March 20, 2005 ©Homer Kizer
Commentary — From the Margins
A Son Honors His Father
The prophet Malachi delivered the words of YHWH to Israel after completion of the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem. In this oracle, he writes, ‘"Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel’" (Mal 4:4). The law delivered at Horeb or Sinai made the circumcised nation that left Egypt the holy nation of God (Exod 19:5-6) if the nation would obey the Logos’ voice and keep the covenant of the One who spoke from atop Sinai. The elders and the people of the nation committed the nation to obedience (v. 8), but the nation never obeyed, not even the generation that left Egypt or their children (Ezek 20:4-8, 13, 18-21). They broke the covenant by which the nation was made holy. They were sent into captivity within their own land, but still they did not return to the covenant for more than a generation. Saul and David liberated the nation, but Solomon broke the covenant because of his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:3-11). The nation was divided. Both houses broke covenant, and were sent into captivity in foreign lands. The northern house of Israel never returns to Judea as a nation. The southern house of Judah, after seventy years, sent a remnant back to rebuild the temple—and that remnant was still breaking covenant when the prophet Malachi delivered the oracle entrusted to him. The nation seemed utterly incapable of loving YHWH, Israel’s Elohim with all of its heart and mind. Another covenant was needed (Jer 31:31-34), for the Logos, born as the man Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1-3, 14), said that none of the Pharisees kept the law of Moses (John 7:19). Thus, the covenant or law that made a division between Circumcised and Uncircumcised, a division based in the flesh, based in the clipped foreskin of male Hebrews, was abolished (Eph 2:15) when the circumcised nation killed the One who spoke at Horeb. The Logos spoke as the voice of YHWH, Israel’s Elohim (Exod 20:3).
But YHWH, Israel’s Elohim, had already made an additional or second covenant, beside the covenant made at Horeb, with the uncircumcised children (Josh 5:2-7) of the nation that left Egypt. This second covenant, also mediated by Moses, was made at Moab (Deu 29:1), and the Apostle Paul cites this covenant as the righteousness that comes by faith (Rom 10:6-8), for the essence of this second covenant is that after the blessing and curses come upon Israel, and the nation finds itself far from Judea, if the nation will then turn to its Elohim and love its Elohim with all of its heart and keep its Elohim’s commandments, then its Elohim will bring it back to Judea and give it a circumcised heart and naphesh [mind] (Deu 30:6). This is the basis for the covenant about which Jeremiah prophesied. This is the physical shadow of the spiritual second covenant, for fulfilling this covenant requires the righteousness that comes by faith. It is on the basis of this covenant that Israel knew that obtaining everlasting life was possible (Luke 10:25 & 18:18). What had been lost by the descendants of the remnant that returned from Babylon was the righteousness that comes by faith. The Apostle Paul writes,
What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel, who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching the law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. (Rom 9:30-32 emphasis added)
The law (Deu 30:11) or second covenant should have lead Israel into righteousness, but the nation focused on the physical requirements of the law, and as a result, the nation sought righteousness by works, by the actions of the hand and the body. The descendants of the remnant that had returned to Judea did not, while in a foreign land (for they were never in a foreign land), return by faith to keeping the commandments, did not return by faith to the covenant, did not by faith begin to love their Elohim. They were born into a nation that by tradition pursued righteousness by the actions of the hand and of the body.
Loving Israel’s Elohim means keeping everything written in Deuteronomy (v. 10) by faith. And Moses said, ‘"The Lord [YHWH] our God [Elohim] made a covenant with us at Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today’" (5:2-3). Those who were then alive were the uncircumcised children that would be physically circumcised once they crossed the Jordan on the 10th of the first month to be penned in the promised land as paschal lambs of God. By killing the Grantor of the covenant that made them the holy nation of God, they too were sacrificed at Calvary, sacrificed to death under the law, thereby allowing the glorified Christ Jesus to marry another (Rom 7:1-4), and for disciples to bear fruit for the Father. The Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness but obtained it by faith were made spiritually circumcised through receipt of the Holy Spirit. They would not have left off being sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2-3) unless they were drawn by the Father (John 6:44, 65) and called by Christ Jesus (John 15:16). They were not seeking righteousness, but following along with those who run to riot. Most drawn disciples today were not seeking righteousness but were pursing the pleasures of the world. Yet righteousness was obtained by faith, by turning from the ways of the world and beginning to live as disciples, live as Jesus lived, live as spiritual Judeans. The person born in Judea, physical or spiritual, still must pursue righteousness by faith rather than as a work of the hand and body. This is why Jesus told the lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan as an answer to the question of who was the lawyer’s neighbor (Luke 10:26-37) and why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give to the poor (Luke 18:22). Keeping the commandments with the hand and with the body when born into the cultural expectation of commandment keeping is not seeking righteousness by faith. Turning from what the person has been doing and seeking godliness becomes the fulfillment of the second covenant.
The visible, circumcised nation of Israel, its history, its covenants, its prophecies, its captivity—all form the shadow of the invisible, spiritually circumcised nation of Israel; i.e., of the holy nation (1 Pet 2:9) composed of disciples of Christ Jesus. Circumcised Israelites form the shadow of the old man within every person, regardless of whether the body is male or female. The dwellings of these ancient circumcised Israelites, houses in Egypt and tents in the wilderness, correspond to the physical bodies in which the crucified old man, and the child born-from-above jointly dwell (2 Cor 5:1-5) for a while, dwell until the old man weakens, loses his breath and dies. Again, these temporary tabernacles may be plumbed male or female, but the new creature born-from-above is a son of God, a one-off creation of the Father, for those who have put on Christ are neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free (Gal 3:26-28). The new creature dwelling within every temporary tabernacle is a son, with all of the rights of a son, including the right to speak the words of the Father. For in the visible shadow, circumcision was only of the male. In the invisible reality, spiritual circumcision is of the heart, is of the inner self, and is not of the outer tabernacle, what the Apostle Paul understood but what the circumcision faction never could grasp.
The circumcised nation that left Egypt died in the wilderness because of unbelief. The crucified old man dies because of unbelief—unless a person is born of Spirit, the person is hostile to God, and cannot submit to the law of God (Rom 8:7). Again, the person consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32) will not leave the world until born of Spirit. Only then will a person begin to love God with all of this son’s heart and mind. So within the tabernacle of flesh of every disciple, the crucified old man weakens until dead, and the born-from-above son of God matures through infancy, into adolescence, teenage and finally reaches his majority at glorification. Spiritual maturity, however, isn’t time-linked. Some disciples remain infants for an excessively long period, while others zip through these early stages of development.
Again, visible, physically circumcised Israelite males form the shadow of the invisible, spiritually circumcised new man that is a son of God, born-from-above and dwelling within a tent of flesh, some plumbed male, some female. The disciple who speaks or teaches as a male, or as a female speaks or teaches physically, not spiritually. This person remains too immature to be a teacher of Israel.
Visible, physically circumcised sons of Israel form the shadow of the invisible, spiritually circumcised sons of God. Physical Israelite fathers, by extension, form the shadow of the God and Father of every disciple (John 20:17). And the oracle of the prophet Malachi concludes with the following:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. (Mal 4:5-6)
The Elijah of King Ahab’s day was a visible, physically circumcised Israelite, just as were Moses, Joshua, and King David. But the David to come will be a spiritual prince (Ezek 37:24-26). Likewise, the Elijah to come was foreshadowed by John the Baptist, but the reality is the glorified Christ Jesus working through human beings [plural]. And this Elijah to come will, as the glorified high priest of Israel, turn the hearts of sons of God to the Father.
As there was a first Adam and a last Adam (1 Cor 15:45) so are there a first Eve and a last Eve, who is spiritual Zion (Isa 66:7-9). The first Adam was physical; the first Eve was of Adam and was physical. The last Adam was a life giving spirit; the last Eve is the Church, created when the glorified Jesus breathed on ten of His disciples and said, ‘"Receive the Holy Spirit’" (John 20:22). The first Adam and the first Eve, created on the sixth day (Gen 1:27), did not enter Elohim’s rest just as the nation that left Egypt did not enter into its Elohim's rest because of unbelief (Heb 3:19 & Ps 95:10-11). The first Eve saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She determined that this fruit was good for food and was desirable, and she ate what had been forbidden; she believed the serpent rather than her Elohim. And her unbelief needed to be covered—her husband was her covering for disobedience, for she was of him. Thus, when she gave the fruit to her husband and he ate, sin entered the world (Rom 5:12), for Adam was of God. His only covering for sin was his obedience to God. So with Adam’s disobedience came nakedness, and in the cool of the evening of the sixth day, Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of God before they could eat of the tree of life (Gen 3:22-24), before they could enter into the rest of God.
The last Adam also bears the lawlessness of the last Eve, but the last Adam had to be made sin at Calvary for He was obedient to death. He covered his nakedness with obedience.
The first Eve believed the serpent when it said that she would not die (Gen 3:4). From her acceptance of this lie came her determination of good and evil that caused her to be cursed: ‘"I [Elohim — singular in usage] will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bear bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you"’ (v. 16). This pronouncement is poetic in structure.
The abiding characteristic of Hebraic poetry is narrative repetition. Lines form couplets of thought rather than linguistically rhymed couplets. In Scripture, these thought couplets are structured outside, inside. The first presentation of the thought is physical, or of the body. Its mated presentation is inside, or spiritual, or of the mind and heart. The first presentation forms the visible, physical shadow of its invisible, spiritual mate. The first presentation and its mated spiritual presentation suggest meaning should be taken by typological exegesis. The linguistic structure of Hebraic poetry virtually dictates how meaning should be taken from the text. Therefore, Elohim’s pronouncement against Eve suggests both a curse upon the physically female descendants of Eve, as well as a curse on the spiritually female descendant [singular in nature] of Eve, or the last Eve.
The first presentation of the thought (I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing) pertains to the natural or to the physical; i.e., to the biologically female descendants of Eve. The second presentation of the same thought (in pain you shall bring forth children) pertains to the spiritual Eve; i.e., the Church.
The prophet Isaiah in the oracle given him writes, ‘"Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son’" (Isa 66:7). In the first presentation of the thought (Before she was in labor she gave birth), the birth is of a land: ‘"Shall a land be born in one day’" (v. 8). In the second presentation (before her pain came upon her she delivered a son), the son is a nation: ‘"Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment"’ (same verse). The land is the physical nation of Israel, the woman who delivers the male child "who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Rev 12:5). The son is this male child, Christ Jesus, who "was caught up to God and to his throne" (same verse). And together the thought couplet of Isaiah 66:7 becomes the first presentation of a mating thought couplet: ""For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children"’ (v. 8). The old dragon pursues the remnant of these children, disciples who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17).
The last Eve’s pain in childbirth becomes the labor pains of bringing many sons of God to glory, becomes the seven endtime years of tribulation, with the first great contraction being the liberation of the spiritually circumcised nation. But it is the second thought couplet of Elohim’s pronouncement against Eve (Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you) that pertains most directly to the oracle given the prophet Malachi, for the first Adam was the husband of the first Eve while the last Adam will become, at the wedding supper of the Lamb, the husband of the last Eve. The relationship presently is as was the relationship between Joseph and Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus. The conception of disciples is through the Holy Spirit, given by the Father. To disciples, Christ Jesus is elder brother, high priest, and husband to be. He is not their Father. But the curse pronounced against Eve is that her desire would be for her husband, and not for her Father. Her husband would rule over her—Christ Jesus is the head of the Church and rules over the Church. But Jesus, when resurrected as the reality of the wave Sheaf Offering, ascended to His God and His Father, to our God and our Father (again, John 20:17).
The Elijah to come will turn the hearts of children to their fathers and vice versa. If this does not happen, the land will be struck with utter destruction. If the sons of God do not have their hearts turned toward God the Father, and if His heart is turned away from them because of them ignoring or denying Him, then He will strike the land with utter destruction. The work of the Elijah to come is physical as well as spiritual, for the hearts of the sons of God today are turned toward their elder brother and high priest, not turned toward their Father. Their desire is for their elder brother who is also (collectively) their husband to be, not for their Father. They pray to their elder brother, not to their Father. They sing praises to their elder brother. They worship their elder brother who is worthy of worship, but who is not their Father.
The work of the Elijah to come is the same work that the man Jesus of Nazareth did; i.e., to reveal the Father to disciples. Jesus said, ‘"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him"’ (John 4:23). The physically circumcised nation of Israel never knew the Father. They knew only the Logos, Theos, born as the man Jesus. They knew the Spokesman, or Word—the voice of their Elohim. Likewise, the spiritually circumcised nation of Israel, with a few individuals as exceptions, knows only the Logos, born as the man Jesus. They know only the Word. They do not know the Father, their God. Therefore, they worship the Son. They assign personhood to His Breath, and worship what they do not know. They are spiritually as the physical nation was when it worshiped sticks and stones instead of its Elohim. They do not worship their Elohim, their Father and God. Their desire is, indeed, for their husband, not for their Father.
All disciples are to honor the Son as they honor the Father (John 5:23). They are not to honor the Son instead of honoring the Father, as has occurred since the spiritually circumcised nation was sent into mental captivity in spiritual Babylon. When the elders of the Church asked a pagan Roman emperor to determine sound doctrine at the Council of Nicea (ca. 325), the Church acknowledged its servitude to the spiritual king of Babylon (Isa 14:4-21). It was taken captive, just as Nebuchadnezzar took the physical nation of Israel captive (once a division of the nation went into captivity, it ceased being recognized as Israel, a practice that went on until Israel was reduced to the polis at Jerusalem — Ezek 12:8-10).
The work of the Elijah to come will include overturning the errant doctrine of the trinity, the error of a triune deity that has the Breath of the Father being equal to the Father. This doctrine has turned the hearts of the sons of God away from their Father, meaning that the continued acceptance of this doctrine is enough to cause the Father to strike the land with utter destruction. For this doctrine also turns His heart away from those who assign personhood to His Breath [Pneuma ’Agion]. Disciples need to ask themselves how they would feel if their breath [psuche] were mistaken for the person, or how they would feel if a young son thought his older brother were his father. This is the scenario presently at work within greater Christendom. Thankfully, the Father’s thoughts and ways are higher than human thoughts and ways. If they were not, He would have long ago tired of the insolence of disciples who sing praises to His Breath.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."