a relation to number 11. Genesis 36:40-43 says that there were 11 “chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.”

Of course, 11 is one more than 10 and one less than 12. Both 10 and 12 are symbolic of God’s government. The number 10 is symbolic of testimony, law, responsibility, and order. And, the number 12 is symbolic of God’s power, authority, and his perfect governmental foundation. Therefore, as 11 falls between 10 and 12, it represents rebellion to these ideas. The journey was to last 11 days to bring Israel out of its rebellion and into submission to God’s law, government, and order.

Israel’s journey is a picture of us no longer walking according to the ways of the world and our own flesh and coming under the control of the Holy Spirit by the indwelling life of Jesus Christ.

So, what happened to Israel? Why did the journey take 40 years instead of 11 days?

THE JOURNEY BECOMES A WANDERING FOR LACK OF TRUST

When Israel reached Kadesh-barnea, Moses spoke to Israel about what it should do next. Deuteronomy 1:20-21 says, “And I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Israel had been told what the land of Canaan was like. And, God had given them his word, his promise, that he would give Israel the land for their possession and inheritance.

But, Deuteronomy 1:22 says, “Then all you came near me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities which we shall come.'” Israel didn’t trust God. So, they wanted to send spies into the land to “bring us word again.” Instead of trusting God’s word, they wanted the spies to see the land for them. Was it really like God said? Who was in it? What will we need to do to take possession of it? Israel would trust the word of the spies over the word of the Lord.

The Lord was going before Israel to fight for them. He had already been going before Israel to show them where to pitch their tents on the way that they had traveled so far. But, once they heard the report of the spies about the giants in the land Israel was afraid to go into the land.

When Israel refused to go into the land, God said they would wander in the wilderness and not one of the men of that evil generation would go into the land. But, the little ones, whom Israel said would become a prey to the people in the land, and the children, who that day had no knowledge of good and evil, would go into the land. So, God told all the man to turn and journey back into the wilderness.

After all of this, Israel responded to Moses, Deuteronomy 1:41 says, “Then you answered me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord, We ourselves will go up and fight, just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ And every one you fastened on his weapons of war and thought it easy to go up into the hill country.”

God was going to give Israel the land. He was going before Israel and would fight the battle for them. But, when Israel rebelled and God told the men they were not going into the land, the men decided they would take matters into their own hands. They would go up themselves and fight. These men would take their “weapons of war” and take the land themselves. But, that was never God’s plan. God’s plan was never to take the land of Canaan as a possession through war.

The 11 day journey became a 40 year wandering in the wilderness to remove the men of war from the nation of Israel. God wanted to possess the land his way, using his weapon – love. So, God had Israel wander in the wilderness until all the men of war perished.

Deuteronomy 2:14-17 says, “And the time of our leaving Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until the generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. For indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from the camp, until they had perished. So as soon as all the men of war had perished and were dead from among the people, the Lord said to me, ‘Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar.”

LEARNING FROM ISRAEL’S JOURNEY

What do we learn from Israel’s journey?

First, we are to trust God in his promises. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that the meek shall inherit the earth. As joint heirs with Christ, we will inherit the earth with him.

But, he is not going to show us everything that is going to happen in order for us to inherit the earth. So, we try to spy out the earth and what we will need to do to inherit it. We try to come up with our own plans to take possession of the earth and take over the governments and systems of the world. But, seeing all that is in the earth, all the governments, and broken systems, we will be afraid. At first, we will refuse to go inherit the earth in complete trust and reliance on God.

But, when we realize the sin of not trusting God, we will try to inherit the earth our way – with our weapons of war. Instead of listening to Jesus and hearing his clear declaration that the meek shall inherit the earth, we try to inherit the earth with weapons of flesh and blood, carnal weapons, weapons of war.

What’s the result of trying to inherit the earth according to the ways of this world, through men of war fighting to take it themselves in their own strength?

We, the church, the body of Christ, wanders and wanders in the wilderness until the spirit of war comes out of us.

Did you happen to catch who God was going to send into the land though?

The little ones who would become a prey and the children who that day had no knowledge of good and evil.

Who inherits the earth?

Little ones can’t fight a war out of their own strength. Little ones don’t fight wars. Little ones go into the land as a prey. We are called to die like Jesus. We are as lambs led to the slaughter. We are as a prey for the world.

Children don’t know the ways of the world. Children don’t have a knowledge of good and evil. Children don’t know how to do things by their own wisdom. They rely on their parents for that.

Jesus tell us to come to him like little children. We are to listen to him. We are to do things his way.

Then, and only then, will we be the meek that inherit the earth.

 

 

The Inheritance of Jesus – What Is It?

TODAY’S READING: NUMBERS 33-36

Israel has wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Now, they are camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. In Numbers 33:50-56, God instructs Israel to take actions: drive out, destroy and demolish, take possession and settle, and inherit. This is all about inheritance, specifically, the inheritance of Jesus.

Israel is to “drive out” all the inhabitants of the land. Then, they are to “destroy” and “demolish” the idols and places of worship in the land. Next, they are to “take possession” of the land and “settle” in it. Finally, having possessed the land, Israel would “inherit” the land. I believe God gives these actions in their specific order too.

Let’s look closely at each of these actions to see what they reveal about Jesus and the church today.

DRIVE OUT ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE LAND

The first action God tells Israel to take is to “drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you.”

“Drive out” is a form of the Hebrew word yaras. Yaras means to inherit or take possession. In a sense, Israel would possess the land by dispossessing, or driving out, the Canaanites.

The idea conveyed by yaras is gaining control of a territory through means other than purchases or exchange. Control can be gained by bequest or conquest. Bequest is the act of giving or leaving something by will. However, conquest is the act or process of conquering. Note that in verse 53 God says, “for I have given the land to you.” Israel is not conquering the land. Rather, God is giving, or bequesting, the land to Israel.

When we read Israel was to “drive out all the inhabitants of the land,” I think our first thought goes to Israel physically driving out the Canaanites through an act of war. But, I think this first action commanded by God could be telling Israel to possess all the inhabitants of the land.

There are many scriptures that make reference to Israel being a witness of God to all the people around them. If we consider Jesus and how he lived before us, is it possible that God was really telling Israel not to drive out all of the inhabitants from the land but to possess, or inherit, all the inhabitants of the land?

Why did Jesus come?

In John 6:38-39, Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” It has always been God’s desire to give his son a bride, a people. God gave Jesus a people, and Jesus would lose none of them.

In this way, Jesus came to possess his inheritance. Deuteronomy 32:8-9 says, “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” God gave the nations land as their inheritance. But, God’s inheritance, Jesus’ inheritance, is his people.

In the NET Bible, Ephesians 1:11 says, “In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession.” In addition to Christ being the head of all things in heaven and earth, we, God’s people, would be the inheritance, the possession, of God. Further, Ephesians 1:18 says, “so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” God wants us to know the hope of his calling. What is the hope of his calling? The wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Jesus was sent to inherit, or possess, you.

How does Jesus inherit, or possess, you?

Ephesians 2:1-5 says, “And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the  desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.”

When Jesus was sent by the Father to us, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. But, Jesus did not come to drive us out but possess us. God, being rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ. He did not do this when we were perfect or clean or well but when we were dead in our sins and trespasses.

Paul echoes this very same idea in Colossians. Colossians 1:12-14 says, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified  you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

When Jesus came for us, he did not drive us out. No, Jesus made us a part of his possession, his “inheritance of the saints in light,” by transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. This was not a physical transference for the kingdom of God is within us. Jesus transferred us from the darkness of our hearts to the light of his kingdom within us.

I believe that it was in this sense that Israel was sent to Canaan. Israel was to be a light to all nations. Israel was to “drive out” the inhabitants of the land in the sense that they were to possess them for God by being a witness to them. Israel was to inherit the Canaanites for God.

Remember, Israel was bringing the tabernacle into the land of Canaan. Inside the tabernacle was the ark of covenant, the very presence and life of God. This is symbolic of Jesus coming into the world. John 1:14 says that he tabernacled (dwelt) among us. Jesus, as the tabernacle, bids people to come to him. Jesus, as the tabernacle does not drive out people. I wrote about this in Moses Puts the Unclean Out of the Camp, Jesus Says “Come to Me.”

We, as the church, are to do the same today. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in who is in heaven.”

We, as the church, are not to drive out the lost of the world. No, we are to draw them as the light of God’s kingdom shines out of our hearts onto them. The life of the kingdom within us should be borne in our works of love to shine a light on who God really is to draw in the lost, transferring them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, making those who are dead in their sins and trespasses alive together with Christ. In this way, we, as the body of Christ, continue his work. Instead of driving out the lost of the world, we possess, or inherit, them for Jesus.

DESTROY ALL THEIR IDOLS AND DEMOLISH ALL THEIR HIGH PLACES

After Israel possesses and inherits all the inhabitants of the land, then God tells them to “destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places.”

Notice very carefully that God did not tell Israel to destroy the inhabitants of the land. Perhaps that needs repeating. God did not tell Israel to destroy the inhabitants of the land. This fits with the message of Jesus in the New Testament.

But, God did tell Israel to destroy all of the idols, the figured stones and metal images, and false places of worship, the high places.

The figured stones and metal images were idols. Idols were typically the last thing placed into a temple after it was constructed. The creation account is very much the story of God building a cosmic temple. The last thing created was man, who was made in the image of God. In a sense, man was the idol in God’s temple. But, man was only made in the image of God.

Even though the Old Testament speaks a lot about idols, it’s interesting that the four gospels do not contain the word idol or image. I think that is because the gospels are consumed with Jesus, who is the image of God. I wrote about the difference between Jesus is the image of God and man was made in the image of God in Is vs. In – It Makes All the Difference.

Yet, after the gospels, the Bible continues to talk about idols and idolatry. How fascinating!

Just by the mere writing of the Bible, Jesus destroyed the figured stones and metal images.

When Jesus met the woman at the well, he talked with her about the high places of worship. In John 4:19, the woman said, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” The Samaritans worshiped on that mountain, but the Jews had their own mountain, their own high place, that the temple sat on that they worshiped at. Both had their high places.

But, in John 4:22-24, Jesus responded, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” In addition to destroying the idols as the image of God, Jesus demolished the high places of worship.

What does this look like for us?

In 1 Corinthians 12:2, Paul says, “You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols.” When we were dead in our sins and trespasses, we worshiped idols and not God.

But, there came a time when we gave up those idols. 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 says, “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true and God.”

Notice that the word of the Lord was going forth from the church in Thessalonica. This would not have been possible if the saints there had not been possessed by Jesus. So, first the saints in the church were possessed by Jesus. Then, the report came that those saints had turned to God from idols. Jesus possesses then we destroy our idols. Sadly, we try to destroy people’s idols for them before we have shown them the light, love, and life of God.

Paul says that we need to behold Jesus Christ to become his inheritance so that we can put to death our idols. Colossians 3:1-5 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are one earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” I believe Paul is saying the list of things in verse 5 are all idolatry and we put them to death, destroy and demolish them, after we become part of the inheritance of Jesus.

Today, we see idols not so much as figured stones or metal images, although they do still exist. However, we still have idols in the sense of ideas and opinions. And, we still have high places of worship in the sense of strongholds. Paul addresses these in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive obey Christ.”

The war is internal and not external. The war is against spiritual forces and powers and not against flesh and blood. This is how we destroy the figured stones and metal images and demolish the high places in Numbers 33:52.

TAKE POSSESSION OF THE LAND AND SETTLE IN IT

After the inhabitants of the land are possessed and the idols are destroyed and the high places demolished, God tells Israel to take possession of the land.

When God tells Israel to take “possession” of the land in verse 53, this is the same Hebrew word that is translated “drive out” in verse 52. So, for Israel to take possession of the land was for them to inherit the land.

How do we see Jesus in this?

Adam was made from the dust of the ground. In 1 Corinthians 15:47, 48, 49, Paul says, “The first man was of the earth, a man of dust…As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust…just as we have born the image of the man of dust.” In a sense, Adam was of the land. We are just like Adam, having borne the image of the man of dust. We are of the land too. As Israel was told to take possession of the land, Christ takes possession of us as his inheritance, his land.

In addition to taking possession of the land, God told Israel to settle in it. The Hebrew word for settle means both to dwell and to marry. This is a picture of Jesus dwelling or living in us. Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Not only does Jesus dwell in us, but he marries us too. We, the saints, are the church. The church is Jesus’ bride. Paul explains this in Ephesians 5:22-33 when he compares the relationship between a husband and a wife to that of Christ and the church.

We have already seen above how God gave this land to Israel to possess it. And, God gave Jesus each of us to possess. Israel’s inheritance was the land. Jesus’ inheritance was us. Both were a bequest from God. It’s also true that our inheritance is a bequest and not a conquest.

YOU SHALL INHERIT THE LAND

After the inhabitants of the land are possessed and the idols are destroyed and the high places demolished, and the land has been possessed and settled in, then the land is ready to be inherited.

In verse 54, the Hebrew word for inherit is different than the one we’ve been looking at previously. This Hebrew word for inherit, nahal, means to maintain as a possession. This word relates to the idea that the land can be inherited but cannot be permanently sold.

Here we see the idea that we are the inheritance of Jesus. But, as his inheritance we cannot be sold ever again. Jesus keeps us. Jude 24 says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling.” Also, in John 17:12, Jesus says that not one that the Father gave him has been lost, he has kept them all, except the son of destruction that scripture might be fulfilled.

Like Jesus, we have an inheritance that is permanent and cannot be sold. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” We have received the Holy Spirit as the guarantee, or a down payment or portion, of our inheritance, which we will one day we receive in full.

As the guarantee of our inheritance, we are to keep or maintain the portion we have received. Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Like Israel was to maintain its inheritance in the land and Jesus maintains us as his inheritance, we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

BARBS IN YOUR EYES AND THORNS IN YOUR SIDE

Numbers 33:55 says, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.”

Clearly, we don’t need to apply this to Jesus as he perfectly fulfills all the Father gives him to do. Therefore, he possessed us as his inheritance completely.

But, there was a chance that Israel would not possess all the inhabitants of the land. God tells Israel that if they do not possess the inhabitants of the land they will become barbs in their eyes and thorns in their sides. In other words, the people currently in the land will be there as a reminder to what Israel failed to do.

Barbs in the eyes brings to mind Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:3-5, which says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” When we see a barb in the eye of another, then we should look to see if there is a log, something undone, in our own eye first.

And, Paul references the thorns in the sides. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” The thorn in the flesh is to keep us in check, to keep us dependent on God.

If Israel didn’t possess the land, and if we don’t share the life of God through our works of live to shine forth the light that is within us, then we will have barbs and thorns to remind us of what we haven’t done and humble us to trust God to do it.

So, we see that Numbers 33:50-56 is quite a picture of Jesus’ inheritance in the saints. And, at the same time, we can see how it is a picture of our inheritance too.