Jesus Is the Wisdom of God – Part 1

TODAY’S READING: PROVERBS 1-3

The first eight chapters of proverbs personify wisdom as a woman, which was quite common in the ancient world I believe. But, in 1 Corinthians 1:24, Paul said Jesus Christ, indeed Christ crucified, is “the wisdom of God.”

So, here’s Proverbs 3 with wisdom as Jesus.

My son, do not forget Jesus, but let you heart keep Jesus, for length of days and years of life and peace Jesus will add to you.

Let not Jesus forsake you; bind Jesus around your neck; write Jesus on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Trust in Jesus with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Jesus, and Jesus will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Jesus will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Honor Jesus with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

My son, do not despise Jesus’ discipline or be weary of his reproof, for Jesus reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Blessed is the one who finds Jesus, and the one who gets Jesus, for the gain from Jesus is better than gain from silver and Jesus’ profit better than gold. Jesus is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with Jesus. Long life is in Jesus’ right hand; in Jesus’ left hand are riches and honor. Jesus’ ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Jesus’ paths are peace. Jesus is a tree of life to those who lay hold of him; those who hold Jesus fast are called blessed.

The Lord by Jesus founded the earth; by Jesus he established the heavens; by Jesus the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down dew.

My son, do not lose sight of him – keep Jesus, and Jesus will life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for Jesus will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’ – when you have it with you. Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not chose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Jesus, but the upright are in his confidence. The Jesus curse is on the house of the wicked, but Jesus blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Toward the scorners Jesus is scornful, but to the humble Jesus gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.

When we see Jesus as the teaching and commandments the son is giving his father at the start of chapter three, then it truly highlights that Jesus did not and could not do any of the lies and violence of the last paragraph. Just as Isaiah 53 says and as the gospels records, Jesus did no violence and spoke no deceit.

When we have Jesus, neither will we.

How Was God Jesus’ Refuge Since He Died on the Cross?

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 141-150

“But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snare of the evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass safely by.” – Psalm 141:8-10

Many of the psalms have similar words to the above three verses. And, I believe, in some way, all the psalms speak of Jesus.

So, if Jesus was crucified, then how was the Lord his refuge? How was Jesus not left defenseless? How was Jesus kept from the trap that his enemies laid? How was he kept from the snare of the evildoers? How did Jesus pass safely by?

First, we must understand that Jesus did not come to rule and reign like the kings of the earth. Instead Jesus came to reveal exactly who God is to us.

Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “Christ, who is the image of God.”

Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

As the image of God, which we were all created to be and Jesus came to restore us to, Jesus had to fully and completely display that in his every deed and word without sin. Otherwise, he would not have been “the image of God.”

1 Peter 2:22 says, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”

1 John 3:5 says, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

So, Jesus was without sin. But, as the image of God, the exact imprint of God’s nature, what did Jesus reveal?

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.”

1 John 4:8-10, 18 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…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 5:11-12 says, “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.”

Therefore, as the image of God, Jesus came to reveal:

  1. God is light and not darkness
  2. God is love and not fear
  3. God is life and death

Given that this was what Jesus came to reveal as the image of God, then the trap and the snare of evildoers was to get Jesus to deviate from the image of God. The trap and the snare of evildoers was to get Jesus to act not in love, which never seeks its own (1 Corinthians 13:5), but to act in his own self-interest.

This was the exactly how Satan tempted him in the wilderness in Matthew 4. In verse 3, Satan said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Jesus had just fasted for 40 days and was hungry. Satan wanted Jesus to act in his own self-interest and not love, thereby denying the image of God that he came to reveal.

In verse 5, Satan again taunted Jesus, saying, “If you are the Son of God…” Again, Satan wanted to get Jesus to act in his own self-interest and do something that would prove he is God.

Then, in verses 8-10, Satan gave Jesus the opportunity to have all the kingdoms of the world without going to the cross, if only he would worship Satan. But, this would have been the ultimate denial of image of God for Jesus, since the image of God is only to worship the Lord God.

The trap and the snare of the evildoers, of Satan, was for Jesus to act contrary to the image of God, denying the nature of who God is.

And, this is just what Satan tried to get Jesus to do on the cross.

Matthew 27:39-42 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 in him.'”

The gospel of Mark records similar words spoke to Jesus on the cross.

But, if Jesus took himself down from the cross, then he would have denied the love of God, for the cross is how we know the love of God. The cross, that God is willing to die for us instead of killing us, is the ultimate display of God’s love.

Satan though that he could trap and snare Jesus to act in his own self-interest and not love by putting all the violence the world could dish out for all time on Jesus at that one moment on the cross. This is what it means that Jesus bore the sins of the world.

But, even though he had the power to do so, Jesus did not take himself down from the cross. Jesus did not act in his own self-interest. Instead, Jesus stayed trued to the image of God. Even on the cross, Jesus held to revealing that God is light, love, and life.

Jesus was able to do this because God was his refuge. Because God did not leave him defenseless. Because God kept from the trap and snare of the evildoers. Indeed, Jesus did safely pass by as rose from the dead three days later.

Jesus revealed having the Lord as your refuge and being kept from the snares and traps of Satan and this world do not mean that nothing bad ever happens. But, Jesus showed that having the Lord as your refuge and being kept from the temptations of Satan is about maintaining the image of God, to testify that God is light, love, and life, to worship the true and living and God and not idols.

God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 134-140

Psalm 136 repeats 26 times “for his steadfast love endures forever.”

“Endures forever” is the Hebrew word for eternal or everlasting.

God’s steadfast love endures forever because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Proverbs 10:12 says, “Love covers all offenses.”

Or, God covers all offenses.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

Or, God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God never ends.

Some translations say “love never fails.” Therefore, God never fails.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This proves that God’s love endures forever or is eternal. God always love us. He loves us when we are sinners. And, he loves us when we repent from sin.

In Romans 8:35, Paul rhetorically asks if there is anything that can separate us from the love of Christ?

We know love because Jesus died for us. (1 John 4:10)

Why are all these facts about love, and therefore God, so important?

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.” – Colossians 1:19-21

The complete and total fullness of God’s love dwelled in Jesus so that God could reconcile all things – everything in heaven and everything in earth – to himself. And, he reconciled us in the death of Jesus, which is the full display of God’s love for us because he would rather die for us than kill us or destroy us.

Everything will be reconciled to God. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is left out here. That sounds like love, that is God, never fails.

If anything – just one thing in heaven or earth – is not reconciled to God, then God and his love failed. God’s love would be defeated. But, God’s love cannot be defeated.

Reconcile means to restore to friendship or harmony or to make consistent or congruous. God is going to restore everything in heaven and earth – everything that he create – to friendship with him. God is going to make everything in heaven and earth consistent with his nature of light, love and life.

I believe most Christians fail to understand how full and complete this reconciliation will be. And, I believe this is because most Christians haven’t truly grasped what it means that God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Jesus Is for Peace

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 120-133

“I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” – Psalm 120:7

When I read these words, I hear them as the words of Jesus. Indeed, could these words be truly spoken by anyone other than Jesus?

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Only the Prince of Peace could have said, “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”

Mark 4:39 says that Jesus awoke and “rebuked the wind and said to the seas, ‘Peace! Be Still!”

In Mark 5:34, Jesus said to the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

In Mark 10:50, Jesus said, “Be at peace with one another.”

In Luke 1:79, Zechariah prophesied that Jesus, the sunrise that would visit us from on high, would “guide our feet into the way of peace.”

In Luke 2:14, there was a heavenly host that said to the shepherds in the field, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” The heavenly host declared this because Jesus, the Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was being born.

In Luke 7:50, Jesus said to “a woman of the city,” likely a prostitute, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

In Luke 19:42, when Jesus was entering Jerusalem just before his crucifixion, he said, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!”

In Luke 24:36, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, his first words were, “Peace to you!”

In John 14:27, the night before he was crucified, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

In John 16:32-33, as Jesus spoke to the disciples about his leaving this world, he said, “Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.”

In John 20:19, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.”

In John 20:26, Jesus appeared to his disciples eight days later and said, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus is for peace. He is the prince of the peace. Therefore, the heavenly host declared peace at his birth. Peace was always on the lips of Jesus. Jesus spoke peace the night before he was murdered. And, Jesus spoke peace when he was resurrected.

But, you will say, did not Jesus say, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

And, I will point you to every other word that Jesus spoke, and was spoken about him by the disciples, and say, “Jesus is for peace, but when he speaks, you are for war.”

Love: Everything Depends on It

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 119

Psalm 119 is all about God’s law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words.

Or is it?

As I was reading the psalm this morning, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that Psalm 119 is all about love.

“God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

How do we know God is love? What makes God’s love real to us?

“God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” – 1 John 4:9

Psalm 119 states a connection between life and God’s law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words.

“Give me life according to your word.” – verse 25

“Give me life in your ways.” – verse 37

“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” – verse 93

“Give me life according to your rules.” – verse 156

But, we saw in 1 John 4 that we live when God’s love is manifested to us when Jesus laid down his life for us on the cross. We live when we come to know that God’s law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words are all about laying down your life for the benefit of another. That is love.

In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus showed the relationship between love and law.

“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'”

Jesus said everything depends, or hangs, on love. Love is the single principle that holds the creation together.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:18

Fear, not hate, is the opposite of love. We fear that we will be without what we need or want. This fear then propels us to act like Satan – lying and doing violence. James 4:2 says, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”

Fear is the emotion that drives all lying and violence in the world. But, there is no fear in love and perfect love casts out all fear.

Therefore, in Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

When you no longer fear that you will be without what you need or want, then you are able to love your enemies. You are no longer desiring and coveting what they have. Instead, you are willing to lose everything that you have so that your enemy will be loved.

Therefore, in Matthew 16:25, Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

We try to save our life by holding on to whatever we have through lies and violence. This is the way of Satan’s kingdom and the world. But, if we lose our life, that is if we let go of protecting everything we have through lies and violence, then we find life. Then we know the love of God and can live.

The more I spend time with Jesus and the scriptures, the more I understand that salvation is not going to heaven. Salvation is freedom from the slavery of the fear of death. The fear of death leads us to act through all manner of lies and violence. But, salvation is the freedom to live through love. Salvation is to no longer protect my life and my possessions through lies and violence.

With this understanding of law, commandments, etc. depending on love and salvation as the freedom from lies and violence to love, even your enemies, Psalm 119 has some interesting revelation on how Jesus lived and how we are live like him.

“Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.” – Psalm 119:23

Jesus’ enemies were continually plotting against him, but he meditated on God’s love. Jesus never considered lies and violence toward his enemies because he was always meditating on God’s love.

“Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” – Psalm 119:29

False ways are lying and violence. We need to pray that all lying and violence – no exceptions – would be far from us. And, we need to pray that God would teach us his love.

“Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me; for I trust in your word.” – Psalm 119:41-42

When we have God’s promised salvation, the freedom to love with no need for lies and violence, then, and only then, can we respond to our enemies with love. It’s when we are free from lies and violence that we can repay evil with good instead of evil with evil as the world does.

“The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.” – Psalm 119:51

In our flesh, when someone really gets on us, we want to get back at them in an equal manner through some sort of lie or violence. But, Jesus never did that. He never did because even when the ridicule of his enemies was at its worst – if you are the son of God then take yourself down from the cross – he did not turn away from God’s love.

There are many, many more instances in Psalm 119 where replacing law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words with love and salvation with freedom from lies and violence reveal deeper insight about how we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

The Gate of the Lord

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 112-118

“Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.” – Psalm 118:19-20

“This is the gate of the Lord.”

What is this referring to?

I believe it is referring to righteousness. “Righteousness is the gate of the Lord.”

We tend to think that the word righteousness means correct moral action. But, the word means something more and different than that. The Hebrew word has more to do with faithfulness. Thus, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament defines this Hebrew word as to be communally faithful. In his latest book, The Day the Revolution Began, N.T. Wright notes that the Greek word for righteousness means covenant faithfulness or covenant justice.

So, communal or covenant faithfulness is the gate of the Lord.

Further, “this is the gate of the Lord” is interesting because of the word “this.” I checked about 15 different translations. All of them translate the Hebrew word as “this.” But, the Hebrew word used here can also mean “such a one.” Therefore, perhaps “this is the gate of the Lord” has the idea that such a one who is righteous, covenantally faithful, is the gate of the Lord.

In John 10:9, Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” So, Jesus is this gate that we enter by. According to 1 Corinthians 1:30, Jesus “became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Jesus became covenant faithfulness to us.

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” The gospel – Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected – reveals the covenant faithfulness of God.

God’s righteousness, his covenant faithfulness, was revealed to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden through his provision of every tree that was good for food and to the sight and, most importantly, through the tree of life, which is a picture of Jesus. This is important because as Paul continued in Romans 1 he described the unrighteousness, or lack of covenant faithfulness of men.

I believe Paul sums up man’s unrighteousness in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” God had provided everything good thing, including his own life, to man. But, man failed to be covenantally faithful through a simple lack of honoring and thanking God for his good provision. Adam and Eve, and each one of us, sought to live by the knowledge of good and evil in independence from God and their becoming like God instead of God’s provision and dependence upon him.

Thanksgiving is critical to Psalm 118. After asking for the gates of righteousness to be opened in verse 19, the psalmist says that he will go through them and give thanks to the Lord. In verse 21, the psalmist thanks the Lord for answering him and becoming his salvation, which as we saw above is made possible through Christ’s covenant faithfulness.

Also, Psalm 118 opens and closes with the exact same statement. “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” Here is the key for entering through the gate of righteousness, Jesus Christ who is the door by which one must enter to be saved. There must be a complete acknowledgment that God is good, as his provision in the garden of Eden revealed. And, there must be an acknowledgement that his steadfast love, his goodness, his covenant faithfulness, endures forever. Finally, we must give thanks to God for his goodness, his good provision, and his steadfast love that never ends. For it is thankfulness to God that keeps our minds on him instead of being darkened to serve idols.

Deserts into Pools of Water

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 107-111

“He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.” – Psalm 107: 33-35

The Old Testament view of God was that he did both good and evil. If you obeyed him, then God did good to you. But, if you disobeyed him, then God would do some sort of evil – a plague, a pestilence, a conquering enemy – to you.

In Psalm 107, the writer says that for God’s enemies – the evil inhabitants of a land, God turns rivers into a desert and a fruitful land into a salty waste. God turns a river, which is life giving, into a desert, which is a place of death since it lacks water. God turns a fruitful land, something productive and continually producing life, into a salty waste, something unproductive and incapable of producing life. However, the writer says that God does just the opposite for his people.

Does God really do both of these things?

The only way to know is to look to Jesus.

What do we see Jesus doing?

Does Jesus turn rivers into deserts or deserts into rivers?

In the gospels, John the baptist comes preaching in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. Throughout the Bible, the wilderness and the desert are synonymous. I believe we are to understand that this to mean more than John was preaching literally in a desert. Rather, we are to understand that the people he was preaching to were a desert. The people themselves had become a dry wilderness.

Jesus came into this desert, this dry wilderness. But, Jesus did not cause the people to be in this condition.

Why were the people a desert, a dry wilderness?

The psalm gives a clue. Verse 34 says “because of the evil of its inhabitants.” However, the psalm doesn’t reveal the whole story because it still says God turned the rivers into a desert because of the evil of the people of the land.

But, Jesus reveals that God didn’t do this because of the evil of the land’s inhabitants.

First, in Matthew 5:45, Jesus said, “For he [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust.” The psalmist believe that God dried up the water of the land of the wicked, the evil, the unjust. But, Jesus contradicts this. He said God does just the opposite. God treats the good and the evil the same by sending rain on their land. God is watering the land of all people.

Second, in John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus explicitly came to give people life. To do this, Jesus would have to give water not dry it up.

Third, in John 4:13-14, Jesus said, “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 promised to give an unending supply of living water to any who would drink from it. Indeed, not only would that person have this living water to drink, but Jesus said this person would have rivers of living water flowing out of his heart (John 7:38).

Instead of drying up rivers and turning places into deserts, Jesus turned deserts into well watered places. Metaphorically, this all speaks about what Jesus. So, we see that the psalmist was correct in Psalm 107:35.

So, if God doesn’t turn rivers into deserts as the psalmist said, then who does?

Jesus brought living water to every dry place. Yet, despite his having this living water, the life of God, inside of him, Jesus became a dry place. The river of life became a desert.

Where and when did this happen?

In John 19:28, while on the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

The river of life had been dried up.

By the hand of God?

No.

Then how was the river of life dried up?

By the evil, darkness, wickedness, and violence of man.

The cross symbolizes all the wrath, rage, fury, evil, wickedness, and violence that man could conjure up. And, it was all poured out on Jesus, drying up the man that had a river of life flowing out of him to the point that he said, “I thirst.” Jesus was a river turned into a desert, a wilderness, because of our evil and violence.

Therefore, it is not God that turns rivers into deserts. We do that ourselves. We made our own hearts a wilderness because of the wicked and evil intentions of our hearts.

Through Jesus, God came to change all of that. We know this because we never once see Jesus drying up water to create a wilderness. He’s always doing just the opposite.

And, this is what God desires to do to all of our hearts – turn the desert into a pool of water and the parched land into a spring of water.

Saved for His Name’s Sake

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 104-106

Psalm 106:8 says, “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.”

The psalm is speaking of God saving Israel. But, prophetically, it is speaking of Jesus saving us.

Jesus saves us for God’s name’s sake.

God’s name is his character. And, sake means to the benefit of. In regards to God, we could think of his benefit as his glory.

So, Jesus saves us to glorify God’s character (see John 17), to reveal who God really is.

Jesus’ salvation of us makes known God’s might power, which is his love. I wrote about this in Power Is Steadfast Love is Dying.

Just like Israel, we did not remember the abundance of God’s steadfast love (Psalm 108:7). So, Jesus saves us that we might always know God’s steadfast love, that we might know that God is love.

Worship the Image, the Living God

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 95-103

Psalm 97:7 says, “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols.”

In the above verse, the word images could also be translated idols while the words worthless idols could be translated pagan gods or “nothingnesses.”

Images and idols are representations of spiritual realities, powers, or forces. But, these spiritual realities, powers, or forces are created things. In other words, they do not have live in and of themselves. Therefore, scripture says that the images and idols that represent these spiritual realities, forces, or powers are dead. Idols cannot speak, hear, or move.

To  worship is to serve. So, to serve images or idols that do not have life in them puts us to shame because we are serving that which is dead. When we serve that which is dead, we become dead too. So, when Paul writes in Ephesians that we were dead in our sins and trespasses, he says this because we have become like the images and idols that we are serving or worshiping.

Centuries and millennia ago, idols were made of stone, wood, and other materials. Today, we simply worship the spiritual power or force behind the idol – e.g. power, money, or sex – without the tangible idol. We think we are more sophisticated because we don’t have the tangible idol, but we are really all the more enslaved because our idol worship doesn’t have the tangible reality to prove its falseness.

So, instead of worshiping or serving images, we are to worship and serve the image – Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

Why do we worship the image – Jesus Christ?

Because unlike the images and idols we create that are dead, Jesus is the life of God and that life is in him. John 1:4 says, “In him was life.” In John 5:26, Jesus said the Father “has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” In John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In Revelation 1:18, Jesus said, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.”

In order for us to have life, we must worship or serve life. Therefore, we must worship and serve Jesus to live. For, whatever we worship, we become. This is just what the Thessalonian church did. According to Paul, they were well known for having “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)

Transform Enemies, Not Destroy Them

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 89-94

There are two ways to deal with your enemy. The first way is to destroy them. The second way is to transform them.

We seem to see the method of destroying your enemy in Psalm 94. In verse 1, the psalmist cries out to the Lord, the God of vengeance. In verse 2, the psalmist says that it is time for God to judge the proud and repay them with what they deserve. In verse 3, the psalmist asks how long are the wicked going to exult or triumph.

But, by the end of the psalm, the psalmist declares his confidence that God will destroy his enemies. Verse 23 says, “He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.” The Hebrew word translated “wipe out” can also mean destroy or exterminate.

Mankind could only conceive dealing with his enemies the way mankind deals with his enemies. You had to destroy, completely wipe out, your enemy if you never wanted to deal with them again. The more viciously and violently you destroyed with your enemy, the fewer enemies you would have in the future because of the fear you would have instilled them.

So, when God said to Israel that he would deal with their enemies, they understood it to mean that God would destroy them.

But, Jesus changed every notion of how God deals with his enemies. Jesus literally turned our understanding upside down.

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Jesus showed that God dealt with enemies through the cross. To mankind, the cross is foolishness and weakness. To God, the cross is wisdom and strength. The same two wood beams viewed from two different angles have two completely different meanings.

If God wanted to destroy his enemies, then he would have put his enemies on the cross. But, God’s plan was never to destroy his enemies.

God’s plan was always to transform his enemies. Therefore, instead of putting his enemies on the cross, God put himself on the cross.

Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:1-2, and Colossians 1:21 say that all men were God’s enemies. But, Romans 12:2 says that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To be conformed to the world is to destroy your enemies. According to the world, you take vengeance on your enemies, you get even with them, you destroy them. But, through the cross we are transformed. According to Christ, you love your enemies, you repay their evil with good, you transform your enemies.

But, in a way, to transform your enemy is to destroy your enemy for if you transform your enemy then they are no longer your enemy. Because the end goal is the same but the means different, it was, and still is, easy for mankind to not understand that God’s desire is to transform and not destroy.

Therefore, with the cross in view, we can read Psalm 94 and understand what God was really saying. It’s not that the psalmist was wrong. Rather, he didn’t have the proper perspective to truly understand the message that God was giving him.