1 Samuel 23 / Isaiah 66 / Matthew 11
Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. "Don't be afraid," he said. "My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this." The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Within the account of the brotherly love between Jonathan and David was the reality of what the Father provided for the Son in John the Baptist to be a witness and a comfort for him, that what was happening inside him was real yet only John was aware of what God was doing. The brotherly love between Jonathon and David also spoke to how only a certain few of the humans would be able to hear and know what the will of God was and betray their own flesh and blood families—even their own good will toward themselves—to do whatever was in their power to satisfy the Father by choosing His salvation which was naturally against what was in them to be willing to accept.
"Don't be afraid," he said. "My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this." The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.
Jonathan knew what God desired, not because he was at the anointing ceremony with Samuel and David when the Father's desire was openly made known, but because God had given him ears to hear, and he heard the unspoken voice of the Father tell him what was the right (David as king) versus what was the wrong (his own father Saul, meaning Jonathan as the next king). Jonathan rejected the wrong and chose the right, to his own peril, out of love for David as God's choice.
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.
Jonathon was the son of Saul, the one whom God was rejecting, just as John the Baptist was the last of the prophets and the Law, the last son of Israel whom God was rejecting. The Son of David, whom God was choosing to replace Saul (the old, rejected way) was being brought up simultaneously with John, to become the anointed one, the Christ, the Son who was loved and chosen over what was being rejected. They existed side by side in that moment of time as God's only two witnesses to the incredible thing He was doing based on so many testimonies from the preserved words they had, what the Father had used to teach them His way, while He taught them the way He was rejecting—not just Israel but the humans who were like those spoken of in Isaiah:
This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man,
They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations;
The brothers of Isaiah weren't the ones who offered sacrifices, but who loved God and trembled at His word so that they looked for Him and what He wanted in it, who sought to have a pure and honest heart before Him and not hide behind their outward sacrifices while their hearts were devoted to themselves like their ancestors the first humans, whose first reaction to God after they died was to be filled with fear and hide from Him.
Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word:
For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts;
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;
See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind;
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Where do we think Jesus and John got the words they spoke? The living word, the voice of the Father, taught them what the preserved stories pointed to; and what the recorded and preserved words of their true brothers, the Father's holy prophets whose mouths were filled with His word meant for them and the time in which they were existing, standing right on the point between the old, rejected way of the prophets of Israel (John the Baptist as Jonathon son of the rejected Saul), and the new thing that God was doing with the chosen and anointed Son of David, Son of God. Jonathan cut his own throat with regards to his future and self-preservation, because he was sure of what God wanted, of what His will was—that David was God's choice, and his natural father was rejected by God. He wanted to do that instead of his own will (he would have been the next king), not just in words and theory but truly, with the actions that declare the true motivation of his heart.
Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
His love for David said that his heart was bound up with God's, because God loved David and chose him, and Jonathan sacrificed everything he had and could have had for the king who was God's choice, whom God loved. He lost his life for the sake of God to find a better one. He did what was utterly shameful and against what 99.9% of the humans ever do (who don't have one little speck of the opportunity that Jonathon had) because he knew something better than what he perceived with his natural eyes, which is the eyesight of Saul. It's what all of God's sons do—give up their life, which means what they could have and do, the right of all the animals, for God's favored choice, His anointed who carries out His plan and purpose out of love for it because that desire comes from Him, whom the anointed loves more than the plan.
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
He certainly didn't know it on account of the natural order of the way things looked. Saul's position was solidified in the natural, but rejected by God who had already chosen the one He chose to replace him. Saul was the king of Israel and David was a fugitive servant of Saul's house running for his life, but chosen by God who gave him just a handful of men to comfort him, compared to the army of Saul the natural king.
All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.
Because of the love and true brotherhood with God's chosen that was in his heart—specifically put there by God—Jonathan knew that was right over everything else that seemed right by natural observation. Jonathan believed what was inside him more than what his eyes and ears told him, what everyone around him believed. That is the faith of a son of God, that he believes and trusts the Father over his own will and the will of the humans around him, except those who also have the life in them teaching them the right.
This goes all the way back to Adam, the son who betrayed God; who didn't love and trust Him, but trusted what the animal told him over his own Father, to satisfy himself (gaining the knowledge of good and evil and becoming like Him). It's why God bound up the humans' nature with the animals and made them as one being, bound to the natural via that nature. It was not the original intention of God, that He would have a son who loved Him and who showed that love by saying no to the animal instead of conspiring with it, allowing it to lead him away from the Father to greedily run after what the snake was offering him, something for himself.
The good news is that out of the pool of humanity, God has been accomplishing His original intention by gathering up for Himself His family of brothers, like the prophets who did and do love Him even more than their own lives. That is the story of Jonathan and his love for David, which points to John being given to Jesus, and the disciples being given to the Son, and the sons being given to each other to encourage and love each other because their hearts have been changed from rogue, independent, self-preserving animal to son who cares and looks out for God's interests over his own—the opposite of what the animal nature dictates to the humans, which prevails in all the rest of them.
I will send some of those who survive to the nations--to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD.
"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."
Here is another picture of the sons of God, the accomplishing of His original intention, to have a family. Isaiah's book finishes with the prediction about the shepherds who go and find God's lost sheep, not the Israelites but God's sons who were scattered amongst them, and are scattered and lost amongst the inhabitants of the world ruled by the animal nature (from all the nations). The Israelite priests and Levites had already been selected, by Moses in the desert. This is speaking about something much better, about the true high priest, the coming One who would be what Melchizedek pointed to. The survivors are the remnant, not of the humans but who survive the second death and are redeemed from the earth, the soil, the grave that holds them in the prison of being forever one with the natural creation.
And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.
More of the preserved words that became integrated into the consciousness of the Son as indicated by more preserved words about the Son's words. The image of perpetual suffering in some fiery hell is contrasted against the endurance of the name of God's sons, His family of sons who have all been given His name instead of the serpent's. If the rebellious are tortured in a metaphorical hell, eaten by worms forever, how much more will the family of God endure before Him in their bodies that don't decay.
This imagery is reiterated by Jesus who knew what the words meant, and continues even through the book of the Revelation to John. There the family of God's sons who receive His mark (His name) are contrasted against the vast majority of the mere animals who lived their lives buying and selling, acquiring and building up things, respect and their animal identities around them; the good little animals who lived and died as such, doing the work of good animals, obedient to the nature that rules them perfectly (without detection). They receive the mark of their true father on their hand or forehead—the original adversary of God's son, the greatest animal and leader and king of the rest of them; the ancient one, the serpent from of old which became the great dragon. These weren't called to do the work of the Father, to give up their lives for His sake to be the shepherds of His flock and deliver His sons to Him. They just lived and died like every other animal, doing what their instincts, urges and impulses dictated to them, which effectively defined them as what they are.
At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
It isn't like the ruling humans would have it, or even think it is because they are and will only ever be mere men destined to go into the ground to become perfectly one with it. Although they read the words over and over they can't understand their true meaning because the Father has not been revealed to them by the Son who lives now to do the work of gathering up the family of brothers already started by the Father. The ones Isaiah speaks about are those given to the Son as a faithful bride, whom he loved and to whom he faithfully revealed the Father, even to death. And they lost their lives, like Jonathan, so that they could do the will and purpose of the Father in the natural existence instead of their own will, which is the right of all animals to live out their own lives to and for themselves as they all do according to their opportunity.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Each one of them has the right to enjoy their existence and the temporary creation they are part of for a little while, and then go back to the ground from whence they came. The sons of God, though, have a different burden, something that is put into their heart the same way the great love for David was put in Jonathan's heart. Their burden, or work, is to believe that which is put in them more than what is in them that makes them unlike sons of God and like all the rest of the humans (the animal nature). The burden to believe is the work of the son, what becomes his work for the rest of his earthly existence. The burden on his heart to do the will of the Father, at the expense of his own life, is the faith of the sons of God who hear the voice of their Father and respond to Him by taking on that burden.
As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
" 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' "
To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
" 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."
John marked another turning point in God's plan. No longer was God revealed to man, but hidden. The irony of God put His life and spirit in two lowly men, who represented the old and the new—the way and covenant being rejected by God and the new covenant and way to God. Now the highest according to God would be the lowest according to man. Jesus was the new covenant, and his belief that the living word inside him was more important than achieving his own will assured it. The family of God's sons, even retroactively, could be saved from the death and final definition of all animals to melt back into the soil. The glory of God came to the world in these two witnesses, one the culmination of all God's holy prophets who was labelled "demonic." The other, at whom John pointed and announced, God's Son and Messiah, sent on His behalf to represent Him fully and save His family, was labelled "glutton," "drunkard," & "sinner."
How were they labelled? Because of the humans' presumption that they can comprehend what God is doing by their natural abilities to comprehend things. God revealed Himself in Jesus, the perfect representation of God in the flesh, the "exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word," because the life of the Father lived in him fully enough to define him that way (not because he was a god). Yet few actually found Him because He was hidden, not found by the animals' abilities to comprehend things. That is one of the majorly important messages that is found in the record of the testimony of the Son, preserved for the sons' sake (not the whole world, which made the message into myths).
That is the new way, the way of the new covenant between God and man. God is hidden in the lowly things of the world so He won't be found by the humans. He is not found in any place that the humans expect, and especially want, to find Him. Before John, the way of man and the way of God agreed in certain respects. Abraham was blessed by God and became prosperous as man could comprehend it. David was blessed by God and became powerful as man could comprehend it. The priests of God wore special clothes designating them as a special group dedicated to God as man could comprehend it, etc. One could see with natural eyes how God was working. Man could understand God as He played into their comprehension based on the observation of their human eyes, ears and mind.
With John all that changed. He was like Elijah, who looked like nothing in the natural, and who saw, beheld God not in what might have been expected, but in the unexpected. Like Moses, he was hidden in a cave, a cleft in a rock and God passed by him. Both were with Jesus at the transfiguration, representing 3 whom God revealed Himself to. They were "tucked away" as He passed by, each seeing the progression of the nature of God through time in His dealing with men.
Moses saw the all powerful glory of the great God, the glory that would kill a man if he looked at Him. Elijah saw the transformation of God from ferocious and powerful—what he expected as a man—to the gentle whisper, the harder thing to behold God as being. Jesus was the the Son who beheld God as He was, so much so that indeed he was the "exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word," as the Father who had one desire and intention in the world, to gather up and claim His sons. Jesus was perfectly hidden in the cleft of man's ability to comprehend God.
John's life marked the beginning of the new way of comprehending God, because he pointed at the great prophet who would nullify the need for more prophets. John blew the shofar which signaled that the king was coming, in fact was immediately upon them—the Kingdom of Heaven was near, within his own human body. He was the greatest among those born of women, risen up by God to speak the words put in his mouth, because he heralded the Messiah.
Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.
Those in the Kingdom will be fully changed, completely born of spirit. Jesus had not yet died and given "birth", so in a certain way even though the Spirit was "with" John he had not, in fact, been truly reborn of God (covered with the blood of Jesus which takes away the sin of the world). This is why those in the Kingdom are greater than those born of woman/flesh like John was then. Flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit to Spirit. One is from below and the other a true birth from above leading to real Life.
Jesus was the new covenant, of the unnatural. He was the kingdom of Heaven because it secretly lived within him, hidden from those who didn't have eyes to see and ears to hear. He was nothing to behold and there was nothing of the pomp and power of God that man could identify with and comprehend. He did the work of God who had been silent for hundreds of years. The last verses of Malachi promised John to the people, in the spirit and power of Elijah, just before the "great and dreadful day of the Lord (the revealing of the Son, who will save his brothers)." The one God speaks about through the mouth of Malachi is the same one God promises through the mouth of Isaiah a few hundred years before:
I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare
your way before you.
And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD.