Who is the Pontius Pilate in Your Life?

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” – John 19:10

Have you been in a situation where you have no advocate? No friends to help you? No one to look out for you? Have you had a job where everyone around you takes every chance they get to put you down? Are you in a family that pushes you out and has never been there for you?

A Piece of Jesus’ Life

I believe that we all will experience pieces of Jesus’ life at various points in our own life. God calls us to conform to Christ, and so the more we become like him, the more our life reflects his own.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. – Colossians 1:15

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. – Romans 8:29

The spiritual gifts allow us, at the right time, to perform miraculous feats of healing, prophecy, wisdom, and more, just like Jesus throughout his life. We can even experience his death and resurrection in parts of our own lives. We can experience his baptism, his communion, and his Church family. So if we can experience all of this, what about his meeting with Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion?

If you are facing a situation where you will meet a Pontius Pilate in your life, just like Jesus, there are several things to look out for.

Alone Near the End

Before Jesus was brought to Pilate, he was battered and bruised, beaten and rejected by everyone in authority:

“What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” – Matthew 26:66-67

All of his friends abandoned him:

“But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. – Matthew 26:56

Then Peter began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” – Matthew 26:74

Does this mean you’re going to be physically hurt, and literally rejected by absolutely everyone? Maybe yes, maybe no. Let’s consider the reality of the situation and how it can apply to you, if you’re not a missionary or in a situation that would cause you to be persecuted.

When the end is near for a job you have, or a social change, or anything that could dramatically shift your current situation, there’s going to be a period of loneliness before you face your Pontius Pilate. At work, you probably have coworkers you consider friends, or people that might look out for you or mentor you. But then things are going to get tough. The work you’ve done will start to be used against you:

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. – Matthew 26:59

And even if your work is squeaky clean, always on time, always doing a good job, it’s not going to matter:

But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. – Matthew 26:60

No Advocate

If you have coworkers, family, or friends that speak up for you when you’re under attack like this, that’s a wonderful thing, however it means that you’re not going to face a Pontius Pilate in this situation. You’re experiencing something similar to King David. When he was facing betrayal, like Jesus, he went to the mount of Olives:

But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. – 2 Samuel 15:30-32

But unlike Jesus, King David was not alone. And David didn’t face a Pontius Pilate. But what if you’re about to face what Jesus faced? Your coworkers, friends, advocates, or leaders will be silent. And I’m not talking about everyone, I’m talking about people who have the ability to change your situation.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? – Isaiah 53:8

I know it seems bleak, but it’s a grim reality that if you want to be more like Christ, there will be times when you’re going to experience parts of his life. And this is certainly a sad, lonely part of his life.

So the work you’ve done won’t save you, your friends won’t advocate for you, and your leaders are out to get you. Where does Pontius Pilate come in?

Pilate’s Characteristics

The Pontius Pilate you will face near the end of your particular situation will have several characteristics:

1. You’re not the only one they’re affecting

There are many religious sects that advocate for Pilate’s righteousness, for a number of reasons. But make no mistake, he was a wicked man, and he did not serve God. But the commonality you’ll find in your Pontius Pilate, and Jesus’, is that they’re hurting more people than they know, and you’re not the first:

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. – Luke 13:1

2. Inability to see the truth

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus mentions that one seed, eaten by crows, represents the following:

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. – Matthew 13:19

Your Pontius Pilate will not understand the truth. They will be staring directly at the truth and say:

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. – John 18:38

This means there’s nothing you can say, nothing you can do, that will change their mind. So how do you respond?

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7

3. Desire to Humiliate

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” – John 19:10

Lording their power over you is another clear sign that they’re a Pontius Pilate in your life. And the reality is that they do have authority over you. In a job, they’re likely your boss. In a family, maybe a parent or head of a household. Either way, Jesus acknowledges the authority Pilate truly does have, given to him by God:

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:11

4. They’re facing internal conflict

While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” – Matthew 27:19

In the reality of Jesus’ situation, there was a lot of spiritual warfare going on with Pilate’s wife. If she succeeded in convincing him to let Jesus go, there would have been no crucifixion. Satan tried many, many times to delay and stop the sacrifice, but ultimately it all failed. If you’re facing a Pontius Pilate, they’re going to be facing a lot of conflict and spiritual warfare surrounding any number of things in their life. They will be full of fear, confusion, disillusion, or apathy and denial.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. – John 19:1

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” – John 19:4

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. – John 19:16

What Do We Do?

Ultimately, we know Pilate ordered Jesus to be crucified. What does this mean for us, when we face a Pontius Pilate in our own life? What happens in the end?

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. – Isaiah 53:9

If we’re following Jesus’ path, we’ll die to our situation, our job, our family, or whatever we’re facing. It will end, we can’t stop it, and it won’t be easy. But the hope is what lies beyond Pilate. Pilate didn’t give us salvation, Pilate didn’t raise Jesus from the dead. The Pilate in your life cannot save you from the situation you’re in. When you die to your job, your family, your situation, someone will pull you out and into a new job, a renewed relationship with family, a new situation.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied. – Isaiah 53:11

But before this happens, before the end of your situation comes, there’s two things you need to do when facing your Pontius Pilate:

1. Forgive the people who didn’t advocate for you, forgive the people who wronged you, and forgive your Pontius Pilate

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Don’t harbor resentment, don’t hold anything against them, don’t lash out, just forgive them.

2. Ask God to deliver you from this situation, but commit yourself to his will if you are meant to suffer through it

At any point, God could have a plan to take you out before you face your Pontius Pilate. At any point, your friends could advocate for you like with King David. At any point, your Pontius Pilate could see the truth and change the situation. But that may not be in God’s plan for you. Do what Jesus did and ask God to save you now if it’s his will:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Luke 22:42

But if you’re meant to go through it all to the end, commit yourself to it. These were the final words of Jesus, before dying on the cross:

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” – Luke 23:46

In the end, you will be saved. Jesus was resurrected from death, and you will be resurrected from your job, your family, or whatever situation you’ve died to.

3. Be Still

Finally, if all else fails, when you face the Pontius Pilate in your life, just remember the word of God:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Dealing with Election Results in the Bible

Are you worried about the election? Were you worried about the last one? Does thinking about the future of your country make you uneasy? Does it make you depressed? Argumentative? Sad? Or does it make you happy, at ease, glad, or even vindictive? If so, this message is for you.

Two Sides to the Election Coin

There are two perspectives that I’m going to explore, which all of us fall under somehow in our attitudes towards elections, and their results. And these perspectives were shared by many people in the Bible as well. The best thing to do, then, is to look at the solution to each, because they represent the moral problems we have and encounter.

1. “God’s Candidate” – Our societal issues can be solved if a particular person is in power

We often put a lot of faith in people, so much so that their perceived positive impact seems like a thing from God himself, that this person is directly from God himself. “If this one person comes to lead us, our problems will be solved!” But let’s look at the facts in scripture:

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” – 1 Samuel 8:1-5

Sounds fine, right? Samuel’s children failed as Israel’s leaders. They took bribes from foreign influence, they didn’t take care of their country, and they were perverting justice. Do you have this mentality on much of government? Do you believe government is corrupt, given to foreign influence, bribes, and injustice? So did the elders of Israel. What was their solution? A king. “If we just have a king, all these problems will go away.” The corruption, the bribes, the injustice, and the evil will all be gone if this certain person comes to power. Is this right? What’s Samuel’s response?

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. – 1 Samuel 8:6

This is clearly not a good thing. Thinking that someone is the solution to the moral dilemma of Israel was not a positive mentality. If you found yourself relating to this section, here’s the part you might not like: the reason for this mentality. The word of the Lord, after Samuel’s prayer:

And the Lord told Samuel: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. – 1 Samuel 8:7

The people weren’t rejecting Samuel’s leadership, they weren’t even rejecting his sons leadership! They were rejecting God.

2. “The Anti-Christ Candidate” – Our leaders are wicked and must be defeated

This one is especially difficult to deal with because it’s been so powerfully felt throughout the history of humanity. We’re so often ruled by oppressors, that it certainly would be nice if they were removed and replaced by something better, wouldn’t it? It would certainly be great if there was a rebellion of some kind. How, then, must we reckon with the following scripture, in the midst of our oppressors?

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. – Romans 12:1-2

These verses are used time and time again to say that we must not rebel. Why shouldn’t we rebel? How are rebellions described in the Bible?

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the Lord.

He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 36:11-13

And again:

Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master, and worthless men gathered about him, scoundrels, who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them. – 2 Chronicles 13:6-7

And again:

The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. – Mark 15:7

I could continue, but there’s a clear pattern that these are not righteous people. But you may be wondering, what about “righteous rebellion” when Christianity itself is threatened? Moses’ exodus is a frequent example used in this argument. Moses, the great insurrectionist! The great Jewish rebellion against Egypt! Right? Wrong.

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’” – Exodus 5:1

God makes it clear to request that Pharaoh let the Jews worship a god other than the Egyptian gods. There’s no deception, no rebellion. If there’s an oppressive ruler, denying religious practices, what shall we do?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” – Exodus 6:1

God is the one who causes deliverance from oppressors. A rebellion was never necessary, because it was Pharaoh who rebelled against God.

During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” – Exodus 12:31

Even in the midst of impending doom and religious persecution and oppression, remember these proverbs:

Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished. – Proverbs 17:11

Rebellion hardens your heart:

Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” – Hebrews 3:15

Rebellion is you saying that God doesn’t care:

You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” – Malachi 2:17

Why is this so important to not rebel against authority? Why is respecting the oppressive authority placed over you by God so vital?

“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.

Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.

But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” – Exodus 23:20-22

In the midst of oppression, God is bringing you to a place he has prepared.

The Solution

The elections are in his hands. The rulers and authorities are his. There is no man but Jesus who is in absolute control for our good:

In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. – Proverbs 21:1

So what do we do? What’s the solution to the “God’s Candidate” and “the Anti-Christ Candidate” when we start falling into these perspectives? The solution to the first, is to realize that your master is God. And the only solution to society’s problems is the gift of salvation, not an election candidate. And salvation isn’t something you can vote for. It doesn’t come from democracies, or monarchies, or capitalism. It didn’t come from Moses, or King David, or anyone today. It comes from one man alone:

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” – John 6:30

And the solution to the second perspective? Submission without apostatizing:

Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. – Mark 12:17

You’re probably familiar with that passage, and its simplicity is incredible. God draws a fine line between what we owe authority and what we owe Him in the New Testament. The Old Testament has a very relatable example of this being practiced. There’s no need for rebellion, no need for insurrection, only obedience to God and respect of the authorities placed over you, by him:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3: 16-18

Christ is in control

This is all complicated, isn’t it? The intricacies of how far Christians are to obey authorities is widely disputed. But know this: Christ is intricately in control of the details, and your prayers concerning these things that may trouble you do not go unheard. God wants to meet you wherever you are in life, he doesn’t need a revolution in your country to do it. No ruler can get in the way of God reaching out to you, no troubles, no wars, nothing.

I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” – Luke 4:25-27

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, in a land not his own. You and I are the widow in Zarephath, we’re Naaman the Syrian. We’re on the outskirts of mere human history, often our voices don’t seem like they’re heard and it’s like we’re not that important. But Jesus was sent to us.

Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. – Deuteronomy 10:14-18

The Purpose of Marriage

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:15

What’s the purpose of marriage? To find happiness? To stay in love? To have kids? These objectives are used a lot by people today, in fact almost every time. But are they the scriptural reasons for marriage? I used to have a very stubborn opinion on this. But it was plain and simple scripture, not commentaries or theologians, that changed my mind. Let’s go over happiness, love, and kids to see if these reasons hold up as a suitable purpose for marriage. In the end, we’ll see that God is far more direct and freeing about this than ever before.

Happiness

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. – Song of Solomon 2:3

Happiness is certainly one of the many products of marriage. But it’s a result of marriage, not what marriage revolves around. In the absence of happiness, what holds the Christian marriage together? If happiness was the purpose of marriage, God would have never returned to Israel all the times he was angry:

So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. – 2 Kings 17:18

But something always caused God to bring Israel back:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. – Hosea 2:14-15

Happiness does not keep a marriage together, nor is it the purpose of marriage. So then what was keeping God committed to his marriage with Israel? Was it love?

Love

Love, like happiness, is another product of marriage. But is the purpose of marriage to be in love? To stay in love? Was it love that made God continue to forgive Israel?

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 7:7-8

So was it love that kept God faithful? Was love the purpose of God’s marriage to Israel? Love is a powerful thing, but make no mistake, love is a product of something particular that you shouldn’t miss from the passage above:

It was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors

God swore an oath. It wasn’t just because he loved Israel, because Israel did not always love God back, but because he made a covenant. So is the purpose of marriage to fulfill a covenant? Now we’re getting somewhere. It was the covenant that kept God faithful when Israel disobeyed. God chose to love Israel, and made a covenant with them, that even when the happiness is gone, and when we don’t love him, he will still keep his covenant.

Now this may be compelling, but is it the purpose for marriage? A covenant is what keeps a Christian marriage together, even in the absence of love and happiness. So did God marry Israel for the sake of wanting to make a covenant one day? Is that the real reason? No. God is infinitely more intentional than that.

Kids

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:15

God is seeking Godly offspring. It’s as simple as that. Marriage, symbolically, represents Christ’s relationship with the Church. But the purpose for God’s marriage to Israel was to produce one special Godly offspring:

“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,‘ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,‘ meaning one person, who is Christ.” – Galatians 3:16

But surely, this is a controversial thing to say, especially in this day and age! A marriage must produce offspring? Godly offspring?

So if I have one child, I’m good to go? What about the married couples who don’t want kids? Or those who adopt? Or the barren?

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.”

That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. – Romans 9:6-8

What does this mean? It means stop focusing on the physical aspects of this marital purpose. Even God doesn’t look at that. There are possibilities far beyond the legalist doctrine of “at least one child, or else you’re condemned!” God has never been this limiting. Let’s quickly run through the common concerns, to make this simple:

What if I can’t have kids?

“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. – Isaiah 54:1

You can have Godly offspring, through close, spiritual relationships with those around you.

What if I only adopt?

To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. – Galatians 4:5-7

Be assured, the children you adopt are your children, and you can have Godly offspring.

What if my spouse and I don’t want kids?

The answer to this concern is a simple question: what is your priority as a married couple? Is it what you both want? Or is it what God wants. And we know what God wants: Godly offspring.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28

Practice hospitality and foster spiritual relationships with those around you, and God may very well soon push you in the direction of having physical children, or adopting, and you’ll be well equipped for it. But don’t think you know better than God.

What if my offspring, spiritual or physical, aren’t Godly?

Know that God seeks Godly offspring. He also wants us to be Godly ambassadors for Christ. Both of these things repeatedly do not happen all over the world. But this is the promise of Jesus, that we are made Godly, reborn in him. If your children reject God, humble yourself and know that you’re not the one who can ultimately save them.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:10

Conclusion

What is the purpose of marriage? What does God seek from our marriages? Godly offspring. And how is this done? By keeping our marital covenant, and having spiritual and physical children.

God seeks Godly offspring from our marriages; and if our offspring, spiritual or physical, turn away from God, we need to remain obedient and let God work in them on his own time. God wants Godly offspring from your marriage, but even more than that, he wants YOU:

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 21:22

Are You Vulnerable to Evil?

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. -Proverbs 25:28

The world is a dangerous place. There are diseases, corrupt politicians, false teachers, murderers, liars, pain, addiction, and fear. How can Jesus expect us to navigate such a broken world? Aren’t we vulnerable to all of these terrible things? Aren’t we vulnerable to evil?

The First Vulnerability

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. – Genesis 3:7

Adam and Eve experienced vulnerability to evil after they sinned in the garden. Consider the passage from Proverbs: they were a city broken into and without walls. They were vulnerable to the outside, naked to the elements. But why did sin make them vulnerable? Look at Proverbs again:

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. -Proverbs 25:28

They had no self control when the serpent tempted them to eat. There was no hesitation, no consideration of consequence or of God’s one command.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. – Genesis 3:6

What’s the first sign that you’re vulnerable to sin, that you’re a “city broken into” and left without walls? Lack of self control, and fear.

“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:10

The Second Vulnerability

Adam and Eve were in the presence of God, and while they did sin, they were also saved. But what if that wall inside you that’s broken down isn’t rebuilt? What if you continue to be vulnerable to evil? What if you continue to lack self control, and stay in fear?

Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” – 1 Samuel 15:24

Though Saul was full of apologies, he never did repent in the end. His walls were never rebuilt. Over and over he gave in to a lack of self control, he gave in to fear. And like Saul, our continued vulnerability can turn into an invasion:

Later, in Saul’s house, David was playing the harp. Saul was there with his spear in his hand. Then an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul. Saul threw his spear at David and tried to pin him to the wall. David jumped out of the way, so the spear missed him and stuck in the wall. – 1 Samuel 19:9-10

(If you’d like to understand more about why this passage says that God sent an evil spirit, check out one of my previous posts that covers demonic activity in the Old Testament here.)

Saul was afraid of David. He feared losing his throne, and his life. He lacked self control, always going his own way and disobeying God, and constantly trying to kill David. Saul’s vulnerability was never resolved. The broken walls inside him were never rebuilt. So something invaded.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

And the devil is not good company for your broken down walls. This invasion directly assaults righteousness:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

Hope for the Vulnerable

This all seems pretty hopeless! Vulnerability leads to fear and lack of self control, which leads to…demons?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Saul was an unrepentant example of what happens when God’s promises are ultimately rejected. The reality is that God is offering us a way out of our vulnerability to evil. But let us also not be naive: evil is there. Satan is a roaring lion, and should not be taken lightly. Vulnerability to sin is real, but there is a solution.

Are you vulnerable to sin? Do you feel exposed to the dangers of the world? Are your walls broken down?

But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee. – Leviticus 25:31

The Jubilee is happening now. And Jesus, the redeemer, is waiting for us to return. You can be redeemed. It’s not too late.

Do you struggle with self control? Are fears and anxieties plaguing you? Are you broken into? Have you been invaded by sin?

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” – Psalm 12:5

Adam and Eve were plundered, afraid, vulnerable, and naked to sin. What did God do?

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. – Genesis 3:21

When God banished them from the garden, he didn’t kick them to the curb. He didn’t abandon them. He didn’t leave them vulnerable. We know this because sometime after Adam and Eve leave the garden, Eve says something quite interesting. I believe we should pay close attention to the last thing the Bible records Eve saying:

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” – Genesis 4:1

We were a house without walls, and Jesus redeemed us in the open country. God will build us up, and he will help us all the rest of our days:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. – Titus 2:11

He will teach you how to have self control:

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. – Titus 2:12

He will clothe you like he clothed Adam and Eve, in purity and redemption:

While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:13-14

He will protect you from desolation, from the vulnerability of evil. If you want this, then pray:

“O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.

He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” – Daniel 9:18-23

Christ’s Denial

Jesus always said that we had to give up so much for him, leave so many things behind, deny ourselves and follow him. If this is an imitation of Christ, what did Jesus deny? What did Jesus leave behind?

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24

What’s frequently asked of us

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” – Mark 10:29-30

To understand what Jesus denied, we have to look at what he asks us to deny. Frequently this revolves around family, because they’re such an integral part in our lives. And family can come in many forms. Though it seems odd that God would want us to deny our families, right? Aren’t we supposed to love and care for our families?

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Hatred is a strong word. How could the God of love expect such an attitude towards our own families, and ourselves?

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. – Matthew 10:37

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. “More than me” is a dangerous thing, isn’t it. The Bible loves to talk about priorities, let’s consider this:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Matthew 6:24

Now imagine the word money in that verse replaced by the word family. You cannot serve God and family, God and money, God and yourself. The denial being asked of us is a priority shift, whereby our service and provisions for family are now given to us by God alone, and our hatred is of the flesh and its sinful contamination:

Save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear, hating even the clothing contaminated by corrupted flesh. – Jude 1:23

For more scripture surrounding this complex form of righteous hatred, check out my other post, Who Does God Hate? Let’s continue. What happens when we shift priorities like this? What happens when we start focusing on a spiritual God more than a physical family?

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. – Romans 8:5

The denial of family being asked of us makes our minds always focused on God. And God indeed wants us to be spirit focused!

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4

But what about our poor family that we’ve left behind in our list of priorities?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:31-33

Everything you’ve been entrusted with to care for, the people who depend on you, the family that needs you, will be taken care of by God. He’ll likely use you to do it, but the thing is you can actually do it properly now that you have the right priorities.

Now what?

Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” – Matthew 19:27

We’re asked to give up everything and deny everything, even ourselves. Like Peter, a good question is “what then?”

Boaz said, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” – Ruth 2:11-12

Are rich rewards, blessings, and eternal life not enough? But the now what question I’d really like to answer is about what Jesus had to deny. Jesus didn’t give up a sinful life, so what kind of example is he? The perfect example.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:6-8

Christ’s Denial

Jesus emptied himself of his divinity. The word denial may seem inappropriate when used to describe Jesus denying his omnipotence, because it carries certain feelings of shame and sin, like Peter denying that he knew Jesus. But remember the denial we’re asked to do, which is the altering of priorities, to put down our earthly thoughts and deny their power. What was Jesus’ denial, but of his very nature, so that it could not be used to his own advantage.

But surely Jesus still had all his power, he only gave it up in practice? No. He became fully human. Imagine God the father being more powerful than God the son! More knowledgeable even!

But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. – Mark 13:32

In fact, he didn’t even know who touched his clothes at one point:

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” – Mark 5:30

And yet, through all of this weakness, Jesus’ denial of his divine nature was not a great loss for the trinity, as some might think. Instead it is the very condition demanded of him, for without this denial, he could never be the son of man.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. – Colossians 2:9

Jesus surely emptied himself of his divine nature, yet is filled to the brim with deity and authority and glory.

Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. – John 17:5

Why did Jesus give up all of this? Why did he have to in order to fulfill the condition of the Trinity? The same reason he asks us to do it, to humble himself as a servant.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death. – Philippians 2:8

Denying his divine nature makes him obedient to mortality, and therefore filled with everything we experience: suffering, separation from God, and sin.

Wait, sin? Surely that’s blasphemous! Jesus never sinned! Well, look at it this way:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

This doesn’t mean he sinned, but was treated by God the father as though all of the world’s wickedness was in him. This is called imputation, whereby our sin was imputed upon Christ on the cross.

Christ’s denial is an example to us to show that it creates humility. Any time Jesus asks us to deny something in our life, it’s to make us humble, because we’re using it to be proud. We love to make family our number one priority, thinking that we can take care of our family on our own, but this is pride and idolatry of ourselves and our family. Jesus will take care of our family, all we have to do is deny their top priority and power, and not let them be something we can use to our advantage, but instead give us an opportunity to become humble and rely on God. This certainly isn’t the “nice” message you might be hoping for, denying ones family and all, but pride is worse, and trusting God to instead provide for family and for you is far more eternally worthwhile.

Jesus denied his divine nature for you, now it’s time for you to deny your sinful human nature for him. He’s going to return soon for us, I hope you’re ready.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” – Revelations 1:12-18

Dealing With Unfair Confrontations

Why do people yell each other? Why are people violently confronting each other so much? Have you witnessed someone yell at a person over wearing/not wearing a mask? Maybe you’ve seen instances of this on social media, maybe you’ve seen the violence that can ensue over these confrontations. Should we try to stop it? Is it wrong? Where in the Bible does this issue possibly happen? One place sticks out like a sore thumb. We’re going to be talking about King David and his encounter with someone who is violent, who yells at him, and who does the very things you see all over the world today.

When we’re in a time of affliction

We find ourselves in 2 Samuel 16, where King David has fled Jerusalem because his son Absalom has forcefully taken his place, and David fears for his life. He travels for a while with his servants, until he encounters a man:

Then King David reached Bahurim. There a man from Saul’s extended family named Shimei son of Gera came out, yelling curses as he approached. He threw stones at David and all of King David’s servants, as well as all the people and the soldiers who were on his right and on his left. As he yelled curses, Shimei said, “Leave! Leave! You man of bloodshed, you wicked man! The Lord has punished you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!” – 2 Samuel 16:5-8

Shimei, a Benjamite, obviously doesn’t like the man who replaced Saul. He’s yelling, he’s angry, he’s violent and throwing dirt and stones at everyone, he’s impossible to deal with. Have you encountered someone like this lately? Have you seen anyone on social media that’s acting like this? Wild with accusations, cannot be reasoned with, full of unwarranted aggression? What do you want to do when you see something like this? Abishai has the answer:

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head!” – 2 Samuel 16:9

You probably want to get rid of the person somehow, just remove them from the situation. Probably not kill them like Abishai, but in the end you don’t want them to be a problem anymore. When you’re faced with aggression, a lot of times you might want to retaliate, or face the accuser, try to reason with them. They certainly have your attention and aren’t going away any time soon, right? It’s probably best to face them head on like Abishai.

But the king said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!,’ who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’” – 2 Samuel 16:10

What an intriguing response. David isn’t going to be distracted by the situation, but acknowledges what’s really going on. God has sent Shimei to yell and curse for a reason, and it’s no one’s place to question that.

Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son, my very own flesh and blood, is trying to take my life. So also now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone so that he can curse, for the Lord has spoken to him. Perhaps the Lord will notice my affliction and this day grant me good in place of his curse.” – 2 Samuel 16:11-12

David was certainly facing affliction in this time, great pain and sorrow, fear of being killed, traveling in secret. But his response is to let the man be, because God is at work.

So David and his men went on their way. But Shimei kept going along the side of the hill opposite him, yelling curses as he threw stones and dirt at them. The king and all the people who were with him arrived exhausted at their destination, where David refreshed himself. – 2 Samuel 16:13-14

Are you afflicted?

Has someone accused you of something? Did they yell and scream at you? Have you seen this happen to other people? It’s happening everywhere, if you pay attention. David was afflicted, facing many difficulties and fears, betrayal and threats. And today, the whole world is afflicted.

There’s no escaping the affects of Covid, the aggression, the accusations, the anger, and the violence. But out of all these, there’s a Shimei somewhere near you. Maybe they’re not accusing you, but someone you know. What should you do? We saw what David did, he chose to leave the man alone because it was God who sent him. Don’t you think it’s the same God who’s sending this person in your life too?

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71

The world has been thrust into sickness and fear so that we can turn to God. Shimei was a sign to David that God had afflicted him, to turn his eyes away from his lost throne and back to God.

It’s not your job

I know you want to confront the Shimei in your life, you want to reason with them, to convince them otherwise, or maybe you want to ignore them altogether. Don’t do it. You’ll fail, and it’ll only get worse. Even ignoring them isn’t going to solve the problem, David had to deal with Shimei following his group for a while. Let’s look at Jesus’ example of how confrontation doesn’t help:

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. – Luke 22:47-50

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” – Matthew 26:52-54

These things happen because it’s God at work, not us. Put your sword back in its place. Justice will come, and the aggressors, the violent, the accusers, and the Shimeis in your life will be gone. All you have to do is start praying to God, because the whole world is afflicted, and that includes you.

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. – Psalm 12:17-18

The Statue Problem in Christianity

Monuments, statues, memorials, etc. frequently find themselves the center of heated debate. Should they exist to help us remember history? Should they be placed in museums if they‘re images of immoral people or ideas? Should they be destroyed because we disagree with what they represent? Where do Christians belong in this debate?

It is impossible to avoid controversy

No matter what, throughout the entire past, present, and future, there will be controversy over statues. It doesn’t matter what they represent, it’s a fact that there will be conflict around them. Read the following, and consider how it’s applicable today:

About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way of Jesus. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said:

“You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” – Acts 19:23-27

You might be thinking, from the Christian perspective, that the worshippers of Artemis are objectively in the wrong, and therefore any statues depicting specifically a god shouldn’t be promoted. But whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter here, it’s what good it does trying to reason with anyone involved:

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. – Acts 19:28-33

The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front. The Jews had a reputation for destroying idols, so they didn’t want to be the victims here, connected with a controversy started by Paul, a Christian. So like all angry groups, they look for the nearest spokesperson, someone who can connect with the other side. Who can do this? Someone who’s likely worked with Demetrius. Alexander fits the bill, he works with metal too, but he’s woefully unqualified because he’s a false teacher much like many leaders today:

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. – 2 Timothy 4:14

This is an example of futility, because it doesn’t matter what Alexander said, the Artemis followers discredit him simply because he’s a Jew.

But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” – Acts 19:34

Where’s Paul in all this? Uninvolved. He wanted to go in, but the disciples held him back.

Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. – Acts 19:30-31

A lot of times we want to engage the crowd, even when it’s obvious what is right and wrong. But sometimes it won’t change a thing, sometimes the chaos just goes away on its own:

The city clerk quieted the crowd and said:

“Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.

After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly. – Acts 19:35-41

What an interesting summation! Even the city clerk acknowledges that the whole thing is pointless, and he worships Artemis!

There’s something more important

Do you find yourself somewhere in the crowd? Are you trying to avoid controversy and find yourself sometimes seized by the crowd like Gaius and Aristarchus? Are you actively engaged in the crowd, like the Jews or the Artemis followers? If you answered yes to any of those, then you’re likely to experience what the entire assembly experienced: confusion.

The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. – Acts 19:32

What did Paul experience? Not confusion, that’s for sure! What was Paul’s response to this whole thing?

When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. – Acts 20:1

Pretty simple. He encouraged the poor guys who were involved in the confusion, and moved on. This is what’s important when it comes to controversies surrounding things like statues and monuments: encouragement and peace. God does not promote confusion, so we know it’s wrong when there’s chaos.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

Sometimes we’re forced into the controversies, and it’s hard. But God provides people to encourage us, like Paul. Other times we’re able to be like Paul himself, and avoid the crowd. Your job then is to encourage and bring peace to those who are seized by the crowd.

What does God see?

Paul laments of his experience in Acts in another passage:

If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? – 1 Corinthians 15:32

What was Paul fighting? He didn’t really do anything amidst the crowd, right? Or was his battle somewhere else? Herein lies the point of this entire post. It’s not about the statue, the monument, the controversy. It’s about the message of Jesus, which brings peace and understanding to the chaos and confusion. I find it no coincidence that the controversy of statues and monuments can be summed up by a passage from the book of Ephesians, a book written to the Christians of Ephesus itself. Paul had more than human hope when he fought the wild beasts of Ephesus:

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. – Ephesians 6:12

And how do we encourage those who are seized by the crowds? Let’s look in the same chapter of Ephesians, where we’re shown exactly what someone in that situation needs. This is a prayer that I would encourage you to incorporate into your life.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. – Ephesians 6:18-20

Encourage those around you, spread Jesus’ message. There will always be controversies and confusion out in the world, but there is also one God who stands above it all.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6

Does God Eat?

The most important question you could ever ask is…what are you going to eat today? Some people don’t know if they’ll eat today. Some have lots of options, can eat out, or can only eat what they have at home. And in times of trouble, it can be hard to find healthy options or food you’re used to. Food can be a great blessing, and it can be a great evil in your life. It can be the source of gaining unhealthy weight, gluttony, an attitude of living to eat. But it can also be the beginning of hospitality, the conversation starter, a means to something greater. But even eating to live isn’t the best attitude. So is it wrong to live to eat? Is it wrong to eat to live? Wrong questions. The real question to ask is does God eat?

Abraham said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

– Genesis 18:3-5

The average biblical commentator would say that God is spirit and therefore doesn’t eat. This example from Genesis remains true to this statement, as we understand these appearances of God to be God the Son, for the presence of the Father is always far different and not so humanly relatable. When God the Father is present, there is fire and power that is devastating. This simply isn’t happening here with Abraham:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

– John 8:56-58

But sometimes God the Son doesn’t eat at all, refusing food entirely:

Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”

The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.”

– Judges 13:15-16

If you’re confused as to why I’m attributing an angel of the Lord to being Jesus, check out this post.

So what does it matter? We know Jesus ate. He most certainly ate at the Passover, and he ate all the time because he was fully human. But did he eat to live? Or live to eat? What about God the Father? Jesus knew the answer to these questions. So lets look at what the Bible has to say about it:

Heavenly Food

At first glance, there is mounting evidence that God the Father eats, contrary to his “spirit” nature:

And one cake of bread mixed with oil and one wafer from the basket of unleavened bread which is set before the Lord.

Exodus 29:23

They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to the Lord, the food of their God; so they shall be holy.

– Leviticus 21:6

“Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time.’”

– Numbers 28:2

“But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’”

– Malachi 1:12

But what the entire Bible lacks, is any mention of God actually eating any of these offerings. In fact, we find the opposite, where God outlines how he does not eat sacrifices. God spells out for us how severely he doesn’t need anything from us.

Every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

– Psalms 50:7-15

From Isaiah 1, we find that God wants us to be obedient more than he wants our sacrifices:

Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.

“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me.”

Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

Indeed, God has always desired righteousness over sacrifices. Not to say that sacrifice is worthless, but obedience a greater thing. God doesn’t eat the sacrifices, he doesn’t need them, he doesn’t need anything from us. He desires obedience, which is more pleasing than the “pleasing aroma” of sacrifice. This is because God the Father is spirit, and righteousness is a very spiritual thing.

With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

– Micah 6:6-8

Earthly Food

So now that we see that God doesn’t eat food, let’s look at food we eat. Did you know that God knows how to cook? Funny how he doesn’t eat but still knows how to make something pretty good:

Elijah lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

– 1 Kings 19:5-6

But wait…the angel made the food, not God! But how would an angel know how to do it in the first place?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.

– Exodus 16:4

The King of heaven knows how to make bread for our bodies, but more importantly he knows how to make bread for our spirit:

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

– John 6:35

God provides us with earthly food. Even today, your ability to get food is because of God’s provisions. Everything around us is from God. God doesn’t say that food is bad for us, he knows we need to eat at some point while we’re living on earth. And even spiritually we must be fed the bread of life to live forever. Food is important to God.

Summing It All Up

So what if God the Father doesn’t eat? So what if Jesus eats? So what if God knows how to make earthly food? Why does our question matter about whether we should eat to live, or live to eat? This all matters because food is something we encounter all our lives. It’s a fact of life that everyone eats food at some point. That means that God has given us a proper way to interact with it.

We’ve seen how God the Father tells us how he doesn’t need food. Jesus, who is fully human, says he doesn’t need only food to live:

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

– Matthew 4:4

This doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t need food, but that we do not live only because we eat. We know that living to eat is gluttony and idolatry, but Jesus has also just told us that we do not eat to live either. Food is not what’s sustaining us. Every word that proceeds from the mount of God is what sustains us. God feeds us, just like how he fed Elijah, and just like how he fed the Israelites. He feeds us with real physical food, and spiritual food through God the Son.

If you’re tired of hearing about food, or want this entire message summed up to one verse in the Bible, it’s right below. Obsessing over the meaning of food is in itself meaningless. God doesn’t need it, Jesus didn’t survive on food alone, and we shouldn’t make it the focal point of our lives. Food is provided to us by God, the God who is truly keeping us alive. He is the one we should be living for.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

– Romans 14:17

Good Friday in the Old Testament

Easter was about a week ago, and it’s great to recognize the resurrection of Christ. But what about why it took three days for this to happen? Why did Jesus have to die to later come back to life? People usually answer these questions with the broad strokes: he had to die for our sins, he had to because he loved us, he had to because it was the will of God the Father, or he had to do it to fulfill prophecy. John 3:16 comes to mind, a commonly known verse that describes all you’ll need to know about why Jesus had to die. Or is it? God gave us his son, but why to die? If Jesus was fulfilling the law in his death, where in the Old Testament does it say he had to be dead for three days? Where is the logical answer? I believe that the living Bible provides understanding that all types of people might be looking for. It has simple answers, like John 3:16. And it has detailed answers, very detailed answers that we can explore and investigate. So we’re going to look at the reason why Jesus had to die in such a specific way, and be dead for three days.

Prophecy and Signs

Jesus points to reasons why he had to die, and stay dead for three days. He points us to signs long ago, and prophesies what will happen. But what’s missing?

Here’s a sign:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. – Matthew 12:40

Here’s a prophecy:

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” – Luke 18:31-33

What’s missing is a reason for the three days. The son of man would not be dead for three days because of Jonah, but Jonah would be a sign of something greater to come:

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. – Matthew 12:38-42

Jonah’s experience is a result of Jesus’ experience to come. This was not the prophecy he’s talking about fulfilling in Luke 18, it’s just a sign. So besides in Jesus’ own words, where is it prophesied that he would be dead for three days? Where in the Old Testament is it ever said that he would die for three days?

Nowhere

The Old Testament contains no prophecy that Jesus would be dead for three days. What is does contain is prophecy about him dying, and a pattern of threes. But the Bible isn’t a puzzle, it’s alive and helps hammer down concepts. Here’s one about repentance when the Jews had rejected God:

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. – Hosea 6:2

For three days Esther was dead to fasting, awaiting revival by her king (you can read more about this in one of my older posts here):

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” – Esther 4:16

When God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, for three days Abraham’s son was dead to him while they went up the mountain. His son was saved and returned to Abraham when God provided a substitute:

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. – Genesis 22:3-4

Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. – Hebrews 11:19

Decay in Jewish culture happens after something has been dead for three days. David says that God will not let his faithful one be dead longer than three days:

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:9-11

This adds more meaning to the resurrection of Lazarus, who was dead for four days, something no one believed Jesus could do. Anything less would be, funnily enough, plausible to everyone. This one gets close to our answer, but that still leaves one or two days as an option. We’re still not sure why it had to be specifically three days. In fact, why did the Jews believe three days was the magic number for decay?

We’re really close. The Jews were familiar with three, they were familiar with how special these number of days were. So what’s the answer? Let’s get this over with!

The Law of Moses

Putting all of these examples together, we know that three days relate to sacrifice, repentance, and deliverance. Leviticus has guidelines for exactly these things. It goes on and on about how to sacrifice properly in order to be delivered from sin. We often get lost in how seemingly repetitive or boring Leviticus is. But again, the Bible is a living book, and the boring parts aren’t so boring when the time is right. The next time you encounter a genealogy or a list of measurements, they might be trying to tell you something:

If, however, their offering is the result of a vow or is a freewill offering, the sacrifice shall be eaten on the day they offer it, but anything left over may be eaten on the next day. Any meat of the sacrifice left over till the third day must be burned up. If any meat of the fellowship offering is eaten on the third day, the one who offered it will not be accepted. It will not be reckoned to their credit, for it has become impure; the person who eats any of it will be held responsible. – Leviticus 7:16-18

Jesus gave himself freely to fulfill God’s vow to save us. He was a freewill offering. On the day his life was offered, the disciples had communion:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19

His flesh was eaten on the day his life was offered. And what about the rest?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. – Luke 23:43

And now if any meat is left over, the law said that it must be completely burned up, nothing left by the third day:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. – Luke 24:1-2

It had to be three days. Jesus’ body had to be gone on the third day. Communion had to take place on the first day. This simple guideline in Leviticus reveals the reason why so many small details were absolutely necessary. It even explains why this warning exists:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 11:17

If Jesus’ body was still in the tomb by the third day, his sacrifice would have been meaningless. And partaking in communion against the guidelines of Leviticus counts against us.

So this is it, this is the exact law Jesus said he was fulfilling. The next time you think about Jesus dying on the cross, think about all the intricacies of the law he was following, all of the special guidelines he was following that went under everyone’s noses. He fulfilled EVERY law in Leviticus, this post is just scraping the surface:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. – Matthew 5:17-18

What about the food?

Since we’re finding the answer to everything around the three days question, let’s answer another. Why did Jesus use bread to symbolize his flesh? We know that he is the bread of life, we know that God used bread (mana) to show us that we cannot live on bread alone. But where is this bread in the law? How was using bread fulfilling his Levitical obligations?

If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in. Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast. They are to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the Lord; it belongs to the priest who splashes the blood of the fellowship offering against the altar. The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning. – Leviticus 7:12-15

It is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around, that is, eating Jesus’ flesh. But don’t worry, the disciple’s had the same problem. But they learned what it meant by taking part in the symbolism, they learned by being spiritually fed. The meaning behind the three days or communion are pointless unless you partake in the law Jesus fulfilled.

It’s not too late, we didn’t miss the sacrifice. There’s still time for you to eat and never grow hungry, to drink and never go thirsty. Jesus is alive and wants us to partake in communion, to give thanks for the bread of life, and live on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” – John 6 48:60

Working Remote in the Bible

Found yourself working remote lately? Surely the Bible doesn’t have any advice for this! Oh, but it does.

When You’re Really Alone

Working remote for many people means that they’ll end up spending more time with their family, but that’s not always the case. Not all of us are married, not all of us live with family, and not all of us have roommates. So when some of us work remote, we have to deal with long periods of being alone.

It Won’t Last Forever

Being alone for periods of time isn’t inherently wrong. It happens to many people in the Bible. When you’re alone, this is the perfect time to return to God. God can call you to seclusion for a reason:

David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?”

“The king has given me a mission,” David replied.

– 1 Samuel 21:1-2

But the real point here is that their seclusion always came to an end. It never lasted very long. David’s mission eventually ended.

Only Moses is allowed to come near to the LORD. The others must not come near, and none of the other people are allowed to climb up the mountain with him.

– Exodus 24:2

Moses always came back from the mountain. But he was with God the entire time.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

– Matthew 14:23-25

Jesus always returned to his disciples. But he was always praying to God when alone.

So if being secluded is ok, should we seek to be alone? Should we isolate ourselves in order to bring about blessings in life?

Seclusion is Decided by God

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

– Proverbs 18:1

Seclusion is only good when God calls us to participate in it, and when that happens we know it won’t last too long. We know it’s for a good reason. But when we seek seclusion as a means to bring about something good, it’s not going to work. If you seek to isolate yourself, you seek your own desire. Moses didn’t seek to climb the mountain alone, he was commanded to. Jesus didn’t seek to seclude himself, he was following the will of his Father. And David didn’t go on his mission alone by choice, he was following his instructions. But when God calls us to be alone, in order to bring about something good, it doesn’t mean it will be a cake-walk either:

Seclusion Can Get Painful

Isolation will hurt after a while, it doesn’t matter if you’re extroverted or introverted. It isn’t natural to be permanently alone:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

– Genesis 2:18

Even God himself was not alone in the beginning, before creation:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

– John 1:1

So when we’re taken away from what is natural, it will feel different. It will hurt, but if it’s because of what God is asking you to do, it’s bringing about something good. And it’s most likely because God wants you back, something the Psalmist is praying for:

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

– Psalm 25:16

You cannot do this alone. And I’m not talking about people. God can isolate you from people, but you’re not truly alone if you return to him in your seclusion. Moses was never alone on the mountain, Jesus was never alone in his 40 days in the wilderness, and you don’t have to be alone working from home day after day. If God wants you back, let him take you, and you won’t be alone anymore:

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

– Jeremiah 29:10

If this were not true, salvation would be impossible. In order to have salvation, we have to talk to somebody, we can’t do it on our own in isolation:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

– John 14:6

Don’t shut yourself out from family and friends, if you do, you shut yourself out from God also. And if God has placed you in seclusion, return to him because he wants you back. Just talk to him, acknowledge his presence, don’t ignore him, and you will never be alone again.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.

– Psalm 139:7-10