Words to live by | Online journal of Marc Heriot

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight. Proverbs‬ ‭12:22‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬


What does it mean to be God’s delight? There is something inside people that compels us to please. We please our parents, our spouse, our employer, and sometimes — even ourselves. But can I really please God? There is something about the word “delight” that conveys being happy, ebullient, joy-filled. It reflects a high degree of pleasure and enjoyment. Joy. Even rapture. It connects a once deep desire for something then realizing it. When I have an idea, for example, to build a home, it follows a progression: I make plans. Count my costs. Buy materials. Build. After some time and work I look up and see the fruit of my efforts. Accomplishing my plan is a delight!

God has been working on something too, building a house — in us.

Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. Isaiah‬ ‭66:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬

Out of all of that God has made, his delight is most particularly focused on… me.

I, wisdom… was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men. Proverbs‬ ‭8:12, 30-31‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬

And He would want me to be equally delighted in Him.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Delight is a relationship with God. It’s a two-way journey of exploration and building. He made me to be malleable, sheep-like, with a unique capability of learning and growing, seeing and imitating, then becoming the reflection of that which I gaze upon. As my focus is on Him and his kingdom — the essence of my person reflects that. And as I delight in Him, he too delights in me. Just like a parent has an incredible love for her child. Or a lover has unspeakable affection for her companion.


With this in mind, the nugget Solomon tosses out is a big one. Dealing faithfully delights Him. Why? Because God deals faithfully, honestly, truthfully. As I value faithfulness, observe it, learn about it, and become, he delights in both my character and the result it produces. My daily transactions matter to Him and are a reflection of His kingdom. The Hebrew word used for “faithfully” conveys predictability, stability, steadiness, and figuratively security, morality. The resulting idea means that I act with a sense of personal responsibility and maintain a position of trust. I fulfill obligations I had previously agreed upon. It is integrity in action. What I say, I will do. It is contrasted with “lying lips.” It’s truthfulness in action. This is the same disposition God takes with me and mankind. He is a promise-keeper. It is the core of who He is. He cannot break his word. He is intrinsically trustworthy. Although man’s nature hides our true selves and motives, he woos us back to faithfulness, transparency, and truthfulness so I too may reflect him and His kingdom.

What better example than that of the man from Galilee?

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” Matthew‬ ‭17:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬

On the other end of the scale is the word “Abomination.” It is hard to find a more powerful word for something someone dislikes — and is a good contrast to the word delight. It means something disgusting (morally). An abhorrence. In English, it is an intense aversion or loathing. A vile, shameful, detestable action. Regarding with extreme repugnance or aversion. Loath. Detest utterly. It’s a strong word!

Solomon’s proverbs are short statements, but they contain incredible chunks of gold. He says in Proverbs 2, that if you search for wisdom and understanding like a hidden treasure, then you will find the knowledge of God. When he uses intense words about what God loves and hates it makes me stop and pay attention.

I hope to have the same testimony that David did:

He rescued me because He delighted in me. 2 Samuel 22:20

No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Proverbs 12:21 (NASB)

From the Hebrew Lexicon: No trouble, sorrow, wickedness, will have opportunity, to meet or encounter opportunely, with the just, righteous, but to the wicked, criminal, to be full, to fill, evil, distress, misery injury, calamity.

At face value, when I read the words “no harm” I immediately think of how many things both good and bad that people endure in life. Being a child of God does not mean I am exempt from misfortune, yet by aligning my heart and behavior with the kingdom I will not suffer the ultimate consequences of doing evil or bad things. Behavior produces results. Good behavior produces good results.

There is something profoundly concrete about the Lord’s protection over his people. He cradles us in safety and security. There is no ambiguity or wavering in my Father’s support and protection of me. If he gave his son, what else would I need that He wouldn’t give me? Yet, I must navigate his intent of peace with the evidence presented by a fallen world (and my fallen behavior at times). Last night, a good friend who loved God and believed for healing lost a brutal fight with cancer. Did harm befall her? In the natural it looks like it. But my standing on the unshakable foundation of his goodness does not change the reality of sin still wreaking havoc on earth. Jesus was sleeping in a boat rocked by a storm which was threatening his disciples. At their panic He woke up and calmed the sea, then asked why his disciples doubted. He has authority, but doesn’t always make the bully go away. We will confront the threat of harm. But I may be convinced of His goodness toward me despite it.

Let me put it a different way. The promise of safety comes from a relationship. God makes that promise to me. Do I believe it? Do I trust him? Even when evidence seems contrary? It was man that walked away from trust in the garden. So when God promises safety, although I understand He’s fully capable of changing physical circumstances, he doesn’t always (for reasons we don’t understand) — yet in my trouble there is a unique opportunity to regain what was lost in the beginning. Whether I am delivered from physical trial or not, he has guaranteed life. Eternal life. Ultimate good. Period. I don’t for a moment believe God relishes our suffering in the least. He sent the remedy for it! Yet, at the risk of oversimplifying what is happening to me, there are forces at work, timing that is not yet, that the people of God must endure, while trusting, until the change comes. And it will come.

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked… till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Psalm‬ ‭73:3, 17‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Clarity comes as I spend time in his sanctuary, his presence. My need for safety is such an essential thing and today I have all that is needed to have peace of mind and absolute assurance of His goodness. The peace of God, the counsel of peace, the Prince of Peace speak to my distress. Nothing can harm my person — despite the tribulation in this world. Although sin threatens me, there are consequences I will not encounter. Judgments against me which are not allowed to frighten.

No harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm‬ ‭91:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm‬ ‭121:7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. ‭‭John‬ ‭10:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil [contrivers of mischief], but those who promote peace [counselors of peace] have joy. Proverbs‬ ‭12:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ [Rotherham]‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Hebrew word for plot means: to cut in, engrave, plow, devise. It’s often used of a farmer planting seed. And the seed being planted here, in the Hebrew means: evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity. Who would do such a thing? Being a “contriver of mischief” or an evil plotter sounds like Dr. Dastardly and his tireless effort at world domination. But in reality I am that person when I obsess over a plan that advances my interests at the expense of another’s. It works deliberately to fool or persuade for my benefit. And the result? And because Deceit is at the core of my effort, I create a resting place for him. He enjoys my company. He feels at home in me. But he’s not a pleasant fellow or a good companion.

When I choose to “promote peace” or be a “counselor of peace,” it doesn’t mean I become a Secretary of State, or a hostage negotiator. It simply means I mediate between two extremes. It could mean I help mitigate unhealthy stress in a friend. Or clear up a misunderstanding and its resulting discord between two coworkers. Or offer wisdom for a way out to someone who is experiencing financial hardship. No matter what the circumstance, the Wonderful Counselor who has made His home inside me also becomes the Prince of Peace in my world. The result? He feels at home within me. Takes up residence. He’s really a pleasant fellow and a good companion.

I have to remind myself as I’m reading Proverbs that life is not as black and white as the opposites that Solomon contrasts. He speaks of two kinds of individuals that seem worlds apart, yet what about the little mischief and plotting or counsel of peace in my own heart? Daily it’s a choice.

There are two contrasts in this verse. The first is between plotting evil and counseling peace. They represent roles I may take for outcomes I desire. So what is it I want? (This is always a good question to ask myself every day.) Plotting and executing plans for my own good, rather than for a higher, better, further reaching good will result in leveraging deceit. Which in turn results in contention and strife. Darkness only thrives in the absence of light — and the absence of joy. Plotting for my own good at the expense of another does not produce peace — rather, it obscures and hides truth. Darkness obscures. But when the light appears, I see the nasty obstacles, the path forward, and it embeds hope within for a way out of the contention I feel within. The Holy Spirit’s word to me is light and brings incredible peace. Those who bring his light to others calm the storm’s fury.

The other contrast is between deceit and joy. These are the fruits or results of my chosen character — and the means for fulfilling their roles. In the presence of light, darkness flees. Darkness has no substance, no definition, nothing to offer when light is present. Joy doesn’t simply appear, poof, because of my behavior. It is the tool and the premise for peace. I choose joy. Happiness. Contentment. And as a result, I am intentional about distributing the peace it provides. When joy is present, it dominates over the need to plot, plan, and devise a way forward. The joy of honesty, transparency and authenticity and my Father’s absolute acceptance of me as I currently exist triumphs over the need to lie, connive and weasel my way through life. Even in the midst of pain or a difficult situation, having my eyes set on the horizon and the good that my Father promises me brings it into my moment.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews‬ ‭12:2-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬

Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.” John‬ ‭7:33-34‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬

The coming crucifixion, resurrection, and departure of Christ did not take him by surprise. There were several times he spoke to his disciples, and now here to the crowd, that he knew the events of the days ahead. Yet even when he told them, men are so very focused on this flesh and present earthly life that it didn’t even cross their mind that he was referring to his life after his death. Even so, he was speaking from their perspective… “you will seek me.” In other words: you will hear that I’m alive. Those that should be grieving now seem strangely over it, exuberant and emboldened. People will be looking for me, but because I’m not physically on earth any longer, you will sense that I’m still here, yet you won’t find me. But I am here. I told my disciples I would return (John 14:18) and I did — in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

The way he said this makes me think of a child, a son, supremely confident in the words and pictures his father has shown him. There is absolutely no reason for Jesus to doubt what his Father had told him about the future. And he boldly tells those in Jerusalem the same — although not in the same detail he tells his disciples. He told the crowd “you will not find me, and where I am, you cannot come,” but he tells his disciples:

A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. John‬ ‭14:19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

And not only will they see him, Jesus asks the Father that they may be there with him — without leaving the earth like he did!

But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. John‬ ‭17:13, 15, 24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

There is something deeply comforting about knowing that coming events, turbulent times, even unthinkable tragedy, could be known in advance. Maybe what appears as chaotic and random actually has causality that God already sees and knows, and He has plans and purpose within it. Jesus shared with his disciples that they too would receive the same understanding of coming events — the knowledge of the future, before it happens:

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]. ‭‭John‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭AMPC‬‬‬‬‬‬

He said this for a specific purpose:

And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. John‬ ‭14:29‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬

There are some things in life that shake us to the core. Almost unthinkable. Ask Job. Ask the disciples. Ask Mary. Ask Abraham. Ask David. God knows that if we know he knew beforehand, then we may be comforted in that knowledge. The crucifixion was no random accident. What happened did not take Him by surprise. When we are tuned in and listening, he tells us too so that unsettling events don’t take us by surprise. The foreknowledge is not merely a tool for coping and being comforted. As the Spirit shared the things to come with Jesus, we see him purposeful and intentional about how he shared it. The result? That we and others may believe.

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ‭‭John‬ ‭7:37-39‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

What an incredible promise delivered in such a compelling way! Jesus was not attention-seeking or purposefully dramatic, but this interaction is different. He stands and shouts at a climactic moment of the feast, compelling people to acknowledge their thirst and believe in him. It was not subtle. In exchange for believing, you will receive quenching, living water — which refers to the Holy Spirit’s inhabitation. This moment is contrasted with the backdrop of his reluctance to attend the feast with his brothers earlier in John 7, knowing the Jews were seeking to kill him. Then, as though he dismisses his own concern, boldly marches into the hornet’s nest and makes one of the most profound promises of his ministry. As I meditate on this, I wanted to understand more about the context and the moment.

The Feast

Each Jewish feast has a fulfillment in Christ. The most notable is the Passover which is prophetic of the lamb of God being offered for sins. Pentecost foretells the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is also the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Booths. The Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles, occurred at the end of the agricultural season and is a celebration of the crops being brought in and the plentiful bounty of the year. During the feast, the people of God dwell in booths, or temporary shelters, reminding them of their their sojourning in the wilderness during their journey from Egypt to Canaan.

They could come [Jews from other nations] at this season of the year—not during the winter for the passover, nor yet quite so readily in summer’s heat for Pentecost. But now in the delicious cool of early autumn, when all harvest operations, the gathering in of luscious fruit and vintage were past, and the first streaks of gold were tinting the foliage, strangers from afar off, and countrymen from Judaea, Peraea, and Galilee, would mingle in the streets of Jerusalem… Booths must be erected everywhere—in court and on housetop, in street and square, for the lodgement and entertainment of that vast multitude; leafy dwellings everywhere, to remind of the wilderness-journey, and now of the goodly land. —Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Celebration

The feast lasted for seven days, and on the last day there was a priestly ritual of pouring out water in the temple. It was a solemn and culminating moment reflecting great blessing. In John’s gospel, it was immediately after this when Jesus stood up and made this proclamation, “Come to me and drink, from your bellies will flow rivers…”

The ceremony of the outpouring of water, which was considered of such vital importance as to give to the whole festival the name of “House of Outpouring” was symbolic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

We have here the only Old Testament type yet unfulfilled; the only Jewish festival which has no counterpart in the cycle of the Christian year, just because it points forward to that great, yet unfulfilled hope of the Church: the ingathering of earth’s nations to the Christ.

We can have little difficulty in determining at what part, of the services of ‘the last, the Great Day of the Feast; Jesus stood and cried, ‘If any one thirst, let Him come unto Me and drink!’ It must have been with special reference to the ceremony of the out-pouring of the water, which, as we have seen, was considered the central part of the service. Moreover, all would understand that His words must refer to the Holy Spirit, since the rite was universally regarded as symbolical of His outpouring. The forthpouring of the water was immediately followed by the chanting of the Hallel. But after that there must have been a short pause to prepare for the festive sacrifices (the Musaph). It was then, immediately after the symbolic rite of water-pouring, immediately after the people had responded by repeating those lines from Psalm 118-given thanks, and prayed that Jehovah would send salvation and prosperity, and had shaken their Lulabh towards the altar, thus praising with heart, and mouth, and hands; and then silence had fallen upon them-that there rose, so loud as to be heard throughout the Temple, the Voice of Jesus. He interrupted not the services, for they had for the moment ceased. He interpreted, and He fulfilled them. —Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The feast of Tabernacles. The ingathering of the nations

Jesus purposefully connected his promise with something that was written, saying, “as the scripture says.” Yet, it has no direct word-for-word match in the Bible. So what was he referring to? As I dig deeper into the Old Testament, Jesus seems to be pointing to the reference in Ezekiel when the prophet saw the temple and the water flowing from it (Ezekiel 47). It too was speaking prophetically of a future time. The symbolism in Ezekiel is both vast and connecting, just like what was a taking place at that moment in the Feast. And almost poetically, Ezekiel’s penned his words when Israel was again dwelling in real booths. They were being held captive by the river Chebar in Babylon. It never ceases to amaze me how God weaves meaning and connects themes to reveal the plans in his heart. The captivity was a low point in the nation’s history. Ezekiel began by describing an incredible vision of heaven (Ezekiel 1) which was rich with symbolism which again points to the future. Many of these symbols are amended and expanded upon in the book of Revelation — which also was speaking of days to come. Starting in chapter 40 Ezekiel saw a vision of the temple. In a vision, an angel said to him,

Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever…” Ezekiel 43:7

The church now knows that the temple of God is within the hearts of men. His presence inhabits temples of flesh. Then later Ezekiel saw:

Water was flowing from under the threshold of the house…. Ezekiel 47:1

And he continues, observing where the water flowed:

When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this? “Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing. ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭47:3-12‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Ezekiel’s temple spoke of a future day

The water flowed from under the temple. But now the real temple of God is our bodies. He dwells within believers. We come to him, believe in him, ask and he fills us with his Holy Spirit. Not only are we satisfied, but the river that erupts becomes a life-giving source. This is what it appears Christ was referencing when he said “as the scripture says.” But the picture is not complete with just me. From me comes one source. From you comes another. From other sons and daughters equally come the flow of his presence. Together, as the rivers join, they become a flow, a torrent, that changes the landscape.

Jesus said the water would come from our innermost being. The Greek, Koilos, means hollow. The belly, bowels, interior or midst of a thing. Can mean, the innermost part of a man, the soul, heart, as the seat of thought, feeling, choice. The source of the water would be from the Holy Spirit within the heart and soul of man. In symbol in Ezekiel, the water flowed from the door or threshold of the temple, the right side, or south of the altar. Before Christ, the Jewish temple was home to the presence of God. Yet Jesus was speaking of the moment just days ahead where the Holy Spirit that would dwell in a temple of flesh. In me. And He would flow from me. The Hebrew speaks of the water “trickling” out, which is a contrast to the waters that were uncrossable a few verses later. How could a trickle become a flood? From one person comes a trickle. From many comes a flood. The church, the people of God form the river. In John 14 Jesus said, in my Father’s house are many rooms, or dwelling places. When he left us, he went to make preparations so that the same Spirit that was in him, would now be in us. We are the many rooms. We are each a room. Together we are a temple. We are individually a trickle. Together, we are the river. What an incredible picture! The fulfillment of this today is hard to imagine with how fractured our relationships are. Yet, Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21, he believed it was possible, “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in us; that the world may believe that you sent us.”

I can imagine in the time of Christ it was difficult for those living with a real, physical temple to accept that it is just a symbol. The presence of God could truly be found in that building of stone. Yet now, that same presence of God is dwelling in people through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This helps me better understand God’s intent with Ezekiel’s words. The temple that John speaks of in the book of Revelation in all probability refers to even a further development of what the temple or dwelling place of God will look like. (Revelation 22:1-5)

But God is the God of the present. And in the temple that day Jesus connected this grand desire of God to his infilling of me with His presence. As I live with his Spirit saturating my life, it flows from me. I’m mindful that it has been over 2,000 years since he said this, and even longer since Ezekiel penned his prophecy, yet the torrent of his presence has not yet been seen on this planet. In fact, the divisions, rudeness, and disrespect I see today is at a level I could never have imagined. But based on Jesus’ prayer that we be one, Ezekiel’s vision of a river that is uncrossable, and the hope of fulfillment of the Feast of Booths in the church — the joyful ingathering of the nations (as crops) to celebrate the Feast of Booths — my heart tells me the time is very near.

Isaiah spoke of the future indwelling of the Holy Spirit:

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell. ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:10-12‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

To the Samaritan woman at the well he said:

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John‬ ‭4:10‬, 13-14‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. John‬ ‭7:24‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Of the many topics addressed in this dialogue in John 7, the most notable is the Jews’ offense at Christ for healing a man by the pool of Bethsaida on the Sabbath (John 5). The offense was so severe in their mind it warranted death. Keeping the rules, all of them, had become such an obsession in Israel that they ceased considering the higher values of the kingdom. From God’s requirement to “rest” on the seventh day, flourished (in typical Jewish fashion) books of laws, rules, and traditions to define to the minutia what “rest” meant. (Grasping these rules could not have been an activity fit for the Sabbath!) One of those rules was about the load that they could lift and how heavy. When Jesus asked the man he healed to “take up his bed and walk” he crossed the line.

Today it seems utterly foolish that carrying a portable bed would be worthy of punishment, let alone death. Yet they had a grid from which they made their judgement. It was quick and easy: the Sabbath must be honored, carrying a bed dishonors. Jesus (and the man who did it) are guilty. Case closed.

When they confronted Christ, rather than sticking up a middle finger at them and walking away, Jesus made an appeal. He offered them an off-ramp from the freeway of their quick judgement — a road that that was not leading them where they needed to go. “What about circumcision?” It is work. It also is a law. When you have two laws that seem to conflict with each other, someone must make a distinction. The word “judge” from the Greek (krinō) and originally meant “separate.” Separating the grain from the chaff, thence, ‘to distinguish, to pick out, to be of opinion, to judge. The Jews distinguished the value of circumcision and weighed it with the competing value of rest on the Sabbath. The verdict? Circumcision does not violate the Sabbath. One value is not negated by another. Jesus’ appeal was clear: if circumcision didn’t violate the Sabbath, shouldn’t what I did in providing this man real rest be considered acceptable?

Without the cultural context of Israel in the time of Christ, today I instinctively value of health and well-being in the man Christ healed above arbitrary rules about work, particularly in light of the many years he had struggled with health. The healing was incredible! It was Spirit-directed. It was affirming. An expression of tender love and affection. And in every sense, it fulfilled the Sabbath. If the Sabbath was the avatar for rest, then health, as opposed to the constant struggle internally of dealing with a life-disabling disease, was more of a fulfillment of God’s intent than working to maintain the status quo of severe incapacitation. Mercy is better than judgment.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭23:23‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I am programmed to make quick judgments. It’s not a bad thing. I see dog poop, without thinking I step over it. When I see mold on food, I throw it out. If I see a car coming while I drive on a one-way street I immediately understand that one of us is going the wrong direction. Yet there are things I’ve learned, judgments I’ve made that have found their way into the “auto response” system in my life — even though they are wrong. Everyone has them. But what are they? How do I know what they are? When it comes to the things of God, I have a lifelong exposure to perspectives that may not align with the kingdom. I grew up as a Catholic. I became and evangelical Pentecostal. I sat under Bible teachers that taught with conviction, yet years later struggled with the very things they taught. None of these experiences are necessarily “bad” or “good.” I value and embrace my history. The Holy Spirit is able to take me from where I am today and lead me in a perfect way, in exactly the right timing. He is so good to me. Whether I grow up in America, in Orthodox Israel, in Hindu India, in radical Afghanistan or the dark corners of Africa, my Heavenly Father has a road map for me. But it may mean tinkering with my immediate judgments and reconsidering certain values — similar to how Jesus challenged his challengers. I love the way the Father frames this up for Christ and David in the Old Testament:

And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear. ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:7‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

When I consider the circumstances of the healing by the pool, the choice of the man (among the many that needed healing) and the timing (among the other six days of the week), and the method (not just “walk” but also, “pick up your bed”), I see that intentionality of the conflict the Holy Spirit precipitated. And then even with the prospect of death, Jesus marches directly into the middle of the lion’s den. What is this about? It’s about an opportunity. It’s like the Holy Spirit is saying “Stop!” Rethink the automatic judgments you have made. Listen to what you are saying! Consider the heart and love of God. Maybe you are wrong. Maybe you have made a hasty judgment. Add righteousness to it. Open your heart. Allow a new perspective to invade your thinking. Laws are good and important for the time being, but something else is more important. Are you willing to break from the status quo? Are you willing to step sideways from what everyone else is thinking even if you become the object of their scorn?”

I personally don’t ever want to be too introspective about my bad thinking or snap judgements. But I know I have them. And I deeply trust that when Jesus flags the issue for me, that he will also provide the grace to adjust. He picks the time, place, and method. It may come in the form of a conflict or something that makes me angry — he knows how to get my attention. Yet, I endeavor to have a heart that listens. And when he speaks to me, I can almost be certain it is about an entrenched way of thinking, a snap judgment, or a value that is superseding love. When I consider making any judgment of another, I can understand why Christ asks me to consider a better way:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew‬ ‭7:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” Jesus therefore answered them and said, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” John‬ ‭7:14-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Learning is a transaction, a process, a choice. It’s deliberate. People recognized Christ as a teacher yet he didn’t have a formal education — the rabbinical training that Jewish leaders valued. So the obvious question is: how did he gain the knowledge, understanding and authority he taught with?

I am what I see. I mimic that which I value. My life is the sum of choices based on observing mentors and teachers and others who influence. I’m curious about the distinction I’ve seen between man and every other creature. Animals come coded with instincts to navigate life, some from the moment they are born. Yet for 15 to 20 long years man must observe, learn, and practice. The web that a spider spins did not come from Charlotte studying a textbook. My disposition toward knowledge and my awareness I need a teacher makes me the person I am.

In Proverbs, the Spirit of God in Solomon compels Christ and everyone who would be like him:

My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭2:1-6‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Early each morning Jesus awoke and opened himself to his Father. He listened. Learned. Saw. Observed. Even before Christ was born, Isaiah prophetically mirrored this disposition:

The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn back. Isaiah‬ ‭50:4-5‬ ‭NASB ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Jesus said in John 3:11 “We bear witness of that which we have seen…” He didn’t just have a vivid imagination that conjured up this new faith — he saw and experienced it in reality. Then shared it. Jesus knew his source and poignantly shared it with his disciples in his farewell supper.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John‬ ‭14:26‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. John‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Paul revealed the unique training and influence offered to God’s kids by the Holy Spirit:

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:10-13‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I may know about God’s kingdom, His truth, abide in heaven’s reality even if I don’t attend school. Human education is helpful — I wouldn’t be typing these words without it—but as helpful as it is, if I don’t have a vigilant disposition of heart, human teachers (especially Bible teachers) can quickly sidetrack me, especially when they undermine my faith’s foundations. The snake is a crafty creature.

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. 1 John‬ ‭2:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

So what about me? Do I avoid College? Abandon all the traditional places from which learning comes from? Personally, I know I can be of more value to my fellow man when I am trained to be an expert in our society’s crafts. To understand the world, I learn from the world’s teachers. But to understand the kingdom, I must learn from the kingdom’s teacher. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is not one, or the other, but a mingling of both. I love the home my Father made for me in this body, but I understand it is only part of the picture. There is a spiritual reality not often taught in our universities. The point is, the heart is teachable, and craves truth. Solomon said “seek her as silver, search for her as a hidden treasure” because that’s what it is, hidden. But to those who seek, God delights in allowing me to find.

The Father placed upon Jesus the role — or mantle — of a disciple, and he too learned just like all sons and daughters of the kingdom. He also placed upon him the mantle of a teacher as he taught the things he saw and learned. When God calls me by a name or gives me a role, it doesn’t matter that it didn’t originate in the institutions of earth. It sounds silly to say, but God has the resources, depth and wisdom to train me in the economy, infrastructure, ethics, philosophy, math, and laws of the kingdom. Jesus walked daily with his Father in the courts of heaven, seeing, hearing, knowing, experiencing what exists in his kingdom, and what was possible on earth. He was truth and light, and his achievements have impacted our earth like no other:

Therefore it says, “ when he ascended on high. He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers… Ephesians‬ ‭4:8, 11‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Teachers are a gift! Yet, the Holy Spirit is the real teacher.

Christ learned the letters from the Letter-giver. God intends for me to understand in the same way that Christ did. This is what he offered in the temple — a living example of learning from the Spirit and the promise that those who come to him would be just as satiated in mind and heart as he was. After the disciples learned from Christ, they then had an opportunity, just like Christ, to learn from the Spirit directly. Jesus said, “He abides with you (in Christ) and will be in you.” (John 14:17) After being filled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), these uneducated disciples too had a similar testimony.

And, looking at Peter’s boldness of speech, and John’s, and having discovered that they were unlettered and obscure men, they began to marvel, recognizing them also, that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (Rotherham)

The thing which impacts me is that Jesus offers me the same education he had, at the feet of the same teacher. Everyone who is willing is also able to pay the admission costs to this university. And even more impacting is that the training I receive and the resulting life I live may be my offering of worship, the respect and honor I offer to my God — just like Jesus.