A Voice in the
order the book
I AM - Jehovah
I AM - The Son
"In the beginning God..." (Gen1:1) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Jn1:1) In the past "God spoke to the fathers in the prophets; in these last days He spoke to us in the Son...being the shining splendor of His glory, and the express image of His essence.." (Heb1:1-3)
"..and they will say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM...this is My name forever, and this is My memorial from generation to generation." (Ex3:13-15)
Many people have undertaken to do series on "the names of God" or the "attributes of God". This series of a dozen studies will concentrate on God's primary essence, His existence. He declares, "to whom will you compare and make Me equal; yea, compare Me, that we may be alike? --for I am God, and no one else is God, even none like Me.." (Is46:5,9)
If we think of all false doctrine, cults, religions...anything false; if we narrow their beliefs down to their bare essence, we come up with a denial of God's existence. "Christian" religions have been proclaiming that "God is dead" and man declares his own beliefs. Perversions of Scripture have as their basis that God's Word doesn't -really- mean what it says, that His thoughts and commands aren't important enough to be sure we have them accurately. -Man- is his own essence; he denies being formed in the "image of God". (Gen1:26) Even though the theories have so many unprovable holes lacking documentation or evidence, and science actually proves the opposite, man would rather believe a scientifically, biologically, mathematically -impossible- scenario called "evolution", rather than to have to submit to a God Who claims to have "created" the heavens and the earth. (Gen1:1)
You see, when we get down to the very nitty-gritty, the bare essence of Faith; it begins with God. "..for it is right that the one drawing near to God should believe that He is.." [He exists] (Heb11:6)
Most English translations of Scripture use a convention of "all caps" to denote God's primary name. e.g. "LORD" or "GOD" as compared to "Lord" or "God". In Gen5:29 the root for "LORD" is "yehovah". In Gen15:2 for "GOD" it is "yehovih". Many non-English languages transliterate this as some variation of "Yahweh". In English, it is "Jehovah". (The most recent versions of the LITV/MKJV have attempted to convert all such instances of LORD and GOD to Jehovah.)
Simply put, "Jehovah" means "the existing one". Thus, "I AM".
This study will attempt to look at God's existence in its relationship to man. Notice, "And God said, let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...and God created the man in His own image; in the image of God he created him." (Gen1:26-27)
Notice the first thing the serpent entices, God has lied to you because he knows that when you eat this fruit, "you shall be as God.." (Gen3:5)
As we notice periodically, there are variations, today, of people trying to attain godhood. The people of charismania behave like little gods as they presume to command and demand that God do this or that, and they believe that God is 'limited' in what He is able to do, except man "prays" and thus "releases" God's power to the task of their imaginings. The Mormons look to a future state of becoming gods and goddesses. Many eastern religions believe that their departed dead attain unto states of deity, whom they worship.
In keeping with this -many- deities concept, the KJV and many Bible teachers render satan's lie as "you shall be as gods.." (Gen3:5) The word there is "Elohim". The "im" ending in Hebrew makes the word plural. But notice that when "God said, let -US- make man.." (1:26) that word "God" is also "Elohim". And notice how God uses the plural form, let -US- make man in -OUR- image. And let's further 'confuse' you with one more example. "Hear O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah." (Deut6:4) Here, again, "God" is "Elohim" (plural). Thus, we might say, "The Existing One, our [plural] 'God', is [singular] 'one' existence."
We know of the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" by which Jesus commanded that baptisms should be conducted. (Mt28:19) Our Christian relationship with God is characterized with, "And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba! Father!" (Gal4:6) We know that "God is Spirit". (Jn4:24) And we already referred to Jesus being the physical manifestation of God's essence. (Heb1) John speaks of Jesus (the Word) being "with" God in the beginning, and furthermore that Jesus "was" God.
While we may not fully understand it, and the union of marriage only partly expresses it in terms man can experience, God's essence is a "plurality" of persons, and yet being "one" God. The grand hymn expresses, "God in three persons, Blessed Trinity." Another term has been coined by many, "Godhead".
So you see, when the serpent is enticing Eve, he is not merely luring her into become one of many goddesses. He is luring her into his own rebellion against God. His downfall was when he challenged, "I will be like [resemble] the Most High." (Is14:14) Who needs God, anyway? -I- can forge my own destiny. I'm worth it. With all my self-esteem I can do anything -I- set -my- mind to. I dont 'need' God.
But you see, the thing Eve didn't realize, and humanity has no clue about, is that initially God made man in "His own likeness". First of all, man is a tripartite being. He was formed of the "dust" (Gen2:7); that's the body. He became a "living soul"; this is something all animals possess. But something not recorded regarding all the animals; for man God "breathed..the breath [spirit] of life". Notice Paul's reference to the complete person, "..and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless.." (1Th5:23) The spirit [heart] considers God's Word, what's right or wrong; the soul considers how to implement the spirit's decisions to make the body [feet] go in the right paths. (Ps119:58-59)
What the serpent could not produce for Eve, God will. He enticed her with godhood, but mankind died. Jesus provides eternal life. (Rom6:23) And what is the nature of that eternal life to those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ? "..we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.." (1Jn3:2)
Law - I exist
When God gives the 10-Commandments at Sinai, He begins by introducing Himself. "I am Jehovah your God.." (Ex20:1) Israel has just seen God's power poured out against Egypt to redeem Israel out of slavery. They have seen the Red Sea open up for them to traverse on dry ground. They are being fed manna every morning. Every step of the way God has been carrying them "in His hand". He has pre-proven Himself to them.
Now God says, "I am Jehovah..." and here are My laws that I am giving you. In this case He doesn't need to reiterate His name too much, because Israel is already trembling at the smoke, earthquakes, lightning bolts, loud trumpet blasts. But later Jehovah enumerates and defines the Law in more detail.
You shall not do according to the world, like Egypt that you came out of. "You shall do My judgments and you shall keep My statutes, to walk in them; I am Jehovah your God" (Lev18:2-4) Now, let's remember that "Jehovah" means "existing one". In other words, God is saying, 'keep My laws...I exist."
You shall not burn your infants alive to Moloch...I exist (vs21)
You shall not defile yourself with homosexual acts, nor bestiality. The people of the world do these things. They are "disgusting". (vs27) To be vomited out for grotesqueness. Don't be defiled with the world's ways...I exist (vs30)
Revere your parents...I exist (19:3)
Don't be idolatrous...I exist (vs4)
Be kind and generous to the poor...I exist (vs10)
Don't abuse people with treachery...I exist (vs12,16)
Don't exact your own revenge, but love your neighbor...I exist (vs18)
And it goes on and on...
And notice how Paul defines "ungodliness". They worship man and nature. This we see. Man is his own 'god'. Furthermore, they are reverting back to the 'mother earth' religions. They release (reintroduce) wolves into remote areas, and if anybody "murders" one of these wolves, the reward leading to the capture of the "murderer" is $50,000. The reward in the same state for the capture of a murderer of a human is only $10,000.
They have "dishonorable passions". (vs26) Women with women. Men with men "working out shamefulness"...and "receiving back within themselves the reward" for their deeds. (vs27) Despite the sugar-coating given to it, AIDS is primarily a homosexual disease.
Not to mention, all the other evils: lying, greed, violence, murder, insolence, disrespect of parents, etc. Sounds -just- like today, doesn't it. All these things come under the heading of "Ungodliness". (vs18)
Remember when God gave the laws? Here's the law...I EXIST.
Now, it's one thing for the world to reject the Most High. But notice, "..the elders of the house of Israel.." doing things in secret, "For they are saying, Jehovah does not see us, Jehovah has forsaken the earth." (Eze8:12) How many Christians live as though God does not see? Many are so concerned about the "appearance" of evil (1Th5:22); that is, what other 'people' will see; that they forget that God sees the heart. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, "..[pierces] as far as division of both soul and spirit...and [judges] the thoughts and intentions of the heart; and there is NO creature UNREVEALED before Him.." (Heb4:12-13)
You see, "the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro in all the earth." (2Ch16:9) He sees everything. Now satan also goes "to and fro" (Job2:2) as a "roaring lion" seeking victims. (1Pt5:8) But all this is not hidden from Jehovah. He exists. As His "seven Spirits" (Rev4:5,5:6), the "seven..eyes of Jehovah" (Zech4:10) go "to and fro through all the earth" He knows what is what.
When His wrath is meted out, all ungodliness (all that which is contrary to God's Law...contrary to God's essence), will be judged "according to their works." (Rev2:23,18:6,20:12-13) If you think you are a Christian and stand "by faith", remember that the outworking of that Faith is works. (Jas2:14-26) No, we don't live by works (Eph2:9, Tit3:5). But the one who claims to be God's child will behave like one. Forget the modern lie, "God accepts you JUST AS YOU ARE." Just as you are is "in sin". God does not accept sin. If you are truly God's child, you will change because of the new birth (Jn3:3) by which you were made into a "new creation" (2Cor5:17). God's essence is His Law. He gave it because "I am Jehovah"..."I exist". Therefore, the one who claims to love Him will also "keep His commandments". (Jn14:21, 1Jn5:3, 2Jn1:6)
Judgment - then they will know that I exist
But God's people say, "..Jehovah does not see us.." (Eze8:12)
"As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of Jehovah, we will not listen to you. But we will certainly do whatever thing goes out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings, and our rulers, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. And we had plenty of food, and were well, and saw no evil." (Jer44:16-17)
I used to have a friend who had a dog. This dog, if she didn't want to do what was being commanded would act coyly. She would sit back on her haunches, turn her head away and 'close her eyes'. Presumably, 'if I can't see them, they aren't really commanding me, so I can ignore them'. Like the proverbial ostrich that puts its head in the sand, pretending the danger isn't present.
If I can't see God, He must not see me, either. So I can behave any way I like. He won't be any the wiser.
Just as Israel is preparing to enter the land of promise, God sets before them "a blessing and a curse: a blessing if you hear the commandments of Jehovah your God...and a curse if you will not hear (heed and obey) the commandments of Jehovah your God...take heed to do all the statutes and the ordinances which I am setting before you today." (Deu11:26-32)
Even a cursory reading of the O.T. reveals Israel's rebellion. So, they experienced God's "curse" upon them. And God says, "and the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am Jehovah". I didn't make the promises/threats in vain. "They shall know that [I exist]." (Eze6:7-10) God promised the curse if they disobeyed. They disobeyed. God judged. They thought God didn't see. But He did. He judged. For what purpose? So that they would know that He "exists".
These judgments did not come without warning. God sent prophets to them "rising early and sending them" (2Chr36:15, Jer11:7,25:4) but they would not listen. They were busy doing their own thing, and enjoying their prosperity. And worshiping the queen of heaven.
My, oh my! Doesn't this sound like the "church" today! A few lone voices here and there boldly proclaiming God's Word, but the "church" is busy being "just as they are". They are doing their own thing. They are following the pied pipers who tell them that it's "God's will" for them to be wealthy. And yes...also worshiping the queen of heaven. These same people are joining in with ecumenism, joining back with Rome, whose vicar prays to the queen of heaven and raises her above God.
So, when judgment comes, God's wrath (Rom1:18), what will be the purpose? Same as it was with Israel. Then they will know that God exists. He will be coming with the name, "King of kings, and Lord of lords." (Rev19:16) They will know it is God as they call out for the rocks to fall on them to "hide [them] from the face of the One sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev6:16)
Not only will God's people know He exists, but He proclaims, "And I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself. And I will be known in the eyes of the many nations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah." (Eze38:23)
Mercy - then they will know that I exist
"And you shall know that I am Jehovah (I exist) in whose statutes you have not walked. Yea, you have not done My judgments. Yea, as the judgments of the nations who are around you, you have done." (Eze11:12)
Israel rebelled and disobeyed God. They went into idolatry. As God judges them He says, "And they shall know that I am Jehovah when I scatter them among the nations and disperse them in the lands." (Eze12:15)
But also notice that God does not -utterly- wipe Israel from existence. He says, "But of them I will leave a number of men..." (vs16) Paul speaks of the "remnant". (Rom11:5) Why? "..so that they may declare all their abominations among the nations, there where they go. And they shall know that I am Jehovah."
When God's elect disobey, is God's purpose thwarted? When a Christian slips and falls into temptation, is God sitting on His throne, wringing His hands in despair out of frustration, that now, because His child disobeyed, God's agenda will not be fulfilled? Not to excuse rebellion... but: there are many Christians who feel that if we do not live 100% all the time, working hard for God at all times, that there will somehow be something lacking in His kingdom. While it is true that blood is required at the watchman's hand, notice that the sinner dies in his -own- sin. (Eze33:6)
There is a mentality that -we- are to be busy building the Church. That -we- are gathering the lost. They seem to forget that Jesus said, "I will build My Church". (Mt16:18) It is God Who causes to grow. (1Cor3:6-7) At the harvest, God sends the angels. (Mt24:31) And it is Christ, the "One sitting on the cloud", Who thrusts His sickle to reap. (Rev14:16)
As Believers we are exhorted to "do all things to the glory of God". (1Cor10:31) But what happens if we fail? What if we fall? As Israel's remnant were scattered, the "wandering Jew" has been a "byword" throughout the centuries. (De28:37) They have been 'declaring' their abominations among the nations.
But notice, "where sin abounded, grace much more abounded." (Rom5:20) This is -God's- grace. God had given Israel the Law in order that they might know that "I am Jehovah." (Eze20) They rebelled. He scattered them. The remnant would declare their sin among the nations. Then God's promise is to judge the nations that have oppressed Israel, that they will know that "I am Jehovah." And then, God has a special plan for Israel.
Ezekiel ch37 is probably -the- classic, telling of God's restoration of Israel. What could be deader than a valley of dry bones? Israel was dispersed for 2000 years. There is no other society that has disappeared from existence, like Israel did as a nation, to then become reborn as a nation. Archaeologists and historians wonder "what happened?" to societies like the Aztecs, Incas, and the various Indian nations. And yet, Israel became reestablished again in 1948. And notice starting in Eze37:15, the prophet takes two sticks and writes the names Judah and Ephraim on each stick, and in view of the people he holds the sticks together and they become "one". Forget about the alleged "ten lost" tribes. They aren't lost. God knows -just- where they are. Notice in Revelation ch7 that "twelve tribes" are marked for protection.
Why is God restoring Israel? Because of her greatness? Because of her wisdom and military prowess? Well, not really. They aren't any wiser now than they were in the days of Joshua when they negotiated with the heathen in the land surrounding them. God says, "..and I will bring you to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am Jehovah..." (Eze37:12b-13a)
Is God glorifying Israel? Is Israel so great that -they- are to be magnified? When Gog/Magog is destroyed, God says, "And I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself. And I will be known in the eyes of the many nations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah." (Eze38:23) "Let it be known to you that I am not doing this for your sake, states the Lord Jehovah. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel." (Eze36:32) In spite of Israel's bad testimony to the world, God's name (and essence) will be magnified through His mercy as He rescues Israel. "And I will sanctify My great name which was profaned among the nations, which you profaned among them. And the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, declares the Lord Jehovah, when I am sanctified in you in their eyes." (Eze36:23)
God says, "I am Jehovah [I exist], I change not. Because of this you sons of Jacob are not destroyed." (Mal3:6) God loves Israel with an "everlasting love". (Jer31:3)
Solomon prayed, "..for there is not a man that does not sin.." (1Kg8:46) Which matter John reiterates, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1Jn1:8) And so, God remembering that we are but dust (Ps103:14), knows our frailties. And so, when we fail and sin, God's purposes are not thwarted. God is glorified...because...His -MERCY- becomes manifest.
"It is by the kindnesses of Jehovah that we are not consumed, for His mercies are not ended. They are new by mornings; great is Your faithfulness." (Lam3:22-23) And so, by God's mercies, again, the glory does not go to man, but to Him. We may fail, but He remains ever faithful...for His own glory.
Thus, it behoves those fearing God to be of the mind... "Jehovah is my portion, says my soul. On account of this I shall hope to Him. Jehovah is good to those waiting on Him, to the soul seeking Him. It is good that a man hopes for the salvation of Jehovah, even in silence." (Lam3:24-26)
Where Israel sinned, God's grace abounded to their behalf. He will yet restore them to fellowship with Himself as He forms a new covenant with them, and instead of the Law being inscribed on stone tablets, His Law [because He exists], will be written on their hearts. (Jer31:31-34) And they, in turn, will respond: "Come and let us return to Jehovah. For He has torn, and He will heal us. He has stricken, and He will bind us up. After two days He will bring us to life. In the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live before Him. Then we shall know, we who follow on to know Jehovah. His going forth is established as the dawn. And He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth." (Hos6:1-3)
End from the Beginning
To whom will you compare and make Me equal; yea, compare Me, that we may be alike? ..remember this and be a man; return it in your heart, transgressors. Remember former things from forever, for I am God, and no one else is God, even none like Me.. (Is46:5,8-9)
As this is being written several months before you will actually read it, I have not long ago finished reading through Isaiah again. This is the first time I've read it from the Literal Translation. I don't know if it's because the LITV is so much more "literal", or if the Lord was opening my eyes anew; but I've never before seen God's 'character' in the way I did this time through. It is said, If you want to know who Jesus is, read John's Gospel. And I would say, If you want to know who Jehovah is, read Isaiah.
Somehow it seems 'appropriate' that Isaiah and Hezekiah lived at the same time. For Isaiah to have such a vision and understanding of God, to likely be an influence on Hezekiah, who was praised for following God more faithfully than any other king who reigned over Judah. (2Kg18:5-6)
Here in ch46 we see God reasoning with the sons of Israel. Yes, God gave the Law in holy awesome power. But He does not merely say, Here it is. You do it, or else. Humph! When man strays into ungodliness, as He pleads with the sinner to "Wash yourselves, purify yourselves. Put away the evil of your doing from My sight; stop doing evil." God 'reasons'. He says, "Come now and let us reason together, says Jehovah [I exist]: Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as the crimson, they shall be like wool." (Is1:16,18)
So God reasons, naming the various contemporary 'gods'. (ch46) These gods must be carried. They are heavy loads. I can still remember from childhood growing up in Japan. The 'Omatsuri'. Festival time. Everybody is all dressed up. There are parades. And their 'gods' are paraded. Some of their gods are 'carried' in large carts, pulled by huge ropes...with hundreds of children grabbing the ropes, all happy, joyous and giddy...pulling their gods down the streets. Other 'gods' would be contained within little shrines, carried about on poles (reminiscent of the descriptions of the Ark carried by the Levites). Carried by strong men, dancing and jumping as they carry/jostle this 'god' along. "They carry it on the shoulder; they bear it and set it in its place, and it stands; it shall not move from its place." (vs7a)
Compare this to Jehovah. God says, "Remember this.." (vs8) What was Israel to remember? "And you shall remember all the way which Jehovah has caused you to go these forty years..." (Deu8:2) Over and over God would chide Israel to "remember" all His works on their behalf. Delivering them from bondange in Egypt. The various military victories against enemies of overwhelming odds. He uses the expression how He "bore" them on "wings of eagles" (Ex19:4) as He delivers them. Who was -carrying- whom? Jehovah was 'carrying' Israel. And yet, in their stupidity they have reverted to the 'gods' of the surrounding nations; 'gods' that must -be- carried. God says "even to old age I am He; and I will bear to gray hair; I made, and I will carry; and I will bear and deliver." (vs4)
These idols are made from gold and silver. They measure out the precious metal. It is molten. It is formed into a god. "They fall down; yea, they worship." (vs6) But when they cry to it, "it does not answer, it does not save him from his distress" (vs7) like Jehovah did... if only 'you' would 'remember' it!
God pleads, "Remember this...remember former things from forever, for I am God, and no one else is God, even none like Me..." (vs9)
And now God defines Himself. What, specifically, distinguishes Jehovah [I exist] from all other so-called deities? If you were to be limited to 'one thing' by which to describe the Most High, what would it be?
"..declaring the end from the beginning, and from the past those things which were not done, saying, My counsel shall rise; and, I will do all My desire..." (vs10)
You see, this is God's name. Jehovah is "the existing One". "I AM" is not past tense, "I was". Nor is it future tense, "I will be". It's not really present tense, either. He surpasses all notion of "time". In God's economy, "one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2Pet3:8, Ps90:4)
God is not like the currently running USWest "411" commercial, poking fun of the psychics who would claim to know your future, but can't figure out their own phone number. God does not scrunch up His face, squint real hard, putting His finger up to His head and 'hedge' as to what the future 'might' be. He "-DECLARES-" the end from the beginning. (vs10)
The best Nostradamus and others who claim prophetic powers can attain is something like 70% accuracy. God said to Israel that -any- inaccuracy in prophecy was demonic. (Deu18:22) They are false prophets.
But to Israel, prophecy was one of God's ways of proving Himself to them. "Is the hand of Jehovah shortened? Now you shall see whether My word shall come to pass to you or not." (Num11:23) And notice, once they were established into the land of promise, "Nor did fail a word from any good word which Jehovah had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass." (Josh21:45) And as Solomon dedicates the new temple, he recalls, "Blessed be Jehovah who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He has spoken; not one word of all His good word has fallen, which He spoke by the hand of His servant Moses." (1Kg8:56) Jehovah is 100%.
When God purposes, He calls on all His creation to fulfill it; even to "calling a bird of prey from the east" (vs11) or even a ruthless heathen king, e.g. Nebuchadnezzar, whom God called, "My servant..." (Jer25:9) in order to accomplish His promised punishment of Israel for their rebellion.
But notice, as God defines Himself, He also pleads, "Listen to Me, mighty ones of heart who are far from righteousness: I bring near My righteousness; it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not wait; I will place salvation in Zion, My glory for Israel." (vs12-13)
The hard-hearted ones may rebel, but God's purpose for Israel will also stand. He will bring restoration to her.
So, of what good is it to us to know that God knows the end from the beginning? After all, this series began with the premise of considering Jehovah's "existence" in relationship to humanity. Unregenerate man is continually exploring, looking for man's "origins". When he doesn't believe in God, that's all he can do, is -continue- to look. He wants to know where he came from, and what is his destiny.
Knowing God's nature, the Believer can derive comfort. Mankind worries about making a living, being comfortable and in good health. Even though he doesn't understand his destiny, he wants to live as long as possible to enjoy that which he presently has.
Jesus exhorted, "Do not be anxious for your soul..." (Mt6:25) for all the things a person thinks they need to live a contended life. Look how God cares for the animals of nature, who have no 'plan' of wealth and health. They simply live from day to day, living on what God provides for them. "Do you not rather excel them?" (vs26)
Israel provides the example for us. Israel was continually exhorted to "remember" what God had done 'in the past'. Based on what God had done in the past, it provided a basis to trust His promises for the future. They had a history of Him promising something, and then -fulfilling- the promise/s. That is His nature. He is Jehovah. He "exists". He knows the future, and has the ability to fulfill His own will, for His own glory. Thus, "Jehovah our God is with us as He has been with our fathers; He shall not forsake us or leave us..." (1Kg8:57)
But what is our response to such promises and assurance? "..to incline our heart to Himself, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commands, and His statutes, and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers.." (vs58) Remember how God "Gave the Law...I exist". God's will -is- "godliness".
Jesus put it this way, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Mt6:33)
Word made flesh
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (Jn1:1) In the past "God spoke to the fathers in the prophets; in these last days He spoke to us in the Son...being the shining splendor of His glory, and the express image of His essence.." (Heb1:1-3)
"And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and of truth." (Jn1:14)
Just as it is necessary, as the bare essence of Faith, to believe that God exists (Heb11:6); we must also believe that Jesus, God's Son, came in the flesh, as fully human. One characteristic of the spirit of antichrist is a denial "that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" (1Jn4:3). There are many who make claims of being "Christian" who do not accept the fact of Jesus' humanity. But if a person is truly of the Holy Spirit (Rom8:9,14-16), they will "confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.." (1Jn4:2)
It was prophesied, and fulfilled, that "Behold! The virgin will conceive and will bring forth a son; and she shall call His name Immanuel." (Is7:14) Which Matthew translates for us, "God with us." (Mt1:23) Simeon took a human "baby" in his arms as he realized God's fulfilled word that he would see "the Christ [Anointed] of Jehovah" (Lk2:25-32). God's "Salvation" prepared for "all the peoples".
That He was truly a "human" baby, with fully human frailties is prophesied, "..until He knows to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good..." (Is7:15-16) Many who refuse to recognize Jesus' humanity, speculate that because of His Deity, that He was 'not capable' of sinning. If that were the case, there would have been no purpose in prophesying about Him "choosing" between good and evil. But when we realize this, then we understand more fully when we are told that when He was "tried [tested] in all respects according to our likeness" that He did so without sin. (Heb4:15) When we read the account of Jesus' temptation in Mt4, we see satan attempting to lure Him to sin, as he had done with Eve 4000 years prior to that. If it had been known that Jesus was 'incapable' of sinning, satan would have been a fool for trying.
But Jesus, being fully "human", grew up developing human emotions just as any other man did. And as the Holy Spirit drove Him into the wilderness, He had just newly had it confirmed to Him as the Father announced, "You are My Son, the Beloved, in whom I take delight." (Mk1:11,Heb1:5,Ps2:7) And thus, satan taunts..."If You [man of flesh and blood - starving out here in the wilderness] are [reeeeallly] the Son of God..." And He rejects satan's advances. He remains sinless.
Before God announces Jesus' Deity at the baptism, when Jesus is yet a lad, He knows that God is His Father. Even though the rest of the people thought that Joseph was His father [Ed: and modern perversions of Scripture promote that lie in Lk2:33], when they find Him in the temple, He queries as to why they were so concerned, "Did you not know that I must be busy in the affairs of My Father?" (Lk2:49) At what point did the "boy" Jesus -know- that God was His Father? We are not told. But knowing how humanity developes in its cognition throughout childhood, and Scripture already tells us that He came to a certain age where He knew good vs evil, it seems reasonable to assume that there was a certain point in His childhood as a "human" that He came to know.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross it was pretty plain and obvious to everybody concerned, that Jesus was "human". The Roman soldiers knew what it was like to beat up on a fellow-human male. They knew how spikes would drive through flesh and joints. They knew what real blood looked like. And when the one came, planning to break His legs, he knew what 'death' looked like, and knew that Jesus had died a "human" death. (Jn19:31-35, Mk15:44)
Thus, John would write, "..what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and what our hands touched, as regards the Word of Life." (1Jn1:1)
But that He was also fully Deity, Jesus knew. The rest of this series will be devoted to exploring briefly how He manifested His Deity to humanity. Ultimately even the disciples would come to fully understand it, "Now we know that You know all things...by this we believe that You came out from God." (Jn16:30)
That Jesus was the "express image of [the Father's] essence" (Heb1:3) is something Jesus was explaining to the disciples in the upper room. "The one seeing Me has seen the Father! ..do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words which I speak to you I do not speak from Myself, but the Father who abides in Me, He does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.." (Jn14:9-11)
Does this begin to sound just a little bit like the Believer's relationship with God? Jesus prays about the "oneness" that all Believers would have with Him and the Father. (Jn17:20-21) Remember the enticement to Eve...you shall be like God? This that Jesus was/is as God-made-flesh, as He was then "glorified" (Jn7:39), becoming the "firstfruit" to incorruption through the resurrection (1Cor15:21-23, 43-44, 53-54), is what we will become when we become "like Him" when we "see Him as He is" (1Jn3:2) when "He is revealed". God became flesh to pay the penalty of sin so that man might be able to be "like Christ" due to Christ's redeeming blood.
Thus, it was not enough that Jesus was -merely- "flesh and blood". (Heb2:14) He also had to be Deity. If God is "One" (Deu6:4) and there is "no other God" before Him (Ex20:2-3), it means that Jesus "had to" be God, Himself. Remember how the series began by realizing God's "plurality". "Elohim" with the plural "im" ending. God saying, "Let -us- [plural] make man"? Jesus, the "human", was part of that "us" of Elohim. The 'plural' Elohim being 'one' Jehovah [existence - I AM].
As Jesus answers the scoffings of the religious leaders who ask Him to tell them -just- "Who" He is... He says, "before Abraham came into being, I AM." (Jn8:58) As the group was coming to take Him away, He meets them and asks, "Whom do you seek?" 'Jesus the Nazarene'. To which He responds, "I AM". (Jn18:4-8) The power of His name, His Deity, throws them -physically- to the ground.
"Jesus Christ, who subsisting in the form of God...emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross. Because of this also God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (~Phil2:5-11)
Lord of the Sabbath
"For the Son of Man is also Lord of the sabbath." (Mt12:8)
"Then some of the Pharisees said, This man is not from God, because He does not keep the sabbath. Others said, How can a man, a sinner, do such miracles? And there was a division among them." (Jn9:16)
As we have observed in various other studies, particularly the series in Matthew, Jesus was continually riling up the establishment. Let's not forget that most people didn't see Him as Deity. They saw a mere man, born from illegitimacy. "We were not born of fornication..." (Jn8:41) by contextual implication.. "..like You were..." As they "judged by appearance/sight" (Jn7:24) as today's legalists do (1Th5:22-kjv) they were not privy to "righteous judgment".
He was always upsetting the status quo. Perhaps this is why so many dramas and films attempt to depict Him as a "hippy"? A product of "free love" rebelling against the establishment. Again, those people do not acknowledge His 'holy' Deity.
There are so many recorded instances of Jesus "breaking" the sabbath. But our purpose in this study is not necessarily to study each one for its own merits, but rather to see Jesus' "Authority" over the sabbath.
In this instance where Jesus proclaims His authority over the sabbath, what was the complaint? As they walked along, as the disciples are hungry, they are picking heads of grain, rubbing the chaff out in their hands, and eating. (Mt12:1) Anybody who's been around a wheat farm at harvest time knows how tasty wheat can be in that manner. In our society today we might look at that and wonder what the "big deal" was. That took much less effort ("work") than 'cooking' a meal and setting up a dinner table. We won't look up the references now, but in the O.T. law, on the sabbath they could not even gather sticks or light a fire. Any meal cooking they did had to be done on the previous day. In the wilderness when somebody was found gathering sticks for firewood, they were stoned to death. The sabbath was to be a day of -complete- "rest". The disciples had "harvested" by picking the heads. And they had "threshed" by rubbing the grain in their hands. Both of these acts... "work".
Jesus gives them some object lessons from David and their own priestly practices, and suggests to them that "One greater than the temple service is here." (vs6) Why is Jesus "Lord of the sabbath"? It comes down to the fact that Jesus is not merely "man", but He is God.
Where did the sabbath come from? Moses? "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Ex20:8) One of the judgments against Israel, in addition to their continual idolatry, was their breaking of the sabbath.
No. It came even earlier. "And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host. And on the seventh day God completed His work which He had made And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because He rested from all His work on it, which God had created to make. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that Jehovah God was making earth and heavens. (Gen2:1-4)
We have often observed that the Feasts of Israel were types and foreshadows of Jesus' coming to die for sin. Passover, His crucifixion. The waving of the sheaf of firstfruits the day following the sabbath, His resurrection. Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit.
But notice that the sabbath was there even before sin came into the world. In Gen2:1-4 God is proclaiming the history of creation. "These are the generations..." means something like 'this is the history, plan and design' for the "heavens and of the earth" in their creation. Remember Peter's words, "But let not this one thing be hidden from you, beloved, that one day with the Lord is "as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."(2Pt3:8, Ps90:4) We've already discussed this in detail in the series "Covenants and Dispensations" (in the Library).
If it is the case that "all things came into being through Him" (Jn1:3), then, just as the "potter" has authority over the lump of clay he is working with (Rom9:21), Jesus has authority over that which He brought into being. If He instituted the sabbath, He also has authority to change it.
In a purely classical sense, if a pianist decided to add a 4th movement to the Moonlight Sonata, the audience of purists would gasp in horror at the corruption of Beethoven's work. Now, if Beethoven, himself, were to somehow appear on the scene after all these years, he would have every right in the world to add a 4th movement, or a cadenza to the 2nd; or anything he so chose to do. The Moonlight Sonata is 'his' work. He composed it originally. He would have the right to modify it. But he would need to -prove- to everybody that he was, indeed, Ludwig Von Beethoven.
Jesus goes into the synagogue and there is a man with a withered hand. (Mt12:10) The purists taunt Him, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbaths?" They want to accuse Him, because all they can see is the "law" of the "three movements". They cannot see the Creator/composer standing before them. What kind of person is going to be able to restore a withered hand to its fullness? No physicians can. Even today's science can only design artificial limbs, or graft parts from other bodies. But to take something which has withered into nothingness, and make -it- into something again... that would require the same abilities and power as the One who created it in the first place. Jesus restores the man's hand. He is able to do so because He is the Creator. He is the One that "even the winds and the sea obey Him" (Mt8:27, Mk4:41, Lk8:25)
So, now, back to the sabbath. Who created the sabbath? God. Who can create a full hand where there was nothing but a shrivelled nothing? God. Jesus just did a little piece of God's work in view of everyone. The purists are still not "getting" it... that Jesus -is- God.
But when Jesus says that the Son of Man is "Lord of the sabbath", it means that He created it; He can change it.
Jesus had come 'this' time to fulfill the sacrificial Law, by giving Himself as the Unblemished Lamb. (1Pt1:19) Pretty soon, these Laws would be put aside, and no longer observed (Rom10:4), as He will be fulfilling them "once for all". (Rom6:10, Heb7:27, etc) But the sabbath was not directly related to His redeeming work. Remember, it was there before sin came into the world. It represents the completion of God's creation. In the 7000 year history of this creation, sabbath represents the final thousand years of Messiah's rule of peace. One of Jesus' names is "Prince of Peace". (Is9:6) Again, if sabbath ("rest") represents that which is the realm of Christ's rule, does He not have "authority" over it?
In somewhat recent proximity to when this study is expected to be mailed, there has been a weekly studies on the Ten Commandments. While we no longer observe the laws of the sacrifices of the "blood of bulls and goats" (Heb9-10), we do still observe the Ten Commandments. They represent the heart of devotion to God and Godliness. God gave them because He 'exists'. And if one studies through the N.T., all aspects of the Ten Commandments can be found in teachings to the Church. All, that is, except for one. That one is the sabbath.
People who disdain Paul's teachings find ways to circumnavigate their consciences around having to keep God's Word as written through Paul's pen; citing things like Israel vs Church, or Law vs Grace, Jew vs Gentile, etc. But notice that Paul teaches "One indeed judges a day above another day; and another one judges every day alike. Let each one be fully assured in his own mind." (Rom14:5) And again, "Do not let anyone judge you in [various things], or of -sabbaths-, which are a shadow of coming things..." (Col2:16-17)
People who cling to their idea of what they think the sabbath is or should be, find excuses for not receiving Paul's words. But, just like the Jews, they do not realize that God Who established the sabbath in Genesis, modified it in Jesus. In reality, just like the Jews, they worship the sabbath, rather than the "Lord of the sabbath". They honor the 'house' rather than the 'Builder' of it. (Heb3:3)
When Jesus defined His authority as "I AM", the Jews picked up stones to stone Him. (Jn8:58-59)
Related topic: -Remember the Sabbath
And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who is able to forgive sins except God alone? But knowing their thoughts, answering Jesus said to them, Why do you reason in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, Your sins have been forgiven you, or to say, Rise up and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on the earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, Rise up, and take your cot and go to your house. And rising up at once before them, taking up that on which he was lying, he went to his house glorifying God. And amazement seized all, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We saw wonderful things today. (Lk5:21-26)
As I understand it, of all the marvels of science and medicine, one of the things they cannot yet do is to make nerves heal. Many cells of the body will regenerate new cells, but not brain cells. If brain cells are damaged, functions that used to be carried out by the now-damaged cells will be learned by new parts of the brain. While they claim that advances are being made, if a person's spinal cord is severed, leaving the person paralyzed, it is pretty much a -permanent- condition. The cure for the problem is to somehow come up with -new- pathways for the signals from the brain to reach the body's extremities.
If somebody's severed spinal cord were to become 'one' again, it would require an "act of God"... even with today's level of technology. Now, go back 2000 years when they didn't have even the limited technology 'we' possess today. A paralyzed individual was considered to be in a permanent state of helplessness. There were no cures.
This paralytic individual is lowered into the crowded house, and the first words out of Jesus' mouth are, "Man, your sins have been forgiven you." (vs20) The purpose of this study isn't to figure out 'why' the man was paralyzed; did he commit some -specific- sin for which God's judgment was paralysis?
The scribes and Pharisees start reasoning the obvious question. If Jesus is the product of "fornication" (Jn8:41) as they assumed, He is cursed because of His parents. There's simply "no way" He could be God. And yet, He is claiming to forgive sins. And they -correctly- reason that the only One who can forgive sins -is- God. So, if 'this' person, born "in sin", is claiming to forgive sins, he is blaspheming. And as they observe everything else about Him, they are developing a 'picture'. He blasphemes by claiming to forgive sins, He breaks the sabbath. He's just simply doing everything contrary to the way that God "would" do things. He's -got- to be, at least, a false prophet. And in worst-case, as they would accuse Him on other occasions, of being associated with the demons. (Mt9:34,etc)
One thing we know about The Son, is that He is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart". (Heb4:12) Nathanael was convinced by this. (Jn1:47-49) Here it says, "but knowing their thoughts". (vs22) Notice that at this point, they haven't confronted Jesus verbally. They are "reasoning" these thoughts. So, he gets their attention by revealing their thoughts to them. Again, it is only "God Who reveals secrets" (Dan2:28)
And then, Jesus reasons with them. Notice how God invites, "Come now, and let us reason together..." (Is1:18)
Which is easier? to say, Your sins are forgiven, or, "Rise up and walk? (vs23) Here, now, Jesus expands a bit from the 'withered hand' from our previous lesson. He speaks of "saying". Words. Remember that Jesus is the Word Who was in the beginning with God; and -was- God. (Jn1:1) God created by "saying". When He calmed the storm at sea, He spoke the "words". So, He reasons with them...who is able to simply speak 'words' and accomplish God's power? The gentile centurion understood when he said, "..only speak a word and my boy will be healed." (Mt8:8)
If anybody were to look at somebody and say, "be healed", they are going to be as sick as they were before the words. Physicians are not known for 'speaking words', but for diagnosing, prescribing medicines, poking needles, and performing surgeries. 'Things'. Cause and effect.
Thus, if somebody could actually 'speak words' and the person was healed, they would obviously be beyond the realm of mere humanity. And what -person- understands and knows the 'speaking of words' to 'teach' it to somebody else? Such a thing is not known in the physical world. So, a person could equally -say- the words "be healed" or "your sins are forgiven" with equal results. Zip! And if a person were, actually, able to forgive sins, how would we know and observe that those sins were forgiven? Is there some way to quantify "forgiveness"? Put it in a test tube or under a microscope and see what forgiveness looks like?
But Jesus is claiming to "forgive sins". How can we know that He is actually doing what He -says- He is doing? He proves the unseen by demonstrating His authority to do what -is- 'visible', but otherwise "impossible" to mere humanity.
So, he -SAYS-, "I -SAY- to you, Rise up, and take your cot and go to your house." (vs24) It does not record Him 'touching' the individual. So there is no "power transfer". There is no magical hokus pokus. He -speaks- the word, and it is done.
To Nicodemus Jesus speaks of the spiritual birth as being something like the wind, which is invisible to the physical eye, but which one can see the effects of, nonetheless. (Jn3) In this case, Jesus proves His authority to forgive sins, an 'invisible' dimension, by performing an equally God-like act that is 'visible'. If we see that which Jesus did that is seen, then we can also trust Him for His promises in the unseen...
While Jesus would say to Thomas, "blessed are those not seeing and yet believing" (Jn20:29) He actually gave many bases of visual things of the "things not lasting" as a basis for us to hope in "the things not being seen" which "are everlasting". (2Cor4:18) Our faith is not a totally blind faith. Jesus' deeds provide a basis for the "substance" of things hoped for and the "evidence" of things not seen. (Heb11:1)
Thus, when He would perform the ultimate 'visible' deed in shedding His blood, demonstrating ultimate love (Jn3:16, 15:13, Rom5:6-8), we can be assured of His redemption and forgiveness of sins. (Eph1:7)
Surely He has borne our sicknesses, and He carried our pain; yet we esteemed Him plagued, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His wounds we ourselves are healed. (Is53:4-5)
"Jehovah opens the eyes of the blind; Jehovah raises those bowed down.." (Ps146:8) "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf opened. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing." (Is35:5-6a) "So says Jehovah God, creating the heavens and stretching them out; spreading out the earth...I, Jehovah, have called You...for a Light to the nations; to open blind eyes..." (~Is42:5-7)
After the people had acclaimed Jesus as the "Son of David" coming into Jerusalem, the "blind and lame ones came to Him in the temple, and He healed them." (Mt21:14) Fulfilling Isaiah 35. Sick people were not allowed in the temple. Notice how the lame man whom Peter and John raised up was sitting at the 'gate' of the temple. But Jesus was doing things differently again. He allowed the infirm to come to Him -in- the temple area. And He healed them.
Modern charismania has as one of its foundational doctrines, Is53:5, "with His wounds we are healed." However, they don't heal as Jesus did. They conjure and proclaim "be healed". It is possible that many of their subjects are healed psychosomatically. And there are many cases where various practitioners actually do heal. But there are also countless people who had "be healed" pronounced over them, who continued to be sick...many, who also died.
When Jesus healed, it says, "..He healed them -all-." (Mt12:15) Never forget that Pharaoh's magician/priests (Ex7:11) duplicated Moses' and Aaron's signs; but after a certain point, they were no longer able. (Ex8:18-19) False prophets may get -some- prophesies correctly; but they also have many errors, by which you know they are false. God's prophesies are 100%. In the same way, healings that are from God are 100%. When these practitioners conduct their healing meetings, claiming to call down God's power, yes, some probably actually -are- healed. But statistics and accounts tell that many are not. They are healing 'some', but their power is not from God.
The one born blind from birth was asked "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes? He is a prophet" (Jn9:17) Oooh...but He did it on the sabbath!! (vs16) But when Jesus healed, everyone He touched was -actually- healed. This was one of the things that would characterize Jesus. The O.T. prophecies did not say that He would "keep the sabbath"; we learned a couple lessons ago that He is "Lord of the sabbath". But the leaders were comparing Him to their notion of what they presumed the sabbath should be. But were not comparing with Scripture.
When John, from prison, sent his disciples to find out, for sure, if this was -really- Jesus, Jesus responds, "Going, relate to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, and the lame walk; lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised, and the poor are given the gospel." (Mt11:4-5) Jesus pointed John to His fulfillment of Isa61:1.
When the sick were brought to Jesus, He did not do a sweeping general 'prayer' over the sick multitude in a separate room, prior to going in to perform the 'main show' where certain chosen ones were brought up to the platform in front of the TV cameras. It says "they brought to Him -all- the ones having illness...and He healed them." (Mt4:24) He didn't 'pick-n-choose' the ones He knew He could heal or con. In another place "He healed them all". (Mt12:15) And rather than having complaints and repeat trips to doctors to fix what He botched up, the witness of the people was, "He has done all things well." (Mk7:37)
If Jesus was opening the eyes of the blind, and Ps146:8 says that "Jehovah opens the eyes of the blind", we can only conclude that Jesus was telling the truth when He says, "I went forth and have come from God" (Jn8:42) "I and the Father are One." (Jn10:30)
Raising the Dead
John said to Him, Are You the One coming, or are we to look for another? And answering, Jesus said to them, Going, relate to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, and the lame walk; lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised, and the poor are given the gospel. And blessed is the one, whoever shall not be offended in Me. (Mt11:3-6)
While Jesus was detained, healing the woman in the throng, "they came from the synagogue ruler's house, saying, Your daughter is dead...Jesus said, Do not be afraid, only believe" And when He sees all the weeping and wailing He says, The girl is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed at Him" knowing she was dead. And He took the child's hand and said to her, Little girl, I -say- to you, arise! And instantly the little girl arose and walked. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. (Mk5:35-42)
Coming to a city they met a funeral procession. An only son of a widow. Jesus touches the bier and the procession stops. "And He said, Young man, I -say- to you, Arise! And the one who was dead sat up and began to speak." This incident instilled 'fear' on everyone and they glorified God, realizing that a "great prophet" had risen up. That "God has visited His people" (Lk7:12-16)
And finally, the most 'famous' incident. (Jn11) Lazarus has been dead four days. His body has begun to decay. "Stinks" (vs39) And Jesus calls out "with a loud voice" with authority "Lazarus, Here! Outside!" (vs43)
John asks, "Are You the One?" Jesus replies to those sent with, "Observe My works". He said on another occasion, "My Father works until now, and I work." (Jn5:17)
Up until now we have only looked at less 'impressive' things. Arguments about sabbath observance might be considered by some a matter of semantics. Differing viewpoints. Different beliefs. After all; aren't we free to believe what we want? And the sabbath represented a "policital" struggle between Jesus and the Jewish leaders.
The matter of "forgiving sins"...well, how can we pin something like that down? We can't put "forgiveness" under a microscope and observe it. That, again, is in the realm of the "theoretical".
Healing people? Well, a lot of people do that. I mean... there are -doctors-, for goodness sake! They heal people all the time. So, what's the big deal with this Jesus. After all, some scoffers suggest that Jesus spent time during His early adulthood in Tibet with the "masters" and perfected their art. So, it was really nothing. He was just "better" at those arts than anybody else.
Now, if anybody would be tempted to view Jesus in these ways on these matters, this final matter has no equal. Who can possibly "give life"? It is only God who "breathed" -life- into man. (Gen2:7) As advanced as modern science is, even to mapping human genes, cloning, isolating and manipulating genetic structures, growing tissues, etc... man has not figured out how to "give life"...to "initiate" it. A former friend who is a doctor was talking about his profession one day. He said that they have the technology to keep the body -parts- functioning indefinitely. But they have not mastered -life-. Approaching life from the theory of evolution (without God), thinking that life happened "spontaneously" when the certain correct combination of chemicals and temperatures were met; by "chance" of course; they have not been able to create "life" in the laboratory.
But Jesus did.
There are two ways humanity can respond to I AM, the Son, Jesus Christ, when He demonstrates His Deity. Many of the people realized that "God" was "visiting" them. When Lazarus was raised it says that "many of the Jews..believed on Him." (Jn11:45)
But there was the other bunch... "but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done." (vs46) Like little tattle tales...running to the rulers to give them the latest gossip. For the life of me, I don't understand how they could possibly still be in unbelief when confronted with Jesus' Deity! But they were. SO incensed were they with Jesus, SOooo much in rebellion against God (as Jesus would say to Saul later, "kicking against the goads"-Ac9:5), that they not only wanted to kill Jesus, but also plotted how "they might put Lazarus to death also..." (Jn12:10) Now -why- would they want to do such a thing?? Here, this poor fellow had been sick, had died, but is now raised to life again in good health. Well... because Lazarus was "proof" of Jesus's "Deity". "..because many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus because of him." (vs11) You see, on the whole, when He came to the world that "came into being through Him, the world did not know Him. He [even] came to His own [Israel-born under the Law to redeem those under the Law (Gal4:4-5)], and His own received Him not." (Jn1:10-11)
This is what the Palestinians are doing today, on a different level. They soooo hate the Jews (and the God of the Jews), that they have been working feverishly to destroy archaeological evidence for any previous Jewish temples. They have been digging it away, hauling it off by the truckloads. They figure that if there is no "proof" or "evidence" of any sort of "prior claim" to the land, the Jews cannot reclaim it to rebuild the temple of Yahweh there.
That which is called "christian" has been doing it with God's Word; at least in the English language. God's Word is too strict. It is too severe. It is too confining. Too restrictive. Too narrow-minded. So, they have, over the years, made changes. They call them "paraphrases" and "versions". This is what God "really -meant- to say". For many decades the changes were subtle. Now that there are so many variations, the newest ones no longer make pretenses to be "accurate" and "faithful" to God's Word. But people reading them, if that's all they know of God, will go to hell. They are not presented with God in His holiness. They are not told what sin is, nor how to be saved.
You see...just like with Lazarus. If the raised Lazarus is dead again, there is no "proof" of Jesus' Deity. We...'man'...are still rulers of our own destiny.
But, for God to promise "everlasting life" (Jn3:16), how do we know God can deliver on His promise? He sent His "only-begotten Son" to fulfill this mission. How do we know that Jesus' promises that "I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn6:40) will happen? How do we know that our Faith we place in Jesus is not a "blind faith"? A Faith placed, only to die and reach the 'other side' and find only emptiness?
Jesus -begins- His proof of this by authenticating Himself as God. Restoring life to ones who died... 'physically'. There's even more in the next two, final, lessons.
But notice that in each of these cases Jesus -speaks- the word/s. In the first two, He makes a point of saying, "I -say- to you..." And in the case of Lazarus, like a parent might yell to a child who has wandered off, "Here! Now!" An authoritative -command-. At the resurrection it is going to be a "commanding shout". (1Th4:16)
Jesus is the Word who "was God" (Jn1:1) in the beginning. Since He is the "same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb13:8), He is -still- the "Word" and He is -still- "God".
For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself. (Jn5:26)
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem the ones under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal4:4-5)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it has been written, "Cursed is everyone having been hung on a tree;" (Gal3:13)
In the last lesson we observed Jesus authenticating Himself to be Deity, by raising people from the dead. He promised to "raise up" believers at the "Last Day". (Jn6:40,44,54) And in the next lesson we will observe how He led the way into the Resurrection. Raising of the dead proves His authority and ability to give "everlasting life" (Jn3:16).
But we know that "all have sinned" (Rom3:10-12,23) and that the "wages of sin is -death-". (Rom6:23a) "The soul that sins, it shall die" (Eze18:4,20) If we are sinners, deserving of death, -how- does "eternal life" come "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom6:23b)??
Jesus became a "curse" for us. The "wages" for sin had to be paid. Again, man is busy changing God's laws. There are no longer "consequenses" for actions. An evil president can be immoral, lie under oath and go through an impeachment process, and yet come away -smiling- and essentially unscathed...still retaining power. A couple days before this was written, the news had an item of a young little boy who, because he couldn't control his lust for a certain kind of cereal (just had to have it!), got in the car to drive to the store to get his favorite cereal, hitting a police car along the way. What was his "punishment" for this? Notoriety in the TV spotlight, and a "reward". Yes, indeed! A Reward! The cereal manufacturer promising a "year's supply" of his favorite cereal....BECAUSE, he had been rebellious and caused havoc. On TV shows of the various "Funniest Videos", invariably, the clips receiving 1st prize are ones where little children are throwing temper tantrums and being rebellious. Rather than being punished or disciplined for such behavior, they are rewarded with TV/media spotlights and prizes.
Is it ANY WONDER that people have no concept of God's impending wrath against the world's wickedness! And no concept of the need for "repentance" unto salvation. [link] That there are consequences. That sin has its results that are "deserved" (Rev16:6)
Sin is cursed. Sinners are accursed. Everlasting life does not come upon us...just BECAUSE. God is so gracious. He is so good. He "accepts us JUST AS WE ARE". All we have to do is "believe". Of course, the focus of this 'belief' is a bit muddied. And how can it be otherwise, if there is no concept of how heinous sin is, and the stench of the "prison" of "death" we are in. We need "rescuing" out of that prison. That's what Jesus came to do, to "open the prison [of sin and death] to those who are bound". (Is61:1b)
But the "debt" had to be paid first. The person does not gain release from prison unless the bail has been paid, or the judge has decreed the "case dismissed", etc.etc.
Another example is given. Life, and a new plant does not grow, unless there is first "death". (1Cor15:36-37) Humanity likes to see the pretty flowers and enjoy the wonderful scent. But they don't understand that before that lovely plant grew, a seed had to be planted in the ground. Seeds will remain as "potential life" for many years...as 'hard' seeds. But that's all they are. Seeds. But when they are planted in the soil, they begin to die. If the life did not sprout from within the seed to send out the root and shoot, and it continued in the ground, the seed would soften, rot, and be dead. When the life is sprouting, the seed becomes "soft"...the beginning of that rotting process. Out of that dying comes new life.
As Jesus is looking ahead to His imminent crucifixion He says that "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified." (Jn12:23) Being "glorified", of course, is His resurrection, etc. But notice that He speaks of the necessity to "die" (vs24) prior to that glory.
Notice that the "life" of that "seed" does not come from within ourselves. When the Sower went sowing seed, that "seed" is the "Word of God". (Lk8:11, 1Pt1:23) "Faith [Salvation]... comes by the Word of God" (Rom10:17) Who is the sower? It is the Father who "draws". (Jn6:44) The Father is the Vinedresser. (Jn15:1)
So, Jesus died on the cross. He redeemed us when He became our sacrifice. (1Pt1:18-19) How does this redeem us? What He did -physically- becomes "imputed" to us -spiritually- through faith. (Rom4) Christ died for us. (Rom5) And spiritually, we died -with- Him. (Rom6:2-8a) And as a result, because He resurrected, "we shall also live with Him" (Rom6:8b)
How does Jesus' -physical- death transfer to us -spiritually-? That is something which is in the realm of God's understanding. Remember that He created man out of the dust. (Gen2:7) But He breathed into him "spirit". Since this is a concept/process we obviously cannot understand, it should become equally obvious as to 'why' it is that we cannot save ourselves. We don't have the capacity to 'manipulate' the physical and spiritual. This is why Salvation is a "gift of God". (Eph2:8) Something we can only "receive". (Jn1:12) We have no capacity or ability (Rom5:6) to perform any "works" to effect the change. (Eph2:9,Tit3:5)
All we can do is come to the foot of His cross in repentance and say "I am not worthy to be called your son" (Lk15:19) "I abhor myself and repent" (Job42:6) "God be merciful to me, the sinner" (Lk18:13)
The one thief on the cross next to Jesus was about as "humbled" as he could be. (Jas4:10) The other one, although beaten to a bloody pulp, just like Jesus, and hanging buck naked, railed upon Jesus, "If you are [really] Christ [like You say], save Yourself and us." (Lk23:39) But the one who was repentent realized he was at the end of his rope, under the "same condemnation". He acknowledged his sin, and Jesus' righteousness.
Joseph asked Pharaoh's cupbearer to "mention" him (in prison) when he was restored. (Gen40:14) Not asking for anything wonderful. Just, please, take notice of me, a poor prisoner. The cupbearer, of course, completely forgot Joseph. The thief asks Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Jesus does not forget, but promises, "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Lk23:42-43)
And He promises all who receive Him, "And this is the will of the Father sending Me, that of all that He has given Me, I shall not lose any of it, but shall raise it up in the last day... The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood [partaking of His death -1Cor11:26] has everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn6:39,54)
I AM - the Resurrection and the Life
I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (Jn11:25-26) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself.. (Jn5:26)
For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. The we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall ever be with the Lord. (1Th4:16-17)
And as [the apostles] spoke to the people, the [temple rulers] came on them, being distressed that they taught the people and announced in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (Acts4:1-2)
Remember where this whole series began? I AM Jehovah. I exist. God's existence comes from Himself. Jesus' Deity is also characterized by His own self-existence. When man was formed in the beginning and God "breathed" life into him (Gen2:7), and man was made in God's "image" (Gen1:26), it was -God's- life which was breathed into man. As a result of sin, however, man is charactrized by "death".
Just before Jesus goes to the cross, He raises Lazarus from the dead. (Jn11) In doing so, He demonstrates His ability to do as He promises, to raise up the Believer "at the last day". (Jn6)
Of course, sin had to be atoned. Jesus did that "in His body...on the tree.." (1Pt2:24) He died. However, if Jesus -remained- dead, how could He fulfill His promises to "give life to whomever He wills.." (Jn5:21)? Dead people don't DO -anything-! How would He oversee "everlasting life" (Jn3:16) if He is dead? ... since it is in Him that we "live and move and exist" (Ac17:28) and He is the One who holds all things together (Co1:17) ?? If He remained dead, "everlasting life" is a farce!
Remember another characteristic of Jehovah? "Declaring the end from the beginning" (Is46:10) purposing something, and seeing it to completion. Jesus -declared-, "Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it up." (Jn2:19) To the disciples He says, "..after My resurrection I will go before you into Galilee.." (Mt26:32) "They will crucify [Him]... and the third day He will rise again." (Mt20:19) And even in the O.T. laws and rituals, they could not let the meat of sacrifice remain past the third day. (Lev7:17-18) As it was prophesied, "For You will not leave My soul in Sheol; You will not give Your Holy One to see [physical] corruption [decay]." (Ps16:10, Ac2:31,etc) [Remember how Lazarus at the 4th day was "stinking" from decay.] Jesus' body did not get to that point.
"But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept [died physically]." (1Cor15:20)
First of all, we -know- that Jesus rose from the dead. There were hundreds of witnesses. (1Cor15:5-8) The Jewish rulers had thought to kill Lazarus to get rid of the "proof/evidence" of Jesus' ability that only God could possess. But now, Jesus, Himself, rose from the dead. In addition, there were "many bodies of the saints" who were "raised" (Mt27:52) when Jesus rose. In so-doing, Jesus -proved- that He has "life in Himself". (Jn5:26) How else could He be 'giving' life, if He didn't have it, Himself, -to- give?
And then, in rising as He did, Jesus was the "firstfruit". What was the firstfruit? When I was a youth, we would raise gardens. I 'learned' from my dad, and I passed it on to my marriage: As soon as the radishes had even a -hint- of 'red' to the root, it was -officially- a "radish". The "important thing" was to be the person to be able to say that they had had the "first radish" of the year. So, we would check them, and if there was a hint of red, we would pull one and eat the little 'string' of a root...and boast "I ate the -first- radish". That little 'string' was the garden's "firstfruit". The first thing 'harvested'.
In Israel, they would ritually harvest a sheaf of grain and bring it to the priests and offer the "firstfruit" to the Lord. On the day after the sabbath, after Passover, they would wave this sheaf. (Lev23:11) Now, where there was a "firstfruit", there were many more 'sheaves' to follow. After the sheaf was waved, then the harvest could progress.
The fact that Jesus -did- rise from the dead, means that our Faith in His promise to raise us up "at the last day" is not "worthless". (1Cor15:14) He did it... we can believe that He will keep His promise to raise us up, too.
In addition to the Resurrection, there is another class of Believer. The ones who will never see death. There are those who do not believe in the parts of the N.T. penned by the apostle Paul. They view him to be a "rogue" of some sort...going off on his own doctrinal tangents. So, when he proclaims in 1Th4:17 what has been coined "the Rapture", they denounce his teachings as being a bunch of 'bunk'. But notice that Jesus, Himself, proclaimed the Rapture.
Notice carefully as Jesus speaks with Martha He proclaims the Resurrection: "the one believing into Me, though he die, he shall live." (Jn11:25)
Now, notice how He continues, "And everyone living and believing into Me shall not ever die forever." (vs26)
This word "living" is present tense. But it's a special kind of present tense... a "historical present tense". In other words, if a person is reading an account of something, it is written as though the reader were 'right there' as the events happened, even though, being 'history', they actually happened in the past; but the reader is made to feel that the account -is- occuring as it is being read. The same kind of thing can be said of the future. In other words, there is coming a time... Jesus spoke of the "last day" when He would "raise up" the Believer. (Jn6) And Paul speaks of when Jesus calls the Believers up to Himself in the clouds (1Th4:16-17) ...when those who are [present tense at that time] living Believers, will NEVER DIE. You see, Jesus foretold of the Rapture before Paul did. Paul merely expands on the subject, as it was revealed to him, when he says, "I speak a mystery to you; we shall not all fall asleep [die physically], but we shall all be changed.." (1Cor15:51)
Paul goes into more depth, describing the change from "flesh and blood" (vs50) into that which is "incorruption". (vs53) How death, the penalty for sin, is "swallowed up in victory". (vs54) As our new 'changed' bodies receive "immortality". Remember how Jesus predicted His own being "glorified". (Jn12:23, 13:31, etc) Remember how we considered that Jesus, God's Son, became fully "human". He took on "flesh and blood". He took on humanity's "corruption". (Phil2:7-8) And so, for Him to be glorified, as the firstfruit, means that He experienced, first, the change from corruption to incorruption. As a 'human', He died. In His Resurrection, He took on incorruption and immortality. When John speaks of us being "like Him" (1Jn3:2) when He is revealed, this is that glorious event. The Resurrection/Rapture of the Believers.
In Jesus being the "firstfruit" in this, He fulfills His claim to being the "Good Shepherd". He says, "when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him. For they know his voice." (Jn10:4) Where the sheep are to go, the Shepherd goes first.
My experience with sheep as a lad was on my uncle's farm in N.Dakota. There, we often, typically, 'drove' the sheep. Like cattle. But that was usually when they had found an opening in the fence and had gotten out, and needed to be brought back in; or were being herded into an area for shearing or other chores. When the sheep had gotten 'out' and were going "astray" (Is53:6), they needed to be herded 'forcefully'.
But there was another thing I observed. My uncle would put some grain in a pail, and would go out and call, "Come sheeeep! come sheeep!" And they would come -running-, bleating. It was feeding time. They "knew" the sound of his voice, and the sounds of the bucket. I could call, "Come sheeep!" all I wanted to, and they would not pay me any mind. They did not "know" my voice.
You see, there was a difference. When the sheep were "rebellious" and going their own way, they needed to be 'driven' to get them back. But when there was harmony, all they needed was my uncle's voice.
For the Believer, "the Lord is my Shepherd". (Ps23) He "leads" me. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (Jn10:27) Jesus -led- the way through death, and the Believer has been "joined together in the likeness of His death". (Rom6:5) And since we have followed Him into death, "we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection". He was the firstfruit. He went through it first. We know His promise is true when He promised to "raise [us] up at the last day".
In conclusion, a reminder. This series is entitled, "I AM..." I Am - Jehovah... the One who exists. The beginning of Faith being the belief that God "exists". (Heb11:6) We must also believe that Jesus, the Son, is equally God. And Jesus' resurrection is also part of the definition of the essence of His Deity. We sometimes speak of the matter of the relationship between a person's belief about the Rapture when he has come to understand it from God's Word, and the reality of his faith in Christ. That if he understands what Scripture says about the Rapture, but doesn't accept what it teaches, that such unbelief also indicates the true nature of his Saving Faith into Christ, or lack thereof. Notice Martha's conclusion about His "DEITY" when Jesus asks her if she believes in the 'RESURRECTION' and the 'RAPTURE'...
"Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world..." (Jn11:27) This is the same 'Confession of Faith' the Ethiopian expressed, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts8:37)