11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; (1Peter 4:)
VOID - From an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, that is, (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin: - emptiness, void.
The earth began as a shapeless, lifeless lump of clay submerged in salty brine. It was useless to God as much as is our moon or Mars or any other planet or asteroid floating in space.
9And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. (Gen 1:)
When land is brought out of the sea, what do you suppose that land would be like? I live very close to the coast, on a sand dune in fact. Sand is what we find under the sea, but I live maybe a hundred feet above sea level and about three miles from the ocean. Yet the land upon which my trailer rests is just as much sand as if the waves were lapping at my door.
I have several bicycles, made of steel. And I have a 42 year old van besides, also made of iron and steel. I find that, even though I live miles from the ocean, the salt air of the ocean eats away at the metal of my bicycles and my van, and has literally rusted away the ball connection of my old trailer. Salt is everywhere.
Plants do not grow well, if at all, in sandy, salty soil. There are just a few peculiar plants that will survive in sandy, salty ground. We find such plants in the desert. We have the acacia tree that Moses and his followers enjoyed and used in their wilderness journey. Not far from where I used to live there is a desert where apparently nothing lives. Yet even in that land there is some grass, a few sparse plants, and cactus that somehow finds the none-existent water and holds it like a camel's hump holds water and fat.
DRY - From H3001; dry ground: - dry (ground, land).
H3001 - A primitive root; to be ashamed, confused or disappointed; also (as failing) to dry up (as water) or wither (as herbage): - be ashamed, clean, be confounded, (make) dry (up), (do) shame (-fully), X utterly, wither (away).
Have you ever seen your lawn blush? It's hard to envision land being ashamed or confounded.
Adam on the other hand, when placed in the garden, was unashamed even though naked.
9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Gen 3:)
When I hide myself it's either because I'm afraid, or I'm ashamed, or both. If I'm covering up my "nakedness" you can be quite certain I'm ashamed of my nakedness.
And what is it God said to Adam because of his disobedience that caused him to be ashamed? Wasn't it something to do with being made of dust, and returning to the same? Where does dust come from, and what is it composed of?
19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:)
We hide when we don't want our sins to find us out. If we're doing well, doing what we're supposed to be doing, then we hope God and the whole world is watching our every move.
8And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. (Luke 8:)
14And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:)
30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Mat 13:)
Imagine if the garden planted by God didn't produce fruit? Fruit is not just the reward received for the labor imparted on a plant or a garden, it's also the means by which plants regenerate themselves. If God had planted a garden, and the garden produced no fruit, the garden would die within a generation or two.
God created man in His own image. But the image of Himself did not reproduce the image of God, but rather he (Adam) reproduced images of himself, a poor imitation of what he was supposed to be. Adam was a crop failure, but he was not a total loss. He was a vessel, a shell in which a successful seed might be planted. But in himself he was nothing but troublesome dirt.
11And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Gen 1:)
Adam was created in the image of God, but he departed that image and became just a shell of what he was supposed to be. He looked like what he had been, or was supposed to become, but appearances was all that remained of his original purpose.
44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (Mat 13:)
38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; (Mat 13:)
Those trees and other plants that do not reproduce are in themselves worthless. But, as stated earlier, they do have purpose. The leaves they shed, and when the plant or tree dies, they produce fertilizer for the plants that are performing properly. Consider a forest, a field of trees. A forest has many trees with various plants growing under and amidst of them. And those trees are dropping seeds to that fertile ground which would, under good circumstances, bring forth new trees identical to the parent tree. However, because the parent trees are so big and cover such a large part of the space they grow in, they shield the young plants from receiving any sun the which they need to grow. To compensate for this problem God has so arranged that occasionally there will be a fire envelope the area, which serves several important functions. First the fire burns the underbrush that has built up over the years and chokes the life out of the healthy plants. The fire also burns off the dead branches that no longer serve a purpose from the mature trees. And the fire destroys the multitude of insects and other small creatures that plague trees and other such forest plants. Meanwhile the plants having been burnt away leaves space for animals to move about in the forest, plants to replace those lost, and the charcoal adds needed ash and alkali to the soil which it might otherwise be lacking.
At one time we had a very large oak tree growing in our yard. However this large oak tree had a deformity that caused it to be a potential hazard if it encountered a high wind. Before this could occur we had the tree cut down and the stump ground into tiny chips.
Lawns and flowers need a proper pH balance in order to grow strong and healthy. Oak, like pine needles and acorns are high in acidity. Because of this high acid content the very large section of the lawn around where the oak tree had been, refused to grow any grass. To compensate for this problem I bought a sack of clover seeds which I planted in the barren section of the lawn. Clover likes acid soil, and it supplies the ground with the badly needed alkali, which lawn grass needs to thrive. In about three years I had a well balanced yard that produced a healthy lawn.
As stated earlier I live on a sand dune. If you're acquainted at all with sand dunes you know they are quite barren. They not only lack the needed nutrients for growing wanted plants, they're notorious for soaking up the rain therefore preventing water from being present for whatever plant that might be on the sand. Some plants like sand dunes, or at least they are able to (although sparsely) survive on them. One such tree is the coastal pine, which produces some nourishment through the process demonstrated above. Other plants that do rather well on sandy fields are huckleberries and rhododendrons. Because of this I have many such plants growing on my small plot of ground, in spite of the gravel I have laid over the sand to prevent overgrowth and sand erosion.
As these plants shed their leaves and die off they produce a soil that is quite inducive to the growth of plants that like balanced soil such as vegetables and flowers. What was at one time nothing but a barren hill of sand has become a haven for garden plants, having several inches of well-nourished soil. God, using His uncanny knowledge of horticulture has turned a barren, lifeless field into a thriving oasis.
43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; (1Cor 15:)
Why didn't God just wipe the earth clean of mankind and start all over again when His first attempt at creating a man in His own image failed so miserably? Why is He enduring all this hardship when there are other means of accomplishing His goal available to Him? Did Adam's failure take God by surprise do you think? Maybe God figured since He started this whole mess He'd stick it out to the end? Or maybe Satan, God's "adversary" got the better of Him and He wants to show Satan He can beat him at his own game?
In the early part of this country's history there was reportedly a man who went by the name Johnny Appleseed. Johnny is known, at least so the legend goes, for crossing this country planting apple seeds where there were no apples growing. As we've seen in the illustration of a sandy field above, where there is no life, or where there is no proper support for life, no life will survive. For instance, if Johnny had planted his seeds in the desert or on a sandy beach, regardless of how healthy the seeds he planted may have been, they would not grow. Again, as in the parable Jesus told of the sower and the seed, if Johnny's seeds had fallen on a rock, or in a patch of thorns, the likelihood of the seed growing to maturity is very thin. A seed must have good, balanced and nourished soil in which to take root and come to fruition.
God created the earth to place man on, and the man was made of the substance upon which he stands; earth:
ADAM - From H119; ruddy, that is, a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.): - X another, + hypocrite, + common sort, X low, man (mean, of low degree), person.
Is there anything in the name God gave His first creation that would cause him to appear special in God's eyes? Man was created a hypocrite, a common sort, a person of low degree. Man was created of the earth, earthy. He wasn't created of a substance that had to do with God, godliness, or Heaven. He was created as a field, a vessel in which to plant a seed:
8And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put ["Cast in, ordained"] the man whom he had formed. 9And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Gen 2:)
God planted a garden in which He placed man. Man's job was to care for the garden, to name the animals, and to till the ground. He was not placed in the garden to lounge around and become a spoiled, self-serving brat. He had a job to do, a job that he failed to perform to the satisfaction of the Owner of that garden.
19And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (Gen 1:)
Adam was to name the creatures with which he lived:
42And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, (John 1:)
17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Rev 2:)
To name God's creatures:
26And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Gen 1:)
Adam was given power over God's new Kingdom. He was to "rule and reign" over all God had created and made:
17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Mat 28:)
26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 2:)
To have dominion:
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: (Gen 1:)
God wants a creature here on His earth who is like Him, who He can relate to on His own level, who can understand Him, and who will do His work:
9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:)
20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:)
12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:)
12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Eph 4:)
To do God's work:
5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. (Gen 2:)
23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Gen 3:)
To care for the creation God had created and made, in other words, to do God's work:
34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (John 4:)
37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Mat 9:)
8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. (1Cor 3:)
12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Rev 22:)
To work in God's field:
8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: (Gen 3:)
God desires to fellowship with man in the garden:
1When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. 2And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. (John 18:)
39And he came out, and went, as he was wont ["Habit, custome"], to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, (Luke 22:)
To fellowship with man:
24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep ["Mark"] the way of the tree of life. (Gen 3:)
In order to be with God and to commune with Him we have to pass by the cherubims that "mark" the spot where He resides:
5And he made a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: with cherubims made he it of cunning work. (Ex 36:)
6And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. (1Chron 13:)
10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:)
17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:)
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Rev 21:)
Where the cherubims are we'll find God, and where God is we find the cherubims:
19And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. (Ex 25:)
God communes with man from between the cherubims:
16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (1Cor 10:)
We commune with God from between the cherubims, and the tree of life is beyond the cherubims which we must pass if we wish to receive eternal life:
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:)
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:) (See also Rev 7:16-17)
7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev 2:)
14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:)
Mankind is a desolate wasteland wherein nothing grows. From the beginning of man, proven to be incapable of reproducing life, there has sprung forth a sprinkling of life after the form of God who created man in His own image. We find righteous Enoch, then Noah, then Abraham, and from Abraham more seeds were reproduced creating a sparse but adequate foundation of fertile soil in which to plant a wholesome seed.
Once a field of receptive soil had been established over the sand dune of humanity, God then planted His own Seed, that of the Holy Spirit, into the "earth," Adam:
45 the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1Cor 15:)
QUICKENING - From the same as G2226 and G4160; to (re-) vitalize (literally or figuratively): - make alive, give life, quicken.
Although God experienced a crop failure with the first seed He planted, that first planting, over time, provided a bed of soil into which a second planting could be established:
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen 1:)
A seed is not to be alone. By itself, as perfect as it may be, it is essentially useless:
24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:)
If a farmer plants a field and the fruit of that planting is perfect, but small, it is considered a failure:
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:)
A seed is planted in the Adamic soil:
4And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:)
1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:)
From that first planting in Adamic soil came 12, then as described here, a hundred and twenty:
17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. (Acts 2:)
45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Mat 5:)
Everyone receives the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is upon everyone. But not everyone is receptive of the Spirit, or follows Him, or obeys the commandments of God. It's those who receive and follow God, the good productive soil, who belong to Him, not the ones who merely claim to have the Spirit and bear the name of Christ.
41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:)
The harvest is growing by leaps and bounds. But all is not what it seems to be:
4Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. (Acts 5:)
And it grows:
46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:)
15Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. 16Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. 17When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: 20That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. (Isaiah 41:)
31Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. (Mat 26:)
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:)
1And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad....4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (Acts 8:)
Have you ever tried to put out a fire by stomping on it? The more you stomp, the higher the flame grows, and more widespread the fire becomes. It's this natural process God uses to spread His Word.
18Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. (Luke 13:)
What had been a barren desert, a bare sand dune, a wilderness if you please, is now becoming a Kingdom, a kingdom of the Spirit rather of dust and earth. The inhabitants of this kingdom are no longer mud balls seeking to serve themselves, but they are creatures in God's image sacrificing themselves for the good of the Kingdom, for one another, and for their Lord.
9Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. (Luke 20:)
This is called the "absent land owner." For a thousand years the land had been in the hands of those who were specially picked and trained in the ways of the owner. But when the owner of the land returned to receive the fruit of His investment, He found the keepers of the field unwilling to surrender the land, and there was no fruit to show for their efforts. As a symbolic gesture Jesus cursed a fig tree shortly before His death, representing the forsaking of the nation of Israel as the keepers of God's field, and the turning the field over to strangers, that is, those of us who are converted Gentiles:
5A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. (Luke 8:)
The seed planted by the owner of the land is perfectly good. But the planting of good seed is not all that's required to achieve a successful harvest. The soil in which the seed is planted must be fertile, Spiritually speaking it must recognize its deficiencies (sinfulness), and be receptive of the seed (be humble and repenting).
As illustrated in this parable, some seeds will make a grand beginning, a great show of being receptive soil, then over time, for one reason or another, it will fail to produce fruit suitable for the harvest.
11Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. (Luke 8:)
The seed planted, to be successful, must produce fruit exactly like the seed that was planted in the field. That plant producing any other fruit than what was planted is removed from the field and disposed of. The fruit must be exactly like the seed. In the case of the seed planted in our field, that is, in the soil we're a part of, the seed is the Word of God. Jesus said He is the sower of the seed, and the seed is the Word of God. If this is so, then in order to grow to maturity our seed must be saturated and absorbed with the substance of which it's made, that is, the Word of God.
37He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (Mat 13:)
Once I tried to grow a garden of flowers. I have a brown thumb, meaning I'm far from successful as a horticulturist. But in my attempt I learned a bit about planting seeds. One thing I discovered is the absolute need for the gardener to keep weeds out of his garden because the weeds will overtake the flowers, use up the fertile parts of the soil, and reproduce far more successfully than the flowers he planted. Jesus doesn't seem to understand this principle. I assume Jesus never tried to raise flowers, or He has something else in mind when He tells us to leave the weeds in our garden:
39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mat 13:)
When you purchase a loaf of bread it seems so simple, just lay down your money and off you go. Even those who bake their own bread might consider the process simple enough. I use a bread maker and premixed ingredients, but I've watched others bake from scratch, and if a person knows how, the process isn't all that difficult. What we fail to recognize is the number of steps that has been taken in order to prepare the flour we use to bake that bread.
In the old days they used a fairly simple process to sort and separate the seeds from the chaff, the stones, the twigs and other such undesirables. The farmer and his helpers used a horse-drawn cart of sorts and pulled the cart over the stalks of grain as it lay on the threshing floor (our wilderness testing). Then they take this separated grain and they winnow the grain, using the stalks of the wheat for animal feed, bedding for the animals, or other such uses. The newly mown field is then burned which prepares the land for the next year's crop planting.
The grain is placed in a sheet held by four people at each corner of the sheet. The sheet is flipped upward, causing the grain to fly in the air, and the wind (or a person with a winnowing fan standing to the side creating a wind) carries away the lighter chaff, while the grain falls back to the sheet.
Today the grain is sent through a long and complex series of separators, aspirators, disk separators, scourers, magnetic separators, washers, tempering bins, grinding bins, sifters, purifiers, then stored for future use in a silo of some sort. And this is only the beginning of the process. It's through this procedure not only stones, pieces of metal, bugs and other unwanted objects are extracted, but other grains (even wheat that is of another species), grain with fungus and, yes, darnel (tare) seeds are removed.
After every impurity is extracted from the harvest only the purest of grain remains. This produce, the fruit of the labor, is then either put to use as baked products, or it is used for replanting other fields where the process begins anew.
In the Kingdom of God this means all humanity, all lusts, all selfishness is removed from the "harvest," and only the seed, the "Word of God" remains, or "shine forth as the sun" as expressed in the above passage of Scripture. This then creates a field of "harvest" exactly like the original plant, that is, a Kingdom of people exactly like Jesus.
Many people expect to be a favorable part of the harvest. But they are not producing fruit of the Spirit, of the Word of God, that can be used by the Kingdom or the Lord of the Kingdom. All that will remain after the winnowing will be the chaff and the tares, which will be..... .
My grandfather owned a 75 acre farm in which he raised milk cows, chickens, pigs, and of course, grain. The grain he raised was not wheat, nor rye, not even rice. He raised what he called bent grass. I thought it an odd name for a grain, bent grass. I asked my grandfather what bent grass was used for. He told me bent grass is used for raising more bent grass. This made no sense to me at my young age, unless all they wanted was the stalks for feeding cows and laying on the floor of the barn for the cows to do their "thing" on, that "thing" I had to clean up regularly with a pitch fork and toss it in a big, stinking pile in the corner of the field.
What is bent grass used for you may wonder? Bent grass is what they use for those beautiful lawns covering golf courses and other such fields of grass.
If we want to be a part of the harvest taken into the Lord's barn, we must be producing fruit, some 30, some 60, and hopefully, some a hundred fold. What happens to those stalks who are producing tares or other undesirable grain? What will come of those who only produce twenty fold? Those who don't come to the likeness and the fulness of Christ? We won't go into that now, but it's a subject I think it advisable we all look into and not count on what others tells us.
24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:)
If we want eternal live, we have to follow Jesus. Where did Jesus go that we have to follow Him?
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom 12:)
23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:)
16Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1John 3:)
In order for a new crop to grow from the preceding, successful crop, the new crop must die, sacrifice itself for the good of the harvest, the Spiritual Kingdom. Wherever the process slackens or falters, the end harvest is affected. If we choose to stand back from the process, we exclude ourself from that process and we will die alone to ourself, and sacrifice our future inheritance.
11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: (2Tim 2:)
In order to be a part of what God has begun through Jesus we must be willing to follow His example to the letter. This is not the cafeteria religion as it is seen to be in so many of the churches today. It's all or nothing. We can't decide to keep one foot in the world and expect to be taken wholly into the Kingdom.
26And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. (Mark 4:)
When we turn ourselves over to the Lord, to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we begin to grow. We don't become instant overcomers prepared for the presence of the King. We have this exemplified in Daniel where he was specially prepared for three years before being deemed acceptable to be in the presence of the king. And again, even though she had already been accepted and preferred, Hadassah (Esther) spent a year being prepared by the one placed over her for that purpose.
Today we imagine the moment we're baptized we become a full-fledged and mature part of the Church, the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God. I find that concept nowhere in Scripture, or in example. Nor do I find this exemplified in my own life. I was 12 when I was baptized, and in my own immature and ignorant way I was as sincere as a heart attack. But it was at the age of 36 I had my first encounter with the Lord, and at the age of 66 the Lord again confronted me with my lifestyle. I hear of, and I fully believe there are people who have had immediate changes, such as the one Paul experienced. But I see far too many people, who are unfortunately supported by their church, who haven't the slightest idea what sacrifice or the Christian life is about, fully believing they are all God wants them to be. In my ignorance, before I was shown otherwise, I had much the same view of myself, so I'm not condemning these people in any way. They have nothing with which to compare their condition, so they can't be blamed. But neither should they be supported in their immaturity causing them to not look any further into their lack of position with the Lord.
30And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? 31It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. (Mark 4:)
The Church, God's field of grain, the Kingdom of God began with the death, the burial (planting in the earth) and the growth of a new form of life. From this initial seed has come a great and amazing harvest. Like the mustard plant, the Church's branches stretch out all over the world. There's no place on earth, that I'm aware of, that has not been effected by the Church in one way or another. For hundreds of years, through the world's dark ages and beyond, the Church was the most powerful force on earth, even controlling the kings of the world. And although that Church had become corrupt and had lost its vision of what God has planned for His Church, it was successful in the commandment given to Adam, that is to multiply itself and to fill the earth with its kind.
During those dark days of the Church many worthy seeds presented themselves as an example of what God calls for, and that is to be a witness to the truth as we see the truth to be. Not every one of those who rose above their circumstances necessarily had the truth, but they stood on their convictions and sacrificed their life for the cause. And through their sacrifice we now have the freedom to worship and to see God and His purpose in ways that vary from that which was forced upon the members of the existing Church of the time called the Catholic Church.
35Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Dan 2:)
The stone has hit the image and the Church is known all over the earth. It would appear as if God's purpose is complete. It would appear as if this is the end of the story, but not so. We read:
28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:)
All the while Paul was traversing the known world setting up churches after the order of the Lord's example, there were various groups of people following him, and rising up after him working hard to pervert the new believers from the truth of the Gospel. Jesus warned us of these people, calling them in the parable above birds nesting in the limbs of the mustard tree, symbolic of the Church He created. Jesus also spoke of the enemy of the Church through such examples as the one who sowed tares among the true harvest, wolves in sheep's clothing, false Christs and ministers, birds that steal the Word from new converts, and thorns and thistles which are the cares of this world that get in the way of our Christian maturity.
The world has become a place that puts entertainment and pleasing self first above all else, and the things of the Lord on the back burner, if it even bothers to put things of God on the stove in the first place.
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2Thes 2:)
The Greek word for "falling away" means to forsake or deviate from the truth, to become apostate. It's from this we derive the term "the apostate church." We all know what the apostate church is, but what we don't realize, and that we refuse to recognize is that we are the apostates who make up the apostate church. The apostate church is not some denomination we can pin a label on, which all churches are fully inclined to do. The apostate church is composed of those, in all denominations, who violate the Lord's commandment to love one another, to not judge, to follow Him to the cross, to surrender our affection for the things of the world, and all the other things the churches no longer preach or expect in their members and their congregation.
Jesus gave an example of a woman who placed three measures of leaven in a lump of dough. That woman is the apostate church, and the leaven is the false doctrines we hear preached from every corner. When we watch TV we see obvious and even exaggerated forms of the apostasy Paul warned us of. And because we can point our finger at someone else we consider further into apostasy than we are, we consider ourselves well out of the classification. Those people in prison for committing a crime are not necessarily there because their entire life was that of being a criminal. They may have made just one mistake, and because of that one error in judgement they become violators of the law. It's no different with the law of God. We can pretend the law no longer exists and that we can now do as we please. But at the time of the harvest we'll discover that the sin, the law we chose to ignore, is likely to cause us to be counted with the unbelievers.
6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1:)
6Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Mat 15:)
Any church you can name, regardless of what or where it is, or how high on faith it might be, has its doctrines and its traditions. And although there might be some churches who's doctrines are closer to the truth than others, they are all way off base. And even if you belong to a church that follows the Scriptures to the letter, and every person in that church is wholly led by the Spirit of God, it does not insure that you are in the will of God and following His commandments. Jesus had in his fellowship a person who from the beginning was led by Satan. Jesus did not evict this man, but his end was not all he had anticipated it to be. It's no different with each of us, we have to look into our own lives and see if we are in the will of God.
Jesus told Peter to follow Him. Peter then became aware that John was not following them as he had been instructed. But Jesus didn't give John the commandment He gave Peter. We see this in many examples where Jesus would say one thing to one person and something else entirely, and even contradictory, to someone else. We can't judge a person's obedience to God by our own situation. We might be wrong and they be right, or they might be at one stage along the trail God has set us on and they at another. It's not for us to judge. We're to judge ourselves and our own progress, and to obey what we've been given.
Some will pervert the Gospel. What does it mean to pervert the Gospel? The Greek word means to turn from or to alter. If I was to tell you a certain direction will take you where you want to go, and I point just a fraction of an inch off true course, miles down the road you'll discover that the fraction of an inch I was off has led you to a destination many miles from where you wanted to go. This is the same in the churches. I've seen so many times, and in so many churches, where people are fully confident they're version of the Scriptures, their interpretation is the correct one leading to Paradise, and all those who disagree with them are wrong. I can see the fallacy in all of their views, but they are unwilling to look even a fraction of an inch into the possibility that they might be led astray.
1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1Cor 3:)
13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:)
When a person is off track, even a little, when they judge others and not themselves, they are lacking in growth. Here we find those still in Spiritual diapers are unable to tell the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Many of these toddlers are not in the pews but are standing behind the pulpits of the modern churches, teaching others their perverted views of the Gospel. We have to judge what we hear by the Word of the Lord, we can't compare doctrine with doctrine. To do so is like asking your doctor's nurse, who he pays, if she agrees with your doctor's findings. For one thing she wouldn't know one way or another if what he said is correct of not, and if she did, she couldn't say so for fear of losing her job.
I've told of an incident that I was almost a part of many years back. There was a doctor in one of the state institutions who was hired as the head psychiatrist. A psychiatrist, unlike a psychologist, is also trained in the field of medicine. He can dispense medicine when called for. This psychiatrist had been in his position for nine months before it was discovered that he was an escaped convict who had killed the psychiatrist and stolen his identity.
You can't count on what other people tell you, no matter how much authority or training it might appear they have.
1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Tim 3:)
Does any of this sound familiar to you? All of it does to me. I take this to mean we are now it the last days. And as we read earlier, in the last days the churches will become apostate. And if the churches are apostate, then how can we rely on what they tell us, as sincere as they may seem to be?
25See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:)
10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Mat 3:)
49I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 12:)
What we're seeing in the passages above is the harvesting process we looked at earlier. We see the earth being shaken (as a sheet), and anything that is not well founded is removed. When God cleansed the earth with a flood He washed away that which was not of the quality He demands for His possession. In the future we see that God will use fire to cleanse the earth of wood, hay and stubble and other impurities. Here we have a preview of that event.
The word John the Baptist used when describing Jesus purging the floor is the Greek word for "winnowing." It's a winnowing fan Jesus is holding, and with it He is not only blowing the chaff away from the true harvest, but He's using it to fan the fire that will burn off the chaff and the stubble.
Jesus refers to this incident, indicating that the fire is already kindled. We kindle, that is we stack up the kindling and the easily burned substances of our lives when we ignore His warnings and go our own way, fully expecting to be rewarded for our stubbornness. We read the New Testament as if it's a list of suggestions or the comics in the newspaper. Then we ignore the warnings and the examples in the Old Testament, claiming they are not for our time. We effectively cause the Bible to be null and void, something to be placed on a book shelf, then forgotten. This is not the Christianity Jesus nor Paul experienced and preached. But it is the apostate Christianity that will convict us if we don't give serious heed to what we're told to do.
1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. (Mat 25:)
God began His first creation with a virgin, a male in this case, from which He brought forth a woman who was to be his bride. In the second creation God again used a virgin to bring forth a Son, who was Himself a virgin. When Jesus died He brought forth, from His side, the Church, His bride, His "help meet," a body of people to carry on His mission here on earth.
Here, at the end times we once again see virgins, this time representing the Church in its fulness. There are virgins who are prepared, and there are virgins who only think they're fully prepared. By the time the foolish virgins discover they're in deficit, it's too late for them to correct their situation. We see this exemplified in the parables of the man who did wonderful works in the name of the Lord, and the man who was entrusted with a talent that he did not cause to bring forth fruit (profit), and again in the picture of the man who had not prepared his garment for the wedding he'd been invited to. We see in these the rejected servants, virgins who were left behind with the non believers. These are clear warnings that we misdirect toward those who have no interest in the things of God whatever, that is, claiming those rejected are unbelievers. I hope you haven't accepted this concept in your book of doctrine.
1And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Rev 14:)
There's so much important symbolism here that I'd like to comment on, but I'll resist the temptation.
Notice how the "Lamb" is on Mt. Zion. From this we can know when the event is taking place. Who are the 144,000, and what are they doing? The answer to that question is the subject for another study. Let it suffice to know they are virgins, and they're doing the work of the Lord as a continuation of what was begun with the Apostles 2,000 years earlier. And pay close attention to the announcement that they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Consider the Apostles who followed Jesus, Joshua who followed Moses, and Elisha who followed Elijah. When one was found, so was the other. We're to have this relationship with Jesus if He's to announce at the Judgement that He knows us, and that in us He is well pleased.
The world began with virgins, and again we see virgins beginning a new stage of God's purpose, and a new harvest.
In the prophesy of the Tribulation we see the earth once again being purged and prepared for the planting of a new harvest, again using the best of what had been planted before. Those of the old creation, of the earth, earthy, of Adam, have become as fertile soil for this new crop. The desert of humanity has given way and has provided a base for the planting of a garden, an oasis in the wilderness.
As each of us are to be a light unto a dark and lost world, so each of us is to be an oasis to those, not only in the world, but in the churches as well. The Church has become filled with ravens, tares and wolves. This does not mean these people are filled with the devil, far from it. It only means they are without light. Many are probably some of the finest examples of Adam one can find. But they are not led by the Spirit. They only think they are Spirit filled because that's what they've been told. Those who are Spirit filled and have been given some understanding of the Word must be a beacon, a guiding light so those without the light can recognize their own darkness.
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