Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 05: Sin Affects the World

0

Image result for natural disasters"

The Bible is very clear that sin brings death (Romans 6.23).  Not God.  Sin.  You see you have to realize that sin is more than just breaking the law.  It is not that you sin, and because you sin, God works out you broke a law and then God starts to destroy you because He is so angry and offended that you sinned.  That is not how it happens!  Sin contains its own death and destruction.  Death is the wages of sin, not the wages for sin.  Sin pays its own wages and brings its own death.

God does not hate sin because God hates pleasure and fun and God wants to take away all the joy from life!  God love you and wants your best and wants nothing but abundance and good for you – and God is aware that sin itself brings death and that is why God wants to keep us away from sin.

Much of what has traditionally been understood as God personally bringing wrath and destruction on a person is not God at all.  It is the sin itselfs that pays the wage of destruction and death.  The Bible talks about the law of sin and death, and it works the same as the law of gravity.  If you walk off the top of a building, you will fall down.  It’s not God punishing you, it is just the way things work.  If you sin, that sin brings death into your life.  It’s not God punishing you, it’s the way things work.

God is not sitting in Heaven waiting for you to finally sin so He can smite you and destroy you.  He is doing all He can to protect you from sinning so that sin does not destroy you.  Jesus died to save us from the destructive power of sin.

Proverbs 1 tells us that the prosperity of fools shall destroy them, but if you listen to the Lord you shall live in safety.  Being foolish will destroy you, but listening to the Lord shall protect you from destruction.  The Lord is not the destroyer!

But when God is reaching out to us so we listen to Him so we can live safely, and if we ignore Him he keeps reaching out to us in love, but He will not break our free will.  He has no choice but to leave us to that sin, but at the same time He is leaving us to the consequences of that sin too.  He is not the destroyer, sin is.

Sin is what kills the sinner, not God.  It is not God destroying us.  It is the seeds of sin that we sowed that have produced a harvest of destruction.  We need to stop blaming God for what is our fault.  Proverbs 19.3 in the GNB says “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions, and then blame the Lord”.

In terms of natural disasters, it is very clear that sin affects the whole world that we have dominion over.  Before Adam sinned, this planet was paradise.  Sin wrecks the planet!  God told Adam that when the fall happened that “the ground will be under a curse” (Genesis 3.17).  Before the fall there was no problem in getting fruit, but after the fall you had to work for it.

Now did God curse the ground to punish Adam for his sin?  Most Christians would agree with that, but it was not God who cursed the land, it was Adam’s actions that brought the curse.  God did not make the ground difficult, but Adam had dominion over the ground, and then when Adam sinned His dominion meant the whole earth was impacted by his behaviour.

When Adam was given authority over the earth, we was made the lord of the earth.  The Hebrew word for dominion means both lord and owner.  So therefore what humanity does affects the word.  If Adam walked in righteousness before God then the earth would have remained Edenic.  But because God gave dominion to man, because God is love and God is kind, God was not in charge of the planet anymore.   And because God does not lie or break His words, just because Adam rebelled against Him was not reason to suddenly take the earth back.

God could potentially take the earth back and stop all natural disasters right now, but He will not because that would break His integrity, that would violate His Word.  God has the power to have His way, but He does not have the duplicity to take the Word back.

This is why God is always looking for a man to co-operate with on the planet.  so He can change the earth working with us and using the original dominion to exert His kingdom over the planet.  God so respects the authority that He has given man that even our unbelief will stop Jesus from working miracles (Mark 6.5-6).  Our actions affect the whole planet.

If we read Romans 5.12 it tells us that by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin. Death was not here because of God, but because of sin.  When Adam sinned, death entered not just Adam’s spirit, soul and body, but death entered the world.  Just five verses later, Paul tells us that “death reigned by one”.  Because Adam sinned, death became the king of the world!  When Adam disobeyed God, the whole world became under the reign of sin and satan.  God was not putting death on Adam or the world – the death was the wages – the consequences – of sin.  The law of sin and death works like the law of gravity – God can not be blamed for an earthquake any more than if someone jumps off a building.  It is just the violation of the laws of the universe.

God told Adam when he sinned “Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse” (Genesis 3.17, GNB).  By following satan, and rejecting God, Adam caused the whole earth to be cursed.  Adam, not God, messed up the world.  Humans cannot sin with out the earth being affected.

Because people do not understand this, they think – and sadly teach others – that God supernaturally curse the ground out of wrath because of Adam’s sin and rebellion.  That is not what happened.  Man brought the curse to the land.  By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin.  The curse came to the world because of sin, not because of God.

Adam brough the death and the curse into the world by misusing his dominion, God did not curse the earth.  Sin does not just affect you as a person, it actually affects the entire environment.  Isaiah tells us the people on the earth have defiled it, and therefore the curse devours the planet (Isa. 24.4-5).  In other words, the curse is brought into the world by human sin, not God’s wrath.  This is why we have storms and earthquakes and volcanoes.  Every natural disaster is the world being defiled by our sin, not an act of God. Sin brought the curse on the world, and God cannot sin, so therefore natural disasters do not come from God.

If you look at what the curse looks like in Deut. 28, you can see clearly that it affects the entire environment., with droughts, floods, locusts coming as part of the curse.  Again, the language of Deut. 28 at face value makes it appear that God is bringing the curse, but a closer look at the Hebrew will see that God just allowed it – if people will not listen to God He will let them walk where they want, and have to deal with the consequences of their actions, not the consequences of His wrath.  The curses are caused by the lack of God acting, due to rejecting Him, not due to the active wrath and destruction of God.  God is not the destroyer.

God never made a planet that kills people.  God never created a planet with tornadoes and hurricanes and bush fires and corona viruses.  That is the result of the fall of man, and the kings of the earth, humanity, rejecting God and pushing Him out of the planet He has made.  When humanity serves themselves, their rebellion brings death to the whole planet we have dominion over.

The weather is not random, it is not at the will of a capricious God, it is the result of the actions of humanity.   We are living in a great generation of faith, where Christians are starting to realize their actions and words affect their prosperity and their health, and now it is time to realize that we are connected to the earth, and we will realize our actions and words can actually impact the environment.  Let’s stop blaming God for natural disaster and start opening our hearts to Him and work with Him in His great love for us to make a difference in the world.

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 04: Take Responsibility

0

Image result for volcano"

If you have not read parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series yet, you should start at part 1.

The idea that God causes natural disasters and is the destroyer is what I sometimes call a convenient theology.  In other words it is an image of God, an idea about God, that is very convenient.  Someone who is sick, well God loves you so much He has made you sick because you are His special angel.  Everything that happens, happens for a higher purpose.  It comforts our flesh and makes us feel better.

But the truth is that we need to take responsibility for ourselves and this planet as human beings.  The idea that God controls everything cuts the legs of our responsiblity as humans.  Why pray, why repent, why walk in faith, if God is just going to do what He wants anyway!  The truth is far different from this:

“And so I tell all of you: what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited by heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted by heaven. (Matt. 18.18)

God has given humanity far more power than anyone has ever realized.  Due to God giving the earth to man, and due to God promising us dominion, God cannot intervene on this planet unless someone on earth prohibits or permits it.  That is a staggering statement, and it cuts through so much religion.  This is why God has to look to find someone to allow Him to release His power on the earth.

There is a lot of responsibilty on your shoulders as a human.  God will only allow on earth what you allow.  He will plead with you to make the right choices, but He will never ever force you to do or think anything, ever.  What happens on the earth is on us, not God.

Andrew Murray tells us that God told us to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, and that man is the ruler of the earth.  The only conclusion says Murray, that we can draw from this, is that man is the ruler of the earth.

In the beginning God created man with dominion, but man sadly gave that dominion over to satan and plunged the world into chaos.  Until that event there had never been a natural disaster on the planet.  Sadly, this authority of man – and the resulting responsibility – is not taught enough – and so God keeps getting the blame for humanity’s sin and selfishness!

Every time you sin there are consequences to that sin, and everything you permit on earth and do not resist in faith and boldness, you have to live with.  When God gives people up and permit them to endure the consequences of their own rebellion, that is not God destroying people, that is God permitting what you permit.  Let’s grow up, take responsibility, learn how to release our faith, learn how to move mountains with our words, and let us stop blaming God for what humanity is allowing and permitting through our actions and inactions!

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 03: Can God Do Anything?

0

Image result for flooding"We are looking at whether natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanesa are God’s will or not – are they caused by God?

In our first post we looked at some principles to help us really see and understand the nature of God, and in our second post, we looked at where destruction really comes from.  Now, I want to answer the question of whether God can do whatever He wants.  Because one of the main reasons well-meaning Christian teachers and preachers will tell you that a natural disaster killing thousands, destroying millions of pounds of property and stealing hope and a future from people is the will of God, even in the light of John 10.10, is that many of these Christians think everything is God’s will!

We have to realize that God gave the earth to humanity, He gifted it and the rulership of it to Adam and Eve when He made them, and as we have already seen, God does not do take-backs.   Adam and Eve had authority over this earth, then they handed it to satan, and God will not illegally invade the planet.

Everything God has ever done on this planet has been with the help of humans.  This is why the eyes of the Lord are running to and fro throughout the whole earth to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him (2 Chr. 16.9).  God is looking for people that He can make a deal with and then He can legally impact the earth.

In terms of power and capability, yes God can do whatever He wants.  However God has never broken His Word, never lied, and when He gave authority to humanity He meant it and God will never use His power to break His Word.

God gave humanity dominion, and God respects that and honours that.  God will not display His power to break His Word.  This is why natural disasters happen and God is not jumping in the way to fix it.  Even in Nazareth, Jesus could not (not would not, could not) work miracles because the people did not have faith in Him.

Did their unbelief make Jesus lose His power?  No – it just meant He had no way of transmitting the power to the people because He will not force it on people. God has the power to completely heal every sickness, solve every problem, cast out every demon, stop every storm, but we have the power to stop God using His power.

The idea that God is sovereign in the sense that He forces us to do things, that He will not allow us any choice in the matter is wrong.  God allows His creation far more dignity than that.  He will not force us to do anything, even for our own good.  We have to believe and receive what God has for us, or we will go without His power in our lives and ministries!

God Does Not Control Everything

When a natural disaster happens, you will very quickly hear Christians say things like: God knew what He was doing when He sent that earthquake, God knew what He was doing when He took your baby – He knew that maybe one day that baby would grow up evil, all things work together for good, the Lord works in mysterious ways, we receive the evil as well as the good from the Lord, God is in control, God has a purpose.

All of those comments are rooted in a total misunderstanding of the nature of God and how God utilizes and releases His power on the earth.  The most famous passage used to state everything is God’s will is Romans 8.28, but if you read it in context, it is telling us when we pray all things work together for good, not every single event.

Let’s imagine someone is hurt or killed in a tornado or flood, someone misquotes Romans 8.28 and tells the family “well, God works all things together for good” – that is a disgusting and revolting use of this Bible verse.   God does not send natural disasters for a higher good, God is not forcing anything on us and God does nothing to harm us.

C H Dodd talking about Romans 8.28 says that “Paul never wrote all things work together for good, the literal translation is ‘With those who love God, He co-operates with all respects for good'”.  It is so sad that so many Christians think that this verse means that sickness is God’s will, poverty is God’s will, that sin and tragedy are God’s will.  None of these things come from God, He is the Father of lights and good gifts come from Him.  God’s will is not that you grin and bear sickness, poverty and disaster – you do not thank God for these things, and you do not call it walking by faith or walking in victory!

Victory in life never comes from calling good evil and evil good, or a blessing a curse or a curse a blessing.   Never call a blessing what God has told us is a curse.  Rest in the help of God!

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 02: The Source of Destruction

0

Image result for earthquake"

In our last post, we looked at the fact that the God of the whole Bible is a good God and not a destroyer and that Jesus is the true image of God.  The truth is that:

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. (Luke 9.54-56, NKJV)

Now if the Son of Man did not come to destroy men, and the Father is just like the Son, then it is clear that the Father does not come to destroy men.  The Father is not the destroyer.  Now I know that often in the Old Testament it looks like destruction and disasters are being ascribed to God, but we know that this cannot be so because we understand that the Father is just like Christ.

When Jesus’ disciples asked to burn down a village, they thought they were being like God, but they misunderstood God, because Jesus – the image of the Father – showed them that He and the Father are not like that.  He stated that the desire to destroy others is a different spirit from the spirit of Christ.  The Father is not a different spirit to Christ,the Father has no desire to destroy people.

Jesus was not saying here in Luke 9 that He had a different plan from His Father – well God tried being harsh in the Old Testament, now we are going to try and be nice – no, Jesus only did what He saw the Father do.  Jesus never saw the Father destroy people, not in the Scripture and not in their relationship (John 5.19).

If the Father did the sort of destructive behaviour that some people claim He is, then Jesus would have said “Hey James and hey John, what a great idea, let’s torch the place”, but He didn’t – He got right on top of His disciples and said “I am not here to destroy”.  We need to realize this – God is not the destroyer.

One of the most powerful Scriptures in the Bible emphasises this so strongly:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. – John 3.16-17. KJV.

Now the perishing here is the same Greek word as destroy in Luke 9.56 (apollumi).  The Father wants to stop the world, and stop every human, from being destroyed.  That is why He sent Jesus.   So where does destruction come from?  Well, keep reading John 3:

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. – John 3.18-19 KJV

The world is already heading towards destruction – that is the simple fact of the matter.  The world was already on the road to hell and so were you.  Jesus was sent by the Father to save it from self-destruction.  If God was the destroyer, then God sent Jesus to save the world from God.  That is nonsense.  So if it looks like God is destroying in the Old Testament, we will have to dig deeper because we can see that God is not the destroyer.

The condemnation and destruction in the world are because it has rejected Jesus, men keep hold of sin, refuse to turn to the one redeemer there is, and they are destroying themselves by their selfish actions.  In 2 Peter 2.1 Peter says that false prophets and false teachers “bring upon themselves swift destruction”.  God is not even destroying false prophets, they are destroying themselves.  Hosea 13.9 says “O Israel, you have destroyed yourself”.  There is destruction in the world, there are disasters in the world – not because God is a big destroyer, but because the world denies God and rejects God and He is the only one who can stop us destroying ourselves!

God does not destroy us – He delivers us from our destructions (Psalm 107.20).  It is not because of God that people are destroyed, it’s because they choose sin.  Men choose to sun and choose to bring all sorts of destruction upon themselves.  God sends His Word to heal us, not to harm us.  Even in the midst of our selfish self-destruction, God sends His Word to save us and help us.

Hosea 4.6 tells us people are destroyed for lack of knowledge because they rejected knowledge.  So, that’s not God destroying them there either.  People are ignorant of God and selfish and that behaviour is destroying people.  Now Hosea 4.6 gives us a big clue to how God deals with that kind of selfish behaviour, continuing with “I will also reject you, that you shall not be my priest… I will forget your children”.  Now, that is not God being vindictive, harsh, or judgmental.  Not at all, it is just God showing love and grace – God does all He can to show us love and kindness and redeem us, but if we walk away from Him, He will never force us to come back, He will never make us turn to Him, He will never force us into His arms.  That is not love, that is coercion.  God does all He can to rescue the sinful humans, but when we reject Him, He has to step back from us.

If God forced His will on us, God would be the worst dictator the world ever knew.  But God gives us the freedom to choose, the freedom to sin, the freedom to reject Him.  Love cannot be something that is forced, and the blessings that flow from love cannot be forced on someone.  If you want to remain ignorant of God and His goodness, God will let you!

But The Bible Says God Destroyed This Person Or That Person

So, we now having built our foundation have to deal with the fact that there are definitely more than one Scripture in the Old Testament that at face-value ascribes destruction to God.  But when we interpret the Word properly, we will see what this means.  Let’s start with a familiar Scripture in Ezekiel first:

30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 22.30-31, KJV)

Now what the passage says is that no-one stood in the gap to stop God destroying the land, so He destroyed it with wrath.  It is interesting to think that if you take these verses at face-value that God needs someone to stop Him destroying the land – He must find a person in the world to stop Him?  If God does not want to destroy the land and God is the destroyer, why not just not destroy it?   Maybe the answer is not what it first appears.

If we understand that in Hebrew what looks like causative language in English is very often what we would cause permissive language, then we can understand this Scripture and similar ones better.  God is letting the destruction happen, because people choose darkness, but God is not causing the destruction, God is not the destroyer, God is love.  God is just like Jesus.

How exactly was the destruction coming in the days of Ezekiel?  To find out, just go back one chapter and read Eze. 21.31: “I will pour out my wrath upon thee, and I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath… and deliver you into the hand of brutish men and skilful to destroy”.  God is not destroying – the brutish men are destroying, because the people of God chose the brutish men over God!

When you turn your back on God and push Him out of your life, then He is not there to protect and deliver you from the brutish elements of this world.  God is not the destroyer, and you need to realize it.

Isaiah 34.2 backs this up by telling us that people who the Lord destroys are delivered over to other armies to be slaughtered.  The Lord was not the destroyer, but the people rejected God and there was therefore no protection from the armies.  The word “deliver” comes from the Hebrew word “nathan” which means to permit.  God permitted it, because He loves us so much He will never force Himself on us, but He is not the destroyer.  When we turn our back on God and reject Him, God withdraws His grace and lets the sinner walk into their own selfish behaviour and the consequences of it.  God did not harden Pharoah’s heart – He allowed it to be hardened.  If we are obstinate before God He will allow us to walk wherever we want into whatever we want.

God permitting a nation to be invaded by another nation is what the Scriptures are referring to and talking about when God “destroys” a nation.  In the Hebrew language, it looks like it is saying “God destroys a nation”, but the truth is that God is not destroying anything, He is allowing it to take place by not forcing His protection and love onto an individual or community that is clearly rejecting His love and Him.

This is why in Ezekiel God was looking for a man to legally invite Him into the earth and stop the destruction.  His will is not destruction, He doesn’t want destruction, He is not the destroyer.  He is looking for someone to pray and turn to Him so He can show love that is genuine love and not coercion and save people.  If no one stands in the gap, then God has no choice but to allow it – He must permit what we permit (Matt. 18.18-20).

This is so important we grasp this, and Eze. 22.31 actually says “their own way have I recompensed upon their heads”.  People went their own way, and recompense here is the same Hebrew word “nathan” – God is allowing – not bringing – destruction. Satan is the destroyer.

Satan is the Destroyer

Satan is real and he is a destroyer.  Satan does not work for God, because God does not destroy, and satan does.  There is no developed information on satan in the Old Testament, he is only mentioned six times, and most of them are in Job.  So, we sometimes do not realize his role in a destruction.   But he is the same satan in the Old as he is in the New: the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy.  He came to destroy Job.  Why?  He was annoyed how much praise Job gave God, and was envious and jealous.

God removed His protection because Job was pushing God away, through fear.  Satan attacked Job, not God.  Satan destroyed Job’s family and businesses and health, not God.

But Job did not know that – Job had never read Job, Job had never read John 10.10, he did not have a Bible.  So Job assumed God gave and God took away, but it is just not true.  Every good gift is from God, and His giving is without repentance – so therefore, He does not give and take away.  He gives and does not take away.    When satan destroys Job with a natural disaster, Job calls it the fire of God.  People still make the same mistake today, and ascribe the work of God to satan!  Satan destroyed Job’s property, but the people called it the fire of God.  Even today, if you get insurance they talk about natural disasters as acts of God.  No they are acts of satan!  God is still being blamed for things He did not do.

Now while there is no excuse for a born-again Christian who has a Bible for blaming God for destruction, but let us not be too hard on the people of Job’s day who knew nothing of satan.  God says that satan moved Him to destroy Job without cause (Job 2.3) but God’s only part to play was to not protect Job and allowed satan to destroy.  The NLT realizes this and translates Job 2.3 as “I allowed you to go against him”, and labels satan as the destroyer.  This is how we need to interpret every time we see God labelled as the destroyer in Scripture – in the Old Testament and in the book of Revelation.

In the book of Revelation, we find out the four creatures are holding back the wind.  They are actively working for God in holding back destruction (Revelation 7.1-3).  They are holding back the winds of destruction and stopping them from blowing.  The angel tells them not to hurt the earth until God’s servants are sealed.  How would these angels hurt the earth?  Not by getting in there and destroying – but by releasing their restraint of destruction and allowing the wind to do the destruction it would have always done had they not been there.

God does not engage in destruction, He is not the destroyer.  When we read Biblical langauge attributing destruction to God, we need to utilize this principle and understand what is actually happening: God is being ascribed actions that He has only stood back and let happen due to his respect and love for humans and His refusal to force His way into them.  In further posts, I will show how this is true throughout Scripture.  Every disaster ascribed to God is actually caused by the evil duo sin and satan, and it is unrepentant sin that drives out God from situations that leads to satan and death rushing in to destroy.  God is not the destroyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 01: Three Fundamental Truths

2

Image result for hurricane"

Last Sunday when preaching I mentioned that God did not flood the earth, and that God is not a destroyer.  I would have assumed that such simple truths that God is love and God is good would not be controversial, but they are.  So we need to examine these things in the light of Scripture and find out what the Bible actually says rather than what we assume it says.

So to build a foundation, I want to ensure that you are aware of three fundamental truths that everyone needs to be aware of when it comes to interpreting the Word of God.

  1. The Father is Exactly Like Jesus
  2. The Old Testament writings were about Jesus
  3. Therefore, God is not a destroyer

The Father is Exactly Like Jesus

Jesus told us very clearly that if you have seen Him you have seen the Father (John 14.8-9), so we can be very definite that if you want to know what God is really like – we look at Jesus.   If you have ever taught someone the Scripture you know what it is like to teach something and then someone says something that shows that they just do not get it.  Well, you are in good company.  Jesus said if you have seen Him you can see the Father, and Philip asked “Show us the Father”.  Jesus realized that people did not see God the same way they saw Him, and it is still the same way today.

Some people think Jesus is kind and loving, and the Father is harsh and destructive, ready to show wrath and judgment any day now.  These ideas come because we do not understand what the Old Testament is really about.  Jesus came to show a Father who was just like Him.  If Jesus is gentle, the Father is gentle.  If Jesus is kind, the Father is kind.  If Jesus is merciful, the Father is merciful.  If Jesus heals, the Father heals.  If Jesus forgives all sins, the Father forgives all sins.

The Father is not a wrathful vengeful God that Jesus came to rescue us from! No way!  The Father sent Jesus because of how much love the Father has for us (John 3.16) because the Father is kind, compassionate, loving.  The Father would have died for us just as much as Jesus would have.

If the Father had come to earth as a man instead of Jesus, the gospels would not have been different!  Jesus did nothing that teh Father did not do, in fact the Father was healing, was delivering, was prospering people through Jesus.  Every act of compassion Jesus did, the Father was working through Him (John 14.10-11).

If you see Jesus, you will know that the Father is good, loving, healing, protecting, kind, against satan, against evil, against sickness, against hurting people.  Jesus and the Father are one (John 10.30-32).

Jesus healed the sick, Jesus cast out devils, Jesus fed the hungry, Jesus gave money to the poor, Jesus forgave sins, Jesus died for us so we could go to heaven.  In John 10, Jesus says that His good works “show the Father”.  That is the natuer of God.  Jesus and the Father are one.  God does good works and God undoes the evil of the devil.

Satan is the killer and the destroyer.  God is not the killer and not the destroyer (John 10.10).  The Father only came to bring us good, to bring us life, to help us, to bless us. The devil only comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Satan’s biggest steal as the thief is he stole from us the simple trust we had in the goodness of God by blaming God for His destructive works.  Jesus never killed, He saved.  Jesus never sent a demon, He cast them out.  Jesus never sent a natural disaster, He rebuked them!  And that is what the Father looks like.

That the Father is revealed by Jesus – Jesus is the Word – the message of the Father to us, He is the revealer of the Father, and this truth is fundamental to Scripture.  Satan is the evil one who makes peopel sick and murders people and brings death and destruction. God gives up His own life to rescue us.  Satan sifts us, but Jesus prays for us!  The Father gives us the Word, the devil tries to steal it.  Can you see how different they are?  The devil is the cause of evil in the world, not God.  Do not confuse the two.

The Old Testament is About Jesus

If you ask the average Christian what the Old Testament is about, you will hear a lot of answers about geneaologies, Moses, the law, and so on.  Those things are all in the Old Testament, but they are not what it is about.  The Old Testament is about Jesus.

When Jesus rose again, He had to explain this to His disciples:

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24.25-27)

When the disciples realized the Old Testament was all about Jesus, about His death, His burial, His resurrection, the stopped being discouraged and started to get on fire – their hearts started to burn.  When you realize that the Old Testament does not present a destructive, evil God, your heart will catch fire with love for Him too!

When you realize the Old Testament is all abou Jesus, and that Jesus is the key to interpreting the Old Testament, and understanding the Father.  We are not supposed to neglect the Old Testament, we are supposed to read it realizing it is about Jesus.

Satan is the god of this world, and according to 2 Cor. 4.4, he has blinded people’s minds.  One of the most blinding thoughts is the idea that God is a harsh judge, rather than a kind Father.  In fact 2 Cor. 4.4 says that people’s minds are blinded by satan so that they do not see the gospel of Christ “who is the image of God”.  That is the issue – Jesus is the image of God.  The CSV says that Christ “shows us what God is like”.  That is how we need to find out what God is like – by looking to Jesus.

When God was giving His Word to the prophets, satan was trying to distort it to stop people realizing God was like Jesus. Jesus is the good news, and the Father is just like Him – so the Father is good news.

Adam lost eternity in his spirit when he fell, and he stopped automatically understanding God, and the first thing he did as a fallen man is hide from God.  Satan uses our fallen spirit and its built-in fear of God to distort our image of God and twist our understanding of God into a scary monster, a destroyer, a world-flooder, a cancer-giver, a hater, a wrathful vengeful deity.  But the truth is that God is, and always will be, just like Jesus.  The Son of Man came to give us an understanding of God (1 John 5.18-20).  Satan is the wicked one, and the evil one, God is true and pure and good.  God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (John 1.5).

Jesus had to come and show us the Father because there is so much misinformation about God in the world, so much that even today in the church people believe!  Light is good and God is light and God is good and the devil is darkness and evil.  It is that simple.

God is Not a Destroyer

Jesus never hurt anyone.  He healed people.  He delivered people.  But He never hurt anyone. He is good, and the Father is just like Him.  The Father does not hurt people.  The Father does not destroy people.  The Father is love, is good, is Christ-like!

Satan steals, kills and destroys (John 10.10) and Satan makes people sick and satan causes natural disasters and satan has conned most of the human race, and – so sadly – most Christians – into thinking that God does those things.  Jesus came to the planet to set the record straight.  Jesus came to show men that God just is not like that.  God does not kill, God does not send devils, God does not destroy, God does not send natural disasters.

If natural disasters are the will of God, why are they not in heaven?  Why did Jesus rebuke storms rather than start them?  The will of God is so explicit in Scripture – God wants no one to perish (2 Peter 3.9).  So, someone perishing, in a flood, in a fire, in an earthquake is not God.  God is not in the earthquake, He never was and never will be.  Satan is the wicked one.

When you grasp this, you start to realize that God never does anything to inflict misery.  God is the one who came to set us free from misery.  God blesses, God does not curse.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which in heaven give good things to them that ask Him.  Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets (Matt. 7.11-12).

Do you see here that Jesus connects the law and the prophets to God being a good Father who only gives good gifts. That is the picture of the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, we find out that:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights (James 1.17)

When you take an evil thing – cancer, poverty, a flood, an earthquake, whatever – and rationalize that God did it to make it reach a higher good, that this evil is a “blessing in disguise”, you are contradicting Scripture, you are doing the opposite of Jesus.  Jesus says that His Father will not treat His children worse than a human father!

Using the character of the Father as an example, Jesus tells us that this is how we should behave – like the Father.  That, says Jesus, is the foundation of the teaching of the Law and the Prophets.  All ideas about God that make Him appear to be bringing evil are not the teaching of the Law and the Prophets – they are just a twisted understanding of it.

This is another reason why we have to reject the teaching of God as capricious and doing evil – because God is love and tells us to follow His example of love.  If we followed some teachers ideas about God and what love is, to be loving we would have to be putting cancer on people, making them have accidents, and placing them in tempting situations!

We know that if we did those things to humans we would not be loving, we would be evil.  It is not love to kill someone’s child and leave a mum and dad without a child, so you could have an extra flower in your garden, or allow a teenage girl to be raped so she can have a great ministry to other rape victims, or throw a two-year old girl a mile with a hurricane to teach people about how great we are.  If we did those things, we would be locked up.  We know this is not love, but I have heard people say these things about God!  That God would do things that He then would not want us to do – that sane people would never want to do, that sane people should never believe a loving God would ever do.

This is why Jesus showed us the Father – so we could see a real picture of Father God.  God is not harming people.  He wants to bless us and set us free from satan.  He will not even give us a stone instead of giving us bread, and He certainly will not give us snakes or scorpions.  Jesus never failed to heal someone, never failed to help someone, never put disease on someone, never caused a natural disaster.  Ever!  He does not do evil, He does good.  And the Father is the same.  When you pray, you can believe and rest in peace that God will only do good.  Reject the devil and stand against satan, and submit to God and His goodness.

We have to realize deeply that there is not a contradiction between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament.  We just have failed to see what God is like in the Old Testament.  It is the same God, the problem is not contradiction, it is faulty interpretation.  God did not change, He never changes.  We have just misunderstood some Scriptures in the Old Testament, and one of the main missions of the Lord is to show us what the Father was really like and to dispel these false ideas of God.

Every time Jesus healed, every time He rebuked a storm, loved and forgave He was showing us the true picture of His Father.

So when we study the Word, especially the Old Testament, we have to interpret it all in the light of Jesus being the image of the Father.  If you think a Bible verse said God lied to someone, God deceived someone, God killed someone, God made someone sick, God destroyed someone, you have to press pause and think “Is this what Jesus would do?  Is this the Father that Jesus came to reveal to us?”

If the answer is no, it’s not what Jesus would do, it is not Christ-like behaviour, then you have made a mistake with your interpretation.  We will in the next few posts get into some specific examples and give you some keys to interpreting the Old Testament.  God is not destructive.

The Will of the King

3

The Queen has just allowed Harry to step down from some of his royal expectations. She has also made it clear that’s not her perfect will and purpose. The Queen is a lot wiser than Harry, and has a lot more life experience and more experience in royalty. Doing what she suggested would bring a much better life for her grandchild.

We are children of the King, which brings immense privilege, but also immense responsibility.

Some of you have been stepping down from your royal expectations, you want the best bits of being a child of God, but you really want to your thing, not the King’s thing. He has a great plan for you, that will bring you into His best, His greatest. Always be careful when God allows something while expressing out loud it’s not His first choice. Honour dictates you press pause and listen to God, go behind the public face, worship Him as Father, trust His wisdom. His experience. His judgement, and find out what really would please Him, what would really be the sweet spot He has for you. It will take time, take faith, take sacrifice, take labour, but it will be worth it like nothing else in life is worth it.

Healing Leaves 03: We Must Do What We Can’t

0

Image result for the man with the withered hand"

Faith is how we please God and faith is how we receive from God and faith is how we do what God wants.  We need to believe that Jesus Christ is real, is on our side, and that He loves us.  We need to believe in His work on the cross.  In fact, to believe in Jesus Christ, according to Scripture, is our work.  That is the work Jesus has for all of us.  As you believe, the main work, the key work, then you start to – energized and motivated by that faith – do all the other works of a believer.

It is inevitable when you believe that you do the works of a believer as faith without works is dead.  Living faith works, living faith does things, living faith moves.  You can always see living faith as it is always moving and always producing.  The work of God is that you believe (John 6.29), and this is something that we need to make clear to people – faith is work, not play.  It can be very hard work to believe in Jesus sometimes.

If there was ever a man who should have just expected to have children easily, it was Isaac.  His father had raised him with stories about his supernatural birth, and the covenant of God that was his covenant too – children like sand, children like stars.  But that was not the immediate manifestation in his life – no he had to pray and entreat the Lord for his wife (Genesis 25.21), who was barren for decades, before Esau and Jacob were conceived and born.  The blessing on its own was not enough – Isaac had to believe it in a way that produced prayer, words, movement, life.  You need to have living faith!

Faith turns promises into facts.  But you have to work the work of faith, you have to meditate on the Word, speak the Word, speak to the mountain, deal with unbelief, you have to pray and belief. A lot of Christians just pray, and do not belief, that’s like trying to run a marathon with one leg lifted in the air, just hopping and hopping and hopping and praying.  It will not work.  You must believe in Jesus Christ, that He will do what He has promised.  You must eagerly expect God’s will to manifest in your life in a way that changes what you say and do.  That is the work of faith that we all need to do.

Isaac had to do it to walk in the blessing of Abraham and so do you.  Let’s look at a man in the New Covenant who had to add some faith to his walk:

On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him. (Luke 6.6-11, NLT)

This man grabbed hold of his healing even though his hand was deformed!  We need to not just pray but grab hold of our healing by faith, by expectation, by hope, by believing.

I love this story so much because there is absolutely no environment for healing here.  It is great when there are other believers around, people who create a corporate expectation for healing.  But it is not necessary!   In this room, filled with the enemies of Jesus, filled with people wild with rage, filled with people watching closely with cynicism in their hearts, in this room Jesus healed this man!

In this scene the scribes and Pharisees are doing the work of their real father and master, the devil.  So how did Jesus get this man to exercise faith?  Through working!  Faith has works.  Jesus told the man to get up and stand in front of everyone.  Jesus accepted the challenge that faith can work in the midst of doubt, in the midst of hatred, in the midst of rage, in the midst of cynicism.  I have done miracles in the worst environments, so has Jesus, and so can you!

Then Jesus gives the man a faith-challenge: hold out your hand.  That is not something this man can do.  Faith is not doing what you can, faith is doing what you cannot.  I have never just done what I can, I have been doing what I cannot – with money and energy I don’t have, but God has always come through when I stepped out.  You need to learn to step forward and do the impossible.  Jesus asked this man to do something he could not do – it was a faith-challenge.

Everyone of us gets faith challenges from Jesus – He tells all of us to do impossible things.  The first impossible thing He told you was “You must be born again”.  What a Lord and Saviour – He tells us “you must be born again”, when we cannot be born again.  We can’t be born again but we must be born again. So we have to believe in His work and work at believing on Him, then we receive the new birth that we could never achieve.

It is the same mechanics in healing.  This man could not hold out his hand, his arm was deformed.  But, Jesus told him to hold out his hand.  So he had to believe in the words of Jesus, believe in the work of Jesus, and do what he could not do.

It is remarkable how Jesus loves to give us impossible instructions, and this is equally true in the area of healing.  Not just healing – He tells us to “Be holy” (1 Peter 1.16) and we can’t – not without believing in His work.  You can’t do it, but He commands it so we must!

So Jesus makes a faith-challenge for this man – do what you cannot do.  And he obeys Jesus and did it.  He rose to the challenge, accepted the challenge and beat the challenge.  Just like you can when the word of Jesus comes to you – you are healed by His stripes – so stretch out your hand, stand on your feet, eat that dinner, go for that run, get up and go to work, get out of bed.  Whatever you cannot do, you must do!   That is the faith-challenge.

Jesus said hold out your hand.  He couldn’t do that, but he did do that, and his hand was restored.  How did he do the impossible – the word of God is to believe on Him who God has sent (John 6.29).  He believed God and did the impossible and received his healing.  Do you know this man’s name?  No, and nor do I, but he received his healing with ease when he decided to believe God and do the impossible, and you can too.  You are no different from this guy, not at all.

With God all things are possible, and to him who believes all things are possible – so when you believe you move into the realm where God moves and God heals and God transforms.  It’s the realm of omnipotence.

Today, think about impossible things, think about doing them, build an internal image of success – which is hope, then add some faith and substance to that hope by stretching out your hand and watching your miracle happen.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: