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Does Romans 8:20 really say that God "subjected" the entire creation to the bondage of "futility" and the blessing of "hope" BOTH at the same time? In other words, is the "him" responsible for the fall of creation in Romans 8:20-21 God, or is it Satan, or is it Adam? And, if it is Satan, then WHO is the source of creation's hope for deliverance to be found in verses 19-21.

Let's look at two different versions of this passage. "For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God." Romans 8:20-21ASV.

The King James reads differently by omitting the comma before "in hope" at the end of verse 20. "For the creation was made subject to vanity , not willingly , but by reason of him who hath subjected the same IN HOPE because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
Romans 8:20-21.

My favorite rendering, however, is an alternate reading which Matthew Poole's Commentary proposes. It requires the use of parentheses in the first phrase of verse 20 as follows (remember the Greek text has no punctuation, and is thus one long run-on sentence unless and until we supply the needed punctuation):

"...the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (For the creation was made subject to vanity , not willingly , but by reason of him who has subjected the same). In hope BECAUSE the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

See the difference? The "For" introducing verse 20 marks what immediately follows as a parenthetical thought which ends immediately after the word "same." The first words after the parenthetical thought ends are "In hope," and occur at the end of verse 20.

"In hope" then is picking back up the previous flow of thought of verse 19. Reading it without the parenthetical statement in verse 20 breaking it up, this is how the flow of thought would then read: "the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God....In hope because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

The verse 20 term "In hope" is merely back-referencing the earlier verse 19 term, "the earnest expectation." A subsequent explanation is then given as to WHY that "hope" and "expectation" exists and persists--- namely, because of the ancient prophetic promise that "all creation" will experience divine deliverance from all deathly elements.

So, let's again review the core interpretive question this passage presents. Is the "WHO"who caused the fall and fracture of creation in verse 20, and the "WHO" who is the source of "hope" and "expectation" which all creation looks toward for rescue in verses 19-21; are these two WHO's the same WHO or two different WHO's?

As the Cambridge Bible Commentary for Schools and Colleges says regarding the "him" in Romans 8:20, "It is very difficult to decide whether it is (a) the Tempter, who procured the Fall; (b) Man, who fell; or (c) the Judge who may have punished the Fall.

Matthew Poole's Commentary, in considering the possibility that the "him" of Romans 8:20 is Satan, proposes that "there is ground to expect and hope that the creature shall return again to its former estate wherein it was created; that it shall be delivered and restored into a better condition, as in the next verse. Those that by the creature understand the Gentile world, give a different interpretation of these words; they say that the Gentiles are made subject to vanity, i.e. to idolatry, or a vain, superstitious worship, (idols are called vanities, Acts 14:15), or to a miserable, wretched estate; that (as Hesychius notes) is the import of the word vanity. And this not so much of their own accord, or by their own free choice, but by the power and malice of Satan...he rules in their hearts, carries them captive at his will, subjects them to all villany and misery. And it is reasonable to suppose of these poor heathens, that they are willing to be rescued (at least some, and a considerable number of them) from under this vanity and slavery, as it is said, Romans 8:22.

Question. But if he that thus "subjects" them be the devil, how is he said to do this 'in hope?'

Answer. These words, in hope, belong to the end of the former verse (19); all the rest of this verse being read or included in a parenthesis: q.d. The creature attends the manifestations of the sons of God in hope: meanwhile it is subject to vanity, &c." (See my earlier translation using Poole's above premise).

John Gill's Commentary takes a similar approach on this passage, that is that the "him" who subjects here is Satan :"Though they were willingly vain, yet they were not willingly made subject to vanity; they willingly went into idolatrous and other evil practices, but the devil made them subject, or slaves unto them; he led them captive at his will, and powerfully worked in them, by divine permission, so that they became vassals to him, and to their lusts; for he seems to be designed, "by him who hath subjected the same", and not Adam, by whom sin entered into the world."

The idea of the "him" in Romans 8:20 "being another than God in τὸν ὑποτάξ" has been held by numerous commentators: "Knatchbull and Capellus interpreted the 'him' as 'Adam'; Chrysostom, Schneckenburger, Bisping, and Zahn interpreted the 'him' as 'man'; Hammond and others, quoted by Wolf, interpreted the 'him' as the devil." Meyer's New Testament Commentary.

Of the three options, the devil certainly makes the most sense to me as the "him" of Romans 8:20. God doesn't "subject" us to bondage. Satan does. God is the source of the rescuing hope, NOT the source if the futility and bondage. That paints a bipolar and dualistic image of God which is contrary to the flow and super-text of the Biblical meta-narrative.

Just consider Hebrews 2:14-15, which appears to be addressing the very same point of Romans 8:20: "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Clearly, Satan is here identified as the source of creation's "futility" and "bondage," NOT God.

So, Romans 8:20 just says to me that The whole creation is fractured and incomplete unless and until the children of God MANIFEST as sons of God to set creation free of its bondage. This "earnest expectation" is what allows us to now live "in hope," even though creation still appears subjected to Satanic futility.

However, many read Romans 8:20 as declaring that GOD was the one who subjected the creation to bondage and futility. But I read it differently as described above. The better sense is that "the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it." This describes Satan's will as the source of subjection, Satan's and Adam's covenant of death consummated in the allegory of the garden. It is Satan's will that subjected creation, not God's.

The balance of Romans 8:19-21 says that "the creation itself remains in hope that it will be set free from its bondage."

But, even if the King James reading IS correct, I still don't think it accurately conveys the dynamic at play. Paul has a few Old Testament hyper-sovereignty hiccups in the book of Romans, especially chapters 9-11. If indeed the King James reading is the best rendition here, then I would propose that it is another such hiccup. But I do think the alternate translation I propose is better.

And one additional point. If the parenthetical translation I am advocating is wrong, then consider this quote regarding the alternate uses of the Greek word ELPIS, translated as "hope" in the New Testament -- "in classical Greek, has the general signification of expectancy, relating to evil as well as to good. Thus Plato speaks of living in evil hope (“Republic,” i., 330); i.e., in the apprehension of evil; and Thucydides, of the hope of evils to come; i.e., the expectation or apprehension." (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament). This possibility of an "evil hope" flows well with the "fear of death" which has enabled Satan to enslave all mankind. Hebrews 2:14-15. While ELPIS is admittedly not used that way in other New Testament passages, the context in Romans 8:20 does support such an alternate reading, a reading greatly preferable to attributing "futility" and "bondage" to the causative hand of God.
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A SHORT PRIMER ON GOD'S GOODNESS

1) God is light and in Him is no darkness...at all.
Jesus Christ is the revealed nature of God.
God has no shadow of turning of away from us.
Satan steals/kills/destroys, Jesus only gives life.
God never uses evil to test, tempt, or punish man.
God does not afflict.

(1 John 1:5; James 1:17; John 1:18; 8:44;
Hebrews 2:14; 10:10; James 1:13-15; Job 37:23)

2) Only good gifts come from the Father of lights.
Earthly dads give good gifts, so much MORE God.
We, having the same Spirit as Jesus, cry "Abba."
All things the Father has are ours.
He withholds from us no good thing.
Asked for bread, Abba won't give rocks/scorpions.

(James 1:17; Luke 11:9-13; Romans 8:15;
John 16:15; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Ps. 84:11)

3) God doesn't allow evil.
God disallows evil.
God disallows evil by overcoming it with good.
God has already disallowed all evil.
Jesus is God's total disallowance of all evil.
Jesus' Spirit is the antidote for every evil situation.
Jesus is anointed by the Spirit to heal all evil.

(James 1:13-15; Colossians 2:15; Luke 10:19;
1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 5:12-13; 13:8; Acts 10:38)
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Forgive with a vengeance! ...

Here are six quick chapters which describe the evolutionary stages of how the Bible was written and how it has been read. The key is to not leave the last two chapters unread. Many believers are still bogged down in chapter one. The really good stuff is in chapters five and six.

Chapter One: God sends inspired impulses to the OT writers.

Chapter Two: The OT writers process, translate, and express those impulses to the best of their respective developmental abilities, with us now factoring in by hindsight of course that they were not yet Spirit-Baptized into what the NT calls "the promise of the Father," thereby limiting, and husking to various degrees, their understanding of the divine impulses they were attempting to process.

Chapter Three: Jesus, hundreds of years after the OT is closed, comes and reveals Himself on the Emmaus Road as the "sine qua non" (indispensable and essential action, condition, or catalyzing ingredient) of all OT Scripture.

Chapter Four: Jesus sends His Holy Spirit whereby Christ's Spirit now actually indwells us, both individually and corporately, and serves to now hermeneutically help us reverse engineer all OT Scripture back to its original inspired impulse so that we can better understand and illuminate the text with NT light.

Chapter Five: We, as the body of Christ, operating in the Spirit of Christ, possessing the mind of Christ, and being led by our Christ-quickened consciences, NOW re-interpret the semantic content of all OT Scripture to better align with what we NOW know of Christ's non-violent nature, His healing kingdom, and His peacemaking church-bride.

Chapter Six: All Scripture is now read Christologically, which in the OT requires heavy Christo-allegory, but not so the NT which is already Christological on its face and thus is to be read on its face as an accurate historical narrative. What was symbolically concealed in the OT is now openly revealed in the NT.
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We need to purge the duality out of our image of God.

The OT, in its literal reading, appears to paint God as BOTH the bringer of evil and sender of good, as BOTH the wrathful smiter and forgiving King, and as BOTH the cruel afflicter and generous healer of men.

And while there are numerous allegorical/Christological ways to reinterpret those passages, the literal reading level must also be dealt with using New Testament wisdom. Otherwise, we are left with a bipolar, fickle, Janus-faced deity who, in the final analysis, is unloveable, unappeasable, and unknowable.

When Jesus "saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning," I believe one aspect of this amazing statement spoke to the theological "purging away" of the Satanic qualities the Old Testament had wrongly attributed to God, at least on the literal level of its writings. In other words, Jesus came to differentiate, evolve, renovate, and purify the Old Testament "letter" into New Testament "better." He saw all Satanic qualities "fall" from our heavenly image of God.

Jesus, during His incarnation, reveals God's nature as non-dualistic. God, after all Satanic qualities have been removed by Jesus, is revealed as:
--a plague remover, not a plague bringer
--a storm stopper, not a storm sender
--a death raiser, not a death dealer
--a helper, not an oppressor
--an ever present help in time of need, not a never present help in time of distress
--a bottomless fount of mercy and renewal, not a volcano of wrath and revenge.

On the mount of transfiguration, upon seeing Moses and Elijah transfigured alongside Jesus, the disciples asked if they should now build built theological temples to all three-- to Jesus, to the law-giver Moses, and to the prophet Elijah. The Father answers from heaven, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" Here, Abba makes it clear that Jesus is the SOLE lens, the SOLE voice, the SOLE heart, and the SOLE mind we are to listen to in regarding all things divine.

Jesus, by what He ministered, taught, and modeled, completely sundered, separated and slung away all Satanic attributes from the New Covenant image of God. "Peace on earth, goodwill to man!" heralded a new and better understanding of the divine nature. Let's hear Him!
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What if "tithing" is not about money, but rather is an allegory pointing to a deeper, brighter, and wider truth about our heart devotion toward the divine?

Let me share a wonderful metaphor that serves as a parable on tithing. In a recent movie, Will Smith plays a character named Hitch who is a professional romance expert. He tutors men how to effectively court women.

As an example, Hitch instructs a new student how to kiss a woman goodnight at her doorstep. The man must first face the woman. He then is to cross the doorstep 90% toward the woman fully prepared to kiss her. Then, he must pause and allow the woman to respond her 10% across the doorstep to meet his embrace. The man must not cross over 90% of the way, or he will be robbing the woman of her full and free response. Nor must he cross less than the 90%, or the woman will be forced to carry more of the responsibility than she is by nature supposed to bear. The beauty of woman is as a tender responder who melts and delights in her man’s arms. The handsomeness of man is as a passionate pursuer who crosses all obstacles to await his lover’s response.

Beloved, do you see how beautifully this image fits Heaven and Earth. God, through Jesus Christ, has “always already” crossed 90% through all spiritual obstacles and is waiting now for us as His bride to individually and corporately respond our 10% to the full embrace of the Lord. This Earth needs only to respond to God across the doorstep of men’s hearts.

When I say 10%, I obviously am not suggesting to give only a portion of our hearts to God. The 10% refers instead to our FIRST and BEST heart-focus. I call this the heart-tithe. In the Old Testament, the “tithe” represented the first 10% of Israel’s material increase.

In the New Testament, I believe the tithe is our heart’s prioritized focus on God. It is our first and best effort to vigilantly listen and respond to the Spirit of God indwelling us. This is really all we can do for God - - listen with a willing heart. He does everything else. 10% doesn’t refer to the volume of effort, but rather to the quality of our initial readiness to respond.

Just as blessed brides are called to be beautiful “responders” to their husbands, we as the bride of Christ are called to be beautiful “responders” to our Lord and husband. We are to be responders, not imitators. Satan seeks to imitate. Jesus seeks to interact. Self-righteousness imitates.

True righteousness only responds to the voice of the Father (Jn. 5:19, 30). When we continually tithe our heart’s first and best focus, our 10% in other words, then this allows the Holy Spirit free reign to “complete the circuit” of faith by working within us as God’s 90% “to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13).

It is interesting that the word “attention” has “ten” as its word root. Ten is the number which symbolizes the tithe, which Biblically means the first “tenth” of our increase. “Attention” is from the Latin word “attendere” which means “give heed to” or “stretch toward.” It has the sense of stretching one’s focus towards something. Chaucer used it in the sense of “giving heed.” To “attend” someone or something is to “be fully present to wait upon or serve.”

Amazingly, “attention” is also military cautionary word preparative to giving an IMPERATIVE command. A soldier must come to attention before he can receive and then issue orders. Slouching and inattentive soldiers can neither effectively receive nor issue orders. We are told all our lives to “pay attention.” This is our heart-tithe, to pay our first-best focus to the Lord by stretching out our heart to Him at all times. The heart-tithe of attention establishes How we likewise “attend” to the Lord’s will. This is the Roman Centurion’s great revelation - - only soldiers under authority (i.e. those who are at attention) can wield authority (i.e. give true imperatives which must be obeyed). Atten-hut!

Jesus modeled this for us. During His entire life, He remained lip-locked to the Godhead. Jesus fully responded at all times to the Father’s initiative towards Him. Jesus imperatively postured His 10% toward the “always already” 90% imperative embrace of His Father. Out of this full embrace, the works and will of God imperatively manifested. Not only did Jesus model the 10% for us, at Pentecost He sent His own 10% to live in us as the unction of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus imparts to us His own faith to allow us to fully respond to the Godhead at all times. Jesus doesn’t want us to imitate His faith. Jesus wants us to utilize His faith. His faith lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit and enables us to be fully responsive to God’s loving will. So Jesus is not just God’s perfect provision from Heaven, He is also Earth’s perfect response to God.

Is this possible? Has God “always already” fully extended Himself to us in each and every situation of our lives? Is the only thing lacking our wholehearted (imperative) response to Him across our earthly doorstep? If true, then God has truly rested from His works and is now eagerly waiting for His bride to wake up and respond to His “always already” completed embrace.

Again, it is not just that Jesus modeled the proper way to respond to God’s 90% move across our doorstep. Jesus was also the 90% imperative itself sent to Earth from Heaven as the rescuing love of God. Jesus was the Logos, Who in the beginning was with God, was God and Who became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:1-14). In other words, Jesus was the Godhead’s full and final 90% imperative initiative across fallen creation’s doorstep. Jesus’ incarnation explained and expressed God’s true nature to fallen man as heroic (Jn. 1:18). God came to save every man from every evil.
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"Did not our hearts burn within us while He [Jesus] talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" - Luke 24:32

These two disciples on the Road to Emmaus had the out-dwelling Christ to open the Scriptures for them.

We have the indwelling Spirit of Christ to open the Scriptures for us.

Bottom line: only Jesus can bring the "love-burn" to our Scripture reading. He IS our agent of translation. Don't open up the book without Him looking over your spiritual shoulder. The text dries up like "burnt toast" without Him prompting our understanding through our Spirit-quickened consciences.
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Here are three great ways to worship and honor our Father of lights:

1) First, don't ever SAY out loud that Jesus is the plague-slinging, famine-bringing, fire-flinging, bone-crushing, child-drowning, throat-slitting, homicidal, genocidal, and infanticidal God the Old Testament sometimes portrays Him to be when it is read by the "dead letter." [Set a diligent and devotional guard over the tongue.]

2) Second, don't ever idly THINK that Jesus is the plague-slinging, famine-bringing, fire-flinging, bone-crushing, child-drowning, throat-slitting, homicidal, genocidal, and infanticidal God the Old Testament sometimes portrays Him to be when it is read by the "dead letter." [Take that thought captive and immediately execute it.]

3) Third, never stand by and SILENTLY acquiesce while somebody ELSE openly states that Jesus is the plague-slinging, famine-bringing, fire-flinging, bone-crushing, child-drowning, throat-slitting, homicidal, genocidal, and infanticidal God the Old Testament sometimes portrays Him to be when it is read by the "dead letter." [James says to, "Let no man say" God has ANY causative connection to evil whatsoever because ONLY "good gifts come down" from our "Father of lights" in whom there is no "variableness or turning of shadow."]

Never accept these horrid ideas on ANY level, whether it be actively believing them or passively accepting them as God's "higher and mysterious ways." These toxic mindsets CHILL our worship of God to sub-zero effect. We simply can't love a God who would EVER do these things to His children-- not with a love that is true, unfeigned, deep, passionate, and without reserve.
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I had just reposted this from last years on this day thingy. Amen.

Totally agree and message received. My post today is along those lines.

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The purpose of theology is to make love our only option. ...

Here is a Father's Day tribute to one very special dad.

Enoch is one of the most fascinating men in the Bible, yet there are only two small passages in the Bible which even mention him. But these two passages are chocked full of meaning.

Enoch is best known for having an incredibly close walk with God. So close, in fact, that God took Enoch straight to Heaven WITHOUT HIM EVER DYING. This information comes from the lone New Testament passage which mentions him:

"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death ; and was not found , because God had translated him : for before his translation he had this testimony , that he pleased God . But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:5-6.

Because of this wondrous passage, many have longed to know Enoch's "secret key" to walking with the Lord. Well, I believe I have found it!

Enoch's secret is a "family" secret.

God "translated" Enoch directly to Heaven without Enoch ever dying. This translation occurred when Enoch was 365 years old. But, it might surprise you to know that Enoch did NOT walk with God for the first 65 years of his life. But something happened at year 65, something wonderful, something that transformed Enoch into a 300 year seeker and lover of God.

So, what happened to the 65 year old Enoch? ......... He had a son! But not just ANY son. A very famous son--- Methuselah. The birth of his first son triggered Enoch's walk. Enoch was transformed by fatherhood. Transformed and then translated to Heaven.

Luke 1:17 tells us the way of the Lord is prepared by the turning the hearts of the fathers to their children. As Enoch's heart was turned toward Methuselah, he found the way of the Lord--- the way of faith, the way of diligent seeking, the way of INTENSE God-pleasing.

But how do we know Enoch and Methuselah continued to share a unique and anointed relationship?

First, consider the following passage:

"Children , obey your parents in the Lord : for this is right . Honour thy father and mother ; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee , and thou mayest live long on the earth ." Ephesians 6:1-3.

These verses repeat the divine promise of Exodus 20:12 that whoever honors his parents shall live LONG upon the earth.

Well, what do we know about Methuselah? He lived LONGER than anybody else in the Bible-- 969 years. So, what may we reasonably infer from this? Methuselah HONORED his father Enoch at such a HIGH level that God blessed Methuselah with the LONGEST life span in the entire Bible.

Read the following Old Testament passage, the sole one that mentions Enoch, and do the math yourself.

"And Enoch lived sixty and five years , and begat Methuselah : And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years , and begat sons and daughters : And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years : And Enoch walked with God : and he was not; for God took him. And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years , and begat Lamech : And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years , and begat sons and daughters : And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years : and he died." Genesis 5:21-27.

So this is Enoch's family secret: his love for his son postured him to seek and find the way of the Lord, the way of God-believing and God-pleasing faith. Enoch's relationship with his son prepared and propelled him to an astonishing walk with God.

This particular father-son relationship was SO powerful because it was doubly blessed. Enoch's faith was rewarded by God with a direct "translation" to Heaven without ever dying. Similarly, Methuselah's honor toward his father was rewarded by God with the longest human life in history.

What life! What abundance! What love!

If we are parents, is time to turn our hearts toward our children, seek the way of God-pleasing, God-believing and God-rewarding faith. If we are not yet parents, then let's emulate Methuselah and zealously honor our natural and earthly parents. Then let's prepare for long abundant lives, culminating with sweet Heavenly translations.

Happy Father's Day!
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The Key to Enoch's long Walk found in the Walk of the Father.Thank you for sharing. Oluwamuyiwa Adebola Adedeji

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The Lord allows us to spray-paint obscene graffiti and malicious content all over both His image and His creation.

The Lord patiently allows us exhaust our inner supply of conceptually corrupt spray-paint and violent imaging.

And then the Lord does an amazing thing.

He smiles and begins to energetically spray-paint us with His valiant virtue. He brushstrokes waves of wonders and heroic hues onto our inner canvass.

When we look in the cosmic mirror to see how we now look, we are shocked at what we see-- Jesus.
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The Lord allows us to spray-paint obscene graffiti and malicious content all over both His image and His creation.  
The Lord patiently allows us exhaust our inner supply of conceptually corrupt spray-paint and violent imaging. 
And then the Lord does an amazing thing. 
He smiles and begins to energetically spray-paint us with His valiant virtue. He brushstrokes waves of wonders and heroic hues onto our inner canvass. 
When we look in the cosmic mirror to see how we now look, we are shocked at what we see-- Jesus.

Man, I would have loved to have seen this cosmic wrestling match go down.

"But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" Jude 1:9.

But, truth be told, this same wrestling match goes down every day in our souls. God's better angels (and ours) seek to wrestle Moses' body of work, the Pentateuch, from being wrongly interpreted within our hearts by those whom Jesus referred to as, "the devil and his angels"-- messengers of legalism, lies, accusation, and wrath.

Jesus alone is the Lord who rebukes dark angelic accusations, devilish ideas, satanic impulses, and luciferian lies from twisting and contorting Moses' "body" of work in obscene and God-maligning ways.

Let's follow Michael's lead and let the Lord of life and light rebuke all dark angels and dark angles from Scripture. This is the beauty of the Jesus Hermeneutic.
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Great spiritual reading of this passage, where I believe Jude is borrowing from some Jewish mythology found in another uncanonized writing. The "letter", quite honestly, of this doesn't provide much sustenance, but the SPIRITUAL reading brings much truth and insight.

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Did Moses speak to God face-to-face?

It depends on what we mean by "face-to-face." Some take that to mean that the grey bearded Father came down from heaven and got up right in Moses' face and started reciting the Law to him, and because of this, Moses had a perfect revelation and a complete understanding of God and the cosmos.

But, the term face-to-face doesn't mean this at all. The Gospels clarify this issue for us.

"The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known." John 1:18-19.

The above passage confirms that no man had ever "seen" God prior to Jesus, that is, fully perceived His nature of complete goodness. Jesus is the one who has made His Father's nature known to all of us through His incarnation WITH us and subsequent spiritual indwelling OF us. Simply put, Moses was a man to be included in the parameters of John 1:18. He did not, at any time, spiritual "see" God in any complete revelatory or interpersonal sense.

John 1:18 says that "the law came by Moses" and "grace and truth" came by Jesus. From this, we can strongly infer that Moses' teachings did not, at their core, impart "grace and truth." In other words, Moses was NOT given the "full monte" of God's nature. Moreover, John 5:37 also suggests, especially when read together with John 1:18, that no Old Testament saint had EVER beheld God's pure form or heard His pure voice at ANY time before Jesus' coming. Jesus was the firstborn of those who could both clearly see Abba's nature and hear Abba's voice without distortion.

But, didn't Moses see God "face to face?" No, not literally. That was just a figure of speech in which described Moses as having some direct devotional interaction with Him in which Moses felt the Lord's goodwill and friendly affection for Him. It doesn't mean that Moses had anywhere the same level of understanding of God's nature than Jesus, or anybody else who Has, under the new covenant, been indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. How do we know this?

First, as said above, because of the John 1:18 and 5:37 verses establish that nobody had purely perceived God's form, His nature, and His voice prior to Jesus.

Second, Moses (and the Old Testament saints) had only a partial view of God's goodness, but not a full frontal view of His nature. This dynamic is revealed in Exodus 33:18-23, where Moses prayed to see the Lord's glory. The Lord then responded, "I will make all my goodness pass before you...." But Moses, from the cleft of the rock, could only see the Lord's goodness after He passed by. In other words, Moses could ONLY see God's true goodness from behind and at an angled distance. This event establishes Moses could not and did not EVER behold God's full frontal being in the way of a literal "face to face" encounter. The Jews believed God Himself declared that, "Nobody can see my face and live." Exodus 33:20.

Moses was the meekest man in the land, but he was still operating in his own righteousness and NOT the righteousness which is of God. And Scripture is very clear he had a continuing anger problem. Moses sometimes seriously misrepresented the nature of God due to this anger problem. When God told Moses to "speak" to the rock and command water to flow to bless His people, Moses instead shouted disgust at the people and struck the rock in anger instead. He projected his own anger onto his image of God. This caused his teachings and instructions to be partially tainted with his own angry nature. The water did miraculously flow, but now the people wrongly thought God was wrathful when He wasn't. Moses ended up partially misrepresenting the nature of God by "failing to sanctify His name/nature." So serious was this sin, it kept Moses from entering the Promised Land. The story is told in Numbers 20:1-12.

So, when Moses asked to see God's glory, God hid him in the cleft of the rock and told Moses he could only see His goodness from behind after He had passed by, and then only at a angled distance. Moses could simply not conceptually behold God's goodness from the front because:

1) he was still living entirely in his own righteousness,

2) he was not indwelt by the Pentecostal Holy Spirit,

3) he was burdened with a sinful anger problem, and

4) he was largely clueless about Satan, whom he NEVER even mentions in all his writings. Jesus came to reveal all of these issues to us by filling us with HIS righteousness, exposing Satan's kingdom of darkness to us, filling us with the Holy Ghost, and revealing God's essence as love.

Based on all these factors, we must conclude that Moses and the other OT saints had a dimmer, distant, less mature, less developed and less differentiated view of God.

The result was that Moses (and the other OT saints) often COMMINGLED their images of Satan and God together into one BIPOLAR "glop." They wrongly believed that Satan was an OBEDIENT servant, God's literal left hand, God's official minister of wrath, God's angry voice, God's enforcing death angel who distributed the curses of the Law on the disobedient. This wrong of notion of Satan is a far cry from the lying, homicidal, and "off the grid" rebel who Jesus revealed him to be. John 8:44; 10:10.

The point is that we have to let Jesus show us how to rightly read the Old Testament with New Testament eyes, "NOT by the letter, for the letter kills, but by the Spirit, for the Spirit brings life." 2 Corinthians 3:6.

Jesus came to DIFFERENTIATE and DIVORCE our understanding of God AND Satan, to completely separate and forever sever their natures, wills and purposes. As for Moses, he certainly knew some part of God was good and loving, and that He created light.

BUT he did not know that Satan was a cosmic rebel totally operating without Divine permission or sanction. Moses, on occasion, "improperly blended" his images of God and Satan into one bi-polar UNDIFFERENTIATED image. Jesus couldn't be clearer that Satan was a liar, murderer, and rebel being, and that he did not operate at the command of the Heavenly Father. Sometimes, OT authors were improperly attributing Satan's works and words to Yahweh. Other times OT saints were rightly attributing Yahweh's mighty deliverances to Yahweh alone. But, still other times, the OT saint is hearing God and Satan TOGETHER at the same time. Much like a radio dial receiving two different remote station signals at the same time, what comes out is a mish-mash of conflicting notions and ideas.

Where would any of us be without the Sermon on the Mount defining for us the pure nature of God? Where would we be without the Gospel revelation of grace, forgiveness, Abba-hood and life in the Spirit? Where would we be if we still thought God and Satan were working together in joint purpose and cooperation?

Well, we would be limited to the same Old Testament view that Moses had-- seeing God's goodness from behind and at an angled distance. We could know some aspects of his goodness, but we would stumble around in the "strobe light" effect of the Old Testament, with alternating flashes of light and dark disorienting us and making it difficult to perceive the nature of God in an abiding way. We would "choppily" see God as BOTH light and dark, good and evil, loving and wrathful.

Simply put, we would not have the FULL FRONTAL VIEW of His glory revealed only by the face of Jesus Christ. We would not have the revelation of 1 John 1:5 that, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." We would not have the revelation of James 1:12-17 which says we are "to let no man say" that God has any connection to evil and that only "good and perfect gifts come from the Father of lights." We would not have the revelation of Satan as the enemy ruler of this world from John 12:31 and 1 John 5:19. In short, we would still be largely confused about exactly who was doing exactly what in this wounded world.
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Check out these two lines of thinking below.

1) The Bible says "it" ("it" being my personal opinion of its one and only meaning)
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I believe "it" ("it" being my personal opinion of its one and only meaning)
_____________________________
That settles "it" ("it" being my flawlessly correct opinion, no matter how uninformed or carnal my interpretation might be)

BOTTOM LINE: TEXT IS CLOSED

2) The Bible speaks to me on "this" level ("this" being my best fluid insight today)
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I appreciate "this" (but I'm open to further and varied levels of interpretive insight)
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"This" is great, but I stay open for better, deeper, truer, and higher readings.

BOTTOM LINE: TEXT REMAINS OPEN
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

The most dangerously destructive people in the world might just be those, who having been wronged, NOW presume they have the perpetually moral "high ground" to retaliate "carte blanche" against their perceived offender in whatever carnal, petty, cruel, vicious, and hostile way their venomous hearts decree. And the real tragedy is that these wrath-mongers spew and snarl that God is on their side all the while. They arrogantly think they have the high ground, when, in truth, they could not be more deeply entrenched in hypocritical hate.

By contrast, the most powerfully virtuous people in the world are those who, having been wronged, nonetheless turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, give the extra garment, and bountifully bless their enemies rather than maliciously avenging their own pain. Mercy is the way of Messiah.

The nuclear power of forgiveness gives the victim the peerless power to heap cathartic coals of conviction upon the heads of their would-be enemies, and in so doing, convert them to return to the light by overcoming all evil with all good.
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

So many loopholes with human forgiveness.

So few with divine forgiveness.

Human loopholes turn into nooses which we eventually slip around the necks of our enemies to justify our own unforgiveness toward them.

With divine forgiveness, nooses are removed from necks and replaced with bouquets of blessings, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to them who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matthew 5:44.
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

A little testosterone in our theology never hurt anybody.

True spiritual warfare only and always overcomes evil with good: healing slaughters illness, patience pulverizes anger, mercy militantly triumphs over judgment, love launches cures of all kinds.

We war after the image of God we believe in. I see Jesus as a medic-warrior whose only ammunition was awe, whose only motive was muscular meekness, whose only sword was curative healing, and whose only hatred was of wicked notions, never wicked nations--- of corrupt concepts, never corrupt people.
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

WILL EVIL ALWAYS BE POSSIBLE, EVEN IN ETERNITY?

I have been asked several times how evil will ever be totally vanquished. Even in the New Jerusalem, what will keep evil from re-emerging again. Won't we still have free will to potentially choose evil for all eternity?

No, evil is not eternal. God is eternal, love is eternal, and virtue is eternal, but NOT evil.
Here is the perfect illustration to help us better understand the non-eternal nature of evil.

Evil is a potential "growing pain" that is temporarily possible only during this finite earth age.

I remember reading once that children often suffer "growing pains" in their joints and bones. I know I suffered them horribly in both my shins when I was nine years old. The pain was almost crippling.

The suspected cause of "growing pains" is MISUSE from a child's over-exertion of their body.

Similarly, spiritual evil comes from our MISUSE of our free will. But, just like literal "growing pains" subside when maturity comes, so too does the "growing pain" of evil EVENTUALLY subside as we spiritually mature in this life and/or the next.

Wherever there is freedom, there is also the possibility of misuse, at least in the developmental stages of growth. The oldest Methuselah in this earth age is still but a child in the spiritual sense, which is why I believe evil can only exist briefly during the childhood of free beings. Once outside the incubator, virtuous maturity comes and temporal evil fades.

For some, maturing PAST the "growing pains" of evil can occur in THIS lifetime because they are consistently allowing their minds and hearts to be renewed daily to the good, perfect and acceptable will of the Lord. For others though, maturity will have to come in the AFTERLIFE, where the Lord uses His chastening flames of correction to purge away a lifetime of rampant misuse of free will. The resultant "growing pains" experienced in the Lord's wise fire will be devastating but ultimately restorative.

The below passage describes this postmortem process to a tee: "For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire."

But the best news of all is that growing pains stop when we reach a certain level of maturity. This is true both in the physical and spiritual applications. And growing pains of evil DON'T have to occur.

Jesus never misused His freedom, and so never experienced evil within Himself. But Adam did. Jesus certainly experienced evil circumstances and evil temptations, yet He remained without sin. And, on the Cross, Jesus certainly bore ALL of our cumulative growing pains of evil on the cross. But, at the end of the spiritual day, at the end of the ages to come, there will be no more growing pains, no more evil, and no more tears.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4.
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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

So Jesus is coming back?

I was under the firm impression that He never left.

After all, Christ remaining and abiding IN us IS the hope of glory.

This is why Jesus said it was better that He left externally, so that He could remain internally.
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I certainly agree Jesus is in us, spiritually, and so he has never left; but we’re on a timeline that is moving towards the Second Coming of Jesus, physically. To accommodate a “Victorious Eschatology” as opposed to a coming tribulation, some have adopted Partial Preterism: “Victorious eschatology makes a convincing argument that the biblical prophecies concerning the ‘last days’ or the ‘end times’ were literally fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The end times marked the ending of the old covenant and the beginning of the new covenant. Jesus literally will return to the earth in the future (see Matthew 24:36-25:46), BUT none of the signs of Matthew 24:4-34 are expected to precede His return, because they have already occurred.” (Peter Wager, a dominionist theologian.) However, as a futurist, I believe that as we get closer to this glorious event of the Second Coming, world events will require increasing discernment for Christians. Jesus states in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 3-7: ”Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.’” I believe that a literal Antichrist will appear on the world stage and will resolve global conflict and bring in “the golden age of man,” with outward peace and prosperity. That is why later in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus says, “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark [in my opinion, read the first Rapture here], and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:38-39. Paul, in his 1st letter to the Thessalonians repeats that message of Jesus in chapter 5: 2-3: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.“ Just sayin’.

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2 weeks ago

The Goodness of God

Did Jesus tell us to buy and bear swords?

Many claim "yes," he clearly did in the following passage: in Luke 22:36, Jesus tells us "he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."

Based partially on this passage, wars have been started in Jesus' name, blood has been shed in Jesus' name, and killing has been done in Jesus' name.

When challenged on this point, "sword-bearers" will typically point to Matthew 10:34 for further support, citing it for the proposition that Jesus told us He came "not to send peace, but a sword."

But, is this a fair reading of Jesus' words?

Does Jesus want us arming ourselves to commit possible violence of any kind?

Jesus famously told Peter to "put up thy sword" when he struck the ear off a Roman soldier: "for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Matthew 26:52. This is hardly a ringing endorsement for buying and carrying deadly weapons.

But what about Luke 22:36 and Matthew 10:34? Don't they support the Christian sword? No, not at all.

Lets start with the Luke 22:36 passage along with the surrounding verses.

"And he said unto them, When I sent you forth without purse, and wallet, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. And he said unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet; and he that hath none, LET HIM SELL HIS CLOAK, AND BUY A SWORD. For I say unto you, THAT THIS WHICH IS WRITTEN MUST BE FULFILLED IN ME, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS': FOR THAT WHICH CONCERNETH ME HATH FULFILLMENT. AND THEY SAID, 'LORD, BEHOLD, HERE ARE TWO SWORDS. ' AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, IT IS ENOUGH." Luke 22: 35-38.

Here then is the irony. Jesus told them to buy a sword SO THAT Jesus would have to be "numbered with the transgressors" in fulfillment of Isa 53:12. Carrying the sword makes us transgressors because, "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword!" Matthew 26:52.

Arming ourselves WITH and putting our trust IN deadly weapons is what makes us carnal transgressors. Jesus ONLY ordered the disciples to buy swords so that they would soon expose themselves as "transgressors" in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy which said Jesus would be "numbered with the transgressors."

Peter outwardly exposed himself as just such a "transgressor" a few moments later when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. "And behold, one of them that were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear. Then saith Jesus unto him, 'Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.'" Matthew 26:52-53.

Jesus never transgressed Himself by carrying or relying on the sword, but his disciples sure did, which is why He was prophetically numbered among them. This showed that all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, even His own disciples. There was none righteous, no not one. His violent enemies carried the sword as well as His violent disciples. The point is that Jesus alone was righteous, the only non-transgressor in the whole crowd. Since the Isaiah passage used the word "transgressors" plural, there had to be at least two sword-bearers present in His company, which is why Jesus said, "It is enough" when informed there were two swords present.

In no way can this above passage be used to support the claim that Jesus orders His disciples to carry swords in His name. Carrying a sword produces a transgressor, not a peacemaker.

As for the claim that Jesus came to "send us a sword," let me ask two questions about the Matthew 10:34 passage which is quoted below:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:34-38.

IS JESUS SAYING ABOVE THAT HE CAME TO BRING US A LITERAL- PHYSICAL SWORD TO GUT AND KILL ALL OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO WE MAY BE IN DANGER OF LOVING MORE THAN WE DO GOD?

OR

IS JESUS SPEAKING BELOW OF A SPIRITUAL SWORD WHICH WILL SEVER ALL IDOLATROUS TIES TO RELATIONSHIPS WHICH WE HAVE WRONGLY PRIORITIZED BEFORE OUR LOVE FOR GOD?

I hope this is a no-brainer. Option 2 above is the obvious answer. Otherwise, patricide, fratricide and homicide would be rampant. Murder would be the mark of true Christians as they went about slicing, dicing and slaughtering their loved ones, all in the name of God.

No! Never! Jesus is obviously speaking metaphorically here. He is using the sword as a symbol of the Lord's inner workings in our hearts. The Holy Spirit CIRCUMCISES our heart by cutting away all the carnal connections and fleshly relationships which keep us from loving the Lord with all out heart, mind, soul and strength.

Do you know people who love their children more than God, their spouses more than God, their friends more than God? Sure, we all know many such others. Moreover, we ourselves have all idolized certain people and relationships over our love for God. This toxic and idolatrous ties are the only thing Jesus cuts. The only sword Jesus brings is the Hebrews 4:12 sword which divides soul from spirit, false motivations from true motivations, and cuts to the core intent of the heart. Jesus sword is spiritual, metaphorical, and symbolic. It is not literal. He is the prince of peace.
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