June 30, 2007 ©Homer
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Commentary — From the Margins
What Did You Expect to See?
What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
Christ Jesus’ comments about John the Baptist (Matt 11:7-9).
Much of what Americans do is work to meet the expectations of their neighbors, the proverbial keeping up with the Jones. A person does not expect to see food-bearing plants growing in front yards of homes in suburbia. The person expects mowed grass, and he or she gets mowed grass. And this meeting of expectations is quietly reassuring to neighbors: the person is “okay” for he or she does not differ from what is expected.
Jesus of Nazareth did not meet the expectations of
John the Baptist (Matt 11:3); nor did John meet the expectations of the scribes
and Pharisees who journeyed out of
Recently, a pastor from
We have recently moved, and we are not yet settled
in the place to which we moved … the property was purchased with known
problems: water, plumbing, electricity, others. Thus, when our visitor from
With the temporary exceptions of Kings David and Solomon, go into Scripture and show where a person doing a work for God had great wealth. It is difficult although the former Worldwide Church of God (WCG) used to argue that Jesus had great wealth, the evidence of which was that when crucified His garment was not torn apart but had lots cast for it; plus, it was argued that Jesus must have had a house in Jerusalem where 120 persons could meet together in an upper room (Acts 1:15). Scripture, unfortunately, does not support the former WCG’s arguments.
Luke was a very careful historian. He names those
first disciples who were staying in an upper room in
As Jesus and His first disciples traveled
throughout the small geographical region that forms Galilee and Judea, Judas
Iscariot kept the money bag in which were the funds necessary to pay for food
and lodging … my guest from Kenya, again a minister seeking to supply the
needs of his ministry and the orphanage he operates, was (and will be for
another three and a half weeks) traveling around the eastern half of the United
States on faith. A trucker willing to support his ministry brought him from
My guest ate whatever he was served; Jesus and the
first disciples ate what was set before them by their hosts, and Scripture
confirms that those first disciples were at times hungry on the Sabbath. Plus,
Scripture mostly addresses only the beginning and the end of Jesus’
earthly ministry. For theological reasons, Scripture is nearly silent about
what happened during the middle years of Jesus’ ministry. So we
don’t know the source of the moneys in the moneybag. Possibly these
moneys initially came from the Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus that
were appropriate for a potential heir to the Parthian throne, a conjecture that
has some limited historical support. Regardless, the money bag was not so heavy
that it placed a physical burden on Judas Iscariot. There were not many kilos
of gold and silver in the bag, and gold’s purchasing power remains
surprisingly constant over time: the amount of gold that it takes to purchase a
bag of groceries has not appreciably changed. Thus, the moneys in the bag
needed to be regularly replenished, or very few purchases were made. And it was
probably the case that few purchases were made … my guest does not make
many purchases as he travels about. His reason for visiting the
If Jesus did not need a great amount of wealth to do His ministry, and if disciples are to do an even greater work during the Tribulations, then endtime disciples will also not need large amounts of money to do this greater work. And if these disciples will not need mega-millions to do a work for God, then these endtime disciples will not be flush with money. They will be hard pressed to meet their financial responsibilities, for one of their needs is to trust God to supply those things that they must have.
If endtime disciples are hard pressed to meet their financial responsibilities, they will also disappoint those who judge them by how many things they possess. They will not meet the expectations of the physically-minded.
In typology, the geographical
Because the northern house of
The pinnacle of Israel’s purity before God
was during the reign of King David, a man after God’s own heart, and was
specifically at the end of David’s reign when the king as poet reveals
that he understands that Yah is the
visible (to Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders of Israel) God of
Israel, the Theos of Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob (Matt 22:32). David reveals
that he knows Yah is the
“natural” or physical representation of the invisible YHWH, Theos & Theon together as one as if married (cf. Ps 146:1; 148:1, 149:1; John 1:1-2;
Gen 1:27; 2:24; John 17:20-23). It was the Logos
or Theos who came as His Son, His
only (John 3:16), in the form of the man Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14), and who
would be born again or born a second
time as the Son of Theon when the Holy
Spirit [Pneuma ’Agion]
descended as a dove, lit and remained on Him (Matt 3:16-17). So Jesus was the
only Son of Theos, and the firstborn
Son of Theon. And this is knowledge of God that would not return to
So at the end of David’s reign when
Israel’s geographical borders were the largest they would be—God
gave peace to Solomon so he did not make war to expand Israel’s
borders—Israel’s knowledge of God as represented by its
king’s knowledge was also at its maximum expansion.
Therefore, the splendor of Solomon is the visible, physical precursor of the invisible, spiritual splendor possessed by those endtime disciples who keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17) and who will not meet physical expectations in this world … the writer of Hebrews said, concerning the faithful of God,
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (11:36-38)
Elsewhere the Apostle Paul wrote,
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Tim 6:6-10)
If the righteous of God, of whom the world was not worthy, went about in skin garments and dwelt in caves, and if disciples should be content with food and clothing and should not seek after money or the riches of this world, then disciples of Christ Jesus will not often appear among the prosperous of this world. They will not be named among the rich and famous; they will, however, possess a wealth of faith and godliness, love and steadfastness, righteousness and gentleness (2 Tim 6:11). They will, in this world, possess the invisible attributes of God and not the visible trappings of kings and priests. Yes, priests! For the prophets and priests of the religions of this world, regardless of whether they identify themselves as Christian pastors or Islamic mullahs, will not and indeed cannot teach their followers to keep the commandments of God—and they cannot resist the trappings of wealth. They are as children in a candy store when they are offered the authority to rule and the robes of respectability that money can buy.
Why would a Kenyan pastor come to the tip of
Those who judge by appearances have minds set on the flesh (Rom 8:6). They remain hostile to God (v. 7) for they remain consigned to disobedience as bondservants of the prince of this world. And many of them will sing praises to a Jesus they do not know as they attempt to enter God’s rest on the following day, when the promise of entering into God’s rest no longer stands (Heb 3:16-4:11). They would not journey a block to sleep on the floor or to take a cold shower, for they lust after the things of this world. They judge with their eyes, and the desires of their eyes. They are filled with pride for their possessions. And they are not of God the Father (1 John 2:15-17), but wholly belong to the prince of this world.
Those who judge by appearances fill pews in the
spiritual synagogue at
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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."