Col 2: 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ (ESV)
Even the image of God, as portrayed in the Old Testament stories, is a shadow of His true image which is found in Jesus:
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (ESV)
And when the veil is lifted from our faces we are being transformed into His image from good report to good report.
2 Cor 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)
How is the veil lifted?
2 Cor 3:14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (ESV)
When we want to know God, really know Him, we need Him to reveal Himself to us. We have to surrender to His love and goodness. We have to have trust in His character (faith) which is the assured and confident expectation of good and the evidence of the stuff we don’t see (Heb 11:1). This is the death we die to ourselves. We give up our “right” to our understanding. We give up our “death grip” on what we have been taught. We submit to His loving kindness which reveals His true nature in Jesus. It is less of a process and more of a “car wreck.” We don’t realize how much we hold on to our old ways of thinking. Our human wisdom is from a fallen nature. Religion feeds this nature and drives us further from the truth of Jesus. Jesus came to set us free from religion and our fallen nature. It should feel like freedom in transformation. So how about some more freedom?
Jesus is on the road with His disciples and at one point the disciples are discouraged. Check this out:
Luke 9:54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” (NKJV)
Sounds reasonable, right? I hope not. Jesus said to love your enemies. Jesus said we should be the good Samaritan. Jesus is the exact representation of God and tells us we should forgive everyone infinitely. As we are being transformed from glory to glory we are becoming love. We can’t “hate” like we once did. Our “Spirit of Cain” has been dealt with. We have the love of God in us, the Holy Spirit. He tells us and shows us how much God loves all His children, even those who don’t know Him and reject Him. He tells us that He wants everyone saved from their fallen human nature and “reconciled” back to God through us. He tells us to forgive their sins and they will be forgiven. He warns us that if we don’t forgive their sins they will be retained (in the person’s heart). So, no no no FIRE FROM HEAVEN. Oh yeah, that is what Jesus said:
Luke 9:55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of (NKJV)
“But wait a second brother Lance…in the Old Testament it says…!!!”
Perfect timing imaginary debate brother… Elijah did call down fire, more than once:
2 Kings 1:10 But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (ESV)
This is why we have Jesus. This is why we need the Holy Spirit in us.
I believe Elijah was just like James and John. They were not acting out of a spirit of love. Elijah called down fire in the wrong spirit. Why did the fire come down if that was the case? I don’t know. Maybe the “spiritual gift” of fire isn’t listed in the New Testament and Elijah had it. Gifts can be used for whatever. That is why they are gifts. Maybe the devil sent it since he loves to kill people anyway. Listen, I’m not trying to hurt your head but can you see that a loving, good, peaceful, amazing, kind, God won’t vaporize some dudes that were “just the messengers?” I hope so.
In “Zuzu’s Petals” I tried to show you with a story how things aren’t always as they seem. I believe most of us would agree having experienced the “wow did I get that wrong” moment. I believe that the Bible (Old Testament in particular) captures exactly what God wants us to read about. The Holy Spirit however reveals God’s purpose in the words. Jesus is the truth. He is actually the Word or Logos in the flesh. So whenever we read about God we should find Jesus.
In this passage Jesus does it for us unambiguously. Of course I would prefer that on all account,s but then we wouldn’t draw near to God to hear His still small voice. We wouldn’t walk in an intimate relationship if we “had it all figured out.” We wouldn’t walk in the Spirit if we didn’t need the Spirit. Can you see that the self-declared perfect interpretation of the holy scriptures drives people away from relationship? Can you see that if my faith is in my commentary or pastor then it isn’t in Jesus? Can you see that if I agree with someone out of fear of eternal punishment by a god that doesn’t exist, I am not allowing for a relationship with a God who is real?
I may sound harsh right now and I get that I am in a hyperbole land of extremism, but please see that I just want to provide you with an opportunity to find the God that is in you. He is that good. He does love that much. He doesn’t make flaming torches of messengers. Oh yeah. He doesn’t make torches of anyone. Jesus said it:
Luke 9:56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. (NKJV)
Jesus is our savior, now. Why do you suppose He taught over and over about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth if it was actually in the never-never-land, life-after-death place? He said the Kingdom is in us. Jesus will save us if we let Him. I don’t mean a ticket out of Hell. I mean save us as He intended right now in our lives from our fallen selves. He saves us from the power of sin. He saves us from the fear of death. He comes to make His home in us so we carry the power to defeat the works of the devil, right now.
How could we confuse that God with some other image? The right spirit is the spirit of love. That love saves. Elijah wasn’t operating out of the right spirit. In the next post I think we will take a look at what “real Godly judgment” looks like. Fire casting Elijah will be our study case.