Judges 2-3 / Isaiah 31 / James 1
I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, "I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars."
It's hard to conceive of what a covenant is in modern times. It's a treaty-like agreement to do or be something for the other party, and you trust them to do or be what they have said. Everything we as sons are and are becoming is based on the new covenant we have with the Father, who has the power to leave us in the ground or redeem us from it. Why would He redeem us from the ground? Because He wants to, for His and our sake. It's God's purpose to have a family of sons who love Him, so by His word it is accomplished, throughout the history of this creation. Is it just a promise that we've read in the printed words on pages of paper, and because we want it to happen we believe it's true for us? Is that all we have to go on, the printed words as concepts which we turn into some sort of theoretical reality (which is a contradiction in terms)?
...humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
What "word" is James referring to here? The NT hadn't yet been written. Was it the OT? That's what the Israelites had, which explained the old covenant. The word is God's intention, what He's going to do. It is His plan and desire of how He wants things to go and what He wants to happen. Jesus is called the word, because his very life was the Father's purpose, plan and desire on the earth. So true is that, the OT words are filled with promises about the Son who was coming to be the Father's word. The men throughout this time whom God revealed Himself to were given the vision of the hope of the Son, and they wrote the hope down. It was the Father's way to keep remembering that he was coming, even though the world had to wait a long time. His word is His purpose, by which He accomplishes what He desires.
The word of the Father's intention was planted into the believers, those James intended to address in his letter to them, to encourage them in the new way, totally and completely different than anything they knew or had. What makes up the NT is a series of communications between sons of God to other sons of God, those they knew to be in His family, which they knew to be His purpose and will in the world, to gather up sons to be in that family, and to redeem them for that purpose.
James continues after establishing that the word (life and nature of the Son who was the purpose of God) was planted in them, to accept it, to agree with it, to hear it and do what it says (heed it). The living word is the voice of the Father speaking, which the good son heeds and obeys with a soft neck so he can be the Father's instrument in the earth and accomplish His will. Not some generic will that everyone just guesses about, but the specific will to have a family of redeemed sons who will never go away from Him, established and represented by Jesus who is at the Father's side and will never leave Him. The Father can love and enjoy the Son forever, now that they're united as One. Soon the Father will be able to love and enjoy the entire family of firstborn sons when they have all been gathered to Him.
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Out of love for the Father, which had come to him first, Jesus did the work which will redeem the sons for God's sake. What Jesus said and did was the will of God, for the purpose of Him coming closer to having what He wants; and by it he became the word as per John. God lived in him to do His will, which in Jesus' case was the words he spoke (true teaching about God the Father of the disciples) and the things he did—the life he lived.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
The Son allowed the Father to do what He wanted and accomplish His word because he wasn't led by the animal. He chose to deny it so that his choice for the Father would be an example for the other sons who also choose the Father over what might be easier—whatever the rest of the humans around them are choosing, their own way and life. His soft-neck allowed God to fulfill His word (purpose) in the earth.
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Jesus said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."
Bread is for the physical body. The word, the purpose and intention of God to save His family is food for the son, who is a spiritual being. He may have an earthly body, but it isn't important to him because soon it will expire along with everything in this creation. Nothing physical can help him grow spiritually, only the supernatural phenomenon that takes place when God decides to accomplish a part of His will in the son. It is not run-of-the-mill, nor very common.
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.
The son learns an entirely new way to live, be, do, trust in, dream about, aspire to, accumulate for, and hope in. Before he was born, all he had and knew was Egypt, what he learned from the world as he grew into it and became one of its children. Then all he had was himself and the things he learned were programmed into him as he moved away from the vulnerable animal who could believe in things it couldn't see (God is unseen)—the child's capacity for imagination. As he moved further away from that state that most closely resembles perfection in the earth—being untouched by the nature that rules the creatures who rule the world—he moved further and further from the ability to trust the Father because he had to move closer to what they all must become in order not to perish prematurely—self-sufficient, self-preserving animals, dead to God.
Return to him you have so greatly revolted against, O Israelites. For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
"Assyria will fall by a sword that is not of man; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labor.
Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic," declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
Return to Him is returning to the state of being alive to God, what happens to the son as he moves back toward that state of perfection—ignorant and vulnerable, able to see and believe what's unseen and unavailable to all the dead animals in the earth. God hates the way of man because He loves the other thing, His family which is made into the opposite of the humans, why they are despised by them. None of the humans wants to be like a baby again; it's as despicable to them as the truth is, which they spend their lives hiding from. They're the opposite of His purpose and will, which is to make each of the sons honest in their heart toward Him, not hiding from Him or hiding anything from Him.
I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.
The picture this paints is of a son who is naked before his father and doesn't care, which is the correct thing for a son to be before his own father. It is incorrect for a son to be afraid of the man because he realized he is naked, so he hides. This means that when he broke the covenant with his Father he was not a son anymore, but like a stranger to Him, which would make sense to him hiding from the man because he was ashamed he was naked.
"The LORD's fire is in Zion, and His furnace is in Jerusalem" is a refiner's fire. The things represented by Assyria are the things of the animal, what wants to lead the son, the old way of being a mature animal dead to God. Returning to that state of perfection is the burning off of those impurities, the evil and filth of the unclean animal that keeps the humans from coming close to the Father.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.
Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them.
The Spirit of the LORD came upon Othniel, so that he became Israel's judge (leader) and went to war.
Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud...After Ehud came Shamgar...He too saved Israel.
Everything points to the better thing. All these judges were in an inferior way like the coming Son would be, guided, directed, led and ruled by the life of the Father living inside him (the spirit). He would save the better Israel, the family of chosen sons who would choose the way of their Father over the way of the animal, and be saved by the Son who is the cornerstone of the building that is the body of the life of God, made up by each of the individual sons as bricks. He gives up a part of His own body, something very valuable, to them because they have chosen to give up their body, their life, their dreams and hopes and the right they have as animals to live out their lives as any animal does—of and for its self until it perishes.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James wrote his epistle about 20 years after the Lord started giving birth to spiritual children (sons) for the Father. He was writing to the Jewish converts to whom he had ministered in Jerusalem, who were especially bad off in the natural because of their decision to embrace the shame of Jesus. The repercussions were enormous for them as they were killed and persecuted and put out of the community on which they depended to survive. The first thing James addresses is the many different trials that they are suffering. He makes it a point to let them know that what is happening to them is not arbitrary, but that there is a reason for everything that was happening to them He encourages them to continue in their faith in this trouble maker Jesus, the reason for their troubles.
Of course the times are different now; human life is more protected than it was then, and barbarism is now relatively uncommon. The message that we should see is that these first century christians had to make a choice because it was real. It wasn't just some conceptual event that they were embarking upon when they decided to follow the Lord and publicly confess him. The Son whose body was killed was alive inside their bodies, convincing them that he was alive and the way he went was the way they'd have to go too, to get to the Father. Nobody comes to the Father except by the same way the Son went—that is, by throwing off the things of this animal existence as though they mean nothing, because they don't mean anything.
These humans who were being inhabited by the spirit of the Son would have been aware that very real consequences would ensue after they made their proclamation about the authenticity of the life of the Son, which they knew because he was alive in them. It was unmistakable in one sense, yet not in any way they were used to. The presence of this life was real, but unseen and not provable—they just knew, and either had to choose to embrace the unbelievable and unprovable, or shrink back in fear of the reprisals of their declaration that the dead man Jesus was alive inside of them—but he couldn't be seen. Along with the brutality and physical violence against them for being trouble makers and freaks was the poverty, and beyond that was the shame of identifying with this Jesus and his followers (trouble makers and freaks who were out of their minds because they saw and heard things that weren't there).
We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?
The stigma that brought would have been enormous for any Jew, so the choice was significant, with severe and actual consequences. In other words, they could just weave their devotion to Jesus into their lives like a hobby, paying attention to it, him and each other when they had the time to. They couldn't just go to church on Sunday and a bible study whenever they could make it. They heard God's voice and responded to Him—they took responsibility for the choice they knew they had to make. It took over their entire existence if they chose to embrace the life that had been planted in them. Then the former life they had would go away by being denied to them. They would have to be given a new life with new things—purpose, hope, riches, family, love and all kind of aspiration.
Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
We need to realize that there is a formula that goes all the way back to the beginning and runs through the entirety of the message—the Word. The formula is that the sons of God are responsive to Him when He asks them to choose between their lives and the shame that He brings. That means choosing what we know God is telling us is the right way inside us, where no one can see. He brings the opposite of what we naturally (humanly) want and expect because His way is the opposite of what the humans want, love and would ever choose (because they have no choice).
...humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Being responsible to God is what Adam didn't do in the garden when he let Eve get tricked by the snake. If he would have fully explained what God required and been responsible for her then maybe she wouldn't have been fooled. It's for the purpose of being set against what Jesus did. He knew that God had given him the 12 humans to teach and make into sons—to reveal to them who their real Father was, and then to save them. He took responsibility for the work that God had given him, which meant he had to neglect his natural responsibility to himself, his own natural family, the expectations of people around him, the work of creating and maintaining a valid, honorable earthly identity, and everything else the humans love and run after—their right to live out their animal existences to and for themselves without being bothered about having to live for anyone else.
When the movie The Last Temptation of Christ came out I remember all the religious protesters and the great controversy it caused, because they felt they were obligated to defend their made up jesus. Now I realize that the controversy was ironic; the church people were all pissed off because the film jesus had a dream/hallucination sequence while he was dying. He was hallucinating that he had married a human and had a family like all good Jewish boys were supposed to. He on the other hand gave up that right to live out his animal existence like a good Jew because he chose the way of the Father instead. Far from being anti-Jesus, the movie actually hits closer to what's true because it showed what he *didn't* do, what he gave up in order to choose and respond to God. It showed that he didn't allow the animal nature to rule him, but was willing to pay the cost of being pleasing and honorable to the Father by choosing His hidden way instead. When he came back to consciousness (in the film) he was on the pole, being made into a curse by God, dying the most disgraceful death a Jew could have died.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
He took responsibility for the people he had been given by God in his life and in his death—it looked in the natural to be the wrong choice. He knew he was the Messiah and hope of Israel, the son of the great King. He was familiar with the David story and knew that he was anointed to be the greater David. Yet what was he told to do? Spend 3 years with a group of rag-tags and reveal God to them, then die on their behalf. That is what the temptation is about—the animal nature in Jesus thinking about what he could be and do for God. No responsibility to the work God asked him to do, no responsibility to the task of teaching those men what he knew. No miserable, suffering death. It wanted him to take and eat the fruit of the flesh; that is, to be a full-grown mature animal, to fulfill its will and desire in the earth. It wanted to rule him, to be his father and teacher.