Deuteronomy 16 / Ecclesiastes 8 / Acts 7
No man has power over the wind to contain it; no one has power over the day of his death.
You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the spirit.
Solomon chose to ignore the commands of God so as to indulge in all manner of luxury he could afford since he inherited the kingdom that God had created for David. Foreign women led his heart away from a singular devotion to he God that David knew; gold and silver (money) shifted his loyalty to it rather than the God of his father; respect and honor made him glory in the power of the position he inherited so that he made himself like a god that needed to be worshipped because all his worth was wrapped up in that and these other things he indulged himself in to excess. Even his presumed wisdom was to excess so that he assumed himself able to figure out what was happening in a sure and precise way, so as to be like a god.
"Meaningless! Meaningless!"says the Teacher.
Solomon no doubt spent a lot of his time trying to figure out what life was about, to find an explanation for things that exist "under the sun," trying to establish a pattern that holds true for everything in an attempt to be able to explain why this or that happens. When he thinks he's onto something, then he says to himself that the pattern doesn't hold true because for instance, he notices that even the righteous are dealt wicked hands, so he concludes often in this essay that everything is meaningless. That is only to say that it can't be figured out because no persistent pattern can be established to be able to hold and control a philosophy and say, "this is the meaning of this or that" thing that happens here on the earth. Instead he concludes that everything is meaningless because he can't figure God out so as to be able to hold onto Him and say, "This is how God works and why God does this, and that is why the humans are like that and do all that."
Who is like the wise man?
Who knows the explanation of things?
Solomon didn't know what was what even though he is assumed to be the great and wise teacher of Israel. His wisdom is no doubt the stuff of legend, brought about by his ability to make it so from the power he had. Real wisdom is found in his father's knowledge of God and desire to listen to Him and obey His commands. The animals cannot fathom the simplest explanations of why things are, nor can they know what God's purpose is. Even the "wisest" of the humans can't figure out meaning or purpose, because the comprehension of that knowledge is secret and hidden as God Himself is. It's reserved for the simple, the unlikely and the overlooked amongst the humans to show that the humans can't figure, legislate or agree their way to God via their own means of recognition and attribution. The understanding of what matters is kept for those who matter to Him, who imparts it to them.
The meek, (not the strong) will inherit the earth.
The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
God is the ultimate ironist. He makes things flippy-floppy so that forward is backward and strong is weak, up is down and yes is no. It is not the recognized amongst the humans who are recognized by God. The powerful don't overtake and inherit the earth, but those who trust the Father to give it to them. Those who seem meek and unlikely are more apt to be chosen than those who try to propel themselves forward like a human naturally does by instinct to get what he thinks he needs and must have. The one who seems to be is not, and the other way around holds true too.
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
In this vein, the most compelling truth is that what God seems to be, because the humans say He is that way, is not the way He is because they don't know—they cannot ever know and if they did they wouldn't claim to know. The humans *always* must make everything conform to the way they want and need it to be, especially their conception of God and His purpose. In doing that they also always reject Him because He is never that way, but the way they don't expect Him to be.
Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built the house for him.
However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?"
The actual wisdom and understanding that led to the Father was reserved for the real Son of David, the Son of God and the Son of man (not god himself). Solomon was just a vehicle and a symbol to teach the real Son that the truth which leads to the real Father isn't found in the humans and their pursuits, or their knowledge and wisdom. The real truth about going to the Father is a mysterious and hidden thing that has to be revealed, and it was revealed to the Son in a more full way than it was revealed to the prophets who were his true brothers. Then he revealed that same truth to the handful of humans who were chosen to have it revealed to them, by the same process he went through first, which became their model as he blazed that trail for them.
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
The Father controls who receives wisdom leading to an explanation of things, which is the same thing as having Him revealed to whomever that might be. The explanation of things is for those who have been chosen to have it given to them, to have the Father revealed to them:
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears,
The humans who claim to know the way to God make up their own gods that are always on their side (what a surprise), because they are the good people according to themselves—no matter who they are. This isn't a spiritual phenomenon but an animal one, because that's what the animals are prone to, so that's what they do, constructing an environment they can control. There is no good explanation for what their gods demand other than, "Be like these leaders, who have it figured out—they can tell you the way to get to us," which is nowhere because they're made up, they don't actually exist although they are given a kind of power to be believable because they want to believe the lie so they're given over to it (it becomes believable to them, even by semi-extraordinary things happening to them which seem to validate the lie).
Their abstract religious theories have nothing to do with how things actually are; they don't align with anything that's actually observable, it's always just, "That's the way it is and we are the ones who are right, so follow us and we'll show you the way." But they can't because they don't know. All they can do is distribute the lie and "prove" it by the consensus they garner. Then they reinforce that same lie by providing a place where those who want to believe the lie can surround themselves with others who also accept the same lie, so they help each other believe it by reinforcing it every time they assemble together, creating and reinforcing their agreement of consensus. Then when the assembly is over they go back to the life that makes sense to them, what they actually believe and comprehend in their heart, which is doing what is instinctually in them to do, and continue doing it as long as their body exists. That is their actual reality, what they love and run after by the way they actually live, not the mouth babble they learn because they think it's going to get them a place "in heaven," that is to say, a condition of eternal survival. It only makes sense that their made up gods would offer them that, because they live to serve them, because they are actually just themselves and the nature that controls them.
Comprehending what goes on in God's world—what is or could be His purpose—is different than anything which can be seen, observed, studied and theorized about—all the humans can do. No matter how bright any of them might be there isn't a way to arrive at who God is or what He wants by studying the words then postulating what He'll do. The only thing the humans can actually do is make up gods who will serve them and give them what their nature craves. The irony is that they need to make it all so complicated because it doesn't make any real sense, but they have to so that it seems like it might somehow, and therefore will be worth something so they'll be able to stay in business as leaders that the sheep keep coming to in order to get their validation fix (which they pay for). The explanation of the purpose of God is very simple—everything that exists is here so that out from it God can draw His own family of sons whose hearts have been found by Him to be likeable, conducive to whom He wants to live with Him forever, those whom He wants to be living in His house, surrounding Him.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
But that isn't all of it because it must be a reciprocal relationship or they would be servants, workers and messengers and not sons of the living God. One of the most important things as can be seen first in the garden story, then even more supremely in the details of the choices of the Son who is the head of all the other sons, is the choice that the sons can either make for or against Him. God does not want sons who are forced to "love" Him, which wouldn't be love but more like coercion, for lack of an alternative. But also, He doesn't want sons who can only want things for themselves, like being a son of God because they want to survive forever because it's in them to want that via the animal nature—to get what they think might be good for their selves like planning then executing the getting of a mate, job, house, career, identity, or anything else the animals value and run after to secure for their selves. Being able to live forever is just naturally the most favorable thing when they realize they're temporary and the lie is told to them that they can undo that situation.
Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"
The animals who claim to know the way to the Father, even though they claim to know, cannot find God because they have renamed Him and created other gods beside Him, gods He never knew. They made the way He interacts with His own sons (the spirit) into a god, and they made the nature that is in the humans to keep them away from Him into a demigod (bad, rogue god with a will and purpose apart from God's intention). They made to Son into a god, which took away his very purpose and significance and reduced it to abstract religious theoretical constructs that make no sense to the condition that exists in the humans. They've given Him another nature and purpose that suits them (that He loves everyone the same, and everyone's invited to the party) and allows them to be satisfied and comfortable (they believe the lie, and can live out their lives pursuing whatever they want, and they'll still be guaranteed a spot in "heaven"). While they love being served by their made-up gods, they are far away from the truth of the real God.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
"Everyone's a sinner, but the jesus god was sinless (because he was a god no doubt)" makes no good sense because sin is an abstract, relative term that the christians own and the humans can't identify with it because they consider themselves good. Ironically, so do those who claim to know what sin is because of the animal nature which makes each one of the humans not able to believe they are "sinners," because it drives them to self-sustain and survive, not just physically but emotionally and mentally. They are driven to consider themselves better than the others because of the ubiquitous nature that exists in them, so actually considering themselves "sinners," which is defined in their circles as the "bad people," is impossible for them to do because the nature that's in them drives them to consider themselves the "good people." It doesn't matter who they are or what they've done, the humans will always gravitate towards their own perspective being the most considerable, and that is always that their plight is the most important, their needs the most viable, etc.
So considering oneself a sinner becomes yet another game for the humans, a way like all the other ways they learned to get for themselves (because of that nature to self-preserve). They learn that they must admit that they're a "sinner" (even though they don't believe it, so to them it *must* remain a totally abstract consideration), and then they have to learn that the jesus god came out from where he already existed to become a human and then die for their "sin," (which they don't believe is in them in the first place and remains the abstract theory they've accepted just to get something from their gods that they think is valuable and therefore feel the need to secure for themselves like anything they run after).
The sinful nature (wild animal instinct) is one that is totally ubiquitous as the nature that drives the humans, skewing everything inward toward their own perspective. Each one of them exists in their own little bubble of self-rightness which translates into self-love, what they cannot move away from because it's plugged right into them via their natural instincts to survive however they can. In this state none of them can ever be pleasing to God because His sons live not for themselves but for something bigger and better than their puny little existences. In and of themselves these mean nothing, but to the humans each of their own existences means everything because it's all they have. Gods true sons can't be driven by the nature that makes them a servant to themselves and also be pleasing to their Father. God's sons cannot be animals driven by the nature that's already in them, but must have that nature purged out so another can take its place. That doesn't happen by their own will or decision, or the power of their own hand to attain it for themselves. It happens by their choice for the Father and His way, but not their conception of what they think or assume that way might be. That's why their choice can only come after the way has been revealed to them i.e., they must be chosen before they can choose.
Many are invited, but few are chosen.
Going back to the beginning, the first thing the sons have to learn is what having a sinful nature actually is, then they must comprehend that they're totally infested with that animal nature of self-preservation which is super complex and tries to combat the many things that are hidden to the humans unless the wisdom and understanding of the son is revealed to them. The fear of becoming extinct, of being unknown and forgotten, of having no purpose or meaning. The sons don't believe the liars because they know that there is much more to the truth about their real Father than what the liars are saying, but they can't find it anywhere in the world, especially amongst the humans (who are all infested with the animal nature which cannot know the way to the Father). Even though it seems unlikely that the humans are wrong about God with all their explanations that don't make sense, they are wrong; and the truth about the real God is hidden and secret, not for public consumption.
The fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, "Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don't know what has happened to him!" That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.
Primarily because the interpretation of those words isn't done in human ways, what the humans think the words teach isn't what they teach at all, but merely representations of what the real truth is, aligning with the fact of so many copies recorded in the words as only representing something real, but not being the actual truth within themselves. Whether the things in the preserved words happened or not is not the point of them being written and then preserved. Everything just keeps pointing to the better thing. Even the life that Jesus lived on the earth in his human body, being One with the Father, was itself pointing to the better thing, of him being truly One with the Father, because he was made into a being like Him, and went to become truly One with Him, which is how God's body itself was changed by incorporating the life of the Son into Himself, to become the new being who now has the component of the Son living with Him, as One body.
The Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Although the preserved words that the Jews assumed to be able to control pointed to Jesus, nobody figured it out by studying the words. Even after Jesus was killed then redeemed, and had ascended, the knowledge of his identity had to be revealed by the enlightenment of the spirit, and was not just something people could figure out on their own, without being chosen to know it.
Once they did, the humans started taking control of the groups of those who were following the new way of being inhabited by the life of the Father and the Son, the way of the risen Christ. Then they gained earthly power and control over that which had originally been formed by God's desire and invisible power. The truth that had been established by the institution of the new covenant in the form of the coming of God's Son only lasted a little while before going into exile into the new Babylon, where it has been to this day. The truth as the disciples knew it was engulfed by the great whore of Babylon, who took the truth and turned it into a lie. They are in cahoots with what the humans love most—money and commerce. That is the situation today, as the whore and her babies rule the earth with the same lie that was made up just after the Son went to the Father, while the truth that the first century sons were living under left the world of the humans (the natural creation) and is not anywhere to be seen by them because it's hidden and secret.
Our fathers refused to obey Moses. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt...They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made.
There are things in Stephen's speech that are included, and lots left out. The few words that cover thousands of years have to mean something. A couple of deliberate intentions I noticed were the segmentations of time when God seems to go away, and the people who say they know the way to Him, who claim to be the bearers and holders of truth, are against God because they don't know His way. They always turn the truth into a lie—something made by their own hands—for their own purposes. They cannot help it because they're animals and they don't know any better; however, the fact that they cannot help it doesn't mean they don't do it, and the fact that they always do it ensures that they still do it, even through today.
All of the institutions which are made up of animals claiming to know the way to God are just the same as the idol that was made by the hands of the Israelites. Stephen was saying that the hidden secret revealed to him by the spirit, and that made up religion that Jews held on to and thought they could control wasn't from God, but the same as the idol made by their forefathers in the desert. The same is true today as we consider the vast number of groups which all claim to know the way to One true God—from the catholics to the evangelicals to the pentecostals to the lutherans to the christadelphians to the modern jews still waiting for their messiah to come.
God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:
" 'Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan,
There is the mention that the twelve patriarchs held high by the Jews acted against the purpose and desire of God (v. 9), who had chosen only one of the twelve to favor and be with more than the others. He was the one, unbeknownst to the others, who would lead the whole clan to the place where God wanted them to be. Then after God chose one man over all the others to be their leader and redeemer, to carry them on his shoulders out of the place—as the purpose and will of God—he too was continually rejected by the forefathers, who always oppose God. God's tiny family of sons (compared to the rest of the humans) will always be opposed by them. The truth they are being made into, the very life of Him living in them, will accomplish that, for His glory according to what He wants. All the rest who claim to know Him, He merely turns away from and gives them over to whatever they have made with their hands, whatever they love and want to worship but Him—their things, their families, their institutions, their lives.
This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
We have on one end as Stephen's short history of the humans on the earth the vast multitudes of humans as animals who ever lived in earthly bodies, represented by those who always opposed God; and on the other we have the sons of God, those whom He has already decided to redeem from the fate of the rest, the tiny, tiny sliver of the rest, smaller than the humans can ever believe—represented by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, and himself. There is nothing in the middle, no gray area, no purgatory. The group which will form the true and faithful bride who is waiting for her good husband (another copy which mimics life itself, representing being bound to another in faithfulness) will have to be pulled out of the realm of the common, unclean animals—the species of mere men—and first become that new creation which has overcome the animal nature within them, before she can be faithfully waiting.
The jubilation in the spiritual world was so great after the Son had come home that the spirit was poured out on the earth to validate his life. That was a long time ago. The segmentations of time are part of the history of God dealing with the humans on the earth. The long period of darkness, the truth held captive in the new Babylon, the reign of the whore posing as the bride, may be over as a segment of time where the truth of God's life has not been available. This is the period of time when the Father was able to live in peace with the Son without the chaos of the animal nature, having to deal with it in the humans. After he had done the good work of the Father's choosing, of becoming the way of redemption for all the sons He wants to be surrounded by, and had himself been redeemed as the firstborn, he had come home to be with the Father, at His side.
Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
Stephen's segmentations, very loosely, were marked out as: Abraham with God > the pregnancy of Egypt, the desert, and the deliverance into the land > David > Jesus "coming" to the earth. That's where it stopped for him because that's where things were. The periods in between, represented by the ">" mark, were long periods of waiting for the next.
It makes sense that this present period of darkness on the earth would be so long, because the Father is enjoying the Son, while the sons wait to be redeemed. The gloriousness of that day when the Son and the Father will be surrounded by those chosen to be sons, in the assembly of the firstborn, all following suit as living stones built on the foundation of the Cornerstone surrounding the Father, the living house where He can live in peace with all of His sons, can't be imagined or appreciated by these animal minds. They are becoming a little cleaner, though, and a little more able to imagine the unimaginable, as we grow up into the firstborn and faithfully wait for our redemption.
The Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says:
"Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Go and tell my servant David, "This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"
Now then, tell my servant David, "This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies."
"The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."
The good news is that we have been given the deposit which testifies to us within ourselves about the Father's intention to redeem us, guaranteed by the Son's work and proof of life, which will accomplish it because it will make us like him, and only he is actually worthy to be remembered by God. We will if we're like him, but not if we're like the common animals who are unclean and cannot be brought near to the Father, therefore they cannot be remembered by Him. We are being made, as per Peter's declaration, into living stones, after the manner of the Cornerstone, and we will all surround the Father and radiate His love because it will be in us. He desires to be surrounded by His own sons who look like Him and do what makes Him happy, what any father (the copy) would want and expect from his own son. Everything points to that.
The difficult thing to come to grips with is that it takes an immeasurable amount of grief, toil and effort to turn formless clay into living stones. It is not easy, but the promise is within us, and the covenant is sealed by that life that we know is there. Patiently enduring while the builder works is the right way, staying safe by listening to the voice of the Teacher and doing what the living word says. We don't know how to build the house, any more than we know how to get to the Father on our own, without the Shepherd making us faithful and able to wait for him to finally fulfill the desire of the Father. Be thankful that you are part of the process, house and family of the redeemed as you patiently wait for your husband to come. To know that you are in the true house and family of the living God is the highest thing one can attaint to. It's no accident that the humans despise that, ridicule it or think it's something they can get for their own selfish desires.