Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Get Beyond the End of Your Nose 06: Be the Good Samaritan

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In Luke 10.25-37, Jesus tells what might be the most famous parable in the Bible, the parable of the good Samaritan. The reason the parable is so popular is that it teaches us such a powerful lesson – we need to care about others. We need to go and do likewise – we need to be Good Samaritans in our everyday lives, not just concerned with people who look like us or worship like us, and we need to care about others.

I believe that Christians are still passing by people that they need to stop and help. They need to have a heart that feels the needs of others, an eye that notices those lying by the roadside and they need a wallet that doesn’t just spend all its money on itself and its needs and wants.

The priest and the Levite both saw the man, but they did feel any empathy. They did not see him with eyes of love, they were still in their hearts looking at their to-do list, their love of themselves led to them ignoring the needs of others.

But the Good Samaritan did not put his journey above the needs of others. He put the needs of others above his need to get his journey done. We need to be people prepared to deviate from our busy lives, or even our holidays to help others. I meet plenty of people who never have any money to help others, but they never lack money to go on expensive trips.

The Good Samaritan used his oil and his wine to help others, he didn’t bathe in it all, and didn’t drink all the wine himselves. I guarantee there are people out there who need some of your wine, and some of your oil. You need to start thinking of others.

Now the greatest need of the world is what? The oil of the Holy Spirit and the wine of God’s love! Nothing can save this world from hell apart from the love of God – we need to share our wine with others, we need to share our church with others, we need to share the gospel with others. We need to share our Jesus with others!

And your Christian friends, they need some of your oil. We need to flow in the Holy Spirit and bring life to people. We want to move in the presence of God – it is the presence of God that can change lives, it can reveal keys to life, it can take us to a higher level, it can lift us. We can share our life with others and help them.

People have been beaten up, wounded and left for dead by life and these people – these others are crying out for others to help them. You can be those others to them!

If you feel the Holy Spirit is telling you and leading you to care for others and calling you to commit to be a Good Samaritan, here are some key facts about being a Good Samaritan:

  1. The Good Samaritan never made a single excuse. Well, I am too busy, I bet that guy on the ground deserved it, he must have done something terrible, I have some many important things to do. I can’t help, who am I to do something about it. We must eradicate excuses from our heart and be willing to stop and help the hurting.
  2. The Good Samaritan did not care about danger. It was an area with bandits around, they could have attacked a vulnerable man helping others, but he risked his life to help the man. We need to think about that – maybe the Lord is leading you to go to another country, to take a risk and go to the end of the earth.
  3. The Good Samaritan paid a great price to help others. He gave up his oil and wine to help others – that costs money. He spent money on helping – there is always a financial cost to helping the lost! Any evangelism will cost money, and when you first give up money to help someone – that is the start of your ministry! That is when you really become a Good Samaritan.

I believe today the Holy Spirit is using this post to speak to you about someone – maybe someone unsaved, maybe someone blind, maybe someone poor, maybe someone beat up by life, maybe someone who needs a lot of help. Whoever it is, do not walk by on the other side, because God is about to use you to help someone and change someone’s life!

Angels of God 01: There are Good Angels!

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angel in Spanish | English-Spanish translator | Nglish by Britannica

There are good angels. That is where I want to start this series. There are good angels. It seems that charismatics know so much about demons but not much about angels, but two-thirds of the angels stayed good and stayed on God’s side and those angels can freely move from earth to heaven.

Did you know though that even the best angel is nothing compared to Jesus? Hebrews 1.4 says that Jesus is so much better than the angels. So, do not start worshipping angels, do not let them take the place of Jesus in your life. But I do think the church does need to be aware of these angels.

They are spirits (Hebrews 1.7) and they are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1.14) – that makes them servants. They are spiritual beings, invisible, intangible, but they are in the room with us right now to serve us, to help us, to minister to us!

The ministry of angels did not end in Bible days, there are still angels around today. They still serve today.

Now yes there are bad angels, they fell with satan (Revelation 12.9) and were booted out of heaven. But let’s focus on the angels that didn’t right now:

They are created beings. They are not eternal like God. They were created by God. They are not people. The media likes to suggest that when we die we become angels, no – you are not angels now and you will not become one when you die. That’s not a Bible thing.

Angels are servants, and they are there to serve us, that means they have to do what they are told. Servants do not have the right to make their own choices, and nor do angels. Satan messed up by making his own choice – he wanted to decide where he would put his throne. He forgot he was a servant, he had no choice where his throne was, he should have just been grateful to get a throne.

Angels that didn’t fall, they kept obeying orders – they only speak the Word, they only do the Word, they only stand for the Word. They stand around you waiting for you to speak the Word then they help it come to pass! Those angels didn’t rebel against God and His grace!

Next time – we will discuss the Adam-angel connection in the garden. Look forward to it!

Get Beyond the End of Your Nose 05: Even Tax Collectors Love Themselves!

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All Saints Tullylish on Twitter: "Above all, love each other ...

One of the things that we see whenever we look at the life of Jesus is that he loved others. He loved people different from himself, he loved people not like him, he loved people who hated him.

Anyone can love their wife, their children, their husband, their parents. Some people love their gran and grandad, and aunty. Some people love their tribe, their extended family, their people. But Jesus Christ loved everyone. Jesus Christ loved those trying to please Him and He loved those who hated Him, He loved the most wicked man on the planet, and He loved people who betrayed Him, He loved the people who looked like Him and the people who didn’t. This love for others is what makes Jesus absolutely unique, it is what makes Him different from selfish humans and their limited love.

The Church has sadly not flourished in areas where it has not loved others. And this is something we need to do – we need to stop being selfish, stop just loving our church tribe, and love everyone. We need to stop being self-centred, self-obsessed and just plan selfish. Other religions make headway ahead of us in some places because we do not love others!

We need to be like Jesus and love others. We need to get beyond the end of our own noses and start loving other people. We need to grow the church by loving others. We need to be like God – He loved the whole world so much He gave up Jesus to die for them. God was thinking about others. God loves others, and God has won many sons and daughters to Himself.

God loved the world and that love manifested when He sent His son to serve the world. One of the key ways we can show love to others is to serve them. Jesus served, He did not come to be waited upon hand and foot, He came to serve others. He came to minister to others. He came to help others. He came to serve others. He came to take God’s love and power and share it with others. Serving others is the way we love others. Serving others is the key to greatness. It is difficult for us to realize how important this is, but serving others opens the door to solve all your personal issues, it takes your mind off your issues, it opens the door to the real world in which people have big problems and you can serve them and love them.

Opening your heart to serve others helps you put your tiny problems in context. Most people in the West magnify their own problems, because they do not serve others. But you start loving others and serving others, it stops you being so spoiled. It stops you thinking about yourself, it stops you thinking about little things and helps you start thinking about the greatest things of all – helping others, loving others and serving others.

Jesus never once came to be served, He came to serve. He lived for others. He said that we should not live for ourselves, but live for others (2 Cor. 5.14-15) – how did Jesus live for others – through love and through serving.

Can you see the pattern? Jesus loved others, he served others, he lived for others. We need to model the same pattern. we need that love – and it cannot be constrained according to Paul – we need that attitude too – an attitude of love that cannot be constrained that leads to us serving others and living for others. We cannot be fighting for our rights, we need to be fighting for a place to serve others! That is how Jesus did it, and that is how we should do it.

Get Beyond the End of Your Nose 04: Lost Lives Matter!

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Understanding of God's Salvation for Mankind Behind the Parable of ...

We can get so obsessed with the benefits of the gospel – we travel far and pay a lot of money to preachers to tell us we are blessed, healed, righteous – and we are all those things, but the church must exist for the lost. Pastors need to lead the way in this – are you standing week after week in front of overfed sheep and not doing anything to equip and prepare and plan and structure church to be reaching the lost? When was the last time you handed your pulpit over to an evangelist?

Sadly one of the reasons that so many pastors cannot do this is the rise of spoiled sheep – they want the whole service to be about them! They don’t want to praise Jesus, they want to sing about their identity (nothing wrong with either of those, but if all you do is the latter, there’s a problem!), they don’t want to hear a sermon on praying for the lost or sharing their faith – don’t you know that’s legalism and they are under grace?! We need to as churches exist for the lost! Some Christians are so far from thinking of the lost and so self-obsessed they do not even go to church! That’s the most selfish a Christian can be – not going to a church. How can you help a lost person on your own? How can you bring them into an experience of corporate worship and being equipped if you are not? That’s not grace you not going to church, it’s doubt and unbelief.

We have to realize that lost lives matter! They do not know Jesus, and are not heading for eternity in heaven with Jesus. They need to be reached with the good news. Jesus came for them and we should be like Jesus.

I had an email a short while ago from a pastor, he was upset that I was running a network of six churches, for some reason, maybe envy, I don’t know. I said that his church had more assets and more people than mine, and he could easily plant more churches. He said “I just don’t have the drive that you do, and I don’t want to go to small places like you do”. Now maybe he is just staying in his lane and maybe he isn’t called to plant more churches, but on the other hand, maybe he is waiting for a “call” that will never come. You do not need a call to go into all the world and make disciples, and you do not need a brain to know the best way to make disciples is plant churches.

We want to be like Jesus we need to come that people might have life! That is what Jesus did, isn’t it (John 10.10)?! Jesus came to bring life to people – and as His ambassadors that is what we should do! Think of ways you can share the good news with others. Think of how you can bring people to church, think about how you can welcome new people in church, think about how you can bring life to people – the gospel, the grace of God, the grace of healing to people! We need to be like Jesus – and bring life to others, especially the lost. Let’s not feed the well-fed all the time, but also feed the hungry.

Get Beyond the End of Your Nose 03: Be More Like Jesus!

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Jesus loved being human! — Payton Minzenmayer

One of the main reasons Jesus did not go immediately to the cross when he came to earth was to hang around and train and teach us how to treat other people. The basic default of humanity is to love yourself. But we need to love our neighbour too, and one of the best way to learn to love our neighbours is to look at the way Jesus loved people.

Your neighbours are the others that William Booth was talking about – you have to learn how to love them! God has called you to care for more than just yourself – He has called you to care for others too.

And Jesus said to love others the way you love yourself. That’s a great way to help you think through how to think about others. Most people want to improve themselves, and so think about the ways you are thinking of improving yourself, and think about putting some time and effort into making those things happen to yourself.

Jesus thought about other people – He thought about blind people, deaf people, lost people, hurting people. He thought about people from other nations, He thought about sick people. Jesus was not consumed with self-pity and self-this and self-that, he was consumed with the thoughts of others. You know in today’s day and age, it is hard to find people who are thinking of others. Most people are thinking about themselves – what will people think of me, what will this do to my reputation, my future, my income? And base all their actions based on that.

This week I got a few people tell me I was very bold to address certain issues going on in our nation. It’s not boldness, and I am not trying to blow my own trumpet, but I love the people who are deceived and who are going astray from living a life of victory far more than I love myself. I will do what is right because I want to help others and what happens to me is not so big in my mind. Dave Duell really taught that to me, that’s how he lived and he inspired me to do the same.

Sadly, I have also met ministers not like Dave, and they only do good to furnish their pockets or get a better tax break, or make a show. A lot of people do good for show. We need to not just do things for others but genuinely love them.

It is no wonder that things are happened that are destructive, as people do not really care for others. But we have the spirit of Jesus inside us and four books about Jesus that should lead us to a better place. Look what Paul says in Philippians 2:

4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

We need to have the attitude Christ had – take an interest in others. Right now, think about something you want, and try to think about how to get it to someone else. Think about something in your life you are grateful for and try and get it to someone else! Think about others, take an interest in others. Deliberately plan how to be a blessing to others.

The next time you go to church, don’t think about you and what you want and what song you want and what you want the pastor to say, but think about others. What would they need? A nice welcome? Someone to take them out to lunch? Someone might need a baby sitter in the week, someone might need someone to come round and mow their lawn, your pastor might need to hear your testimony, the usher might need a big thank you from you. Have a think about it, show some interest in others.

Get Beyond the End of Your Nose 02: Do Not Promote Yourself!

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What Is the Importance of Self-Promotion? | Grammarly

Jesus told us that to follow Him we would have to deny ourselves. It amazes me how much selfish ambition that still exists in Christians, how much they want to promote themselves above the message, above the Word, above their precious brothers and sisters in Christ. They live on roller-coaster bouncing from envy to strife and back to envy again. One of the major roots of this is self-promotion.

The greatest key to a joyous life is this – learn to promote and exalt and lift up others. You do that and you will open the doors to blessings greater than you can ever imagine.

At the end of the day you have decisions on a regular basis – shall I promote me, or promote others, shall I do what is good for me, or do what is good for others. If you listen to William Booth’s one word sermon “OTHERS!” you will realize that the greatest life is the one where you live for others.

But so many Christians live for their own interests, live for their own loves, their own enhancement, their own promotion. Today, I want to encourage you to become a promoter of others. Promoting others will produce a richer life than you could ever achieve by self-promotion.

Do you realize that satan lost all of heaven because he promoted himself? This is not a little issue I am blogging about today, this is life or death stuff! Satan should have been at the throne of God exalting Jesus and exalting the Father and exalting the Spirit, but he went and exalted himself. The Scripture says satan said “I will exalt myself” (Isa. 14.13) and “I will exalt my throne” and “I will ascend”. That is not a good place to be.

Adam fell because he wanted to promote himself to the level of God. Adam wanted a promotion so he disobeyed God to get it. He should have been promoting God, and exalting God and thanking God, but he promoted himself, exalted himself and thanked himself, then he helped himself to the forbidden fruit and walked himself out of paradise.

Self promotion cost satan heaven and Adam paradise, so this is important. And satan loves tempting Christians to self-promote because he knows that if you promote yourself into positions, places and with people that God never promoted you into, and you get things that God never offered you, you will be in a mess. Satan knows how badly self-promotion can cost you, so he loves tempting Christians into self-promotion.

Every Christian at some point will be tempted to self-promote. Jesus at the same time gives us opportunities to promote someone else. When you hit that crossroads, satan will be saying promote yourself, and get all that stuff. Jesus is saying “Promote God, promote righteousness, promote the others, promote the kingdom, and I will add these things to you”. Become someone who gets things added to them, rather than a self-promoter. If you seek for things yourself rather than seek the kingdom, and promote yourself rather than promote others you will never enjoy the fullness of life God has for you.

I have seen many men promote themselves in business, and now they are in a dark place financially and in difficulty. Just like Adam they wanted to be something outside of God’s Word and God’s instruction and it never ends well and never leads to paradise. I have seen self promoters in ministry and they can get to a certain level but their workload in maintaining what God did not give them burns them out every time.

Do not waste your time and energy on promoting yourself, that’s my advice to all of you today. Self promotion does not work. Self promotion is building the tower of Babel all over again. Let God promote you and you work on promoting and helping others.

What does the Psalmist say:

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalm 75.6-7, KJV)

Get Beyond the End of Your Nose 01: It’s Not All About You

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Koi Reflection: Looking past your nose

General Booth once sent a telegram to every captain in the Salvation Army. He insisted everyone come together in the churches to hear this telegram, and be there when it is read. Salvation Armies across the UK and further afield gathered to read this powerful telegram, sitting in their church halls with expectation for this powerful message from the General. When everyone was ready, the various captains all opened the telegram to tell their people and everyone was shocked. The telegram was not long, it was short. It was actually just one word, in capitals with an exclaimation mark: OTHERS!

The Salvation Army people in all the churches sat there and took it in: OTHERS! God started speaking to people across the Salvation Army and they started to realize afresh that the Christian life is not about you! It’s not all about you, it is about others.

There are other people on the planet than you. It’s not all about you, you should not be living your life for you. You should not be spending all your money on you. You should not just be serving you. You should not just be laying down your life for you. Paul said “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2.4, ESV). All the blessings and grace you have in your life – that should be used not just for you and is not all about you.

You need to know today that:

CHRIST IS NOT JUST FOR YOU. Other people need Jesus. Right now there are millions of people across planet earth not even close enough to a church to go to church. There are others that the church does not help because the churches around them think just about themselves. Jesus is not just for you! It’s great you love Jesus, it’s great you love worship, it’s great you love singing praises and you love His presence, but please please please realize that Christ is not just for you and so many people do not know Him! They have never heard the gospel! They have never seen the love and power of Christ. Think about and pray about and dream about how you can get Christ to others.

CHURCH IS NOT JUST FOR YOU. I know if you go to Tree of Life you go to a great church, with lots of love and care, and you probably help make that happen too. But church is not just for you – others need to be in the Tree of Life, others need to be cared for by us. All Christians need a church and all Christians need a pastor. It is great to be a Christian, but a Christian in a good church with a good pastor – that is whole different level. So, how can we help other people find church? Tell them about it, recommend it, maybe even pray about being an elder or helping us pioneer a new Tree of Life. I know the church is feeding you well, but how can you help others get fed, because it is not all about you! It’s great you are coming, great you are enjoying the great food we are feeding, the great messages that right now are coming almost daily to you, but do not forget about the others. Take heed of General Booth’s one word telegram: OTHERS! Others need shepherds, help us plant churches in more towns, more cities, more villages, more nations! Others need church, others need shepherds, others need to be discipled!

THE GOSPEL IS NOT JUST FOR YOU! The good news of Jesus Christ is for everyone. How can you take it to others? How can you help others get it? My passion is to go deep with the Tree of Life Family and really build us on the Word of God, but at the same time my passion is to go as far as possible and share the good news with as many people as possible. Others matter, and others need the gospel!

A GREAT SERMON IS NOT JUST FOR YOU! If you heard a great message, share it with people. Let them know about it.

YOUR MONEY IS NOT JUST FOR YOU! You should be tithing, giving offerings and using your money to help take care not just of your things but the things of others!

MIRACLES ARE NOT JUST FOR YOU. Since going on TV, I have found everybody wants their miracle, their healing, their breakthrough, but very few are actively helping others get their miracle. God wants you to be a worker of miracles, not just a recipient of miracles.

BEING FREE TO BE YOU IS NOT JUST FOR YOU. Paul became all things to all men to win them. He didn’t whine about his rights or his freedom, he adapted to the situation as not to offend people or upset them, without compromising the gospel Sometimes people want things so much their way because they have never considered the interest of others.

HAVING PROBLEMS IS NOT JUST FOR YOU. So many Christians are just thinking of themselves and their problems and their issues all the time. But other people have problems too. Some people have bigger problems than you, some people have more complicated problems than you. But most of us are so obsessed with our problems, we do not realize other people are having problems too, and we do not help others with their burdens.

I want to remind you all today we all have problems. We all need some compassion, we all need gentleness. Stop thinking about yourself all the time, and think about others – as you do the love of God will flow through you and start giving you wise ideas on how to help others. It’s going to change everything.

Natural Disasters and the Will of God 12: End of Days

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What is the Battle of Armageddon & Is It Around the Corner?

When I start talking about the fact that God is not the Judge any more, that all that God’s justice does is subsumed by love and God’s work of justice in the world is to lay all our sin on Christ so that we can now be made as just, as righteous as He is, soon enough someone will ask a question about end-times.

The traditionally taught picture of God in the end-times, in Daniel’s 70th week, in the great tribulation, makes God out to be a vicious smiter.  To the point where some grace teachers are now teaching that there will not be an end-times, some are going so far as to teach that Jesus has already come back and everything in Revelation is a past event.  That is just foolisness. Jesus Christ did not return in AD70 and you have to mangle His words to teach that.  But that does not mean we do not need to re-examine select passages in Revelation in the light of the love and goodness of God, and so that is what we will do in this post, and we will find out that plagues – in Revelation as well as Exodus – come from satan not Jesus.

Now there is a lot to teach on in the book of Revelation, but my heart here is just to show that God is not the smiter.

Now the main verse that is used to show God is the destroyer in Revelation is found in Revelation 11.18:

And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Rev. 11.18 KJV)

Now we know God loves planet earth and takes seriously anyone who is trying to destroy it, but can we take this verse at face value that God destroys anyone who destroys the earth?  Now the Greek word here does not mean “destroy” but more literally corrupt and ruin, but it is the same word both times: those who destroy will be destroyed.  You realize that the Bible has a thread of sowing and reaping inside it, you understand the Hebrew thought of John, and you realize that God is not destroying those who destroy the earth, their destroying seed has reaped a destroying harvest.   This ties straight into Galatians 6.8, using the same concept and the same Greek word: those who follow their sinful nature will reap destruction.  When we destroy things or people, we will reap a harvest of destruction upon ourselves.

Most of us do not really consider that because of the cross of Jesus and the care of the Holy Spirit and the continual prayers of the church, many seeds of destruction do not bring an appropriate harvest of destruction on the sower.   However, in the last days, all those harvests are coming in.  Not because God is actively smiting but because He is backing off from the world, and allowing those harvests in.  God did not plant and God is not the source of the harvest!  We planted, and the harvest is the harvest of our destruction.  Romans 1.28 explains clearly how God judges – “God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do things that are not convenient”.  That Greek word gave them over is didomi, which means to grant what is asked, to permit or to allow.  If you consistently choose death, God will let you walk into death.  He is not the source of death, but He will never force you into life if you do not choose it.

In his commentary on Rev. 16.5-6, John Hinds lets us know that God allowed those who persecuted the church to suffer terrible bloodshed, realizing that God is not the one actively punishing.   What is happening in Revelation is the end of a long sowing and reaping issue – Rev. 13.10 concurs with this telling us that “He that leads others captive will be taken captive, he that kills with the sword will be killed with the sword”.  Revelation is the harvest that Jesus tells us in Matthew 13 is the end of the age.

As we have said several times over in this series, the wicked are destroyed because they push God’s grace and glory out of their lives, and God withdraws rather than force Himself on people, and the harvest of their wickedness smacks them in the face.  It is the principle running throughout the whole Bible, and God does not suddenly change after 65 books of being love, and then in the last book become the Almighty Smiter!

Israel suffered when they booted God out of their religion and replaced Him with statues of pagan deities.  Job suffered because God’s protecting hand was pushed away by fear.  The enemy is our destroyer and although he cannot get through the shield of faith, when fear and sin abound, he has found someone he can devour!

Scripture is utterly consistent: God is good and satan is bad.  And one day, this planet will reject God so powerfully, that satan will be permitted to reign.  A planet under satan’s rule leads to death, sin, and tragedy.  God created a paradise for Adam and Eve, Heaven on earth.  Humanity turned the planet over to satan who is trying his hardest to turn it into hell on earth.

Right now, due to grace and mercy, you are not facing the full effects of your sin. No one on the planet is.  God would love to stop all evil, but humanity – who has dominion over the planet – is inviting satan and evil into this planet faster than the people of God are standing against it and being salt and light in the earth.  But the day will come where there is no restraining at all, and that is why we can say God “will destroy them which destroy the earth” and also say strongly that God is not the destroyer.  He is ultimately responsible, but only in that He has stepped aside rather than force Himself on people.  He is not destroying anyone actively, and never has and never will.

In Revelation 7.1 the angels were holding the four winds of the earth that they would not blow.  In other words, God in His grace and goodness was holding back tragedy, storms, earhquakes, storms, violence.  They could not step out of the way and let the harvest of sin flow until the saints were sealed.  How did these angels “hurt” the earth – they merely moved aside and let people face the consequences of their sinful actions.  They let the winds go.

Angels did not smite, they just stopped protecting.  Sin brought on the winds of destruction, not the wrath of God.

Ah, someone will say now – what about the wrath of the lamb?  Well, we will discuss that in our next post.

Difficult Verses 11: Matthew 27.5 and Acts 1.18

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Why Jesus Was Betrayed by Judas Iscariot - HISTORY

As soon as I started this series again I got several questions about difficult Scriptures.  Some of them deserve a blog post as I am sure many are struggling with them.  We all know Judas was the disciple who betrayed Jesus for a few pieces of silver, but how did he die?  The Biblical evidence seems to contradict itself:

Matthew tells us:

Then he [Judas] threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed and went and hanged himself (Matt. 2.75)

but Luke tells us:

Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of iniquity, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out (Acts 1.18)

So, if you read these at face value, you might assume that they are contradicting each other, both telling different stories so that one or the other is wrong.  However, we know that the Bible is never wrong, so we have to think and work it out.

Judas cannot have died from hanging and falling and bursting open at the same time, the Bible cannot contradict the Bible, so we have to look at Matthew and Luke as seeing the same event but from a different point of view.

Matthew was telling us what happened – Judas went and hung himself.  Now Luke’s account at first seems a bit strange – people do not normally fall over and have their intestines fall out.  But if we realize Luke is a doctor, and giving us a medical description of events, and we realize Judas hung himself in Jerusalem, between Passover and Pentecost, when the outside temperature is around 25 C, things start to make a lot more sense.

Warning – what comes next may put you off your breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Judas hung himself in Israel under the beating sun, in the dry heat surrounding Jerusalem.  And that meant his body would putrefy very quickly indeed, basically rotting while dangling from the noose.  The body would become bloated and the skin would become very weak.  And, as either the branch or rope he used to hang himself broke, he fell down, his skin burst and his entrails would have made quite a bit of a mess.

So, it quite clear these two Scriptures are painting the same tragic story, the humiliating end of a man who could never humble himself while alive.

Natural Disasters and the Will of God 11: Korah Has Got that Sinking Feeling

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Korah in the Bible: Korah's Rebellion&The Earth Swallows Up Korah

“Your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here. They didn’t see what he did to Dathan and Abiram (the sons of Eliab, a descendant of Reuben) when the earth opened its mouth in the Israelite camp and swallowed them, along with their households and tents and every living thing that belonged to them. But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes! – Deut. 11.5-7 (NLT)

Now one of the things that we have mentioned several times is that sin corrupts the planet.  A lot of what we see as natural disasters is just the wages of sin, it is not God judging anything or anyone.  Sin pollutes the planet and it is groaning and travailing right now.

Now the events of Korah getting swallowed up by the earth are found in Numbers 16, and what essentially happens is Korah is disloyal to Moses and challenges his position as the leader of the Jewish nation, and some people side with Korah, as is always the case in this kind of foolish disloyalty.

So, they are bringing strife into the people of Israel, distracting them from their path forward into the promised land.  Moses says that this rebellion was so strong, the earth swallowed them up.  This is what I have been trying to say – the earth itself cannot handle sin and death, it was never designed for the amount of sin that humans commit.

This failsafe is shown first of all at the first murder – that sin leads to the earth opening her mouth to receive Abel’s blood!  And the ground was changed so much by the first murder on the earth, it could not even be tilled anymore!  (This is all in Genesis 4.10-12 and fairly explicit, I am not quoting it here as I want you to read it in your own Bible and see it is the ground reacting to the murder!).  God does not say in those verses in Genesis that He opened the earth up or that He actively made the earth hard for Cain to till.  No – the earth is just not designed to handle sin.  Even the fact Cain is cursed is not God cursing him – it’s just the result of his sin.  Sin pays death, that’s why Jesus set us free from sin.

So, we establish in Genesis that great sin opens the mouth of the earth.  And yet in Deut. 11, we see that this is described as a great act of the Lord.  Again, we go back to the fact that the Lord did not do it, in fact it says “the earth opened her mouth” – but again in Hebrew we have this permissive case where God is said to do that which He did not actively stop from happening.  The fact is that one of the things that is essential in Hebrew is that the Hebrew text will frequently say God did something that He did not actively do, but just that He did not actively stop it.

Cain was a son of Adam, and yielded to satan, so satan could through Cain kill another human and usurp authority on the planet.  John tells us Cain was of the evil one – and if we yield to satan, we give satan authority on the earth, and it always leads to an increase in destruction.  The earth cannot cope with sin.  When we look at natural disasters we often ask “where is God in the midst of it”, and the truth is that God is not in the midst of it, we yielded to satan and rejected God and we ruined the planet!  We need to stop attacking our planet by selfish, rebellious, sinful behaviour.

The Lord Makes a New Thing

Now in Numbers 16, before the event, when Korah rebels, Moses says that the Lord will make a new thing, and that the earth will open its mouth and swallow Korah.  But again, Moses says “the earth will open its mouth”.  The earth is not new – Moses was well aware of what happened when Abel was killed by Cain.  It was new – in that this had never happened to a family before, the earth opened up, swallowed the family, then closed back up.  But did the Lord make it?

Well, if you look at Isaiah 45.7, it says “I create evil”, in reference to the Lord.  Some people read that and actually think God literally created evil, that God invented sin, God is behind sin, God makes people sin, God makes satan sin, God employs satan and so many other strange and foolish ideas.  The Bible actually tells us that God has nothing to do with evil (see James 1.13), so that passage does not mean God does moral evil.

But if you study the word “evil” here, it means a disaster.  And what God was saying in Isaiah 45, prophesying the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, that the Lord allows disasters to happen.  It is not about God actively doing it, or God being behind sin.  It means God will let these things happen.  One third-century Bible commentary tells us that this verse should be translated “I keep the peace, and I allow war”, so even back then people realized about this permissive understanding of Hebrew.

God is not the author of evil, satan is, and humans help!  But in the sense that God lets us face the consequences of our sin, God permitted natural disasters and wars.

So if the work “create” can clearly be passive here, it can be passive in Numbers as well.  I know a Hebrew speaker who told me “I create evil” means “I allow evil”, it is wrong to translate it “I do the evil myself”

I hope this helps you realize how sinful sin is here, but also how good God is.  Do not make God the direct agent on things that He has already given us dominion that we are abusing and misusing!

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