What Love Is or What Love Does?

TODAY’S READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10-13

“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?

TODAY’S READING: MARK 14

“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

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 119

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

Or is it?

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

“God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solomon to Josiah: Faith, Hope, Love

TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 3-4

“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.

STARTING IN PEACE

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.

ENDING IN DESPAIR

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?

GOD IS LOVE

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.

FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

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.

66

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!

2

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.

70

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.

33

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.

16

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.

14

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.

7

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.

 

 

Creation: A Witness to Jesus

In addition to the written teaching below, here’s the audio to tonight’s CUMO Mid-Week Bible Study.

Creation-A Witness to Jesus

To go along with this week’s study, I prepared a chart to make it easier to follow along with the teaching. You may want to print it out for easier viewing as you read or listen to the teaching.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF GENESIS 1?

Genesis 1. The account of creation.

Why is it in the Bible?

What was the point of Moses writing, “In the beginning, God created…”? Why did Moses write about creation the way he did?

Was it written so that we would all be creationists, taking the account literally and matching it up with science, proving that God did in fact create everything? If so, then how many creationists believe in and espouse a flat earth supported by pillars with a dome on top of it? For, that is what the account of creation (as seen elsewhere besides Genesis 1) and the science of the Bible say.

Was it written to tell us, to help us know and understand, the scientific processes by which God created the universe? “See, first God created light, which is energy. He did this because you need energy before anything else. Then…”

Was it written to tell us the age of the universe and, therefore, the earth? Was it written so that we would have ammunition to defend a belief in a young earth because God created in seven literal days or an old earth because we found a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 that would for billions of years to have taken place?

Job 38:1-4 says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Who is it that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you…”

And, for two chapters, God mocks the debate between Job and his friends with question after question regarding Job’s knowledge about how God created the heavens and the earth and how he maintains different aspects of his creation.

Therefore, to understand the story of creation in Genesis 1, we need to remember what the Bible is and is not. First, the Bible is not a science book. Treating it, and in particular Genesis 1, as if it is about science creates an argument that is a distraction to the real purpose of the account of creation and the Bible. Instead of being a book of geology, biology, ecology, exogeology, etc., the Bible is a book of theology. It is a book by which we study God. Therefore, the Bible is a revelation of who God is. And, in Jesus’ own words, it is a book that bears witness of him (John 5:39-40).

So, the point of Genesis 1, the reason it was written, is that we would know God and have a witness to Jesus.

GOD CREATED

The first thing the Bible tells us about God is that he is a creator. This tells us something very special about God as he is the only one that ever creates in the Bible (a study of the Hebrew and Greek words for “create” will show this, but that is another teaching).

So, what did God create?

Let’s look at just the first three days of creation in Genesis 1. You will understand why I want to focus on the first three days below.

On day one, God said, “Let there be light.” God separated light from darkness.

On day two, God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters.” God created an expanse, or a firmament, that separated the waters above from the waters below.

On day three, God said, “Let the waters under the havens be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear.” God separated the seas and the dry land appeared.

So, on the first three days, God brought forth light, a firmament, and dry land. All were brought forth through a process of separation. God creates by separating.

GOD’S INVISIBLE ATTRIBUTES

Romans 1:19-20 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

So, God has invisible attributes. Paul says these attributes are God’s eternal power and divine nature. Further, these invisible attributes have been known since the creation of the world. “The creation of the world.” That’s Genesis 1. So, somewhere in the six days of creation (I would argue the first three) we should be able to know, or clearly perceive, God’s invisible attributes.

Do you clearly perceive them? I didn’t think so.

To do so, we need to get more specific about exactly what are God’s invisible attributes. I propose there are three.

  1. God is light. According to 1 John 1:5, “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.”
  2. God is love. According to 1 John 4:8, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  3. God is life. According to 1 John 5:20, “He is the true God and eternal life.”

As you read, remember the order that 1 John lists God’s invisible attributes – light, love, life.

Now that you know God’s invisible attributes, do you clearly perceive them in Genesis 1? I will give you light, but I doubt you see the other two.

JOHN: THE NEW GENESIS

To see God’s invisible attributes in creation, we need to understand that the gospel of John is the new Genesis. How so?

Genesis 1 starts “in the beginning” which is followed by a series of days. Just like Genesis 1, John 1 starts “in the beginning”. But, did you know that “in the beginning” in the the gospel of John is also followed by a series of days? Maybe you haven’t noticed because the days are spread out over several chapters instead of clustered together like Genesis 1. This is John’s clue that he is writing a new Genesis about a new creation.

Further, when we understand that John is writing the new Genesis and we read the Bible in the language of Son, with the understanding that the entire Bible is a witness to Jesus, then we understand why Genesis 1 was written. It’s real purpose is to bear witness to Jesus.

So, let’s compare the account of creation in Genesis with the account in the gospel of John.

Day 1

In Genesis, on day one God calls forth light and separates it from darkness.

On day one, John 1:4-5, 7-9 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it…He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not that light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

On the first day of John’s gospel there was light. And, when the light shined in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it, light and darkness were separated. John tells us that this light is Jesus, equating Jesus with the light called forth on the first day of creation.

Therefore, the first day established light as one of God’s invisible attributes that could be known through creation.

Day 2

In Genesis, on day two, God made the firmament and separated the waters above from the waters below.

John 1:29-34 details the second day in John’s gospel. Verses 29 and 31-33 say, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”‘”

So, Jesus, the Lamb of God, gets baptized on day two of John’s gospel. Jesus’ body went down into the water and separated the water. Jesus’ baptism, in which the body of the Lamb of God separated the waters, links day two of John’s gospel with the waters being separated on day two of Genesis.

Throughout the Bible, waters being separated represents baptism.

Exodus 14:22 says, “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right and on their left.”

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 that this was Israel’s baptism. “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

Therefore, when we read that the waters were separated on day two in Genesis we should immediately think of baptism. But, what separated the waters in Genesis? The firmament, which is key to linking Jesus’ baptism on the second day in John’s gospel with the “baptism” that took place on the second day in Genesis 1.

To see the connection, recall that baptism is symbolic of death. On the second day of John’s gospel, John the Baptist declares Jesus to be the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Jesus, the lamb of God, that was baptized and symbolically died on day of two of John’s gospel, fulfilled this symbolism when he died on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, breathed his last, and yielded up his spirit. Right then, according to Matthew 27:51, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Now we have a connection between Jesus’ baptism, his death on the cross as the lamb of God, and the veil being torn in the temple.

What was the veil? The veil was what separated (there’s that creative word again) the holy place from the most holy place, the place of God’s presence. The priests were allowed into the holy place, but only the high priest, and that once a year with an offering of blood, was allowed beyond the veil into God’s presence. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the high priest that took an offering of his own blood beyond the veil into the presence of God. Here is another connection between Jesus’ body and the veil.

What does this have to do with the waters being separated by the firmament in Genesis?

Psalm 78:69 says, “He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever.” The psalmist is saying that God built his earthly tabernacle, the one Moses built, which was patterned exactly after the heavenly one, think Jesus, just like he built creation. In the tabernacle, there was a veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place, the place of God’s presence. This veil is just like firmament in that separated the earth from the heavens, the place of God’s presence. So, now we have a connection between the veil and the firmament to go with our connection between Christ’s body and the veil.

But, to drive the point home even further, Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above [the same word as firmament or expanse in Genesis 1] proclaims his handiwork.” The firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. What is God’s handiwork? Hebrews 10:5 says, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you not desire, but a body have you prepared for me.'” The firmament proclaims the work of God’s hand, which is Jesus, the lamb of God to be offered up for the sins of the world. Like Jesus’ death tore the veil giving us access to the most holy place, so to did Jesus’ death tear the firmament, reconnecting the heavens and the earth.

So, the second day in Genesis is linked with the second day of John’s gospel through baptism and the crucifixion of the Lamb of the God.

(As an aside, have you ever noticed that God did not call anything that happened on day two good in Genesis? I believe that is because this day spoke prophetically of the death of God’s son.)

So, how does this reveal one of God’s invisible attributes on the second day of creation?

1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” And, 1 John 4:9-10, “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.”

The death of Jesus, the event of day two of John’s gospel and Genesis, is how we know love.

Therefore, the second day established love as one of God’s invisible attribute that could be known through creation.

Day 3

In Genesis, on day three, God gathered the waters below and the dry land appeared.

Finding the equivalent of day three in John’s gospel gets a little tricky.

John 1:35 says, “Again, the next day…”

John 1:43 says, “The following day…”

John 2:1 says, “On the third day…”

We need to know two things about John. First, he uses a lot of symbolism in his writings. Second, John is not writing an historical account of Jesus like we would today. In John 20:31, he tells us exactly why he wrote the gospel, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John is writing more a theological treatise than an historical account.

Given those two points, it is important to note that John 2:1 is the only place that any of the days in John’s gospel is numbered. This is important because when you read through the Bible you will notice that an incredibly large number of events happen on the third day.

Given the great theological significance of the third day, it is not by chance that John marked out this day in John 2 with a number. By specifically identifying this as the third day, John is telling you to pay very careful attention to what happens on it.

John 2:1 says, “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.” This is familiar story. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples attended a wedding where they ran out of wine. One thing led to another, and Jesus tells the servants to fill six water pots with water, which he turned into wine. John 2:9-10 says, “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine…the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept good wine until now.'”

Jesus turned water, which is ordinary but necessary for life, into wine, which is much sweeter and richer than wine, or better life. Wine, because it is sweeter and richer than water, is often a symbol of spiritual revival. While we are alive right now, Jesus gives us eternal life through the resurrection. Day three of John’s gospel is speaking to the resurrection of Jesus and the new life he gives. This is why John 2:11 says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory [eternal life]. And his disciples believed in him.” This first miracle, turning water into wine, was such a big deal to the disciples precisely because it spoke to Jesus’ resurrection and the eternal life he would give.

We see more support for the connection between the third day of John’s gospel and Genesis in Psalm 104. This psalm is a retelling of the days of creation.

  • Day 1 – verses 1-2
  • Day 2 – verses 3-4
  • Day 3 – verses 5-18
  • Day 4 – verses 19-23
  • Day 5 – verses 24-26
  • Day 6 – verses 27-30
  • Day 7 – verses 31-35

What happens on day three in this psalm? Verses 14-15 say, “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” The psalmist writes that on day three of creation there was “wine to gladden the heart of man.” That’s exactly what Jesus did on day three of John’s gospel.

Further, in Isaiah 25, the Lord prepares a feast for those that have come out of the city of confusion. Isaiah 25:6 says, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”

Aged wine is better tasting wine. This is what the master of the feast said about the wine Jesus served. And, this is the wine that the Lord serves to those that come out of the city of confusion, to those enter new life.

I should note also that in Genesis it said the waters were gathered and the dry land appeared. In a sense, the dry land came up out of the water, speaking to new life or resurrected life after death or baptism. But, it very specifically says that the dry land appeared. Jesus appeared on the third day to his disciples on the third day after his death.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” People have long struggled with what Paul meant as there is no one scripture that says Jesus would rise on the third day. But, could Paul be referring to Genesis 1?

Therefore, the third day established life as God’s attribute that could be known through creation.

Now we see how creation has made known the invisible attributes of God. And, when we put them all together:

When the light of God shines on the love of God it produces the life of God.

Also, we can read what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15-20 in even greater wonder.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn form the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.”

As we have seen from all of the above, Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation.

JESUS IS LIGHT, LOVE, AND LIFE

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Light and truth are closely related throughout scripture. As examples, see Psalm 43:3, John 3:21, 1 John 1:6.

Love is taking an action on behalf of another at the expense of oneself. Love is giving of oneself. God and Jesus are gratuitously self-giving. They do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine. Love is the way Jesus has lived from before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is eternal life.

Do you see what Jesus is saying in John 14:6?

I am the way, the truth, and the life is the same as saying I am love, light, and life.

When the truth of Christ shines on the love of Christ we get the life of Christ.

Jesus makes another similar statement in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

What is the resurrection? It is Christ raised life after defeating death by forgiving us for our murdering him. The resurrection is light shining on love, the truth shining on the way, which leads to life.

WHAT CREATION SAYS ABOUT YOU AND ME

In the first sermon preached, Peter told the Jews that they crucified Jesus, the one who is the Messiah, the one who was sent from God to be their king. But, death couldn’t hold him and he was raised to life. The people that heard Peter’s preaching were cut to the heart and asked what they should do.

In Acts 2:38-39, Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

What is repenting?

A change of mind. Understanding. Light.

What is being baptized?

Paul tells us fully in Romans 6:3-11, but the short answer is baptism is being baptized into Christ’s death, which is how we know God’s love.

What is forgiveness and receiving the Holy Spirit?

The life of God. The life of Jesus. God’s forgiveness knows no end. That Jesus forgave us for killing him is how he defeated death and was resurrected to life.

So, repenting, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit are the same as light, love, and life.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But, it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Another way to think of ourselves and creation is being transformed and conformed.

Paul writes of the veil being removed and the light of the gospel shining out of the darkness into our hearts. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, he writes, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Then, in Romans 12:2, Paul writes, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” The Greek word for transformed is where we get our word for metamorphosis. That is to go from state of being to a completely different state of being.

To be transformed is to repent and be baptized!

What are being transformed into?

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

One turns to the Lord and the veil is removed – repentance, light. Being transformed – baptized. Into the same image. Being conformed to the same image as Jesus, the son of God, life.

In Romans 8:29, Paul writes that we are predestined to be conformed to image of God’s son so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. We are to have the same attributes as Jesus – light, love, and life.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 sums all that I have written above:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them [forgiveness], and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

God’s creation made known his invisible attributes – light, love, and life. That creation bears witness that Jesus is the image of these attributes. He is the way, the truth, and the life or the resurrection and the life. If we repent, are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, then we are in Christ and therefore a new creation of light, love, and life. As new creations, we have been given the same ministry of reconciliation as Christ. Therefore, we are his ambassadors.

Nevertheless…God’s Love Endures

Psalm 106:44-45 – “Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

Nevertheless. That’s a key word and turning point in this Psalm. Nevertheless what?

Well…the psalmist says Israel sinned…a lot.

  • They didn’t consider God’s wondrous works when they were in Egypt.
  • They didn’t remember the abundance of God’s steadfast love.
  • They rebelled at the Red Sea.
  • They forgot God’s works.
  • They did not wait for God’s counsel.
  • They had a wanton craving (that is they wanted something really, really bad) and put God to the test to give it to them.
  • They were jealous of God’s leaders.
  • They made a golden calf and worshiped it, exchanging the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
  • They forgot God.
  • They despised the land God was giving them.
  • They murmured (gossiped, slandered, etc.) and did not obey God’s voice.
  • They yoked themselves to false gods.
  • They provoked and angered God.
  • They didn’t obey God’s command but did what all the other nations did.
  • They served idols.
  • They sacrificed their sons and daughters.

That’s quite a list. But, sprinkled in through all of the sins of Israel, the psalmist tells how God was saving them, protecting them delivering them.

Then we read, “Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress…”

God stayed with Israel through all of that. His love is steadfast. God’s love is longsuffering. Remember God is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “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.”

I’m sure we can all find ourselves a number of times in the list of Israel’s sins above. But, when we, like Israel continually go astray, God keeps loving us. He bears our sins and burdens, He believes good for us. He hopes for our salvation. He endures hardship for us. His love never ends. As the psalmist says in verse 1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

After the nevertheless of God, when we see how good God is, how abundantly steadfast God’s love is, then we can say with the psalmist in verse 47, “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.”