Judges 7-8 / Isaiah 34 / James 5
The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you."
The desert owl and screech owl will possess it;
the great owl and the raven will nest there.
Thorns will overrun her citadels,
nettles and brambles her strongholds.
Desert creatures will meet with hyenas,
and wild goats will bleat to each other;
The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings; there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate.
Look in the scroll of the LORD and read:
None of these will be missing,
He allots their portions;
his hand distributes them by measure.
Isaiah is thinking about the earth starting its process of spewing the humans out of it, stripping itself of its inhabitants by God's word (intention) because of His desire to do away with the useless things (humans). The way that the humans love, what they take into themselves, the way they rule over the earth and its other inhabitants, always for their own selfish profit and gain, thinking they can always control God and everything else for their own gain and advancements, is disgusting.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
It doesn't matter if we are ever validated by anyone on the outside. The only thing that matters is that we know our Father. Easier said than done, of course, because we're just infants, and our nature is still mostly animal, dull to what is real in God's world. God is elusive to us because we're barely coherent in the life that can recognize Him—and for a reason, so that we cannot do with what is perfect as we always do with everything else. That is why there has been so much darkness over the land, because the humans reverted to what they naturally are, dark and evil—stubborn and against God, self-centered and driven to fulfill their own destiny and support their cause and never God's. Only the good Son, who was able to come close to God, could ever do that.
The only way we can grow out of that self-serving animal nature is if we patiently persevere toward maturity in the new way while we shed the skin of the snake we used to be. In the beginning God came to us secretly and quietly. Then day after day we looked for signs that He was still there and He keeps showing us without fail. Miracle after miracle He keeps saying to us that He is in the middle, orchestrating everything, carrying us and giving us hope to keep going in this thing that only we are able to barely see. It doesn't go how we expected or wanted it to go, because those expectation come from below, from the nature that defines us as a member of the animal race, bound to the earth and the natural creation via that same nature all the animals share.
Because of our animal heritage we are inherently evil, meaning unlike a good son of God who wants to do his good Father's will. Given anything good from God, we attempt to own it, control it, hold on to it so it doesn't go away. We do that because we're animals and we're afraid, so we naturally do whatever makes us feel like we're safer, whatever it is. Even if our intentions are okay, we nonetheless have a nature that always tends toward evil because that's who we are. The elusivity of God is for our own protection ultimately, because we cannot help ourselves, since we're so thoroughly given over to always doing what will serve us without even thinking about it. The reason it's hard to admit that is because we're also totally compelled to hide in our lies and only admit to what will serve to advance our own cause. If it doesn't serve us to admit it then we just hide in the lie, because we're driven by instinct to do that. The nature of the animal is to hide and not show what it is, but pop up a front so it isn't found out.
That's why the judgment of the secret things of the man's heart isn't just some noble, or theoretically good thing to say. It's where the man's identity actually is defined before God, past what he appears to be, past his outward intentions and deeds, what he seems to be by the physically observable (natural) things. No human body knows what a man thinks in his mind or heart even if he speaks and is able to convey words, because his heart is where he hides. God sees the thoughts, desires and intentions of the heart—He is the only perfect judge.
Even though many things are happening around us that may seem bad on the outside (disagreement with the animal inside us), the Teacher keeps telling us to continue in what we were doing. Those who claim to be shepherds, who claim to know the way to God, judge us by what appears to be happening on the outside, where they can see. Because they can't believe that God has given birth to us, and the Teacher is speaking to us, they judge us and would have us executed if we lived in another, more barbaric time. They just do the next best thing, because they don't want to go to jail (they're driven to preserve their life), and we become dead to them because of their judgment and decision for ousting us out of the community. They're effectively declaring us unfit to inherit the kingdom, which they presume to not only inherit, but also control the gates of who goes in (those who are like them, who don't threaten their existence), and who doesn't (us)—even though they remain 100% animal. That is the declaration of their actions, and what they'll be judged by. It's a terribly hypocritical and ironic situation, considering what they actually say with their mouth.
We are able to persevere because He carries us with the constant miracle of His presence even all the way from the beginning until now, which is stronger than our desire to be found right in man's eyes and accepted by them. We need this proof of new life in order to endure what's happening on the outside. Though minor compared to our brothers in the first century, we nevertheless face obstacles and hardships for what we know is true, happening inside us which only we could validate (hidden to everyone else, how it remains). The humans can't hear the voice speaking to us, only we can, so they all figure the easiest thing—that we are out of our minds. That is actually a convenient thing for us in our new reality, because making us outcasts they leave us alone so we can grow up into our new reality of being a son of the living God. Our interactions and involvement with the humans only acts to reinforce what is bad (the way of the humans, of the earth, from below), which is the reason for the many calls from the prophets in *both* eras (OT & NT) to come away from them and become separated from their influence.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
He keeps urging us on because He is our good Father and loves us, but we're condemned if we continue to choose the wrong because it makes us retarded, unable to progress as we should. The call to be separated isn't an accident, nor is it just for the Israelites or the first century sons. They knew that call as the copy for them because the intonations are clear: they would be led astray to worship the gods of the foreign nations if they intermingled with them or even allowed them to exist in the land. He wants us to know His love for us but we're still so far away that it's difficult, still elusive because we're still too driven by the old urges to grab, conquer and control. Our involvement with the humans, allowing them to influence the wrong in us by receiving their disease, is what can make us retarded by continuing to allow ourselves to have the wrong way reinforced in us by being around them.
No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.
It's never the fact that He wants to trick us or see us fail, it just seems like that sometimes because we are still immature and unable to see the real picture. The hardships are because He wants us to see what the others can't, and physical hardships mean that we have no choice but to turn away from the physical for our relief, to our Father who gives us a supernatural shelter. As we get older we will know our Father's love more genuinely because of the things we can't explain now. We will need less and less those things that used to prop us up, and our aim remains the same—to find and know the nature of the good Son who gave himself for God's family. We can't find it if we're always serving our own selves, refusing to reject the wrong because we're too afraid, but must continue to endure and grow in our new life. We must get a little nearer each day. One day down is one day closer to receiving our inheritance, which is to fully know our Father and be known by Him—to achieve the fullest satisfaction. It isn't all automatic though, because we have to choose.
Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
In a way, the letters of the apostles are a little misleading at times for us because they are written by men who have gained a significant amount of spiritual maturity. They are encouraging the believers with the knowledge and faith that they have as more highly advanced spiritual beings than those just beginning. Sometimes we think that we should be be like they are, and that makes us feel like we are falling short. We forget that they were 20 or 30 years old in the new reality when they wrote them. Knowing that we're young and that it just takes time to grow gives us a little perspective that allows us to endure. Knowing that our Father loves us—like any good natural father would love their child who is still a child—produces in us the ability to reach up our arms to Him and keep enduring in this new way that He has shown us is the real and right way.
How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
God being changed from the great, punishing God whom everyone feared to our Father who genuinely loves His sons and cares about us so much that He actually wants to live inside us. That is the guarantee we have that He intends to redeem us from the ground. Because He lives in us He is able to speak the spiritual words that only we can hear so we in time learn to trust Him for what He actually is and has said to us—the voice of the Father is what we learn to heed, not any of the humans or what we think is true because we can observe it as a naturally occurring phenomenon.
When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 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.
Those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of son ship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
On the outside, to his contemporaries, Paul looked like a fool. Just some crazy guy who had given up an affluent life to live like a gypsy, moving from place to place and possessing nothing. He had given up everything for the sake of one whom the humans merely considered a false messiah whom they killed a few years previous. Paul believed, not just some theory about him, but that he spoke to him constantly, because he lived in Paul's body so he could. On the inside, we know that Paul was driven by something extraordinary, the voice of the God who was alive inside him, showing Paul how much He loved him as his real Father.
He assumed he was living for God before, when he was a religious man, but he only assumed that because of the validation of the humans telling him that he was. After he realized that that god was made up by men who didn't know Him at all, like Moses did. They knew God as the impersonal God from the OT. Even in that they were wrong because they couldn't see who He was, what He wanted from His people, and who He would become.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
They looked past the references about caring for widows, orphans and foreigners and made Him into what they wanted Him to be—their own personal version of God who would best serve them and their animal needs. Now Paul understood who the real God was, and nothing else mattered to him but to find the permanent love that only comes from God for His genuine sons, to know that love he had tasted, what was growing in him to change him from unknowing, far away, unclean fearful animal to a son who learns to trust his Father.
To know that we're different than the others is only the slightest little piece of the picture. To actually know how much our Father loves us comes when we are able to receive it without abusing it. That He would snap His fingers and make it all happen at once is what we would have happen if it were left up to us. Then we wouldn't know Him though. It takes a long time to get to know someone, and for true love to develop.
God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation.
The animal only wants to trust what it can see and feel. Its world is based on temporal things so it's chaotic and desolate of true love from the Father. Love that comes from God to His sons isn't just a concept or some words we can toss out. Nor is it something so invaluable that He would give it to pigs, to trample it into the mud. Patiently enduring is what we need to do, so we can grow out of the animal nature enough to become responsible enough to begin comprehending the love that drove Jesus, and becoming the same by accepting the son nature which isn't like the humans, nor what we used to be driven by. It doesn't happen because of our desire or abilities, but because of God's intention.
I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.