Judges 9 / Isaiah 35 / 1 Peter 1
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
There is a formula here, coming from Peter's hand, about being good sons and what that looks like. There is a lot of confusion about how to be pleasing to God, but here Peter offers a very simplistic way to do it, which also follows what we already know inside us, and what we read from the preserved words (what Peter knew about them too, being a Jew).
First we see where we came from, and understand how empty that always kept us with regards to knowing what was true—even, especially around and about those who were claiming to know the way to the Father (for Peter that was the Jews). We came from the stock of the humans, and were one of them through and through. No matter what we said or did, we were just like the rest, going through our period of passing over from vulnerable child to invulnerable adult, building our own particular walls of defense around us so we could survive on our own because we had to. So more than anything we weren't this or that religion, but were thoroughly humans who thoroughly participated in the culture of humans, just like all the rest.
Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
The sons who lived under the new covenant in the first century thought of themselves as part of a new creation of God, not just with regard to their religion, as an abstract part of their consciousness like other things so that they remained the same fundamental creature as they were before, just with their religion component updated to conform to the new. They actually felt themselves turning into a new creature, via the secret things that were happening to them. The miracle of regeneration is not communicable like the miracles that were recorded elsewhere, because they're like trying to record in words the growth of an oak tree.
What we have in the preserved record are a few miracles recorded here and there, and the letters that were written by sons who had grown up to a certain point, as is this letter from Peter. The silent, hidden, secret miracle of their regeneration isn't recorded, even though that's more important than the miracles recorded in the gospels and Luke's record of the apostles, which is sparse and spotty compared to the regeneration that had to have been taking place to take these men from what they were (Peter in the gospels) to what they became (Peter in this letter). What Peter advocates in this letter written near the end of his natural life (after a certain amount of transformation would have already taken place in his body) isn't about the miracles per se, but instead he is offering general guidance about how to please the Father by submitting to the silent, hidden, uncelebrated, mundane miracle of the regeneration of their bodies.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
It revolves around the community of those specific humans to whom this thing was happening. One of the most fundamental things to do is to live according to the record they had about Abraham and Moses, not as a citizen within the world and culture of the particular humans in which they lived, but as strangers to that world, as foreigners in a land that wasn't their own. His sentiments were reinforced by the other sons who were also being transformed, who saw their identity hidden in the record they had, which was also preserved for their sake.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
This could be the most important things to comprehend about the new identity, because it is rooted in the most fundamental places God preserved the message, and it keeps getting repeated throughout. It's not a message that says well it's okay for them but it must be different for me (just because that's more convenient to our selves). It is the message for those who have the true Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joshua and Rahab as their ancestors. Not just them but also Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
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.
Where are we running—away from the flesh? That's too abstract, which leaves room for our own interpretations that would allow us to wiggle out of our obligations to the Father for giving us such a great salvation, and choosing us to join this great cloud of witnesses who heard His voice and followed, running after Him on the path He provided for them to run on. Where did they run? Away from the lies that the vast majority of humans embraced, who completely surrounded them. Those lies are everything they believe and are, what has formed their identity as part of the group to which they belonged when they lived. And that's why God told Abraham to leave the civilization of humans he grew up with, which was his identity until God revealed Himself to him. It's why Moses was forced to leave, by the impulse to identify with those who were his own, even though he looked like an Egyptian for all purposes of identity.
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.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This was a new community that God had formed, by the implanting of another nature inside their bodies, which was changing their minds in a completely unseen and hidden way. Sure there were imposters, but the ones who were chosen by God to have this happen inside them were being transformed not only into new creatures, but into citizens of another civilization which was, according to God's way, secret, hidden, unseen. No marks on their bodies to tell them apart from the rest. Being a citizen of the new community meant being a stranger to the group of humans from which they came, which was bigger and more particularly defining than any religious group one ever claimed to belong to. Being a stranger to the human race happened on a level that was deep within them, which defined them in the place only they could comprehend, specified by a mark that was also hidden within their body. The mark was on their heart, in the place that was secret and hidden within them.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
The humans couldn't see who they were by the way they observed, but they could recognize each other by that unseen mark, which produced a knowing, and caused them to confess this Jesus who was killed as the Son of God, who was actually, by the unseen power of the spirit, living inside them to give them the witness that he was alive because he had pleased the Father and done the work he was given to do, for the sake of the true and better, secretly redeemed Israel, about whom Isaiah is writing even though it's not clear to the humans that he is. They all think he's talking about the humans with no foreskins and plenty of ritual to superficially separate them from the others, which isn't ever effective because of their nature which made them just like all the rest—not separated at all from those they considered with their corrupt natures to be unclean but just like them according to God who could see into the secret places of their heart.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
This beautiful imagery was never naturally fulfilled, even when the Israelites were allowed to come away from Babylon to go back to the land and rebuild Jerusalem. The most glorious thing they could ever do was rebuild the temple, which was nothing compared to Solomon's. Even that was merely a building that could be destroyed, nothing miraculous about it compared with other impressive edifices contemporaneous with it. It did, however, point to something much better. New Jerusalem means that natural Jerusalem never counted for anything because the new one takes its place. It is good as a copy, which can point the sons who are still natural toward another, better identity as God's true people, but only as belonging to that group which has the invisible mark in them.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
The intention and drive put into the Israelite remnant were what existed, but never came to fruition, as per God's ultimate definition, because what Isaiah was talking about was not anything in the natural, nor about humans who had the external markings of God on their bodies (circumcision) and lives (rituals of the law). Isaiah like the other parts of the copy is not talking about human glory or glory that the humans can observe and appreciate, nor conform to. The better thing was something that happened privately, while the humans watched but couldn't see what was happening, which is the way God works. While the unsuspecting humans look on, supposing it to be one thing, it is quite another, and they're not ever even aware what it is, even though the words spell it out. However the humans change the words into what they want them to say, for themselves and what they want to be able to hold on to and control for themselves.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
God's rightness is His purpose to have a family of sons who love Him, and have them with Him forever. The human's rightness is the thing that validates his existence, which is to have and preserve the family of himself and whomever else he can produce which has his own mark in it—his very DNA that marks the offspring as his. Almost from the moment he is born he sets out to have his rightness agreed with. His agreement and validation is the same (of one falsehood/origin/god) despite his view of his particular individuality, intelligence or "rightness." Whether his agreement comes from his profession, the beer joint, the farmer's club, or from the fact that he is a Hell's angel or a good church going citizen of America, none of it matters any more or less than the other. All these different views amount and add up to not One True God and eternal Father's/Jesus' mind and Body, but one false natural body of dying, self right-making animal mind that all agree with the self of it.
The young human animal starts off finding validation in its friends but then in adulthood it moves to the other things until it eventually dies alone. The opposite is true of the Sons of God. They begin their lives alone in a way and attempt and struggle to, but find no agreement or rightness in whatever various "club" they seek to join. They never have any natural rightness—they are a sort of natural sojourner, wrong in the world.
Then one day, unlike the sons of Adam who choose their own gods and find a group to agree with their version of him (in whatever form—beer, wall street, beauty shop, church, etc.), the sons of The One True God are given their "rightness" or validation/identity not in their own flesh or by others but by their Father who is not flesh and blood, who has NOT been chosen by them or defined by them. Rather He has chosen them, and given them His own rightness, which is the true agreement of Himself in them. Then He gives them their group, their friends and brothers who will be true witnesses to each other not of their own rightness but of His, in them, which will be their validation and help them believe the unbelievable.
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.
The sons' confidence in their own right way begins fading sometime after the new birth, catalyzed by the enlightening of the spirit to the truth about what the son should be believing and not believing, what he is (son of God) and isn't (mere human) anymore. It begins with this fading of their confidence in the natural order, what they believe to be true is the very crux of who they are as opposed to the natural man of the world, the unclean animal who never knows because he's not chosen to know. This is a very perplexing mystery that can only be revealed by the Teacher. It is a secret revelation within the son, which does not come from the outside, not from other humans or any human way of knowing and comprehending.
You are not to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ (more applicable to them after he was raised and went to the Father than when he said it to them while in his human body).
The misdirected judging of our brother comes from not comprehending this reality that nothing at all can be believed that is natural. Positively comprehending it, though, leads the sons to put their belief/trust in the "light" of God and the one God lives in. While all the world is dark and cannot be seen or believed because it is ruled by the liar, their brother is the only thing that is real on earth, the only light shining in it.
Nor are you to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
Nothing that is natural can be believed, inside or outside of us. The miracle is being converted to the way of God, so that we trust God in our brother because we know the absolute truth is overtaking and therefore transforming him. This formula of letting go of the rightness and wrongness, the judgment because of what the animal sees and even seems so apparent, is expanded to the natural. At a certain point we're able to let go of the false god, the morality of self, which lives and moves and maintains its temporary reality in the natural, and the lie of its permanence is just that.
This is about what it means to trust God, to believe him and not the natural self or the truth and spirit that is dictated by the natural world and must be agreed upon instinctually by the beast. To believe himself and the natural world is his nature, but to believe God alone as Father and Creator and Savior of His children is the mark of the spiritual nature. It is about who and what you trust and all the stories of the righteous simply are a pointer to this: what and who we believe is True and what and who we trust as Real.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."
And this is the word that was preached to you.
To know who our brother is, and that he belongs to God, and that our natural judgments are useless is the important knowledge. It comes from the very root of pleasing God to love our brother—it is about knowing he is from God and therefore real and to be believed against the backdrop of everything natural, what seems to be but in reality is merely darkness and death that cannot be believed and is not real but is dead.
This is why Jesus is our eternal intercessor, who as the perfect High priest (Melchizedek) is always available and responsive. To move us away from the lies of the natural and enlighten us as to what the actual truth and way of God is. That is what love is—it always forgives, always restores and always gives itself. Our Father's love is our inheritance. His perfect care, concern and love for His children is all we could ever need or want. Unlike any natural father, He never has to go away, and because of His great love for us He never wants to and never will.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I was thinking how incredible it is to be a child of God but just how ludicrous it must have been for Jesus to proclaim that he was. Even more incredible was that he said God had chosen a few of the humans to also become sons who could know Him. We assume that the pharisees would have thought of themselves as such. However, they were so far removed from the "children" of Israel, those ignorant slaves in the desert who were in contrast children—poor, needy slaves. The pharisees thought of themselves as the mature offspring of those men—those who had grown up to know and "keep" God. It was clear they didn't consider themselves slaves at all—instead, they were blessed! They were rich, powerful rulers, not children of God at all but those who acted in and controlled the poor, needy slaves by exploiting His name.
How ironic and demeaning for Jesus to call their God "Father." The one who put them in their positions of power and the one in whom they projected all their pomp and pride into, their national protector and identity. Talk about rubbing them the wrong way. Jesus was talking to the children God had chosen, but clearly they did not think or acknowledge themselves as children. They in fact felt as if they were gods and that equality with God was something to attain, just like Adam. In fact Jesus calls them that, children of the serpent.
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
The pharisees took from God, grasped their identities & names as mature men of power; rich, clearly blessed, and invulnerable. Untouchable "kings," trusting in themselves as opposed to Jesus who proclaimed without shame that, "God is my Father and I am His Son." Jesus was a child in contrast to the "maturity" of the world's leaders. They must have hated him.
I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
How beautiful and profound, yet to the natural powers how silly and without pride or dignity. Jesus' proclamation that he was the Son of God—the reality of being God's own child, something the pharisees were so far and removed from in their so-called "maturity" as rulers, kings, and learned priests. I believe that is why the Revelation describes our positions in the future as kings and priests, but not necessarily because that is literally what will be. It simply describes in human terms positions of power, just like the description of Jesus as our High Priest. We know he is far above any title either on earth or in heaven—those words are simply used to describe to us that he can't go any higher.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Being a child of God is the highest position—Jesus, Moses, David, Elijah, Paul, Stephen, John, etc; knew what Adam didn't—that true equality with God was not something to be grasped or desired or sought after because as a son/child He is yours. His true power is His love, what raised Jesus from the dead and what will raise us as His very own children. The only reason for the Father to do this is because of this motivation of love for the objects of His affection. Those who belong to Him are His, and will be with Him forever. He is our "Abba", our very own Father. How perfect, yet beyond the natural mind, is that to comprehend. Yet it is right in front of us. We are the children of God. We are the treasure, the heart of our Father, and to know His love for us is our treasure.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied.
He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
Starting at the end and moving to the beginning this is explained. A teacher of the law is someone who knows what the old covenant is about. If he is instructed about the kingdom of the spirit, then he knows about the new covenant, so he at that point knows about both. Jesus give 3 examples of what the kingdom of the spirit is like, as metaphors.
First of all, there won't be one group of humans known in the earth as God's people, distinguishable from all the bad people because of anything that they are naturally i.e., you aren't "chosen" by God because of your natural Jewish heritage, which wouldn't be being chosen at all, but would only use the chosen concept as a theory to uphold the leaders' natural animal bias toward needing to control. This also extends out to all of the human groups, the religious institutions which assume that their "rightness" with God is based on a natural condition—what they believe, or think is true. This merely allows them to form their particular, naturally distinguishable groups, like the Jews. By that they feel that they are different from the "wrong" people, and so they effectively think that they can decide for God who will be in His kingdom because of natural, observable things. It's all about the animals needing to control their natural environment because it's all they have.
What Jesus is saying is that that is the old covenant, the way of the Israelites, which is going to shortly be nullified and replaced with a new one, better because it doesn't follow along natural lines and can't be owned, controlled or decided by whichever animals have aspired to become leaders of their particular groups. The christians and christadelphians—all religious groups—are the same in that they think they can be right by believing the right things, by knowing what's true versus what's false. They think that that's what their salvation is resting on, that they "believe" the right things, and they don't believe the wrong things.
Belief, though, and faith according to Hebrews 11 isn't about thinking, understanding in your mind what's right versus what's wrong. That's all about the natural, which is the old covenant, passing away. Believing for Abraham—what was truly accounted to him as something righteous—was believing that what he thought God was saying was actually true, that he above all the other men had been chosen to be special to God, even though everything in the natural pointed to the otherwise.
Abraham wanting to love what was naturally most tangible, the thing he could see and hold on to because of what he could observe in the natural, will be the inclination for all of God's sons because the Abraham story is the copy of the spiritual reality, for the sons' good. The other option is to believe the invisible voice of his Father which can't be validated in the natural because it's not a natural phenomenon, but purely spiritual because God is the spirit from which all spiritual reality emanates.
Those who are chosen and called by God to become sons will hear the voice of their Father which will be an unnatural, supernatural phenomenon. The question of their faith is all about do they believe what the voice is saying is actually true, do they believe they have been chosen above the rest; particularly, as Abraham was, to become sons? Believing the voice of their Father isn't just saying "Oh yeah, I'm glad that's true." Heeding the voice, listening to it and then doing what it says, is what established belief, and therefore rightness in the ones who were right, according to God. Not about what we think, but how we respond, and what we do.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
The last thing, which is the first part of what Jesus said, is what the kingdom of the spirit is actually like. It's not like the old way, the way of the Israelites and the modern religious institutions, where one can establish his rightness with God by natural, observable things that he thinks or does in the natural. Then once that's established he can pretty much live out his life any way he wants, living as a son of the earth, of the dying creation and fully partaking in it much the same as any of the rest of all the humans. That is, living as a self-preserving animal which can only aspire to its own needs and aspirations.
What Jesus says is that for the sons, once the voice of the Father tells them where the treasure is, and they decide they want it above everything else, then the life they've been called to is about throwing off all of the natural aspirations of the animal nature, selling everything you have so that you can receive the treasure, which is the knowledge of the Father's love for us. That is the new covenant, and what the kingdom of the spirit is like.