You Are What You Do

SEPARATING SHEEP FROM GOATS

Separation filters are things in this life that prove what you are. They are tests, opportunities, situations, scenarios that require you to take a step one way or another. The step you take shows what you are.

In Biblical Hebrew there is no distinction between the being and the doing. How we BE is WHAT we are. And we ARE what we DO. Food for thought.

Habakkuk 2:4

“Behold, his soul is puffed up;
it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.

The righteous shall live by his faith—each of these words work together to emphasize the deep point of this verse. It is so significant, it is quoted three times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

1. THE

THE righteous (as opposed to those whose soul is puffed up) is the one who is humble, who trembles at His word. Not A righteous man–meaning anyone who does things that would be considered right. A pulls the point away from the covenant context.

Instead it says THE–as in the ones we have already spoken of, the ones the entire Bible is speaking of. God’s ones.

2. RIGHTEOUS

In this passage especially, the righteous refers to those who are NOT the cause of the punishment on Israel. The RIGHTEOUS is used as a noun and an adjective. The adjective represents the class of individuals. This class is known by their deeds. 

“In Western thought, we are taught to make a distinction between what a person does and who he is. However, in Hebrew, it is difficult to articulate that distinction.” (Rabbi Berger) You are what you do.

3. SHALL

This form is often used by Jesus when referring to things that will happen anyway. It is a statement, not a command. If you love me, you will keep my commands. You will certainly. See John 14:12, 23-24 compared with John 15:10–the keeping and the doing are connected with the essence of the person. As Jesus said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him [the Father].”

Shall-“used to say that something certainly will or must happen, or that you are determined that something will happen.” The separation filter pivots on this word. The righteous will be this way, sure as the sun will rise. (See above).

4. LIVE

How does one live? Shall-live is actually the Hebrew word. So what is meant by living? As seen above, living is the way we exist. What we do, in life, is what we are. How we BE is WHAT we are. Living is abiding, it is the use of our breath and heartbeat. A tree exists, and does what a tree does.

There are ultimately two kinds of people, God’s people and not-my-people. The righteous-being  and the unrighteous-being. So what of those who live righteously before men but not humbly before God? Are they righteous or unrighteous? This is where the next section comes in.

5. BY

There are many angles that can be represented with the word “by.” The agent, the method, the position, not-later-than, part of a measurement, during or within.

Agent: by VanGogh, by a thermostat

Method: by train, by herself

Position: by her side

Not later than: by five o’clock, by dinner

Measurement: ten by ten, by the hour, minute by minute

During, within, according to: by night, by nature, fine by me

So how does one live “by faith” Which kind of by?

Is faith the agent, the faith enables the living?

Is faith a method, the faith brings the person to living?

Is faith a position, the person lives next to the faith?

Is faith a goal, in that a person finishes living if he arrives at faith point?

Is faith a measurement, in that living happens from faith to faith?

Is faith a comparative measure, in that the action of living happens within the state of faith?

In Hebrew, the proposition is connected to the word faith. It is not a separate word as it is in English. So “by-his-faith” is one word.

6. BY-HIS-FAITH

Interestingly, the exact same phrase by his faith occurs only in one place in Scripture, and this is a very relevant place.

Ps 96:12-13: “let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness

Here, it’s a measure by which something is judged, and it is a state of being and a means. In Ps 96, the peoples will be judged by means of God’s faithfulness and because of God’s faithfulness.  Of Ps 96:13, Matthew Poole in his commentary writes, “With his truth; or, in his faithfulness, i.e. so as he hath promised to do. He will certainly and abundantly fulfil all God’s promises made to his people.”

Using the same implications, the righteous will live by means of their faithfulness. The righteous will live in the state of fulfilling their covenant-promises.

The righteous shall live-by-faith.

The righteous ones will most assuredly be characterized by a certain manner of faithful-covenant-keeping-abiding.

New Testament Ethics

Jesus Christ lived-the-faith God required, for me. He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

And since he also died the death-I-deserved, for me, my faithful-covenant-keeping-abiding in Christ will count me as one of “the righteous.”

This is why Paul said that Abraham was justified by faith…

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Romans 4:3-8).

But James as well can say the seeming-opposite, that Abraham was justified by works…

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God (James 2:18-23).

The righteous are saved by their faithful-covenant-keeping-abiding in Christ.

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.

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.

 

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.

(video) Big Questions 2: What Has God Written on the Wall?

This world is filled with Big Questions.

People who know their God can understand the Big Questions, like Daniel could read the Writing on the Wall: “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.” God wrote two books. Both books give the same message, both together answer all of the Big Questions of life.

–Video 2 in the Writing on the Wall (Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin) series, unlocking the Big Questions

–How can we know God? If the Bible is a self-revelation of God to man, what does he say about himself through the Bible? Why do some people hate the God of the Bible, and others adore him?

We will investigate in this video series thematic lines running through the Bible. We will learn to highlight the amazing continuity of these 10 ideas God is conveying to us. Since the goal of reading the Bible is knowing God and since this is why he gave us a book, knowing who he is and his purpose and plan for the world is foundational.

This second video introduces the Big Questions in light of God’s 10 strand “rainbow-scaffold” of self-revelation in the Bible.

SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel today. Don’t miss any episodes.

(Video) Big Questions 1: How Can I Know God?

 

This world is filled with Big Questions.

About God. About our Future. About Suffering and Grief and Disaster. About Religion and Morality. About Love and Hate. These Big Questions assault us from every angle, and never leave us alone. Like Belshazzar who saw the confusing writing on the wall, these Questions need an answer, and we want a reliable and true and undebatable answers.

–Video 1 in the Writing on the Wall (Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin) series–

How can I know God? Why is he hiding? Why do we need the Bible? Why is there suffering in this world? This video introduces the Big Questions and how to find the answers to them.

SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel today. Don’t miss any episodes.

Quora: What Does God Get from Making Man?

Quora: Why did God make the universe, anyway?

This is such a good question. Not only what does God “gain” from us, but why is that even RIGHT?

So one day we will ALL tell us how great and wonderful he is.

We will either actively and eagerly tell him how kind, loving, patient, compassionate and wise he is…

or we will passively tell how holy, just, and patient he was with defiant US.

Read on…