Joshua 23-24 / Isaiah 29 / Hebrews 12
For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, "Read this, please," he will answer, "I can't; it is sealed." Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, "Read this, please," he will answer, "I don't know how to read."
In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
The perfection of God is wrapped up in his prophet speaking 700 years about the Son, who opened up the scroll and could read it because he had eyes to see and ears to hear the voice of the Father who told him the truth about everything that was true but had become corrupted by the humans. He also told him that he would renew the truth about God and institute the second wave of the truth of God living in the earth.
The first may be in today's Joshua reading. They were delivered into the land promised to Abraham, the son whom God loved. Moses the shepherd of God's people morphed into Joshua the shepherd of God's people, who led them into the land. His final words to them are recorded in the last chapter of Joshua.
The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the LORD your God.
But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you.
In reading it the sons should realize that the account was recorded and preserved for them as the copy so they could understand the spiritual reality to which it points. The story's no good as an historical account in and of itself. There must be a purpose and reason for God to keep these accounts intact, aside from national pride. If the purpose of God in the earth is to gather up His family of sons, then the stories must tend toward reinforcing that purpose, which they do.
The land is the relationship between the Father and His sons. The land was promised to Abraham, but the land just represents a home, a place where the sons could live with and honor their Father in peace, without the threat of having to leave. It's like a fortress where the enemy cannot get in, where the Father can keep His sons safe from everything that threatens them.
Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.
"I am your reward" is what the sons know. Why is that important? When you understand what God's intention was in the beginning, you see that he wanted a son whom He could enjoy, and who could enjoy Him as He gave His love to the son in the most pure and innocent father/son relationship. That was taken away from the son and his kind as recorded in Genesis 3. The love, safety and security which were in the son because the Father loved, protected and provided everything for him; were replaced with the fear, hardship and worry of the animal which all of a sudden had to face the fact that it was going to die.
That is the present state of the humans, far away from God, unable to be in His presence because they are unclean and unholy—because they are unclean animals, not purified sons. If they can't be in God's presence, then they can't know, understand or feel His love. God took away that relationship and ability to enjoy His love in a safe restful place, so that doesn't exist any longer as it originally did. Now this other thing is what the humans are born into, which becomes set in them as they pass over from child to adult and become fully dead—the state of being an animal, ruled by the nature that makes all the animals one with the natural creation.
Now I am about to go the way of all the earth (to live and die then go into the ground to become fertilizer—truly to become one with it).
Up to and including Abraham, God chose certain individuals from the race of the humans to reverse that separation in them, so that they could be, individually amongst those who remained separated, in that place of being a copy of the sons. God could be, in a very limited capacity, a friend to these individual men—He could know them. Abraham represented something different in the way God wanted to deal with the humans. He was the beginning and father of a family of humans who altogether would represent a family of sons, an entire nation of sons in the world. The many represented one, an idea that is itself a symbol of how every purpose of God in the world all funnel back into one purpose, which is to have His family of sons, His pride and joy.
The many as one were raised in a land not their own, slaves to a foreign father who mistreated them because they weren't his son. Then their true Father pulled them out as one man, with the guidance of His shepherds, and delivered them to the home He had promised to their relative Abraham, where they could live in peace and safety and understand their new Father's love for them. The Father could enjoy His sons, and be honored and respected by them. But they kept repeating the same mistake of conspiracy with the Father's enemy that the original son committed.
You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.
Their respect and honor for their new Father was temporary, and they kept sliding back into the place where they acted resentful of His love and purpose for them instead of grateful. So He gave them over to what they feared and at the same time loved, becoming overrun and plundered by their enemies, eventually back into captivity and slavery to the brother of the same evil father who had mistreated them before. Basically He gave them over to what their evil hearts always wanted, instead of what He, the good Father, wanted to give them.
A period of darkness and slavery to God's enemies lasted for a long time in the earth, but He kept issuing hope for a new and better relationship by which He could enjoy a family of sons in the earth, who would be brought back to a place of having and knowing the truth about Him. This hope would be coming in the form of a man, a Son who would set the other sons free from the curse of the animal conspiracy with each other against the Father. This Son wouldn't join in with that conspiracy, but would do the work which would break its power in them so they could be freed from it. Otherwise, without the Son's intervention, the earth would just remain filled with the lies of the animal which ruled it (and the humans who rule the earth), and would serve to keep the sons far from God because they'd just remain in the ground, rotting into it, becoming one with the earth that was swallowing them up. The many, as one, continued to do whatever was right in their own eyes, although He still chose some from within their midst, to whom He would individually reveal His truth. Those (Isaiah) kept pointing to the hope which was in the coming Son, who after that long period of darkness would restore all things and create a new thing in the earth, a new way for the Father to enjoy His sons. The old way wasn't good enough, it didn't work very well because the sons kept gravitating to the Father's enemy and choosing that over Him.
Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?"
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me?" Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing?"
In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest?
The Son came and brought the new way with him, as he turned the way to God upside down. He brought a secret, hidden salvation for the new sons, a way for them to be restored to their originally intended status, with the nature not of a dumb animal who couldn't ever know God, but of a son who loved his Father, who relied on Him to give him everything he needed and make him feel safe and secure—as though there weren't any threats that the Father couldn't keep the son from. And many sons were born, and again the many became as one.
Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.
But they (the humans under the condition of the new covenant) only stayed faithful for a little while, as the Israelites were faithful only a little while in the land after their temporary shepherd was taken. The many as one did what the many as one had done before them, they gravitated toward their Father's enemy (the animal whom they loved because it gave them the ability to be their own gods), then darkness was over the earth once again, where every one of the humans just does what's right in his own eyes. The love of the Father is gone in the earth, unseen and unable to be known or understood. He's been enjoying His good Son who went to be with him a couple thousand years ago.
The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.
This is all the animal can do, because they have all been given over to that nature. It's been that way since shortly after the Son left to be with the Father. But he promised to come back to fulfill God's purpose in the earth, to finally gather up, one by one, all of the sons who were ever born into it. The earthly copies exist on as the record of what once was for a short time, twice, as the many as one idea points to God's ultimate desire, to have many sons who are so united in purpose and love that they are one.
You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.
Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
What is the hardship that the sons must endure so they can become good sons? It is not going to where there is action, where they will be physically persecuted for what they "believe." Our fight isn't against flesh and blood, but the nature that wants to continue to rule us. It does rule the humans, but we cannot fight them or it will be superficial. It is about our own selves and the nature that wants to rule us, not about other people.
It is sitting here, patiently enduring while we do not choose to gratify our selves with the things by which we used to escape the tediousness of existing before. It is waiting for the Father to give us relief or whatever else He wants us to have while we endure, not choosing the old way but the new way of waiting for the Father to give us what we need, not taking for ourselves by our own hand and power to get for our selves.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I used to want to follow the Lord and live a life that was real—much like I felt it must have been for the 1st century believers, who had more than I ever saw was happening in my life. When I imagined it, though, I never thought about taking on the shame of Jesus. It was always about doing and being this or that for the Lord, strong in purpose and dedication and upholding the truth of God—always the noble things that served me in my fantastical "service" to God, according to the nature that ruled me with all its cravings to have my egotistical needs be validated all the time. I had no idea that God makes us able to be that by making us the opposite of that.
The old man is terrified of the idea of shame and disgrace, but it is how God separates His children from the rest of the world. In retrospect we can all see that Jesus was the last person who deserved to be treated like the most disgraceful and vile dog, but he was. We know that he was eventually vindicated by his Father—who raised him as was promised—for willingly taking on that shame. We hear people sing songs about him being the great and victorious savior, praising him for what he did for us. To the humans around him, though, he wasn't important or good. He was only good enough to be killed like a dog. We forget that a servant is not above his master, and that Jesus' life is a copy for us to see how God works in His sons. The part of us that forgets is the animal nature, which wants to keep leading us around by the nose.
If we go back to the garden story, we will see that shame was the first by-product of their disobedience, and by it fear of their Father sprang to life. The result of what they did was loss of the innocence of the child who has no reason to fear his good father, and the immediate application of the full-grown animal nature upon them. That became the state of the human—afraid of God and someone far off, never knowing because of the animal nature membrane. Paul was over 20 years mature in the spirit when he wrote about how he regarded his Father, as much like Daddy as almighty God:
Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
The wisdom of God is that He uses that same thing—shame—to undermine the pride of life in His own sons who are receiving what Adam had before he conspired with the others against God. In order to know God like the 1st century sons did, we have to be disconnected from Adam.
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
"I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
The first manifestation of the nature of sin and death is the shame that they felt. The second was fear caused by shame—they were afraid of God because of it. Ironically, it is how God changes a son of the snake into a son of Him, by putting the shame of the animal on him, whatever it may be. Humans are bound by the pride of life, which has to be destroyed in a man. It's a terrible thing to think of being shamed, because the animal who hates being shamed is so strong in us.
The Father loves the son and wants to dwell inside him in peace. There can be no peace when the pride of Adam still exists within the son's heart. He puts the shame of Jesus on us for very good reasons. Because it is the opposite of the pride of Adam, it is ironically used as a weapon to root it out of us, sanctify us from the world, and keep us hidden from the sons of Adam. It's a good thing.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.