Describe yourself ten years ago. Twenty rears ago. One hundred years ago.
Perhaps you said you weren't here a hundred years ago.
Yes you were, and you were the same then as you are now (Gen 3:19).
Chances are when asked to describe yourself you tell a person what you do, what you've done, if you are married, the kind of work you do, your education, how you view the world, and so on.
You might even add a bit about how well you think you have done in areas such as if you are a good husband, a competent worker, an honest lawyer, or the like.
Perhaps you might even add some physical characteristic like your hair color, or your weight, or your height.
However you describe yourself, it will be through your own eyes, that is, as you see yourself.
How much different do you think a description of you might be if it came from your child, or your ex spouse, or your boss, or your worst enemy?
Which view do you think would be the closest to accurate?
Because the bull was so grand, you let him get away with his act of pride.
The bull sees himself as superior, a fine specimen of bull-hood.
And, as a matter of fact, you as well see him as a superior creature.
Except for the goring.
One day the bull forgets himself and feels superior to you. And to demonstrate his superiority he gores you.
Do you now see him in the same light as he sees himself? Or do you see him as hamburger?
Who's view do you suppose will win out?
Perhaps you have a boss like that; or a relative; or even children.
My view of myself has changed drastically over the years. In fact there are days when I vacillate from feeling like an Einstein, to thinking of myself as a complete dummy.
I don't suppose I am alone on this. I suppose most people go through the same thing. In fact, I feel sorry for those who always feel the same about themself because, like a car stuck in a gear, or a clock without a battery, they are going to be correct but rarely.
A toddler at two years old believes he knows it all and considers himself completely self-sufficient. That is a very dangerous age. But if the child is guided properly though his misgivings, he will likely survive the experience and give up his grievous attitude.
When puberty starts once again he considers himself a superior stud, and tries for independence. Meanwhile, inside, he knows he is but a lost soul not having the slightest idea who he is or where he is going.
Especially for men.
And that is why God gave men wives.
But Job lost it all; his family, his herds, his servants - everything.
Even Job's health deteriorated to a point his wife said he would be better off dead.
And why did this all this happen to Job?
Alas, it happened because God looked upon him favorably.
In fact, God even called Job "Perfect."
How many people can claim that honor?
How many would like to?
Job's perfection, as it turns out, was also his flaw.
Like the Pharisee who praised himself in the Temple, Job knew his own qualities, and reveled in them.
It was not a matter of whether Job was perfect or not. Even God had already said he was. Being perfect is not a flaw.
But seeing oneself as perfect is a flaw.
It is not possible for us to see things as they really are. And as shown in the above examples, it is even more impossible [I know, how can it be more impossible than impossible] for us to see ourselves realistically.
God has a way of turning things around on us. As soon as we fully understand what "up" is, He turns it upside down and we are wrong once more.
When we look for the Truth for Truth's (Ego's) sake, He points us to a lie.
When He tells us the Truth, He conceals it with a deception. (Isa 28:13; 66:4; Mat 13:4-15)
That doesn't sound fair; but who can argue with God? This world (and us) are His Creation, His toy, and He can do with it as He pleases.
So, in order to understand God, and His purposes; we have to see things from His point of view. If God wants to turn the world upside-down, we have to stand on our head to see it correctly.
God's view is from way up high. Our view is from way down low. We see things through a dark tunnel. God sees all things at once in bright sunlight.
The chances are God is going to see things clearer than we are.
"But that's not fair," we say. "How can God understand what it's like for me if He's way up there and I'm way down here?"
Good point. I don't suppose He could understand - if He hadn't come down here himself.
Man says stop; Jesus says go. Man says black; Jesus says white. Man says no, Jesus says yes.
Man says he's precious; Jesus says he's trash.
Why, they even sat in the Temple of God!
Others have believed the same about themselves, and had done far less than the Pharisees with which to warrant such a claim. Caesar, Hitler and Jim Jones are a few names that come to mind.
To add to the Pharisee's self-adoration, the people looked up to them, seeing them in the same light in which they saw themselves.
Then Jesus came along. A lowly Nazarene from Galilee. A common carpenter. A nobody of illicit birth.
And this Nobody not only claimed to be the Son of God (without ever fully saying it to them) but proved it with miracles and an understanding of Scripture that none of them had.
And the people followed Him, not them any more.
The people magnified Him, and not them.
Add to this the fact that Jesus refused to obey the traditions, which were the very works that made the Pharisees superior to the rabble that followed Jesus. He even said those very traditions were against the Will of God.
The Pharisees were the Crême de la Crême. The Pharisees and the Priests stood in the place of God.
But Jesus called them Hypocrites. He called them Fools. He said they not only do not stand in the place of God, but that God doesn't even know them, and that they would never see God.
But that wasn't the half of the story. Jesus told the Rabble, the low-lifes, the lepers, the thieves, the prostitutes and later through the Apostles, even the Gentiles that they were better than the Pharisees. He told them that they, not the ones who worked so hard for the position, were the one's God was interested in, and would be taken to Heaven.
What a putdown.
Jesus took the Top, and made it the Bottom. He took the Bottom, and made it the Top.
Jesus took the First, and made it the Last. He took the Last, and made it the First.
Is that right?
Or is it that Jesus came, not to confuse and upset everything; but to set everything upright and explain what God has been trying to get through our thick skulls from the beginning?
Adam and Eve, and all pre-flood mankind shows how far we humans will drift from God's Will if given half a chance.
God understands that we are like the toddler who thinks he knows it all and can take care of himself. It is us who doesn't know our own weaknesses and stubborn streaks.
There may be one in a thousand (though I would guess closer to one in ten thousand) who will give up their self-will and listen to God so they can hear what He has to say. There may be a drop in the bucket of people who sincerely desire to follow God and to serve Him, but just do not know what to do, or how to do it. Traditions and bad examples create stumbling stones and hide the narrow path that leads to understanding.
Jesus came to earth for them. He has brushed aside the traditional rubbish for those who diligently seek His way. He has walked the path ahead of us, as a type of First fruit in order to demonstrate that it can be done, and just how to do it.
And in case we doubt it can be done by Mortal Man (which it cannot) He sent representatives throughout the world. He filled the Apostles with the Holy Spirit intended for all who will also follow. And He instructed them to explain further what we need to know in order to stay on the Narrow path, and also to demonstrate the Way.
After the Flood we know of one who followed God, Abraham, who God rewarded by giving him a Nation of people (actually many Nations) who will eventually inherit his righteousness.
For a thousand years Abraham's descendants, the Jews, were herded like cattle, no longer left to their own devices as were the rest of the Nations (Gentiles).
Herding does not produce order. When anything is pushed, it resists. And when they are not being pushed, they go their own way; they wander off, or they lay along the wayside.
Better yet, watch a church, or any other gathering of people. In fact, sit in the group and experience the strong pulls you feel to go one way or another, especially when those of a certain faction start trying to influence you.
This is Tradition, and Democracy in action.
Jesus entered the herd, and called out a flock of sheep, that is those who wish to follow Him.
But all who follow along with the flock are not sheep, and those will eventually return to the herd, or wander aimlessly in the wilderness.
The Israelites experienced this. Apparently millions came out of Egypt, following the Call of God. Even Egyptians (wolves for this illustration) followed the herd.
However, in spite of all the instructions the herd received, only a hand full did not either rebel, want to return to Egypt, or refuse to enter God's Pasture.
So they wandered the wilderness, where they eventually died.
A few hear the call. These Sacrifice the Lamb (and themselves, which the Lamb takes the place of), cleanse their house (heart) of Leaven (sin), and spread the Blood of the Lamb on their doorpost that wards off the Death Angel (punishment to come on the World, Egypt, for the Sin of rebellion -- Judgment).
These true sheep follow the Shepherd into the wilderness (trial, Valley of the Shadow of Death) where they are purified, refined and prepared to enter into the Promised Land.
A multitude of non sheep, even Egyptians (worldly), follow those who are Called. Many of these, like Korah (the rebellion) are placed by God in high positions as Priests and Servants of God; but like the unfruitful, and the wicked servants in the parables, they did not hear God, but only the sound of their own voice. And the masses didn't listen to the true sheep, but rather they turned their ear to the rebels and the wolves who claimed to have the Word of God and spoke the loudest, and told them what they wanted to hear.
Those who did not truly hear the Call, as did Moses and Joshua, though they were servants of the Lord, died in the wilderness because they did not endure to the end. These sought their own way, and murmured against God and the way He was conducting His campaign.
True sheep can be identified from the rest of the herd. The Bible refers to these indicators as "Fruit." Some of these indicators are obvious, others are not.
Sheep recognize, and instantly respond to the voice of the Shepherd.
Sheep, though they may wander (especially milk-fed lambs), they seek their way back as soon as they recognize their departure from the flock. And if they lose their way, they anxiously seek, and instantly respond to the Shepherd's voice when He calls them.
Sheep, when in danger, do not run and hide, but rather run to the feet of the Shepherd.
Sheep do not try to lead. They are content to follow.
Sheep graze where they are told to stay. They do not seek greener pastures like a cow. Nor do they browse, ever looking for some exotic delicacy, like a goat, to satisfy their lusts and "itching ears."
Sheep produce other sheep. A non productive (fruitless branch) is not a true sheep.
Sheep do not seek the company of others that are not sheep.
Sheep are content to be sheep; they do not follow other creatures that appear to have more than they have. What the Shepherd provides is sufficient, regardless of how much, or how little that may be.
If you have identified yourself as a Christian, which I assume you have if you are reading this piece, then I hope you have reevaluated your stance with the Lord.
Rarely are we who we believe ourself to be; and rarely are we where we believe ourself to be.
But sometimes we are.
My purpose in this study is not to shake your Faith; in fact, far from it. What I desire to do is shake up your confidence in all you believe in order to let everything settle into their proper perspective, rather than, as is our nature, just assume that all is well because you feel comfortable.
Like a doctor's exam, you might say.
Faith is good, if it is based on a Faithful saying. But Faith that has not been challenged is not Faith, but Philosophy and Theory. And Theory that has not been fully researched is not Theory, but Fable.
And Fables are the tools of the devil, disguised as Light, in order to lead the Children of Light astray.
9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15:)
8But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. 9Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. (Isa 49:)
1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:)
69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. 70Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:)
13But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isa 28:13)
4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isa 66:4)
9Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. 10And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Mat 13:4-15)