Judges 6 / Isaiah 33 / James 3-4
"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, `Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
God is not strong in the way that humans think they are, and that He will be for them. They aren't able to go anywhere or do anything except what they're being programmed to do by the nature that completely rules them. God doesn't play into the hands of the humans who claim such and such about Him, or that He's at work in their institutions built upon the lies made up by humans so long ago. In a real way the situation is the same as in Gideon's time, which is a copy. Those who consider themselves the guardians of the truth of their made up gods are like the men in his village who were so given over to the lies of the humans (that baal was god), they were ready to kill one of their own Israelite brothers for doing the right thing, for listening to the true God and telling the men the truth, which he demonstrated by his actions of destroying the altars they erected to baal, having obviously completely forgotten about the God of Israel. Their is a blindness that happens to what's true, which is so pervasive it becomes not even an option to choose, which makes sense because the true God doesn't want or have to compete with lies for the affection and devotion of the humans, especially now that the Son is with Him and they don't ever have to be separated again.
That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering."
The men of the town demanded of Joash, "Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it."
The sons are called to know something different than do the humans around them, something the humans can't know because they're completely given over to whatever lies they want to believe about whatever gods they have chosen to make up to serve them. The sons are called to worship the Lord their Savior in spirit and truth (hidden and secret places in their heart, which has become the new battlefield). They tear down the things that have been erected inside them which had been built there by what they learned from the men of the village around them—their only influence for a long time until the Teacher came. So many lies exist in them because all they know is what they were taught by the false teachers all around them, whomever had influence to teach them anything about living as yet another human animal. Just like cats learning to bury their poop by the animals who reinforced the nature that was already existing inside them, we also learned how to live, what to value, worship, love and run after as per what was taught to us by our blind teachers who have no idea about the truth of the Father, nor much inclination to find out what the truth is.
Once their true Father has been revealed to them, the sons go inward toward Him who will be found living inside them (not outside where the humans can see) and away from the humans who are on the outside, blind to the hidden and secret reality of the life of the Father living in His sons. The humans were our teachers for a long time, but cannot be any longer because all they can do in us is continue to reinforce the old way they effectively did when they were our teachers. They will not conform to us, nor can we conform to them so there is an impasse that cannot be solved by interaction with them because they don't want what we have and we don't want what they have. The two cannot be mixed, like the Israelites with the nations around them, which invariably led to them being dragged away to worship their gods, as in Gideon's time.
When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, `I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me."
The way, intention, desire and will of the true God for His own sons is opposite the way the animal nature will tend to take us without His correction and direct influence in us. Without it, in just a minute we'd be given over to the swell of lust, cravings, needs, fears and the impulse to hide away in any or all of the human fortresses. Those forces are too powerful to fight, not because God's enemy is stronger than He is, but because it (the devil, the adversary, the deceiver) is His creation—to keep the vast majority of humans who are not chosen to be sons of God away from Him. It's hard for the animal part of us to get this because of our inbred retardation and all the tendencies which come with that retarded condition. The humans to God are like the baboons are to the humans. They may in a very slight way resemble His own sons, but they are vastly different, as easy to tell apart as that.
"But Lord, " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
The humans think they're strong, powerful and intelligent, just because they're a step above the rest of the animals. They can't do anything except what they're allowed to do by the nature that rules them, which they can't even see. They think they're so free, powerful and intelligent that they are actually choosing their lives. To make fun of them, God chooses the weak and humble to be powerful, whereas the animals choose the strong and physically dominant because that suits their nature. The animals' choice is all about the external because it can't/doesn't want to see the truth of what the man is in the secret parts (Saul vs. David); but God sees.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Desires that battle within us is the life of growing up into sonship. The desires of the animal are the things by which we used to serve and protect ourselves before we ever knew the life of God. The process is all mapped out in the OT accounts, which are the copy of the better thing:
Then finally God stopped sending reminders as He changed the situation completely around. The last reminder was John the baptist, but he wasn't reminding the son but telling him that things were about to change all around. The real Son had come, who would be changing the way God dealt with the humans, undoing what He'd already done.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Moral filth and evil, according to those who were under the new covenant, were what the humans did, and said was okay to do, especially those who appeared to be closest to the made up gods (religious leaders). The new covenant counted Ishmael the same as Isaac, which isn't important at all in and of themselves to God, because both would be worthless apart from the Son who would be saving the family of sons so they could be like the Father. Not like the humans who are just bound to live and die tied to (one with) the natural creation, ultimately and finally becoming one with it forever by melting (rotting) into it. The Son established the new and lasting way, that the way to God wasn't visible or reachable in the natural, but secret and hidden—only found inwardly. And only those who are enlightened to know where the path is would be able to find it. No more would it just exist because of an outward sign (circumcision), but the sign would be something that couldn't be noticed by the humans, of the heart which is hidden within the man. The way of man with God, that he thinks he can know the way, or that he thinks he's entitled to know the way because of what he is, is over. The restoration of the sons happens without any of the other animals ever even knowing what's happening.
Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
The devil isn't some independently powerful being who operates as God's enemy apart from what His purpose is, as the myth goes. It is inherently within the humans, the nature that drives them to be what they love and encourage—ambitious and responsible, which equals acceptable. Ambition is celebrated amongst the humans because its a good way of surviving as an animal. It's all about building up the external identity and getting for their selves, what comes natural to animals who are driven by the instinct to do just that. The sons were like that too, but must now become different than the humans and their father the devil, so that they can be like their true Father who has called them to know the secret way of the hidden sons of God. These two verses are a nutshell of the animal versus the son nature.
The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Not enough can ever be said about peace with God because that's where the son gets his actual strength, like Gideon who was weak in the earthly, unspiritual way. But he was chosen by God to be a shepherd of His flock, a leader whose power was in submitting to God and allowing Him to accomplish His will in the earth, for the sake of the flock. Doing the will of the Father is the son's food, how he is strengthened. Selfish ambition is the way of every animal, trying to get more food and clothing for itself so it won't die. The animal nature always opposes God.
I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
When we see the religious leaders saying they know the way to God, yet living as all animals do where it counts, selfish ambition intact (yet disguised because the animal can only lie), we know that's merely because they don't hear from God, even though they claim to know the way to Him. They made their own way and bought it so they could control it, but it only leads to the ground because that's where their gods live—in their minds as the lie they loved more than wanting to find the truth, so they were given over to whatever it is, religiously oriented or not. In the end they all just worship themselves and the nature they are slaves to, what pulls them around by the nose all day to get them to serve it by satisfying the cravings and appeasing the fears it offers up within them, making them wholly unfit to be sons of God. That keeps them away from Him, as per His wishes that they be kept far away from Him.
They are the false prophets and messiahs, the anti-christs, the false shepherds, the wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. They carry on the work of their fathers who took what was true in the first century into the darkness of the captivity of new babylon; conforming the new covenant that was true to their own evil desires, by developing myths to appease the fear within the flock which allows them to control things for their own benefit. Being animals, their father is the devil, whose job it is to keep them away from God, not show them the way to Him. God imposed the animal nature onto the humans for that very purpose, so that they couldn't reach out their hand and grab what only belongs to God's actual sons.
"The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Before we're born there is no warfare inside us—there is just the dead man walking, breathing, existing—waiting to die. Being dead to God, he is for all intents dead, because it's just a matter of a few years before his individual consciousness is incorporated into the natural creation. There is peace within us because we're the son of the ruler of the dying creation, so the animal is free to rule us, and we're free to fully participate in the world. Selfish ambition is not merely allowed, it is celebrated.
Should a man have a wayward and rebellious son, who does not heed his father's voice and his mother's voice, and they punish him and he does not heed them, his father and mother shall seize him and bring him out to the elders of his town and to the gate of his place, and they shall say to the elders of his town, "This son of ours is wayward and rebellious, he does not heed our voice, is a glutton and a drunk." All the people of his town shall stone him to death, and you shall root out the evil from your midst, that all Israel may hear and be afraid.
The NT writings (like the letter of James) are often aimed at believers who were going through the war of conversion from animal to son of God. They were written to those who were resisting their conversion and still engaged in the practices of the animal. They were indulging in the self-preserving desires of their former nature, and causing problems within that community of believers. After we're born the warfare starts as the spirit starts his work in us to battle the devil (the animal nature) and root him out of us. At first there is the excitement of knowing we are truly chosen and born of God, sort of like an infatuation period. Then the work of conversion starts and our true nature starts coming out—the independent, self-preserving nature with all our beliefs that we are good and special and righteous within ourselves. This happens according to the process that must take place, or it won't be genuine.
As animals we're taught to lie and hide, and throw up a smokescreen so we won't be found out. Our actual identity before God is what we store up and believe in our hearts; and we were taught all our lives to think we can remain polluted there and no one will ever find out, as though God never actually sees who we are, as though God is only a man. It's the natural process of growing up into an independent, self-sufficient mature animal, which hates God and is far away from Him. It's how we learn to cope with the world, to grow up and be a healthy human with lots of self-worth, yet as worthless to God as a baboon in the jungle is to man.
Consider the copy. When a child is first born it is totally dependent on its parents for everything. Gradually, though, sometime after it starts walking, an urge to make its own choices begins to develop inside it. This is an exciting development for humans because it means he is not stunted or retarded, but will be following the natural course of the animal he was born to be, just like them (how exciting!). The difficulty with making an independent choice is that they must disagree with the parents in order for the choice to be their own. Now, when you ask them to do something, they refuse. This is the beginning of independence and a desire to be self-sufficient, death to God. Although the child still has a certain amount of sweetness and dependency within it, that will soon quickly disappear as the child becomes mature.
When the sons are born to God they have to revert backwards away from what they learned before. In contrast the spiritual child learns over time that all the stuff he learned when he grew into the animal—the independent, self-sufficient, self-serving nature—is a thing that must be destroyed if he is to move closer to the Father. That's what James is addressing here, a bunch of children going through this process but giving in to that nature, which wants to tear the other child apart. It's a struggle and a fight, and the temptation will be to kill and destroy, not to love.
That is that animal nature being cornered, knowing it's in jeopardy of losing its fight to survive, be better, self-preserve. Love is impossible for the animals; all they can ever get is a temporary taste of love, then it goes away. There were also no doubt unbelievers mixed in with the sons, un chosen by God but partaking in this "new thing" in Jerusalem. That would have made it even more difficult for the sons to not partake in the old way, because the un chosen ones couldn't learn the new way, and were causing disorder and chaos within the community, which James is addressing.
The various trials, although they may seem bad and against God's purpose, happen in many different forms, which are meant to serve the sons and are actually for His purpose. The trials allow them to see who they are (contentious and self-serving), and make them understand what God wants them to be instead—peace-loving and kind, not needing to protect themselves (because He wants to). Their purpose is to produce humility in us, as we see that we are not godly, or righteous, or that anything good lives in us or comes from us. We can't stand on our own, but we continually get our strength from the food that can't be seen, purely spiritual. This process is a tough one. The animal never wants to give up easily, and the suffering of losing our individual animal identity feels like death. The most predominant characteristic of the animal is to resist and fight, what we train ourselves to do after we become a man, fully dead.
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
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.
It is all a very good thing in the long run—it's the course of spiritual development. Yet it's also very tumultuous and confusing and painful to go through, because it's the process of the death of the old way, not of the "bad people" but of all the people. It's why John the Baptist grew up in the place where there weren't any people, so he wouldn't be taught their ways but would be taught by the Father's teachers, to be for His own special, hidden purpose—to make straight paths for the One the people couldn't even see or recognize. It's having to see and give up who we are compared to the lies we were told, and in turn told ourselves, which we held on to as they made us feel safe. Of course every animal learns to think of himself as good and valuable—it's the definition of self-worth, a tool that we learn to employ in our struggle to cope with the world and survive emotionally. People who don't develop these skills are the ones who are looked down upon as maladjusted losers.
As per God's way versus the humans', the good is bad and the bad is good. What is good and valuable for man is bad in God's culture, and the son will unlearn the way of Egypt and learn God's way. That is the way Jesus knew, to be totally dependent on his Father for everything and to know Him intimately as his Father. He learned to choose the right—God's way—and reject the wrong—the way of the animal. That is the model for each of the sons of God, to do and become what the author of their salvation was—responsive to the Father and a shepherd of His flock.
And you shall root out the evil from your midst.
No servant is above his master, and we also can only be children of God if we look like the Son. The process which accomplishes that is the rooting of the animal nature out of us, rooting out evil from our midst (from within us). It happens in reverse for the child of God—first he learns the independent way of the animal, then he is born of God, then he learns the way of his Father, and that old nature starts to get rooted out of him very slowly. The things which help to accomplish this, to start pointing us away from the evil (trials) are not easy—we would never choose suffering as an animal—but as we grow we start to see them as our helper instead of our adversary, because we actually start to want God's will in us instead of the animal's. God in His irony constantly turns everything on its head. The animal does everything in its power to avoid suffering. The child of God becomes the dependent child again as he moves toward that end while he matures, and begins to embrace the suffering instead of running from it.
As a man matures he accumulates money and surrounds himself with things and houses to insulate him from suffering, because that's what his father teaches him to do. The child of God does the opposite, as a statement and declaration that condemns the animal way, even though it seems to rule. The pinnacle of spiritual maturity can be seen in Jesus and the disciples who were chosen for him to teach and raise as God's children. As they matured they learned to do the opposite of what man does, and threw off the things that insulated them from suffering so they could embrace their Father. They began to embrace their trials instead of run from them, because they saw them as tools which could make them able to be closer to their Father, which is the most valuable treasure in the universe, hidden from the animals. The glory of man is the shame of a son of God, and the shame of man is the glory of the son of God.
God chose the foolish things of the world (David) to shame the wise (Saul); God chose the weak things of the world (Gideon) to shame the strong (Baal). He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.