Is God’s Love Balanced by His Justice?

Deuteronomy 16.19, 20 says, “You shall not pervert justice…Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

As I read this verse the other day, I thought it was a very accurate description of how many Christians today view God. For these Christians, the thinking seems to be that God is just. Therefore, justice is going to be served by God, whether in this life or in the next. Justice is someone being punished, getting what they deserved, for their sins. In other words, justice sounds like, “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

I see two reasons many western Christians think this way about justice. The first is our legal system. The system is designed to exact some sort of punishment, not restitution and reconciliation, for crimes committed. We fail to recognize how much this influences our thinking about God and Jesus and how they act in the world. Second, much of western Christianity is dominated by the thinking of John Calvin. Calvin was a lawyer. Not coincidentally, whether Calvin himself intended it or not, we have made Calvin out to make a big deal about justice.

As a result, many Christians set God’s justice on an equal footing with God’s love. For these Christians, when someone says that God is love, a typical retort is to say that God is just too.

But, is that true?

Are we to know God as love and as justice?

Is God’s justice like our justice?

Or, is God’s justice moderated by his love because God’s love supersedes any justice he brings about?

My answers would be no, no, no, and yes.

For starters, 1 John 4.8 and 16 both say, “God is love.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say God is just. God’s very nature, his very being, is love. But, we must know that God’s very nature, his very being, is not just – at least in the sense that almost all of us think of justice.

God’s actions flow out of love not out of justice.

Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8.1-11. Yes, this woman was being treated unfairly by the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus pointed out that they were sinners just like the woman was. But, have you stopped to consider that there was an unmentioned wife in the story? Was it just that the woman (and the man by the way) caught in adultery got away unscathed, unpunished? Should not there been some sort of justice for the wife who was cheated on?

Or, consider the parable of the workers in Matthew 20.1-16. The workers started at different times during the time, but they all got the same pay. Some of these workers clearly did not think this was just. But, it did reveal God’s love.

We can see that love supersedes justice in other ways too.

Jesus’ two great commandments that the all the law hangs on are about love, not justice.

God so loved, not wanted justice for, the world that he sent Jesus.

Jesus said he gave us a new commandment to love one another as he loved us. That’s how we are to love one another, not do justice.

God showed his love, not justice, for us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love, not justice.

Love, not justice, is the fulfilling of the law.

Love, not justice, is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not arrogant, is not rude, does not insist on its way, is not irritable, is not resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing, rejoices at the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never ends.

We are to pursue love, not justice.

We are controlled by the love, not justice, of Christ.

The only thing that counts is faith working through love, not justice.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Justice is not mentioned.

God is rich in mercy because of the great love, not justice, with which he loved us.

We are to be rooted and grounded in love, not justice.

We are to know the love, not justice, of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

We are to walk in love, not justice.

Yet, there are Christians that would say I have been brainwashed by love. They would argue that God’s love is balanced by his justice.

However, God, Jesus, the scriptures, are all about love, not justice. The scale is decisively tipped in favor of love. Everyone of the love, not justice statements above is straight from scripture. And, there are a whole lot more to go with them.

Love will bring about reconciliation, not punishment. Reconciliation is God’s justice.


We will never be able to lay down our own lives and pick up our own cross if we continue to insist that justice is on equal footing with love.

What Is Required for Love?

In the Old Testament, the view was that God loved his people, Israel, and would cut off his enemies.

Psalm 59.10 says, “My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.”

Psalm 143.12 says, “And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.”

But, Jesus changes all of this. Instead of wishing for our enemies to be cut off or destroyed, Jesus says we are to love them.

Matthew 5.43-44 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Luke 6.27-28 says, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Jesus was the image of God, the exact representation of God’s character. Jesus loved his enemies throughout his life, showing us that God loves his enemies as well.

So, we must ask ourselves what is required to love our enemies?


I just finished watching a documentary. Paraphrasing, there was a line that said, “You cannot truly love something if you do not completely identify with it.”

To love we have to identify with the thing to be loved. So, to love our enemies we must identify with our enemies. The Bible shows that Jesus did exactly that.

God never considered us his enemies. But, according to the NIV, Colossians 1.21 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Even though we considered ourselves enemies to God, he wanted to show his love for us.

How did God show love to those who thought they were God’s enemies?

God identified with them.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” – John 1.14

“By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” – Romans 8.3

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son.” – Galatians 4.4

“Being born in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2.7

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.” – Hebrews 2.14

God was able to most fully and completely reveal his love to us when he became one of us. He experienced everything we experience. God was able to fully and completely show his love for us when he completely identified with us.

Therefore, in order to love those who are perceived to be our enemies but really aren’t, we must identify with them just as Jesus identified with us. Paul understood that identification was required to share the love of the gospel.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to wind Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I share with them in its blessings.”

To identify with someone, we must understand their desires and wants. We must understand their motivations. We must understand their challenges, problems, and struggles.

This is hard thing to do with someone who is perceived to be your enemy. Instead, of identifying with our enemies, we typically magnify our differences. Just look at propaganda for war around the world. Every physical difference of the enemy is magnified. The enemy is different, not like us, and therefore worthy to be cut off or destroyed.

But, Jesus calls us to do the opposite. We must minimize our differences to love our enemies. As Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ.” (Galatians 3.28) It’s not that these distinctions no longer actually exist, but we minimize them in our minds so that we can identify with the other.

So, to love our enemies as Jesus commanded, let us focus on the one thing that is required – identification. As we identify with our enemies, love will naturally begin to flow.

Does God Hate You?

If I had to guess, then I would guess that a lot of people in the world believe God hates them.

Strangely, I feel more confident in saying that a significant number of Christians believe that God hates them. They hear it preached regularly. You sinned. God hates sin. So, God hates you. But, in order to spare you from his hatred, God put your sin on Jesus. Instead of hating you, God transferred his hate to Jesus. Instead of killing you, God killed Jesus. Therefore, Jesus died the death that you deserved when you were hated by God.

God must have really hated you if he killed his own perfect, sinless son instead of you.

I could, and others have, come up many verses from the Old Testament that allude to the fact that God has a lot of hate.

Deuteronomy 1.27 says, “And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.”

Deuteronomy 9.28 says, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.”

Psalm 11.5 says, “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”

But, this morning I read Proverbs 10.12. It says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” As I thought about this verse, I saw it as a picture of those who hated Jesus and crucified him and a picture of God, who was in Jesus on the cross, who loved us so much he covered all our offenses.

We are the ones that are filled with hate, not God. Our hatred stirs up, arouses, and awakens strife, controversy, contention. The ultimate end of this hatred is murder. The ultimate murder was our crucifixion of Jesus. This was the fulfillment of all hatred.

God does not hate. It only seems that way because we project our hate onto God.

Instead of hating, God loves. In fact, God is love. God’s love covered our hate that was fully revealed in the crucifixion of Jesus. Our hatred not only led to strife but offenses. The Hebrew word for offenses could also be translated, and perhaps better so, rebellion. God’s love covered every bit of our rebellion against him. Indeed, we were all at one time enemies in our minds against God. Note that God never saw as us his enemies, as people to be hated.

When we read the New Testament, it is hard to find anything that even alludes to God hating. Although, Jesus repeatedly says that he is hated by the world and that world will kill him because it hated him.

Do you know what the actual meaning of hate is?

Hate is an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.

So hate comes from fear, anger, or a sense of injury.

That sounds like our thoughts, feelings, and emotions toward God and others. We fear God. We are angry at God. We feel injured by God because we don’t have everything we want. So, we hate God.

The Bible never says that God is hate. But, it does say that God is love. God can only do what he is. You know…that whole I Am that I Am thing. The Bible goes on to say that there is no fear in love. And, if there is no fear, then there can be no hate in love either. Instead of fear being in love, perfect love casts out fear. For me, that is very much like love covering all of our rebellion.

I also see Jesus in Proverbs 10.12.

Love covers all offenses. The Hebrew word for covers is also used for putting on a veil or other articles of clothing. Love is put on atop, over, or above (there’s actually an untranslated Hebrew word that means something like that) all our offenses. Love is put on atop or above our hatred, covering it up.

Colossians 3.8-14 says, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Here we have the taking off the garment of hatred – anger, wrath, malice – and the putting on of the garment of love. In this way, there are no more groups that hate another – Jew and Gentile, barbarian and Scythian, slave and free. Instead, Christ is all and in all. Hatred is replace with love because God, and Christ, is love.

We are to forgive each other as the Lord has forgiven us.

When did Jesus, and God, do this?

On the cross.

When our hatred was fully stirred up to the ultimate strife – murder.

When love covered all of our rebellion.

And, because God has always been as he was on the cross, he never hated you.

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.

Jesus Proclaimed God Is Light, Love, and Life


“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.”


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 Love Is or What Love Does?


“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Can you go to a wedding and not hear this passage of scripture?

Perhaps there’s a good reason for that.

Throughout the Bible, the picture of marriage is a man leaving his father and mother so that the two can become one flesh, one body. Quoting Genesis 2:24, Paul says, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

Therefore, marriage is a picture of two becoming one. But, two becoming one is a mystery. It is a mystery because two becoming one is not about flesh merging with flesh – man and woman becoming one – but about spirit merging with flesh – God and man becoming one.

So, we read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 at a marriage ceremony because we instinctively know that the only possible way for two to become one is love. Love is the power, the capability, the capacity, potential for two becoming one.

Love brings God and mankind together in perfect union, perfect harmony, perfect relationship.

However, what gets too easily forgotten in this is that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).

Therefore, I have written previously that

“God is patient and kind; God does not envy or boast; God is not arrogant or rude. God does not insist on his own; God is not irritable or resentful; God does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God never ends.”

This is an entirely different picture of God than what most people have, including Christians. We struggle with our view of God because people, including Christians, take the Old Testament description of God as authoritative. Then, we try to shoehorn what we know about love into the Old Testament description of God even though we all know that love – the love we all want to base our marriages on – is not like that Old Testament description of God.

In the Old Testament, God reportedly destroyed all people everywhere with a flood, committed genocide, commanded the burning of everyone – men, women, children, babies – in numerous cities, inflicted multiple nations with earthquakes, plagues, diseases, and wars, ordered the rape of women and abortion of babies.

And, somehow Christians use that description as the authoritative description of God that we somehow squeeze into the silly little notion that God is love. The same type of love we so desire in our most intimate of human relationships.

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Or, maybe not for so many, many Christians because the conflict between the description of God in the Old Testament and God is love seemingly causes no discomfort for them.

God is love is a simple, clear, direct statement. Perhaps we should take that as authoritative. Then anything, anywhere, whether it is written in the Bible or not that conflicts with

God is patient and kind; God does not envy or boast; God is not arrogant or rude. God does not insist on his own; God is not irritable or resentful; God does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God never ends

should immediately get tossed aside as a lie, an untruth, a fiction.

But, apparently people would rather worship what a book says about God than God himself.

However, even all of this – “God is patient and kind…” – doesn’t give us the full picture.

Just take the statement “God is patient.” God is the subject. Is is the verb. Patient is an adjective, a noun that describes a quality, a characteristic of God. And, when we read the English translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, this is basically true of kind, envy, boast, arrogant, rude, irritable, and resentful. In English these are all nouns, adjectives.

So, we read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as description of what love is, what God is. However, the Greek word for is is not found one time in the passage.

That’s because in the Greek everyone of these words is a verb. Paul is not describing what love is but what love does. In English, it is not so easy to say love patients.

Paul is telling us how love acts and behaves. Therefore, this is a description of what God does and how God behaves. Knowing this drives home the point that God take these actions, and he is doing so to make himself one with us.

Further, the English translation loses the fact that some of these verbs are active, meaning love and God do them, and some are passive, meaning that love and God are the recipient of the action. The Greek words for kind, boast, arrogant, irritable, resentful are all verbs in the passive voice. Therefore, love and God are the recipients of these actions, not the ones that do these actions.

The word for kind also means make use of. Paul is not saying that love kinds or love is kind. Rather, it’s more like love makes use of itself for other or love is made use of for others.

Paul is not saying that love does not boast. Rather, it’s more like love is not boasted about. Love is not the recipient of boasting.

The Greek word for arrogant also means made proud or puffed up. Paul is saying that love cannot be made proud or puffed. Therefore, God cannot be made proud. In other words, your actions cannot make God proud. God loves you for you.

Paul is saying that love cannot be irritated. Think about that. God is not the recipient of irritation. You cannot irritate God.

Finally, resentful is actually several words in Greek. Those words actually mean speaking evil. Paul is not saying that love does not speak evil. Rather, Paul is saying that love cannot be spoken evil of.

This is really, really important.

Love does not receive being spoken evil of.

Therefore, God does not receive being spoke evil of.

In other words, we should never speak evil of God.

Yet, when we take the Old Testament description of God as authoritative, when believe God to be a mass murderer, inflicter of plagues and diseases, commander of rape and abortion, we are speaking evil of God.

Let it never be so.

God is love.

Love is not what God is. Love is what God does.

And, simply based on the love everyone desires in marriage, we know that God does not kill, hurt, maim, curse, sicken, or wound us.

Why Is God the Blessed?


“Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” – Mark 14:61

Jesus was asked this question by the high priest during his trial the night he was crucified. Instead of asking if Jesus was the son of God, the high priest asked if Jesus was the son of the Blessed. Therefore, God is the Blessed.

Why is God the Blessed?

What does it mean that God is the Blessed?

The Greek word translated “the Blessed” in Mark 14:61 is eulogetos.  It is always used in reference to God as “the Blessed.” God is not called “the Blessed” because we speak a blessing to him or about him. Rather, eulogetos is an adjective that describes who God is. God is blessed, He is eulogetos, because that is his nature, his person.

Eulogetos is a compound Greek word. The first part is eu, which means good or well. The second part is logos, which means something said, including the thought, word, reasoning, logic.

To say that God is “the Blessed” is to quite literally say that God is the Good Word.

Is this not the first thing we learn about God in the Bible, that he is the Good Word?

In Genesis 1, God speaks, or words, the creation into existence. His word creates. And, after everything that God speaks, or words, Genesis 1 says that God saw that it was good. By the end of his work, God said that everything he created was not just good but very good.

So, John starts his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

Jesus is the Word, the logos. By starting his gospel, “in the beginning,” John is saying that is the word that is spoken that creates and is called good.

Eulogetos is used eight times in the New Testament. Eight is the number of new beginning and new creation. God is the Blessed, the Good Worded, because he is ushering in a new creation, a new word that makes all things good, indeed very good, through Jesus Christ.

Twice God is called the Blessed in connection with showing us mercy and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3). He is called the Blessed he is the Creator that spoke the truth – he creates good and only good – in opposition to the creature that spoke God was not good and only good to us (Romans 1:25). God is called the Blessed because he has visited us and redeemed us in Jesus Christ (Luke 1:68).

Why is God the Blessed?

Because he is the Good Word.

Because what he speaks is good, very good, only good.

Because he creates good through what he speaks, his word, Jesus.

It’s interesting to look at the other forms of eulogetos in the New Testament. Their use testifies of God, the Blessed.

Eulogeo is to bless, to praise, to speak well of. It is a verb and, therefore, the act of blessing. We could say that it is the act of “good wording.”

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed [eulogetos] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed [eulogeo] in Christ.”

God, the Good Worded, has good worded us in Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The word of God is a sword. Therefore, the word of God separates. It separates the flesh from the spirit in us.

But, notice that when God spoke his word to create what is good in Genesis 1 it separated. God separated the light from the dark, the waters above from the waters below, the land from the seas.

So, creation is the process of separation. Interestingly, eulogeo is used 41 times in the New Testament. The number 41 to separation through the flow of time, the process of separation. Study the lives of the patriarchs and you fill find that often the 41st mention of their name is connected with separation. Rehoboam became king when he was 41 years old. And, he was the king when Israel was separated into two kingdoms. Israel camped 41 times in the wilderness as they were separated from Egypt and led to the promised land.

So, we are “good worded” in Christm created by the separating power of the word of God that is living and active. We are made a new creation in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless [eulogeo] those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Paul says the same thing in Romans 12:14, “Bless [eulogeo] those who persecute you; bless [eulogeo] and do not curse them.”

We are quite literally “good word” our enemies, those who curse us, into a new creation.

Eulogia is a blessing, a generous gift, praise. Eulogia is a noun. It is the actual blessing.

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed [eulogetos] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed [eulogeo] us in Christ with every spiritual blessing [eulogia] in heavenly places.”

The Good Word has good worded us with every spiritual good wording.

God has given us every spiritual gift.

What is the supreme gift we have received?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus is the gift above all gifts we have received from God. Jesus is every spiritual blessing, every spiritual good wording, we have received.

Why did God give us this gift, his son, Jesus Christ?

Because he loved the world.

So, it is quite interesting that eulogia is used 16 times in the New Testament. The number 16 symbolizes love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul lists 16 characteristics of love. You find a connection between agape, love, and 16 throughout the New Testament

But, we just don’t receive a blessing. We are to be a blessing to others.

In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul was writing to the Corinthian church about the offering they were taking for the poor in Jerusalem. Verses 5-6 say, “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift [eulogia] you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift [eulogia], not as an exaction. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully [eulogia] will also reap bountifully [eulogia].

So, God is the Blessed because he is the Good Worded that good words us with good words. In his Good Word, Jesus Christ, who is living and active, he separates us from the flesh and the things of this world to make us a new creation. As new creations we to good word our enemies through good wordings so that everything becomes part of the new creation, summed up in Jesus Christ. This is our part in the ministry of reconciliation.

Love: Everything Depends on It


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

Or is it?

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

“God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solomon to Josiah: Faith, Hope, Love


“The son of Solomon was Rehoboam, Abijah his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, Amon his son, Josiah his son.” – 1 Chronicles 10:14

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” – Romans 8:22-24

As I read through today’s reading, the Holy Spirit was connecting these scriptures for me.


David had fought to build the kingdom of Israel. But, because he was a man of war, David was not able to build the temple. God promised David that he would have a son who would sit on the throne forever who would build the temple.

In 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, we read of David’s sons. There are 19 sons from David’s wives that are listed. And, David had other sons from his concubines.

But, in verses 10 to 14 we are given a lineage of kings who sat on the throne. That lineage starts with David’s son Solomon. It is likely that name Solomon derives from the Hebrew word shalom. Therefore, a likely meaning of the name Solomon is peace or peaceable. So, this lineage of kings starts with peace.

However, Solomon was not the son that God promised David. Solomon was just a shadow, a picture, of the true son, Jesus.

.Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zechariah prophesied over his son, John the baptist. In Luke 1:76-79, he said, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of your God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

John guided “our feet into the way of peace” because he led people to Jesus. Jesus is the way of peace.

In Luke 2:14, when Jesus was born, a multitude of the heavenly host praise God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Jesus, the promised son of David, the king, our peace, had arrived.

Therefore, in Luke 2:29, Simeon was entered the temple, picked up Jesus, and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.” Simeon was able to in peace because Jesus had arrived.


In the lineage of kings given in 1 Chronicles 3:10-14, Josiah is the last one. Basically, Josiah was the last independent king of Judah before the nation went into exile in Babylon. Every king after Judah was subject either to a king of Egypt or a king of Babylon.

Josiah was one of the best kings of Judah. He rid the nation of false gods and idolatry of all of kinds. Not only that, but Josiah reinstituted the passover.

2 Kings 23:21-23 says, “And the king commanded all the people, ‘Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.’ For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. But, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah his Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem.” Since the passover had not been kept since the days of Judah, Josiah was the only king to keep the passover in Jerusalem.

One possible meaning of the name Josiah is the despair of Yahweh. The lineage that had started with a king who built the temple, whose name was peace, ended in despair. One of the best kings of Judah, the only one to celebrate the passover, brought despair.

However, Josiah was a shadow or picture of Jesus too. The night before Jesus died his celebrated the passover with his disciples and instituted a new covenant.

Three days after Jesus was crucified, he appeared as a stranger to two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. Jesus asked them what they were talking about. In Luke 24:19-21, they said, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.”

These disciples had hope that Jesus would be the king who would restore the kingdom of Israel and bring peace, the peace spoken of at his birth, to the land. But, Jesus was crucified. Now three days later Jesus had not been seen as he promised. These disciples had lost hope, they despaired.

When the disciples had explained all this, Jesus said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.” In other words, not only had the disciples lost hope, despaired, but they without faith.

Faith in what?


In 1 Chronicles 3:1-14, the lineage of kings from Solomon to Josiah is made of 16 kings.

Sixteen is the number of love.

Almost everyone, given how often it is used in weddings, knows that 1 Corinthians 13 is about love.

Do you know many characteristics Paul lists about love in 1 Corinthians 13? 16!

  1. Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.
  3. Love does not envy.
  4. Love does not boast.
  5. Love is not arrogant.
  6. Love is not rude.
  7. Love does not insist on its own way.
  8. Love is not irritable.
  9. Love is not resentful.
  10. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
  11. Love rejoices with the truth.
  12. Love bears all things.
  13. Love believes all things.
  14. Love hopes all things.
  15. Love endures all things.
  16. Love never ends.

Agape (the noun not the verb) is the Greek word for God’s love. It is used 18 times in 1 John. But, the 16th time the noun love is used John writes, “But perfect love casts out fear.”

The 16 kings from Solomon to Josiah show that even though God’s people moved from peace to despair God was working love throughout the entire time.

The west side of the tabernacle, the side that was closest to God’s presence, had 16 silver bases that held up the eight frames. There were two bases per frame. Eight is the number of new creation. In the new creation, Jesus gave two commandments of love. So, we have the 16 silver bases.

Silver symbolizes redemption. We were redeemed by the shedding of Christ’s blood. This occurred on the cross. And, it’s Christ’s death on the cross that reveals love to us.

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

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had lost hope because they were slow of heart to believe. They lacked faith. Specifically, they lacked faith in God’s love. Even though they had just seen the ultimate display of love – God in Jesus on the cross willingly dying for our sins and at the same time forgiving us.

Therefore, Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

What was Jesus telling them?

Everything about his love and where it could be found in scripture.


Jesus showed these two disciples everywhere his love could be found in the scriptures to build their faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

The word of Christ is love. He came to reveal God’s love. This is why Jesus was sent. And, he gave us two commandments of love. Hearing his word and witness about the love of God is where faith comes from.

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus heard the word of love and had their faith built. They went back to the 11 and the other disciples and told them what they heard from Jesus.

Luke 24:36 says, “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace to you!'” The disciples had heard the word of love from Jesus. Their faith had been built. And, Jesus spoke peace to them. The despair, the lost hope, was gone. Now they had peace.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Here Paul links faith, love, and peace.

But, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul said, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Hope and peace are synonymous. But, of the three – faith, hope, and love – love is the greatest because love is how faith comes and faith yields hope.

But, hope is not a wish. The Greek word for hope means an expectation. When we have the word of love from Christ and are faith is built, then we have a sure expectation of peace, regardless of the despair that is in the world. We have this because of the love Christ displayed on the cross by dying for our sins and forgiving us of our sins.

This hope, this expectation, is for the full reconciliation of all creation to God as we see in Romans 8. When the reconciliation is complete, our peace will be full. Then the hope, the expectation, of what is not seen will be seen and we will no longer need to hope.

What a message the Spirit inspired in the list of kings from Solomon to Josiah.

66, 2, 70, 33, 16, 14, 7 – They’re Jesus not Lotto Numbers

Today’s Reading: Genesis 44-46

The blog post on today’s reading is later than usual because I’ve been digging and digging this morning so that the Holy Spirit could show me Jesus in Genesis 46. And, my mind is blown! It never ceases to amaze me how every part of the scripture bears witness to Jesus.

Genesis 46 is the chapter where God speaks to Israel and tells Jacob to not be afraid to go down to Egypt because in Egypt God will make Jacob a great nation. But, God will not leave Jacob there. He will bring him back up again.

So Jacob sets out from Beersheba with all his sons, their little ones, and their wives on the wagons provided by Pharaoh. Jacob also took all his livestock. Genesis 46:7 says, “All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.”

From verses 8 to 27, there is a list of all the offspring, or persons, that went with Jacob into Egypt. The offspring are presented in four groups.

  1. Leah’s children – 33
  2. Zilpah’s children – 16
  3. Rachel’s children – 14
  4. Bilhah’s children – 7

After these four groupings are given, we are told that the number of people that came to Egypt with Jacob was 66. Then, we are told that there were two sons born to Joseph in Egypt. Finally, we are told that the total number of people that came into Egypt with Jacob is 70.

This morning, I actually created a spreadsheet with all the names to prove that all of these numbers are correct and how they are correct.

But, why does the Bible tell us these numbers? Why are the numbers so specific? Do they have any meaning?

To fully understand these numbers, it is important to remember all the “numbers” came into Egypt, which represents the world in the Bible. That is all the numbers except the “two” that were born in Egypt.


The Bible contains 66 books. Where did the scriptures come from? According to 2 Timothy 3:16, “all Scripture is breathed out by God.” Many of us know this by heart.

But, I like what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19-20, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Where did scripture come from? God.

Where’s God? Outside the world. He had to exist outside the world, since he created the heavens and the earth.

How did scripture enter the world? On the breath of God, the Holy Spirit.

What do all 66 books of the Bible bear witness to? Jesus!


Judah had two sons that died in Canaan before Jacob went to Egypt. There names were Er and Onan. Er means watchman or watcher. Onan means strong. The “strong watcher” dies and does not come into Egypt with Jacob. This stood out to me because Enoch writes about the “watchers” that corrupted man before the flood. Jude writes about these watchers in his epistle. In verse 6, Jude says, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.”

But, Er and Onan are replaced by the two sons that were born to Joseph in Egypt – Manasseh and Ephraim. When Manasseh was born, Joseph said, “For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (Genesis 41:51) And, when Ephraim was born, Joseph said, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:52) For more on the meaning of these names and their relation to Jesus, see my post The Story of Jesus and Israel Is Incomplete without Manasseh and Ephraim.

So, God replaces the strong watcher with forgetfulness and fruitfulness.

Jesus is born in the world so that God can forget our sin and make us fruitful.


Seventy is the number of all the people that came with Jacob into Egypt. I believe this number represents the true people of God, the people of Jesus, that are part of the new creation. These 70, representing the people of God, were coming back into the world. Why do I believe this?

I believe this because this is not the first time the number 70 appears in scripture. I wrote about the first occurrence of 70 in my post Jesus Undoes Babel and Gathers the Nations. Genesis 10 records a list of 70 nations that were dispersed after the flood, when God “recreated” the world.

Where did these 70 nations come from?

Genesis 9:18-19 says, “The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.”

The 70 nations came from Noah’s three sons. After the flood, the sons of Noah “went forth from the ark.” How did they leave the ark? From the one door that it had built into its side. Jesus had a hole pierced in his side on the cross from which the church, the people of God, came forth.

But, that’s not the only reference to Jesus in Genesis 9:18. When Genesis 9:18 says “the sons of Noah”, that is the 33rd time Noah’s name was used in the Old Testament. Is it just a coincidence that after the flood when the side of the ark is opened and Noah’s three sons come forth from which the 70 nations were dispersed that Noah’s name was used for the 33rd time? Keep reading.


The number 33 appears quite a bit in the Bible.

Leviticus 12:1-4 says that after a male son was born, the woman was unclean for seven days, the boy was circumcised on the eighth day, and then the woman continued in the blood of her purifying for 33 days. Interesting.

1 Kings 2:11 says that David reigned in Hebron seven years and Jerusalem 33 years. David is a type of Christ. This is getting more interesting.

In the account of creation, which spans Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4, the 33rd time Elohim, one of the names of God, is used it says “God finished his work (Genesis 2:2). God finished (keep that in mind for later) the first creation the 33rd time his name was mentioned.

In the first mid-week Bible study in 2017, I spoke on Creation: A Witness to Jesus. In that study, I discussed how John says that Jesus was ushering in a new creation.

How old was Jesus when he died? 33!

How many unique miracles are recorded in the gospels when Jesus was ushering in the new creation? 33!

How many unique parables did Jesus speak when he was telling us about the new creation? 33!

So, including Leah, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 33. Or, Jesus came into the world to begin creation anew and at the age of 33 he finished his work.


Almost everyone, given how often it is used in weddings, knows that 1 Corinthians 13 is about love.

Do you know many characteristics Paul lists about love in 1 Corinthians 13? 16!

  1. Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.
  3. Love does not envy.
  4. Love does not boast.
  5. Love is not arrogant.
  6. Love is not rude.
  7. Love does not insist on its own way.
  8. Love is not irritable.
  9. Love is not resentful.
  10. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
  11. Love rejoices with the truth.
  12. Love bears all things.
  13. Love believes all things.
  14. Love hopes all things.
  15. Love endures all things.
  16. Love never ends.

Agape (the noun not the verb) is the Greek word for God’s love. It is used 18 times in 1 John. But, the 16th time the noun love is used John writes, “But perfect love casts out fear.”

So, we are seeing a connection between the number 16 and the word love. But, not just any love, perfect love.

But, 16 is eight times two. Eight is the number that represents new creation. We saw that above in Leviticus 12:1-4 when it said the male child was circumcised on the eighth day. Circumcision, baptism, death to life, and old man and new man are tied together in the New Testament.

The new creation, God’s kingdom, comes to earth through Jesus. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

What is the will of the Father? His commandments.

In Matthew 22, a lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” In verses 37-40, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

In the new creation (8), there are commandments (2) that must be obeyed.

So, including Zilpah, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 16. Or, Jesus came to usher in the new creation by establishing two commandments of perfect love – for God and for neighbor – by which the whole creation would be renewed.


The number 14 is found in some interesting places throughout the Bible too. Benjamin, the son of my right hand, inherited 14 cities. Jerusalem was one of those 14 cities. In Ezekiel 43:17, the ledge of the altar was 14 by 14 cubits. Somewhat interesting.

The Passover took place on the 14th day of the first month. That’s more interesting.

Jesus was crucified on the Passover, the 14th day of the first month. Aha!

In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Remember, Jesus summed up all of the law and prophets with just two commandments – perfect love for God and perfect love for your neighbor.

When Jesus was on the cross on the 14th day of the first month, John 19:28, 30 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’…When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

But, 14 is seven times two. We saw above that the number two speaks of the two commandments of perfect love. Seven is the number that represents completion in the Bible.

So, on the 14th day, Jesus said, “It is finished.” In other words, Jesus completed, or fulfilled, the two commandments of God – love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. John 17:4 records Jesus’s fulfillment of the first command, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” In other words, Jesus loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. The fulfillment of the second command is recorded in John 13:1, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

Recall from above that God’s name, Elohim, was used the 33rd time in the creation account when Genesis says “God finished his work.” And, Jesus finished his work when he was 33 years old.

So, including Rachel, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 14. Or, Jesus came to usher in the new creation by establishing two commandments of perfect love – for God and for neighbor – which he fulfilled.

Interestingly, Numbers 29 records what is to be offered on each day of the feast of tabernacles. For the first seven days, 14 male lambs were to be offered. But, on the eighth day, the day of new creation, only seven male lambs were to be offered. I will let you meditate on the reason why after you read the following.


I have already mentioned that the number seven represents completion in the Bible. But, it also represents rest.

The number seven is found all over the Bible, but let’s just focus on the creation account. Many of the Hebrew words in the creation account are used in multiples of seven. If I remember correctly, Elohim is used 35 times. Bara, the Hebrew word for create, which only God does, is used seven times. And, 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 he had done.”

But, there is something different about this seventh day of creation. Have you ever noticed that it has no end? Every other day of creation ended with a statement like “And there was evening and there was the morning, the sixth day.” But, the seventh day has no such statement. In other words, when God, when Jesus, is done creating, when the work of establishing and fulfilling the commandments of love is complete, there is rest without end.

Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” The government, God’s two commandments of perfect love, are on Jesus’ shoulders. He bears the weight of them. And, as we abide in him, we can fulfill them too. His government, God’s two commandments of perfect love, will increase without end. The result is peace with no end. Jesus established this government, God’s two commandments of perfect love, with justice and righteousness now and forevermore.

Hebrews 4 is a wonderful chapter that ties all of this together. I will just quote parts of it, because I find it so stirring. Verse 1 says, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Verses 6 and 7 say, “Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day.” Finally, verses 9-11 says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

So, including Bilhah, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 7. Or, Jesus came to usher in the new creation by establishing two commandments of perfect love – for God and for neighbor – which he fulfilled. As we obey those commandments, abiding in Jesus and under his government, our work is finished and we have rest.

66, 2, 70, 33, 16, 14, and 7. They all bear witness to Jesus.