God's Warning to the
3. God's Providence In The Scriptures
We know that the world we live in today is not literally God's kingdom. We learn that human history started off on the wrong footing, on the evil side. This is why the Bible says that the god of this world is Satan. Due to the human fall, Satan is abiding in us, in place of God. Accordingly, we are the incarnation of Satan. And you are in the lineage of Satan, instead of God. This is against God's law of creation. This is why in the religious world there have been many martyrs. In primitive religions people were sometimes killed as offerings or sacrifices, That represented in a deviated way the impulse to shed the satanic blood. In God's eyes, we are not people of His creation. We are not truly human beings, we are just satanic beings in the position of His enemies. We are the children of Satan, who is God's enemy. That is the result of the human fall.
This is why Jesus said, "You are of your father, the Devil." (John 8:44) Against God's desire, our first human ancestors fell in an unchaste, premature love relationship with each other. In order for us to have perfect restoration, we must have true parents, and we must be made part of their lineage by going through a process of rebirth. In the Bible we read that when Nicodemus visited Jesus and heard him talk about rebirth, he asked, "How can we go back into our mother's womb?" Jesus reportedly said to him, "You are a leader of Israel and still you don't know what rebirth means?" In conclusion, he said, "If you are not born again, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God."
To be born again and to become part of a new lineage is resurrection. Being men and women of the fall and born of satanic lineage we are destined to be reborn; then alone can we enter the Kingdom of God. The course of restoration is the way of reversing the course of the fall. This means that you must restore the original lineage. In order to change our satanic lineage into God's, we must live an ascetic life, a life which presents difficulties and hardships. In order for us to be restored, we must go through this course.
In the course of the fall, Adam and Eve believed Satan more than God. That was the first stage. In the course of the restoration we must believe in God strongly, absolutely. The end result of the fall was our satanic lineage, under Satan. Our blood became stained. In order for Jesus to make the condition for us to deny satanic lineage, he finally had to shed his blood. We have had to receive his blood in order to belong to his lineage. In Holy Communion, the wine symbolizes godly lineage. By partaking of bread and wine, it signifies that one comes to be of His lineage. So, we are removed in that manner from the satanic lineage to divine lineage.
Fallen humanity has been burdened by a debt of blood, sweat and tears. If you ask God to tell you some of His experiences since the fall, there is nothing else He can tell except a story of sweat and tears and blood. He has no other history but that. Most Christians truly don't know what God is all about. They imagine Him sitting on a glorious throne enjoying life, but that is not true at all.
Someone has to liberate God and He cannot do it Himself The agony of parents, or of husband and wife, cannot be solved by themselves alone. The agony of parents can only be solved by children; the agony of a husband can only be solved by his wife, and the agony of a wife by her husband. The only way to liberate God from His sorrow is by becoming a son or daughter of filial piety to take over His agony.
God wanted to forgive Adam and Eve, but He was not in the position to forgive them, because they were in no state to be forgiven. We must imagine this: suppose there was another person who did not fall-a brother of Adam, who, standing intact from the fall, would go to the Father and beg Him to forgive his brother and sister; what would have happened? If that man, without having fallen, would go to God and ask Him to forgive his brother for the fall, and if he would tell the Father that he would help by taking on any responsibility himself-, he would be willing to be beaten or anything else for the sake of the fall of his brother and sister, God could have forgiven them. This was supposed to be the way of forgiveness, or salvation of the fallen people.
A person who has not fallen can be said to have nothing to do with Satan. If God has that kind of individual, He can develop His providence of salvation with that one in the center. This type of person is "Abel," or one who is in the position of Abel. Abel is supposed to be the person who can receive perfect love from God. He or she must be able to be triumphant over Satan. Abel must be able to sacrifice him or herself for humankind. In other words there should be one who is willing to be sacrificed in place of the fallen brother and sister in order to liberate them.
That sacrificial brother will become the Christ. What is the mission of Christ, the Messiah? He is the one who bears your burden and your indemnity. That is why he is the savior. If you take over the burden of someone else's life then you are that person's savior. Your fallen brother or sister will be liberated on that condition alone. With the coming of that person among humankind, there can be the hope of salvation. The gate of salvation will be opened with those tears which are to relieve God's sorrow and human sorrow.
Then why do we need the Messiah? What is his purpose? It is to bring us back to the point connecting to God's love. We want to go back to that point, but we have inherited satanic lineage. The blood lineage of fallen people is disconnected from God's love. This must be indemnified. Indemnity means ultimately that the original sin must be removed. How to remove original sin; that is the fundamental problem. Fallen people by themselves cannot do it. Therefore, the Messiah is necessary. Yet to send the Messiah, it was necessary for humanity to make some sort of conditional foundation acceptable to God.
In pursuing this goal, it has been the strategy of God to summon champions out of this evil world. To understand God's ways, let us examine the history of His providence.
The family of Adam was the first family in God's creation. In this family there was a man, Abel, whom God chose to be His first champion. Abel served God wholeheartedly, and became the first man to give up his life for God's purpose. Abel had to reject Satan and come back to the bosom of God by fighting against and defeating Satan. He had to separate himself from Satan and be different from his fallen brother. Since he was in that position he could receive God's love. These three stages are the important formula: the one who is willing to save the world must fight against Satan and win the victory over him; then he or she must come into the love of God; and then, feeling the heart of God and fallen people, he or she must be willing to sacrifice him or herself in place of the fallen people. Only on that condition can the fallen people be taken back.
Thus, Abel should have separated himself from Satan, or Cain, come into the love of God, and then, by feeling and experiencing God's grief and his brother's grief, should have sacrificed himself in place of them. Instead of being arrogant, Abel should have been willing to die for Cain. He should have saved his brother at the risk of his life, at the very price of his life.
Abel was not to be sacrificed by being killed; he was to have been a living sacrifice so that God could work through him. He was to sacrifice without being sacrificed by Satan; his sacrifice on the altar was offered to God. But in the process of doing that, he was killed by Cain.
Later on God called Noah as His champion. And Noah accomplished a very unusual mission. God directed Noah to build a ship, and he was to build it on the top of a mountain. Now, it is just common sense that in building a ship you need a shipyard by some body of water. But Noah's instructions were to build the ark on top of a mountain rather than at the seashore or riverside. How many of us here could accept that kind of mission? How many of us could obey such a command and set to work without a single shred of doubt?
In Noah's time, no one could believe that Noah had received a command from God-nor did anyone accept him in his mission revealing the coming flood judgement. Can you imagine how Noah appeared to the people of his day? For 120 years he went up and down, up and down that mountain working on his boat. Would anyone among the ladies in the audience like to think of herself in the position of the wife of Noah? I don't think you would be a very happy wife.
Noah's wife must have packed his lunch basket every day, using only a little food. Noah was so busy with the ark he could not find time to provide for his family. Within only a few months the family squabbles must have begun, but it was not just for twelve months or twelve years that Noah's wife had to sustain her situation, but for 120 years. Why, then, did God ask of Noah such an incomprehensible mission? Why does God have to work that way? There is a reason. It is because of evil.
God cannot dwell together with evil. The direction of God is 180 degrees contrary to the direction of evil. God abhors evil! God cannot accept the things that the evil world accepts. So God does not want anything to do with the evil world, or with whatever is tainted by evil.
We are all in the image of God and can find traits similar to His in our human nature. Consider if you have an enemy toward whom you have strong feelings; you don't want to so much as look at that person. Likewise, God will have nothing to do with the evil, Satanic world. Therefore, in dealing with it, He chooses ways often incomprehensible to human beings.
God also wants to test the faith of men and women. He cannot do this by asking just ordinary things of people. We must be willing to comply with God's extraordinary instructions. We must display to God absolute faith. This is not an easy task. People thought Noah was a crazy man for building the ark. Nobody knew he occupied the central position in God's view.
Not only Noah, but other people of God seem to act in peculiar ways when they are seen from the worldly viewpoint. Let us take a look at Abraham.
God summoned Abraham, not from a family headed by a man of God, but from an idol-maker's house, and ordered him to separate himself from his evil surroundings and leave his homeland. God wanted Abraham to be His champion. This was God's personal command. If Abraham had then discussed this matter with his father, the idol maker would undoubtedly have asked him, "Are you crazy?" Abraham knew better than to mention anything to his father about his instructions from God. Who would have believed him? His mission was not just to say hello to his next door neighbor. God instructed him to journey to a strange land, as far away as Egypt.
Abraham's decision then was a lonely one, based upon his faith and his reliance upon God. By faith alone he made his decision and departed, with nothing on his mind except following the command of God. I know he stole away in the middle of the night. Suddenly he found himself wandering like a gypsy. He lived in self-denial; he had given up everything.
The champions of God have one characteristic in common: They begin their missions by denial of themselves and their surroundings. Isaac's son, Jacob, was no exception. Jacob was a man with strong will power in service to God. He wanted to serve God in an unprecedented fashion. He wanted to open an exemplary path, accomplishing something nobody else could duplicate.
In the Bible there are many stories about Jacob. One describes a very cunning act when he bought his elder brother's birthright in exchange for bread and a pottage of lentils. And later on he stole his father's blessing, which was intended for his elder brother Esau. In this incident Jacob knew beyond any doubt that he would make an enemy out of his elder brother. He committed himself nonetheless. That craving in Jacob, that ardent desire for God's blessing, was so strong in his heart that God was really comforted. After obtaining Isaac's blessing, Jacob then escaped the danger of being killed by his elder brother when he fled from his homeland and went to the strange land of Haran.
For 21 years Jacob endured a life of tribulation in Haran. During that time Jacob was repeatedly deceived by his uncle Laban. Ten times Laban cheated Jacob, and Jacob did not complain even once. He just persevered and waited for the day when he could return to his blessed homeland.
Then, in what manner did Jacob set up a tradition of belief enabling him to receive God's blessing and protection? It may appear simple, but Jacob and an offering alone were not enough; there was something else needed. The offering had not to be for the sake of Jacob himself; he had to offer it for the sake of the Israelites and their nation which was the nation of God's choice. In other words, the sacrifice is something to be offered in order to expand things to higher and wider dimension and more public nature, such as to the family and national dimension, and to have those things reach God and connect with Him. Whether or not you are strong in this idea can determine whether or not you receive God's blessing and cooperation.
The more opposition and persecution Jacob received from Laban, the more he thought of his native home where he had to bring back what he could get from Laban. He did not want merely to enjoy his life in Haran with the blessings God had allowed him to have, but he desired to share his blessing with his brother and parents back in his native home. This desire to share with his own family was the basis or beginning of his idea to love his own people and then the nation.
Jacob's primary desire was to share all the blessings he had with his brother and parents and thus to become harmonized in oneness with them. Jacob led the lonely life of a shepherd, but all during this time his ultimate purpose was not to gain money or the material blessing. He missed his native home. He felt sorry for what he had done to his elder brother. He thought it was understandable for Esau to want to kill him when he had taken away the birthright by cheating; and he was sympathetic with his brother.
What Jacob had that was acceptable as an offering to God was that the more difficult and lonely his situation became, due to the aggravating persecution from Laban, the deeper attachment he felt towards his parents and brothers. This made him always wonder what he could do for their sake; this was his primary question. He thought that he could readily share with everybody at home what he had acquired by spending twenty one long years of drudgery. If he felt the least bit self-centered, thinking that all the things he acquired belonged to himself alone, Jacob would have ended his course in failure. This was the case because God blessed Jacob not for his own welfare and prosperity, but so that he could lay the foundation on which all the Israelites could enjoy the blessing. In other words, Jacob had to think in terms of public benefit in order to succeed. When Jacob completed his twenty one year course successfully, God blessed him with material wealth and all the other things necessary for his mission.
That day finally came, and at the ford of Jabbok, on the way back home, God sent an angel to fight with Jacob. Now consider this: An angel from God suddenly appeared to Jacob and became a dreadful enemy. God was really pressing Jacob and testing the strength of his faith. Jacob had to wrestle with the angel. And he did wrestle.
Jacob didn't cease fighting all through the night. He never gave up. And then God knew that Jacob's determination was to fight to the end, even to death. What was the motivation and significance of the wrestling? If Jacob should be defeated by the archangel, all his possessions, all his children, himself and his wives, which should have been unified into wholesome oneness, could have been torn into pieces by satanic hands. However, if he should win, all those things would belong to him and God.
They fought all through the night until they were both exhausted, but the wrestling match was not over yet. How do you think the match went? They were not evenly matched. There were times when Jacob was almost defeated. What do you think? Was it Jacob who fell more times or the archangel? It is understandable that Jacob fell more times, but he did not give up even though he faced death; he fought desperately to win over the archangel. He would cling to the archangel again and again at the risk of his life. That's what made him fierce. That's exactly what happens in our course of life in faith. You are desperate to win over Satan, but Satan is so fierce that you stumble over and over again. No matter how many times you may be on the verge of defeat, you will attack him again and again.
The archangel knew that he had to leave Jacob at daybreak. So, just before dawn, he became desperate and broke Jacob's thigh. How do you think the archangel broke Jacob's thigh? He must have done this in a moment when Jacob was weak. If, at that moment, Jacob was not being defeated, he could not have done that. Still, Jacob could not give up. Even though his thigh was broken, Jacob could not give up. At the thought of loss he became even more furious, and attacked the angel again and again. He would rather lose his life in attacking than lose the battle. Jacob finally won the test. The angel of God surrendered, and said to him, "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Gen. 32:28)
Now Jacob was on his way home to meet his brother Esau. He could have gone somewhere else to enjoy his wealth if he did not think of God's will. He could have said, "Esau is Esau, and I am I; what have I to do with his life?" But his mind was so occupied with God's will hat he wanted to meet his brother and reconcile the past and soothe his heart until his resentment vanished. What did he have to do in meeting his elder brother, Esau? First of all, he was ready to give up all his possessions, all his servants and his children, telling his brother that all these belonged to him. His attitude was: "All that I have is yours except God's will and God's blessing which is eternally mine." Adam, who ignored God's will, was self-centered, minding only himself, and lost his children and all things of God's blessing. On the contrary, Jacob was so God-centered that he would give away all things for the will of God. This is what made Jacob different from Esau. Thus, on the family level, Jacob could wrestle with Esau and risk all that he had in his possession. Jacob would think to himself, "Esau, you cannot have all this wealth if you don't excel me in exalting God's will." He would challenge and deal with his brother with this attitude. He thought, "As long as you take these possessions of mine, it means that you are one with me and exalting God's will."
After receiving Jacob's gifts, Esau's heart melted. Thus the two brothers who had hitherto felt resentment and hostility toward one another embraced, shedding tears and blessing each other. A new era of history opened at this time on a higher dimension. There, Esau also shared in the blessing of being Israel, the victor. Jacob's course may look simple, but there is a historical meaning in it since all the things which had to be carried out under the providence of God were condensed in his course.
Later on God chose Moses as His champion. Imagine how fortunate Moses was to grow up in the Pharaoh's palace, where he could enjoy a luxurious life. But then one day as a young man he suddenly stood up as the champion of his people; he could no longer stand the Egyptians' oppression of his people. At that moment he knew that God was with him. He rejected his surroundings, denied himself, and went to the wilderness of Midian. He awaited his ultimate mission for forty years, persevering and growing worthy of God's blessing. Moses' life was very humble and meek. Every day he surrendered himself anew to God's purpose and asked His divine guidance, eagerly awaiting his eventual mission, the leading of his people out of Egypt.
These men, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, were champions of God. Now let us look also at John the Baptist. Described in the Bible as a great saint and prophet, John the Baptist went around the countryside like a common vagabond. He went without shoes, wearing camel skin with a leather belt, sustaining himself on locusts and wild honey. This was not a customary way to live, even in John's time; and I don't think John the Baptist's parents were very proud of their son. They must have felt ashamed.
Suppose you put yourself in the position of parents with your son, John The Baptist, going out in the wilderness year after year and living like a beggar. How would you feel? I have traveled in Israel, and I don't believe you will find many locusts or much wild honey in the desert. John the Baptist had to beg for his food many times. Imagine him wearing a camel skin, half of his body exposed, barefoot and with a beard, going from one place to another begging for food. If I came up here on the podium tonight barefoot, with a beard and clothed in an animal skin, and then said I was proclaiming the word of God, I am sure you would think I was crazy.
We must be curious about the objectives and motives of these providential figures. All of these great men started their life of faith centered not on themselves, but on God. Why do we have to respect and honor them, and give them credit for their contribution? Simply because they received instruction from God, not from themselves. Also, we should know what kind of life they lived for God in that age. We find that they had a conflict-their life of faith versus the life of reality. We find that they were not of one will when they faced a conflict. Also, we find that they solved the problem when they centered on God, and not on themselves. Also, we know that because of this conflict between God's side and the world's side, they multiplied their persecution and suffering. That is why they are great people!
Always we find that their life in this world was lonely because they suffered many, many things and. were persecuted by this world. When they had nobody to convey their thoughts and feelings to, they could go only to God and talk to Him. Also, when we look at their lives in the world, their material lives-they were so narrowed down, received so few material things; naturally, they turned their hearts and lives toward God. When we think of how they were living in this world, their scope of consciousness was so narrowed down that they had to cognize everything centered on God. That was their life.
Naturally they had to live their lives centering on oneness with God. In every area -- recreation with others, knowledge and cognition -- they plunged themselves into a relationship with God, because there was no one else to rely on except God. There was no place to have give and take horizontally, to seek the object, so they concentrated on finding their object in God, more seriously than they sought an object in this world. Because the reality of this world for them was so narrow, they had to rely on heaven to get through such a narrow opening to God-and thereby they opened a new realm by embracing God.
Even if a narrow detour must be taken to God, they, and we, are not supposed to be depressed. There is a way out. We cannot be discontented. God created all things for the purpose of happiness and satisfaction and contentment. When we reach this narrow detour, we are going to find a way out with the help of God. that is the place where true happiness and contentment will be. From that narrowed down point, the new relationship between God and ourselves will begin to open. For example, St. Francis emphasized pure poverty, a nothingness in which he could find happiness, appreciation, contentment, and satisfaction. From that point on, God could move and let him feel happiness and joy. Oneness with God can be created from that point. We have to realize that we as fallen people are standing in the center of two lines, between the world's side and God's side. We have to know when to narrow down, so we will know when the new era of happiness and joy will begin.
Let us continue along this line and examine the situation of Jesus Christ himself. I am sure there are many devout Christians among you who have various opinions on the life of Jesus. How would you visualize Jesus' appearance? What was Jesus doing for the thirty years before his public ministry? Was he in a college studying? The Bible doesn't say he even went to elementary school. He was a laborer, an assistant to a carpenter. There is so much to know, so many hidden truths within the Bible which are not written explicitly. If I revealed some of those secrets I am sure you would be amazed. Even though I know these things, I could not tell you those stories lightly. For you then would ask, "How do you know such things?"
I learned them from Jesus. Yes, and I learned from God. Remember, at the time of Noah nobody could believe Noah. At the time of Abraham, nobody could believe Abraham. By the same token, even though I will honestly tell you what actually happened at the time of Jesus, no one will easily believe me.
Who is the Messiah? The Messiah is completely united with the heart of God, like a direct import to earth from heaven. When God sent Jesus to be the Messiah, did He just take him as a baby and place Him on earth, or did He at least have to utilize the body of a woman for him to be born?
Jesus was born of Mary, so does this mean Mary was God? Did Mary have her own parents here on earth or did she drop out of the sky? Since Mary had parents, she must have been a descendant of the fallen lineage. Even though Mary also came from fallen parents there must be proof that she had nothing to do with the fallen lineage. Further, we must ask the question, how do we know Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God? What is the proof. As far as the actual work of religion is concerned, Buddha did a far greater job, as he had many more disciples in his own lifetime. The same is true of Confucius. Mohammed also was a much more successful religious leader than Jesus. What is the criteria for us to say that Jesus is the Son of God?
The explanation begins with the same principle: Jesus is the Son of God because he came out of the heavenly lineage, whereas the other religious founders, like Buddha, Confucius and Mohammed, did not come from that heavenly lineage. No matter how much they accomplished, they didn't have the same qualification as Jesus Christ.
To understand how Mary was separated from the fallen lineage, we must refer back to Jacob and his immediate descendants. Jacob and Esau were about the age of forty when they finally fulfilled the will of God; however, their success could only affect those people of that age or older. No one below the age of forty could benefit by this progress in the restoration. Therefore, God prepared another step in His dispensation that would protect His children from the period of their life in their mother's womb until the age of forty. This providence was sealed within the next three generations of Jacob's descendants. It is recorded in Genesis chapter 38.
Judah was the fourth son of Jacob, and Judah's first son married a woman whose name was Tamar. According to the Law, if a son died without leaving sons, his brother must act as a husband to the dead brother's wife so that the dead brother's lineage would be continued. Tamar did not have children when her husband died, and when the next brother refused to fulfill his responsibility, he also died. Tamar saw that through the third brother as well, she had no hope to bear children.
She knew that her mission was to continue the family of her husband and Judah, his father, and she finally decided to sacrifice even her honor in order to fulfill. Disguising herself as a prostitute, Tamar enticed her father-in-law to have a relationship with her. Without knowing she was his daughter-in-law Judah consented. At that time adultery was punished by death. In order to save her life for the sake of her child, Tamar asked Judah for his signet and staff as a pledge for payment, and then confiscated them.
Three months later when it became obvious that the widow Tamar was pregnant, she was brought before Judah to be judged. You can imagine Judah's horror, "Bring her out, and let her be burned!" But she answered, "By the man to who these belong, I am with child," and she brought out the things that Judah had given her in his pledge.
Adam and Eve fell through fornication, and Tamar was one example of how God frequently used women of most unusual character in restoration. Why would God use adulterous women in the dispensation? They are acting in a satanic position, but if in so doing they deny satanic nature by complete obedience to God, then they can be restored from one extreme to the opposite extreme.
God selected His champions from the most miserable situations. Tamar was a righteous woman, and though she was placed in a sinful position, she completely dedicated herself to God's mission, risking her life, honor, and prestige. Paralleling the way Eve lied to God and her husband-to-be in the process of the fall, Tamar deceived her father-in-law and her husband-to-be, Judah's third son. She reversed the position of Eve by reversing Eve's actions, and the significant thing is that she risked her life in doing it, just as Eve did in falling at the cost of her life. Thus, God could have a claim on Tamar's womb-on the very life emerging in that womb.
Tamar conceived twins, and the struggle of Cain and Abel began within her very womb. The Bible records how Rebecca's twins also struggled within their mother's womb. Rebecca prayed to God to understand what was happening, and the Lord answered her, saying, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born to you, shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger." Ultimately Jacob did gain the birthright from his elder brother, Esau.
When the time came for Tamar's children to be delivered, the struggle ensued directly within her womb. The first child started to come out and the midwife tied a red thread around his wrist. That sign foreshadowed the emergence of communism in the last days. Esau was also named "Edom," which means "red." (Gen. 25:30) However, before the first child could be born there was a struggle, and the younger brother pulled the other back inside the womb and was himself born first. That son was named Perez, and the other named Zerah. The result of this struggle is that for the first time the restoration of Cain and Abel took place inside the mother's womb, the younger brother having subjugated his elder brother even prior to birth. Tamar's extraordinary action cleansed Judah's lineage and rendered it intact from satanic invasion from the time of conception.
Through this victory at the time of Tamar and also Jacob's earlier victory, God could claim a foundation that spanned the entire human life-span. Jesus was born in the lineage of Judah, and Satan had no way to invade his life in the womb because the cleansing process was already completed. Jesus came years after the dispensation of Jacob and Tamar because God had to wait for Israel's national foundation to be established. The conditions were fulfilled on the family level at the time of Jacob, Tamar and Judah, but God needed to create a foundation to receive the Messiah within a nation, that he might be received on the national and international levels as easily as possible.
Finally, God chose a woman whose name was Mary. Mary was a revolutionary woman of faith who could follow God's revolutionary tactics. Because the fall came through the archangel, an angel was needed to assist Mary by bringing her God's revelation. Mary completely believed what the angel told her of her mission; the angel told her that she would conceive, and the child would be great and holy, and that his name should be called Jesus.
Mary's situation paralleled Eve's in the garden of Eden. Mary and Joseph were engaged but not yet married; Adam and Eve were also in an engagement period as they were maturing. An angel brought Eve to the fallen act, but an angel brought Mary to the fulfillment of the heavenly dispensation. Mary was also in a position to deceive her husband and father. Do you think Mary could discuss with her father or Joseph about the miraculous conception of her baby? She was risking her life because in those times an adulterous woman was to be stoned to death.
Mary was the third providential woman to be picked by God. Through the previous victories of Rebecca and Tamar all satanic conditions had been cleared from Jesus' lineage, and even though Mary conceived Jesus outside of marriage, Satan could not accuse her. Even inside his mother's womb Jesus was already the only begotten Son of God, and after his birth everything he did was with the authority of the Son of God.
Without having an entirely different beginning, there was no way that Jesus could be the Messiah, the begotten Son of God. What's the difference between Jesus and any other child with physical parents? The difference is historical time; on the surface the parents may look the same but their backgrounds are entirely different. Mary was a historic figure. Throughout thousands of years of history God and Satan bargained and struggled and finally reached an agreement even before Mary herself came into being. God knew that He had to use a woman's body to have His son born on this earth, and in order to have that one woman ready God prepared for thousands of years.
Nonetheless, from the point of view of the society of those days, Jesus was a fatherless child, an illegitimate child. In the sight of God he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but there was no way to prove it to people! So set your thoughts in a realistic vein and just evaluate what I am going to say.
Mary conceived Jesus before marriage. Under the Jewish law, such a woman was to be condemned to death by stoning. Joseph suffered indignation because of Mary's situation, and quietly waited until the right time to end their engagement. Then an angel appeared to Joseph and said to him, "You are to take Mary as your wife. Do not condemn her, for she has a special mission from God." If Joseph had not been a righteous man, Mary would have been automatically condemned to death by stoning.
Now, do you think Joseph could have discussed this matter with his parents by saying, "Mother and father, my wife-to-be, my betrothed, has conceived a child, but an angel said that this is the will of God, so I must take her as my wife and care for her"? What would Joseph's parents have said? There are many older couples in the audience tonight. Put yourself in the position of the parents of Joseph. You would not have believed Joseph if he spoke such things. Again, Joseph had to make a lonely decision. Without discussing the matter with anybody, he took his fiancée off to some secret hiding place.
Now consider them going towards Bethlehem. It was almost the time for Mary to give birth. If the environment was such that she could have prepared things for the coming child, she would have done that, but she could not prepare anything for the child. When the child was born, she laid him in a stable manger and wrapped him in swaddling clothes. If Jesus had had physical relatives united with Mary and Joseph, would they not have helped Mary prepare the way beforehand? From all those things we can gather that Mary gave birth to the child in a lonely, lonely situation.
At the time of Jesus' birth, God sent three wise men. They were led to that place by God and should have ministered to Jesus, raising him until the day of his marriage. What would have happened if the wise men, when told to go back to their country through different ways than they expected to go, had taken mother Mary and the holy child with them back to their country? If Jesus had been raised there in concealment, the wise men would have become world-famous historical figures.
I don't know if they were from one nationality or from three different nationalities; it would have been even better if they were from three different nationalities. If, after Jesus was brought to one of the three nations, he was still being persecuted, they could remove him to other nations. If they had helped Jesus to grow up wholesomely, completely safe from satanic invasion, how famous they would have become! Then the wise men could have been Jesus' disciples. Things would have been much better. Since nothing like that took place, Jesus had to look for his own disciples, as you know.
I am sure Joseph went through a most difficult period in which he was full of suspicion about Mary. Joseph must have asked his wife-to-be, "Mary, we are close and have no secrets from one another. Now tell me what really happened to you. Who is the true father of the baby in your womb?" I am sure any husband would be very curious about this matter. If I had been in the position of Joseph I would have asked Mary this question. But Mary was telling the truth when she said, "I really do not know who is the father of this child. It was conceived by God." How many of us could believe her statement? It is easier to believe now, because we know who Jesus is, but this was not the case during the lifetime of Jesus.
Therefore, Joseph had certain suspicions and injured feelings in his heart. He thought, "My wife is not truly honest with me." Because of these circumstances there was emotional turmoil and upheaval in Jesus' family after he was born.
One incident in particular witnesses to this fact. One day Jesus met his mother at a wedding feast in Galilee, and Mary informed Jesus that they had run out of wine. He called out to his mother, saying, "0 Woman, what have you to do with me?. . ." (John 2:4) The point is, he did not say, "Mother," but instead called out, "Woman." Later on a disciple of Jesus came to him saying, "Your mother and your brothers would like to see you." And Jesus replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers? . . . Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mark 3:33-35) This indicated that in the eyes of Jesus the members of his family were not doing the will of God.
Jesus suffered great anguish within his own family. There are many hidden stories not yet revealed. Many of the facts about his suffering are unknown. The Bible leaves a scanty record of the thirty years before Jesus' public ministry. If this were a glorious record, we can be sure that God and Jesus' disciples would have revealed it. But Jesus lived in sorrow and grief; he was an obscure figure for thirty years.
As a child, Jesus definitely knew that he was special. He heard what the common people thought about him but his own self-image was completely different. From the time he was small he could never talk openly in his own way. The only consolation he could seek was in communication with God, and he spent most of his time praying to God and seeking His guidance. As a result Jesus became stronger and stronger in this period and circumstances compelled him in only one direction -- toward God and the realization of His ideal. He knew that humanity's thinking was vastly different from God's and that it had to be corrected; he also knew that society understood nothing about what God wanted and that he himself would have to change it. Because of his adverse circumstances Jesus had to really pray hard to God, to the point where God could talk to him and teach him what he would need for his future work. As Jesus grew older and knew more and more clearly who God was and what his own mission was supposed to be, his heart became heavier and more agonized and his environment became more difficult to tolerate.
Jesus' birthday -- Christmas -- meant nothing special in those days. The most precious friend for Jesus would have been the person who came to him, not with many presents or words of congratulations, but rather with a tearful heart to console him in his situation and to discuss with him what he was going to do in the future. If someone like this had been there then Jesus would have been far happier than if someone had come with presents. That person could have been one of his own brothers or sisters. Knowing his hidden suffering, he or she could have brought just a small piece of cake wrapped in a handkerchief to give to Jesus on his birthday, saying, "The people don't understand you, but I will try to help you. You must not be disappointed." Jesus certainly would have welcomed such a person far more than someone who came with a fancy present for him and then went away. If there had been one such brother or sister in Jesus' family then Jesus would have remembered him or her for a long time and would have spoken about it.
Jesus always wished that his own parents, brothers, and relatives could help him in the mission. If his parents would not help him, then who else would help? Jesus was the central figure, the personage of divine mission whom God sent after a preparation of 4,000 years.. There were people prepared to receive him. In order for him to be able to establish the Kingdom of God on earth he must have been able to establish the Kingdom right in his own family first. He knew the heavenly law of the divine family, so his own family had to be placed under that law.
According to that divine law, Joseph should have loved and ministered to Jesus, not to speak of his mother Mary. Jesus had even to educate his own parents and brothers and sisters; they had to love him more than anyone else, ministering to him and helping him in his mission. Jesus was a prince of the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not an ordinary prince of a kingdom on earth. He was the only son of God, and he was sent to do this mission as the single central figure sent by God. That family had to exemplify and build the tradition by ministering to the child, even though he was their son. In preparing food for him, in preparing clothes for him, in doing anything for him, they were to be very sincere and whole-hearted. Their other sons and daughters should have helped Jesus carrying out his mission. But the situation was in conflict-it was not like this. With all of these things happening in his environment, he had to lead an unhappy life preparing for his mission alone until the moment he was thirty years of age.
Jesus knew God's plan for himself, for Israel and for a rest of humankind. God is immaterial, but by having body Jesus could experience the existing human condition and he knew that he had to be the central point to bring the world back to God. Do you think that he wanted very much for someone to show some understanding, or that he wanted to hear even one word of love spoken to him knowing that without him no one had any chance to return to God? Jesus yearned to hear the high priest say, "We must prepare ourselves to receive you, because that's the only way for us to return to God."
Do we know of anyone who understood and said this?
The leading people not only did not come near him, they even opposed him directly. People were therefore shocked one day when they heard him say, "I am the fulfillment o the Law." and "Moses wrote of me." He proclaimed, "I am the Son of God," and "The Father in heaven has sent me.
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me." How many of us could have accepted such extraordinary statements if we had lived in those days?
Jesus just bewildered people, he sounded so outrageous. Even John the Baptist had difficulty seeing Jesus as the Son of God, and John was supposed to prepare the people and make straight the way of the Lord.
Bringing the Kingdom of God here on earth on a nationwide and then worldwide scale was Jesus' only goal. With this in his heart, what would Jesus have preached? Would he have said, "Brethren, I am the Son of God and I have many gifts and blessings for you. If you unite with me, I'll give you good homes, good lives and abundant blessings. I will even make you powerful kings and queens in the world." Wouldn't he have said instead, "Brethren, even if you and I must be sacrificed, God wants to save the world. Let us become champions for the salvation of the world."
Today it is very easy to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God because for 2,000 years Christianity has been glorifying him as God. But in those days, the elders did not accept him. And the priests did not accept him either. They were no less intelligent than we are today. In fact, we would probably have compounded their mistakes if we had lived in the days of Jesus of Nazareth. They saw only an outcast, a blasphemer, and an outrageous heretic. They simply could not see the Son of God.
Jesus had been long-awaited. The Messiah was expected for 2,000 years. But when he finally appeared, there was no reception for him. The faith of the people of Israel at that time was no less powerful, no less devout than the faith of Christians today. Yet we know that the people Jesus associated with were not on a par with the rest of society, that he mixed with harlots, tax-collectors, and fishermen. We know the story that one day a young woman poured precious ointment over Jesus' body, then washed his feet with her hair. If we had seen these things, how many of us can say in a pious manner that we would have accepted Jesus as the Son of God?
Jesus made statements which rendered it almost certain he would be crucified. He said that anyone who loved his family more than Jesus was not worthy of Jesus, and that meant denying everyone. So everyone opposed him for encouraging division of families. People said Jesus was destroying the family bond and social ties.
The three years of Jesus' public ministry were a far cry from the anticipated Messiahship. No one understood Christ's true mission. People judged the Son of God with sinful eyes, according to their own earthly standards. And they treated him as they pleased. In the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was sometimes angered at the immoral behavior of the people. He even overturned the moneychangers' tables in a moment of force. By normal standards he should have been arrested and no civil court would have vindicated him. But under the law of God Jesus had not committed any sin. Civil law is not heavenly law. But this sinful world can never be hospitable to the purity of Christ.
As I mentioned, all the saints and prophets and righteous ones of history had first to deny themselves totally and give themselves up to God. When He summoned them, they gave up their homes, their fortunes, their families and their nations. God wants His champion on the individual level, on the family level, tribal level, national level and worldwide level. He has summoned His champions on each level. And the qualification for God's champion on any level always remains the same. He or she needs the absolute and untiring faith required to follow His command wherever it may lead. God needs total obedience to His will.
We must examine then, what is the will of God? Why does He give His people such a hard time? Salvation of the individual is certainly important in the sight of God. God does not neglect that. However, that is not the ultimate purpose of God's work. God's will is the salvation of the world! God needs an individual to be His champion for the ultimate goal of world salvation. God summoned one family to be an instrument for the salvation of the world.
God summoned His people to achieve the salvation of the world. God wants to have a nation as His champion, for the ultimate fulfillment of world salvation. People in the time of Jesus were anxiously awaiting the Messiah. But many were thinking only of their own national glory. They did not understand the universal mission of Jesus Christ. It was the purpose of God to send the Messiah to the chosen people of Israel so that the Messiah would unite with the chosen people. Then they could become soldiers of faith, to fight for and achieve the salvation of the world.
The foundation for the Messiah was laid through Jacob, the champion of the family, and through Moses, the champion of his people. Finally the Messiah came to the nation of Israel. He was to be the champion of the nation and the champion of the entire world. The purpose of God is not the salvation of one church or one nation alone. It is the will of God that He sacrifice the lesser for the greater. Therefore He will sacrifice the church or the nation for the world. If Christians today think only of their own salvation, their own heaven and their own well-being, then they are not living in accordance with the purpose of God. If we are only concerned with the salvation of our own families, we are not worthy of God's blessing. If people focus on benefiting their own people alone, or their nation alone, then they are absolutely going against the will of God.
God will give you your own salvation. When you become God's champion for world salvation, your own salvation is assured. Now, the Christian population is probably one-seventh of the total world population. But among these, very few are devout Christians. And among devout Christians, how many of us really strive for the salvation of humankind? We must all devote ourselves to the salvation of the world!
God cannot be pleased with us if we live in a self-centered way. I met Jesus personally, and I received a revelation through which I learned that God's grief is great. His heart is broken. Today God is working ceaselessly for the ultimate salvation of all humankind. He needs His champion to succeed in this work. The purpose of God's church is to save the entire world. The church-God's Israel-is the instrument of God, and it was this very fact that was forgotten at the time of Jesus.
During the Old Testament era people used the things of creation to make offerings. The physical offering was supposed to be made on the national basis with the symbol of the universal sacrifice for humanity being the Messiah. Why is the Messiah needed as the physical consummation of the sacrifice? Jesus Christ as the Messiah came as the sacrifice upon the altar of the nation of Israel, but the Messiah needed human beings to complete the sacrifice because they were to be benefited, not the Messiah. The Messiah does not come for himself but for humanity. The universal Messiah came to the nation of Israel, the universal altar, and the people were supposed to unite with him completely and thus be offered together on that altar. However, that unity was not there. Jesus was offered as the sacrifice on the altar, but there was no one to offer that sacrifice to God. There was no one united with Jesus.
What was the difference between Jesus and the lambs which were offered in the Old Testament Age? The lambs were ignorant, but Jesus was fully aware of the wrong humankind had done and what was necessary to liquidate that sin, and at the same time he felt acute pain as the offering. Before Jesus, neither the offering understood nor did human beings fully understand why an offering was needed and what was wrong with human ancestry, but in Jesus' time the offering itself knew the totality of human sin.
How did Jesus make himself into an offering? By showing in his own life the path all humankind must go. In fact, Jesus very much wanted to say, "What I am doing now is what you should be doing instead, but since you don't understand I must show it to you." What way did Jesus go? Was it his way of life to fight with other people or display his power? Jesus didn't teach the people through knowledge; his teaching was much deeper than that. Certainly he was not exhibiting wealth to people. Simply said, he was showing the way to heaven. What was the way that Jesus went?
The only crucial thing is to sacrifice oneself and establish true love. Then why have suffering and sacrifice become necessary? It is for the same reason that someone in this world suffers after doing something wrong. We have so grossly violated God's law of the ideal that the ideal became impossible, and to offset this wrongdoing we are required to suffer. The Kingdom of Heaven and the love within man and woman had been lost and Jesus showed that it could not be recovered without paying a price; what he showed us was how to sacrifice. Why was it necessary for him and for everyone to sacrifice? At the price of his own suffering Jesus wanted to show us how to overcome sin.
Do you think sinners rejoiced because they had finally met the man who could free them from sin? Jesus brought with him all the love that was lost, but which response is more likely when the Messiah comes-that people will be happy and forget what they have done, or that they have to overcome a great turmoil of feeling before they can feel worthy of going to their savior? Can a person ignore what he or she has done wrong and come to the savior, or should he or she feel so much remorse over the gravity of sin in the past that he doesn't even know how to properly conduct himself. It is more likely that when one realizes the magnitude of one's sin one would tremble at the mere thought of the awesome difference between oneself and the Messiah.
When the Messiah comes to liquidate sin, is the sinner going to tell the Messiah what to do? Instead of telling Jesus what he should do, our feeling should be that we cannot even speak at all. Upon seeing him, the first thing you must experience is the shedding of so many tears that you cannot even see around you. After the fall humankind found such darkness around that we didn't know what to do, and these tears should produce such a drenching that you cannot see or do anything. Yet at the same time we should feel hope within us.
In the Old Testament times people made offerings without knowing their significance, but Jesus made his sacrifice for humankind in the awareness that he was dying for them. If a man or woman is willing to die for the Messiah then actual death may not be necessary. This has been a traditional value in Christianity, but we can see that compared to this standard modern Christianity has deviated from Jesus' teaching. We can live again by being completely willing to submit ourselves and die without making any demand. If a person is willing to die then that person lives and can dwell in heaven. This is what Jesus taught. When we pin our personal lives, however, that's only the beginning; then we have to die for the rest of humanity. And, we must make such a relationship with them that they are willing to die for us, and on that foundation we can go to heaven.
What would have happened if all twelve disciples had volunteered to be crucified before Jesus? What would the history of the world have been like? Do you think God would have resurrected only Jesus and not his disciples? No, God is impartial and loves everyone and certainly He would have resurrected them all. Would the disciples have ascended to heaven along with Jesus? They would not have forsaken the world but would have returned along with Jesus, and helped to revive all people on earth. Before the fall the angels were continually involved with the human world on earth, and the same ability would have been possible for the disciples.
Why did Jesus ascend to heaven by himself? It happened because there was no one who was willing to die with him. If everyone had been willing to die with Jesus, would God have raised the whole nation to heaven with Jesus? He might have, but since His purpose is to save the world God probably would have decided to create heaven on earth right then. The influence of Israel would have spread throughout the world in just a short period of time. If that had happened then human history would have culminated at that time and Christianity would never have gone through a history of bloodshed. God would have started the Kingdom of Heaven at that point and Jesus would never have had to come again.
Because Jesus went to heaven alone, it became necessary for the disciples also to shed blood and die before they could go to heaven. Only after that could they have deep relationship with Jesus. For 400 years Christians literally had to shed blood. Many people have wondered why God should require bloodshed and martyrdom of religious people, and now it is clear that all humankind had to go the way Jesus went.
When Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, none who accepted him were there. The priests and all the disciples had disappeared. No one was there to offer Jesus as the sacrifice on the altar. An offering and sacrifice is presented to God for the sake of human beings, but if there is no one there to be benefited then how can the offering be given value? The only possible way that the sacrifice could still be effective was to consider that Jesus' spirit and body were separated.
In that way Jesus' body represented the nation, whereas Jesus' spirit took the position of the actual sacrifice. By having his spirit one with God, Jesus made his sacrifice acceptable in the sight of God. Jesus' offering was accepted as a spiritual offering; the sacrifice he offered was a spiritual one. From that time, Jesus has been working on that base to establish the spiritual foundation, from the family to the society, nation, and world, until the time when the physical offering can be made.
Because the nation as a whole couldn't unite with Jesus, it was not restored and established as God's nation. To atone for this was Jesus' responsibility, so Jesus made a great sacrifice to preserve and expand God's sovereignty. With Jesus, the Old Testament Age of going to God through sacrifices ended, and a new age where Jesus himself became the sacrifice started. Christians long to become one with Jesus and God, which means that God, Jesus and human beings are united. That is the purpose of Christianity.
From this principle, Christianity emphasizes being one with Jesus Christ, saying: "Love Jesus Christ more than anybody else. By doing so, you can find salvation most directly, because Jesus already set the condition for spiritual salvation. Therefore, by uniting with him, you can quickly reach the goal." Christianity emphasizes how you can become one in heart with Jesus Christ. That is the central faith and belief. Your life should be completely parallel with that of Jesus; that is the secret, to share even the sorrow of Jesus Christ. When he is joyful, you can be joyful; when he is working hard, and when tribulation and suffering come to him, you bear that suffering with him. This type of oneness is the Christian ideal.
If the believers are the body of Christ, then could there be more than one church? There are many different denominations and kinds of Christianity, which indicates that Jesus' body has been divided up. This is not acceptable in the sight of God. It is just as though Jesus' body itself has been torn apart.
Under God there must be one further universal, substantial offering that is not divided between spirit and body. This must be accomplished by people united together to offer a living sacrifice which can be accepted by God. In order to serve as a foundation Christianity must be united into one body. That is the first and most important condition to be achieved. The heart of Jesus Christ is grieved when he sees that his own body has been so shamefully divided. Christianity today is in the position of Jesus' body, but when there is one mind, how can there be 1,000 bodies? There should be one mind and one body.
Are all the hierarchies in Christianity really the one body of Christ? Can the Pope in Rome claim that he is completely one with Christ, and that the mind of Jesus and the body of the Pope are one? Originally God intended for the Pope to be the one symbolic body of Jesus, representing all Christians of the world.
In reality there is a gap between Jesus and the people that cannot be closed, however much they try to unite. Because Jesus' own mind and body were not sacrificed together 2,000 years ago it is impossible for Christians today to completely unite with Jesus. One more gigantic step is needed in order to complete the universal offering which was predicted, in which the body of Jesus and the mind of Jesus are totally united to become the living sacrifice on the altar.
Jesus came to unite everything into one through his sacrifice. You must understand one thing very clearly: when Jesus came as a living sacrifice, should he have come down to unite with the people, or should the people have gone up to unite with him as the sacrifice?
Would you ask Jesus to come to you, promising that you would faithfully wait for him, or would you say, "Lord, you just sit right there. I will dash to where you are?" We are the ones to move and take action. This is what God and Jesus are expecting of us. Jesus did not say that he would do our repenting for us and then bring the Kingdom of Heaven to us while we sat still. He said, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" We are the ones who must adapt. Jesus did not come to be changed, we are the ones to be changed.
This point must be absolutely clear.
Think of your situation the same way that Jesus thought about his. In walking through the valleys of Israel Jesus did not think of them as belonging to someone else. He thought, "God is my God. Israel is my nation. These are my people." There was always an intense seriousness in his heart. Are you of the same frame of mind? Are you thinking, "God is my God. Humankind are my people, and I am here to save them?"
What was the conviction and philosophy of Jesus? Did he just routinely eat good meals and idly pass his days, planning to live a long life? Jesus thought, "God is my God. Humankind are my brethren, and this whole world is waiting to be re-created by the Son of God. I am here for that mission." God thought in the same way Jesus did.
Jesus has wanted to give his inheritance to the Christian world, to his brothers and sisters. He has wanted to give each Christian the conviction, "God is my God, humankind are my brothers and sisters. This land belongs to me and I am responsible to God to re-create it in God's way." Those denominational and sectarian leaders only interested in promoting their own sectarian purposes are so wrong. We must inherit Jesus' philosophy and ideology instead. Denominationalism is just a roadblock for God. We must break away all the barriers of sectarianism in order to really reach the people.
If the ministers and clergy who preach sermons on Sunday morning cannot talk about God as "my God," or about humankind as "my people," or about this world as the home of one human family, they are heretics. They are frauds if they cannot talk with conviction about these things.
Who are you then? Do you feel that God is "my God"? Beyond the boundary of America, have you thought about all lands belonging to you? Have you ever thought, "I am responsible for this land. I have to invest myself in restoring this land in the sight of God"? This is the kind of religion God has been waiting for. We must feel totally responsible, as if this world belonged to us, for nobody else will take care of it. "I must take up responsibility because the churches are crumbling today. The young people are morally corrupted so I must take up the responsibility. I can see the world crumbling because of the infiltration of communism, and so I must be responsible for communism." We each have to think in this way.
When you lie down you must think that you are Jesus lying down: "My body is the resurrected body of Jesus. I am reviving Jesus' breath that was stilled 2,000 years ago." Is this criminal in light of the Bible? Not at all. The Bible is teaching us to become one body with Jesus; Jesus taught, "I am in the Father and the Father is in me." He also said, "You are in me and I am in you." Jesus meant that everyone can become a representative of the Messiah, a part of the Messiah. Your becoming the physical manifestation of the Messiah is the essence of God's ideology and Jesus' ideology. God created everyone to be a messiah. As long as there are people who need to be saved the title of Messiah is needed.
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