Part 1 of 5
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, (John 10:)
There's a lot of things we hear in church and read in (and about) the Bible that when we stop to think about it, it makes no sense. Yesterday I was thinking about Jesus being the door, and I suddenly realized I don't know what that means. I have a general idea of what it means. In fact I have several ideas of what it might mean. Which of these ideas is the right one? Is any of them the right one?
Jesus has established His Church, His body, here on earth: Is He the door to the Church? I suppose He is, but is this what He's talking about?
Jesus said He's the door to the sheepfold. Yes, that's interesting, but just what does He mean by the sheepfold? We, that is the Christian, are sheep. That's what Jesus calls us. Does this mean the sheepfold is the Church? I suppose it does, or at least that would logically be one meaning we can take from what Jesus said. And if this is true, then the first statement, that is that Jesus is the door to the Church would also hold true.
Could Jesus mean He is the door to Heaven? I've always had a vague image of this. Jesus is the door, and Saint Peter is the door-keeper, the keeper of the keys. Hmmm. That doesn't sound so good now that I paint a picture of this in my mind.
Let's say Jesus did mean He is the door to Heaven: What is Heaven? Where is Heaven. This is another concept we just accept without giving it a second thought. Is Heaven somewhere up there in the galaxy do you suppose? Is Heaven a Spiritual realm? Is Heaven a space ship the size of the moon that's going to hoover over the earth some day? There's many concepts of what Heaven is like, and none of them (as far as I can see) are well thought out. In fact, I don't think they've been thought out at all.
That takes care of where Heaven is (actually, it only confuses the issue, we didn't learn a thing from what I just said). Now, just what is Heaven? Is Heaven some place we go when we die? Do we go there immediately upon death? Is that so? Then what about the Judgement? Do we go to Heaven for a while, then, when we're judged, face the possibility of having to spend the rest of eternity in that other place? Do baptized Christians go to Heaven without judgement as I've heard from many a pulpit? Hmmm. That brings to mind: Just what is a Christian? Is it someone who belongs to your church or denomination and no other? Is it everyone as the Universalists claim? Is it no one as the Humanists claim? Is it all the Fundamentalists regardless of how well they live the Christian life? Lots of Questions. And to tell you the truth, I don't hear an answer given that makes any sense being presented in the churches.
Jesus is the door: To what?
Let's take a look at the verses in the Bible where this concept is presented and see if we can decipher what Jesus is talking about when He says He is the door. (Warning: this was going to be a short and pointed study. It didn't turn out that way. It's quite long, and it has more diverse branches than a family tree possesses. Just so you will know):
12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:)
Have you considered the possibility that Jesus is referring to Himself as the gate in this application?
Jesus tells us about two paths the Christian can take in an effort to reach whatever He's referring to here. Is He saying these are the two paths a person can take to enter the Christian Church? Or could He mean this is the way people try to get to Heaven? Of course we've already covered this ambivalence (of our understanding) above. Whatever might be on the other side of this gate, I would say Jesus is telling those on the way that there is a wrong way and a right way to reach it. I would assume He is talking to those searching, and who call themselves Christian; not those who are sitting on the sidelines giving no serious thought to taking the trip, ie those we call "the world" of unbelievers.
Some people, in fact I dare to say a vast majority of those in the Church, are trying to get to wherever Jesus is talking about by taking the broad way. Just what does Jesus mean when He says the "broad" way? We think in terms of a wide street such as a freeway, at least that is what I've always pictured. But the word Jesus uses is one that means "spacious." My dictionary tells me that "space" means "a boundless expanse in which all objects exist and move." I think of the spacious skies, or the expanse of outer space when I hear the word "spacious." If this is what Jesus means, then that leave us with a great deal of freedom, allowing us to do anything we want and still think we're on the way to wherever the path may lead us. We have this message with us today, from the pulpits of many churches, that we can do whatever we want as long as....(fill in the blank). Many of the more modern churches (as well as many of the long-established traditional churches, the number multiplying like bugs in a jar) are falling to the sway of the tune the world plays which states that God no longer has any rules and is accepting everyone into His domain. Every church, regardless of the denomination, has some element of this thinking in its doctrine. If you deny this about your church, then you've not considered your church doctrine with any more intensity than you have what Jesus means when He says He is the door.
"Wide is the way that leads to destruction." Wide means "Spread out, flat." A flat road is easy to travel, and if that flat space is free of obstructions such as rules and people telling us what to do, and if we have lots of company on our journey, such a path might be an enjoyable one to make. Jesus says "many" are on this spacious, flat road they think is leading them to Heaven. Many people: What does Jesus mean when He says "Many"? The word many means "Mostly, largely, abundant." This sounds to me like a lot of people are taking this easy route thinking it will get them to the same place those who take the narrow, difficult way will get them. I kind of picture the Pied Piper as he marches along the road piping his pretty music with all the trusting children of the town following along after him, dancing and singing and having a gay old time. Only the Piper is working, and only he knows what is happening and where he's going. The others are all heading in the same direction, and enjoying the trip, but they are never going to return from their excursion. It's not a very accurate picture of what is being portrayed here, but I think it's a lot more accurate than the ones we've been taught from every other corner.
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Wherever this road leads, we see that few people are going to find the gate, or be able (or willing) to walk the narrow path it takes to reach this gate. The word "Narrow" means to "Crowd, afflict, trouble, throng, suffer tribulation." "Strait" means "Narrow from obstacles standing close by." "Few" we find means "puny," which according to the dictionary means "undersized."
We have a tendency to minimize these words and count them as being fairly close to the same. Many apples might be a basket full, and a few might be ten or so. I see the examples in the Bible and I find that God has a much more refined concept of few and many. Of Jesus' followers, His disciples, He had many thousands (He may have fed as much as a hundred thousand at one time, and at one place). And some of these "many" even tried to force Him to be their king. But when He went to the cross He had with Him only eleven of those many thousands. That to me makes the difference between many and few very broad indeed.
23Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:)
Again we see Jesus addressing the question of entering in. And the question presented to Him is very pointed: "Are there few who will make it?" Jesus used a different word here then He did in the other incident to answer their question; Jesus said "Strive" to enter in. What does strive mean? Strive means much more than the word conveys in the English. Strive means: "To struggle, contend with an adversary, compete for a prize, labor fervently." This certainly is not describing the easy path those who believe their bath gets them slippery enough to slide through the narrow gate, at least so it seems to me. Paul is one who made use of these very terms (the Greek definitions) when he tells us about his own efforts to walk the straight and narrow. Let's take a look at the words of Paul:
13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:)
Paul says he "presses" toward the mark of the high calling. This is interesting for two reasons: One, what does Paul mean by the High Calling? Isn't baptism enough to make it to the very top? Something to think about, but not pertinent to this study. The second thing to look at is the word he chose to use, that of "Press." Press in the Greek means "To pursue (from the root word "to flee"), follow after, suffer persecution." When I see the word "press" I think of someone pushing their way forward, like at a day-before-Christmas sale at Macy's. But we see this word carries with it much more involvement than merely trying to get a tidbit off a counter. Later we'll see this word used again, but the Greek word used is different.
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
In this passage Paul uses several words that Jesus used (according to their Greek meaning) in describing what it takes to reach the narrow gate. And did you notice that Paul said he wishes to avoid the possibility of being a castaway? Paul? A castaway? Have you given any thought to what that means? Don't you think it's worth looking into? I do, and I have. I suggest you do so as well.
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (1Tim 4:)
Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. That part about itchy ears always causes me to think of the churches in this day and age. Funny how that happens.
At the end of the race Paul feels confident that he has successfully completed the course. I think it took a little more than a dip in a pool and attending church once a week for him to have gained this confidence. If it requires even a thousandth of what Paul went through to make it to the winner's circle, then I'm afraid I will fall far short. Paul, as you may know, is a New Testament saint. He was not under the law, so we can't say his words and his actions do not apply to us the way we do those of Jesus, who we like to point out lived and taught before the cross. Jesus said the time of the Old Testament was "Until John." That tells me everything Jesus said is part of the New Testament, including the words of John the Baptist. If this were not so, then the baptism of John would mean nothing, which means Jesus was not properly baptized, and John's proclamation that Jesus was the awaited Messiah would mean nothing as well.
What do you think?
11But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1Tim 6:)
Is Paul saying that to acquire eternal life we must fight the good fight as he fought the good fight? That's what it seems to be saying to me. What happens if we don't fight the good fight? What happens if we don't even bother to get in the ring of contention? Isn't that what's taught in the churches today? Aren't we told that once we're baptized there's nothing to do but wait for a cloud to come pick us up? Some add a few "should do's," and "would be nice if you did's," but the bottom line is the same.
"And hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." We have a second issue being presented here. At the time of our baptism, and probably a few times after that when trouble happened upon us, we made certain promises to God. Do you remember those promises? It's so easy to remember and memorize the promises God has made us-ward, that is, promises to His faithful (which we assume ourselves to be, at least according to our own standards); but how easily we forget those promises we made to God. Jesus said:
25And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:)
What are the costs Jesus is talking about that is required to become His disciple? And just what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? For the last question, I think we can look into the lives of the Apostles to find the answer to that question. As to the costs, Jesus had just stated the costs required to be His disciple. Did the Apostles give up everything? We read:
27Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mat 19:)
Have you forsaken all? Are you expecting to sit on a throne where you will rule and reign with Jesus? Have you followed Jesus through His time of trials?
17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Rom 8:)
28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (Phil 1:)
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1Peter 4:)
7And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation ["Solace, comfort, entreaty" (similar to "Comforter")]. (1Cor 1:)
I hope you read these verses carefully.
The purpose of a Christian is to glorify God, just as did Jesus. And it's through suffering for His Names sake that glory is given to God. If we take part in the suffering of Jesus, even though we did not live in His time, the promise given to the disciples, that of being with Jesus and being glorified with Him, becomes our promise as well. I think it should be fairly obvious this promise is not given to those who are looking for their own glory, nor to those who are setting out the race on the bleachers nibbling potato chips.
When we became a Christian and was baptized we quoted some lines that bound us to Jesus, just as one would do at a wedding. In fact that is exactly what occurred, we became a part of the bride of Christ. We consider the wedding vow as something sacred, even in this day of loose morals. Should we expect our vows to God to be any less than those we make to a bride or a husband? The Israelites, when they came out of Egypt, made a grand promise to do all that God told them to do, to trust Him completely, and to rely upon His provisions. The result of keeping that vow was that they would enter God's Promised Land. They broke that vow many times, and many times they faced death and destructions. God has taken to Him a new bride, but the requirements have not changed. He still expects His bride to be pure and to obey His Words. (For a clearer explanation and illustration of what God expects of his bride, read the Book of Esther.)
How well are we fulfilling our promises? In fact, what's the chances we've completely forgotten those promises, if we even bothered to pay attention to them when we were uttering the words "before many witnesses"?
4When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 6Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? 7For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God. (Eccl 5:)
21When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. 22But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. 23That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth. (Deut 23:)
1And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded. 2If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. (Num 30:)
36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Mat 12:)
14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Wherever this road leads, we see that few people are going to find the gate, or be able (or willing) to walk the narrow path it takes to reach this gate.
16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Mat 20:)
37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Mat 9:)
I think one big problem we have in the Church today is we are taught that everyone who walks into the door and takes a dip is "Chosen," not realizing this is only the call, the vow, the beginning of a long and serious journey. Another problem the Church encounters and propagates is the notion that "Work" is a naughty word, and unnecessary to reach the Pearly Gates. Because of this we have many bystanders not knowing what to do, nor if to do, yet thinking they are in line to earn the wages of those who are bringing in the Lord's fruit to the barn.
In case you had forgotten, the words we're looking for are those that are derived from the word "Narrow" such as: to "Crowd, afflict, trouble, throng, suffer tribulation." And "Strait" meaning "Narrow from obstacles standing close by." And Strive meaning: "To struggle, contend with an adversary, compete for a prize, labor fervently."
8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:)
There's some important things to keep in mind about this passage that is easily overlooked. Jesus is talking to whom here? Is He talking to the Pharisees? Is He talking to those of the world not interested in what He has to say? Of course not. He's talking to His disciples, His Church. What is Jesus telling them, and in telling them, telling us, the Church as well? Let's look at that passage again:
8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10And THEN SHALL MANY BE OFFENDED, AND SHALL BETRAY ONE ANOTHER, AND SHALL HATE ONE ANOTHER. 11AND MANY FALSE PROPHETS SHALL RISE, AND SHALL DECEIVE MANY. 12AND BECAUSE INIQUITY SHALL ABOUND, THE LOVE OF MANY SHALL WAX COLD. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:)
Betray one another, hate one another, love wax cold. Doesn't this sound like the Church today? We have animosity toward those not of our denomination. The sermons are about how wonderful we are just as we are, not about loving God and one another with all our heart and sacrificing ourselves for the body of Christ. The words are there, especially in the songs we sing, but there is no action behind these words. What do we read about being judged according to our words? (Mat 12:37) Aren't our words also in our songs? Do you pay heed to what you say in song?
Iniquity will abound, and false teachers will arise teaching that this iniquity is ok in the eyes of God. This is the position so many of the churches take today. God said to remove every speck of sin from our life and the Church, and the preachers tell us that God can't see our sin because it's covered by the blood of Jesus. Many of the churches have gone to allowing any sinner to preach from the pulpit, and others to equate Jesus with Buddha and other such "manifested gods." Iniquity abounds, and the direction the church is taking is toward iniquity overcoming the Church. The Faithful seed will be a rarity, and will be pursued in order to obliterate it.
20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Mat 13:)
Those turning on one another are the Church, still in the Church, but not a part of the Church. We saw this turning on one another within the Church during the dark ages when people wanted to worship God another way other than what was prescribed by the church leadership. And we saw this hatred when those who were called "cults" wished to worship differently. And again we've seen this in what is called the Latter Rain movements that swept the land, only not as violent in their opposition. There's coming a day when the Church will once again turn violent against itself, and only those actually led by the Spirit will remain faithful, and they will be persecuted by the "Accepted" church of the day. Do you know what church that will be? Give it thought. This may very well involve you.
A second point to notice is that after this Great Persecution, the Tribulation, the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached. Isn't the Gospel being preached today? No, not by a long shot. Denominational doctrine is preached throughout the world, not the Gospel. But there will come a time when people will preach the Gospel rather than church rhetoric, but only those listening to God will hear it. It's being preached now, and it's very clear in the Bible, but I have yet to see anyone who can see it. I wish those who did would say so loud and clear, but it appears they keep it to themselves because they fear disapproval and rejection.
6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:)
God gives grace to the humble. I thought we were all given grace if we've been baptized. Doesn't humility come as a result of God working in us to perfect us? Isn't it God's job, through the Holy Spirit, to perfect us? I don't get such a picture in these verses, do you? Nor, I hate to say, do I see it in my own life. I have a big part to play in my own preparedness. The Holy Spirit does indeed do the work in our preparedness, as in the story of Esther. But notice, Esther was entirely compliant and asked nothing beyond what she was provided. I wish I were so obedient. And I hope you're as obedient and cooperative with the Holy Spirit as you think you are, and as you say you are in song. I really do. If you are, then pray for me that I can be obedient also.
Jesus said we would be persecuted, afflicted and killed. James seems to tells us we should afflict ourselves? Could he really mean we're to afflict ourselves?
29And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. (Lev 16:)
[A side note: did you catch that? I missed it in previous readings. On the 7th month, the 10th day, the High Priest will make atonement for us. We've been taught, at least so it's seems to me, that Jesus made atonement for us at Passover, the beginning of the harvest, that is, at the cross. Am I missing something? It looks like there's yet another concept to cover in yet another study in the future. When we seek to swim, we find the waters can become very deep indeed.]
James is telling us the same thing God told the nation of Israel from the very beginning. We know Jesus was the Passover lamb, but this Day of Atonement has not yet been fulfilled. I don't know how the preachers and the theologians get around this other than to say it does not exist any more. But I see it plainly in the Bible, and it's yet to come (See Rom 8:23; Eph 1:13,14,30; Heb 9:12-15).
Here we see here the Jews, the nation of Israel, the Holy Nation (all these we find in the New Testament the Church has now become), was to afflict their souls once a year. But James speaks as if we should do this all the time. What could this mean? I know the Bible doesn't conflict with itself, except in church doctrine. Let's see if we can reconcile these passages:
6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (Isaiah 58:)
So, there's a little more to afflicting one's soul then beating ourself over the head with a baseball bat. Jesus said:
36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)
All through the New Testament we read how we must love others. It's as if that is the kit and caboodle of the Christian Church. And if we love our neighbor as ourself, then are we not fulfilling the commandment to afflict our soul as James tells us to do, along with ridding our life of sin? ("and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh" see also James 1:24). Jesus said all the law and the prophets are fulfilled in loving one's neighbor, and in loving God with all our heart, so I would expect it is. Let's take a look at the word James used and see what we can learn (James 4:9 in case you had forgotten):
First, the word Jesus used when He said the Christian will be afflicted means: "Narrow, to crowd, trouble, suffer persecution." Isn't that interesting? Look at the number of words Afflict represents that are identical to the words we're looking up. Amazing.
The word used in the Old Testament means: "Abase, humble, submit, weaken." In this we have what James says we should do, to humble ourselves. Jesus also said the same thing:
35And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:)
Jesus further illustrated this point by washing the disciple's feet. And He said that's what we should do. Of course there's always going to be someone around who wants to prove how humble they are by washing the feet of others. They take great pride in their ability to be more humble than anyone else.
The word James used is different than any of the other words translated "Afflict." The one Jesus used is the one most often used, and there's a couple others that are also translated "Afflict." Let's see what James is really saying when he says we should be afflicted:
What James is telling us to do is to: "Be wretched, realize one's own misery." This certainly fits in with the other things he was telling us in his epistle. And it certainly tells us how humble we should be. But don't we hear from the pulpit that we're special in God's eyes, and that we're kings and priests, and king's kids just waiting for our inheritance? Do you see a conflict here? Do you think it's worth looking into this conflict to see what God really wants us to know about our condition?
24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom 7:)
Paul recognizes his condition, and freely admits to it. This is the Apostle Paul! If he considers himself wretched, just what should we be doing I wonder?
15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (Rev 3:)
Paul recognizes these things about himself. James said we should recognize these things in ourself. Do we do it? Aren't we taught that we're to see ourselves as special and saved and loved just the way we are, filth, wretchedness and all? Somehow I just don't find this in the Bible. Obviously somebody does. I guess it's all in who we choose to listen to.
The words used for "wretched" here, that God used and that Paul used, is the same one used by James in his epistle. This is just in case you think I might have slipped in something that can be translated otherwise.
10Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:)
Again more examples of affliction, suffering, and endurance.
I kind of see the modern church as a bunch of people sitting on the sidelines of a battlefield eating junk food and watching soap operas while calling the soldiers fools for doing what isn't necessary or desired by God. Hmmm.
22Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:)
Jesus is the door. What is He the door to? Is it the Kingdom of God do you suppose? Here we see we must "through great tribulation" (don't get this confused with the Great Tribulation. The Apostles went through their own tribulation, and it wasn't at the end of the world as we know it) in order to enter the Kingdom of God. It sounds like this is a must, like taking basic training in the military, if we want to be part of God's army. Jesus is a door, and He certainly experienced "Great Tribulation." And we learn that what Jesus is, and what He experienced, we are to be, and to experience, if we are to be a part of His body.
Again we have that reoccurring phrase "Endure to the end." In this instance it's expressed "continue in the faith." Does that conflict with the concept which says one can not lose one's salvation? I find a lot of verses that indicate such, but I guess it's all in what a person wants to see, and what they want to ignore. Hmmm.
1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 2:)
Why do we have to endure tribulation? We're told here why. For the same reason a soldier must endure basic training, as just described. And for the same reason the Israelites had to endure their wilderness training. And for the same reason the Apostles and Jesus had to go through tribulation. David, and Abraham had their tribulation designed to cleans and purify them. Job certainly had his purifying experience, and he was called "perfect," and this by God Himself. Should we expect any less for ourselves? Solomon and Rehoboam, Solomon's son, didn't experience the tribulation David did, and look what a mess their lives were.
No, it takes lots of soap and scrubbing to wash the humanity, the ego, and the Adam from us. If we listen to those who tell us otherwise, we'll stand before the throne with those we listened to.
15And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 16The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth ["Crowd oneself, seize, suffer violence"] into it. 17And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. (Luke 16: see Mat 11:12 where same Greek word is used)
It sounds like Jesus is describing a good thing. It might be seen that people are anxious to get into the Church. Do you see such a thing happening? I don't. I see a lot of people leisurely strolling into the churches and being convinced they can have everything they ever wanted by merely warming a bench once a week or so.
The picture I get is of people doing as the Pharisees did: They try to force the Scriptures to say what they want them to say, and make the church into that image. Earlier I used a picture of a sale at Macy's. I see the same picture here, that of people shoving others out of the way or stomping on them as they try to get through the narrow gate, doing it their way, not God's.
Did you notice that Jesus said the "Kingdom of God" is preached since John? What does that mean? Have you heard a sermon on this subject? Jesus uses this phrase (or the Kingdom of Heaven) over and over. He said this is why He came to earth. This was His purpose. So wouldn't you think this would be the main message of the churches? Why isn't it? Could it be that the churches don't understand what the Kingdom of Heaven (or the Gospel of the Kingdom) is? If they did know, I assure you, that is what they would be preaching, and not about sociology as they do today.
11Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mat 11:)
This is Matthew's account of the same situation. It's interesting that the Greek word used for "Take it by force" (just one word, not four as in the English) is the same word used for "Caught up" in 2Cor 12:2&4; 1Thes 4:17 and Rev 12:5. These passages talk about being "Caught up" and are used for a picture of the Rapture. Let's look at the definition of that word "Caught up:"
TAKE BY FORCE (or CAUGHT UP) - G726 - harpazo From a derivative of G138; to seize (in various applications): - catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).
15When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. (John 7:)
We see from this verse that the word does indeed indicate force, not a willing compliance.
27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:)
Here we have the only times this same word has been translated "Pluck." Other times a different word is used.
This verse has been used as strong evidence concerning the security of the believer. And I must admit, that certainly is being supported by this passage. However, like with so many other doctrines, the passage is not looked at in its context, and is extended far beyond its boundaries. When they say "security of the Believers" they speak the truth. But we see the definition of a "Believer" is one who listens to the Lord's voice, who follows Him, and were "Given to Jesus by the Father." This does not include everyone sitting in the pews of a particular church as is accepted in this day of the Apostate church. Let's see what Jesus has to say about those disciples the Father has given to Him:
12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition ["Destruction, die, perish, waste"]; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:)
Here we have Jesus saying that none of those the Father has given Him was plucked from the Father's hand, except one. Have you considered the possibility that you might be one in twelve that is the exception? I have, and it frightens me. Confidence? No, I don't have confidence, which disturbs pastors. My lack of confidence keeps me on my toes and struggling to make it to the mark Paul sought (who I don't see having confidence either). Those with confidence I fear are going to fall by the wayside when tribulation comes (1Cor 10:12). Even those war heros that have proven themself in battle will tell you they don't have confidence that they will react the same way next time they're under fire. If this be so, then how can a couch potato Christians have confidence that they will follow the Lord into battle when they don't even know what the pieces of armor are they are supposed to be wearing all the time?
13And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? 14The sower soweth the word. 15And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
There are a lot of wayside Christians in the churches, many of them standing behind the pulpits. They do a job, they do what's expected of them, but they really have no understanding or interest in the things of God.
16And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
When the Great Tribulation comes, the churches will empty out faster than a theater on fire. People are taught that Christianity is a "get for yourself at no cost to you" thing. When they find there is a cost, other than merely saying the words, then they're through the door.
Those who are proven to not be those planted on a rock are the ones we persecute and call unsaved and doomed to hell. They're the ones, that in spite of worldly persecution, accusations by the "Acceptable" churches, do what is right according to the Bible, go door-to-door spreading the Word, and offering to help in any way they can. And they do so with a smile, even when badmouthed. They have separated themselves from the world, and are easily identified by their clean appearance and unworldly activities. Am I saying these people are believing the truth of the Bible? Not at all. Much of their doctrine I disagree with, as I do all doctrine of any church. But their behavior is that of one planted in good soil and not on a rock, and I would trust them in battle long before I would those in the "acceptable" churches.
18And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
The world offers many challenges and opportunities to feed the flesh, our desires. And a Christian it seems is more anxious to have the things of this world than are many of the worldly. I would venture to say that you will find a big screen TV in more Christian homes than you would in the home of, say a Hindu or a Buddhist, or even a Humanist. Of course that's merely speculation, but not wild speculation. It is said there is more divorce and more abortions among the Christian church then there is elsewhere. Christians, because of being taught they have to do nothing but be baptized to have it all, do nothing beyond those basic requirements (a broad statement to be sure, but you get the point). In the world, and in other religions, adherents believe they must do something in the Spiritual realm if they are going to advance themselves. Even a Humanist involves him or herself in trying to perfect this world, rather than sitting back expecting to be rescued from a doomed planet.
20And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. (Mark 4:)
And here we have the evidence of our salvation. Are we a sheep in the Lord's fold? Are we listening to His voice? Are we following Him as we must? Have we turned our life over to the Lord? If we haven't, then how can we say we've entered the door to the sheepfold? How can we say we're a Christian? A Buddhist studies the ways of Buddha. The chances are a Hindu can tell you just about everything there is to know about those things belonging to the Hindu philosophy. A Muslim will likely be able to quote the Koran word-for-word, and will fulfill all those functions expected of him or her. A Jew (not one by nationality only) will follow their traditions to the letter, even if it means their death. A Mormon will know their Bible, as well as their supporting books, and will be seen performing those things taught in the Bible. The same can be said of a Jehovah's Witness. I could add to this list the Moonies, and Hari Krishnas, the Scientologists, and just about any other such group. But a Traditional Christian will most likely be found in front of a TV, snacks in hand, with a magazine across their lap. They will not know but very little about the Bible they claim to enjoy, nor about the Lord they claim to love with all their heart and to follow. Nor do they desire to know any more than they already think they know, and their church will support them in their thinking.
By nature we run into a dilemma when considering which soil we are. Those who do not understand the Word will be the ones who thinks they understand the most. The ones who are the weakest, think they are the strongest. Therefore, those on the bad soil think they are the ones on the best of soil. We have an expression that goes: "The more we know, the more we know the less we know." The more we learn, the more we understand that we know nothing at all. Those who think they know it all, that they have arrived, that they are all they should be, have not even begun to explore or to grow. Jesus expressed it this way:
39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. (John 9:)
17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (Rev 3:)
Those who think they see the best, and have all the learning, and are full of confidence: are cast down by Jesus.
Do you see well? Do you have full understanding? Are you a confident Christian? Are you one planted on good soil? In what category would you place yourself? What fruit are you producing that will bring you to perfection, which is the evidence of what you believe of yourself? (See James 2:14-26) Have you asked this of yourself before? Have you been told you should ask these things of yourself? If not, why not?
Those planted on good soil will bring forth fruit to perfection. This is the evidence of salvation, of having actually been planted by the Father (Mat 15:30). If we're not producing that fruit, we certainly shouldn't be thinking ourselves to be a fruitful branch that the Father will wish to preserve. And what do you suppose happens to those branches that do not produce? If you don't understand what the fruit to perfection is, wouldn't you think it wise to look into the matter? (Hint: don't go to your pastor or elders to find out these things. They can only tell you what they themselves have been told. Ask the Father, He's the one with the answers.)
In the past I often found myself in a state of confusion when I listened to many sermons. They were well presented, they spoke a lot of truth, as I understood truth to be, and they seemed to fit the Bible as I knew it. But even in my ignorance I found huge holes and contradictions in what they were saying. In the same breath they would (and of course still do) say something that completely contradicted what they were trying to prove in their sermon. They would also leave gaps in their reasoning, causing one statement to not connect with another. I felt as if I was observing a mangled sieve, or listening to a politician justify his position. I wondered at that time if they realized they were not really making sense nor proving their point. They appeared to be fully confident that they had covered all the bases, that they were presenting a complete and accurate picture of what they were expressing. And as I looked around me, it appeared as if everyone listening understood just what was being said and already knew and agreed with what was preached to them. In asking later if anyone was aware of any discrepancy or fissure in reasoning, their response was that they saw none. I merely assumed it was my own ignorance that was causing me the frustration I was experiencing. I now understand the cause and the reasoning behind this phenomena. And I think you who are willing to take the time to read a long dissertation such as this one also know what is taking place.
7And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it......22And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. (Ex 12:)
Here we have the first occurrence of the door. We know this door represents Jesus. This door is the beginning of freedom to those in bondage. Those who faithfully observe God's commandments to rid their homes (lives) of leaven, who kill and eat the lamb as prescribed, will be saved. Those who falter in this endeavor will be lost.
Note the blood being spread by hyssop. Hebrews 9:18-20; Psalm 51:7; and John 19:29 help to explain the significance of hyssop.
Not only the head of the door is to be painted with the blood, but also the door post. We see in Revelation a picture of posts, in this case called "Pillars."
12Him that overcometh will I make a pillar ["Post, support"] in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Rev 3:) (See Rev 7:13-17)
In the front of the Solomon's Temple there were two posts. These posts had names. One must pass by these posts before reaching the door of the Temple. Notice that the "Overcomer" will be made pillars in the Temple that is to come. And on these overcoming pillars God will write His new name. Question: what is an "Overcomer"?
Note also how these overcomers will not exit the Temple. They will remain in the Temple and serve the Lord personally. These faithful servants will experience no more pain, will shed no more tears, and will see the Lord's face. Won't every baptized Christian experience these things? Something to look into, don't you think?
I will write upon him my new name. If we write the name of Jesus in our foreheads, on the "door post" of our heart and our mind (Math 22;37; 1Cor 2:16), then He will write His name on us. We all bear the name of Christ in name, but we don't all exhibit what we proclaim. We don't produce fruit of the vine we are supposedly branches of.
3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (Rev 22:)
In Ex 12 we read: "and none of you shall go out at the door of his house." Is this significant? Do you think it's a coincidence? I don't. I think Paul told us the truth when he said:
10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1Cor 10:)
The question is: Do we learn from these examples? Of course not. That's not the way of us humans. I hope I'm wrong where you're concerned. Am I?
1Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. 2If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 3If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. 5And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever. (Ex 21:)
We don't have to remain with our Master if we don't want to. We're free to leave if we so please. If we decide the troubles promised us as Christians are just too much for us, we may leave the Lord's service (see parable of the sower and the seed), although in so doing there is a consequence that will have to be paid just as there is in the military. But if we choose to stay, and serve in spite of what may come, then we will have our "ear" pierced against the "Door." Why the door? Why the ear?
We know Who the door is, and we know who the Master is. What about the ear? When we have our ear pierced and become a bond-servant, we acknowledge that we will only listen to our Master, as we've learned the sheep of the flock are to do.
Does this mean those who choose to leave aren't saved? I have no issue with who is saved and who is not. My concern is far beyond that of salvation. I see the event of salvation as the total involvement of the churches. And I think they fall far short of their calling. But again, that is not my concern. It's what happens to us after we enter the door of the sheepfold that I'm concerned with. And this is not taught as it should be, if at all. In fact it isn't even recognized in most churches.
31And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: 32And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. 33And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. (Ex 26:)
36And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. (Ex 26:)
17The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court, (Ex 35:)
We have three doors spoken of here. One door is called the Vail, which we suppose was torn when Jesus was pierced with a spear. Through this door only the High Priest could go, and only once a year, when he was carefully and fully purified. The High Priest is the only one who could serve God personally. If he wasn't extremely careful in how he prepared himself, made himself righteous, he would be a dead High Priest. We suppose that since the Vail has been torn anyone who takes on the name Christian can casually enter into the Holy of Holies as if it were a carnival attraction. Do you think this is so? I don't.
The second curtain, which is called a door, is the entrance to the Holy Place where the priests worked. Here we find the table of show bread that the priests were sustained by. We also find the lamp stands that represent the churches (Rev 1:20), providing light supplied by a specially fabricated oil which represents the Holy Spirit. The Church is to be "A light unto the world." This light was to never go out. It was to "endure forever." We have a picture of this in the parable of the ten virgins. Five of the virgins, who were waiting for their Lord, were foolish and let their lights go out. These foolisj, although virgins, and although waiting as were the wise virgins, were rejected. The lights of the churches have long been going out, and the church is growing darker and darker as the end approaches.
The Holy Place is not the place where God resides, but rather it is an interim place where priests both served in the house of God, and served the people. We might think of this as the bridal chamber where the bride of the Lord resides, and where she prepares (allows herself to be prepared) herself. It is also this Church age, the partial realm of the Kingdom Paul tells us about. The only thing separating the bride and the Husband is a curtain. And some day that curtain will be done away with. It hasn't happened yet, as is supposed, because when a marriage takes place the bride and the groom become "Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." No one has the bone and the flesh of our Lord, therefore the marriage has not taken place. Nor have we seen the marriage supper of the Lamb. These are to come. As to who is able to enter through the Vail that was rent, consider that only those priests qualified to be in the Holy Place were able to even see the Vail, leastwise enter into the Holy of Holies itself.
An unmarried girl wore a vail, which she was able to do away with and let her prospective husband (as well as everyone else) see her face after she is married (debatable). We see this exemplified in Genesis chapter 17 where just the eyes of Leah and Rachel were described. Nothing more was definable (See Gen 24:63-65; SoS 5:7). Essentially all women looked alike. This was true of the men as well. A Jewish man was not to cut the corners of his beard, that means he could not primp and cut his beard and hair in some unique way that made him stand out from the crowd. The purpose of this was to prevent the ego from blossoming. In Paul's writing we see this same thing expressed, the avoidance of ego. Ego is the opposite of humility, and it goes contrary to loving one's neighbor above one's self.
The first curtain (also called a door), we come to when approaching the Tabernacle is that of the court yard. Here is where the purification ceremonies and the sacrifices take place. People of the "Holy Nation" brought their
sacrifices to this door, and a priest took it and did as was appropriate. The one sacrificing did not enter through this door. Can you imagine thousands of people wandering around an area smaller than a football field? And this while priests are trying to frantically kill, clean, and sacrifice all the animals brought to them? Not very likely, nor is it Scriptural. We have been given the picture of everyone being a king and a priest. Was this true in the nation of Israel? Of course not. There was a king, and there were many priests. And because of this we could say Israel was a Nation of kings (David, Solomon, etc) and priests. Do you get the picture? Do you understand why I mention this? (See Ex 19:6.)
We have a question presented to us here: Which of these doors is the one that represents Jesus? Is He the door to the outer court that has very little to do with the Tabernacle itself? Or is He the door to the Holy Place, that is, the bridal camber? Or is He the door to the Holy of Holies? Or is He all these doors?
When we go beyond the simplicity of doctrine we find there is a great deal to learn from the Bible that can't be printed on a 5x7 card that's given to us when we enter the doors of a church.
4And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.......kill the bullock before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Ex 29:)
Even the High Priest had to be "washed with water" and have his sacrifice taken at the door of the outer court. Jesus said:
13Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mat 4:)
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the "Door," the entrance to the Promised Land (See Joshua chapters 1-4).
Jesus didn't try to push His weight or His rank around. Whatever He (and the Father) expects of us, He went through Himself. Right after His baptism He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where He was tested. And once tested, He began to preach the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mat 4:1,17). His pattern represents what we must go through, and what we must do (1Peter 2:21; Rev 3:21).
The High Priests were washed at the door of the outer court, then they offered sacrifice at the door. Is it possible that what Jesus experienced at His baptism and thereafter was a picture of what is described here in Exodus?
7And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. 8And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. 9And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. 10And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door. (Ex 33:)
Take note that the Tabernacle was taken "outside" the congregation. When the people misbehave, God departs from them (see Rev 2:5). And all who wish to talk to God must go outside the camp. Jesus left the city, and wandered outside the camp. Inside the camp He wasn't welcomed by the religious leaders. Even in Galilee, and in His own town where He was raised, when He entered a place of organized religion, a synagogue, He was rejected and they tried to kill Him. If we are to find Jesus we must leave the camp (see Rev 18:4). The Holy Spirit can't work within the confines of ridged formality and sanctimonious rituals. In such structures all that can be heard is the sound of doctrine, not the voice of the Shepherd.
8And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Ex 38:)
Here again we have the door of the congregation. What is the door of the congregation? This is as far as any of the people who were not of the family, born into that family, of Levi could ever go. Levites were the worker bees of the Tribe of Levi. They did the manual labor you might say, and they were stationed around the Tabernacle to protect it and serve as a buffer against intrusion. The Levites were a people chosen by God to be His people, separate from the rest of the Holy Nation. They had no inheritance in the nation, because God was their inheritance. The Levites took the place of the firstborn of the Israelites that were supposed to be sacrificed to God, and they were to serve Him, having been spared (Ex 13:15; Num 3:41-42; 45-48; Deut 10:8-9). Within this Levitical tribe there was Aaron and his sons. From this family came the priests who worked in the Tabernacle itself. Different families within this family structure were given certain responsibilities, such as to carry a particular part of the Tabernacle when they were on the march. One family member did not perform the part of another family. Everyone was given their own duty, which they were to perform to the letter (See Gal 6:4-5). Two of Aaron's sons, part of the high priestly tribe, burnt incense different than the exact formula prescribed by God, and were unceremoniously killed by God. When God says "jump," the only question we should ask is "how high," then wait for the command to stop jumping.
We're told that we are priests in the Kingdom of God. Have you wondered what your job is in that priesthood? Are you performing your job? I think if we look around we can see a great many of those who claim to be priests, even those standing behind pulpits, who are not performing a priestly duty. They think the name is enough to get them the rewards they've supposedly been promised.
The laver was a wash basin that sat between the alter of burnt offering and the Tent of the Tabernacle. The first thing a priest did, regardless of their job, was to wash their hands, and their feet. An appropriate receptacle was built into the laver for washing of the feet. To perform the task of a priest he must wash himself daily. Jesus was about to impart His priestly responsibilities to His disciples, to give part of His Spirit to those who would carry on His mission. This was prefigured in Moses giving part of his spirit to the 70 who were to help judge the nation of Israel (Num 11:16-17 see also Isaiah 42:1 and Mat 3:17 and Mat 19:28). In preparation for the sending forth of these Apostles ["Ambassadors, set apart, sent out ones."] Jesus washed their feet. They had already been cleansed at their baptism, but as Jesus explained to Peter, they needed to wash their feet (their daily walk and the grime, sin, they pick up in that walk) in order to continue in that clean state.
15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Heb 13:)
23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:)
Paul, as faithful in his priestly duties as he was, had concerns about becoming a castaway. As we see in Romans chapter 7, Paul had his own struggles with daily living, and needed daily cleansing of his feet (through confession and repentance (see Rom7:14-25). Paul said:
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:27)
If Paul had such concerns, then how confident am I to feel that I'm living up to expectations?
What is a castaway? Let's see what else the Bible tells us about castaways:
The Greek word for Castaway carries with it the concept of being Rejected, disapproved, reprobate:
11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 8:)
No, this is not the same word as is used in the verses above. This is just an example of the use of the word "cast." We also have verses telling us about unfruitful trees, and tares, and hay (wheat with no fruit on them) being cast into a fire.
15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:)
5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2Cor 13:)
Here we have the use of the word Reprobate. This is the same word used by Paul when he spoke of his fear of being a castaway. Exchange the word "Reprobate" for "Castaway," and you'll know what Paul was referring to.
17And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. 19For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: 21So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations. (Ex 30:)
We read earlier that this laver was made of the women's "looking glasses." They didn't have glass in those days, glass being a much later invention. What they used was a polished sheet of copper, much like one would carry on a camping trip. This laver, besides having the wherewithal to cleanse a person, provided a means by which a person could see where they were dirty. You can send little Junior in to the bathroom to wash up, but unless he can see his face and locate the dirt that is to be removed, the chances are he'll emerge just as dirty as he entered, the only difference being a filthy towel left on the floor. This is the same with us. We have been given a thorough cleansing at our baptism, all sin washed away. But through our daily journeys, we tend to become "spotted" by this world. In this day and age spotting is not an issue since society and the churches tell us it's ok to totally indulge in the filth of this world and pay no consequences for such wrongdoing. But those who do not listen to the world, but seek favor with God, need to know where they are spotted, these spots creating a barrier between us and God. Any form of lust, of self-indulgence, of ego, is a spot that has to be removed. And as we've seen with Junior, the spot that is not removed, tends to grow bigger, until he appears to have been making mud pies. And the boy is totally unaware of his filthiness. Dirt left unattended grows into filth, and penetrates the skin causing infection. And infection untreated can lead to death.
The life of Christ is a mirror into which we look in order to define just what is dirt in our life, and what is appropriate. If our life does not line up with that of Jesus, then we are wallowing in the dirt. And that dirt has to be removed, or it will become a part of us. Have you ever tried to remove ground in dirt that has been allowed to remain for many years? I have, and it's almost impossible to do. Having lived on the streets for most of my adult life I find there are areas of my body that have been neglected, because they are not where I can readily see them. This is especially so since I spent much of that time on a bicycle grinding in that dirt. When I finally saw the spots, and recognized them for what they were, and had the facility to remove them, I found they had become a part of me. Having no other explanation, I assumed these spots were merely a part of aging. I explained them away, thereby avoiding the need to deal with them. This is no different with those spots of sin, of self indulgence we allow ourselves to participate in. They become a part of us and we see no reason to even attempt to remove them. In today's society these spots are deemed acceptable no matter how big and ugly they may be. But this is not so in God's eyes, and it's with Him we'll have to deal when the end comes.
Take a close look at your life, how does it mirror Jesus? Is there anything you do that Jesus wouldn't do? Is there anything in your home that Jesus wouldn't have in His home? Is there any sights or sounds that would be offensive to His ears and eyes? Give it thought. Someday all this will come to light and you will wish at that time you had paid heed to what you are, and what you are allowing in your life at this time.
19Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:)
There are parts of us we can not see. It used to be that a barber, besides cutting hair, would massage the scalp and carefully examine the scalp of his customer. As far as I can tell this is no longer performed, it having vanished with so many other important functions of society and the church. If the barber found a spot that might be problematic he so advised his customer that he should have it checked by a doctor.
In the Church this external means of examination is also implemented. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples he was not merely conducting a ritual and passing it on to the twelve. He was telling them, and the Church, that they are to examine one another and point out "dirt" or other aspects of their lives that could cause them problems, and that they might not be aware of:
1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. (1Cor 5:)
This church was well on its way to becoming one of the Apostate churches we see so prevalent today. Our attitude is "live and let live," and, "It's none of your business what I do." Because of this attitude, people's lives are not changed, and leaven spreads within the churches. Today the call of the Hippies is an integral part of just about all the churches (Traditional churches that is). It's not only "Free love," but freedom to do, and be whatever you want to be, and still believe you're special in God's eyes.
I have had an opportunity to see where such an attitude leads. There have been other times, but just today I saw where a very nice, highly respected church (the one I attend) has lost it's love, compassion, and it's ability to deal with those things essential to the Church.
In Sunday School, one of the oldest gentlemen had a sneezing spell (as it turns out). His actions reminded me all too much of the gagging convulsions I've experienced when I eat foods I'm allergic to. He ran out of the room as quickly as he could. Not a moment's notice was paid to him by any of the others in the room. It was as if it hadn't happened. I searched him out and asked him if he was ok. He was, and I was relieved.
I have been going through some hard times dealing with certain habits I've had all my life. I decided to deal with them today by going forward when the call was made. No one, as far as I can tell, ever goes forward any more. The pastor didn't know what to do with me, or why I had come forward. I told him in tears what I had been going through. He spent a ten seconds with me in prayer, then told me I could stay there on my knees as long as I liked, then he left. The entire congregation could tell I had been going through something difficult because they were all there, and they could see my tear-stained face when I returned to my seat (which is way in the back of the large room).
Was there anyone to remain with me in my time of need? Was there any elder to check on me and see how I was doing? Did the pastor say boo to me about what had happened, and to ask if I was ok? Did anyone even mention what I had experienced? Was there even a prayer rail at the front as there had always been when I was young? In fact, was there even a single one of those old folks (it's an aged church) who even knew what to do if someone came forward?
The call is always given, and then the pastor and congregation files out of the church sanctuary as fast as they can. The purpose of the church has long been lost. The compassion of the church is no more. No one knows what to do in order to be a Christian. "Christian" is a word we wear on a name tag, it isn't something that indicates our lives have been changed.
This took place during the morning service. By that evening everyone should have had an opportunity to reevaluate that morning's event, and also to examine their own response to what they had witnessed. Was there anyone who corrected their lack of response that morning? Did the pastor or the elders approach me? No, I'm sorry to say they didn't. One lady, with whom I have personal contact, did ask if I was ok, to which I replied I was fine. I had come home immediately after the morning service and sobbed for a while, feeling the cleansing action of the experience.
We have become a Do Your Own Thing, and a Mind Your Own Business people. There's no interaction between "Believers." There are no more mirrors in the churches. There is no need for mirrors because dirt is allowed and accepted in them. The man who was having a relationship with his father's wife would be fully welcomed and accepted "Just as he is" in just about any of the churches. Would he be questioned in your church? Would you point out to him that the Bible says he shouldn't be doing as he is doing? Or would you be afraid of "Offending" him, and causing him to not come back to your church? You needn't answer that question, I already know the answer. I've been to your church, or one very much like it.
5Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mat 3:)
4John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:)
5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:)
If we're walking with the Lord we will have fellowship with one another. If this is true, then what does it mean when there is no fellowship with one another?
Confession and repentance is part and parcel of the Christian Church. Yet both of these elements are completely eliminated from the churches. Repentance is taught as a "maybe should" at best, and confession is, as far as I've seen, non-existent. What would you do if you were to have one of your congregation come up to you and confess something they are doing and wants to find a way to escape their problem? Would you confess your fault to anyone, leastwise the congregation? All my life I thought I was the only one unable to do these things, and I felt inferior because of it. Now the opposite is true. I am able, and willing to confess my problems to just about anyone, but I find people can't handle it when I do, not even the pastors of the churches. For this reason I refrain from doing so, for their sake, not mine. However, I feel they are the losers because of this lack.
The church has become nothing more than a meeting place for people who like to believe that their attending a particular church makes them special, and all others are misfits. Is it any wonder the world looks down on the Christian religion and its adherents? There's no difference between a Christian and the worldly other than a head that hats will not fit.
We read above that confession and repentance is essential for forgiveness. Since there is no confession, and no need for repentance (as seen by the churches), what does that say for forgiveness?
12After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. 13And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (John 2:)
We've been given the picture that all these people and animals were actually in the Temple. This is not so. As we've seen, no one but the priests were allowed in the Temple. They closed down the Temple in a hurry and tried to kill Paul because they thought Paul had brought an uncircumcised Gentile into the Temple area.
Within the Temple structure there was a huge courtyard. If you've seen pictures of the Temple you've seen this very expansive paved court. This is not the court we saw earlier in the Tabernacle, but rather a gathering place many yards outside this area. There's a sign posted at the boundary of this area that states: Anyone not a circumcised Jew will be put to death if they cross the line. The place the merchandisers were gathered was outside this posted area. If this had been the Tabernacle rather than the Temple, these people would have been well outside the Tabernacle area.
In the beginning these merchandisers were not even allowed in the Temple square at all. They had to remain outside the structure all together. Over time these people convinced the leaders to let them come a little closer to the Temple, then a little closer: Until they were actually in the Temple compound. No doubt having been given more time they would have been at the Temple steps. It is supposed that the reason these merchandisers were allowed so close is because those in charge of the Temple were given a kickback, which is so commonly seen even today. It's kind of like (actually very much like) the way Disneyland and the fairs sell concessions on their grounds.
Jesus said they were making merchandise of "His Father's house." Is that precisely correct? Not really. Symbolically this was right in that they were disrespecting that which was called by the Father's Name. But in reality this was not so. I'll explain later in this study.
1And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD...... 3And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.....11And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, 12Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: 13And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. 14So Solomon built the house, and finished it. (1Kings 6:)
We have two issues here to look at. First, that which is not part of what I'm presenting in this study, is what God told Solomon. There were conditions to be met if God was to remain with the people of Israel, and if He was to continue blessing them. The following of these conditions continued to decline until they disappeared altogether. And because of this failure to observe the law, Israel was sent into all the world, never to be heard from again, and Judah, which had remained loyal, or at least more so then her northen sister, continued for a time longer before being sent to Babylon in captivity.
From the time of this captivity the elements that belonged in the Holy of Holies were never seen again. Although they, the Jews, returned, and they built a Temple, God was not truly with them. The elaborate Temple called Herod's Temple the priests and the Pharisees worked so hard to protect was nothing but an empty shell, a trophy, a memorial to a time which once was. The High Priests, as we've seen in the Bible, were nothing but shams, not truly qualified to be in their position. If they had actually been functioning during the time of God's presence the High Priests would have been struck down for even attempting to enter the Holy of Holies. This was now just an empty room, and that is what Jesus called His Father's House. Where was the Temple? Was the Temple present at that time? Yes, but not in that structure said to be one of the seven wonders of the world.
The second issue to consider is that of the porch. We see in the passage above how outside the Temple, which housed all that would have been the actual Temple area, there was built a large porch with many steps ascending to it. On these steps is where those who were circumcised Jews gathered to hear their favorite "Rabbi" or instructor. An observer would have found small clusters of disciples and listeners, and in the center of this cluster would sit the rabbi. And here is where Jesus and His disciples, and the many curious listeners, gathered.
I said earlier that no one but the priests were allowed into the Temple itself. This includes Jesus. Jesus would have never been allowed into the Temple, even though in reality He was the only one qualified to be in the Temple, and this because He was not considered part of the Tribe of Levi. His earthly, adopted, father was a Levite, but Jesus would not have been considered such . In fact, those attached to the Temple, who had charge over the Temple, didn't even want Jesus in their city. When they finally succeeded in killing Jesus, they took Him outside the city of Jerusalem. And outside the city is where Jesus had spent over three years ministering to the people He had been sent to redeem, and who for a thousand years had been carefully prepared to greet their Messiah, their Redeemer. Remember how the Tabernacle in the wilderness was taken outside the camp? Anyone who wanted to find God had to go outside the congregation, because God was not in the "Church," which means "Called out, religious congregation, assembly".
Jesus is not welcome in His Church today either. Though the churches (most of them, some don't) talk about Jesus, and sing songs to Him and about Him, they have no idea who He is. If He was to walk into a church He would most likely be asked to leave because He would be seen as a misfit preaching a false doctrine.
To NEWLY ADDED PAGE
*To WELCOME PAGE
TO BIBLE CONTENTS
To SITE MAP
To .info HOME PAGE
Contact me by e-mail
top of page
www.Tumbleweed-2.info __ Morality Stories - Bible Studies - Ethics__www.First-Trump.info