“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The wisdom of God's love

We get to peek at the wisdom of Christ as we read the Book He authorized. But His wisdom is often missed because it crosses our expectations. The Lord forewarns us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:9).

His truth has often created confusion within Protestantism and divided it into thousands of denominations and offshoots. So much confusion reigned in the 1820’s that Joseph Smith had to disavow it all and strike out on his own. Like Jeroboam he came up with his own of ideas “which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained” his own religion. (1Ki. 12:33,30). Thus, “this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before” Mr. Smith’s idols of opinion.

Rather than doing the first work of humbling himself before Christ, gaining the first love for Him and then His understanding of scripture, the originator of Mormonism struck off on his own. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Pro. 16:25). This is how the early Catholic fathers began their volumes of conflicting doctrines, which were eventually called holy and raised above the sacred scriptures. They had lost the “first love” and Christ removed their “candlestick out of his place.” (Rev. 2:4,5).

Truth is not always obvious. Profound truth can often evade us. Elementary fundamentals don’t work in the more complex cases—that is, as they are spelled out to the beginner. Renditions of truth must be tailored to certain situations to be true judgment. This is often the case in every civilized justice system. Nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, hundreds of state Supreme Court appeals judges, and thousands of lower judges across the land work hard with the laws to decipher truth in each case before them.

It also happens in science. Isaac Newton sought for an overarching law to explain the action of forces in the universe. Later, Albert Einstein invented another premier law because he found that Newton’s law of gravity didn’t apply to the vastness of a universe which Newton hadn’t conceived of in the 1700’s. Today, scientists are searching for another law because even Einstein’s theory of quantum mechanics doesn’t seem to encompass the universe down to the atomic level.

Truth grows, as God forces us to apply judgment to rare, or newly unique conditions. If we were to stubbornly remain stuck only on what has been discovered in the past we stagnate, and the good ship Truth moves off-track and slowly departs from the way of reality and life.

The same applies to spiritual and moral truth. God is the maker of all truth. And He desires His intelligent creation throughout His realm to move higher in their judgment skills by digging deeply in His mine of truth, in whatever form that source of knowledge He provides them, stretching mind and soul to comprehend His lessons from all the evidence found. Through Christ alone can we approach the wisdom of God. On our planet, Christ has given us three books from which to develop mentally and spiritually: the Bible, animate and inanimate nature, and our life experiences, as we observe in our senses the interaction of the first two books.

Through inductive reasoning in those three books we may glean wonderful and helpful nuggets of verity. Thus, those who follow Christ will have insight that others will lack who choose not to follow Him. A comprehension of truth will be lost on those who have not given their hearts and minds to Him as His students possess. They will stand above the sin-loving world, and be called upon when circumstances demand answers that no one else can give, such as seen in the lives of Joseph and Daniel.

The Bible gives the clearest revelation of God of all His works. And it poses its share of difficulties. The scriptures bears the stamp of divine authorship. Approached in faith, its hidden lessons align perfectly to this life, and when applied gives the Bible student the advantage over them who would design their own truth, or devise an alternative to truth that comes packaged in righteousness. “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28). Christ’s righteousness, through the reception of His grace, gives the student of the Bible the discernment needed to navigate the deep things of God. Without the discernment that only the Holy Spirit provides a spiritual reticense resides in the mind, preventing its acceptance of the hidden riches of the Bible.

As David wrote, “I have seen an end of all perfection: but Thy commandment is exceeding broad.” “O Lord, how great are Thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.” (Ps. 119:96;92:5,6).
And Moses, “He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.” (Job 12:22).
Solomon, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Pro. 20:5).
And Daniel, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His:…He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.” (Dan. 2:20-22).

One example of difficult truth in the Bible is in Luke’s record of Jesus’ parables. In chapter 16 we hear the Lord apparently commending theft and encouraging ties to worldliness. “The lord [the employer in this parable] commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Lk. 16:8). The king or rich man in each of Jesus’ parables always represented God, and his servants or stewards were God’s people who serve Him on earth. In this parable the king caught his treasurer embezzling his wealth; and to save himself the treasurer further stole from his master by reducing the debts of his master’s debtors. This way he hoped they would see his loyalty to them and take him into their employ once he lost his well-paid job with his present lord.

Jesus said that God praised this steward’s behavior and Jesus then went on to advise, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Lk. 16:9). What do we make of this? Christ then said His oft repeated injunction, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk. 16:13). On the surface it sounds contradictory and confusing—at the least, the parable seems to teach immorality.

So, we must look at it carefully, and assume that Jesus was speaking truthfully when He also said at the start of His ministry, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Mat 5:17,18). Based on everything else Christ taught we can know that He fulfilled the Messianic prophecy, “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” (Is. 42:21). We can conclude then that Jesus stood for integrity and honesty.

“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears:
But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth: with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.” (Is. 11:1-5). Christ’s interpretation of truth would be far above what the doctors of the law would grasp.

The conclusion must be that Jesus was not giving a basic lesson in morality in this parable, but rather, bold satire and warning to expose the apostasy of the religious leadership. They had departed so far from the true Hebrew religion, and for so long mishandled the priceless principles of truth given them through Moses and the prophets, that they were now on the verge of rejecting their Messiah. So Christ, in this parable, let them know that Satan and his human philosophers were waiting to receive the deluded Jews. They might as well abandon God’s truth openly and resolutely. The Master teacher was inviting them to run to the world’s corrupted wisdom, which was darkness, since they had already turned their foot in that path.

Therefore, Jesus said in this parable, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Lk. 16:8). But He spoke in authority and earnestness so to warn them away from such a direction. He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, and especially so the whole Jewish nation. But they were soon to be cut off from God as channels of His light to the world. They could not serve God and the world. They would stubbornly cling to Judaism after God had shown His obvious displeasure of it. Destroying Jerusalem and scattering the nation would bring the stubborn Jewish religionists under the tutelage and service of Satan. Jesus wept that satanic forces would receive them into everlasting habitations.

Christ’s next parable also may be confusing. Here we hear Jesus propounding that the dead go straight to their reward, heaven or hell. Christ weaves into this parable the traditional Greek ideas of death which all the world religions held and which now the Jews had inculcated into theirs. This contradicted scriptural truth. “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” And, “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” (Eccl. 9:5,6;Ps. 115:17).

The parable didn’t teach that any rich men go straight to hell, or any poor go straight to heaven. The parable’s final conclusion reveals its real intent and gives a similar meaning to the previous one Christ had told just minutes before—that God was just about to cut off Israel and create a permanent, huge divide between Himself and all who would insist on keeping their corrupted religion. This fixed great gulf separating them from God would cause the Jews torment because the God they professed to serve would now be transferring His blessing from them to the Christians. The Lord would provoke Israel to jealousy, but all who would feel the pricks of God’s conviction and turn to the scriptures to study them with newly humbled, spiritual eyesight and see that Jesus of Nazareth who they crucified was the Messiah, would plead for mercy and receive the peace of God’s acceptance once again as if they were in Abraham’s bosom. Otherwise, their soul torture would continue until it destroyed them.

Another confusing Bible story was an actual event in the Old Testament. A young prophet is sent to King Jeroboam in Israel to rebuke him sharply at his dedication of an altar to a golden calf. But the Lord prohibited the prophet from eating or remaining there for any cause, but commanded him to immediately return to Judah. However, instead of leaving Israel and returning to Judah, he stops a mile and a half from the border of Judah, and relaxes under a tree. Strange behavior indeed for a prophet of God!

Can prophets of God disobey Him? Are they so locked in with His Spirit, that they cannot deny Him or somehow lose His presence by negligence? Can they leave God any time they wish? Anyone can. But for a prophet to leave is an especially scandalous thing.

A prophet’s office is to enforce obedience to God in His laws. Prophets must hold themselves to a higher degree of obedience than they do everyone else, since they represent God. In this we get an insight into the mind of Christ; we also understand the Father better and His infinite perfection. They hold Themselves infinitely more responsible to mercy and justice than They hold Their creatures. The hallmark of the Godhead comes through the work of Christ, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28). He lived to uplift others.

It’s right and reasonable and merciful to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold those we lead. This also brings to light, by contrast, the selfish mind of the devil, who keeps the opposite view of leadership. Satan and his adherents “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matt. 23:4).

To expect and require perfect obedience from others but not from self is perfect hypocrisy. By his disobedience this prophet, as God’s chosen representative, was saying that God is the greatest hypocrite in the world. This terrible sin was in need of swift correction. So God called on another prophet to put His wayward servant to the test. The old prophet traveled and caught up to the young prophet, made the same invitation as King Jeroboam had made, i.e. to come home and eat and drink with him. The circumstances and conditions with this elder prophet of God were different than with the wicked king. But the overall command of God still applied. “Get Home!”

This test was the loudest God could speak to this young man warning him away from his slipping into Satan’s clutches. It was designed to get his attention, to severely strike fear into him to remember his duty, and to send him running deep into his country fearing for his eternal salvation.

Judging by the reaction of the older prophet later on, we may conclude that he had hoped against hope that he could shake this young man of God out of his apathetic, faithless, and lost condition. This old spokesman for God wasn’t in the business of keeping his fellow servant out of heaven, but of saving him from his current lost condition, if possible. But prophets are held to high standard; therefore there could be no slacking on the trial, even as the young man began to fail the test.

The retired prophet added the final testing statement, which was so bold as to be easily analyzed, that a mere angel had superseded the Almighty’s prohibition to stop before getting to Judah, even to satisfy hunger and thirst. But the invitation had to be spoken to the younger man with a glaring untruth. The depth of his departure must be challenged with an equally powerful conviction. He knew about Eve and the serpent. Like King Saul, he had received the high privilege to prophesy in Israel; he had been driven by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit. He fully knew his mission and all its incidental requirements. By resting under the oak, he sat waiting for the snare of the enemy. He must be sobered up.

Jesus called out, “Who touched me?” when He knew who touched Him. (Lk. 8:45). Its purpose was intended to give a similar shaking and rude awaking to duty. If Christ had not called out the woman, she would have indulged in a great blessing from God without obedience to her due responsibility to give God the praise, and the great work of God in her behalf would have eventually destroyed her. Likewise, if the young prophet were allowed to indulge in entertaining himself on the great wonders he had just been a part of, without fulfilling his due responsibility to flee home, possibly people would have recognized him, Satan would influence them to subtly praise him, he would have taken the glory to himself and would have disgraced the cause of Jehovah, and the great miracles he had taken part in would have become the vehicle for his eternal destruction.

For every soul, “the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Lk. 9:56). But, He is also not slack on His warnings and the execution of judgment on the ungodly. 2Pet. 3:9,7. He can never be a respecter of any person, even for prophets. God plays no favoritism in the great controversy between Christ and Satan when it comes to punishing disobedience. If He did Satan would have a field day.

The human heart is deceitful above all things. Even a man of God doesn’t know what hidden intent is lurking within himself when he steps outside the definite revealed will of God. Neither did the prophet know what evil temptations already existed in Israel even though they only recently had departed from the true religion of Jehovah. No one, separated from the staying power of God, is a match for the adversary of souls.

Yet, so careless had the prophet become by now, that he missed the old man’s fabrication, which would have been easily penetrated if the younger man had retained the Spirit of prophecy. But he caved in to it and became persuaded to willingly write off the final phase of his divine orders. His resulting attack from a lion testified to his first rebellious choice in the face of his senior’s bold test. Even when told by the old prophet that he would be destroyed for his misrepresentation of Yahweh, he still did not seek repentance and the Lord’s mercy. Pride and rebellion, like witchcraft and alcohol, had captivated his soul.

This old man was not a Jekyll and Hyde personality. His commission from heaven was not to deceive, but to test. He loved his fellow prophet, as his later actions showed. But his duty to God was paramount, or he would have shared in his fellow prophet’s fate.

After the prophet is devoured by Satan the old man gets the dead body and mourns for the death of his beloved brother whom he had to test. He generously and lovingly carries his lost comrade in his own grave and buries him there, crying with tears, “Alas, my brother!” And he commands his sons, that upon his death, to bury his bones right next to the bones of his fallen brother. His role, as necessary as it was, had been a terrible, anguishing ordeal. God finally had an example of one dying to self and the story could end.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7).


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