Key precept: Freedom is the ability to choose one’s actions, not to escape the consequences of those actions.
People are quick to blame God when things go bad, even faulting him for having the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden because, being omniscient, he knew full well that human beings would eat the fruit and become captive to sin. The reality is that the tree gave gave us freedom – defined as “the power to determine action without restraint.” Without the opportunity to choose, humans would have been drones, always controlled by an outside authority. There is always the most basic toggle option to every decision we face. 1) Submit to the Creator’s authority and be right-eous, 2) or not.
“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth…And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell.” (Josh 24:14-15)
What pro-choice doesn’t mean is freedom from the consequences of breaking unchangeable laws. Knowing and following spiritual laws that define right vs wrong, like knowing and following the laws of physics, prevents chaos and saves lives.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life…” (Deu 30:19-20)
The reason bad things happen is that God doesn’t force people to submit to his control. That goes for not just you and me, but the person whose actions are contrary to what you and I want, and even harmful to us. Part of being good, responsible, wise, conscientious, etc. is accepting responsibility for one’s own actions, learning to do good, and avoiding and making reparations for, actions that cause harm to self and others. The result of failing to anticipate and avoid harmful behaviors is, inevitably, harm to self and others.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every many is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Jam 1:12-15)
Cain is a good case study of freedom gone awry. He knew that God had ordained blood sacrifices for the remission of sin, a life for a life, but he chose instead to promote the quality of his good work with a fruit basket.
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering [undoubtedly indicated, as with Elijah, by fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice]: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Gen 4:3-7)
The reality is that no human, in our own ability, can atone for our myriad sins against God and other humans. No amount of penance can cancel out the bad things we’ve done, or reparations give back immaterial things like lost time, lost opportunities, unborn children. We understand this in human relationships. Only forgiveness – offered and accepted – and atonement – offered and accepted – restores a relationship.
The same truth applies to our dealings with God. It’s a relationship. The only way we have the kind of relationship that allows us to live in peace with him is the one in which we have asked for, and received, his forgiveness for all the sins we committed against him, and accepted the atonement he has provided for all the kinds of death our many sins have caused not only ourselves but others.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:11-15
Of all the works found written in the books, the one that matters most is our acceptance of God’s gift of salvation from sin. A reality-based / right / right-eous relationship with God is based on faith – believing and acting in accordance with the evidence that he is the Creator and we are his creation who can only exist through sustained connection with the giver of life.
“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psa 100:3-5)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh…But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb 11:1-6)
Well then, Richard Dawkins, if the Bible is just fiction and the God of Abraham is just an invented character, why do you make it your life’s work to discredit him? Why not vilify Simon Legree or some other fictional character? Your inflated, compulsive, and inflexible tirades betray that these are not your true feelings, but symptoms of a reaction formation defense mechanism against your anxiety that God is real. It would just be so uncool for a sophisticated, handsome man to believe in God, wouldn’t it? And the memes wouldn’t work so well to draw people to identify with them if they pictured a homely man, would they? Advertising.
Reality – truth – rightness – righteousness is for us to know and obey God and glorify God for what he has done. For us to glory in our own pathetic achievements is to be delusional, out of touch with reality.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:4-10)
For us to believe that in the world to come we can claim the right to be subjects in God’s kingdom when we rebelled against him in this world is truly delusional.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mat 7:13-23)
“The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure...Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself…And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh right-eously, and speaketh up-rightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off...Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams…For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us…And…the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. (Isa 33:5-24)
Every individual has the freedom to choose in what to trust to be saved from the blatantly destructive forces – AKA sin – in their lives: God’s revelation or their own judgment. The following quote about human prehistory from prestigious Perdue University is a shining example of this opportunity to choose.
Through analysis of mitochondrial DNA obtained from females of various ethnic backgrounds, researchers have determined that all humans alive today descended from one female, commonly referred to as ‘Eve’,
(so pure scientific evidence supports the biblical account of creation)
who lived approximately 7600 generations ago.” (I.e. ~200,000 years ago, assuming a new generation born ~ every 25 years.)
At this point, science bases its conclusions on deliberate rejection of the biblical account of creation, substituting an alternative explanation of the “theory” of evolution, unprovable by science’s own standards, not even having enough data to call it a “theory” by science’s own standards. But moving on…
Analysis of male Y chromosome samples obtained from throughout the globe reveals the existence of some 10 “descent groups” or haplotypes that presumably descended from a common male ancestor who mated with Eve. Eve, her hypothetical mate, and these 10 males were not the first, nor the only modern humans living in Africa at that time. Rather, these were the only people from a much wider population of modern humans whose progeny survived until today.”
While this is stated as a fact, it is in fact not a fact, but a belief. There is no way this statement can be proven. And here the “theory” of evolution is demonstrated not to be a scientific ““ for objective truth at all, but in fact to be one of many religious belief systems from which people seek self-empowerment.
- “Wilson felt uneasy about using the term “Eve” because it caused many to think that she was the only woman living at that time, much like what is written in Genesis of the Bible concerning Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
- the usual evolutionary time-scale for man did not allow such a short time as 200,000 years. Rather, it is believed that man has been around for a much longer period of time.
- Evolutionists have come to believe that Eve must have been one of many women of her time, in a genetic bottleneck.
- The story of the mitochondrial Eve is not what paleoanthropologists wanted to hear. [So much for scientific objectivity.] They did believe that man came from Africa, but they believed it happened one million years ago.
- So, there seems to be no way for all the data to presently fit together. It is true, as “Kip” Thorne from Australian National University, mentioned: “The fossil evidence is really scrappy. There just isn’t enough of it.”
Nonetheless, the need to provide an alternative to a Creator God outweighs scientific integrity and the idea of evolution is presented as scientific fact.
Wow. That’s quite an unscientific assertion for someone who claims to be scientific. To be ignorant is to be unaware of the facts. Where are the facts of evolution? Calling someone stupid is just insulting. Mr. Dawkins is not qualified to diagnose mental illness, and in any case, no professional calls a mentally ill person “insane”. And how can anyone be “wicked” if there is no God defining good and evil? Ahhh, apparently Richard Dawkins is god. And there’s that cute grin. Apparently that’s what people are putting their money on.
Just imagine how the New York Times would report this if a well-known preacher, such as Billy Graham, made the reverse statement (which he didn’t), for which, I might say, there is biblical evidence.
“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody to claims to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”
The difficulties encountered in, 1) learning the truth from one who already knows it, then, 2) breaking free from an entrenched existing belief system is entertainingly depicted by Neo’s/ New man’s faltering response to Morpheus / God dreams in The Matrix, but is in reality accomplished by placing trust in God’s Word. From day one, God has given humans the same message of salvation from sin and death.
“Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay…I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me…Behold in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? For he given not account of any of his matters…If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom…He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness…if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from going into the pit…to be enlighted with the light of the living. ” (Job 19:6-30)
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (Joh 18:37)
As Job and other witnesses explain, being saved from evil, whether inflicted by others or present in our own inescapable impulses, means being restored to right(eous)ness – healthy physical, emotional, social, and spiritual functioning – in this world and the world to come.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psa 23)
Rather than re-pent / re-think his course of action, and be restored to the good life, Cain continued to rebel against God’s way of doing things, ultimately requiring his expulsion from orderly society in order to protect others from his wicked actions.
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain…What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth…And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” (Gen 4:8-16)
This wasn’t the end for Cain, however. God was merciful to him, a sinner.
“And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” (Gen 4:13-15)
It is only through God’s mercy and grace that anyone becomes righteous and qualifies for acceptance into God’s presence. It’s that blood sacrifice that allows a God of integrity to grant us forgiveness and and redemption after we’ve broken God’s law.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ: According as he hath chosen us [humans instead of angels] in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; ” (Eph 1:3-7)
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Yahweh’s Chosen Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus: whom hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past…that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus.” (Ro 3:20-26)
Nicodemus is a good case study of a man who had to choose between putting his faith in God’s Word or his own, admittedly high, standards of behavior under the Mosaic law. Nicodemus met with Yeshua / Jesus to try to negotiate a peaceful end to the growing challenge he posed to the ethnic rulers of the nation of Israel, AKA “the Jews“. He starts by trying to minimize Yeshua / Jesus as a mere teacher. Despite the fawning compliment Yeshua / Jesus knows what’s in his heart and cuts to the heart of the matter, forcing Nicodemus to chose between 1) relinquishing his superiority complex and accepting a demotion to student with Yeshua / Jesus as truly Rabbi/master, or 2) rejecting him.
“…a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews [think Senate Majority Leader]…came to Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus by night, and said unto him,
- Rabbi, we [the rulers, judges] know that thou art a teacher come from God [starting the win-win negotiation strategy with a positive – we know you are one of us]…
- Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus answered…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…[Immediately shoots down this talking point.]
- Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? [The middle part of the negotiation, the negative – establish authority. “Come on now, what you’re teaching is ridiculous.”]
- Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. [I’m not one of you and somebody is going to walk away the loser.] If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven…For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Seed of the Woman / Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believed on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name [which defines his attributes- Yahweh’s Savior] of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. [Jesus just condemned Nicodemus and the ruling Jews and negotiations failed.]” (John 3:1-20)
The rulers of the kingdoms of this world had a choice to make – to accept Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus as the Son of God and King of the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth, or to continue to operate in the delusion that they could be in control of their little sphere of influence on earth. (To capture the spiritual context of the following narrative, I have substituted the Europeanized name “Jesus” with the more accurate English translation of “Yahweh’s Savior”.
“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Yahweh’s Savior
- and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
- Yahweh’s Savior answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” [As with Nicodemus previously, and with the thief later on that same day, even in the midst of his own suffering, Yahweh’s Savior remains focused on his purpose of bringing salvation to each individual he encounters.]
- Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
- Yahweh’s Savior answered, My kingdom is not of this world [unequivocal statement of spiritual nature of his kingdom, which Pilate, raised in paganism and acknowledging the godhood of Caesar, would understand]: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews [clearly in context this means the leadership, not the whole nation]: but now [emphasis added] is my kingdom not from hence [terrifying implication that it will be at some future point when will there be awful retribution for this travesty of justice].
- Pilate therefore [he’s getting very nervous] said unto him, Art thou a king then? [No longer posing the question on behalf of the Jews, but asking for himself regarding our Savior’s spiritual nature. There was that mayhem with Augustus Caesar’s good friend and ally Herod the Great’s wholesale slaughter of babies only 30 or so years earlier when Herod believed in a king rising out of Israel. Now that he is ready to deal with the real issue – which is not a mere political accusation by jealous Jewish leadership in the backwater province of Judea, but a real challenge to Caesar’s claim to be the son of God with power to rule the world – the Savior cuts to the heart of the matter.]
- Yahweh’s Savior answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. [The Savior doesn’t get sidelined with questions. He puts the ball right back into Pilate’s court when he responds to actions which speak louder than words. Pilate after all is taking him seriously enough to interrogate him, he didn’t shoo the Jews away.] To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
- Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? [Sophistry, trying to sound clever but really evading the issue.] And when he had said this, [he then admits that he knows the truth] he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all…will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? [Deliberately antagonizing them, no doubt because Jesus made him feel foolish and helpless. This seals the Savior’s fate.] Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man…
- Then Pilate therefore took Yahweh’s Savior, and scourged him [after judicially declaring him innocent. He has lost control.] And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands.
- Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Yahweh’s Savior forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe.
- And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! [thinking their blood lust might be assuaged at the sight of this broken human being.] When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, [on the contrary, their blood lust was inflamed] saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
- Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
- When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid [this is exactly what he feared]; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Yahweh’s Savior, Whence art thou? But Yahweh’s Savior gave him no answer [because Pilate has all the data he needs to conclude for himself – all the signs and miracles the Savior had done, and the Jewish rulers’ rivalry against him].
- Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? [You can hear his voice rising an octave as his anxiety skyrockets and he begins overcompensating to shore up his failing confidence.] Yahweh’s Savior answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
- And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him [he half-way believes that this man is indeed the son of God. After all the Caesars all rose from obscurity to immense power.]: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend [but his enemy, accomplice to treason]: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.
- When Pilate therefore heard that saying [he fears Caesar of Rome more than the God of Israel], he brought Yahweh’s Savior forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the Passover: [and where are the chief priests who are supposed to be supervising the great sacrifice? At the ultimate sacrifice…] and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him!
- Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? [Politically antagonizing them.] The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. [Pilate makes them pay for forcing him to do their dirty work by forcing them to make a political concession. And so they yielded themselves servants to Caesar / Antichrist.] Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.” (Joh 18:33-19:16)
(A clip from the movie Jesus of Nazareth provides a lavish visual experience for those of us unfamiliar with the historical background. The Passion of the Christ includes vocal tones, facial expressions, and gestures missing from the text that, I think, opens our eyes to The Savior’s motivation in saying what he says or remaining silent – he is giving Pilate an opportunity to accept him as king. Jesus Christ Superstar has its failings, but I think there is value in experiencing the dramatic emotions conveyed and elicited.)
We can’t judge Pilate without judging ourselves. Most of the time the financial means to obtain material possessions and power over people in this life are mistaken for the good life, and spiritual life is disdained.
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments…The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Yahweh’s Savior/Yeshua/Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Yahweh’s Savior/Yeshua/Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 19:16-23)
Most of the time it is broken, ruined, suffering people who have reached rock bottom and have nothing left to lose who will look up to God.
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying If thou be Anointed One / Messiah / Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus [with incredible faith in this man as the Son of God as he’s watching him die], Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. [Having no idea when that will be other than at some future resurrection.] And Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today [emphasis added] shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Lu 23:39-43)
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Yahweh’s Consecrated Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (I Cor 1:26-31)
It ended well for Nicodemus, who faced a crisis when he was forced to make a choice between participating in corrupting a system of law upon which he depended for eternal life, or trusting that Yeshua of Nazareth was Yahweh’s Anointed Savior who is the main character in all of the Jewish writings from Genesis to Malachi. We have to reference back to these writings to understand Yeshua’s claims as they were understood by the people who heard him as he preached.
“Then cried Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying,
- Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: [the Seed of the Woman, Yahweh’s Savior promised since Day 1: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed [Caesar at this time] and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
- and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: [John the Baptist] and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts…And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:1-3)
- whom ye know [identify with] not. But I know him: for I am from him… [Direct challenge to the politicized and corrupt high priest and his entourage. as the Son, i.e. the Seed, the very image and likeness of the Father, equal to the Father. And they got the message!]
- And many of the people believed on him, and said, When The Anointed One / Messiah / Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me [miracle-working Moses, through whom God released the Israelites from bondage to the Egyptians, the world empire at that time]; unto him ye shall hearken…And the LORD said unto me…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)
- The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent [police] officers to take him…
- In the last day, that great day of the feast, Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, [you know they must have been standing and walking for hours in crowds] “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I Yahweh will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17) let him come unto me [i.e. Yahweh], and drink. He that believeth on me [i.e. Yahweh], as the scripture hath said [allegorically in a number of places especially Isaiah, but not quoting exactly], out of his belly [inner being] shall flow rivers of living water. “And Yahweh shall…satisfy thy soul in drought…and thou shalt be like a…spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isaiah 58:11)
- (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: “Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen. Thus saith Yahweh that made thee…I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:” (Isaiah 44:1-3) ( for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus was not yet glorified.) “And ye shall know that I am / Yahweh in the midst of Israel and that I am the LORD / Yahweh your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed [let down, disappointed, hopes dashed]. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and…whosoever shall call on the name / embodying the revealed character of the LORD / Yahweh shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:27-32)
- Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Appointed One / Messiah / Christ… And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him. Then came the [police] officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee?” (Joh 7:28-52)
Nicodemus’ colleagues decided to secure their power by eliminating Yeshua altogether – and breaking the law in the process.
“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place [top of the heap, highest authority] and nation [brotherhood of rulers]. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel [conspired] together for to put him to death [assassinate their rival]. (Joh 11:45-53)
Nicodemus took the most public stand possible – separating himself from the corrupt rulers, honoring the teacher who had been unjustly put to death, and accepting Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua as his master in the process.
“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple / student of our Savior, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus…And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. [In today’s currency, costing about $200,000] Then took they the body of Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus…as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:38-40)
What could possibly drive these two men from the extremes of society – a law-breaking criminal and a law-abiding ruler – to give a public testimony of their belief that this Yeshua was the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of God as he died? There is only possible explanation – faith in God’s word.
“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
- He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of 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 stripes we are healed.
- All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
- He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
- Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
- by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities…because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa 53).
Notice, the Lord only justified “many”. Our Savior’s death did not bring an immediate end to Satan’s control. The battle to reclaim dominion from Satan, sin and death is still raging.
“But now is The Consecrated One / Messiah / Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept…But every man in his own order:
- The Consecrated One / Messiah / Christ the firstfruits;
- afterward they that are The Consecrated One’s / Messiah’s / Christ’s at his coming.
- Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.“ (I Cor 15:20-26)
What is taking so long for the last enemy to be destroyed and the full restoration of the Kingdom of God? God is giving humans time and opportunity to get saved.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance...what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…?” (II Pet 3:9-11)
The answer to that question is – we should be bringing people into the kingdom of heaven. Yahweh’s Savior accomplished his work by dying and resurrecting, then he handed responsibility for recruiting citizens into the kingdom of heaven to the born-again sons of God.
“And Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Mat 28:18-20)
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” (Act 1:6-9)
“…God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Yahweh’s Anointed Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in The Anointed One / Messiah / Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for The Consecrated One/Messiah/Christ…” (II Cor 5:18-20)
When we side with the Savior, we’ve joined an ongoing battle against the enemy Satan, and it is not an easy life.
“If in this life only we have hope in The Consecrated One / Messiah / Christ, we are of all men most miserable. …If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die…Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” (I Cor 15:19, 32-34)
“But I [Paul] fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in The Consecrated One / Messiah / Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Savior / Yeshua / Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him…For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works…I say again, let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little…For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face…Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the congregations / churches…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of The Consecrated One / Messiah / Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for The Consecrated One’s / Messiah’s / Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (II Cor 11:3-28, 12:7-10)
What? What kind of paradox is that – when I am weak, then am I strong? One way to understand this is that the power of The Consecrated One / Messiah / Christ only becomes apparent when we are at the end of our own resources. If you’ve never experienced this, then you’ve never experienced the ultimate power trip.
There is another dimension to this paradox, however, that is consistent with what we’ve learned so far, and I believe explains God’s motivation behind the whole rather perplexing plan of salvation. Part of being made in God’s likeness is having freedom of action. In order for God to truly, in reality, have human sons of God who are actually “chips off the old block”, there must be humans who choose voluntarily to act as he chooses to act, out of deep love and commitment to the beloved’s welfare. Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus, as God, chose to suffer and die for his beloved people. God’s children love like he loves, proving our love by staying committed despite worsening circumstances, sickness, poverty, even death. This can only happen as we respond to circumstances. This character trait doesn’t get zapped into us at the moment of the new birth, any more than at the physical birth. It has to be developed as we respond, in faith, to challenging circumstances.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (I Joh 4:7-11)
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven..” (Mat 5:44-45)
Developing God’s likeness – his character traits – in this life is what qualifies us to take dominion in the world to come.
“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?…Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren…For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted…And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb 2:5-11,18; 3:5-6)
Adam was only the first who chose to suffer and die rather than separate from his beloved. Moses was another one who chose to suffer afflictions and risk death rather than lose his identity as a man of God.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of The Anointed One / Messiah / Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Heb 11:24-26)
Every true believer who has merged his/her identity with the Savior can expect to be be faced with opportunities to develop love for God, expressed as staying faithful to him just as he stays faithful to us, forgiving trespasses against us and loving our enemies, and bringing his kingdom into play within our sphere of influence.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Mat 6:9-13)
“…ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Yahweh’s Anointed Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Yahweh’s Anointed Savior/Yeshua Messiah/Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Yahweh’s Anointed Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ro 1:7-9)
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends…I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me...He that hateth [rejects] me hateth [rejects] my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated [rejected] both me and my Father.” (Joh 15:12-24)
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Yahweh’s Anointed Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Yahweh’s Savior/Yeshua/Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Yahweh’s Consecrated Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phili 2:4-11)
There is another way in which God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. He could simply have squashed Satan like a bug when Satan defied him, but he didn’t deign to battle Satan directly. God’s choice of weak humans to rule the world is validated, and his kingdom is staffed and strengthened at the expense of Satan’s, with every human who renounces the kingdom of darkness and is born into the kingdom of God.
In the next post, we’ll look at the kingdom of darkness.
To summarize what we’ve discovered so far:
God created the universe and gave dominion to mankind, one of whom who allowed Satan to insinuate his way into power by following his leadership. God knew that would happen, and already had planned a dual-nature appointed Savior who, as God, had the power to overcome sin, and as human could provide for remission of sins, redemption from Satan’s ownership, and restoration of God’s righteousness for all humans who will believe on, and identify with, him. We don’t see full restoration of dominion yet, because God is pro-choice. He allows free will. God doesn’t force his company on anyone, he waits for people to voluntarily accept his offer to have a love relationship with him. At this stage, it’s the job of redeemed humans to share the message of salvation with as many humans as possible. This is not an easy task, because, unfortunately, there are plenty of people who are trapped in the delusion that sin is fun and empowering and don’t want to escape that lifestyle.