Job 3-4 / Jonah 4 / Hebrews 10
Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."
But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
Our nature makes us so consummately concerned about our own plight all the time, which is why the humans are inherently evil, not good, according to the Father. It is why that wild animal nature must be purged out of the sons if they are to become as the Father wishes them to be—unconcerned with their own plight and totally concerned with His. That plight of the Father is His family of chosen sons to whom His reality is being revealed.
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
The two commands are one because the latter is dependent on the former. The command to love your brother Israelite hinged directly upon the former command—to love God with every part of your intent and purpose so that everything else that happened in your life revolved around and was made subject to it—because the Israelite brother was God's concern. And the whole deal was just a big metaphor that the Son of took into himself, one of the fundamental foods that transformed him into what he became, which is a living example of what the sons are to become for the Father's sake.
"I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."
Love of the brothers because they are the chosen people is one of the major ideas coming out of the concept of the nation of Israel as metaphor and copy of the better thing, because it cuts directly against what the wild animal nature constantly makes us compelled to do—love our own selves and be concerned about our own dilemma and purpose so that we have little room for anything or anyone else's, unless by doing so we can enhance our own. But then it's still the same thing as it started out as—us being concerned with our own struggle of needing the vine to shade us so that we have no ability to take on God's concern, whatever it might be, whether it's the Israelites or the Ninevites, or about whomever God wishes to be concerned.
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
The gift that God the Father and Jesus the Son of God gave to the recipients of this letter (who lived in the first century, not now) allowed them to be positively concerned with each other's plight instead of just their own (Jonah's lesson), even to the point of joyfully accepting the confiscation of their property, which without the gift they had been given they would have not been joyful about. Actually they wouldn't even have had their property confiscated because they wouldn't have embraced what the gift of the counselor was driving them toward. Rather they would have been incensed at this group of humans who were claiming that the dead man Jesus was actually alive and living in their bodies, which is why they didn't care about what the humans are normally so caught up with they can't be concerned with anything else. This unseen gift they were being given allowed them to become caught up away from what normally drove them to be the way they are naturally driven to be and can't be any other way because they're compelled to follow its lead and ignore any and everything else, like any wild animal whose plight is totally wrapped up in surviving.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while,
"He who is coming will come and will not delay. But
my righteous one will live by faith.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
True faith and belief as it existed in the first century is not a hobby that exists in our life with all the other things we have to do because we have our little putrid lives to live, which are like golden gods to each of us particularly but in the scheme of things aren't any more valuable than that of a rat, dog, mule, flea or cactus. They all have the same fate, becoming just a memory in the mind of those who were connected with whatever it was. This is one of the great paradoxes that God introduces as the way things are in the system He created as per how things actually are. The humans try to change things on a massive scale by transferring their opinion of themselves onto whatever gods they create in their minds, so that of course the god feels the same way they do about their own plight, struggle and dilemma of existing—their life is so incredibly valuable and therefore their own struggle is so important. When they get together and create that mass transference, that's when they create their religious institutions filled with humans who all agree on the same transference on a mass scale rather than just an individual one, which is what everything is modeled after and springs from.
The voice of truth, comfort, and peace in our heart is what the Lord brings to whom he has been chosen to come; but that comes into direct conflict with the animal who has has been our master up to that point. It is unwilling to let go of its control and domination over us in what we think, do and are defined by, as per the instincts that are in us to make us serve it. That is the great struggle Paul often writes about within himself, wanting to please the Father, but also constantly being pulled to satisfy himself, his cravings and needs; to be caught up and consumed with the dilemma of his own survival, to be concerned with his self and all the forms that concern can satisfy so that he becomes consumed with taking care of his life and has no room to be concerned with the Father's dilemma.
I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
When someone sets someone else free, there is a struggle that ensues between the former owner of the slave and the one setting him free. It's not just some cakewalk, which is why it cannot be just some dime-a-dozen event that can ever be taken for granted. There is a lot of work in setting someone free, especially in the case where they don't even realize they aren't free. It's a long, slow process of transformation from one creature to another, and God is not a limitless machine who doesn't ever feel the effects of so much energy given over to that act of transforming His own sons. There are limits which mean it isn't all meaningless because value is given to that which is rare.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
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.
The only time anyone is ever right is when they respond honestly to God, without hiding. There is no list man keeps which states how God must act. That is the point of Jesus' comment to Nicodemus about the children God gives birth to by the spirit. Nicodemus thought he could tell who was right and not right before God. He thought he could judge according to the list that was drawn up at the time. You do this, this and this, and you will be right before God. Jesus tells him bluntly that God is as free to do whatever He wants to do, and transform whoever He wants to be His son, as the wind is free to blow wherever it blows. In order for that transformation to take place, that one's nature has to change from primarily natural, like all the rest of everything in the natural creation, to spiritual, the nature of the Father, and now Jesus.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the spirit.
We have to remember that the suffering is temporary, it is only suffering in the body, which granted the animal in us hates yet nevertheless it's natural and has to be abandoned because its existence is based on the cycles of death like everything else in this natural creation. In other words, what we naturally always think is so incredibly important (our life, our struggle, our plight and dilemma, our hopes and dreams) isn't very important at all, because in just a few years all that will come to a sudden halt when our existence is terminated. And there is no immortal soul that automatically lives forever either in heaven or hell. Rather, the humans in their natural condition are just as the animals are, going into the ground then the only thing left is a memory of what they once were.
As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same spirit; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.
What we receive in return from the Father—if we choose to be given over to being consumed by His plight and dilemma, His will even in the here and now—is a peace that passes understanding in the place where he has come to live, the deep places of our consciousness where we know something's true or not, even in the here and now. His life in us tells us the truth in the secret places where we can actually discern truth from lies according to the Father's view. The fact that he lives in us lets us know that the judgment has already been made. No man or group of men decides whether we're right before God. He has already decided by the fact that He has written His name on us, He's given us His seal, the deposit and guarantee of the things that are coming, and that is the only thing that can guarantee that our salvation is true and sure.
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."
The apostles had different purposes and ways of following the Lord, but one thing was true about them all, what bound them together, the command to love and take care of each other. Those things were disclosed to them by the voice of their master, the Lord, who spoke via the spirit to them in their heart before and after his ascension, after the spirit was given. If there is no spirit, then there is no voice. There is no mistaking that voice as anything other than what it is. It is the thing that people who desire to truthfully follow the Son want to hear—they just don't know that it's possible because it's been absent from the human experience since the abomination was finalized.
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
There is nothing relative about what we're struggling against. There is only drinking from the cup that Jesus drank from, taking up our cross, losing that consummate concern for our life. If he is the firstborn among many brothers, then those brothers follow him into death, hating his life, losing it; not holding on to it and never letting it go, pretending we're doing great things for God by delineating what we'll let go of, and hanging on to what we love. Are we prepared to do that, or will we delineate what the cup means according to how we can please the animal that we all individually serve, and conspire to placate, love and take care of?
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
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.
Just as Jesus came once, speaking with authority, doing miracles which proved his authenticity, he will have to come again to make his home in a man in order to convince the man about what is true. And he doesn't come in impotence, as the liars claim to represent him by their own lives, but with convincing power to demonstrate his authority. When he does, you just know, because the word is alive like nothing else has been alive. Not that it changes from one thing to the next haphazardly or contradictorily. It speaks to us in the place where we can discern his truth from the lies we've heard all our life from the snake who has ruled us. It tells us that we indeed have life, as it also told Paul, "so that we may take hold of the life that is truly life."
He also tells us the truth about the other life, that it isn't life at all, but a prison whose walls cannot be seen, an existence of slavery to ourselves in service to the animal instincts that are always at work in us to lead and guide us into fulfilling its will and purpose for us. We may think we're free, walking the grounds, but in reality it is merely an existence filled with the daily service to the animal nature, the devil, God's enemy. The 50 foot high wall is there, just not visible to those who don't have eyes to see it. We don't even notice it until we have to start climbing it to find our way out.
He reveals to us how much we love the world and the things the animal considers important, not to demean us but to show us the truth about the prison we are in. It teaches us the value of things from the Lord's perspective, which is the opposite of the animal's. His values start to become our own values, as we are changed to look more like him. Not through peace with our flesh, but by war with it, and suffering in this body by denying it. There exists a lot of suffering in saying no to the beast when it is hungry and it keeps pounding on us to do its will, to satisfy its cravings. All of this is so that we learn to serve another master instead of ourselves.