What Is God’s Breath?

There are three times in scripture when we are told that God breathed.

  1. “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” – Genesis 2.7
  2. And when he [Jesus] had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” – John 20.22
  3. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 3.16

The Bible declares that God breathes. But, we know that God doesn’t literally breathe like we do just like God doesn’t literally have hands or a back as scripture says.

If God doesn’t literally breathe, then what is God’s breath?

In Genesis 2.7, the Hebrew word for breath is neshamah. Strong’s defines this word as a puff, i.e. wind, vital breath, divine inspiration. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew defines neshamah as breath, essential to life and a causative agent for an activity of God.

“A causative agent for an activity of God” is a interesting part of the definition of neshamah as this is exactly the role the Spirit plays in God’s creation of the universe in Genesis 1. “In the beginning, God created…And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” In a sense, the Spirit was ready to give birth to the universe. The word for Spirit in Genesis 1.2 is ruah, which has a range of meanings including spirit, breath, or wind.

So, metaphorically we can understand God’s breath as his Spirit. This is why when Jesus breathed on his disciples he told them to receive the Holy Spirit.

God’s Spirit is his essence, his divine nature. So, God’s Spirit is made up of God’s attributes, which Paul says are invisible and known since the foundation of the world in Romans 1.

What are the invisible attributes of God, his Spirit, and therefore his breath?

  1. Life – “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life.” – 1 John 5.11-12
  2. Love – “God is love.” – 1 John 4.8 and 16.
  3. Light – “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1.5

Go back to the scriptures that started this post. Three times we are told that God breathed in scripture. And, each one reveals a different invisible attribute of God. Each one reveals a particular aspect of God’s breath, his Spirit, his essence.

Genesis 2.7 says that God breathed his breath into the man’s nostrils and the man became a living being.

God’s breath is life.

In John 20.19-23, Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. But, notice what Jesus says immediately before he breathed on them. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20.21)

How did the Father send Jesus?

John 3.17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God sent Jesus to save the world, the whole world, the entire universe and everything in it.

How would Jesus save the world?

“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.” – 1 John 4.9-10

Love was made manifest among us when God sent Jesus into the world. And, God sent Jesus into the world that we live through him. And, the love of God was most fully displayed by Jesus on the cross when he died for us.

So, when Jesus told the disciples that he is sending them as the Father sent him, he told them that he was sending in love. Further, he was sending them in love so that they would forgive. Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.” (John 20.22-23) To forgive the sins of another is to give life to them.

God’s breath is love.

There is much debate about just how to translate 2 Timothy 3.16 and what Paul meant by the word theopneustos, or God-breathed. Whether all scripture is God-breathed or when scripture is God-breathed, the key point at the moment is the result of the breath of God on scripture. If scripture is God-breathed, then it is useful or profitable for certain things – teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

Note that teaching, reproof, correction, and training are not life itself. Nor are they love. However, each of them, in their own way, are methods to bring someone who is off course, someone who has erred, back onto the correct path. The correct path, or way, that we are to be on is love. When we deviate from that path, God-breathed scripture is there to put us back on the way of love.

God-breathed scripture illuminates the path or way for us. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Isaiah 51.4 says, “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.”

Jesus said the entire law could be summed up in two commandments – love God and love your neighbor. Love is the law went out from God, or was sent into the world as John says. And, this law, this love, Jesus, was “the light of men” and “the true light, which gives light to everyone.”

Taking all of this together, we could say that God-breathed scripture is light.

God’s breath is light.

God’s breath is his Spirit, his essence, his nature. God’s essence or nature is revealed by his invisible attributes – life, love, light. An inspired reading of scripture reveals exactly this to us in the three passages that God breathes.

God’s breath if life. – Genesis 2.7

God’s breath is love. – John 20.22

God’s breath is light. – 2 Timothy 3.16

What Is God’s Job Function?

Genesis 2.2 says, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”

But, Jesus told us that the Father never stopped working. In John 5.17, Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

So, God works. Therefore, God has a job.

What is God’s job function?

Why is God working?

What is God trying to accomplish with his work.

To put it simply, God’s job function is to bring life out of death.

Everything that God does is focused on this one thing – bringing life out of death. God never brings death to anyone. Only life.

Just look at what Jesus said in John 5.19-29 immediately after he said that Father is working and so is he.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father  loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” – John 5.19-21

The Father gives life to the dead. And so does Jesus. Therefore, Acts 10.38 says, “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” Matthew 4.23 says, “And he went through all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Mark 1.34 says, “And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.” Luke 4.40 says, “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.” Everywhere Jesus went in the gospels he brought life to those that were sick because that is what he saw the Father doing.

Back to John 5.

“For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does honor the Son does honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5.22-24

Here again Jesus stresses that God causes things to move from death to life. This is how God works. Bringing life from death is God’s job function. Jesus says this is the word he is speaking and everyone who hears it will have eternal life. In other words, they will know that God and that his job function is bring life from death.  Later in John 12.49-50, Jesus explicitly stated this when he said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father told me.” Jesus only spoke life because life is the only thing God speaks. God is always calling life out of death.

Back to John 5.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5.25-29

The hour that was coming that Jesus referred to was his crucifixion. At the crucifixion of Jesus, the dead would hear the voice of the Son of God and come to life. All those in the tombs would hear the voice of the Son of God, come out of the tombs and receive the resurrection of life. The Bible, Christian faith, and Christian tradition make clear that if there is anything that reveals God it is the cross, where God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, which is to say bringing life out of death. So, here again we see God’s job function – bringing life out of death.

What else did Jesus say about the hour of his crucifixion?

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12.23-24

So, a seed dies and bears fruit. Life comes out of death. When Jesus died he was like a seed planted in the ground that God brought life out of.

But, what do we know about seeds?

Let’s go all the way back to creation, back to Genesis 1.11-12, which says, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.”

Seeds can only bear according to their kind. That is, seeds can only produce what is inside of them. Nothing else. An apple seed cannot produce an orange tree.

What was in Jesus?

“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” – John 5.26

The Father and the Son both have life in them. Life is in their seed. Therefore, they can only produce life. They cannot produce death because then their seed would be producing not according to their own kind but some other kind. The seed must die before it can bear what it is carrying inside of it. So, Jesus, the Son of God, had to die to bring forth life. Again, we are confronted with God’s work and his job function.

In fact, this is the theme of the creation story in Genesis 1. Remember, God was at work when he created.

What did God do?

Genesis 1.2 says, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”

What does that mean?

The earth was dead.

But, then God called forth light, water, and land on days one, two, and three. Then, God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation.”

Life.

Then God made the waters to swarm with living creatures and the heavens with birds.

More life.

Then God caused the earth to bring forth living creatures.

More life.

Then God created mankind in his own image.

More life.

Life, more life, more life, and more life. All from a dead earth.

Bring life out of death was what God did in the beginning, what God in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, what God is still doing today, and what God will always be doing.

God brings life and never death.

This what a crucified God reveals to us. Jurgen Moltmann said it this way in The Crucified God:

“The death of Christ cannot only come to fruition in an existentialist interpretation, in the ability of the believer to die in peace, important though that may be. The crucified Christ must be thought of as the origin of creation and the embodiment of the eschatology of being. In the cross of his Son, God took upon himself not only death, so that man might be able to die comforted with the certainty that even death could not separate him from God, but still more, in order to make the crucified Christ the ground of his new creation, in which death itself is swallowed up in the victory of life and there will be ‘no sorrow, no crying, and no more tears.'”

“Like the metaphysics of finite being, the theology of the cross sees all creatures subject to transitoriness and nothingness. But because it does not arise in this context, but sees nothingness itself done away with in the being of God, who in the death of Jesus has revealed himself and constituted himself in nothingness, it changes the general impression of the transitoriness of all things into the prospect of the hope and liberation of all things. ‘For the creation was subjected to nothingness, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope’ (Rom. 8.20). Thus the metaphysical longing of all that is transitory for intransitoriness and of all that is finite for infinity undergoes an eschatological transformation and is taken up into the hope of freedom and the sons of God and the freedom of the new creation that does not pass away. Anyone who says ‘resurrection of the dead’ says ‘God’ (Barth). On the other hand, anyone who says ‘God’ and does not hope for the resurrection of the dead and a new creation from the righteousness of God, has not said ‘God’. What other belief in God can be held by those who are ‘dead’ unless it is ‘resurrection faith’?”

Indeed.

To say that life from death is to say God. That is God’s work and job function.

But, if you say God and cling to hell, eternal conscious torment, eternal burning and suffering, then you are not actual saying God. You are saying death. And, Satan is the one with that power (Hebrews 2.14-15).

We must remember that we all were once dead. Some may even still be dead. But, to proclaim God, to proclaim Christian faith, to proclaim resurrection faith is to say that I once was dead but now I am alive.

“And you were dead in the 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 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 the 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. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2.10

Once again, God brings life to dead. This is his work. It is God’s job function. We, all humankind, are his workmanship, his masterpiece.

True Worship: The Cultivation of Life

“But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?'” (2 Kings 18.22) These were the words of the Rabshakeh, part of the court of Syria, to Eliakim, Shebnah, and Joah. The Rabshakeh was challenging Judah on their trust in God because Hezekiah was calling Judah to worship God at the altar in the temple in Jerusalem.

The implication of statement by the Rabshakeh is that Judah (and all the nations at that time) believed there was one, and only one, way to worship their God, or gods. In Judah, you had to the temple in Jerusalem. There was only one site you could worship God. You could only present certain offerings or sacrifices for thanksgiving, peace, purification, cleansing, or atonement at the temple in Jerusalem. The book of Leviticus is all about the rules and regulations of worshiping God in one specific way.

In other religions, there may be rules about how to pray – certain positions, certain directions, certain times, certain words that need to be repeated. Others require specific activities or specific foods to be eaten on specific days. So, for every religion, including Christianity, there is only one way to worship to God.

Is that true?

Is there only one way to worship God?

Are these religious practices and rites even truly worship?

For most Christians, worship is simply singing songs to God, particularly slower songs. If you asked, I’m sure most Christians would disagree with that, but their words betray. Worship leaders lead people in song. Only the singing part of a service is referred to as worship. Or, “The worship was really good today” is said in response to the singing used good songs or had an electric quality to it. But, in truth, singing songs has nothing to do with worship.

True worship is the cultivation of life.

In John 4, the woman at the well said to Jesus, “Sir I perceive that 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 woman, who was a Samaritan, believed that there was one mountain in Samaria where God could be worshiped. However, she also knew that those who lived in Judah said you could only worship God in Jerusalem. Worship as tied to specific places with specific practices.

But, 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 is now here, when 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.”

Jesus told the woman worship wasn’t about a specific place. This also meant that worship wasn’t about a specific practice or rite because that’s what the specific places were for. Worship could be done anywhere. But, it had to be in spirit and truth because God is spirit.

Jesus wasn’t saying that if we sing in the Spirit we are worshiping God in the spirit.

God is spirit.

In John 6.63, Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

Romans 8.10-11 says, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness, If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

God is spirit means that God is life. The Spirit gives life.

This is why Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12.49-50) Everything Jesus said and did was about bringing forth the life of God.

Have you ever noticed how little the gospels focus on Jesus practicing the Jewish religion? How little time is spent telling us about the religious practices of Jesus?

But, the gospels continually tell us about Jesus bringing life to people – all people. Jesus brought life everywhere he went. Jesus worshiped everywhere in every situation to everyone because he did the one commandment his Father gave him and he knew that one commandment is eternal life.

To worship God in spirit is to worship God in life. We think of worship as singing or specific religious practices, but the Greek word for worship (proskyneo) means falling down, giving reverence, prostrating oneself before. Jesus isn’t talking about our physical position. However, he is talking about the attitude of our hearts. To worship is to lay down our own lives, to lose our own lives, so that we can give life to another.

True worship is creating the conditions for life in others.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4.11-12, “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” Paul is saying he has lost his own life, laid it down. He carries about the death of Jesus in him in order that others may have life. Paul’s whole life, once he had turned away from breathing murder, was about cultivating life in others.

True worship is the cultivation of life.

Jesus is the image of God. He was the true Adam, the fulfillment of man. But, how was the first man, the first Adam, supposed to worship God?

There were no instructions about a temple, sacrifices, or any other religious practices. But, God did give mankind a command. In Genesis 1.26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God is not saying that man should rule, plunder, rape, and pillage the earth for his own benefit. No, man should have dominion over the earth in God’s likeness and image.

But, what have we come to know about God’s image and likeness in the creation?

He creates and brings life – to everything. The entire chapter is about creating life, expanding life, cultivating life. This is the command that God gave mankind, who was created in the image of God. So, it is no surprise that it lines up with the command the Father gave Jesus, who is the image of God.

Or, consider Genesis 2. Verse 8 says, “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Verse 15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Again, there are no commands about temples and religious practices – things we consider worship. But, the job God gave man was to work and to keep a garden – to cultivate life. The words work and keep are the same Hebrew words that are used about priests and their activities in the temple. To work and keep the garden – to cultivate life – was to worship God.

Perhaps this is why Paul said, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3.5-6) The imagery is of gardening. The Lord assigns who plants and waters, who works and who keeps the garden. The Lord assigns the tasks of cultivation. God brings the growth. God brings the life.

Are these tasks of working and keeping only “religious” in nature? Are they things having only to do with temples and churches, preaching and leading “worship?”

Colossians 3.23 says, “”Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” How do we work for the Lord? We cultivate life. So, whatever we do, do it to cultivate life. Everything we do is worship if we are doing it to bring life in others.

Therefore, Jesus said that apart from him we can do nothing. In other words, apart from Jesus we cannot bring life to anything. But, with Jesus we have the Spirit flowing in us and through us. And, the Spirit gives life.

How do we know what we are doing is worshipful? How we do know what we are doing is cultivating life?

We just need to ask ourselves one thing. Is what I am doing producing the producing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If the answer is yes, then we are cultivating life and worshiping God.

Worship is not religious practices.

Worship is not singing songs in church.

Worship is a kind word to someone.

Worship is gentle hand of help to someone in need.

Worship is art that inspires love in the hearts of mankind.

Worship is work that meets the needs of other.

Worship is bringing peace to a stressful situation.

As Jesus said, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” (Matthew 25.34-40)

Experiencing Jesus Opens the Bible: Part 4 – Seeing Jesus

(This post is Part 4 of the series Experiencing Jesus Opens the Bible. The other posts in the series are Introduction,  Part 1 – Drawn by the Holy Spirit, Part 2 – The Word of the Lord AppearedPart 3 – A Low Whisper, and Part 5 – Knowing His Resurrection.)

We come to the Bible with presuppositions about God. Typically, as we study the Bible, those presuppositions about God – no matter if they are right or wrong – are confirmed. However, when we truly experience the life of Jesus Christ, our presuppositions about God are challenged, overturned, changed. Then, when we go the Bible, we see this new perspective of God confirmed.

In Part 1, I shared how Dawn, my first wife, miraculously came into my life. I challenged God to prove his existence by causing me to meet my wife for my birthday. He answered the challenge. I experienced the life of Jesus for the first time and the Bible was, quite literally, opened to me.

Today, I am going to share how Dawn departed from my life in an even more miraculous fashion. The days leading up to her death were filled with many miracles (at least I consider the events as such). I experienced the life of Jesus like never before. And, from that moment on, I have seen Jesus in the Bible in ways that I would not have fathomed prior to this experience.

Dawn died March 17, 2012.

For six years she had battled cancer. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2006.

During her battle, Dawn had a double mastectomy and brain surgery to remove a golf ball sized brain tumor. By the way, she was out of bed less than 24 hours after the brain surgery, and we went home straight from the ICU less than 36 hours after the brain surgery. The nurses said they had never seen anything like it. If Dawn was anything, she was tough and able to endure suffering.

Dawn had years of weekly chemotherapy treatments. It became a part of our life so much that I would lose track of her appointments. One weekend, we took our son to the local bike trail to ride. We rode about 10 miles. At one point I asked Dawn why her and Trey were lagging behind. She reminded me that she had chemotherapy the day before.

Dawn also had lots of radiation. The first round was on her lung for the quarter-sized spot of cancer that never seemed to get any smaller. The second round was on her brain after the tumor was removed. Cancer patients will often joke about “chemo brain” – how chemotherapy causes you to forget things. Imagine what happens after years of chemotherapy and radiation on your brain. Dawn was a very intelligent woman, but despite what the chemotherapy and radiation did to her mind, she never stopped smiling. She never stopped thanking and praising God.

In January 2012, I noticed that Dawn was leaning to the left a lot. It reminded me of the first time she had a brain tumor because she lost the peripheral vision in her left eye. As a result, she would push the food off the left side of her plate without even knowing it. I asked Dawn if she should get a brain scan. But, she was pretty adamant that she didn’t need one.

It didn’t take me long to realize why Dawn didn’t want a brain scan. She knew she had another brain tumor. And, she knew that there wasn’t really anything the doctors could do. Dawn knew her time was drawing to a close. I knew it too.

Eventually, Dawn’s symptoms got to the point where she had to go to the doctor. They did a brain scan, and, as we expected, she had a brain tumor. The radiologist said he would not recommend radiation. Because it would be the second time Dawn had radiation on her brain, the radiologist said her quality of life would drop significantly if she had brain radiation again. It might even result in her living in a vegetative state. But, the radiologist said he would do the radiation if we demanded he do it.

Just a short while later, we met with Dawn’s oncologist. We knew what the conversation was going to be. The doctor said that it was perhaps time to stop all treatments. Prior to the meeting, Dawn and I had already decided this was the route to go.

That meeting with the oncologist was just nine days before Dawn died. On the way home from the meeting, I knew I would have to tell Trey, our son, that night what was happening. The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was telling my 11-year-old son that his mom was going to die.

What do you say?

I sat Trey down on his bed. I told him what was happening. I could hardly get the words out. I cried a lot. Trey told me he had learned a scripture at school that week that he thought was appropriate. He quoted to me 2 Peter 3.9, which says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

It may not seem like much, but for me that was a miracle. My son was consoling me, reminding me that God fulfills his promises.

Six days before Dawn died we went to church together for the last time. Dawn’s sister, Lisa, and her family came up from Nashville to Cincinnati to go with us. And, so did a few of Dawn’s best friends of more than 25 years. None of them came because we knew Dawn was going to die in the next week. In fact, they had planned on coming weeks, if not months, prior.

Dawn, her sister Lisa, and two friends from church (Alisa and her daughter DeLisa) sang my favorite song that Sunday – Thank You by Walter Hawkins. Thankfully, John, the associate pastor of the church, managed to capture the moment on his cell phone. Click here to see the video. 

Dawn is the one seated on the stool. She is smiling throughout the video , but she smiled like that all the time. And, I mean all the time. And, to think she could smile and praise God like that after six years of suffering and just six days before she died.

The lyrics of the song were very appropriate.

Tragedies are common place
All kinds of diseases, people are slipping away
Economies down, people can’t get enough pay
But as for me, all I can say is
Thank you Lord for all You’ve done for me, yeah

Folks without homes, living out in the streets
And the drug habits some say, they just can’t beat
Muggers and robbers, no place seems to be safe
But You’ll be my protection every step of the way
And I want to say
Thank you Lord for all You’ve done for me, yeah

It could have been me (thank you)
Outdoors (thank you)
No food (thank you)
No clothes (thank you)
Or left alone (thank you)
Without a friend (thank you)
Or just another number (thank you)
With a tragic end (thank you)
But you didn’t see fit to let none of these things be (thank you)
‘Cause everyday

In addition to battling cancer, Dawn grew up in the projects and on welfare. She had experienced or seen everything in the lyrics of this song.

At the end of the video, Dawn says thank you to the church for everything they had done for our family. It was like she was saying goodbye to everyone. It is so surreal for me to watch it.

For me, it was a miracle to spend that last Sunday together at church in that way with Dawn.

Four days before Dawn died, she was in bed taking a nap. I went to check on her, and it was obvious something was wrong. She was talking incoherently. She was asking me to put her in the middle of the bed even though she already was. Dawn was asking me to put her left arm next to her even though it already was.

Because I couldn’t calm Dawn down, I called 911. They said there really wasn’t anything they could do, but they could come and take her to the hospital. Even though Dawn told me she didn’t want to go to the hospital anymore (we had just spent 12 of the last 30 days in the hospital), I felt like I had no other choice.

So, the ambulance came to take Dawn to the hospital. Dale, the pastor of our church, met me in the emergency room. As soon as he saw Dawn, he asked me to step outside the room to talk with him for a minute. Dale told me that he had seen this many times before – Dawn was transitioning out of this life. He told me that there was no way to know how long it would be, but I needed to prepare myself that this was it. Also, Dale told me that Dawn was a godly woman and because of that I was going to see things other people don’t get to see. Boy, was he right.

We went back in the room. A little bit later, John, the associate pastor, met us in the room. As we stood there talking, Dawn started smiling like never before. She always had a big smile, but this was different. It looked like the corners of her mouth were back to her ears, almost like someone had put hooks in the corners of her mouth to pull them back. And, Dawn’s eyes were wide open. Her face was radiant.

With that smile and eyes wide open, Dawn turned to the three of us and said, “I see heaven. I see God. And, he is right here with me.”

Dale, John, and I just looked at each other. Another miracle.

The hospital couldn’t really do anything for Dawn, so they sent us home the next day. I had called Dawn’s family and friends and told them to come back up to Cincinnati because this was it.

That night, three days before Dawn died, Shaterial, Dawn’s best friend, said she would stay up that night with Dawn to watch her since I had been up all night the night before at the hospital.

When I came down the next morning, Shaterial said I wouldn’t believe what happened last night. She told me that Dawn saw and talked with her mom, who had died three years prior. Shaterial said that Dawn asked her who all the people were in the room. But, only Shaterial and Dawn were up in the middle of the night. Shaterial told Dawn that there was no one else in room, but Dawn insisted there was.

You might say that Dawn was hallucinating, but Shaterial and I were convinced that Dawn saw her mom and that angels were in the room with them. Shaterial told me what a blessing it was for her to experience that with Dawn. Another miracle.

The next night, two days before Dawn died, I stayed up all night with her. When we came home from the hospital, we had a hospital bed put in the study off the living room. Dawn was sleeping there while I laid on the couch to keep an eye on her.

It was late at night when I noticed Dawn put her leg out of the bed. I went and put her leg back in the bed. This happened several times until I realized Dawn needed to use the bathroom. So, I helped her out of the bed. The bathroom was only about 15 feet away. But, halfway there Dawn said she was too tired to go any further. We were right next to the couch I was sleeping on, and she asked if she could just lay down there.

With Dawn on the couch where I was sleeping, I just knelt on the floor next to her. I held Dawn’s hand and silently prayed for her. Dawn fell back asleep. Then, out of nowhere, Dawn asked me a question.

“Do you want to see Jesus with me?”

Without missing a beat, I said yes.

And, for what seemed like 30 minutes or so, I saw Jesus.

Now, I did not see his physical form, the shape of a man. But, I saw his presence. There was this glow in the room right next to Dawn. There was no doubt that Jesus was in the room with us.

I saw Jesus.

Dawn did everything for Trey as a mother. And, I traveled a lot. I had been dealing with lots of fear about being a single parent. I had no idea how I could do that.

And, then Jesus spoke to me.

The first thing Jesus said was, “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4.18) Instantly, all my fear of being a single parent was gone. I never thought about the difficulties of being a single parent again.

Then, Jesus told me about how he “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3.20) He said that I think about that scripture in earthly, physical terms.

I could imagine Dawn being perfectly, physically healed. What’s more than that?

I could imagine being the richest person in the world. What’s more than that?

All of us can imagine quite a few grandiose things. What’s more than all the things we can imagine?

But, Jesus told me that scripture isn’t about any earthly or material thing. He said the one thing that I could not imagine more of was his love. No matter how great and how awesome I imagined his love to be, Jesus’ love for me would always be far more, exceedingly, abundantly more than all I could ever ask or think.

Finally, Jesus told me that I had been praying for a miracle in Dawn’s healing. But, Jesus said the real miracle I was, or should be, praying for was his love. His love was what mattered more than anything else. Another miracle.

“Do you want to see Jesus with me?” were the last words Dawn ever spoke to me. But, they weren’t the last words she ever spoke. She saved those for our son, Trey. One day before she died, Trey came to give his mom a kiss good night. Dawn hadn’t spoke in almost 24 hours. But, after Trey kissed her good night, she said “I love you” to her son. Those were the last words Dawn ever spoke.  Another miracle.

Trey was an excellent piano player. Dawn believed he had talent and really pushed him. He played in a piano competition the morning of the day his mom died. That evening my dad gathered everyone, all of Dawn’s family and friends, around the piano to hear Trey play. He played a piece from the competition and a song he was learning for the mission trip we would go on in about a month.

The piano was in the room next to Dawn. Dale and I were in the room with Dawn, listening to Trey play. Just a few minutes after Trey finished playing those two songs, Dawn died. The last thing Dawn ever heard was her son playing the piano. Another miracle.

The last week of Dawn’s life was filled with so many experiences with the life of Jesus, so many things that I can’t explain, so many things that Jesus seemingly orchestrated so that I would know his love for me. And, at the center of them all was seeing Jesus.

How did this experience with the life of Jesus open the Bible for me?

What presuppositions had I been bringing to the Bible that were changed by this experience?

Prior to this experience I believed God to be 100 percent completely sovereign over everything that happened. I read the events ascribed to God in the Old Testament and took what the Bible said at face value. God must have done all those horrible and wicked things. So, I believed that God would allow sickness, even cancer, despite the damage it did to our family and the difficulties my son would face because of his mom’s untimely death.

Basically, my view of God was undifferentiated. God might do good some times, but he allowed evil at other times. God might love some times, but he hated with a vengeance at other times. God might give life to some, but he would bring death to others.

This was how everyone around me read the Bible. And, I went right along with it. I didn’t know any other way.

Until I saw Jesus.

Until Jesus spoke to me about his love. Nothing else.

This experience with Jesus more than anything else has changed the way I read the Bible.

I had been in the presence of Jesus’ exceedingly abundant love.

There is no way that love would give someone cancer.

There is no way that love would take a mom from her son.

There is no way that love would leave a man a widower before he was 40.

Sure those things happened, but God was not the cause of them.

As I continued to read the Bible, read theology books, and listen to sermons, everything began to shift in my mind. Everything was now being filtered through the lens of Jesus and his love. Now, everything I read and heard was filtered through the following statements.

  • God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
  • God is love and in him there is no fear at all.
  • God is life and in him there is no death at all.

Further, I began to realize that I needed to focus not on what God can do but on what God will do.

I want God to do all sorts of things for me. And, he can do them. The possibilities of what God can do for me are limitless. But, when I focus on what God can do, then I lose sight of God and being transformed and conformed to his image. I found that focusing on what God can do and, consequently, what he has not done for me would make me bitter and angry. For example, why did God heal someone else and not my wife?

Instead, I just needed to focus on what God will do. In other words, I need only focus on who God is in my life – light, love, and life. Jesus said it as he is the way and the truth and the life. He also said it as he is the resurrection and the life.

Seeing Jesus has completely transformed the way I read the Bible.

What Is the Second Death in the Book of Revelation?

TODAY’S READING: REVELATION 20-22

“This is the second death, the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20.14)

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21.8)

Perhaps more than any other verses in the Bible, it is these two verses that Christians have used to justify the belief that there will be some people that God will eternally consciously torment in a burning lake of fire. In other words, there are some people that God will cause to suffer forever and forever.

Other Christians soften this view slightly by saying that instead of being tormented forever these people will be annihilated. These people will no longer exist in any sense because they will have been completely destroyed in the lake of fire.

Are either of these views what the book of Revelation and the Bible as a whole mean by the second death?

I believe the answer is absolutely not for anyone who has ears to hear and eyes to see.

Then what is the second death in the book of Revelation?

The phrase “second death” appears four times in the book of Revelation but nowhere else in the Bible. If the book of Revelation speaks of a second death, there must also be a first death. Yet, nowhere does the book of Revelation explicitly speak of a first death. However, in order to answer the question of what is the second death we need to know what the first death is.

So, what is the first death?

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once.” (Hebrews 9.27)

“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are of dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3.19)

Everyone that physically lives will die. God created us from the dust of the earth and to the dust of the earth we will return when we die. So, the first death is the physical, or natural, death of the body.

There is a principle in scripture that first there is the natural and then there is the spiritual. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15.44, 46, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body…But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.”

The first thing that happens to any person is that they are born naturally, or physically. But, there is also a second birth, a birth that is spiritual, from above, or heavenly.

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” (John 3.3)

Jesus told Nicodemus, a man that had been been naturally, or physically, that he could not see the kingdom of God unless he was born again, or born a second time. Nicodemus clearly understood that Jesus was speaking of being born a second time because he replied, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3.4)

In John 3.6-7, 8, Jesus responded, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’…So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus tells Nicodemus there is a natural, physical, birth, and there is a spiritual birth. The whole conversation reveals that the natural, physical birth comes first and the spiritual birth comes second. The first birth is of the dust, and the second birth is from above, of the spirit, of heaven. Therefore, Paul says, “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15.47)

Therefore, if the first death is natural, physical, then the second death is spiritual.

If the second death is spiritual, then does that not mean that the person’s spirit will be annihilated, putting their spirit to death?

No it does not.

Then, what is a spiritual death?

The Bible speaks very clearly as to what the second death, the spiritual death, is. The second death, the spiritual death, is a death to sin.

Sin does not come about physically. Rather, sin comes from evil desire, something not physical, and therefore, spiritual. “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin.”

Therefore, “you also must consider yourselves dead to sin.” (Romans 6.11) To reckon yourself dead to sin is to die to something spiritual not physical. Therefore, to reckon yourself dead to sin is to consider yourself already having died the second death, the spiritual death, even though you have not died the first death, the physical death.

One should notice that when you reckon yourself dead to sin you are “alive to God in Christ.” (Romans 8.11) Spiritual death results in spiritual life. Or, we could say that the second death results in the second life.

This second death does not apply to everyone. “Over such the second death has no power.” (Revelation 20.6)

Who are these that the second death, spiritual death, has no power over?

“Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!” (Revelation 20.6)

Who are the ones that participate in the first resurrection?

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20.4)

“They came to life.” This is describing who were dead that came to life in Jesus Christ.

John saw “the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God.” John isn’t talking about bodies here. He is talking about souls, spirits, coming to life. These are the ones that participate in the first resurrection. Further, these are souls of those who have been beheaded.

Have you ever considered that if you truly believe in Jesus that you have been beheaded?

Even if you are alive?

Because you have been beheaded spiritually?

You have been beheaded and have a new head. Jesus “is the head of the body, the church.” (Colossians 1.18) God “gave him [Jesus] as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1.22-23)

Revelation 20.4 says that those who participate in the first resurrection are going to reign with Christ because they came to life with him. This is just what Paul says in Ephesians 2.4-6.

“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.”

We were dead in sins. But, we were made alive together with Christ. And, we were seated with him, on thrones, in heavenly places to reign with him.

Paul says all of this again in another way in Romans 6.4-8.

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

The believer has already died a spiritual death to sin by being baptized in Christ’s death “for the death he died he died to sin, once for all,” (Romans 6.10) If we have already died with Christ, symbolically through baptism, then we have already died the second death, the spiritual death. Therefore, the second death has no power over the believer.

This all happens right now for the believer. Therefore, the 1,000 years, which is a symbolic number as is virtually everything else in Revelation, is happening right now.

But, “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” (Revelation 20.5)

Did you get that?

Those that do not believe in Jesus, those that do not participate in the first resurrection, the rest of the dead do not get eternally tormented in a burning lake of fire or annihilated.

The rest of the dead come to life.

When?

At the end of the thousand years.

How do they come to life?

Dying to sin.

Spiritual death.

Or, going through the second death.

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for the murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21.8)

All of the things listed are sins that the unbeliever has not died to. The unbeliever is still practicing these sins. “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3.8) Lies are murder are most definitely works of the devil (John 8.44) as are the other things listed that have their share in the lake of fire. But, “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3.8)

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus came to destroy sin.

But, Jesus did not come to destroy the works of God.

Jesus did not come to destroy people.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2.10)

So, people go through the second death, spiritual death, to be reckoned dead to sin. They go through the fire to purge their old selves, their false identities, because they did not reckon themselves dead to sin and did not get baptized into Christ’s death.

But, spiritual death results in spiritual life as I have already outlined above.

The rest of the dead will come to life though.

After going through the fire.

When the 1,000 years have ended.

Therefore, “he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done!'” (Revelation 21.5-6)

Therefore, when the new Jerusalem, the city of God, comes down from heaven, “by its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21.24-25)

The gates of the new Jerusalem are never shut so that when the rest of the dead go through the fire, purging their old selves, dying to sin, the second death, the spiritual death, and come to life they too can enter into the new Jerusalem and have eternal fellowship with God and Jesus.

What Is the Wrath of God?

TODAY’S READING: REVELATION 15-17

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.” (Revelation 15.1)

The English phrase “wrath of God” occurs 11 times in the Bible, all of which are found in the New Testament. Five of the 11 occurrences are in the book of Revelation. Five of the occurrences are in the letters of Paul – Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians. “Wrath of God” appears one time in John’s gospel. So, no New Testament writer other than John and Paul uses the phrase “wrath of God.”

The English word wrath is not the same Greek word in all 11 cases.

In the instances outside the book of Revelation, the Greek word for wrath is orge, which means anger or wrath. Orge has to do with a natural impulse or propensity for anger or wrath, one’s temperament, one’s disposition, or one’s nature.

But, in the book of Revelation, the Greek word for wrath in the phrase “wrath of God” is thymos. This is true in every case but one. In this one case orge is used, but it is preceded by thymos. Thymos means passion (as if breathing hard), according to A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and the Hebrew Bible.

However, according to An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, thymos means the soul. In one sense it means the soul, breath, life. But, in another sense it means the soul or heart. In this second sense it can have five uses:

  1. of desire, including for meat and drink
  2. mind, temper, will
  3. spirit, courage
  4. as the seat of anger
  5. the soul as the agent of thought

Thymos has more to do with the principle of life, feeling, and thought, particularly strong feeling or passion. Therefore, thymos does not have to be strictly about fury, anger, or wrath as it is typically translated.

So, what is the wrath of God?

Before we can answer that question, we should look at how orge and thymos are used outside of the context of the wrath of God.

Only five of the 36 times orge is used in the New Testament are found in the gospels. And, only once is used specifically of Jesus.

Mark 3.4-5 says, “And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger [orge], grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”

Jesus is the only one to see God and to have made him known (John 1.18). Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1.15). Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1.3).

In the only recorded instance of Jesus being angry, he was angry because of the hardness of heart of those in the synagogue. Jesus was angry because when he asked if it is lawful to do good or harm, to save life or kill on the Sabbath no one answered him. So, Jesus showed them the answer by restoring a man’s withered hand.

The anger of Jesus is aroused by the hardness of heart of religious people who put religious practice above good and life itself. And, Jesus’ anger drives him to restore a man’s withered hand, to do good, to give life.

How amazing that the one time Jesus, as the perfect representative of God, is angry that his anger results in restored life.

While Jesus was recorded as being angry just this one time, we are told that anger and wrath are of the old men and we should therefore be done with them.

“Let all bitterness and wrath [thymos] and anger [orge] and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4.31)

“But now you must put them all away: anger [orge], wrath [thymos], malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3.8)

“For the anger [orge] of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1.20)

This clearly shows that our anger is not all like God’s anger. We cannot equate the two of even think of them in the same way.

The only time thymos is used in the gospels is in Luke 4. Jesus is speaking for the first time in the synagogue. He opens the scroll of Isaiah, reads about the good news to the poor and liberty to the captives being proclaimed, but skips over the vengeance of God being poured out on his enemies. Jesus then gives two examples of Elijah being sent to Gentiles to further verify his thought that God is not going to pour out vengeance on the Gentiles as the Jews in Galilee wanted. “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath [thymos].” Those disappointed that God would not take violent vengeance on their enemies are the one’s filled with wrath. Not Jesus. And, not God.

Like orge, thymos is used in the sense of God’s people putting it away. We already saw that a few times above.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident; sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, fits of anger [thymos], rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Galatians 5.18-21)

Clearly, orge and thymos are something we are no longer to do because orge and thymos do not align with our new nature in God. They have to do with out old nature.

“And you were dead in the 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 [orge], like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2.1-3)

Wrath is something is in the sons of disobedience because they are walking according to the ways of this world, which is ruled by Satan, the prince of the power of the air. Revelation 12.12 says, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

But, we are no longer children of wrath because “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.” (Ephesians 2.4-5)

So, God’s wrath is nothing like our wrath and anger. It is something entirely different. Further, Satan is the one that came down to earth in the kind of wrath that steals, kills, and destroys. Jesus comes in the kind of “wrath” that gives life and that life abundantly.

So, knowing that God’s wrath is nothing like our wrath, what is the wrath of God?

“For the wrath [orge] of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1.18) Paul goes on to say “God gave them up” three times in regards to those who suppress the truth and do not acknowledge God. He then gives a long list of things they were given over to.

Many think that God’s wrath comes because of these things that ungodly and unrighteous men and women have been given over to. In other words, do bad things and God’s wrath is going to be rained down upon you.

But, Paul is saying exactly the opposite. God’s wrath is revealed when he allows you to follow your own desires and you do the long list of things Paul says ungodly and unrighteous men and women do. God’s wrath is simply letting you follow your choices and receiving the consequences of your own choices. Sin has within itself its own punishment. This is why the Old Testament stresses that our own evil comes back on our own head. This is why the wages of sin is death. Death is the natural outcome of sin. God’s wrath does not cause death to be brought out of sin. As we saw from Jesus above, God’s anger leads him to restore, to do good, to give life.

When we turn to Revelation, we see that the fury and wrath of God is almost always connected with a specific event.

What is the event that God’s wrath is connected to?

The treading of the winepress and drinking of the cup of that wine. This is clear throughout Revelation 15-17.

And, who was the one that tread the winepress and drank the cup of wrath?

Jesus.

Who’s wrath crucified Jesus?

Our wrath.

Not God’s.

Jesus prayed about this cup in the garden the night before he was crucified. Therefore, we can see that the winepress is the cross.

Speaking of Jesus, Revelation 19.15 says, “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” It was from his treading the winepress that Jesus “is clothed in a robe dipped in blood.” (Revelation 19.13)

John takes this imagery from Isaiah 63.3, which says, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.”

In Isaiah, it appears that it is the blood of the enemies that covers the garment of God’s servant because God’s servant battles against the enemies alone in his anger and wrath. But, John transforms this imagery to show that it was the blood of God’s servant that was shed. It was the blood of Jesus that stained his own garments. He tread the winepress alone in anger and fury.

But, just as we saw in Mark 3, Jesus’ anger and fury was caused by the hard hearts of those around him while he was on the cross. But, that anger, that wrath, that passion as the cross of Christ is known, is what drove Jesus to remain on the cross alone. And, it was from his anger and wrath, his passion, on the cross that Jesus brought about restoration, good, life, and life abundantly.

Man’s wrath, which derives from Satan’s, causes violence, destruction, and death.

But, God’s wrath is not like our wrath.

God’s anger and wrath drives him to restore, to do good, to give life.

Jesus showed that God’s wrath and anger is fully revealed when God chooses to die for you instead of killing you.

Rightly understood, God’s wrath and anger that drives him to die for you to give you life should cause a great deal of torment in your mind. It is like vengeance brought about by coals of fire being heaped upon your thoughts.

That is the wrath of God we see in Revelation.

Jesus Proclaimed God Is Light, Love, and Life

TODAY’S READING: 1 JOHN

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1.1-3)

John is writing this letter to testify and to proclaim the eternal life. Eternal as in of God. The life of God.

John says that the eternal life was with God and made manifest to him and the other disciples. They heard and saw him. They looked at and touched him.

The one they saw and heard John calls the word of life. The logos of life. This is none other than the word, the logos, of God.

The word of life is the word of God.

John is clearly speaking of Jesus.

The word of life is Jesus.

The word of God is Jesus.

After this introduction to his letter, John goes on to testify and to proclaim three things of Jesus. In order (and that is important), John testifies and proclaims light, love, and life.

“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)

God is light.

There is no darkness at all in God.

Therefore, if there is no darkness in God, then he cannot create darkness. Darkness is not of or from God.

Jesus proclaimed this revelation of God. Therefore, he contradicts Isaiah 45.7, which says, “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Isaiah had a partial and obscured view of God. He saw through a veil. Therefore, he said God both formed light and created darkness.

Jesus alone has seen God. Jesus gives the clear view of God. Jesus gives the perfect revelation of God.

God is light. And, there is no darkness at all in him.

John then ties light with truth.

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1.6-10)

Light is truth.

Darkness is lies and deception.

“God is not man, that he should lie.” (Numbers 23.19)

“There was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53.9)

“I am…the truth.” (John 14.6)

John says that God is light was declared from the beginning.

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2.7-8)

We may not understand it as a commandment, but indeed from the beginning the darkness was passing away and the true light was shining.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1.3-4)

God is light.

God is truth.

It was so from the beginning.

But, darkness, lies, and deception are of the devil.

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He…does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8.44)

Having testified and proclaimed God is light, then John speaks of love.

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3.4)

Sin is lawlessness. Lawlessness is simply being without law.

Jesus summed up the law as love for God and love for your neighbor.

To be without law is to be without love for God and without love for your neighbor.

This is sin – not loving God and not loving your neighbor.

“You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps in sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3.5-6)

Jesus came to take away every word and deed that is not rooted and grounded in love. He never sinned, which means never said or did anything that was not from love.

“He committed no sin.” (1 Peter 2.22)

“He committed no lawlessness.” (Isaiah 53.9, Lexham English Septuagint)

“Although he had done no violence.” (Isaiah 53.9)

Jesus committed no sin, no lawlessness, no violence.

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3.8)

“You are of your father the devil, and our will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8.44)

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3.11)

Did we hear this message from the beginning, in the creation?

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God mad the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.” (Genesis 1.6-7)

The separation of waters is a picture of baptism.

Baptism is a picture of dying. More than dying, baptism is a picture of choosing to lay down your life.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3.16)

The separation of waters on day of creation is a picture of love – Jesus laying his life down for us.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was 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.” (1 John 4.7-10)

“God is love.”

“I am the way.” (John 14.6)

Having testified and proclaimed God is light and God is love, John speaks of life.

“If we receive the testimony of mean, 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.” (1 John 5.9-11)

John does not explicitly say it hear, but this testimony of God has been heard from the beginning too.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.” (Genesis 1.9)

The land coming out of the waters is a picture of life rising out of death – resurrection. It was from this risen land that all life flowed in the rest of the creation story.

God is life.

“I am…the life.” (John 14.6)

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands.” (1 John 1.1)

“From the beginning.”

Jesus.

He declared:

  • God is light and there is no darkness at all in him
  • God is love and there is no sin, lawlessness (without love), and violence (killing) at all in him
  • God is life and there is no death in him

Therefore, Jesus declared “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14.6)

He said, “I am love, light, and life.”

The first three days of creation.

When the light of God shines on the love of God you have the life of God.

This is you becoming a new creation in Christ.

What Happens When Death is Destroyed?

TODAY’S READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 14-16

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26

Death will one day be destroyed.

Notice Paul did not say the dead will be destroyed.

He said “death” will destroyed.

Death is a ruler, authority, cosmic power of the present darkness,  and a spiritual force of evil in the heavenly. Therefore, death is an enemy of God.

The dead are flesh and blood, mankind. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Since our enemies are God’s enemies, we are not God’s enemies.

You are probably questioning that I just said we are not God’s enemies. Because Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies…” implying that we were enemies of God. And, James 4:4 says, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

But, we are only enemies of God in a specific place for a specific reason.

What is the place we were enemies of God?

Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind.” The Greek word for hostile is the same word translated enemy. In fact, this Greek word is used 32 times in the New Testament and is translated enemy 30 of those times. Further, the word is plural in Colossians 1:21. So, the verse could be read, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in the mind.”

We are enemies to God in our minds.

For what reason our minds enemies to God?

Also, Romans 8:7 says that the mind of the flesh, an enemy to God, is not subject to the law of God because it is not able to be subject. Because in fear of death, we were subjects to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:15).

Death has held our minds captive and made us enemies to God.

But, we ourselves are not enemies of God. Rather, we are prisoners of God’s enemies – Satan, sin, and death.

So, what happens when we freed, no longer prisoners of God’s enemies?

What happens when death is destroyed?

All are brought to life when death is destroyed.

Everything is brought to life when death is destroyed.

According to 1 Timothy 1:9-10, God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought lift and immortality to light through the gospel.”

The Greek word for abolished is the exact same Greek word Paul used to say “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Further, the word light is actually a verb in the passage above. And, the word men, which means “on the one hand” is not translated.

Therefore, Paul really said, “Jesus, destroying death on the one hand and giving light to life and immortality through the gospel.”

When death is destroyed, all that is left is light and immortality.

Or, as John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

This leads me to first time the Greek word for death, thanatos, is used in the New Testament. Matthew 4:14-16 says, “So that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles -the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them light has dawned.”

The places before the hyphen are presented in an interesting way. We could see them as a chiasm.

A. The land of Zebulun

B. The land of Naphtali

C. The way of the sea

B’. The land beyond the Jordan

A.’ Galilee of the nations

The land of Zebulun was Galilee. And, Galilee had been taken over by all sorts of foreigners. Indeed, it was also known as Galilee of the gentiles because people from all nations of the world were living there at the time of Jesus.

Look at a map and you will see that indeed the land of Naphtali was the land beyond the Jordan.

The main point Matthew is making is that these lands, these people, were the way of the sea. And, it is these people, those who are the way of the sea that dwell in darkness and dwell in the region and shadow of death. But, these same people have seen a great light and on them light has dawned.

But, what should all of this remind us of?

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanses from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there wa morning, the second day.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And i was. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:2-10)

We can see the dry land as Israel and the gathered waters, the seas, as the way of the sea, the gentiles. The light was commanded to shine forth., The land, Israel appeared. And, Israel was to be the light, revealing God to the nations. Of course, Israel failed to do this. So, when we can also see Genesis 1 as Christ being the light shining forth to both Israel and the gentiles. And, as I have written elsewhere, we can see the first three days of creation as a witness to Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.

What was the result of the first days of creation?

Life.

“Let the earth sprout forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” (Genesis 1:11)

And, on each successive, God creates more and higher forms of life.

Once the light shines in the darkness, life increases and increases. This expansion of life does not end until on the seventh day God rested from his work, his bringing life to the entire creation.

But, we should note that on the first six days of creation we read, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” But, we never read this about the seventh. In other words, the seventh day has no end.

In other words, life goes on forever. Eternal life.

The story starts the earth was formless and void, shrouded in darkness. Death was everywhere. But, the Spirit was hovering over the darkness, over death, like a mother hen ready to give birth, to bring forth life.

Then light shines in the darkness. Darkness was separated. Light overcame the darkness. But, that light was shining forth from life.

By the end of the story, there are no more turnings from evening to morning. No more turnings from death to life. The seventh day, the day of rest, goes on without end.

Life goes on without end.

Eternal life.

This has been the plan for all creation, the true kingdom of God, from the very beginning.

Life without end for the whole creation is what happens when death is destroyed.

What Are the Word and the Name the Apostles Taught?

TODAY’S READING: ACTS 4-5

“‘And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:29-31

What was the word the apostles were teaching?

What was the name the apostles were teaching?

The obvious answer is Jesus.

But, what does it mean that the apostles were teaching the word of Jesus and in the name of Jesus?

One thing that we know is that whatever this word and name they were teaching in angered the priests, the scribes, and the other Jewish leaders.

“And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed…And they arrested them and put them in custody.” – Acts 4:1-2, 3

“But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” – Acts 4:17

“And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them.” – Acts 4:21

“But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.” – Acts 5:17

“When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.” – Acts 5:33

“And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”- Acts 5:40

Take a good look at what the priests, the scribes, the Sadducees, and the Jewish authorities were doing.

  1. They were greatly annoyed at what the apostles were teaching.
  2. They arrested the apostles.
  3. They warned the apostles not to continue teaching the word and the name.
  4. They further threatened the apostles.
  5. They were filled with jealousy.
  6. They arrested the apostles a second time.
  7. They were enraged.
  8. They wanted to kill the apostles.
  9. They beat the apostles.

The actions of the Jewish authorities in these two chapters are in direct contrasts to the apostles.

“If we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this has been healed.”- Acts 4:9

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12

“But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” – Acts 4:14

“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord of Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” – Acts 4:33

“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.” – Acts 5:12

“And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” – Acts 5:14

“They people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”- Acts 5:16

“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” – Acts 5:20

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” – Acts 5:41

Take a good look at what the apostles were doing and teaching.

  1. They did a good deed, healing a crippled man.
  2. They taught the name by which men and women are saved.
  3. The man they healed remained with them.
  4. They taught the resurrection, the going from death to life, of Jesus.
  5. They did many signs and wonders, which clearly means healings in the context of these two chapters.
  6. They added to the Lord, which means they brought people to life.
  7. They healed every sick person and all those afflicted with unclean spirits that were brought to them.
  8. They taught the words of the Life.
  9. They rejoiced at their persecution because they were counted worthy of suffering for Jesus.

There is quite a stark contrast between the apostles and the Jewish authorities.

The Jewish authorities reacted the way they did because what they taught was different than the word and the name the apostles were teaching. In fact, we could say that what the Jewish authorities taught was the complete opposite of the word and the name that the apostles taught.

Do you see what the fundamental distinction is?

The Jewish authorities did and taught death.

The apostles did and taught life.

The Jewish authorities believed that God was both life and death. Therefore, they believed they were doing the works of God by putting the unworthy and the blaspheming of God to death.

The apostles believed that God was life and life only. Therefore, they healed everyone who was sick and afflicted that was brought to them.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul sums these two ways of ministering and teaching.

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5-6

Who were the ones filled with the Holy Spirit?

The apostles.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:31

Therefore, the apostles did and taught life. This is the word and the name they taught.

Who were the ones that taught the letter?

The Jewish authorities.

Therefore, in the end, everything they did was about death.

“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.” – 2 Corinthians 3:14-16

Whose minds were hardened? Who had not come to the Lord?

The Jewish authorities.

They read the Old Testament with a veil over it. They could not see the real nature of God in it. Therefore they taught it literally, meaning that God was both life and death.

Who had come to the Lord? For who was the veil lifted?

The apostles.

They read the Old Testament without a veil. They could read it clearly because Christ had taken the veil away. They saw God in the Old Testament as life and life only.

How did the Christ do this for them?

“By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.” – Acts 4:11

The apostles had come to know that death was defeated. Jesus was dead, but God had raised him to life.

“This Jesus…you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” – Acts 2:23-24

“For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:20

What had the apostles seen and heard?

“That which was from the beginning, which we heard, which he have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you.” – 1 John 1:1-3

“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

In other words, God is life and there is no death in him at all.

“God is love…There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:16, 18

Therefore, an angel of the Lord said to the apostles, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”

The word that the apostles taught was life.

Never death.

Always and only life.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” – John 6:63

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68

“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.”

Life is the word the apostles heard from Jesus. And, life is the word they taught.

Therefore, they taught in the name of Jesus. The fruit of teaching in the name of Jesus was salvation and healing. Salvation and healing are life.

This should come as no surprise.

Jesus is the Author of life.

Jesus is savior.

Jesus is the English version of the Greek name that is Joshua. Joshua means Jehovah saves.

Jesus’ very name means he saves, he heals, he gives life.

So, how in the world do we ever get it in our minds that he will do something other than heal, save, and give life?

How do we ever think that Jesus is going to come back and kill, send people to hell, burn them in eternal torment and destruction?

The veil has not been removed.

The Bible is read by the letter, literally.

Death has not been defeated.

For those that teach this way, it is as if God has not raise Jesus from the dead.

Jesus Has Created It – What Is “It”?

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 41-43

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water. and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the place and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” – Isaiah 41:17-20

We know that the Holy One of Israel is Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, in Luke 1:35, the angel told Mary, “Therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.” In Luke 1:49, Mary sang, “Holy is his name.” And, in John 6 many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and stopped following him. So, he asked the twelve if they wanted to leave him too. In John 6:68-69, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

In addition, we know that this passage is about something that Jesus does because the Holy One of Israel created. In Jesus: The Creator, I wrote that God is the only subject of the verb bara, to create. And, in the New Testament, we see the power of creating is identified with Jesus. Everything was made by and through Jesus.

So, we know that this passage speak to Jesus creating. He creates it.

But, what is it?

What is Jesus creating?

In this passage the poor and needy are seeking water. And, God says he is going to bring a bunch of water and trees. So, are we to understand that Jesus is creating physical water and physical trees in answer to the thirst of the poor and needy? Is this what the poor and needy “may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this?”

Or, is the passage speaking to something much deeper, something beyond the physical, something spiritual?

I believe when you study the the word bara, to create, you will find that it does not really have to do with the physical creation of something. Rather, it has to do with the giving of purpose, how something functions.

Consider David’s plea to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Was David asking for God to physically create a new heart within him? Of course not. David was asking that his old heart, which functioned in the manner of lies and murder, would be created clean. That is, David wanted his old heart, which did the wrong thing and functioned in the wrong way, to be given a new purpose and new function, one that was clean, by God. This is just one example of many in the Old Testament where the word bara speaks to function and purpose and not physically making something.

So, what is it that Jesus has purpose and functioned?

We know that the poor and needy are thirsty, seeking water, and that Jesus will answer them and not forsake them.

This brings to mind Jesus’ encounter at the well with the Samaritan woman. 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.”

It also brings to mind what Jesus said in John 7:37-38. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

Jesus said drinking physical water will leave you thirsty. So, he is giving a different kind of water, spiritual water, that when you drink it you will never thirst again. This spiritual is a spring of water is eternal life. And, when we come to Jesus and drink this spiritual water, it will flow out of hearts like rivers of living water.

Back to the passage in Isaiah, we can then understand that the poor and needy will not be forsaken by Jesus. Jesus will open rivers and fountains and make pools and springs. In other words, there are those that will be desperate for life and Jesus will give it to them.

We know that when Jesus is speaking of the water that he gives that he is speaking of eternal life. But, more specifically, he is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour out my water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Here the water Jesus gives is equated with the Holy Spirit and the thirsty and dry land with people.

But, notice there are four types of water and places mentioned in Isaiah:

  1. rivers on the bare heights
  2. fountains in the midst of valleys
  3. a pool of water in the wilderness
  4. springs of water in the dry land

So, whether it is a high place or low, whether it is the grassy plain or the desert, Jesus is going to fill these four places with water, not physical water, but spiritual water.  But, the number four symbolizes the entire creation in scripture.

So, what is Jesus creating here? What is he purposing? What is he “functioning”?

I believe this is a picture of Jesus filling the earth, all creation, with his Spirit, with the knowledge of himself.

Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

The same words are found in Isaiah 11:9, which says, “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

So, we seeing Jesus pouring out his Spirit to give knowledge of the Lord to the whole earth, all of creation. Jesus said that this was the reason the Holy Spirit would come – “he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” and “when the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” and “he will glorify me.”

So, what is the effect of the pouring out of the Spirit who fill the earth with the knowledge of God?

According to our passage in Isaiah, trees will sprout up in the wilderness and desert. But, all throughout the Bible, trees represent people. And notice the number of types of trees that will come forth:

  1. cedar
  2. acacia
  3. myrtle
  4. olive
  5. cypress
  6. plane
  7. pine

Seven types of trees will come forth from all this water filling the creation. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection.

So, when we combine all these pictures, what we see is that Jesus gives purpose and function as he pours out his Spirit upon the whole creation, and it is this pouring out of his Spirit that spiritually perfects mankind as he is filled with eternal life.

This is it.

This is what Jesus created.

This what the poor and needy “may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this.”

It’s not about physical trees and water that Jesus is creating. Ultimately, this does nothing for the poor and needy. Rather, Jesus is creating life and spirit within all creation and mankind.

Jesus said in John 6:63-64, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”