Joshua 15 / Isaiah 20-21 / Philemon
Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Onesimus was his slave, so how could he have been useless to Philemon as a slave? Because he was only a slave in the earthly sense, and the natural existence doesn't matter. Although we're trained to think otherwise, because of the nature inherently in us which ties us to the natural, nothing about this physical life is important because the natural creation subsists as billions of tiny overlapping existences turning in their little cycles, being born, then existing for a short time, then dying. Insects, plants, animals—everything is only here once, for a short time, then has to be renewed again by another thing that exists until it is gone, and then another the same way, because that's the way the natural creation is. It has the appearance of something eternal because each of the particular existences keeps coming and they overlap, so there's never any lag time between any of them out of their sheer number. The creation exists merely as a collection of these individual "lives," so there isn't anything eternal or non-ending about this creation. It must be viewed through the consciousness of the particular individual "life" that is existing, and each one of them has a beginning and an end. In this creation, even though to each particular individual their own existence is always the most important thing that ever and will ever exist (why they spend so much time and effort surviving, the implication being their life is worth so much—why they do it), nothing matters much because there's always something to take the place of what's gone, which at one point seemed important but now is gone and not so, as it used to be.
That's the way life is, and the way the humans are, who rule this (surprisingly) ultimately unimportant creation. Everything keeps turning in cycles and they never get out of them. What seems to be so significant very soon isn't. The humans are the kings of the natural creation, but even they are bound to the laws and constraints of it as they keep doing exactly what they've been doing since the beginning—living then dying, and thinking their lives are so incredibly important to themselves all the while. It's the same stuff everywhere you go, over and over and over and over, they endlessly just keep living and dying, participating in the same nature of the human animal, following the same desires and whims, living to and for their so incredibly important selves.
The fear of dying, becoming extinct and being the insignificant piece they actually are produces some categories of driving needs and cravings that are instinctual to them: the accumulation of money & things around them so they feel safer, appeasing the irrational fear in themselves so they feel less like what they actually are; the satisfaction of an appetite for sex and mating so they can prolong their life the only way possible—by producing offspring who contain their very own, actually physical DNA that will presumably live on after they get stuffed into the ground, and the satiation of a very hungry egotistical need to emotionally survive in a less tangible way than sheer physical survival by the need to feel better, sturdier, smarter, righter, more fit than the other competing animals. From these come lots of different outcomes within the psyches of the human animal, and they all overlap so it's not a simple categorization or formula about what lives inside the humans, but extremely complex. According to the simplistic minds and existences of the humans who cannot even recognize the pattern, these don't even exist because all they see is the world though their own eyes with themselves at the top, which comes back to the beginning of how the natural creation is just one collection of existences, each one with a beginning and an end—very much a finite deal.
That's how the sons should view it because it is an inferior reality compared to that which they have been called to have revealed inside of them. To the animals it's everything, and the way they live (even and especially those who claim to know the way to God) shows that it means everything to them because it's what they love—from their accumulation of things to make them feel safer, to their drive to surround themselves with replicants who look and act like them, who carry their own DNA, to their need to be recognized, to be the ones who are right, and be validated by the group of humans they surround themselves with to do that for them. Their mouth babble about how they love to follow their made up jesus gets its legs chopped right off by the Son of God and the words he said about the cost of following him. One can't continue to be an animal and follow him, but must become separated from the animals in order to do it. Yet at the same time one can't know about the animal that rules him unless that's revealed to him. Therefore, only by revelation according to the specific choice of the Father can one become a son to Him by finding Him and conforming to HIS reality.
Within a few hundred years after the real Son of God existed within the natural creation, the whore of Babylon made it "legal" (according to the religious experts) to be able to follow the made up jesus halfheartedly, by both exercising the right of the animal to live its animal life like all the others while they could also buy and possess sonship—to eat their cake and have it too because they erroneously read that salvation is free so they think it's cheap too, which is what they declare. The christian world is this babylon who calls herself the bride but is really a whore.
Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer:
A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons
For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.
We don't know if Philemon spared Onesimus' life. It would have been difficult to ignore Paul's argument, because it was true, and also charmingly conveyed with a kind of brotherly guilt that was okay because of the true relationship Paul and Philemon had. They had received such a completely unfathomable gift from the Son, who unleashed the mercy of God to all of the brothers that the mercy Paul was demanding from Philemon was just sort of expected, which Paul figured he could count on. That turned the human slave/master relationship on its head, just as the Son himself turned it on its head in John 13 and elsewhere, and it's good that we're allowed to be able to have his dilemma restored for us to witness. Paul's argument counts on the strength of the brotherhood over everything else, especially economic things.
The earthly doesn't matter for anything, and in just a few years Philemon's earthly body would be in the ground and he'd have no use for a slave. Paul gave his life for the believers because he understood that God's sons were the only important thing in his new life and existence as a son of God. He believed that the family of God transcended all of man's systems, and Onesimus was a son of God first, then a slave second. There is a lot of convincing that he does, and the liberties he takes are in order considering what he has done and is doing for the brothers, Philemon included.
Paul would have had many slaves by this point were he to have continued in his former life. Why did Paul's life change so drastically? Paul was chosen by the Son specifically to become a son and do a son's work. After his new birth as a son to his true Father he became and spent his life as a slave. But what drove Paul to walk away from everything so that he could have nothing, to lose everything he had for the sake of the Lord? One thing was the knowledge that the natural existence means nothing.
And now, compelled by the life of the Father and Son inside me (the spirit), I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the teacher warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
The enlightenment of that condition is a big component of the nature that gets put into the son, to develop his heart which combats the one the world formed in him via the animal nature, which compels its host to consider his life everything, not ever nothing no matter what half-hearted cliche comes forth from its mouth to the otherwise about following any of the made up gods. In order to know what's true, the son first has to know what's false, which is what's true about everyone else except another legitimate son. That's a tough one because it's so ingrained within us that our particularly earthly existence is so important from even before the time we move into human maturity and become fully dead according to God. Every day it gets cemented deeper and more solidly within us as we go on because it's reinforced daily by every exposure to the humans and their influence. Coming away from the humans is so important, which is reinforced over and over by the OT warnings concerning the copy of the legitimate sons (Israelites).
Paul didn't just decide one day that he wanted to be a son and then throw everything away. He was the world's man, driven to do the things he was doing. He had a lot of ambition, had a big head start and took advantage of it by carving out a life for himself. As a young man he was positioned to be an extraordinary human and enjoy the best of the things that the world had (like Solomon). Another irony of God is that He would choose someone who persecuted the people to become one of those people and help them find their way to the Father. The slave owner became a slave for the sake of the Father's purpose, to have His family of sons. The one who threw them in prison now went to prison on their behalf.
The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night.
I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.
Paul was studying to become a great teacher of the law amongst the people who were once the chosen people of God. The spiritual reality that Paul didn't know was that Israel was done as God's chosen people, and now in her historical preservation she was only a metaphor. The new covenant had been initiated and now God chose individuals, not entire groups. Paul's life wasn't about starting a movement, it was about knowing who his Father was. Jesus revealed that to him as he had to his 12 men, as he does to us now. Paul became the irony and humility of God, as Jesus had before him, so that whoever wants to be in favor with Him must be out of favor with the world.
In order for that to actually—not just theoretically—happen, we have to become out of step with the world. Our animal nature, formed by the world, makes us perfectly in step with it because we are it. Driven by the same force and nature that drives everything, we learned what it taught us and became it when we passed over from child to adult. God turns everything backwards when He comes because the spiritual reality is the opposite of the natural reality and condition of the humans at their core, formed by the animal nature within them. Before we can become out of step with the world we have to thoroughly see it for what it is, why it must be a gradual process of transformation. We have to recognize the same pattern over and over in the humans because we've come to the point where we can see it in ourselves. Every one of them thinks that their little existence is so important while 6 billion other human animals are thinking the same thing while being unawares, all the time spinning around in little squirrel cages, chasing the same dead-ends, going to the same places yet pretending they're not. The death and replacement of one thing with another just keeps happening in the humans to keep them merely another part of the old creation based on its seemingly never ending cycles of existence which all end in death.
Then the LORD said, "Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt's shame. Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. In that day the people who live on this coast will say, 'See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?' "
Isaiah was made a copy of the copy for us, as he became the shame, looking forward to Jesus. Egypt is a copy of the world that God pulls us out of. Those who trust and boast in it will be put to shame. And if Egypt is a copy of the world, then what is the shame of Egypt? All the things that the humans hold up as good and run after as valuable. What they clothe themselves with all their lives—what they hide behind, what forms their earthly identities, hopes and dreams all the way up until the point that they are no more. All the things that make them arrogant and feel that their lives are actually valuable when they're actually nothing because they always end up going in the same circles, round and round, thinking they're going somewhere but never ending up anywhere but back in the ground. The circular condition mentioned by God for the human is a component of his new nature:
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
Contrast that with the nature he had before he conspired against his Father, of the son whom the Father just wanted to take care of and give whatever He had to. Contrast it also with Jesus, because where was he going—in a circle like all the other humans who lived only to go back into the ground? Jesus was on a straight path, also from the worlds of Isaiah, leading to the Father. He wasn't caught up in the circle of death, but always on a straight path to the Father.
Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?"
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."
Those who rely on God to provide for them, who are actively (not theoretically) trusting Him to pull them out of the world so they can be bonded with Him their true Father, will never be put to shame. Jesus is the example and copy for all the rest of God's sons. The passover was the great copy that pointed to the work of Jesus, as the blood of the lambs who were the copies of him protected the metaphor from the copy of death. Once the real Lamb's blood was given there was no need for the copy anymore, as the real sons of God can be protected from the real death. Just as Jesus was protected from death by being pulled out of it after 3 days in the ground, God broke that circle so he actually could continue on his straight path to the Father.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
There are copies everywhere we look. Moses a copy of Jesus, Elijah a copy of John the baptist. Moses also represents those sons who have died and been buried in the earth, resting and waiting. Elijah we know was taken by God without obviously dying and being buried. He represents the sons who are pulled out of the ground so that they can go straight to the Father. Then in the middle we have Jesus himself who died and was buried like Moses and who was also taken by God alive like Elijah so that he is a perfect representative of what will happen with all of God's sons. Once they are spiritually born from above, then they come out of that circle that holds all of the humans in its grip. They start a straight journey from then on away from the animal and toward their Father. Moses was buried and Elijah was taken. In neither of the accounts of their lives do we see both things happening, but we do see it in Jesus. Put into the ground (Moses) and raised up (Elijah), the firstborn among all of God's sons.
It goes on and on—the more we understand the more complex is the world that God is making for us. The earthly existence is so terribly dull and one-dimensional compared to the spiritual reality, incomprehensible to the humans with their animal minds, driven by the dictates of their natures (instead of God, what the sons become driven by). The bronze snake that Moses put on a pole which saved the Israelites who looked at it is the obvious copy of what Jesus ironically—since he was the only human who was ever *not* driven by that nature—became to save the sons who are willing to look because they believe that looking will save them even though their earthly reality will never reinforce or validate it. According to men, Nicodemus was conversant in the law and prophets. But he didn't know the most basic and foundational secret reality of God contained within the writings, what everything pointed to and why it was even written and preserved for the sons. That's because it's hidden and secret, not just theoretically but actually. God does things perfectly, not like man does them.
The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of spiritual things? No one has ever gone into the spiritual world where God lives except the one who came from that place (because the spirit life of God lived in his earthly body)—the Son of Man.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone (chosen) who believes in him (rather than their earthly existence) may have eternal life (live with their Father forever and never have to go away from Him)."