Take a look at this study of John 13, an article I wrote for Modern Reformation Magazine. May it strengthen you and build you in our mutual faith as you consider the spiritual principle of UP is DOWN.
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.
“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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Reformation Day Fun
>> Both with White Horse Inn Easter Eggs <<
Some monk has been seen nailing a paper to a church door. Get the 411 LIve on Channel 7 News.
2. Luther, the Blue Portal, & the Pea-Green Coat Guy
by S. Nicole Bocek
Join the time travel adventure, in this serial novel:
Chickens, Boaz and Tears: Three Things that will Save your Eternal Life.
Have you ever seriously considered the verse, “Away from me, I never knew you!” ?
The Lord Jesus uses this warning in Matt 7:21-23 to show that not everyone who thinks they are saved will actually be saved.
But have you ever thought that MAYBE you might hear those words from the Lord’s lips? Does the thought strike fear into you?
In our Social Studies class this month we are studying the American Colonial times, and of course the Salem Witch trials come up. Many people accused of witchcraft were excommunicated from the Church, namely being told they were no longer saved.
In our PostChristian environment today, most people don’t give credence to the right of the Church to excommunicate its members.
But Scripture shows the authority Spirit-filled church leaders have to turn their members “over to Satan.” So those in 1692 Salem accused of witchcraft and their families all believed the convicted had likewise been deprived of salvation.
Can that happen? Really?
Another big question is about the “unforgivable sin.” Maybe you think you have committed it. You may be asking yourself, “Have I committed the unforgivable sin? Is what I have done too big now for Christ to forgive?”
What do I have to do to lose my salvation? What does one look like who will hear on Judgment Day, “Away from me, I never knew you”?
Or, more likely what you are asking, “How can I make sure that’s not me?”
I have good news for you today. You can know and be sure that you will never be discarded by God. You can have certainty. But it is costly and it is hard.
The answer is in the idea: Up is Down and Down is Up. But to understand this, we must understand Covenant.
A key aspect of the Bible, God’s Covenant with us, is expressed vividly in the Old Testament. Nature provides many examples of God’s principles (because Heavens Declare the glory of God).
One of the most poignant images, used repeatedly in Scripture, is that of the wings of God, which metaphorically represent his protective covering.
Behold what Psalms says:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
…for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
…for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he spoke of his desire to bring comfort and safety to God’s people. He used the same imagery used of God in the OT.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
The word for wing is also the word for garment. In Hebrew the word is kanaph (כָּנָף).
So we see in Ezekiel 16:8:
I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.
The Sick Woman
The story of the sick woman taps into this same imagery.
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”
And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Reasons for the sick touching the edge of Christ’s robe.
Several places in Scripture show us the thought behind sick people trying to touch Christ’s garment.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'”
As we saw above, the Hebrew word for robe matches the word for wings, repeated many times in the Psalms. Taking hold of Christ’s robe was an ancient analogy for “attaching oneself to the party of his lord.”
They were humbling themselves before God, asking for mercy.
Down is Up. This is another way of saying “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:6, NIV).
Bend down, bow, kneel, humble yourself…admit you are inadequate to the task…confess that HE is your only hope. Go down. God gives grace to the humble. But he opposes the proud. (1 Pet 5:5, James 4:6). Up is Down and Down is Up. If you go UP–if you insist on doing it your own way, sure you can do it yourself, lifting your chin and defying your need for God, that is the surest way “DOWN” to death and destruction, in the end.
But if you go Down, he will lift you Up.
Which means he will bring you into his eternal Covenant.
Nowhere is this more clear than the story of Ruth and Boaz.
The Book of Ruth holds the greatest clue for us, showing the relationship between redemption and the edge of the garment. Showing the certainty of the Covenant.
It’s a strange story, and one scandal-seekers love to point at while wiggling their eyebrows. But Ruth’s visit to the threshing floor was a demonstration for us of what a kinsman-redeemer is for humanity.
The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
Already, Boaz had raised the topic of coming under the “wings” of God. Now, Naomi encourages Ruth to demonstrate the need for Boaz’s specific “wings,” as her protector, redeemer, and savior.
[Boaz] went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
She had put herself under the edge of his garment. She desired covenant.
She desired him to be her guardian, her lord, her escape from a helpless situation.
Do you See it Yet?
It’s your only escape. The world may condemn you, they may falsely accuse you, or rightly accuse you. You will also accuse yourself of committing the unforgivable sin.
But where is your hope?
We will never live up to the life Christ lived. That’s the reason we needed a Savior.
But where is your hope?
Do you, after needing Christ for salvation, now attempt to reach perfection by works? (Gal 3:3) It won’t happen. We will produce fruit only as the Spirit enables us. As we abide we will be changed into his image.
But we are all going to fail this broken world.
You will have some up days, and down days. But as Billy Graham said, most of life is the valleys. We are not building our kingdom here. This broken world is not our home. We have hope in a kingdom not built by human hands. (Heb 11)
And when we consider Judgment Day…
…when we consider if he might could possibly accuse us of not being his,
…there is only one safe place to be found.
There is only one place to hide safely:
One vantage point from which to view the Great Assize, the Great Courtcase.
HIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.
PULL HIS GARMENT OVER YOU AND HIDE.
Hide from sorrow. Hide from failure. Hide from the law of sin in you waging war against the law of grace.
He is our only hope.
Under his wings we will find refuge. Hide under the edge of his garment.
On Judgment Day, DIVE DOWN under his garment. For under his wings you will find refuge. Under his wings you will be safe.
So What About Being a Witch?
We all are witchy. We, none of us, will ever satisfy God completely and thoroughly. We are broken people in a broken world.
Say to yourself out loud, “I am not my hope.”
They will not be pleased with you. Your righteous desires will not be pleased with you. God will not be pleased with “you.”
But when the Father sees you, hiding there under the shadow of Christ’s garment, hiding under Christ’s righteous garment, he’ll shine his face on you.
That’s where the Father and the Son and the Spirit wanted you all along.
For more amazing Bible verses on this topic, click here: Shadow of the Almighty
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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)*.
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)*.
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)*.
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.
The Rainbow Scaffold in Matthew, part 1
I love it when all the Principles of the Prophets, or the whole Rainbow Scaffold, is found in one passage.
Here, in Matthew, just before the events of Passion Week, Christ has a final word. He lays it all out.
The Lord begins this section with WOES upon the scribes and the Pharisees. Starting here, he tags each of the Rainbow Strand principles. The OT Woes against Israel and the nations around at the time were saturated in these same ideas: beware, Judgment Day is nigh. The measures God uses to weigh and test the heart are laid out by Christ here in Matthew.
Christ is saying what had been said all along.
Jesus begins this passage by supporting both Scripture and the teaching of it. But he criticizes the methods of the scribes and Pharisees. They burdened the people with “hard to bear” weight of obedience without understanding the heart of the law.
For the Pharisees, deeds made you right before God.
The Lord Jesus counters this idea here and in the following two chapters. He teaches rather that your actions and intentions reveal whether or not you love God. They do not in themselves make you right with God. True good deeds are proof of the presence of something else: love.
The Pharisees attempted to be justified by their deeds, but the opposite resulted: a righteousness contest they would automatically fail. Proverbs 16:18 says simply: “Pride comes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction” (Up is Down, light blue) .
Christ begins this diatribe with an attack on pride, commending humility before God.
Many verses in Scripture repeat this idea: by going DOWN, in humility and repentance, we will find grace in the sight of God.
For the scribes and Pharisees, their pride was the great thing they needed to repent of. Because Up is Down. By going up in self-exaltation, they ended up brought low. The next verses Christ calls them out as “whitewashed tombs,” “hypocrites,” “serpents, brood of vipers.”
Imagine you are a God-fearing scribe or Pharisee and Christ says this to you. Imagine he is saying this to you today. How do you see his words? Are you angry, denying that he has a right to say this to you? “Who are you, Jesus of Nazareth, to insult my godliness? I’m as good as the next guy. God will have to forgive my sins. What does he expect, anyway?”
Or do you find in his words an ECHO of the Prophets? Do you look inside yourself and hunt down your hypocrisy and your dead-bones? Do his words bring you to your knees in fear and trembling?
What does your attitude say about you? Before God are you full of pride and self-confidence or full of humility and repentance?
The world values something different than humility. Light was the first thing God spoke into being. “Let there be light,” (Gen 1:1-3).
John 1 shows that the WORD and TRUTH was also LIGHT. And when Paul was chastised and called to repentance on the road to Emmaus, he was struck blind to show he was missing the light of truth. True wisdom aligns itself with God’s revelation, including truth of Christ.
On the other hand, the World’s Wisdom broadcasts what is contrary to God and his principles.
Christ says the scribes and Pharisees are blind. They are blind leading the blind, “blind guides.”
And yet he offers them hope. He gives instruction for how to come to the light: “Clean the inside of the cup,” (light blue again!).
For if they go UP in pride, continuing on that path, they will go DOWN, proving they are “a child of hell” (v.15). Up is Down but Down is Up.
For “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Prov 3:34, Gk).”
(Quora Question) As a Christian, what is something that God has said (in the Bible) that you disagree with?:
In Song of Solomon, which can be seen partly as an allegory to the relationship of Christ and the Church (*1), it is written
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you ()
We are caught, as Christians, in what is referred to as the “already/not yet” of history.
While God looks at me and sees only Christ’s righteousness (Rom 5:9, Phil 3:9, Rom 5:18, Rom 9:30, Rom 4:5, Gal 3:6-7). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” ()…
…yet I look at myself and do not see this. I feel like Paul in:
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing….So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!
So my greatest disagreement, because of this already/not yet, has to do with my dissatisfaction with the unholiness surrounding me, in my thoughts, in my actions, in my plans and ambitions. While God sees that I am “clothed in the righteousness of Christ,” I see the not-yet.
But this is what fuels my hope, my greatest desire. It is what propels me through this world, facing what comes. As John said—John who was the “last to go” of the apostles, who had to wait the longest of the 11 for that which was promised—
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2
(*1) seeby John Piper, esp p. 127.
What is True?
Have you ever wondered how we can really know what is true? Why do we have the world map with America and Russia at the top and Australia at the bottom? Somehow mapmakers agreed on a North Pole at the Top world map, and that is what we are used to. This map makes me dizzy.
Maps used to be very different than they are today. Here is a 16th century map of Turkey. It’s pointing the wrong way! Up is east! The SOURCE of this map graphic has some amazing old maps to take a look at. Perspective is everything.
UP & DOWN
But aside from cartography, a related question about UP and DOWN is how it is how many people view morality and ethics. Commonly voted “right” is right. Many questions are out there, wondering about the world and conscience. Having no UP and no DOWN, they have to scrape together their own answers.
With the common factor that GOD MUST HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
are two sites that struggle to make sense of a world with no up and down.
What is Conscience?
Conscience is an internal alarm system connected to the lifeforce of humankind that warns us when we cross a line.
While someone might say that society creates these rules, it disregards all outliers. If society determines right and wrong, and this is passed on to next generations through child-rearing and social pressure/stigma, it still does not explain why people object to that. Why did people in Nazi Germany speak against the momentum of society? Why did their standard not match society? “I was not raised to kill people,” they might answer. And yet they want the killing to stop. Because in us we believe those standards apply to others. “So the Nazis should not kill others in cold-blood, too.”
If someone claims that truth or right/wrong is relative, they can also not say that anyone else is ever doing wrong. You could train your own kids only, to pass on the information. But imposing any sense of right or wrong upon anyone else contradicts your claim. “But my disagreeing is social pressure/stigma.” If majority wins, any outlier should conform. Even if it is you.
Conscience warns of a consequence awaiting us. Can we trust Conscience? What Did Einstein Say about this?
Everyone needs to know which way is UP. Some people crawl through life, switching their ups and downs all the time. But there is no peace. It is chaos. And the voice of conscience is so loud.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? I look forward to your comments below!