John T. Willis

Sunday, May 06, 2012

I Know the Plans I have for YOU--4

God's eternal vision is that HE LEAD all people through life to serve him. The Bible uses three important verbs to emphasize Yahweh's LEADERSHIP. A key passages which emphasize this truth is Deuteronomy 8:2-3:
"Remember the long way that the Lord your God has LED you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to HUMBLE you, TESTING you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He HUMBLED you by letting you hunger, then by FEEDING you with manna, with which neither your nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."

1. God LEADS.
a. God role or function consistently is to LEAD all human beings through life. This theme is frequent and constant throughout scripture. God led his people out of Egypt--Psalm 78:49-52; through the wilderness for forty years--Deuteronomy 8:2, 15; Amos 2:10; Jeremiah 2:6; Psalm 136:16; and into the promised land of Canaan--Psalm 78:54-55.
b. Jesus emphasized through his ministry that he LED his disciples, and their role was that of being DISCIPLES, LEARNERS, FOLLOWERS, not LEADERS. Any time they asserted their LEADERSHIP, Jesus quickly and pointedly rebuked them to make them his SERVANTS, not LEADERS. Important texts on this point are Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 14:7-14.

a. The relationship between God and human beings is a lifelong journey, not a one time experience.
b. God repeatedly TESTS, REFINES, TRIES the true mettle of the hearts and lives of every person. This is VERY PAINFUL, but VERY IMPORTANT and NECESSARY. God humbled or tested the Israelites in the wilderness "to know what is in your heart."
c. Hebrews 12:4-11 is a great text to emphasize this truth.
"In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children--
'My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.'
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and now his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order tyhat we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

a. God FED the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years by manna. In Egypt, the Israelites ate BREAD, that is, the food God provided in the land of Egypt. But in the wilderness, that BREAD or FOOD was not available, so God MIRACULOUSLY gave the Israelites MANNA. The word "manna" means "What is it?" because no human being knew or knows what this material was or is. (Exodus 16:15).
b. After spending forty years in the wilderness, God brought the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and the manna ceased. NOW, God sustained his people by "the produce of the land," as Joshua 5:12 clearly states.
c. We human beings assume that FOOD is the result of NATURAL LAW, which God established after he created the universe. The Enlightenment has taught this to us over a long period of time. But this is NOT TRUE BIBLICALLY OR IN DAILY LIFE. Jesus' prayer is: "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD"--Matthew 6:11. Every time we have a meal, we always THANK GOD that HE has given is this food. Is this a mockery? Or is it a reality?
d. Lamentations 3:38 says:
"Is it not from the MOUTH of the Most High
that good and bad come?"
Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4 do not mean that "one does not live by bread alone but by every WORD [God's message] that come from the MOUTH of God," but "one does not live by BREAD alone but by every THING that comes from the MOUTH of God," referring to any kind of food. The Hebrew and Greek words involving in this text can mean "word" or "thing," and in these contexts, "thing" is the correct translation and meaning.
e. According to the Bible, the gift of food is a divine miracle. God supplies our food every day. He does this repeatedly, and it is very tempting to assume this is a "natural law." Not according to the word of God. See Psalm 104:14; Amos 4:7-8; Matthew 5:45.
A PLEA: PLEASE rethink and restudy all these and related biblical teachings.

Share YOUR insights and complaints and differences and intuitions and feelings and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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