Skin and Flesh?

TODAY’S READING: JOB 17-20

Unlike in yesterday’s post, today we see Job make a real statement of faith. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

Certainly verse 25 is one of the more famous passages of scripture. However, I have never heard anyone say anything about verse 26. But, there could be an interesting insight lurking in the words skin and flesh. It’s not something I am positive of, but it is something I am pondering.

Job certainly uses different words for skin and flesh. The Hebrew word for skin is or. It means a skin, hide, leather. The Hebrew word for flesh is basar, which means flesh, body, meat.

The use of the word skin caught my eye because I think most Christians think of the flesh, the earthly body as being destroyed. The word skin also caught my eye because of Genesis 3:21, which says, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” This clothing with “skins” was just after the consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Therefore, I have always heard it said that these skins were the result of the first death since an animal had to be killed to make the skins. And, therefore, this was the first picture of a sacrifice for sin in the Bible. I have been told that this shows that God requires, even demands, the shedding of blood for sin.

But, in order for all of this to be true, then God would have had to kill an animal. God would have had to bring death to part of his creation.

But, based on all of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels, his full revelation of the Father, we know that God does not kill. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill  and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Also, 1 John 5, we read that God is life. Therefore, God death is not in God and consequently he cannot kill or bring death to anyone or anything. Life is God’s character and nature. God cannot go against his character and nature.

So, what do we do with this statement from Genesis 3:21 that God made “garments of skins” for Adam and Eve and “clothed them”?

Well, Job says his skin would be destroyed, but God did not make a garment of skin for Job. God did not sacrifice an animal for Job to have a skin.

Where am I going with this? What thought came into my mind reading Job’s statement about skin and flesh?

Well, perhaps Adam and were beings of light with an altogether different body, like the one Jesus revealed to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration and the one he had after his resurrection. Speaking of the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew 17:2 says, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Also, remember that when Jesus was resurrected – in a body, in the flesh – no one could recognize him. Jesus most certainly had a body, but it was an altogether different type of body.

Perhaps when Adam and Eve sinned, God made for them skins – tents as Peter and Paul would say – that were a covering for the light beings. Maybe they weren’t animal skins at all.

Job had a skin. And, when he expressed faith in his redeemer, he believe that skin, that garment covering his light being, would be destroyed.

Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:5, “For you are all children of light.”

In Luke 16:8, Jesus said, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

In John 12:36, Jesus said, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

Paul said in Ephesians 5:8, “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

In Genesis 1, on the first day of creation, God said, “Let there be light.” Well, not exactly. The Hebrew really just says, “Be light.” And, if anyone is in Christ, behold all things are new. If you are in Christ you are a new creation. “Be light.”

So, perhaps it is our “skin” – our earthly tent, covering, or tabernacle – that will be destroyed. Then, we will have a new body that manifests at the return of Jesus, when we are finally resurrected.

Perhaps we will still have a body of flesh – remember Jesus after his resurrection. It will just be a different type of flesh. Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:35-41.

“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh it the same, but there one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”

So was Job right? Will our skin, the covering of our light being, be destroyed yet we will see God in our flesh?

Paul says there is a flesh of the earth and a flesh of heaven.

It’s just a theory for me. Nothing I would hang my hat on. But, in addition to having a quite intriguing aspect to it, the difference between skin and flesh makes better sense of Genesis 3:21 for me since God does not kill or bring death.

Though He Slay Me, Yet I Will Trust in Him?

TODAY’S READING: JOB 13-16

The title of today’s blog post comes from the King James Version of Job 13:15. “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.” This is a well-known verse of scripture amongst many Christians. It is often preached and used as a declaration of encouragement to have faith like Job to trust in God in any situation.

But, is that what we are to learn from this verse? Is that what this verse is about?

For the moment, let’s assume this is actually what the verse says in Hebrew (there are other possible translations). So, Job is saying, “Even if God kills me, yet I am going to trust in him.”

Really? That is supposed to be a sign of great faith?

According to the popular understanding of this verse, I am supposed to trust a God who is my Father in all circumstances even if one of them is that this God is going to kill me. Would any of us ever trust an earthly father who acted in such a manner?

I think not. Nor do Jesus and the Father expect us to have faith in a god that kills us.

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” Next to God, all earthly fathers are evil. But, if even earthly fathers, who are evil, would not kill their children, then how much more would God, a good Father, not kill his children? If we can’t conceive of earthly fathers doing a wicked act, then it be obvious that our Father who is in heaven would not do that wicked act.

Not only is God a perfectly good Father and much higher than earthly wicked fathers, God does not kill. Jesus revealed this very clearly. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” According to Jesus, Satan is the one that kills. According to Jesus, he gives life. And, Jesus always and only did what he saw the Father doing. (See also my post Who Says I Destroy – God or Satan?)

So, at this point, we should see that something is wrong with what Job says. Clearly, Job does not have a true revelation of who God is. So, whatever faith or trust Job is exhibiting, if indeed that is what this is verse is about, is not based on the true reality of who God is.

But, should we even take Job’s statement “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” as one of great faith? Is Job making a declaration of great faith in God?

Let’s remember Job and his three friends argue about theology back and forth for roughly 35 chapters. Then, God shows up in Job 38. And, for two chapters God asks Job question after question after question. God’s basic point to Job was that you and your friends have no idea what you are talking about. If the statement by Job – “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” – was once that characterized Job’s great faith in God, then surely God would have acknowledged this great faith.

But, God does no such thing. Here is yet another sign that what Job said is not really a declaration of his great faith in God.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Is that even what the Hebrew really says?

The ESV substitutes the word hope for trust.

The NLT says, “God might kill me, but I have no other hope.”

The ASV says, “Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope.”

The Good News Translation says, “I’ve lost all hope, so what if God kills me?”

Young’s Literal Translation says, “Lo, He doth slay me – I wait not!

That’s quite the variety in how this verse is translated. Some of them indicate Job is hoping or trusting in God. Others say that Job has lost all hope so who cares if God kills him. Those are not even remotely the same in their meaning.

What’s going on here?

Well, so far throughout the book of Job, we have heard one thing from Job. He wants a chance to contend with God, to confront God. Job wants to tell God that he is blameless. He wants to argue his own ways to God’s face. Job wants to prove to God that he is right and does not deserve the affliction that he has received.

And, that’s exactly the context surrounding Job’s supposed statement of great faith, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Notice verse 13. Job says that if he could just get some silence, get his friends to shut up for a minute, then he would have a chance to speak. And, speak his mind he will regardless of what happens – “and let come on me what may.”

And, immediately after Job supposedly says “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” Job says he is going to argue his ways to God’s face. Does that sound like Job is trusting in God even if God kills him?

Then Job says that his chance to come before God and argue his ways to God’s face will be his salvation (verses 15 and 16). While will this be Job’s salvation? Because only the godly can come before God – “the godless shall not come before him.” So, if Job gets a chance before God to argue his case, then Job believes this is an indication that he is godly. Therefore, it will be a sign of his salvation.

What Job is really saying here is that his affliction is so bad that he has given up hope and is ready to confront God because Job is right in his ways. Since Job has no hope, he must as well do this. If he’s right, then it will be his salvation. If he’s wrong, then God will kill him, which Job has asked for anyway (see Job 3:11 and 10:18).

So, instead of declaration of Job’s great faith the verse actually reveals Job’s utter lack of hope and despair and his willingness to throw caution to the wind to prove that he is right and he does not deserve the affliction he is going through. Job’s motive seems to be more to prove God wrong than it is to pray with perseverance for God’s goodness to manifest in his life. This is the strain of thinking that runs through all of Job’s discourses and is precisely why God chastises him when he shows up.

This is aa great example of Christians arriving at the wrong understanding of all an Old Testament passage of scripture because they let the Old Testament interpret the character and nature of God instead of relying on Jesus as their sole interpreter of God’s character and nature and then using the revelation of God through Jesus to interpret and understand the Old Testament.

Job Confuses God and Satan

TODAY’S READING: JOB 8-12

Job has a foundational problem in his understanding. He believes that good is both the one who did good to him and the one who is currently doing evil to him. Job confuses God and Satan.

It appears that Job does not even know Satan exists. Therefore, everything that happens to him, good or evil, is a direct result of God’s hand.

This is why Jesus came. He came to reveal exactly who God is. Jesus came to show that God is good and only good. God is light and there is no darkness in him, which is to say that God does no evil. I assure you that if we think an action is evil then God thinks it evil more than we do. And, if we think an action is evil then God is not the cause of it.

In Job 9:17, Job said, “For he crushes me with a tempest.” Does God send storms against us? No. Jesus shows us just the opposite. Instead of sending storms against us, God quiets them.

Matthew 8:24-26 says, “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he [Jesus] was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

Also in 9:17, Job said God “multiplies my wounds without cause.” Does wound us? When we are down, does God multiply our wounds? No. Jesus shows us just the opposite. Instead of wounding us, God heals us.

When Jesus wanted to show what love was like, he told the parable of the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan went to the naked man “and bound up his wounds.” (Luke 10:34) Jesus told the lawyer to go and do likewise for this is how you fulfill God’s law.

Not only does God not wound us but heal us, Jesus was wounded so that we would be healed. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

In 9:18, Job said that God “fills me with bitterness.” Does God make us bitter? No. All throughout the New Testament we are told to remove bitterness from our hearts. Bitterness is to have no place in us. Would God fill us with bitterness only to tell us to remove bitterness from our hearts? No. And, Jesus shows us how to remove bitterness.

Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy seven times.'” Jesus told Peter to avoid bitterness he needed to continually practice forgiveness. And, Jesus set the example on the cross when he asked the Father to forgive us for executing him.

You can continue through Job’s speech finding example after example where Job assigns evil acts to God. And, in the New Testament, we can find where Jesus reveals that the God does not do these evil acts but in fact does the opposite.

Job’s problem was he assigned the works of Satan to God. Job was confusing God and Satan. And, because Job did this, he believed he was in a battle with God. Just look at what Job says.

“But how can a man be in the right before God?” – Job 9:2

“Though I am in the right…” – Job 9:15

“Though I am in the right…though I am blameless…” – Job 9:20

“I am blameless…” – Job 9:21

“If I am in the right…” – Job 10:15

In a relationship of love, is the goal to be in the right? In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul says that love “does not insist on its own way.” In other words, love does not seek to be right.

“If one wished to contend with him…” – Job 9:3

“Let me know why you [God] contend against me.” – Job 10:2

Is contending with us? Is he fighting with us?

Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” God is not against us, but he is for us. If we are at all thinking that God is against us, allowing some sort of evil in our lives, then we truly have not learned who God is. God does not do that.

We need no longer be confused about God and Satan, what God does and what Satan does. Jesus clearly separated the two for us. God does good and only good. Satan does evil and only evil.

Eliphaz Lacked Grace and Truth

TODAY’S READING: JOB 5-8

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s friends to counsel. His first speech straddled yesterday’s and today’s reading.

Like with Job, we need to understand who Eliphaz is to see where he is coming from.

The name Eliphaz has a couple of possible meanings. First, it could mean God is fine gold. The second part of the name (El is the first part) might have to do with refining a metal.

Second, Eliphaz could mean my god is skill or my god is agility. I think this indicates not that Eliphaz is a person who sees God as skillfulness or agile. Rather, Eliphaz has skill and agility, particularly in regards to his mind and intelligence, his god.

The number of the name Eliphaz (summing of the numerical values of the Hebrew letters that spell the name) is 50. Of course, when we think of 50 our minds immediately turn to Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us power and wisdom. In addition, the Holy Spirit frees us, which is also related to the number 50 through Jubilee.

These truths of the Holy Spirit symbolized by the number related back to the meaning of the name because it is the Spirit that refines us with his fire. And, it is the Spirit that gives us every skill and ability.

However, Eliphaz was from Teman. Teman was in Edom. This means Eliphaz is a descendant of Esau. Edom and Esau symbolize the things of the earth and carnality. Eliphaz may have been wise, but his mind and state of thinking was carnal. Such a mind is enmity against God.

Therefore, this makes Eliphaz’s name somewhat ironic. For Eliphaz wasn’t really doing any of the things his name would imply for Job.

Instead, Eliphaz was blaming Job’s current condition on something that Job had done. In Job 4:7, Eliphaz said, “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” The whole basis of Eliphaz’ counsel is that Job has done something somewhere that has brought this calamity on him.

John 9:1-12 tells the story of a man born blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus who sinner – the man of his parents – that he was born blind. But, in verse 3, Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus wasn’t concerned about how the man became blind. Rather, Jesus focused on the response to the man’s blindness. And, the response showed was full of grace, mercy, and kindness – the love of God.

Like the disciples, Eliphaz was focused on determining the root cause of Job’s suffering and calamity. That’s what the carnal mind does. Instead, Eliphaz should have taken the power, the wisdom, and the purifying abilities signified by his name and used them to show love to Job.

In a way, Eliphaz was seeking to apply the law to Job. You did x, so you are going to get why. Eliphaz may have had all knowledge and prophetic insight, but he wasn’t applying it with love. Eliphaz should have applied grace and truth to the situation. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

By the end of the book, Job prays for Eliphaz and gives an offering for him. Job was able to do this because he came to faith through the word of God. Therefore, I suspect that Job’s prayer and offering, full of faith, resulted in Eliphaz walking in the fullness of his name.

Faith Comes by Hearing God

TODAY’S READING: JOB 1-4

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17

I believe this is the story of Job in a nutshell.

How so?

Job was the greatest of all the people of the East. He was extremely wealthy and had a large family. But, he was continually afraid of losing it all. Job’s prayer reveals this. Job 1:5 says, “For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.”

How do we know fear motivated Job’s prayers?

Job says so himself. In Job 3:25-26, Job says, “For the things that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” Job walked in fear.

But, not only did Job walk in fear, he walked in darkness. Again, Job says so himself. Speaking of his conception and his birth in Job 3:4-6, Job says, “Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Let coulds dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. That night – let thick darkness seize it!”

What was the result of Job walking in darkness and fear?

Job saw God as both and good and evil. Again, Job tells us this himself. After he had lost everything, in Job 1:21, Job says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”

Job believed that the Lord gave. He saw God as good. But, Job also believed that God took away everything he had. Does a good father take away all that his son has? Would we not consider that father to be evil?

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Even evil fathers give good gifts to their children. But, God, as the perfect Father in heaven, only gives good gifts to his children. God does not give and then take away.

So, Job lacked faith in God’s goodness. Job walked in darkness and fear and saw God as the same.

It’s interesting that Job lacked faith given the meaning of his name. There are number of meanings proposed for the name of Job:

  • enemy
  • the persecuted
  • no father
  • where is my father

Given where Job is at the beginning of the book, walking in darkness and fear, all of these meanings seem appropriate in describing Job. Job was persecuted by Satan. It was this persecution that led Job to walk in darkness and fear, thus becoming an enemy of God. Job was questioning just who and where his father was.

But, there is another possible meaning of the name Job: returning, as in one who returns to God. We could say that one who turns to God is a man of faith.

Do you see any connection between the name Job and faith?

The name Job is spelled with the Hebrew letters aleph, yod, vav, bet. All Hebrew letters are also numbers. The numerical value of these letters, and Job’s name when added together, are:

1 + 10 + 6 +2 = 19

Even though the number 19 is only used two times in an ambiguous way in the Bible, the number 19 means faith. And, not just any faith, but faith in Jesus.

The number 10 often symbolizes testimony (think the 10 commandments, or the testimony of the law). The number often symbolizes the Spirit (consider there are nine aspects to the fruit of the Spirit). Added together we have the testimony of the Spirit.

What is the one thing the Spirit testifies about?

Jesus!

In John 15:26, Jesus said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness [testify] about me.”

And, Revelation 19:10 says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Noah’s name is mentioned the 19th time in Genesis 7:13. In this verse, Noah and his family entered the ark. The ark is a picture of Jesus and his salvation.

How do we receive salvation?

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”

Abram’s name is mentioned the 19th time in Genesis 13:1. Abram had overshot Canaan and gone down into Egypt, a picture of the world. But, in Genesis 13:1, Abram left Egypt and went back into the Negeb, the wilderness. It was an act of faith for Abram to leave Egypt, the world, and all that it had behind.

Paul’s name is mentioned the 19th time in Acts 15:36, which says, “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.'” Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the word of the Lord and he wanted to see how those people were who heard the word. In other words, Paul wanted to see what their faith was like.

If Job started without faith, then when did he become a man of faith?

Job 38:1 says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?'” When God spoke to Job, he immediately addressed Job’s walking in darkness.

After God’s speech, Job answered God in Job 40:4-5, which says, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoke once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

What did Job say there?

It is time for me to shut up, to cover my mouth, and hear God.

Job came to faith in the Lord when he stopped speaking and started hearing God.

This is exactly what Paul says in Romans 10:17 about faith coming by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.

But, what exactly is the word of Christ?

1 John 1:5 says, “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.”

The first message of Jesus is that God is light. Period. There is no darkness in God. God does not give and take away like Job thought. This first message of Jesus addressed the first thing Job said to his friends about his situation – he was in darkness.

1 John 3:11 says, “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

Why did we hear this message?

Because God is love (1 John 4:16).

And what does love do?

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever has not been perfected in love.”

What is punishment?

The taking away of something.

But, love does not operate by taking away something. That is how fear works.

So, the second message of Jesus is that God is love. Period. There is no fear in God. So, the second message of Jesus addressed Job walking in fear, which was a direct result of his walking in darkness.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. This is how Job became a man of faith.

Ahasuerus, Mordecai, and Haman – The Father, Jesus, and Satan

TODAY’S READING: ESTHER 6-10

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the words God and lord are never used in the book of Esther. Yet, the story reveals to us much about the Father and Jesus as it is a wonderful allegory.

Take the time to read chapters six through 10, keeping in mind King Ahasuerus as a picture of the Father, Mordecai as a picture of Jesus, and Haman as a picture of Satan.

A CONVERSION BETWEEN THE FATHER AND SATAN

As I read Esther 6:1-10, I could see this being a conversation between the Father and Satan.

The Father knows what Jesus has done and wants to honor him. As the Father was speaking with his angels, he asked who was in the court.

Satan had just entered the court. He wanted to speak to the Father about Jesus and accuse him for breaking the law. Indeed, Satan wanted to hang Jesus upon a tree that he had prepared.

When the Father found out Satan was in the court, he told his angels to let him come in. But, before Satan could say anything, the Father said, “What should be done to the man whom the Father delights to honor?”

The Father knew Satan was full of pride. He knew what Satan would think about this question. And, indeed Satan said to himself, “Whom would the Father delight to honor more than me?”

Thinking that he would be the one to be honored, Satan said to the Father, “For the man whom the Father delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the Father has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the Father’s most bole officials. Let them dress the man whom the Father delights to honor, and let them him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the Father delights to honor.'”

Being so full of pride and knowing that surely whatever he said should be done to the man the Father wanted to honor would be done, Satan asked for what would make him equal to the Father. He wanted everything the Father had – all his power and authority.

But to Satan’s surprise, the Father told Satan to do give everything he had just stated (thinking it was for himself) to Jesus. So, despite his unquenchable desire to be the Father, Satan had to hand over the power and authority of the Father to Jesus. Satan even had to say, “Thus shall it be done to Jesus whom the Father delights to honor.”

Satan thought he would ride through the city on a horse in a victory parade. But, instead Jesus triumphed over Satan and put him to an open shame.

SATAN FALLS

Satan went home and mourned, lamenting everything that happened. But, Satan’s followers told him, “If Jesus, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”

Jesus was of the Jews. Indeed, he was the Jew. So, Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning.

SATAN DESTROYED

When the Father found out Satan’s plans for the people of Jesus, the Father said Satan should be hung on the tree he had prepared for Jesus. For, while it looked like Jesus was defeated on the tree Satan had prepared to hang him on, it was actually Satan that was destroyed on that tree.

It was Satan’s destruction on that tree, not that of Jesus, that abated the wrath of the Father. For on that tree, Jesus showed the love that he had for the Father and all his people. That display of love was to the Father’s glory. That display of love was like wrath to Satan. It destroyed Satan since he only dealt in fear and not love.

SATAN’S WEAPON, DEATH, CAME BACK ON HIS HEAD

Satan was the enemy of all of Jesus’ people. He had plotted against all of Jesus’ people to destroy them. What was his plot? To hold them in slavery to the fear of the death, thereby getting of all Jesus’ people to believe his lies and murder themselves. This was Satan’s plan to bring death and destruction to his enemies.

But, when the plan was found out, the Father gave orders that Satan’s evil plan against all of Jesus’ people should return back on Satan’s own head. The Father, and Jesus, would use Satan’s own weapon, death, against him.

So, Jesus died but rose again to show all his people that death, the fear of it and slavery to it, had been defeated. Jesus defeated Satan and his weapon of death through his own death. Therefore, death had returned upon Satan’s own head.

There’s so much more that could be said about these chapters and how they portray what Jesus has done for us. And, I haven’t even mentioned Esther, who I think could be pictured as the Holy Spirit (although I’m undecided on this).

Searching for God in 127 Provinces

TODAY’S READING: ESTHER 1-5

You will not find the words God or Lord in the book of Esther. If memory serves me correctly, Esther is the only book of the Bible where this true. But, this doesn’t mean that God is not present nor that the book fails to witness to Jesus. We just have to go searching.

Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”

Esther reveals itself as a wonderful allegory that reveals Jesus. But, instead of allegory, we are going to find Jesus in Esther with the help of gematria.

Gematria is a Hebrew term that most likely derives from the Greek word geometria, which is where the English word geometry comes from. Gematria makes use of the fact that all Hebrew letters were also numbers (the same is true in Greek, where the term is isopsephy). Because of the number values for all Hebrew letters, every Hebrew word also has a number value. Studying these combinations of letter, words, and numbers in the Bible is “exceedingly abundantly” amazing.

‘127 PROVINCES

“Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel.” – Esther 1:1-2

“The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also the Jews in their script and their language.” – Esther 8:9

“Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth.” – Esther 9:30

The book of Esther contains three of the four uses of the number 127. Is this by chance? Persia just happened to have 127 provinces? Or, is this saying something about God and Jesus?

AN INDIVISIBLE NUMBER

The number 127 is a prime number. That means it can only be divided by one and itself. In other words, the number 127 is indivisible.

The number 127 is the 31st prime number. This is significant because the most basic name of God is El. In Hebrew it is spelled with the letters aleph and lamed, which have values of one and 30, respectively. Therefore, God’s name El has a value of 31, which is directly related to the number 127.

So, in this story, I believe we can see Ahasuerus as a picture of God reigning over his indivisible kingdom.

At the start of the ten commandments, Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” God cannot be divided. He is one.

Daniel 2:44 says, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.”

In Mark 3:24, Jesus said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Therefore, we know the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Jesus Christ, is not divided against itself because it will last forever.

So, I believe we are to see the Persian kingdom of Ahasuerus, which spanned from India to Ethiopia, meaning the whole world, as God’s kingdom that covers the whole and earth and cannot be divided.

127 = 90 + 37

Outside the book of Esther, the only other mention of the number 127 is found in Genesis 23:1. That verse says, “Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.”

The 127 years of Sarah break up into two periods though. She lived 90 years married to Abraham without children. Then, Sarah had Isaac and lived another 37 years. So, Isaac, the child of promise, a picture of Jesus, was 37 when Sarah died.

Some believe that the number 90 symbolizes the righteous sifted.

The Hebrew later tsade has the gematria value of 90. It’s picture (Hebrew letters are also pictures) looks something like a man kneeling or on his side.  Therefore, sometimes this letter is given the meaning of righteous person. The letter even forms the basis of the Hebrew words for righteous and righteousness.

The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is aleph. It is thought to represent God, and possibly even the bridegroom. Therefore, some believe that tsade represents the bride, since tsade reflects the image of aleph.

Perhaps we can think of the number 90 as the righteous bride that has been sifted or suffered.

What about 37?

Like 127, 37 is a prime number. Also, the number 37 has some amazing geometrical properties that pop out through the first verse of the Bible. (These properties are way too involved for this post, but you can check them out at The Bible Wheel – 37 and a fascinating exegesis of Genesis 1:1.)

If we use the place values of the Hebrew letters (instead of their traditional values), then the Hebrew word for wisdom has a value of 37. If we use the traditional values, then the Hebrew word for wisdom has a value of 73. Interestingly, these create a sort of palindrome. It’s also interesting that the Greek word logos has a gematria value of 373, a very similar palindrome, since Christ is the the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Therefore, many believe that the number 37 represents the word.

So, when we add 90, the righteous bride that was sifted or suffered, to 37, the word, Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, we get 127, the indivisible kingdom of God.

127 = KING OF GLORY

The phrase “king of glory” has a gematria value of 127.

Psalm 24 speaks of the king of glory. Verse 1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

This brings us back to to the 127 provinces of Ahasuerus that represented the Persian kingdom covering the whole earth. But, at the start of Psalm 24 we see all the earth belongs to the Lord. God’s kingdom is the whole world and all those that dwell in the earth.

Who is able to go up the hill to the mountain where the kingdom of God?

The king of glory.

Who is the king glory?

“The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle.” Jesus!

127 LANGUAGES PROCLAIMING THE KING OF GLORY

This brings us to the last two times that the number 127 is used in Esther. In one verse, we read that the commands of Mordecai, who symbolizes Jesus, were written and spoken in the languages of the people of the 127 provinces. In the other verse, we read that those words were peace and truth.

After Jesus had ascended to the throne of God with all authority in heaven and earth, his Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples.

When the Holy Spirit fell, what happened?

The disciples spoke in tongues, different languages, the languages of the people gathered in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:6-11 says, “And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians [in other words, the whole world] – we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.'”

What were the mighty works of God the disciples were telling?

Jesus brought peace and truth from heaven to earth. The kingdom of God had now invaded the earth.

The depth and richness of the symbolism of the Bible, understood by the Spirit and his teaching, is the true inspiration of the Bible. We need to let the Spirit reveal Jesus and leave behind the dead letter of a story like Esther.

The Wood Offering and Firstfruits

TODAY’S READING: NEHEMIAH 11-13

“Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.” – Nehemiah 13:30-31

This is the closing statement of the book of Nehemiah. Several things stand out to me in relation to Jesus.

Nehemiah had cleansed the people of everything foreign.

We wed ourselves to all sorts of thoughts, ideas, beliefs, practices, customs, etc. that are foreign to the light, love, and life of God. Jesus cleanses us from everything that is foreign to God’s character. We are no longer to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. And, we are to destroy the strongholds, the foreign fortresses in our minds, that guard thoughts and lofty opinions against the knowledge of God. Jesus cleanses us of all these as we set our minds on him.

Nehemiah provided for the wood offering at appointed times. This was a daily offering necessary for the priests to keep fire continually burning on the altar.

Jesus provided his own wood offering at his own appointed time, carrying the cross for his crucifixion.

Nehemiah also provided for the firstfruits.

In 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, Paul says that Jesus is the firstfruits. In his resurrection, Jesus brought new life to the earth. He was the firstfruits, the first of this new life, to come forth out of the ground.

As the last things Nehemiah mentions of himself, it clearly was important for him. And, these are important things to remember about Jesus. He cleanses us of everything foreign in our hearts, souls, and minds. He provides the wood for the offering that he, and all us who want to follow him, was crucified on. He is the firstfruits, the beginning of the new creation and new life.

The Man Who Sealed the Covenant

TODAY’S READING: NEHEMIAH 8-10

In my Bible, the heading of Nehemiah 10:1-26 is “The People Who Sealed the Covenant.” It was the princes, Levites, and priests listed in these verses that sealed the covenant the returned exiles made with God. But, we know from the New Testament that Jesus is the man who sealed the covenant with God for us.

So how do we see Jesus in these verses?

24

In verses 1-8 are listed the priests who sealed the covenant. There are 24 priests listed. The number 24 symbolizes the priesthood.

In 1 Chronicles 24, David instituted 24 courses of priests to serve in the temple. And, this is why Revelation repeatedly mentions the 24 elders around the throne.

Psalm 24 speaks of the king of glory. But, this king of glory ascends the hill of the Lord, stands in the holy place, and enters the temple. These are all priestly activities. So, this king is also a priest. And, Psalm 72 speaks of a king. It lists 24 things that this king does. So, we see a link between the king and priest. This pictures Jesus as he is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who was both king and priest.

Hebrews 2 says Jesus became like us so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest and make propitiation for our sins. Jesus did this on the cross, where he also sealed the covenant with God for us.

17

In verses 9-13 are listed the Levites who sealed the covenant. There are 17 Levites listed. The number 17 symbolizes victory.

The first mention of 17, actually the 17th, is in Genesis 7:11, 13, which says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened…On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark.” The next mention of the 17th is at the end of the flood. Genesis 8:4 says, “And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”

So, the flood starts and Noah’s family enters the ark on the 17th. The flood ends and the ark lands on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th. The ark then represents victory over the flood. When we see the ark as a type of Jesus, seventeen speaks to the victory of Jesus.

Jesus, the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God, was selected according to the law on the 10th day of the month. He was crucified, in complete fulfillment of the law, on the 14th day of the month. But, Jesus rose from the grave, was resurrected, won the victory over Satan, sin, and death, three days later on the 17th day of the month.

So, Jesus’ death on the cross was his victory. And he sealed the covenant there.

44

In verses 14-27 are listed the chiefs of the people who sealed the covenant. There are 44 chiefs of the people listed. The number 44 symbolizes the chosen son.

While the number 44 is not used in the Bible, uses of names have some interesting connections to the number.

Most importantly, the 44th time the name Jesus is used in the gospel of Luke is found in Luke 9:35-36. It says, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.”

Jesus is the chosen one, the son of God, that sealed the covenant with God for us.

It’s not always obvious, but for those who dig Jesus can be found in everywhere in the Bible.

The Persecution of Jesus in Nehemiah

TODAY’S READING: NEHEMIAH 4-7

When I read Nehemiah 6, I see the persecution of Jesus throughout the entire chapter.

THE PLOT TO KILL JESUS

“Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm.” – Nehemiah 6:2

Sanballat and Geshem were enemies of Nehemiah. His enemies pretended to want to meet with him for friendly reasons, but Nehemiah knew they intended to do him harm.

Matthew 26:1-5 says, “When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the place of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.'”

Jesus was going to Jerusalem for the Passover, seemingly a celebratory event. But, notice how Jesus said to his disciples that he knew he would be delivered up. Jesus knew the plot to kill just like Nehemiah knew his enemies intended to do him harm.

COME DOWN

“And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’ And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. ” – Nehemiah 6:3-4

Four times Nehemiah’s enemies told him to come down from the wall and stop the great work that he was doing.

Jesus was doing a great work on the cross. His work would have been in vain had he come down from the cross.

How many times was Jesus told to come down from the cross?

Matthew 27:39-44 says, “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.”‘ And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.”

So, Nehemiah was told to come down from the cross four times. And Matthew tells us that Jesus was told four times to come down from the cross by:

  1. those who passed by
  2. the chief priests
  3. the scribes and elders
  4. the robbers who were crucified with Jesus
ARE YOU A KING?

“In it was written, ‘It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.’ Then I sent to him, saying, ‘No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.'” – Nehemiah 6:6-8

This reminds of the conversation Jesus had with Pilate.

John 18:33-37 says, “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? You own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.'”

Jesus’ conversation with Pilate is similar to Nehemiah, even to the point that Pilate says “I am not a Jew” and Geshem was not a Jew but an Arab.

INTO YOUR HANDS

“For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” – Nehemiah 6:9

Jesus’ persecutors thought if they could taunt him  and frighten him enough his hands would weaken and he would come down from the cross. But, Luke 23:46 says, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit!”

Jesus wasn’t afraid. He called out to God with a loud voice. Jesus committed his spirit into the Father’s hands. He was strengthened.

GET BEHIND ME SATAN

“‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.’ But I said, ‘Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.'”

When Jesus began telling the disciples about his impending death, Peter said that it shouldn’t be. He would have hid Jesus if he could. But, Jesus rebuked him.

Matthew 16:21-23 says, “From the time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'”

Nehemiah was told to hide in the temple. In effect, Peter was telling Jesus to hide. But, Jesus knew he couldn’t do that. What kind of man would he have been? How could he flee from what he was sent to do? Interestingly, the temple was a man-made building, Jesus told Peter that he had his mind set on the things of man and not the things of God.

JUDAS COMES WITH A MOB

“And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.” – Nehemiah 6:12-13

Judas was hired to betray Jesus. And, he brought a mob with him to get Jesus to fight. Quoting Isaiah 53:12, Jesus said in the Luke 22:37, “For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” This was fulfilled when Judas came with his mob and Peter struck one of the mob with a sword. And, Jesus was numbered among the transgressors.

Pretty amazing that Nehemiah 6 is a virtual play-by-play of the persecution of Jesus.