Posts Tagged ‘the Judge of all the Earth’

Christ the Creator

Christ the Creator: the Deity of Christ Displayed


© C. O. Bishop 2011

Introduction:

One of the themes of the Bible that is universally rejected by the cults, and perhaps not even well understood by believers, is the question of the Deity of Christ. Some cults have gone so far as to wrongly “re-translate” the whole Bible, trying to eliminate that doctrine from the scriptures. But, even in that deliberate mistranslation, we can demonstrate the deity of Christ. The fact is that the scriptures are so permeated with the Deity of the Messiah that it is impossible to eradicate the doctrine without simply destroying the Bible.

The Word

The Word was and is Godand He is the SonJesus Christ

John 1:1 says the Word was God. That is a key verse, but by no means the only one. Notice that it does not say the Word was a god. There is at least one cult who teaches that that is what is said here. But the deity of Christ is on display throughout the Gospel of John in particular, and is demonstrated throughout the Bible. John goes on to state that the Word is specifically the creator: John 1:3 says he made all things, without exception—all created things are his handiwork. In case we forget who “The Word” really is, John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and that we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father. (This means the only begotten Son of God, in case anyone missed it.) John 1:17 names him…it is Jesus Christ.

We have trouble with this concept because it involves the doctrine of the Trinity. I have become convinced over the years that, though we do have all the facts concerning the Trinity, we fall short of understanding the concept. How can three be one…or one be three? There is no question that this is the correct teaching—it is repeated throughout the scriptures. Ironically, even when the scripture is proclaiming the unity of God (Deuteronomy 6:4), the word used for God is “Elohim”—a plural noun, indicating three (Hebrew has singular, dual and plural nouns). When we get as far as Isaiah 9:6, 7 where the promise of the Messiah is repeated, it specifically states that the promised SON shall be called “the everlasting Father”. At that point, remembering that Jesus repeatedly stated that the Father was greater than He, one has two choices: either accept the doctrine as a Divine paradox, to be accepted, but not necessarily understood, or, barring that, to reject it as a contradiction, since we can’t see a way to reconcile the two statements. Unbelievers choke on the mystery and abandon faith. Believers savor the mystery, recognize joyfully that the God of the Universe is certainly going to exceed the understanding of man, and their faith is deepened.

The Word—the Son— is the Creator

Some try to take the doctrine piecemeal, saying that, yes, the Word was God, but that the Father did all the creating through the Son, and that the Son is NOT the Creator. At some point one has to admit that they are splitting hairs, but this one is pretty clear– Hebrews 1:10 states that the heaven and earth are the handiwork of the Son—and it is God the Father speaking to God the Son, confirming that the creative work was his.

Hebrews 11:3 states that the Word of God created the worlds. (I don’t know the significance of the plural, there, unless it is simply recognizing all the heavenly bodies as worlds. Possibly it is a veiled reference to the fact that he also will create the new world that is coming. Remember that the Creator lives outside of Time and Space, so He establishes the eternal “Now.” He could refer to the New Heaven and New Earth in past tense, though, for us, it has not yet happened.)

Colossians 1:16, 17 states that all things were made by him and for him, and that they are, in fact, held together by him. It seems to me that we must guard against limiting any member of the Godhead. In Acts 20:28, the Ephesians elders are given a final commission, and in the midst of it, the statement is made that they are to “…shepherd the Flock of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” There is no mention of the Son in that passage. You can either violate the scripture by adding the Son into it, or accept that it is clear teaching of the trinity—that the Godhead is not divided—that God truly died on the Cross. (Let that one sink in!)

The Word of God is the King of Kings

Jesus stated that ALL authority had been given to him in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:19) I think we tend to not always believe it when God says “all”— we modify it in our own minds, and make it “most”. Jesus possesses all authority.

Revelation 19:11-16 shows us the returning King, whose name is “The Word of God”…and who holds the title, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”  We are given a panoramic view of the whole spectrum of time, in the Bible. Not only do we see the workings of God from the creation, we see his continuance after the end of time, and we are given hints as to his work before time began. Revelation 13:8 says he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. Jesus referred to the “glory he had with the father before the World began.”

Aswe already observed, Isaiah 9:6, 7 states that the Son shall be called The Mighty God, and The Everlasting Father. This is a hard idea to grasp, and I suspect that the Israelites simply brushed over it as un-knowable. I can understand that reaction, as, essentially, that is what I am also forced to do. But they rejected the Deity of the Messiah, when He came. They denied his authority to forgive sin.  In a way, they were logically required to do so, as only the offended party can extend forgiveness. If he is not God, he cannot forgive sins.

Jesus Forgave Sins…which only God can do!

Remember that our sins are an offense to God. (Psalm 51:4) Whenever we sin, we point our fingers in the face of the Eternal God of all time and space, and declare ourselves to be master, thus denying his sovereignty. This is what happens every time we sin, whether we recognize it or not. Whether it is a “big sin”, or a “little sin”, we declare ourselves to be God. We determine that WE are the managers of our lives and that we will do as we please. There is only room for one sovereign, and we declare ourselves to be that sovereign ruler in our little sphere. Thus, God is the offended party—we have usurped his authority, and rebelled against the throne of God.

Please turn to Mark 2:1-12 (read it). When Jesus looked at the paralytic man who had been lowered through the roof, and said “thy sins are forgiven”, the Pharisees were offended, saying, “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” And they were right! So Jesus posed the question, “Which is easier to say—‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Rise up and walk’?” Obviously the first statement could be cheap talk…just empty words. When a mere man makes that statement (and the priests of many religions do so), it is just empty words. Men have no such authority, but there is no outward result to determine whether the forgiveness actually took place. The second phrase, however, demands an immediate, visible, physical result. Jesus asked which statement was more demanding of the speaker. The Pharisees wouldn’t answer, so he said to the paralytic man, “Take up your bed and go home.” And the man obeyed. The point was to prove that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. He did not deny that only God can forgive them. He simply proved that he was God.

The Visible, Speaking God in the Old Testament

Throughout the Old Testament, an individual called “the angel of the LORD” frequently appeared. We are not going to read them all right now, but in every case he was subsequently revealed to be the LORD, himself…Jehovah, Yahweh…in visible, physical form. You probably remember some of these accounts:

  • He wrestled with one guy (Jacob), and ended up having to dislocate his hip in order to finally subdue the man. Jacob limped, throughout the rest of his life, as a result of that encounter.
  • Abraham met with three men on the road, at Mamre…and all it says is that The LORD appeared to Abraham… physically. He ate the bread, and beef and milk that Abraham served him…he and the two angels he brought along. He appeared as a physical human being: a man.
  •  (Jeremiah 1:4, 5) (turn there) Jeremiah was spoken to by the LORD, who claimed to have created him…forming him in his mother’s womb, and knowing him before the fact…and choosing him for the task at hand.

So what is unusual about all these appearances? Perhaps just the fact that when Moses asked to see the LORD face to face (Exodus 33:20), he was told “…no man shall see my face and live….” Evidently Moses was talking to God the Father…why? Because John 1:18 agrees, saying, “No man has seen God at any time, but the only begotten son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.”

Now; either God’s Word is really inspired or it isn’t. Either John 1:18 is true, and “No man has seen God [the Father] at any time,” or it isn’t true. Since it is true, we can deduce that the person talking to Jeremiah (who is the same one, by the way, as the person who showed up and wrestled with Jacob, talked with Abraham, etc.) must be the Lord Jesus in his pre-incarnate ministry. The Son, the living Word, has been the “spokesman” of the Godhead from the beginning…and the Creator. So the one talking to Jeremiah is the Son, and he says “I made you!” (…and then proceeds to give Jeremiah his marching orders.) The Creator has the authority to order his creation!

Does it really matter?

How should we respond to this information? Does it matter that Jesus was really the creator in the flesh? How would it change things if we saw that Jesus, that man walking the dusty roads of Palestine, 2000 years past, was actually the creator of every molecule of the dust he walked on, as well as the creator of the men who eventually crucified him?

In Romans 12:1-3, Paul has some things to say about that question (read it): he begs us to choose wisely and to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God.  If we are created by Christ, and have become a part of the Body of Christ, does it not follow that we should behave appropriately? That we should willingly present ourselves as the tools for his hands, the vessels for his Grace and Love?

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (read it) states that we have been made ministers (servants) of Christ, and ambassadors for God, with the assigned task of reconciling to Him a lost World. How can that happen if we don’t treat him as the Savior, the Master, and the Blessed Creator?

In John 5:23 Jesus states that we are to honor the Son in the same manner as the Father—and that, if we do not, we are not honoring the Father. What would that look like, “honoring Jesus in the same way as the Father?” How do we tend to think of God the Father? Ultimate authority? Judge of all the earth? Omnipresent, omnipotent master of all the universe? Well, Jesus said (John 5:22) that the Father was NOT judging anyone, but that He had committed all judgment to the Son, so that all men would honor the Son even as they honor the Father—and that if they do not honor the Son, they do not honor the Father who sent him. Beyond that, yes, all of the above is true of the Father—and the Son. But Jesus is the “Judge of all the earth.” (Genesis 18:25)

I would suggest that most humans, even believers, have had a difficult time seeing Jesus as the Creator. Some flatly deny it; some hesitantly agree, but are unsure how it can be so. Some agree whole-heartedly, but still are unrealistic as to what it means. The fact is that we have known Jesus through the eyes of the flesh—we have seen him as a man, and we can’t shake that image. In a way, that is good: Jesus is eternally the God-man—fully God, fully Man. But we have a problem with the “God” part of the picture. I think the Lord understands that. He chided Philip (John 14:8, ff) over that very issue when Philip asked that the disciples might see the Father. He said “Philip, have you been with me so long and yet you do not know me? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father!” Somehow, I suspect even that profound statement failed to fully explain to Philip (or most anyone else) how the Son can be the Father. As I mentioned earlier, the Trinity seems to be beyond our grasp…which is as it should be. He is God…we are humans. And yet, something needs to change. Jesus calls on us to see him through the eyes of faith.

2nd Corinthians 5:16 says, “Wherefore, henceforth, know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now, henceforth know we Him no more.”

So: what must we change?  

  1. We must confess that, in the past, at least, we have primarily seen Jesus through the eyes of the world, as a mere man, possibly even mythological; or through the eyes of religion, as a demigod, a lesser deity, or a “great Spiritual being”, or a prophet, or perhaps just a great teacher, and an example to live by, but not as The Creator. We have essentially “known Christ after the flesh”. Even when we confess that he is “God in the flesh,” we have not really seen him that way. We still tend to think of him in his humanity.
  • We must consider how one should behave toward the real, eternal God of the real, visible (and invisible) Universe. Consider the difference, if you will, between how the disciples saw Jesus when he was in the bottom of the boat, asleep, and how they saw Him, minutes later, when he had arisen to calm the storm. (Turn to Mark 4:35-41…read it.) Before they awakened Him, they were terribly afraid of the storm: they thought they were going to be drowned. Afterward, they were even more afraid of Him, when they recognized His Deity. Perhaps we could use a good dose of that Godly fear, today. Perhaps that is why Psalm 111:10 states that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” And Psalm 19:9 says that “The Fear of the LORD is clean, enduring Forever.” No one who has truly seen the Lord in His glory has ever treated Him as a mere human afterward.
  • We must confirm His deity by our attitudes and behavior, stepping beyond the casual, familiar, back-slapping, “hail-fellow-well-met” attitude we too frequently seem to apply to Jesus Christ, and start seeing Him as God in the Flesh. Immanuel. God with us. We need to recognize His true authority, and seek to obey Him in all things. He’s not our “buddy”…He is our master.

These are the things that have to change. And, may God help us to do so quickly, as the time is growing short.

Lord Jesus, awaken in us a spirit of worship, and obedience, so that we continually treat you as the Holy God of the universe, not just a distant, powerful ally, and a friend in time of need. Allow us to redeem the time we have left, and apply it to eternity.


Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 10

Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 10

The Judge of All the Earth

© C. O. Bishop 8/25/18 THCF 8/26/18

Genesis 18: 16-33; 19:1-38

Introduction:

We have been studying through the Book of Genesis, with the specific intent of observing Jesus as the Creator, in the Old Testament, as well as seeing who He is, and what He is like, beyond what we can see in the Gospels. Last time, we saw God talking with Abraham, and promising a son, through Sarah. We read how both Abraham and Sarah responded with a chuckle, because of the apparent impossibility of the fulfillment. We saw how God named the unborn son “Isaac,” meaning “he laughs”, because of Abraham’s laughter. That was the good news of chapter 18, but there was bad news, as well.

Bad News

In this next passage, God tells Abraham that he is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, for their extreme sin. To me, this is a very sobering passage, as I see that our nation (indeed, our whole modern world) is sliding deeper and deeper into the very kinds of sin that Sodom and Gomorrah were famous for, as well as the violence that covered the earth before the flood. How much longer can we expect the judgment of God to tarry? It may be instructive to compare the old judgment with what is to come (as both are in the scriptures: we are not assuming we have figured out the future of our country or any such thing) and see whether there are other parallels.

To begin with, it is good to see that Abraham, rather than saying, “Well, good! It’s about time you burned those nasty sinners out!” was immediately concerned for any righteous who might still be living there. We assume he was primarily concerned for his kinsman, Lot, but he started with the premise that there might be fifty righteous there. Apparently he had a pretty good idea what the city was like, if he thought fifty might be the maximum. He also recognized that God has the right to judge sin, and he did not complain that God was being “too harsh” on sin, but was simply fearful that those who were believers might be destroyed with those who rejected the authority of God. He addressed this visible, personal God as the “Judge of all the Earth.”

Bear in mind, through this entire exchange, that it was the Lord Jesus who was speaking with Abram. In John 5:22, Jesus confirms that He himself is, in fact, the Judge of all the Earth, so Abram was correctly addressing Him, and begging him to save the righteous. This was God the Son, receiving the prayer of Abraham. God (the Son) said “If there are fifty righteous, I will spare the whole place.”

Now, that is an astonishing thing, in itself! It would seem more efficient to “weed out” the unrighteous, and leave the righteous to start over with a good community.  But, as far as I can see in scripture, it is usually the other way around. The flood covered the whole earth, after God removed those he chose to save. Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed, after God removed Lot and his family.  Jericho was completely destroyed after God had salvaged Rahab and her family. Give that some thought: how might that pattern apply, today?

But Abraham kept dickering, and whittling the number down, and even at ten, God said he would spare the whole place for the sake of ten righteous. But, at that point, God broke off the conversation, and left. God already knew how many were there who would respond to Him at all. That is why he sent two angels, rather than only one…one could easily destroy the condemned cities, but he needed to drag four people out, to salvage them from the destruction. (Two angels, four hands.)

We believers pray for our nation, our leaders, the various peoples of the World, and for Israel, knowing that judgment is coming. The fact that we know judgment is coming does not render our prayers ineffectual or hopeless. Abraham prayed for the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. We can do the same. 2nd Peter 3:9 says that the reason God is taking his time about judging this world is that He is being very patient, and giving people the opportunity to repent. Sodom and Gomorrah apparently had run out of time, and judgment finally fell.

Judgment is coming in our world as well: we are supposed to be acting as God’s ambassadors, attempting to offer reconciliation and salvation to any who will accept God’s terms. We know judgment is coming, but we do not know when. We reach out to those around us, trying to offer them God’s chosen way to escape the coming judgment, but not many believe us. Sometimes that is an indictment against us, for not having a sufficiently stable and consistent walk with God that our testimony would be believable. Overall, however, it is an indictment against the World, as they have consistently rejected God, no matter who He sent to speak to them: even when He came Himself, in human form, as Jesus, the Messiah.

Genesis 19

At the beginning of this terrible passage, we see the two angels arriving in Sodom, at evening. Lot was sitting in the gate of the city. We think nothing of this statement, but the city gates were where the elders of a city, and the judges of a city would position themselves. It was not only a place of honor, but a place of responsibility. How was it that Lot had been put in such a position? He must have “fit in” somehow, in order to be recognized as a judge of any kind, it would seem.

Good News?

Lot saw the “men” as strangers, who needed to be protected from the men of the city. He met them courteously, and persuaded them (over their protests that they intended to spend the night on the street) to spend the night in his home, instead, and to plan to leave early the next day. This attempt is about the only thing recorded (along with his plea to the Sodomites to leave the men unmolested) where we can see that he may have been a believer. We are not told what he said to them, but he was very strongly pressing them to accept his hospitality and stay the night indoors. He knew they would be in danger at night on the streets in Sodom. Perhaps he warned them of the reason, perhaps not. We are not told what he said; just that he “pressed them greatly.” Apart from this, there is very little evidence that he was a righteous man, and without what we see in the New Testament about him, we could easily assume that he was a lost individual. However, he treated them with genuine hospitality, preparing a feast for them, which they ate.

But before any of them could head for bed, all the men of the city, young and old—all the people from every quarter—surrounded the house, demanding that Lot turn over to them the two “men” who had come under his roof; and they specifically stated their intent: homosexual rape. (The word “know” here was about carnal knowledge, not a formal introduction.)

Lot came out and argued with them, trying to dissuade them, stating that it was for this express purpose that he had brought them into his home; to avoid this crowd of rapists. He even offered his virgin daughters to the mob, as substitutes (what a horrible father he was!), but they insisted, saying that Lot did not belong there, anyway: that he had come there as a stranger; a sojourner, but now seemed to think himself to be a judge. They declared that they would treat him worse than the other two; then they moved to attack him, and to break down the door.

Apparently, up until this point, Lot had no idea who he was trying to shelter. But the two angels reached out and pulled Lot inside, and simultaneously struck blind the men of the city, young and old, so that they could not find the door. In fact, it says that they “wearied themselves trying to find the door.” What incredible single-mindedness! They only had one concern. The fact that they had been struck blind did not seem to bother them. They continued to search for the door!

Bad Testimony

The two angels instructed Lot to go and notify his entire extended family that the city was about to be destroyed. He did go out and tell his sons-in-law, who were evidently betrothed to his daughters (or, it is possible he had older daughters who were already married, but that would be guessing.) The sons-in-law did not take his warning seriously, and just thought he was joking.

When morning was beginning to dawn, the two angels told Lot that the time had run out, and that he had to leave. He protested, and lingered, and so they took him and his wife, and his two daughters by their hands and literally dragged them out of the city, then told them to get going, not to look back at all, but to flee to the mountains.

Lot was still protesting, and saying he couldn’t make it to the mountain. He begged to be allowed to flee to a small, nearby city, saying that he could get there, and live. They finally relented, and allowed him to flee to that location. The name of the city prior to this, was “Bela”. After this it was called “Zoar”, meaning “small.”

This whole account has a lot of things for us to learn: To begin with, we need to see that judgment is coming. There will come a time when the time has run out, and judgment has come. Even a believer can be affected by the coming judgment, even though we are eternally saved. Lot was a believer, according to God. But the judgment affected his life in terrible ways. It did not have to happen that way: He chose that outcome through unbelief, indecision, and inaction.

God knew how many he was going to save out of that city—there were not the fifty that Abraham hoped for, nor even the ten…there were four: they were dragged out of the city, unwilling to go, and even then, one of them was lost, by turning back. This story has often been held up as an example of someone “losing their salvation.” But: in the first place, we have no evidence of her salvation, in terms of belief, faith, repentance, etc. All we know is that she was dragged out of Sodom, along with Lot and their two daughters. Perhaps she was not a believer at all…and even if she was, believers have many times lost their physical lives because of sin…and it had no effect on their salvation. Consider Josiah, a righteous king, who for some idiotic reason (pride, perhaps?) decided to fight Pharaoh, king of Egypt, when Pharaoh was not even attacking him, but rather was attacking someone who was his enemy. What happened? Necho (the particular Pharaoh involved) warned him off, saying “Your God sent me to punish that king (of Assyria)…stay out of my way!” Josiah wouldn’t listen, and, sadly, uselessly, he died in the ensuing battle. It stands (or at least it should stand) as a lesson for us, today.

Lot’s life stands as a lesson, too. God says Lot was a righteous man (2nd Peter 2:6-8), but his life did not reflect it—he chose to be deeply associated with the wicked world—he was involved in their local politics, in fact, and his testimony was so shallow that when he tried to warn his prospective sons in law of the coming judgment, they thought he was kidding. He had a warning of sorts, a few years earlier, when Sodom was attacked, and he was captured: he probably witnessed the exchange with Melchisedec and Abram, as well as that between the king of Sodom and Abram. Abram set the example of the choice to follow God; but Lot returned to Sodom.

Bad Results

I could conjecture, perhaps, that he considered it a “mission field”…and so it may have been. But no one believed his message, if indeed he had one. And the long run result in his own family was that his daughters did not know God’s will, and he himself did not trust God for daily living, though he had evidently trusted him for salvation. In the face of judgment, he still chose the city of destruction (“Bela” means “destruction”), and then, when he saw the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he no longer believed God would keep his word concerning that “small” city and he fled to the mountains, where God had ordered him to go in the first place. Ironically, that city still exists today, though the name has changed a little. God kept his word through all the ages, though Lot had none of the benefits: Lot left a place that God saved for his sake—simply because he spoke up for it—and he went off and lived in a cave, where his daughters, assuming that he was the only man left in the world, decided they had to “save the human race” by getting themselves pregnant by their own father.

The two girls got him drunk and crawled into bed with him while he didn’t know what he was doing. Each deliberately became pregnant by their father, Lot. Their two sons, born of that union, were named Moab and Ben-Ammi. Their descendants, called the Moabites and the Ammonites, are still with us today, and have been enemies of Israel from the beginning until now. Today we call them “Jordanians,” and the capital of Jordan is Amman, even today. They are still the enemies of Israel. The Palestinians themselves are actually Jordanians, too. The sons of Lot have been a source of grief to Israel for nearly five thousand years, now. They are still people for whom Jesus shed his blood, and we desire to see them saved…but what a mess!

Most ironic of all, I suppose, is the fact that, had Abraham simply left Lot back in Ur of the Chaldees, as he was told to do, or even in Haran, years later, then none of this would have ever happened. But God has used it to his glory, and He will continue to do so. Remember that Ruth was a Moabite woman, and she became the Great-g-g-g grandmother of Jesus!

Conclusion:

One thing I want to point out, here, is that ALL the men from every quarter, young and old, etc. surrounded the house with one intent: to gang-rape the two “men” who had come to Lot’s house. They did not know they were angels. They simply saw them as “fresh meat”. The immorality of that area had reached “critical mass.” They were unsalvageable. We look at our society today and think “Oh, it’s just like Sodom!” but we are far from 100% immoral, though it may seem we are fast headed that way. God grant us the wisdom and courage to turn the tide, if possible.

Oh: and, about that repeating pattern? The one where God removed the righteous (declared righteous because of Faith), and then destroyed the city? Can you think of a coming event in prophecy which may have been prefigured by those Old Testament patterns?

How about the fact that there is a day coming when the Church will be removed, and the entire World judged, in the Great Tribulation? Yes, I think that is the picture in the case of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah. And, more specifically, Lot is also a picture of believers who are saved by faith, but live their lives in sin. When the judgment seat of Christ comes, and our works are judged, they will still be saved, yet so as by fire…they have escaped judgment but lost most (or perhaps all) of their chances for reward. Lot was literally dragged out of Sodom, and most (or perhaps all) the wealth he had gained was lost in the destruction of the city. What a sad, shabby story of ruin and waste! And it was all so avoidable, too.

But where does Jesus fit into this story? Keep in mind that He is the Eternal Judge of all the Earth! Remember, too, that He is the one who authoritatively declared Lot to be righteous by faith, and who sent the angels to rescue him. He is the Savior of the World and the Judge of all the Earth. We need to see Him that way, and worship Him as God.

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to your true identity, and teach us to walk with you, serving willingly as your ambassadors to a lost World.