Market, Money, Time and Faith Porn Fiction

I am in the process of writing a very fun sci-fi suspense trilogy. I call it Pogland. Fun and challenging and time-consuming (which is why I’ve been off of social media). 

If you know me, you know I have some strong views on the role theology needs to play in fiction. I came across a Christian sci-fi/fantasy: “How to write and be published” video this morning which at first I was thrilled about, but soon found to be very disturbing.

I was flabbergasted! What a role money plays in the Christian publishing industry!

Now I understand not everyone can write just to write, or write what needs to be available. Or publish just any book. Publishing comes down to the bottom line, profit.

On a secular forum board recently a writer posted that they were nervous about having to write a sex scene for the very first time. Instead of just saying nothing, I replied. I suggested that he didn’t actually need to bend to the bandwagon. If he’d never felt the need to write such a scene before, he could still write an excellent book without it. And even appeal to a larger audience because he didn’t.

As a Christian, by my comment I meant so much more. But secular fiction is moved by secular values. And he wants to write what sells.

It’s the same for “Christian” fiction. Christian fiction is moved by Christian dysfunctions.

Now it might be true that dysfunctional marriages lead Christian women to escape into “Christian” romantic fiction. But that’s not always the case. Strong Christians read and write Christian romance novels.

Francine Rivers and Redeeming Love is the epitome of Christian faith fiction. I am also especially appreciative of authors Elizabeth Maddrey and Chautona Havig‘s real-life Christianity in the context of their romance stories.

But theirs is not the common denominator in Christian fiction. The common denominator is a dummied-down nominal Christianity. That’s where the money is.

  • For people who don’t want to grow in their faith through their time in fiction.
  • For people who don’t want to be challenged in their free time.
  • For people who want only to be entertained.

 .

Dysfunctional faith leads people to escape into borderline fiction.

Dysfunctional faith will earn a writer money. Take Love Comes Softly as an example. It’s a great series, but it’s great in a “it’s not dirty” kind of way. It’s wholesome. But is that what we should be doing? Is that ALL we should be doing? 

Just writing Little House on the Prairie Christianity? Wholesome fiction, get-away, beach-reads? Escaping from this world and its duties fiction? 

Case in point, alcohol is a gift from God.

The book of Proverbs and the gospels show us that wine is a gift for man to enable them to get a buzz, a bit of euphoria. That buzz helps us get through the low times of life, through the busy, hectic times of life. I live in Europe where the view on alcohol is not burdened by the judgmentalism of the Prohibition movement.

But while alcohol is a gift from God, we see as early as Noah’s time, that getting drunk is shameful. Too much alcohol is a sin. Elders and deacons and their wives are measured by this. And their standards are our standards. Not just “if” you want to be in leadership, their standards are the bare-minimum for the mature faith.

So too much alcohol–too much of this world–is a sin. Just as too much reading or too much entertainment is a sin. If it produces nothing but entertainment, it’s overdosing on buzz.

Do I have a Bible verse to back up this rant?

Yes. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sins of omission.

How is reading frivolous wholesome fiction a sin of omission?

Because you have not used those hours of your life for the betterment of your relationship with God, or the betterment of the world.

The two greatest commandments, upon which the Law and the Prophets rest

It’s like sleeping your life away, and while sleep is necessary, and we can even say rest is necessary, oversleeping is a waste of the most precious resource we have: Time.

On the interview I mentioned earlier, the publisher said they are not looking for books with overt Christian message, but only those with a hidden Christian message. They intend to be cross-over books. As an example, she says, read any of Christ’s parables.

We don’t want Christian words, she says, we don’t want Christian messages. No conversions. No preaching. We want…good wins over evil, and be kind to others. Oh, and werewolves and vampires are okay, as long as they are the bad guys.

I couldn’t watch the rest of the interview.

I asked my husband, why is it that they want books that do not grow the reader in their faith through fiction? Why do they want hidden faith, covert messages?

Money, he said. That’s where the money is. It’s how the market of Christian fiction has to function.

And so we come to the faith porn industry. To make money, Christians sell out message for money.

Well I suggest that when Christianity loses its message, it ceases to be Christianity. “Authors have to make a living,” they may say. So they prostitute the name of Christ, and promote a lie.

When the message is traded out for things that are universally acceptable, like “good wins over evil,” it takes the beautiful name of Christ and drags it into the dregs of common-ism. It makes light of the cross. It should cease to use the name of Christ in its label and should be honest and upfront. It is moralistic worldly wisdom. Humanism.

To use the parables of Christ as an example of how to hide the message forgets the very cut-throat effect of his parables.

  • I am the good shepherd, read the message: “I myself am Yahweh of Ezekiel 34!” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • A certain man built his house on sand, another on rock, read the message: “My words are equal to the entire Law and the Prophets, if you reject me you reject God himself.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • The prodigal son looked at the pigs around him and fled home, read the message: “You religious leaders have no compassion for the lost.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.

.

The parables are not happy wholesome secret messages. They are cut-throat. They divide between self-righteous God-haters and trembling beggars kneeling before God. Separation filters, each of them. Sorting people. Left and right, like sheep and goats.

Yes, we need more Christian science fiction and fantasy. But not by circumcising the gospel out of it.

I’m not saying I’m the best author who knows how to do this perfectly. I am not. I tried with Trunk of Scrolls, and for what it is I think my story’s beautiful.

But I have a vision, “I have a dream,” you could say, that Christian fiction would be a way for Christians to use their down time to be entertained into new growth in their faith. New avenues they hadn’t considered. New insights into the beauty of Christ.

I know it’s not only me who talks with others about these things. Bringing Heaven’s eternal conversations into the here-and-now.

I know what it’s like to build faith in someone face to face. Can’t we make the Christian fiction industry into THAT kind of thing?

So I’m starting a list of writers whose works are not ashamed of the Christian message and promoting true Christ-loving life. Please post the names of this caliber of author below along with titles you recommend, and add a blurb about why you think this qualifies. 

Thanks! 

–Darlene


“I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” Jewel the Unicorn in C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Worldling

 

“It is the folly of most men, to mind and pursue that which is for the body and for time only, more than that for the soul and eternity.” Matthew Henry

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 

And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Source: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

regarding Luke 12:13-21

at https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/12-14.htm

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.

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 Secret Filter of Suffering

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,
    whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.” 

JEREMIAH 17

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.

PSALM 46

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.

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.