Deuteronomy 24 / Song of Solomon 4 / Acts 18-19
Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia.
He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.
When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.
They all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
This is an accurate and hilarious description of what the humans are predisposed to concerning their made up gods. Because of the fear and the dubiousness of their gods' absolute power, even to interact with their followers, those followers must act as their gods' guardians to protect them, by their sheer power of human consensus. The humans have created them and there isn't any interaction between them; perhaps some obscure other thing happened, which created the initial belief in their hopeful minds (like a boulder falling from the sky, maybe the subtle work of God's messengers creating something in their minds to give them over to what they want). Because of the lack of any genuine interaction, the humans feel that they must do what's in their power to protect their gods from public shame as it's relegated to the human sphere, where their power begins and ends.
We've already seen it in action with various different groups of humans who have the in common with each other, though they claim different methods of becoming acceptable to their gods. Because the true and living God is hidden and secret, and cannot/will not be controlled by them, they are forced into that kind of desperate continuity with one another, to protect the integrity of their made up gods. Each of the groups is given over to the belief that they're the ones who hold the keys and all the others are wrong, yet their gods are always so impotent that they cannot rely on them to do anything, so they must rely on their own power in the human sphere to keep up the validity of their beliefs, mostly through the power of consensus, to surround themselves with others who reinforce whatever it is they believe, and force out anyone else, by whatever means they have at their disposal.
The sons of God are on their own, humanly speaking, because their Father, who is the living God and does have power to act however He wishes, has already set the standard as to how that will go, by how it went for the firstborn Son who is greater than all the others so that all the others must fall in line behind him.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'
The humans who controlled the society and culture did not validate the Son, nor did those who wanted to follow, but only for human reasons. When he told them what was required in order to follow they fell away because they weren't willing to pay that price.
You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.
The humans are driven to get what they need, whatever can satisfy their cravings and appetite and appease their many deep-seated fears. Even though the truth is obviously not apparent, obviously hidden in some deep and mysterious place (although the truth and beauty of God is apparent in what He's created), they don't care to search for it. They are happy just to go along with whatever the "experts" tell them is the truth so they can live out their precious little existences the way they want to, like all the animals do, wherever and whoever they are. They go through their lives getting what they need to survive the best they can, and that's just good enough for them. However, by that definition they aren't any different than any of the animals which live and die within the bounds of what's created.
Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
Repentance from what—sin? What is sin? The humans don't consider themselves sinful on their most fundamental level, because of that nature which drives them to survive. If they weren't driven to consider their selves and lives highly valuable, they wouldn't necessarily be able to survive; but that's what they do because they are. And with that nature which drives them to consider themselves as such, they cannot truly love anyone or thing except their own selves and lives. That is the working of love, to consider something so valuable that all you want to do is take care of it, even as much as your own life.
Sin is the nature that is internal and inherent to the humans to make them as such. According to God they aren't inherently good and valuable, as they consider themselves because of that nature which drives them to think it so they can survive. Repentance is necessary fro the sons, to come away from what is integral to them, so much so that it's them in all the forms they've incorporated into themselves in order to become another animal whose internal code is to survive at all cost. It's fine for the animals; it is their friend to allow them to get what they need to survive. It's not fine for the sons of God, because it is the thing that keeps them separated from their true Father—because that's what it's supposed to do, and it did it in them before the life and truth of the Father was revealed to them. But now that this other, better thing has happened, that nature becomes their adversary, the deceiver, devil, satan, etc.
On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the holy spirit came on them, and they spoke in other languages and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
When we read the Acts of the Apostles it often comes across as though their circumstances were always about some kind of spiritual circus with lights and magic, and everyone oohing and ahhing about all the miracles being done everywhere. The miraculous things the Father did directly after the Son's ascension were for a particular purpose, to confirm the message they were preaching and vindicate what he said. Not to everyone; that validation wasn't meant for everyone because the truth about the living God isn't for public consumption. If it were, then He wouldn't hide Himself from the humans.
The miracles were confirming to the believers that what Jesus said would happened indeed did—he was alive and not dead; and his life, now pure spirit (because he had been made One with the Father), was what was being planted inside the bodies of these believers. That was the true miracle which is deeper and more profound than any miraculous thing what could be witnessed by any of the humans. The life is the thing that is necessary to effect the transformation from animal to son of God, and there is no other way. This miracle is hidden and unseen, just as the Father is to the humans, because it is real like the Father, not in the natural reality but His reality—that which transcends the created world the humans rule.
The humans must consider what happened in the first century one big spiritual party with non-stop healing, prophesies and speaking in foreign tongues. Visiting a modern church, the obvious assumption is that the spirit's work on the earth is for the humans' enjoyment and benefit, to organize and maintain the ongoing party of foolishness and chaos. That is what they want to believe, so they're given over to it. However, the true spirit is as unseen, unmanufacturable and uncontrollable as is God Himself, because it is Him. God is the spirit.
We don't know what happened between the time of Paul and now from any clear record, other than that humans took the true church into captivity (new babylon) and turned it into many hierarchical systems and institutions of man-made rules that they can control for their own sake and greed (financial and egotistical). That is the great whore of babylon, the mother of all prostitutes, which continues into the present, with all the mother whore's little babies running around looking like their mother (believing the same lies she made up long ago) but claiming to be different. What is the same about them all is that they all claim to be the bride of God's Christ, when they are actually, according to the words of John in the book of Revelation, just common street whores who are pretending to be something other than what they are.
Like the pharisees these leaders of their respective religious institutions, no matter how big or small, are merely humans who happen to have ascended to some level of control within that institution, and they also turn the truth once given by the living God into gain for themselves, as per His will and purpose. It is His desire to allow it because the natural creation where the humans live and move and have their being doesn't matter, and that's what the sons learn—in the words of Solomon, that everything is meaningless. We know that the spirit of God is secret and hidden, is working for God's purpose not ours; and has revealed God to us in a quiet, hidden way that only we know. It remains hidden inside us like God's secret treasure. It's not a circus for everyone to see, but like Jesus it comes in humility (because it is Jesus), and by it Jesus reveals God to those whom He has chosen to be His own secret and hidden family of sons (after the model of the firstborn Son).
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.
The Son comes to the children whom the Father has chosen in the same way—secretly, quietly and humbly. He is the opposite of man, who needs human confirmation to validate himself (why he always surrounds himself with like-minded humans who reinforce whatever lie he has chosen to believe). Jesus was hidden by looking wrong and unacceptable to the outside world, which is the model for all the true sons of the Father who has chosen them. God made him to look that way to the ones who were expecting a powerful, glorious Messiah to keep him hidden from them, because God didn't want them any more than a human father would want a bunch of wild, obscure sons who didn't act or look like himself (natural copy revealing hidden truth). Instead of the conquering Messiah coming in the pomp and importance of the great Son of David the King (what the humans wanted in order for themselves to be validated), he came to them looking like a bastard child of a teenage girl, a throwaway human who, according to the Deuteronomical record wasn't allowed in the assembly. That is the beautiful and perfect irony of God, who loves to confound the humans by what they think they see. He was poor, from the class of society that was despised by those who should have been their shepherds. According to the leaders he came from the wrong city and ministered to the wrong people.
Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Now it is no different than it ever was concerning the way of the true and only living God, versus the way of the humans. The way of God is and has been against the way of man since he was bound to the animal via the nature they were made to share in common with each other—fear, hiding, and impulse driven by instinct, which he has no control over except to become the very animal he despises. What man deems unacceptable, that is the form God takes in order to hide from him. We cannot mesh our service to God with the way of man—the two will not fit together, according to the will of the Father for each of His own sons. We cannot follow the Lord and be acceptable to men, acceptable even to ourselves and what we think we're entitled to. That is a precedent God set up once and for all in the firstborn Son's life, and spoke about even from the beginning. It is something that we can indeed see in the OT looking forward to the Son (in the mind of the Father who eagerly anticipated his arrival by putting the coming reality in the minds of His sons in the OT era); in the gospels giving account of what the Son actually said and did (everything the Father expected and desired him to do and be); and the testimony of Paul and the other sons of God in the first century who were under the new covenant—the life of God actually living inside the chosen humans in order to miraculously and supernaturally transform them into creatures who look like the firstborn Son—looking back to him.
The Old Testament tells one story of God's sons that he chose to put his word in, his spirit on, and His disobedient bride Israel—the bride who could never please Him with the faithfulness that He desired from her. It is the story of a mass of humanity and the animal nature that ruled them, who could constantly only put themselves first, even above the God and husband that worked mightily in them to pull them out of Egypt. However in everything it was, it is only the copy of what is actually real and true, but hidden and secret. Contained within the words that were preserved, there is the pointing to the Son who would be different in that way, not led by the animal, not under the curse the humans were under. The Father kept reminding the OT sons about the Son who was coming, the Once who would save them from what they couldn't see—not an observable enemy in the form of an army of other threatening humans, but an invisible adversary which kept them away from their true Father. Without the Son, their destiny would have been the same as all the common animals, to become one with the natural creation via rotting in the soil, forgotten by God. However, the Father kept this hope alive within them, of their savior who would be their brother and save them by pulling them out of the real, unseen Egypt so that they could be remembered by the Father, and they could be redeemed from the bounds of this created reality into His reality.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.
This is a hugely significant declaration of that hope and intention about the Son of God, and the hope kept getting revived in the mind of the sons who were predicting His arrival. His sons in the Old Testament, though each one flawed by that same nature, were His chosen sons nonetheless. They pointed forward to Jesus, the good son, who would not disappoint his Father by becoming just another flawed and blemished mature animal because he chose to never be ruled in any way by the animal nature, and he never became a mature human like all the others must become. By not allowing himself to be ruled by that nature, what the temptation was about, he was pure and unblemished—the Lamb that could set all the sons of God free from that animal nature they are all in prison to, by becoming the serpent and then killing its power to keep the sons in the grave—in hell forever, never able to be remembered by their Father.
When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.
Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David—all the sons we read about in the OT—all pointed toward the Son, God's Messiah, who would set all of them—the disciples and all those sons who are chosen to believe after he ascended—free. They were all types of the Son, who either spoke about him or were like them in their life and what they did. Yet each one had his fault with God, which was a declaration that they too were in bondage to that animal nature that can only ultimately serve itself—never able to love and serve God or their family of brothers. They were tormented and abused by the group of men who called themselves sons of God—the presumptuous, false sons. Stephen gives account of them as he identifies that contemporary group of men who claimed to be sons with that unfaithful bride from long ago. Stephen gave the testimony of the way of God versus the way of the mature humans.
"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. He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.
"This is that Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.' He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.
"But our 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.
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
Jesus didn't look or act like the Messiah they wanted, who would do their will and set them free from the political oppression of the Romans and make them great while they were able to hide in the fact that they were acting that way for God's sake. Jesus came to set God's sons free from the spiritual oppression of the animal nature that ruled them and turned their hearts away from God. The nature of the full grown animal is what the Lord killed on the cross; it's what allows the process of regeneration to happen in the sons because the power of the animal has been killed for those who have been given the choice. Because of Jesus' work in killing the nature of the mature animal, that nature can now be rooted out of God's sons, even in these bodies, in anticipation of the more perfect condition that this merely points to and guarantees—all the sons' redemption.
Ironically the Lamb killed the snake, the one Adam chose to trust rather than the Father. Adam's nature was bonded to the snake's when he believed it instead of God, and all men inherited that nature after him. Jesus, the suffering Messiah came instead of the conquering Messiah. He came for a reason that was hidden from the sons of Adam. They wanted him to serve them and their need for self-glory, but he came to serve God and His need for all righteousness to be fulfilled, so that salvation could be provided for the intended recipients.
Because God put the animal nature on the human, He couldn't just take it away. The words He spoke to Adam, even from the beginning, would have to be fulfilled. One of the humans would have to do it, the one who was promised, by the work he would do for the Father's sake. He would create the opportunity for his brothers to abandon their lives in order to do the good work, for the sake of their family of true brothers. Paul became a witness to this hidden righteousness of God in Jesus' life, purpose and accomplishment, being the fulfillment of the Genesis promise—the One who would come and crush the head of the serpent, this condition put on the humans by God. Paul, who was once great in the eyes of men became scum for his sake, to preach that Jesus was the One who could do it.
When we read the writings of Paul we often think of him as some great man who went around in the glorious cloud of the spirit speaking boldly, while everyone listened to him. In fact he was not anything that men would choose as someone who should represent God, who had been chosen by God to be a son. That's what the whore made him into; in reality Paul was kept hidden by God in the body of a frail, weak little man with bad eyesight. He looks back to Jesus as the source of everything he had, because Jesus revealed to Paul who he was and who God was. Jesus revealed to Paul who Paul's Father was by the hidden and secret way of the spirit. Only a handful were chosen by God to be His sons, as Paul and the other believers were who he labored for, struggled and pleaded with, to move away from the animal nature and be set apart from the world.
The animal nature always wants itself to be served and glorified. The humans will always torment the sons of God because God lives in His sons and what lives in the humans is naturally opposed to God, according to His purpose. The sons of God will always look bad to them because God wants His sons to be opposed by them and kept hidden in that reality. It is something that God uses in all His sons to separate them from the world and make them know that He is their good Father and that they can depend on Him to take care of them. That's what a good Father wants from His own sons.