Hohenwald Bible Study: Free Gift of God
Hohenwald Bible Study: Doesn't everyone want a free gift from God? Well, the price of most free gifts is just too high. In the Old Testament, it always made God sad when His free gifts were repackaged and sold.
Let's suppose that:
You buy a bundle of lumber and make it into a chair and are entitled to make a profit; the customer will gladly pay you because you have added value to the lumber.
Now, your neighbor's house has blown away. Being a good neighbor with service in your heart, you go buy a bundle of lumber; you tell your neighbor that it cost twice as much.
See the difference? Well, Jesus has a gift for you. He says that He is going to live in your heart. One gift which you get is "rest" from the "burden." No, it is not a vacation from school, church or work.
What is the biggest problem you are ever going to face as you live in a world hostile to Jesus? Of course, it is anxiety. People have no other motive in life than to make you unhappy and anxious through hard-sell advertizing. Well, the people who lived at the time of Jesus could stroll down to the temple. Surely if God lived in the temple you would find some help there. No. Jesus said that the one out of seven days given for rest had been turned into the greatest scam in history. That is why a great gospel promise is:
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Now paint a picture in your mind. A peddlar has a pack animal, a donkey. He is going from Jerusalem to Jericho. The more pots and pans he loads on the pack animal the more money he makes. That is what it means to be "heavy laden." The common Jewish people were just donkeys. Now, the merchant heads out for Jericho. In his saddle bag he has an invoice. That means that if the paper says that he has 100 pots on the donkey, the buyer in Jericho wants to be able to count 100 pots.
The peddlar takes his ease, totes along the invoice and the donkey is heavy laden. That is not bad in the commercial world.
The widow might starve today but she throws in her mites which are called "scales" because they are very thin copper or bronze which has been pounded into a foil. However, Jesus came to turn the world upside down: the master can't serve unless he helps carry the load.
The fat priest just sat there and made sure that everyone throws in something. Then he might make another widow a "two for the price of four" deal on turtle doves. And, yes, he had a sick ram which he bought at the dollar ram store. But, because you are a special friend he would allow you to sacrifice it if you pay his price. And, oh yes, he has already traded your old "secular" money into "religious" money and made a profit on that as well.
Get the picture of the temple worship which Jesus came to shut down? Now, God would think that a proper burden might be for the priest to take a good ram and trot it down to widow Judith who has six children to feed. But no. The burden Jesus wanted stopped went by the Greek word, phortizo. Sound kinda like "portage" and it is. In its usual sense it means:
"to load up a vessel or animal
"However, its spiritual meaning was:to overburden with ceremony or spiritual anxiety, lade, be heavy laden.
The rituals at the temple were never supposed to be for the common people. Only the males were required to attend three times a year if possible. And the money pots? Well, they were called "trumpets" because they looked like upside down trumpets to catch the money which the people "threw, more or less violently."
The historian, Josephus, who lived at this time, described the Feast of Tabernacles like a religious festival; the activity was like a county fair. Men competed in dance, singing, poetry, speeches, wrestling or playing instruments. You remember that Jesus' brothers didn't really believe in Him. However, they thought that His "magic" would turn Him into a "man of note" at the Feast of Tabernacles. Because the brothers were unbelievers, Jesus told them that nothing would be lost if they went ahead. But, He knew that all of those leaders were hunting Him down to kill Him. They couldn''t deny that He was their promised Saviour but He was telling people: "Don't call anyone your Teacher." Jesus came to teach you -- free of charge.
All of this celebration seemed like fun but, it was really a way to create anxiety. This made people less secure in their relationship with God. They were in a frenzy to do something which made them feel "spiritual" and give them security. After the performers had driven people mad, as in Corinth, they could bring in a friend to "relieve them of anxiety, but for a price, always for a price."
To put the commercial religion out of business, Jesus said that He came to give people rest. That word is the Greek anapauo which means:"To repose, be exempt, to refresh, take ease, refresh." Remember that Jesus said that the "children of the King were exempt from the temple tax."
I am sure that Jesus didn't come to make us lazy. However, He came to make sure that we are not always torn up about whether we are saved, or are giving enough, or making enough meetings and on and on and on and on. This exempts us from spiritual anxiety deliberately created (for a price, always for a price) so that we don't force the widow to cast in her last two pennies.
All that exists is "the gift of God." However, even free gifts have to be wanted and accepted on the terms of the giver.
The prophet, Isaiah, described in great detail what would happen when Jesus came. God always wanted a close relationship with His people. And, because there was not (and is not) a single human who could lead, shepherd, feed and protect His People, God sent His "Arm" to intercede. Again, why was it necessary for God Himself as Jesus to take over the Shepherding job?
Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. And the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. Isaiah 59:15
The "civilian" Jewish people, just like the Gentiles, were accepted by God on the basis of "personal righteousness (right living - not perfection) and the practice of social justice. The spiritual (mental) people were trying to run away from evil but the religious systems were caught like "rats in a trap" and received no help.
Do you remember that Jesus said that the clergy "evangelized" but then made the "convert" into a worse son of hell? Truth failed because because when obeyed those who departeth from evil could not be caught as a "donkey" to carry the load of the peddler.
Well, surely, God could sign up people to be His "agents" to give away the truth? No. Then and now, because human nature doesn't change--
And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him Isaiah 59:16 .
For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. Isaiah 59:17
Paul will later say that we should have the same mind or spirit as God who "took off His garments of Majesty and Glory, laid them down on the throne, and came in the form of a little child." When Jesus had finished His work as Arm, He reclothed Himself and sat down again as full Deity. (Col. 2:9) "on the right hand." However, as God is visible as His "Arm" He would destroy the "donkey loaders" and restore the Truth supply by giving it directly to the consumer -- cut out the middle man who sold "watered wine."
According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. Isaiah 59:18
So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. Isaiah 59:19
There is nothing which upsets the donkey loaders, the temple money changers or the silversmiths selling images of themselves than waving the Spirit through God's word like a banner. When the Jewish slave masters at the temple would not run, the Word or Spirit of Christ warned them that the enemy would destroy them.
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. Isaiah 59:20
A Redeemer is like a "kinship redeemer" who marries the wife of a dead husband.
God sent His Arm for two purposes, like a baptism of fire and of Spirit, He would burn up the "chaff" with the breath of His Mouth and pour out His Mind, Spirit or Truth directly to those who would turn to Him. Those who turned were already aware of the One God and practiced social justice -- they were not found in the prisons.
People are not predestinated, but usually long before they hear the Gospel God lays claim to those who are hungering and thirsting for some knowledge from and about Him. He will not plant "seed" in the middle of the freeway.
To those who understand from nature that there is One God and who treats others as they would treat themselves, still have their eyes and ears open so that they can still hear the Truth.
As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59:21
The "seed" of the Gospel is Christ's Word which He personally defined as "Spirit" and "Life." When that seed germinates in the heart it will naturally produce more seed. That seed is the unaltered Words of Christ which must not be cut apart and inspected "gene by gene" or it will produce nothing but deadness.
In chapter 59, God will send His "Arm" and in chapter 11 He will cause His "Spirit" to rest upon Jesus:
AND there shall come forth a rod (twig) out of the stem (stump) of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; Isaiah 11:2
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11:3
The Arm or "seed" or "Spirit" of God is the Truth which always gets lost in the mouth of human agents. Spirit means the Mind or mental disposition of God will copme through Jesus Christ Who is not an Agent of God but was the invisible, Spirit God made visible to mankind.
In another account, The Spirit of Christ breathing truth into Isaiah shows that the Arm of the Lord is that which reveals God's Word in the "reports" of the prophets or other inspired spokesmen for God. The people God uses, as modelled by His own image, cannot have human talent or attractive charisma:
WHO hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Isaiah 53:1
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Remember that God came as His own right Arm or right Hand because there was and there is no man who can stand between mankind and God. Anyone who tries to load us down like donkeys or makes a fool of us may do so because, paraphrasing Paul, "fools love to be fooled." It may be a legalistic "feel good" which we need more than the Words of Christ in song and sermon. But, there is no man because:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors: and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12
Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. Isaiah 48:17
That "Arm" which can be heard through Words would be God reaching through into our world. Hear Isaiah:
HO, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1 (These are all in the form of food products)
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?
hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Isaiah 55:2
Incline your ear, and come unto me:hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Isaiah 55:3
Jesus will later say that spiritual food and drink is bound up in His Words. These words are not to make you anxious about religious ceremonies. Instead of insecurity, by looking intently in the Word without trying to cut it up to suit our needs, it becomes a way for Jesus to live in our heart. Or as Peter would say:
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19
God Himself will deal with those who love truth under many different roles:
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Isaiah 55:4
Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of theLORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." Isaiah 55:5
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:7
No human is either competent or honorable enough to do what God wanted done with His Spirit or Truth or Mind. The reason is simple:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
To claim to speak for God through the use of human compositions or "cutting and pasting" God's Words is like claiming to be able to put life back into a dead body, or be able to leave the physical dimension and just appear in another place at another time.
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:14
But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 2 Corinthians 3:15
Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
God as "Father" inspired, God as "Son" or "Word" spoke the words, God's Spirit or Christ's Spirit brought life, the Apostles were taught and given the Spirit Words directly into their hearts, and they wrote the history of this once-for-all event and warned against further "cut and paste" efforts. Peter stated and warned all of us:
Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 2 Peter 1: 14
Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things alway in remembrance. 2 Peter 1: 15
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1: 16
For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 2 Peter 1: 17
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 2 Peter 1: 18
Christ "filled full" His own revelations in the Prophets (1 Peter 1:11) and we cannot add anything further:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2 Peter 1:19
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private (one's own) interpretation. 2 Peter 1: 20
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1: 21
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1 Peter 1:11
The rabbi could read and explain a passage in Scripture, but he was forbidden to try to explain and apply that passage to any other situation. Peter also forbits us to privately apply Scripture where it has not been applied. Private interpretation is:
Epilusis (g1955) ep-il'-oo-sis; from 1956; explanation, i.e. application: - interpretation.
Epiluo (g1956) ep-ee-loo'-o; from 1909 and 3089; to solve further, i.e. (fig.) to explain, decide: - determine, expound
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. Mark 4:34
When we see a tiny fragment of one verse exploded to force people to adopt some new, unrelated spiritual standard or attitude we can understand that private interpretation is taking place. When a dozen passages are cut and pasted to make a new "topic" then we can understand that the water is contaminated and is never free.
God as His Arm or Spirit must be the Teacher because human teachers are too tempted to take the Water of the Word and add a pinch of Koolaide to it. However, when we cut up God's Word with no logical jump from place to place, we are doing something like cutting an audio tape up into bits and then putting it back together. The Spirit often uses one idea to explain another but He doesn't upset God's "Water Cycle" of free water:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, Isaiah 55:10
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed." Isaiah 55:13
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