Judges 10-11 / Isaiah 36 / 1 Peter 2
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines.
They did what the world around them did. Because it says they did evil in the eyes of God, we think of them having constant orgies, engaging in hideous acts of evil, etc. But it was much more banal than that—they were just living their lives, surviving and incorporating into them what the other nations were doing, as a matter of everyday life. They were merely doing what the people around them were doing, and in those days it would have seemed somewhat benign what they were doing when they served the gods of the people around them.
It's just another case of mistakenness because of the ignorance of the culture in question. In our minds we think of it being equal to midnight masses at the church of satan, sacrificing animals and children in secret ceremonies of demon worship. However, serving the gods of the people around them was quite commonplace and not very extraordinary at all; as a matter of fact it was just another part of life for the people of this time period.
When Jacob put his children and his wives on camels to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan, Rachel stole her father's household gods and took them with her. Having idols around, and therefore serving them, trusting in them even in the superstitiously benign way that was part of that culture, was not such a big deal as far as everyday life goes. Even though it's a few hundred years later in the Judges time of account than the Rachel time of account, it's still a common occurrence in the cultures of all the humans to have their various gods that they looked to and therefore served.
You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
Gather together and come;
assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
We know now what God told the people, that they were just little statues made of wood or metal, and that's it. There was no power in them to do the things like God did for the Israelites. At the time, though, that wasn't an apparent a thing, as it is today. At the time, it was just another common part of life. There were many different temporary gods that got advanced then retreated into obscurity, according to whatever superstition happened to be popular to the particular groups of people at the time. They rallied around their own gods, whom they thought would protect them, bless them with more children, etc.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him, he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shattered and crushed them.
What was the God of Israel in the midst of all this? What God did, within this world of superstitious idol serving of whatever transitory god was being advanced at the time, was give birth to a people who knew what was actually true. The real truth, the One and only God who had made a covenant with Abraham their ancestor, and who demonstrated His authenticity by the powerful things that He did when He pulled this group out of Egypt in order to make them His own people who weren't blown to and fro by every superstitious whim like the people around them. He established a people whom He expected to be not swayed by the lies of the people around them, who had never known God, because they weren't chosen to know Him, by His choice. They never knew the truth that there was only one God. He had chosen this distinct group of people within the world filled with so many lies about which god was more powerful than than another god at the time.
The important points to understand about the gods of the various people around Israel are that they were commonplace, a part of everyone's daily life and activities, and that they were transitory—they changed according to the superstitious whims of the humans who served them. The gods were made up by the people, for the people, to give them an identity and a power above them (hopefully which was above and stronger than their enemy's gods), which would form a cohesiveness among them to stand up as the group. They were just myths made up by whoever had the power to do it and convince the group their myths were real; and everybody had them.
It wasn't obvious that the lie about the god, or the god itself, was just made up. However, the gods were transitory and changeable, according to how well the people were doing under it. If a group of people had one god, then were conquered, they might have to adopt the god or gods of the conquering group. The people at the time may have believed that there was something to whatever myth existed, because everyone else believed it, or at least said they did, so it was the consensus and validation of the people that convinced them—as it is in the churches or the stock market today. If the mass of people, led by a charismatic leader, all of a sudden said that one god was more powerful it might gain sway over another god and perhaps even replace it, mostly according to what everyone else believed.
Consensus is the key; there isn't much power in the thing itself. As much as the humans have evolved into the intelligent creatures they now think they are, there isn't much change in them in this respect from the people who used to carry around wooden and metal gods. It's just that since the humans think they're so advanced, they don't call them gods outright, but they treat them as such. The idols of today are also numerous, quite commonplace and seemingly very benign. Also, they're transitory in that whatever happens to be able to be pushed onto the people at the time adapts itself so that it can survive and gather momentum.
I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
The accounts preserved for us serve as copies for us, to teach the sons about the spiritual reality of serving the only (still) One true living God, versus the thousands of other choices available. Becoming sons means that we first become aware, and then can come away, from the transitory myths that live in and drive the particular culture of the humans it happens to exist in at the time. The overwhelmingly apparent lies developed by humans and promoted throughout the centuries by the various religious and non-religious communities and other groups, we are allowed to see against the truth of what actually exists. That is the thread of the truth that weaves in and out of these preserved writings, which contain the testimony of those who were caught up into the truth of God as it was being revealed to them. They also exist as the copies that keep pointing to the better thing, on which the truth and purpose of God is ultimately based.
The condition of being an animal with an animal nature who cannot know or perceive God, which is the nature of all the humans, covers all their generations completely. The knowledge of the actual truth of God has permeated that membrane for a sliver of the humans (remnant), at different points and times. But all the various myths about God which exist in the world are very similar to how they have always existed all throughout the generations of the humans, even the time of the Judges of Israel. In a way they're a lot the same beyond the details, which aren't as important as the phenomenon. They're lies made up by whoever's powerful enough to convince the people, they're transitory and change according to the culture in which they live (the gods are fair and democratic gods nowadays, just like the people), and there's a ton of them, each saying something different, yet each claiming exclusivity that their god is the right god. It's the same phenomenon that existed a long time ago, because it's all driven by the same things.
There are also the number of non-religious lies that abound, based on that thing I just mentioned. These are the lies that run across both platforms, and exist because of that nature, the curse, which was put on Adam, symbolized by God putting animal skins on him, declaring that he no longer wore the nature of the son, but had been bonded in that way to the animals. The reason the lies are benign is because they're so widely accepted as just part of what it means to survive, and it's pretty much expected that the humans obey their nature. It isn't even known as such so there's no problem in doing that. It is the given right of every animal to live its life the best way it can (survive by whatever means is available, except what's forbidden because it might infringe on another's right to survive).
What do the people around us do? What are the present lies that abound within the present culture, driven by the animal nature? They're listed throughout these writings, and as we grow we continually discover more myths. The aim isn't to identify each of them, but to consider how we might still be serving them, for the eventual purpose that we might "Come out from them and be separate." So that we might "Touch no unclean thing," and therefore be received by God. If we don't understand what the enemy is then we can't even start to become pleasing to the Father because we can't come near Him. The Father cannot love sons who are far away, nor would He love a son who looks, acts, talks like and loves His enemy. We can't be sons if we choose to remain human as defined by what we choose to follow.
"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty.
The point is that as sons, we are the "fugitives from the nations," according to Isaiah speak; and that's important to realize so that we can come out from the nature that before ruled us (as represented by the foreign nations surrounding Israel) so that we did whatever the gods of the people around us did, as dictated to us by our nature that seeks consensus with them. As we go along we become more and more aware of that as per our enlightenment by the spirit to that end. What all the animals do and the lies they believe because of the nature that is put onto them when they become full-grown is a fundamental concept in living as a son instead of an animal, and having that nature of the unclean animal purged out from within us.
...and you shall root out the evil from your midst, that all Israel may hear and be afraid.
As sons we become aware of what God desires for us instead of the animal nature with all its urges and needs to be satisfied and served all the time. The supreme example for the sons, unknown to the religious communities, comes from the secrets hidden within the recorded temptation. Even the christadelphians, who know that the devil wasn't standing outside Jesus, can't understand the nature of the temptation, where it came from and that it has only to do with the animal nature. They like all of the religious liars think that evil is some hideous thing that the bad people do (us!), that they can just divorce themselves from the evil nature by not doing certain things (smoking, drinking, having sex without your wife, etc—even if those things find their home inside their heart, where they think they can hide), and performing certain rituals. With all their learning and self-proclaimed intelligence, they don't even understand the actual significance of the unclean animals to God, nor why Jesus could be the unblemished Lamb of God—why he was acceptable to God, and perfect. They don't understand because they're trying to get to God from the outside, like all the other humans, while they live the same life as all of them for all practical purposes—living as the rest of the animals, surviving as best they can, raising their own brood, performing their outward rituals yet spending the majority of their lives running after and surrounding themselves with what they love, what the culture of the humans around them has declared is valuable enough to love. They give God the scraps and leftovers while they keep the treasure of the secret devotion of their heart all to themselves, joining in the conspiracy with the other humans while they pretend to be devoted to God on the outside, where the humans can see.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
They think that Jesus was the unblemished Lamb of God because he didn't sin, which is a completely abstract concept in itself, and means nothing according to what lives in them in the deep parts. Because the understanding of the concept can only happen via being revealed to the son, it will just remain that incomprehensible thing that remains totally removed from the actual workings of their lives, what they would know is real about them inside themselves. However they can't know that because it's their nature to hide, pretending to not be seen, even while they are seen. Because they join in with the conspiracy of consensus with the other animals, they believe it because of that consensus and the lie that the natural counts for anything/everything. The sons learn that all the humans are unclean animals because of the animal nature put onto Adam, and that nature makes them unclean, evil and sinful. It also makes them unable to ever come close to God because they are unclean animals. Jesus never became a mature animal, so never became polluted or unclean. He was never led by that nature, which is the crux of everything and why he was perfect to God, clean.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
The sons understand that the sinful nature was fully cemented into them when they passed over from child to adult—what Jesus never did—and see the origins and ubiquity of it in and on them, that they could never be pleasing to God when they were covered by what makes them unclean, evil, to God. Coming out and being separated from the religious lies about God seems relatively easy compared to all the ways we trust ourselves to provide our own satisfactions and fulfill our own made up hopes according to how we learned those things and ways. That's the animal nature, and because those things live within us, they are part of us so we love them, because the animal loves itself and lives to fulfill its own desires and needs. Even though we may not be strong enough in the particular moment, our awareness is nevertheless growing in us, and important because it says we know where we're going, and it's not where everyone else is going.
And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him, he became angry with them. Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD.
The Jews also thought that because they had a consensus they were right, and this ragtag group of know-nothings who claimed to follow the dead man Jesus, in whom they said he was actually living, were out of their minds. They, like all the modern institutions who command the consensus of the masses of people who ascribe to their myths, assumed to have the tradition of the prophets on their side. But they didn't even know what they prophets were saying about the God of Israel whom they claimed to serve only. What they didn't realize was as they distinguished the God of Israel from all the other gods of the nations around them, they conveniently ignored that the real gods, who were more powerful than any others, were themselves and the nature they served to define them as mere animals like all the rest of those they considered animals, therefore far above them when they were actually just like them.
The lies are in us when we're born of God, but we believe them less and less as we grow up into the knowledge of our Father's reality, which can only come from the inside, from the life that must be growing in order to become transformed. It does not ever come from the outside, from the humans or things we do in our natural bodies, or what we know by our minds, which are corrupted. What does it mean then to serve the Father's enemy? What are the foreign gods among us, the lies that get promoted which the animals believe, but we know aren't true? What lies exist that we still continue to believe, and why do we still believe them? What belongs to the world that we love to enjoy and partake in, as we used to before we were called to become set apart to God in our heart and our life?
It's all part of the process of converting the son to the way of the Father instead of the animal. There's no instantaneous fixing everything by all of a sudden doing or being a way that we weren't before. It is a path that we're on, the straight path of truth that leads to the Father. We'll know what to do and not do as we listen to the Teacher's voice, the unhearable voice of the good Shepherd speaking to us. We can't do anything to make it happen—it just happens. Recognizing that we're strangers and aliens in the world means that we understand the workings of the animal nature, what makes it stronger, leading us away from the Father; and weaker, leading us farther down the straight path to Him, away from the world. Our exposure to it will strengthen it in us, which is why living as aliens and foreigners, separating ourselves from its influence, is a good thing.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
The life of the son cannot even be conveyed without the taste of the life of God in us, versus this other thing that we know and have called life up until now, which isn't life at all, but merely waiting for death to happen and surviving the best we can until it does. The taste of the Lord's presence in us because of the Father's choice is good (versus the state of being evil in God's eyes, an unclean animal) yet can't be explained or understood except for actually tasting it. It's a spiritual phenomenon, and the spirit tells our spirit what Peter means, why he says it, and gives us fellowship with the Lord because the words are alive. Not the actual, printed words of Peter, but the sentiment and motivation behind the words, given to Peter by the same spirit and voice of our Father who speaks to us with the same purpose and motivation—to the end that God's family of sons will be gathered to Him.
Peter urges the young believers because he has tasted that the Lord is so much better than the things that the world full of humans thinks is good and therefore runs after. It wasn't as much because of some instantaneous, miraculous conversion as it was a slow, steady transformation. Peter is a long time living as a son at this stage of the writing, and he has already spent many years of trudging through the world of his existence in an inferior body of flesh with all its gravitations back toward the ground, learning to choose the right and reject the wrong.
The fearful judgment of some far away god who demands our generic abstinence from the "bad" things is another component of the various lies that exist about God, made up by men to whom the reality of the Father's existence and intention for them hasn't been revealed. It came from the countless humans through the ages assuming they were sons, thinking they could just take by force, then be able to control, what wasn't theirs to own or control like they do with everything in their lives. The voices of the religious men telling people how to please their dreadful god are just like their fathers the pharisees before them. Because they don't know about the animal nature, they don't know why the apostles even wrote to the newly born believers to come away from it. If they did then they would, but they don't because they can't.
Paul, Peter, James and John were trying to persuade them to stay away from the world and the things in the world because there is a power and influence there that would drag them back into a place the Father didn't want them to be, if they let that force live in them. As mature brothers they knew about God's enemy and the harm it could do them. They also knew about God's love, which they had tasted. That drove and satisfied them; it is the living, yet totally hidden, force that changed them from dead animal to son of God. Their interests and concerns also changed away from merely their plight of themselves surviving, as before, and they became aware more and more the pure desire to want to please their Father, to do His will instead of their own. They wanted to return the love they felt from Him in a real way, by seeing what was harmful and desiring to be away from it for His sake, which then made their entire existence revolve around feeding the Father's sheep and keeping them safe—like genuinely good, responsible sons of God all do.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.
If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.