In Summary: Character of God

Character of God (Word & Nature)

God to Us (the Covenant People):

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Those who love see beauty, even in the tough things. As Psalm 18:25-26 and 2 Sam 22:27 say:

With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.”

  • When God’s Covenant People read of his acts in the Bible, or see his deeds and works in nature, we find the beauty and consistency.

God to Them:

  • When mankind’s needs are the end-goal, everything changes. The character of God is judged by whether it is good for man. We human beings look at the way we are “ideally” with our own kids, forgiving and giving abundantly. When we see, rather, that God is not thinking of them “first,” and it makes him appear to be a bully, a child-abuser, an unforgiving monster.
  • Consequently, those outside of a relationship with God read of his acts in the Bible and see a demon, they look at the way nature is and declare it is not made by a good or loving creator, therefore it must be that there is no creator. It must be originated by an indifferent process.

Comments: Yes, God is indifferent. And God is love.

The indifferent system may, actually, take your me-ness into realms of pain after you die. We believe not. We have to teach that this body has no residual parts that move on after death, but there is no test to measure if that is true. In fact, Near Death Experiences tell us otherwise. They hint to us that there are continuing sensations at that transition between this life and the next.

So, is the indifferent process personal? Yes and no.

Ultimately, the Bible shows he is indifferent to God-haters, he is open and welcoming to preChristians, and he is absolutely loving to Christians.

The WHO of God is the key to finding your place.

Jonathan Edwards on Pleasure

Jonathan Edwards:

If we spend our lives in the pursuit of a temporal happiness; as riches or sensual pleasures; credit and esteem from men; delight in our children, and the prospect of seeing them well brought up, and well settled, and etc.

All these things will be of little significance to us. Death will blow up all our hopes, and will put an end to these enjoyments…

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.

Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance.

These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun.

These are but streams; but God is the fountain.

These are but drops; but God is the ocean.”

The Christian Pilgrim, Section II p. 530

 

 

The Hem of the Savior’s Garment

Chickens, Boaz and Tears: Three Things that will Save your Eternal Life.

Have you ever seriously considered the verse, “Away from me, I never knew you!” ?

The Lord Jesus uses this warning in Matt 7:21-23 to show that not everyone who thinks they are saved will actually be saved.

But have you ever thought that MAYBE you might hear those words from the Lord’s lips? Does the thought strike fear into you?

In our Social Studies class this month we are studying the American Colonial times, and of course the Salem Witch trials come up. Many people accused of witchcraft were excommunicated from the Church, namely being told they were no longer saved.

In our PostChristian environment today, most people don’t give credence to the right of the Church to excommunicate its members.

But Scripture shows the authority Spirit-filled church leaders have to turn their members “over to Satan.” So those in 1692 Salem accused of witchcraft and their families all believed the convicted had likewise been deprived of salvation.

Can that happen? Really?

Another big question is about the “unforgivable sin.” Maybe you think you have committed it. You may be asking yourself, “Have I committed the unforgivable sin? Is what I have done too big now for Christ to forgive?”

What do I have to do to lose my salvation? What does one look like who will hear on Judgment Day, “Away from me, I never knew you”?

Or, more likely what you are asking, “How can I make sure that’s not me?”

I have good news for you today. You can know and be sure that you will never be discarded by God. You can have certainty. But it is costly and it is hard.

The answer is in the idea: Up is Down and Down is Up. But to understand this, we must understand Covenant.

A key aspect of the Bible, God’s Covenant with us, is expressed vividly in the Old Testament. Nature provides many examples of God’s principles (because Heavens Declare the glory of God).

One of the most poignant images, used repeatedly in Scripture, is that of the wings of God, which metaphorically represent his protective covering.

 

WINGS

Behold what Psalms says:

Ps 91:1–2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Ps 17:8
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Ps 57:1
…for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,

Ps 61:4
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah

Ps 63:7
…for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Christ’s Desire

Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he spoke of his desire to bring comfort and safety to God’s people. He used the same imagery used of God in the OT.

Mt 23:37
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Lk 13:34
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

 

GARMENT:

The word for wing is also the word for garment. In Hebrew the word is kanaph (כָּנָף).

So we see in Ezekiel 16:8:
I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.

 

 

The Sick Woman

The story of the sick woman taps into this same imagery.

Matthew 9:20-21
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”

Mark 6:56
And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Reasons for the sick touching the edge of Christ’s robe.

Several places in Scripture show us the thought behind sick people trying to touch Christ’s garment.

Zech 8:23
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'”

As we saw above, the Hebrew word for robe matches the word for wings, repeated many times in the Psalms. Taking hold of Christ’s robe was an ancient analogy for “attaching oneself to the party of his lord.”

They were humbling themselves before God, asking for mercy.

Down is Up. This is another way of saying “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:6, NIV).

Bend down, bow, kneel, humble yourself…admit you are inadequate to the task…confess that HE is your only hope. Go down. God gives grace to the humble. But he opposes the proud. (1 Pet 5:5, James 4:6). Up is Down and Down is Up. If you go UP–if you insist on doing it your own way, sure you can do it yourself, lifting your chin and defying your need for God, that is the surest way “DOWN” to death and destruction, in the end.

But if you go Down, he will lift you Up.

Which means he will bring you into his eternal Covenant.

Nowhere is this more clear than the story of Ruth and Boaz.

Ruth

The Book of Ruth holds the greatest clue for us, showing the relationship between redemption and the edge of the garment. Showing the certainty of the Covenant.

It’s a strange story, and one scandal-seekers love to point at while wiggling their eyebrows. But Ruth’s visit to the threshing floor was a demonstration for us of what a kinsman-redeemer is for humanity.

Ru 2:12
The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

Already, Boaz had raised the topic of coming under the “wings” of God. Now, Naomi encourages Ruth to demonstrate the need for Boaz’s specific “wings,” as her protector, redeemer, and savior.

Ru 3:7–9
[Boaz] went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”

She had put herself under the edge of his garment. She desired covenant.

She desired him to be her guardian, her lord, her escape from a helpless situation.

Do you See it Yet?

It’s your only escape. The world may condemn you, they may falsely accuse you, or rightly accuse you. You will also accuse yourself of committing the unforgivable sin.

But where is your hope?

We will never live up to the life Christ lived. That’s the reason we needed a Savior.

But where is your hope?

Do you, after needing Christ for salvation, now attempt to reach perfection by works? (Gal 3:3) It won’t happen. We will produce fruit only as the Spirit enables us. As we abide we will be changed into his image.

But we are all going to fail this broken world.

You will have some up days, and down days. But as Billy Graham said, most of life is the valleys. We are not building our kingdom here. This broken world is not our home. We have hope in a kingdom not built by human hands. (Heb 11)

And when we consider Judgment Day…

…when we consider if he might could possibly accuse us of not being his,

…there is only one safe place to be found.

There is only one place to hide safely:

One vantage point from which to view the Great Assize, the Great Courtcase.

HIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.

PULL HIS GARMENT OVER YOU AND HIDE. 

Hide from sorrow. Hide from failure. Hide from the law of sin in you waging war against the law of grace.

He is our only hope.

Under his wings we will find refuge. Hide under the edge of his garment.

On Judgment Day, DIVE DOWN under his garment. For under his wings you will find refuge. Under his wings you will be safe.

So What About Being a Witch?

We all are witchy. We, none of us, will ever satisfy God completely and thoroughly. We are broken people in a broken world.

Say to yourself out loud, “I am not my hope.”

They will not be pleased with you. Your righteous desires will not be pleased with you. God will not be pleased with “you.” 

But when the Father sees you, hiding there under the shadow of Christ’s garment, hiding under Christ’s righteous garment, he’ll shine his face on you.

That’s where the Father and the Son and the Spirit wanted you all along.


For more amazing Bible verses on this topic, click here: Shadow of the Almighty

 

Isaiah 66, in Depth

The Principles of the Prophets are the themes of the Bible.

Isaiah 66, Verse by Verse

In this study we will go verse by verse, as opposed to an overview by color, which we did here. If you are not yet aware of the colors of the Principles of the Prophets, take a look at that study.

God continues speaking from Isaiah 65. But as the last chapter of Isaiah, the message is compacted and summarized. This is why all of the Principles glow in this section.

We begin with a reference to Heavens Declare. And then he refers to the House David desired to build for him, reminding them again that it was man’s idea to have a Temple made of stone. God’s plan was always to dwell with his people in the New Heavens and the New Earth. And that House is established, made of those who are humble, contrite, and tremble at his word.

As opposed to the people who have gone DOWN then UP, we see those whose sacrifices and offerings are disgusting to him. Those who have Chosen their own ways, whose Pleasure are abominations to God. The Suffering (Fears) they had experienced in this life–perhaps the fears they sought to waylay by offering heartless and pagan offerings–will come upon them.

Why? Why does God promise them fearful suffering?

Because when he spoke, they didn’t care. They kept going along the way they wanted, following the ways of the world and the Wisdom of the Wise. Their choices were categorized by unpleasing to God. On the other hand, there is another group of people. This group fears God in the right way. They tremble at God’s word. They have gone DOWN in repentance and worship, so they have found forgiveness (in Christ) and are walking with God in Covenant.

But the ones who are in a Covenant with God, have now become a target for the Haters. They are mocked for their trust in God, which should be expected. But those who hope in God are reminded that God’s vengeance is coming, from within the Temple. Recompense in due measure. The Measuring God who is building his Kingdom is also measuring the deeds of the wicked.

Wisdom tells us that timing is everything. Heavens Declare as well that labor leads to birth and that without labor a birth will not come about. The timing and rhythm of life tells us that even though it seems God is not bringing vengeance, it will indeed come. “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things?” This is not Wisdom of the Wise. It’s something very different that interferes with the recompense.

The delivery of a SON right here, at the end of Isaiah, brings to remembrance the prophecies of the boy-who-would-be-born.** The last chance for them.

The Incarnation and Atonement of the new Jerusalem, God’s heavenly kingdom (Gal 4:26, Heb 12:22) is reflected in mother-love terminology.

Purple, remember, is the big PLAN of the Ancient of Days. He is bringing it about. In one day the Incarnation came to earth, and in one day, the Incarnate Son bore the sins of God’s People. Here the Church is being referred to, the initiation of the Church Age that burst-forth on Pentecost.

The children being brought forth is yellow, a Separation Filter. “Her children” refers to all that are members of the New Jerusalem. Christ said he would lose “not a one,” so ultimately, those who are her children will be separated out from those who are not. And likewise, no one will be shut out who must be a part of the Kingdom: “Shall I…not cause to bring forth? Shall I…shut the womb?”

“Drinking deeply with delight from her glorious abundance” is the true joy of every member of Zion.

Peace like a river, an overflowing stream…Heavens Declare again the truths of God. Being carried upon the hip and bounced upon her knees, being comforted. These are the Plan and the Covenant love of God, in spite of the troubles we have that we need comforting from. True Joy comes from the hand of the Lord. But his enemies, likewise, will get something different from his hand.

So after the Incarnation and Atonement, we are looking again at God’s enemies. Fire is coming. The warning is here. Anger, fury, rebuke and fire. The Measuring God will enter into judgment, he will look at the books upon which were written all of the deeds of every man. It will not go well for many people.

We have one group, those who disregard the Law of God, who go forward doing their own thing, following the Wise ideas of pagan nations, abominations eating pigs and mice. They are in one group together. In spite of this, in spite of their works and thoughts being like this, because judgment is coming, he says “I will set a sign among them.”

They get another chance! They are clumped in a group, they’re on the path for doom, but that New Jerusalem that’s being built, those who have survived the bullies, will be sent to them. The nations far and near, will meet with the Survivors–those who are declaring his glory. God’s Covenant people will be found all around the world declaring his glory among the nations.

And what do we see? We see people “all your brothers” coming with them to God. They are bringing people to the New Jerusalem. “On horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries” is reminiscent of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. God’s people have gone and brought them.

From the perspective of God’s people each will say, “I was only doing my duty,” (Luke 17:10). The deeds of obedience, the following of the Great Commission, was an offering to the Lord.

Here we see again the Architect’s plan to build Jerusalem, we see the house of the Lord and the vessels in the house. God’s new system is being set up, using the Survivors and the Brothers from the Nations. God’s New Jerusalem is being built upon the promise of the Son that would be born, and the Nation-from-all-nations that happened in a day.

He begun this section by mentioning heaven and earth, he ends by reminding us of the New Heavens and the New Earth. But the new one is eternal. The one not built by human hands, the one Abraham was looking forward to (Hebrews 11). And the never-ending Name.

The next verse shows that we have already entered into this Kingdom. Every month and every week we come and worship before him. The Sabbath was a sign of the Covenant, it was a reflection of commitment to keeping the Covenant. Likewise, the Ten Commandments, as a reflection of natural law, required the weekly day of devotion. Sabbath, not sacrifice, was the sign of devotion. (And the same expectation carried into the New Covenant).

The ending verse of Isaiah is a horror to Christians in particular.

Jesus himself referred to this verse, clearly showing this was about hell awaiting those who had not taken all the chances they had been given.

The idea of going out to look at the rebels, who are an abhorrence to all flesh, repels us.

For one of the functions of hell, and this verse in particular, is to propel God’s people to go into the nations to “compel” our friends to Christ.

This last verse of Isaiah also warns those who are waiting for judgment that there still is time.
As long as it is called today. Repent. Come to Christ, as long as there’s time.


Click to download a Free Rainbow Scaffold Chart of ISAIAH 65 and 66.

**(See Separation Filters in Isaiah 7 | Isaiah 8 | Isaiah 9).


All quotes from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.

Isaiah 66 reveals Principles of the Prophets

It was in Isaiah that I first noted the repeated themes I’ve been showing here on my blog. The message God burdened Isaiah with was the same one every other prophet spoke, and the same message given by Christ and his apostles. The Principles of the Prophets are the themes of the Bible.

Isaiah by Colored Highlight

Take a look at Isaiah 66. Skimming down below, look at all the colors. Each verse tags one or more of the themes we’ve been discussing, and each color is addressed!


What Does This Mean?

While Isaiah’s message in this chapter is HUGE, and goes into depth on each of the Principles, we will discuss a verse or two under each category to show you how it works. (For a more advanced study, CLICK HERE.)

But as the Book of Isaiah touches on the theme, it builds the concept, giving facets uniquely apropros for the time it was delivered to the world.

The Who of God

Dark Blue: The Character of God

Who God is and how God is are shown by his self-declarations and his deeds, especially understood through the Bible.

Ex:  Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the LORD.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word (vv1-2).

The whole Bible is filled with a self-revelation of God, and as you see above, while it is substantially telling us the Character of God, it simultaneously taps into Grey/Light Green/Green/Light Blue. This is what makes Isaiah 66 so fundamental for understanding the Principles of the Prophets. The interwoven truths of Scripture: This is who God is and what he requires of man.

 

Purple: The Purpose of God

The Eternal Plan of the Ancient of Days is found in time words in the Bible: terms like “everlasting,” “for generations,” “age to age” reflect this plan from the beginning.

Ex: For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (vv.12-13)

“For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire” (v 15).

God’s purpose is single-fold, yet it has many facets. He intends to bring about a New Heavens and a New Earth populated with his people. This world, and all the good and bad we face, is all for this one purpose: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10), see Temple below.

In Isaiah we see God bringing comfort and peace to those who have become His People, and we see him dealing righteously and justly with those who continued in this life to reject Him and his offer of peace.

 

Green: Architect God

He weighs and measures our deeds and sets forth the plumb line in conscience and his Word. Green is for the Temple he is building, and the measuring methods he uses to test humanity for membership in that Temple.

Ex: The sound of an uproar from the city!
A sound from the temple!
The sound of the LORD,
rendering recompense to his enemies!” (v 6).

“For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the LORD,
so shall your offspring and your name remain” (v 22).

“For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many” (v 15-16).

Temple: The OT Temple was a shadow of the Temple God would build in his body and the body of Christ. Believers are the temple of God (1 Cor 6:19), as Christ’s body was also the Temple of God (John 2:19). God’s eternal Kingdom will remain forever, when death and rebellion have been destroyed.

Methods: Fire is commonly known to test the quality of metals, like gold. When we see Yahweh as an “unquenchable fire,” we will be pressed into two camps–those who dread and those who love. As his “offspring” (Acts 17:28), “begotten of God” (John 1:13), we have no fear of the fire of God, for Christ has borne our judgment (Isaiah 53). But Yahweh’s flames of rebuke and judgment meet others with a vastly different result (Rev 6:16).

Orange: Covenant God

Covenant is both a reflection of the Character of God and a Separation Filter. Yahweh keeps his people under his faithful, loving care, and his people will respond to him likewise in a committed, faithful way (John 14:15). To understand Covenant you must understand ancient Suzerain Treaties.

The Covenant is also a Separation Filter. Professing believers will show their love, in particular in the way they use their time, talents, and life (Eph 2:10). God-haters and atheists are given God’s people in the world as a test, and how they treat the Church reveals their heart toward God.

Ex: GOD: “As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies”
(v. 13).

LOVERSRejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her (v.5)

And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the LORD (vv. 19-20).

From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the LORD (v. 23).

HATERS“Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame” (v. 5).

In the whole counsel of Scripture there are certain undeniable facts:

First, Yahweh is with his people in a unique way. He is their protector and defender, he is their comfort and their joy.

Secondly, people who know Yahweh run to him in times of distress or times of joy, and live in a way that pleases him, the Sabbath or day-of-worship being a unique demonstration of that covenant-commitment.

And thirdly, God’s people become targets to haters because of their status with God (Is 66:5 & Ps 53:4).

Consequently, God will repay those who touch the “apple of his eye” (Ps 17:8, Zech 2:8). These are the three ways Covenant works: by God, toward God, against God.

Light Green: Heavens Declare

All things in nature find their source in the creative mind of God, so all aspects of science and reason are intended to teach us the character and nature of God, often as analogies.

Ex: “Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord”
(vv 1-2a)

“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;
he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck;
he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood;
he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol”
 (v. 3).

The created order declares the greatness of God. “By his hand” they have been made, and the more we know of the universe the greater we realize God is. Considering nature teaches us about God (Rom 1:20).

Killing a man, breaking a dog’s neck these are things we naturally cringe from, since they are written on our conscience as wrongs. Oxen, lambs, grain and frankincense are nice things that would normally be associated with a good gift. But in these verses we see that the analogies of nature make a strong point as to God’s disgust with offerings without the necessary relationship (see v.2b below)

Light Blue: Up is Down

The only way to know God is by going down. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. He requires humility and repentance, both requiring a submission to the manner God requires.

Ex: “But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word”
(v 2b)

The way to switch from Hater to Lover, from damned to blessed, is by going down. Return, repent, kneel, confess.

Repentance and confession of sins, falling at the feet of God who will judge you and asking for pardon by the blood of Jesus, if it is authentic and lasting, moves you from death to life.

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry” (Ps 2:12). This theme is the point of everything. This is why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

Each of us is being given a chance, every human who ever lived was given this chance (Rom 1:18-32).

Life gives us this chance, every Separation Filter (see below) gives us this chance to go Down.

The way UP (to God) is DOWN (in humility) and the way DOWN (to hell) is UP (in pride and self-sufficiency).

The Whys of Life

Yellow: Separation Filters

Life sorts people into two groups by their choices, and specific opportunities are given to force that choice, proving what that person is. General Separation Filters are those that clearly differentiate between two groups. Often we see Yellow with another color.

Ex: “‘These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations;
I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight.’

Hear the word of the Lord,
you who tremble at his word”
(vv 4-5a)

Here two groups are mentioned: those who have chosen their own ways and those who tremble at his word. While there is a heavy reference to Wisdom of the Wise (see below), we see the decisions they are making and the results that are sure to come. On the other hand, we see that God makes a differentiation with those who fear him.

Red: Wisdom of the Wise

How we answer the big questions and how we weigh the ungodly principles of this world sift us into a self-serving life or a deeper faith and trust of God’s Word.

Ex: “Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,
that we may see your joy’;
but it is they who shall be put to shame”
(v 5b).

Here those mocking God’s people reflect the stunted reasoning of their world. They make fun of God’s Covenant people who hope in God’s glory.But this hostile thought process proves they are no friend of God. In earlier verses, the reference to doing things the way the nations do things, especially with regard to sacrificing to idols, reveals them bending to popular “wisdom” that is not wisdom.

 

Pink: Pleasure

Good things in this world either pull us away into idolatry or draw us to God as the source of all joy and contentment.

Ex: “These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations” 
(v. 3b).

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”

For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.

As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants,

and he shall show his indignation against his enemies” (vv 10-14).

The first group delights in their abominations, the second group is comforted and flourishes because they are trusting in God, rejoicing with God’s “Jerusalem,” or heavenly kingdom (Gal 4:26, Heb 12:22).

 

Brown: Suffering

Pain and suffering in this world either push us into an atheistic anger against God or into a deeper trust of his ways.

Ex: “These have chosen their own ways,
and their soul delights in their abominations;
I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them” (vv. 3-4).

As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem (v 13).

“And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh” (v 24).

The Biggest Big Question is why we have to live in a suffering world. Believers suffer so they can turn to God for comfort.

In Isaiah 65, God repeated the either/or warnings to the nations and to those not following in the Covenant.

In Isaiah 66 we see the end result of their life of bad decisions. We no longer see suffering sifting them anymore. No more chances remain. Instead, we see that suffering they experienced was a message of impending judgment they never took to heart. And this is the last verse of Isaiah.


(For a more advanced study, CLICK HERE.)


All quotes from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.

Amos & the Principles of the Prophets, Ch 1-2

Amos Chapters 1 & 2

Noise from Heaven

“The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem…The pastures of the shepherds mourn and the top of Carmel withers” (v 2).

God is not pleased. The Day of Judgment has come…or has it? 

In Amos 1 and 2, God shows his righteous character and he warns those who are on the brink of destruction. Using the Principles of the Prophets, Amos instructs Israel how to escape the fires of hell.

The Character of God is clear, In verses 1:6, 9, 11, 13 and 2:1, 4, 6. “I will not revoke the punishment.” God will not allow sin to be overlooked.

But significant to this passage is the Hebrew for this phrase. Each time it occurs it literally says:  I will not turn it back.

Firstly, in this phrase we see the INEVITABILITY of the consequence. It’s not tied to the whims of God. It’s tied to something in a sense beyond God’s ability to control: pure Justice. It must happen that just consequences fall onto Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon, Moab, Judah and Israel.

Each of the judgments has a pattern: God says he will not turn it back, then he states their crime, then he gives the consequence. To Ammon and Moab he gives a longer consequence, most likely because they were the tribes coming from the sons of Lot, and they also knew better.

But to Judah and to Israel the crime section is much different.

First let us look at the crimes of the other nations who are not God’s covenant people.

Amos 1; click for zoom

The Crimes:

If you just look at the colors you can see that the crimes are brown (Suffering). They have hurt other people.

Damascus: “they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron

Gaza: “they have carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom

Tyre: “they have delivered up a whole people to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.”

Edom: “he pursued his brother with the sword and cast of all pity, and his anger tore perpetually and he kept his wrath forever.”

Ammon: “they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border.”

Moab: “he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.”

The Why Behind the Crimes

What do we learn about God’s requirements on the nations from these stated crimes? All men everywhere know to not do certain things.

Romans 1 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

…For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Heavens Declare the glory of God; through conscience and reason we know what God requires.

What do these verses say about the crimes against Israel’s neighbors? Anything against the Character of God will be punished, namely: injustice and lack of compassion and mercy.

The crimes listed show unjust responses in war. “Threshing” Gilead, “carrying into exile a whole people,” “delivering up a whole nation,” “pursuing with a sword,” “casting off all pity,” “ripping open pregnant women,” and “burning to lime the bones of a king.”

The nations were causing suffering upon other human beings.

The last one may surprise you, since cremation is tolerated and even encouraged in many churches today. But Moab’s crime for which they would receive an equally-strict judgment was cremating the remains of an enemy king.

It was dishonoring the body, disregarding essentially the image of God in the man, and actively decimating his physical presence on Earth.

All of these ultimately relate to having a warring spirit.

Why do people fight and war?

Dissatisfaction with their lot.

In modern times NATO countries get involved in wars to “protect our neighbor’s freedom.”  But this was not the case for these cursed nations.

They wanted what the other nations had. They wanted the spoils. They coveted, and were willing to kill and ravage in order to steal it.

The “covenant of brotherhood” mentioned to Tyre was most likely an actual covenant (see Joshua 9), but underlying this is the essential requirement God has laid upon mankind to look out for mankind, irregardless of national boundaries.

“Loving your neighbor” is written on the heart of man, being connected with God’s generosity toward humanity, and so the unloving actions and war instead, deserved irrevocable judgment.

Amos 2; click for zoom

Judah’s and Israel’s Crimes

In contrast to the nations’ crimes against natural law, Judah and Israel’s crimes are against God himself, against Covenant. Look at the colors Orange and Red for Judah, and so many other colors for Israel.

The text:

Judah: “they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes.”

Israel “in the house of God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.”

While the nations received a judgment for one or two Brown crimes, those who are supposed to be the People of God get many more crimes.

Judah not only has broken Covenant, she is charged with following the Wisdom of the Wise: “their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.”

Judah walked after the wisdom of the nations: idolatry.

Israel was lured into different crimes against God.

Israel was far down the path toward degeneration. Just like in the Sower and the Seed parable, Pleasures of this world proved the essence of her heart. Like weeds, Israel allowed pleasures to choke and kill off any love she had for God.

Amos, a prophet from Judah sent to northern Israel, lists for Israel:

a) broken Covenant (vv 8, 10-11),

b) touting the Wisdom of the Wise (v 12),

c) Causing Suffering on others (v 7) because of  their

d) selfish pursuit Pleasure (vv 6-8, 10, 12).

Selling the righteous for silver, the needy for sandals. Sexual perversion, contrary to the written Law of God, and trampling “the head of the poor into the dust of the earth.”

The crimes on Israel’s list are so many more than for the other nations. She is about to fall, but hasn’t yet.

Hope remains!

The Consequence of Fire

Seven of the consequences upon the eight nations are “fire.”

Damascus: “So I will send a fire.”

Gaza: “So I will send a fire.”

Tyre: “So I will send a fire.”

Edom: “So I will send a fire.”

Ammon: “So I will kindle a fire.”

Moab: “So I will send a fire.”

Judah: “So I will send a fire.”

But one different consequence stands out:

Israel: “Behold, I will press you down in your place.”

===========

To those who heard this prophecy “Fire” meant they themselves would be attacked.

“He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,” is how Jesus explained this, and  “With the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt 26:52, Matt 7:2).

“You reap what you sow,” is both a lesson Nature teaches us about the plant world, and a right inference about life choices.

The injustice and hatred the nations reaped would come back on them when the  “bigger fish” came their way to swallow them. Their own towns would meet that injustice by the next guy.

Fire is a universal fear. And fire is also a common symbol God uses in Scripture to reflect his hatred of sin. It brings to mind the verse in Isaiah:

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: ‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?'”(33:14).

God is a consuming fire, he will eternally burn up the unjust and wicked.

“Who among us can dwell…?” Is a right question. Sinners and the godless do right to tremble. The eternal soul knows it will face judgment upon death, and this eternal fire is one that must be faced.

So the warning of fire to the nations and Judah also warns of the finality of hell-fire.

But Amos was a prophet from Judah but sent to preach to Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II.

Israel has no fire promised, yet. They will be pressed down.

Verses 14-16 list the measurable strength a kingdom might trust in. Then it shows that these “strong things” are nothing against the measure of justice on its way from God.

“Pressing down” brings to mind the Alpha of pack animals establishing dominance toward those challenging it. This “opportunity to stay in the pack by submission” is a theme you will see in the upcoming chapters.

Israel still has a chance. They have time to repent and return (Up is Down). This is the message of Amos, as we will see in the next chapter.


The Principles of the Prophets are clear in Amos’s teaching, almost all of them found in the first chapter. As we read on we will see them listed and expounded on even clearer.

1 & 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7


All quotes from: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.

 

Intro: Principles of the Prophets (Writing on the Wall)

LONG AND SHORT

The Bible is about one thing: the Purpose of God for this world.

Within that purpose is a reflection of his Character and our need to conform to his requirements. God puts us into circumstances that prove our nature, whether we worship this world or him.

This proving I call Separation Filters, and include Heavens Declare, Pleasure, Suffering, Covenant, Wisdom of the Wise.

Belshazzar’s Feast (Rembrandt)

MENE MENE: MEASURED MEASURED

When the prophet Daniel saw the writing on the palace wall of Belshazzar, he knew immediately that the king’s time was up. The king had been “measured, measured, weighed and divided” (mene mene tekel upharsin).

Scripture shows we likewise are being measured, weighed and divided in our lives.


ARCHITECT GOD

The testing is part of the Architect God’s big purpose, for life and everything we face measures WHAT we are. God is building a New Heavens and a New Earth, which is to be populated by those whose lives show they have entered into Covenant.

As you read about these themes in Scripture you will recognize Separation Filters in your own life, consequently answering those Big Questions of life.

Daniel preached what all the prophets have preached since the beginning. The parables of Christ are all about this same thing.

You have this ONE LIFE to “measure up” to God’s expectations.

But what you must find is God’s measure is far too difficult to achieve. Your failure must to lead you to the idea of UP IS DOWN.


 

THE COLORS OF SEPARATION FILTERS

The principles which the prophets have been teaching since the beginning, and which are likewise written on the walls of our hearts, can be discovered clearly over and over in Scripture. I recommend highlighting these as you find them. The highlighting method I call Rainbow Scaffold.

The following links can introduce you to the idea and how it clarifies your understanding of the Bible, and helps you answer the Big Questions of life.

Introduction to Rainbow Scaffold

Rainbow Scaffold by Book of the Bible

Rainbow Scaffold by Theme

Resources about Writing on the Wall:


Rainbow Scaffold (Theme)

Rainbow Scaffold Verses


Organized by Theme

click theme below for information on and examples of each Rainbow Scaffold theme.


 

 

Purple: The Purpose of God

The Eternal Plan of the Ancient of Days is found in time words in the Bible: terms like “everlasting,” “for generations,” “age to age” reflect this plan from the beginning.


 

 

Dark Blue: The Character of God

Who God is and how God is are shown by his self-declarations and his deeds, especially understood through the Bible.


 

 

Orange: Covenant God

He keeps his people under his faithful, loving care, and his people are to be responding to him likewise in a committed, faithful way.

The People of God respond to Covenant a certain way–in trust and obedience. God-haters respond to Covenant a certain way–in assaulting God’s people and in blaspheming. So God’s Covenant also functions as a Separation Filter.


 

 

Green: Architect God

He weighs and measures our deeds and sets forth the plumb line in conscience and his Word.


 

 

Yellow: Separation Filters

Life sorts people into two groups by their choices, and specific opportunities are given to force that choice, proving what that person is.


 

 

Pink: Pleasure

Good things in this world either pull us away into idolatry or draw us to God as the source of all joy and contentment.


 

 

Brown: Suffering

Pain and suffering in this world either push us into anger toward God and atheism or into a deeper trust of his ways.


 

 

Red: Wisdom of the Wise

How we answer the big questions and how we weigh the ungodly principles of this world sift us into a self-serving life or a deeper faith and trust of God’s Word.


 

 

Light Blue: Up is Down

The only way to know God is by going down. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. He requires humility and repentance, both requiring a submission to the manner God requires.


 

Light Green: Heavens Declare

All things in nature find their source in the creative mind of God, so all aspects of science and reason are intended teach us the character and nature of God, often as analogies.



Often these themes overlap within one verse and need more than one color. 

Many passages in Scripture include all of the colors. In fact, Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, Colossians 2, and many of our favorite chapters in the Bible are concentrated with all of the rainbow scaffold themes.

It resonates because these are the themes the Spirit has been teaching us all along, and it’s chock-full of it all.

Click any of the themes above for further study of these amazing themes of Scripture.

Rainbow Scaffold in Ecclesiastes

WRITING ON THE WALL SERIES: Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

Rainbow Scaffold in Ecclesiastes

The Rainbow Scaffold is a term I have given to the consistent principles taught in Scripture. These strands were understood by every inspired writer, and the teachings of each book of the Bible match these overarching themes.

It is so prevalent I have begun highlighting my Bible to show the woven colors of God’s themes.

Following is an explanation of the Rainbow Scaffold, with sample verses from Ecclesiastes.


The Who of God

Dark Blue: The Character of God

Who God is and how God is are shown by his self-declarations and his deeds, especially understood through the Bible.

Ex: Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few” (Ecc 5:2).

Ex: “I have perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Ecc 3:12-13).

 

Purple: The Purpose of God

The Eternal Plan of the Ancient of Days is found in time words in the Bible: terms like “everlasting,” “for generations,” “age to age” reflect this plan from the beginning.

Ex: “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecc 3:10-11).

 

Green: Architect God

He weighs and measures our deeds and sets forth the plumb line in conscience and his Word.

Ex:“Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Ecc 11:9).

Ex: “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted” (Ecc 1:15).

 

Orange: Covenant God

He keeps his people under his faithful, loving care, and his people are to be responding to him likewise in a committed, faithful way.

Ex: “Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecc 5:19).

Ex: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ec 12:13).

 

Light Green: Heavens Declare

All things in nature find their source in the creative mind of God, so all aspects of science and reason are intended teach us the character and nature of God, often as analogies.

Ex: “The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again” (Ecc 1:6-7).

 

Light Blue: Up is Down

The only way to know God is by going down. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. He requires humility and repentance, both requiring a submission to the manner God requires.

Ex: “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow” (Ps 7:12).

Ex: “It will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God” (Ecc 8:12-13)*.

 


The Whys of Life

Yellow: Separation Filters

Life sorts people into two groups by their choices, and specific opportunities are given to force that choice, proving what that person is.

Ex: “For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God” (Ecc 2:26)*.

 

Pink: Pleasure

Good things in this world either pull us away into idolatry or draw us to God as the source of all joy and contentment.

Ex: There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” (Ecc 2:24-25).

Ex: “Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, ‘For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?’”(Ecc 4:7)*.

 

Brown: Suffering

Pain and suffering in this world either push us into anger toward God and atheism or into a deeper trust of his ways.

Ex: “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecc 7:14)*.

 

Red: Wisdom of the Wise

How we answer the big questions and how we weigh the ungodly principles of this world sift us into a self-serving life or a deeper faith and trust of God’s Word.

Ex: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God” (Ecc 8:11-13)*.


Several of these verses overlap, and would need more than one color. I’ve starred these above. Certain phrases within a larger passages emphasize the architect God or highlight suffering.

Many passages in Scripture include all of the colors. In fact, Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, Colossians 2, and many of our favorite chapters in the Bible are concentrated with all of the rainbow scaffold themes. It resonates because these are the themes the Spirit has been teaching us all along, and it’s chock-full of it all.


Click below to see a video about this.

Jesus Tackles All the Principles of the Prophets (Matt 23+) 5

The Rainbow Scaffold in Matthew, part 5

 (Light Green)

We have seen in previous pages that in Matthew 23-24 Christ warns people to repent, to take heed of the state of their souls. He shows that God uses his people to prove the hearts of the nations. Yahweh’s plan is moving forward, his measuring is sure.

Now we see that all creation is in on the story.  In all of Scripture we see that the natural world holds out for us a great message about God. We can see God’s character from reason and from proper consideration of the Earth and of the universe we live in.

The reaction of the sun, moon, and stars in verse 29 is almost a form of mourning. The darkening of the sky, the falling of stars, the shaking of the heavens, all of these are well-known portents of doom. These and more are “signs of the Son of Man.” Christ was born of woman, made of flesh and blood. He is of this earth. And yet he is of God, eternally-begotten of the Father. He is of God, fully and equal to God in his divine essence.

This is the one who will come on the clouds of heaven. This one-like-us, who now is bound to a resurrection body as we will have. This One comes with power and divine glory, and the angels of God announce him.



(Green)

God who is building his eternal temple through the church, who is measuring and weighing mankind as evidence that his people are indeed his people, this God finally gathers his elect “from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (v.31).

Do the angels know who God’s elect are?

Absolutely. It is clear from the books that have been written, it is clear from their habitual deeds (see v. 46). God’s people are not making it to heaven by their deeds. They made it into the camp of Covenant people through bending, through repentance (Up is Down, light blue).

But the evidence of the camp they are in is their deeds. The inside of the cup has been washed, by the blood of the Lamb. They are like Noah who entered the ark (v 37) while the rest of his generation was satisfied with their own wisdom (Wisdom of the Wise, red, v.38).

The blindness, the unawareness (v 39), resulted in their WOE. They were swept away because they did not heed the Ark, which was being built in front of them (Architect, green).

(Dark Blue)

While the entirety of Scripture teaches us the Character of God, often we see a clearly defined picture of the-way-God-is. In verse 35 this is what we see. Jesus Christ is declaring that he himself is the Eternal Word of God, and that his spoken words are equal to Yahweh’s eternal words.

What does that do to you? Does it send you into the apathetic camp? Or does it send you onto your knees in grateful devotion?

Choose this day. How does it filter you?

Final Word-This Present Happy Hell

The book of Matthew is not done, the sermon is not over.

Three parables remain (all of them “all or nothing” Separation Filters, yellow). After the Great Summary of Judgment Day, the scene drastically changes and we Behold His Love. We will discuss these in another series.

But here Christ prepares us for the ultimate proof of life being about Separation Filters by verse 45 and following:

Do what you’re supposed to be doing,” says Christ.

It will go well for you if you do. And, as he says in John 14:23, if you love him you will be obeying him. This is the evidence of a life of faith: obedience. We are saved by grace, by faith. But faith without deeds is dead.

Time tests us; life is a test; this delay between Atonement and Judgment Day is testing us.

Do what you’re supposed to be doing, even if it seems the master is not coming. Verses 38 and 49 warn us of the wrong kinds of attitudes and priorities. “The love of most will grow cold” (24:12). How’s your love?

This Happy Hell we live in is filled with beautiful things. Like Vanity Fair in Pilgrim’s Progress, there are many things to lull us away from faithful following of Christ.

Is Christ your only joy? Is he your great treasure?

Purple, Green, Orange, Light Blue, Light Green, Dark Blue, Yellow, Pink, Brown–all these represent circumstances in life that are weighing, testing, and sifting whether or not you love God.

What you are is proven by your deeds.

What do your deeds say about you?

Where do you place your hope?

What do you love? 

What are you? 


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5