Friday, November 18, 2011

The Heavenlies

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In our past study we learned that the elements of both the natural and the spiritual were originally arranged to occupy one sphere. From the start, one was meant to be part of the other, and that is the way we still see it today. Spirit beings crossing over were not uncommon. God came down from His holy mountain in the cool of the day and spent time with Adam and the rest of His creation. Angels likewise were welcome to come across and intimately savor the beauty of God's creation, even to mingle with God incarnate likeness. We have also seen the probability that God's ethereal abobe of heaven may not really have been that semi-transparent floating city in the sky that we common picture after modern media's rendition, but as a very high mountain peak way above the clouds as several verses in the Bible support. From the pinnacle, God views His creation; from that point, He beholds the stars which the ancients believed then were attached to the clouds. So when Lucifer aspired to raise himself "above the stars of God" (Isaiah 14:13), there was no doubt he was planning to topple God from the highest point of the sacred mount of heaven, or "the mount of assembly." At this point we take off to venture into a world just below heaven but immediately right above the earth; a world represented by the clouds, known to some as the gateway to heaven. It is called the Heavenlies.

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The modern notion about two worlds invisible to yet intersecting each other is principally based on the corruption of sin that God’s presence can and ever will not endure. This was how the Spirit of God drew away from man “for they are only mortal flesh” (Genesis 6:3, New Living Translation), which if translated loosely means, “because they have chosen the path of corruption.” Yet even now in earth's corrupted state, the world continues to be a home for spirits and a crossroad of visiting spirits good and malevolent. And among these spirits of the latter type, one seized the heavenlies and turn it into his throne room.

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In a prophetic narrative given by Ezekiel, this Guardian Cherub was in Eden (Ezekiel 28:13), adorned with “every precious stone,” his “settings and mountings were made of gold.” But “wickedness was found” (verse 15) in this “model of perfection” (verse 12). He filled his heart with rebellion and sought to overthrow God from His throne (Isaiah 14:13), raise himself above the other angels of heaven (Ibid.). The attempt failed miserably and, according to the Prophet Ezekiel, the Guardian Cherub was cast to the earth (Ezekiel 28:17), out of his heavenly position forever. Despite his fallen state, this spiritual being maintained his access traversing the physical sphere. In fact, he later successfully established a virtually permanent residence on the planet shortly after his fall. From then on, he had been able to found certain bases of his sinister operation in specific regions in the globe. Pergamum, for example, was singled out in the Bible to be one of these places (Revelation 2:13).

Though this angel failed in his ambition to overthrow God out of heaven, he settled for the next best thing of effectively wresting away from man his God-given authority to rule “over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26). In Adam’s failure to secure his Divine commission, the entire natural sphere was corrupted and the title of prince of the earth transferred from him to the Guardian Cherub (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). Out this ancient right did the Cherub derive his audacity to offer Jesus Christ “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” if He but just bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:9).

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Because of this change of management in the natural world, the exchange of love, goodwill, wisdom, and joy between the spheres was vexed. What was like a thick cloud of sweet-smelling incense of devotion rising from man to heaven thinned into a faint mist, almost undetectable; and instead the stench of rebellion and corruption crept upward and saturated the pure white clouds of the sky. If heaven shut its windows in contempt on what was happening on the natural sphere, the former
Guardian Cherub whose name he changed to Satan, or “slanderer,” in his undying dream to make himself “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), seized the skies and made them his own heaven, just like the Most High.

The Heavenlies

It can be said that the skies became Satan’s fake heaven. Was there in any way a dethronement of Godly authority? Here is what happened.

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Satan, then known as Lucifer, the “morning star, son of the dawn” (Isaiah 14:12), learned a humiliating lesson about messing with the Most High. In Ezekiel 28:17 to 18, he was hurled to the earth, along with a third of the angelic host which made its choice of believing his delusion of becoming “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). In their fallen state, however, this angel of ambition somehow found his wish granted. According to his strategy in Isaiah 14, he would first “ascend to heaven” (verse 13) which he did, for a brief moment. Next, he would “raise [his] throne above the stars of God” (Ibid.) which, as we have mentioned, became a fact. In Revelation 12, John the Revelator noted “an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his head” (verse 3) that he identified as “the devil or Satan”(verse 9), with this historical detail: “His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth” (verse 4). In the Bible, angels were often referred to as stars. With this fallen third, Satan’s wish to rise “above the stars” was fulfilled.

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Then in the fourteenth verse of Isaiah 14, he determined to “ascend above the tops of the clouds” to “make [himself] like the Most High.” According to the Bible, God Most High sits enthroned in a place called heaven, spiritually located “above the tops of the clouds.” The psalmist of Psalm 113 was very specific when he pinpointed God’s throne “above the heavens” (verse 4) or “above the sky,” even describing how He “stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth” (verse 6). Two chapters ahead in Psalm 115:16, King David declares: “The highest heavens belong to the Lord.” With God officially and undisputedly owning heaven, Satan, being regurgitated from his position and his holy place, had to settle for the next best thing: the clouds.

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The earth has its imitation of heaven. Since ancient days, man’s earliest understanding of heaven was aided by the sight of the sky. Its vast stretch and inaccessible height was believed to have hidden a riddle of grandeur and of goodness that touched the earth and appreciated his existence. The rain, for instance, touches the ground and cools his world; brings the growing green to life; and floods the empty trenches with that which revitalizes flesh and blood. Because of this, mankind has learned to spiritually expect a wealth of good things from the sky called miracles, pleasant things of grace that benefited his chances to survive a brutal earth. This gratitude seems to be expressed in James 1:17 where the writer cited, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights….” Then as soon as the heavenly miracles were began to be seen as gifts, his curiosity shifted to this heavenly giver.

The Greek god Uranus is an example of the ancient peoples' appreciation and attempt to understand the sky by personifying it.

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The realm of the clouds was a very fertile dimension to establish domination. Being the most transcendent component of the natural sphere, whoever controlled it has conquered the earth, in spite of a higher heaven. In fact, the sky’s situation proved vitally strategic as it perfectly lay sandwiched between heaven and earth. This meant total control of anything exchanged between the natural and the supernatural. Satan seized this high region and remodeled it into a stronghold, a bastion to continue his campaign of defiance against God whom he swore to overthrow; against man who was favored with the authority to rule an entire creation; and against the earth, the world that has now served as his dead end. Unlike the radiant and festive atmosphere of heaven, the skies of the natural world were remote, silent, and lonely; yet it provided the fallen angels a convenient mock-up of the indigenous abode that they have lost in their unfaithfulness. This enthronement in the high place of the earth garnered Satan the title “ruler of the kingdom of the air,” as coined by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:2, and his minions, “thrones…powers…rulers…authorities” (Colossians 1:16), “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Mayan Serpent ©Boris Vallejo 1983
The Apostle Paul made numerous references to the spiritual skies ruled by the demons calling it the “heavenly realms” or the “heavenly places” (mostly in the King James Version). It was a realm the ancients perceived as bustling with supernatural activity and conflict against the heaven of God, the result of which manifested in the natural either as a triumph for good, righteousness, and justice, or as a hostile usurpation of wickedness and perversion. The most vivid account of this ethereal struggle can be seen in the tenth chapter of Daniel, featuring an angel of God waylaid and overpowered by a demon named the “prince of the Persian kingdom” (verse 13):

“Then he [the angel] continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. The Michael, on of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia’” (verses 12 to 14).

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The story introduced several figures of the spirit realm. Besides the angelic messenger, there was a prince (or principality, as used in Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 2:10) who, apparently by his name, held a key sway over the affairs of the Persian kingdom; another divinity called the “king of Persia”; and the archangel Michael who was known to guard the people of Israel (12:1). Moving on to the twentieth verse, the angel tells the Prophet Daniel that his journey back to heaven will entail another fight with the prince of Persia, the result of which will bear a greater significance than an angel’s unhassled trip back home: the entrance of another spiritual official known as the prince of Greece (10:20). Daniel’s life at this period was at a twilight, and so was the Persian kingdom. He had seen how Jerusalem fell into Babylonian hands. Later, he witnessed the Persian invasion of the Babylonian Empire. All of these events the Prophet had lived through were prophesied before they occurred. This means that they were decided by colliding forces in the heavenlies long before their appointed time of fulfillment. Now a new prince from the west was about to enter the imperial race, as spoken to him by God’s angel. Daniel never lived to see the very day this prince stepped in, but in 323 B.C. the Macedonian Alexander the Great rose to power and proved to be the goat of Daniel 8:5.

The question whether battle was the only way of deciding things in the heavenlies seems to be a great big yes. It was through battle that Lucifer attempted to secure his ambition and it was through battle that he lost his status as God’s anointed status, along with the third of the angels he deceived:

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan…was hurled down to the earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12:7 to 9).

In Judges 5:20, the Prophetess Deborah sang of how “from the heavens the stars fought…against Sisera,” the mighty Canaanite general that fell by the prowess of the Hebrew judge Barak and finally by the cunning hand of the woman Jael.

After Lucifer failed to secure his place in heaven, the only purpose for him left to give meaning to his worthless existence was to battle every move of God that originates out of heaven. The ancient believers may have known this so well that it was in this respect in which they found a very special aspect of God's omnipresence. If all God's activity originated out of heaven, they might have believed, then not all what God had intended came to fruition in that the malevolent layer of the heavenlies may have filtered the rising and descending traffic of prayers and bequests between God and His earthly believers. What was therefore needed was to establish multiple and separate points of the Divine spiritual exchange as an alternative to the first Godly base just above the demon-populated heavenlies. Through God's unique attribute of omnipresence, the intervening power of the heavenlies was rendered irrelevant, obsolete.

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So based on His omnipresence, God established multiple locations where prayers can be processed into answers. In Psalm 139:8, King David sang of this principle: "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." Before this, in Psalm 135:6, he declared, "The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths." So David cited several locations where God's prayer-processing branch offices could be found, other than from His original base: the earth, the seas, and the depths. In Psalm 95:4, he even saw "In his hand...the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks [which] belong to him." So wherever man was he can be sure God was there to listen to him, hear him praise Him, fill his needs, and bless him with success.

Jesus later built further on God's omnipresence: "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

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Solomon, in his wisdom, contemplated on the logic of localizing God into a Temple in Jerusalem other than heaven for not even "the heavens...the highest heavens" could contain Him (1 Kings 8:27, 2 Chronicles 2:6, 2 Chronicles 6:18). This meant that wherever man spun his head, there was God to meet him! And process his requests! And have fellowship with him! And have a good time with him!

Even before the time of the father and son kings, God was way ahead in demonstrating His anti-localization policy and strategy to phase out the influence of the heavenlies. During the time of Moses, God made good His expressed intention dwell among His people once they hit the sands of freedom. He ordered a sanctuary made for Him so that He may dwell among them (Exodus 25:8). In Exodus 29:45, God was full of anticipation when He said, "Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God." In Exodus 29:46, we see in His own words the very reason why He imposed the freedom of Israel from Egyptian bondage:

"They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God."

In the fifteenth chapter of Exodus, Moses and his sister Mirriam sang how God, "By the power of [His] arm" (verse 16), would bring the Israelites "in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established" (verse 17).

And God did physically in all His glory descended upon the earth and dwelled in a tent pitched in the middle of all the tribes of Israel (Exodus 40:34–36, Numbers 9:15–17, 2 Samuel 7:2), made by human hands but under the specific guidelines of His Spirit (Exodus 25:9,33:9–11, 39:32). Here, Moses and Aaron the High Priest would meet God and carry out an active conversation (Numbers 7:89) where instructions, consecrations into office (Numbers 11:16–17), and reprimands (Numbers 12:4–9) were carried out—without the intervention of any ageny from the heavenlies.

But the most outstanding proof of God's sincere and determined mission to rid the barrier of the heavenlies getting between Him and His people was the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His Son. For thirty-three years, by the Holy Spirit and power, the Son of God "went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil" (Acts 10:38), honest-to-goodness acts of God unfiltered by any ghost of the heavenly realm. The three and a half years of His ministry of "doing good" was a festival of deliverance and miracles imparted directly from the hand of God to the person who precisely asked for it. It was like God was making sure the person making the request got what he needed.

And before Jesus ascended into the right hand of the Father, He promised "another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16–17), the Holy Spirit. If Jesus came to teach, so the Spirit would also "teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (verse 26), "guide you into all truth" (15:13), as well as "bring glory" to Jesus "by taking from what is mine and making it known to you" (verse 14). And if Jesus came to heal the sick and raise the dead, likewise, the Spirit will perform the same good deed, as St. Paul explained in Romans 8:11:

Francis G. Mayer/Corbis
"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."

El Greco's interpretation of the unforgettable day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of "tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them" (Acts 2:3), them being the believers holed up in the Upper Room. 

Yet aside from the sending the Holy Spirit after Him to safeguard the believers, Jesus' work did not end after He lifted His feet from the earth when He ascended to heaven. In the Book of Hebrews, the writer stated that Jesus our High Priest (4:14) and "mediator of a new covenant" (9:15) entered a sanctuary not made by human hands such as the Tabernacle built by Moses or the Temple created by David and Solomon, both of which the writer called "copies of the heavenly things" (9:23), and cleansed the original and heavenly Most Holy Place with His own blood (verse 12–14). Cleanse it from what? If this Most Holy Place was in heaven, why did He need to cleanse it with His blood? Did anybody sin in heaven? Remember the angelic rebellion, which resulted in the takeover of the heavenlies. When Jesus ascended to the Father, His quest by then was to retake the heavenlies from the enemy. In Colossians 2:15, the Apostle Paul explained how Jesus "disarmed the powers and authorities" and made a "public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in him."

Araldo de Luca/CORBIS
According to the Scriptures, Jesus "was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight" (Acts 1:9). It may have been that the demons of the realm attempted to overwhelm the ascending Christ and give Him a part two of the cross; or it may have been His momentous stopover to execute the next part of His plan and cleanse the heavenlies once and for all.

The Apostle Paul used an analogy from the victory march held by a conquering Roman Caesar who entered the Imperial capital and chained behind him were the humiliated throng of vanquished foes paraded on the streets of the city for all Romans to see and further humiliate as well. In this fashion, Jesus, risen in power, invaded the heavenlies corralled its denizens and marched them all over the universe in the sight of the holy host of heaven to humiliate. What Jesus did next seized all demondom by surprise: He took over the heavenlies. In Ephesians 1:21, it is said that Jesus took His seat at the right hand of God—we all know this, but what we don't is that the "right hand of God" is—"in the heavenly realms." So what was once a treacherous layer of the spiritual atmosphere which for a long period stood for frustrating the hand of God in blessing His people, had finally become an extension of heaven through Jesus Christ who had finally taken over and open its gates to pour out "every spiritual blessing" in His name (Ephesians 1:3). In this same place will His saints be seated, beside Him, as stated in 2:6:

Araldo de Luca/CORBIS
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus...."

The generations that followed Adam and Eve never knew God as well as their First Parents, aside from an exempt few, because of the incessant intrusion and meddling made by the heavenlies to frustrate the dynamic relationship between man and God. Through the ages, the devil and his horde stood in the middle of both heaven and earth and did their insidious best to block prayers rising from believers and arrest the gifts from God descending to His people. These enemies hidden in the clouds also deceived believers by frequently visiting man through various means seducing away their faith as they posed as the One True God. This was the reason for the unanswered prayers, the poverty, the hopelessness, the death of the innocent. One great reason for the widespread destruction and Satanic activity before and during the time of Christ was due to the demonic control of the heavenlies. As an example, ever notice how rampant demonic possession was during the time of Jesus that every now and then we read of a demoniac being delivered from the dark side?

The demonic control of the heavenlies did not entirely render God impotent until Jesus came along. In fact, great miracles and promises were imparted during Old Testament times that are still being upheld in our days as without equal in feat. God continued to speak through His prophets, making His promises, approvals, disapprovals, warnings, and judgments known. Hebrews 1:1 states that God spoke through the prophets "in various ways"; this means that God never found it a problem delivering to man His intentions even when it passed through the thickest concentration of heavenly demons in the air. That was when He did it Himself. But when He sent a messenger to do it, there was a problem, like in Daniel 10:12–14 when the angel God sent with the answer to the prophet's prayer was detained "twenty-one days" in the heavenlies until the Archangel Michael arrived to overpower the ruling Prince of Persia and send the imprisoned angel free to finally accomplish his task. In Old Testament times, we read of demons presenting themselves before the LORD along with all the holy angels of heaven, as in Job 1:6 and 2:1; in 1 Kings 22:21, a lying spirit—a spirit of the heavenlies—appeared before God and volunteered to confuse the prophets of Ahab to lead this Godless king to his death. During those times, the demons, though no longer sharing a part in God's presence seemed to just casually stroll back into the pearly gates and hang out with the guys up there! The access may have been provided by the heavenlies in which its role may have had something to do with being a gate (Matthew 7:13–14), a door (Luke 13:24), or a "narrow road" to heaven (Matthew 7:14). But when Jesus came, their happy days abruptly came to a crashing end. Revelation 12:8–9 tells the story as seen by John the Revelator:

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"But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."

Now it does appear that John was recounting the old story of how Satan fell from heaven on his bid to rise "above the stars of God." But the following verses suddenly speak about the authority of the Messiah:

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"Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (verses 10 and 11).

The Apostle John may have been referring to the past, but after the ninth verse his focus had raced several thousands of years later when Jesus, after His resurrection, came along and kicked down heavenly doors, hammering the plain reality to the rebel angels that angels were not meant to rule, not in the heavenlies, not in heaven, not elsewhere! Not even in hell. Being kicked out of their cool places in the heavenlies, the demons came crashing upon the earth, according to Revelation 12:12:  

"Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."

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Jesus grabbed this piece of authority Adam surrendered to Satan when he sinned the sin of disobedience and gave substance to His words in Matthew 28:18, "Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" And them disenfranchised demons sprawled to the earth like a bunch of homeless rats scurrying here and there finding a place to hide their scared little heads because the One with the "iron scepter" is in town and here to stay, eager to "dash" His foes "like pieces of pottery" (Revelation 2:27).  This is why when we command a demon to relinquish its grip upon its possessed, it has no choice but to obey in Jesus' name. This is why the Apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that "no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." Because Jesus had finally taken over the heavenlies—that vast symbol of God's authority, ubiquitously and eternally looking down upon the earth without slumber or sleep—He was able to assure the signs enumerated in Mark 16:17–18 to anyone who believes in His name:

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"they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

And now that Jesus sits enthroned in the heavenlies, what He said in John 14:6 may be understood in this "heavenly" light: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." After the age of the ruling spirits, it is just an encouragement to know that every prayer, every praise, every inquiry, and even every complaint no longer passes through a demonic filter, but through the Son of God Himself! And we can be sure whatever we send to God in faith gets sent to Him fast, whole, and easy. In another verse, Jesus taught about some "narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13 and 14) which anyone aspiring to enter eternal life must enter. In quite the same analogy presented in Luke 13:24, He speaks about a "narrow door." Again, Jesus seemed to speak about His second mission to retake the heavenlies and make it the gate of heaven as it was truly meant to be.

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[Whew! Good stuff! And there's gonna be more, so be here!]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spirit World

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In our modern understanding we fancy the spirit world as an invisible plane intersecting our carnal world, inhabited by magical powers exerting a compelling influence on human affairs. Through modern influences we treat the spirit world as a sort of science fiction dimension, potent yet devoid of any knowledge of the natural world that exists just next door to theirs. This attitude of looking at the spiritual as something separate, obscure, and indifferent comes from the modern illusory need to rationalize whatever the curious mind touches, including Biblical faith. Until the modern sciences of reason, with all their impressive intellectual trappings, the believer needed no further proof of the existence of the spiritual and the supernatural. Faith and the Scriptures were all that was necessary to prove it and the disciplines of philosophy, logic, and science were nothing more than complications born out of skepticism designed to fortify inferior assertions. There was no standing up against the issue of faith until the Hellenization of ideas in the eighth century B.C., then during its revival in the sixteenth-century A.D. in the form of the Renaissance, and finally when then Age of Reason took shape in the eighteenth century. During each of these periods, an incremental deadening of the natural sensitivity to the spiritual had been manifest. What had started as a successful stage of departure of Greek thought from the influence of the gods had ultimately come up face to face with Biblical faith. And in a few hundred years, this rift of has now become a chasm. If the children of Israel elected God as their King (Numbers 23:21, Deuteronomy 33:5), now we have the separation of church and state. Back in the days of the Bible, education was made mandatory for the people to “meditate” on “the Book of the Law…day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8); today, a short prayer to start a day’s school class can become a national controversy.

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The challenge of doubt can be traced way back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent enticed Eve into disobedience with the introductory line, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1) The result was banishment from the Garden (verse 23). In the same way, the mistrust initiated by the natural world against the very reality of the spiritual ended in estrangement of the two worlds.

The first verse in the Bible features an introduction of these two worlds: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (King James Version), two dimensions that were meant to be alike. The ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, in this matter, spoke about an “earthly sanctuary” (verse 1) and the “greater and more perfect tabernacle…not a part of this creation” (verse 11). The writer provided an ancient principle that God adopted in creating the earth: the replication of heavenly things (verse 23). This bears great significance when we consider Psalm 115:16 which testifies that God has given the earth to man, while heaven He keeps for Himself. Man himself is a copy of his Creator as he was formed in His image (Genesis 1:26 to 27). As God rules heaven, He gave the entire earthly dimension to man to “fill… and subdue” (verse 27). In this context is the Eighth Psalm understood when the fourth and fifth passages explore the wonder why God made man “a little lower than God” (New Living Translation) “and crowned him with glory and honor.” This will be the first lesson to be gleaned in our study of the spirit world: that the natural was never intended to be an inferior version of the spiritual.

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God has afforded great respect for His creation even before the seventh day when He rested from all His work. At certain points during the creative six days, the Bible notes several periods when God would seem to step back, behold His accomplishment so far and see that it “was good.” In the third verse of the Genesis 1, after creating the light, God steps back to see “that the light was good” (verse 3), then He goes on to call the light “day” and the darkness “night.” In the ninth, after God finished marking the seas and the dry ground, He again steps back to see “that it was good.” In the twelfth, after the land blossomed with the green, God “saw that it was good.” In the eighteenth, God appends the sun and the moon then “saw that it was good.” In the fifth day, God delighted in the sight of the aquatic, arboreal (verse 21), and the terrestrial animals (verse 25), which followed on the sixth day. Then in the thirty-first verse, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”

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Mount Heaven?

What made God descend upon the earth “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8) was that He was as much at home in an earth that looked and felt no different from the heaven. We can even further claim that God dwelt in Eden with His creation for no Biblical account makes mention of God selecting heaven as His permanent abode prior to the invasion and corruption of sin. The idea of God seated in the clouds above all He has made comes from our imagining of Genesis 1:31, where He surveyed “all that he had made” to see that “it was very good.” Though the illustration given by the Prophet Isaiah speak of a “heaven” (Isaiah 14:13) and a place “above the tops of the clouds” (verse 14), he states that the Divine throne was situated “on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of” what was coined as “the sacred mountain” (verse 13). With God enjoying and savoring the work of His hands, He chose the highest point of the planet—the mountain—to survey “all that he had made.” The Prophet Ezekiel seconds this setting with the mention of “the mount of God” in the sixteenth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter of his book.

Sandro Vannini/CORBIS. Mount Zion today.
The matter may be trivial to begin with, but we have never considered if God originally ridged the earth with an uneven elevation of hills and mountains at all. Yet whether or not the earth’s horizon was meant to be beheld in an uninterrupted line running from the east to the west, there was one height that had risen on earth so high to surpass the clouds, exceeding the firmament where it was once believed the stars and the two great lights were supposed to have been hooked upon. King David alluded to this in prophetic song in Psalm 113:5 to 6:

“Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”

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The Biblical writers saw the sky as a vault as did any ancient observer. Back in their time, the idea that the heavenly bodies actually surpassed the earthly clouds by light years was out of the question. What was firmly established then was that the sun, moon, clouds and stars were parts of the sky. The sky, which to them may have been understood as the blue may in turn have been part of the vast canvas of heaven. Yet the complexity did not end there. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, the Apostle Paul wrote of a “third heaven" ruled out any possibility of God’s sacred mountain being scaled by even the most physically enduring. Jesus hinted on this in one of His parables where it took several angels to assist the departed beggar Lazarus in flight to “Abraham’s side” (Luke 16:22). But the seclusion of heaven came after the visitation of sin.

Heaven is representative of the vast authority of God; the sky, heaven’s earthly depiction, illustrated God’s dominion over the earth. Heaven, as pictured by Jesus in His prayer pattern in Matthew 6:10, is a place where God’s will is fully enforced. So when Jesus declared, “your will be done on earth,” He may have almost been alluding to Eden, for it was the most perfect place where God and man communed. Eden was a place of delight; its very name meant “pleasure,” used figuratively to speak of a voluptuous life. Later in the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles Paul and John the Beloved referred to it as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:2, and Revelation 2:7, respectively). Its foundation was God’s expression of His desire to be in the company of man and all His creation. Yet to keep it from the defilement of sin, He had to withdraw it from man’s and the earth’s corruption and share it with him at a later period in man’s after-death existence when he had shed away his “corruptible” mortality and put on “incorruption” and “immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54, New King James Version), for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (verse 50, New King James Version).

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Before the fall of man and all creation, God spent His days on His uncorrupted earth. He dwelt with His creation and took great pleasure in beholding His masterpiece whether closely at the unique intricate detail of a humble organism or from atop His sacred mountain that provided the grand vista of all the earth. Contrary to the common impression, God, when He finished creating, did not withdraw to His throne in heaven behind the clouds and leave the earth to wind in its cycles of perpetuity. Albeit on a limited scale, any human artist who had ever stepped back to view and fall in love with the work of his hands can understand the love and awe God felt, and still feels, for His creation. But while the human artist can only dream for his creation to come to life, it was only God who inspired life into His work. For this delight, He communed with His masterpiece. Back in the days before sin, man and God—the natural and the spirit—shared one world, one dimension.

The Interdependence of Worlds
Corruption changed everything for the spirit and the natural. Principles changed. But God’s will proved sovereign. Where there was a chasm, God maintained a point, a bridge where He and man could commune. And in the matters He redesigned, He outlined a pattern that reminded Him of unity and reconciliation.

The human creation is of two most basic components: the body and the soul. The body, or that which is made up of flesh and blood, is primarily the result of the physical ability to reproduce. Its precise and awesome design is a network of interdependent parts developing, protecting, and maintaining each other in a perfectly orchestrated concerto of survival. But mere parts minutely assembled together do not produce a living organism. In somewhat the same extent as the complexity of the physical body, the human being is also a system of urges that drives the further equipping of the body and impels for more survival. This is where the soul comes in, to power the physical apparatuses into action.

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The soul is the seat of man’s consciousness, his psychology, his will, his intellect, and his ability to distinguish sensations. The soul also contains the emotions, the ambitions, the power to decide, the conscience—the storehouse of morals, the ability to recognize and weigh right and wrong. By Biblical principle, the soul holds the life the physical body is endued with. Without the soul, the body in all its intricacies will cease to function. This relationship is illustrated in Colossians 2:19 regarding the connection of every believer—“the whole body”—to Christ, the soul or “the Head” of the Church:

“He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”

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In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for “soul” is nephesh which is widely employed to speak of desire, lust, pleasure, will, and even the body. “Life,” however, would be the best word to abridge the variety of specific applications. Two of the world’s most reliable Bible translations will demonstrate this in their rendition of 1 Samuel 24:11:

“…there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it” (King James Version).

“…I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life” (New International Version).

It doesn't matter what anybody tells you. Without the soul, the body is just as dead as the coffin it lies upon or this awesome funeral mask of the Egyptian boy king Tut.

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In the same way, the sustenance needed by the natural world to function and exist comes from the spirit world, from Christ essentially:

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).

And, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

Jesus Christ, therefore, is the soul of the material world. At a very vital point, survival is the position at which the natural and the supernatural crisscross. In such a condition, it may appear that a perfect yet precarious balance of power will exist between the two worlds. Throughout the Old and the New testaments, there seems to be a pairing of the two worlds with every occurrence of “heaven and earth,” suggesting an interdependence that must not be severed.

But it shall never be severed, for as far as Jesus is concerned, the natural world shelters the Church which He desires as His “bride,” His chosen city Jerusalem, and “all things” created simply because He loved them (Revelation 4:11):

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (King James Version).

The natural world needs Jesus Christ, its Soul, for without Him, it would cease to exist. Jesus, however, needs nothing from us, the natural world, except for the extreme delight He gets from beholding “all things” which He had been “appointed heir of” (Hebrews 1:2).

Worlds in Marriage

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Another idea that will perfectly illustrate the unity of the spirit and the material worlds is that of marriage. It was, in fact, from which the principle of the marriage was derived. The prophetic psalmist sang of this wedding in Psalm 85:10 to 11:

“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs for from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.”

Based on the song, it is clear that God lavished the natural world, or “the earth,” with
love and righteousness, while the latter offered her faithfulness and her peace. This principle of marriage between the natural and the supernatural was very much applied to the indivisibility of the soul and body and the intended inviolability between man and wife. In these marriages, it is not hidden to us that any separation that occurs meant the involvement of death.

The concept of marriage has been the most precise depiction of God’s relationship with His people, a harmony manifested between the natural and the supernatural spheres as well. The Bible repeatedly alludes to this. In the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet composes an inspired allegory of God’s love as He courted a personified Jerusalem in the hope to elicit her peace and faithfulness:

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“…I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine” (verse 8).

What follows next is a wonderful attention of a supernatural Lover presenting His mistress to the stars. It was in this same and unadulterated manner how the supernatural world looks after its physical half:

“I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver, your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord” (verses 9-14).

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Many centuries after the Prophet Ezekiel, John the Revelator saw the same sight of this transcendent natural earth in the form of “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

And being the loving husband to a lovely bride, God delightfully descended into the natural realm and personally shared with her His undivided time and attention, “walking in the garden (of Eden) in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). Until Adam and Eve gave in to the sin of disobedience, God, after the creative six days, did not spend the rest of the days seated on His throne on lofty heaven merely surveying the work of His hands. This spiritual Deity enjoyed a dynamic relationship with His son Adam and his wife Eve in the natural realm, feeling the grass, the smell of the flowers, the rippling sound of the river of Eden, the awesome sight of His flocks aflight even as they blocked the daylight sun with their mighty numbers.

[There be more, folks, thar be morrre!]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tale of Two Brothers

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Knowing the incident that highlights this character, like Judas Iscariot, we are predisposed to the impression that Cain had always been a black sheep, and his younger brother, a gentle, saintly, quiet-as-a-lamb, skinny little nipper. Notwithstanding his being the Bible's first murderer, the value judgment we pass on his reputation has been stretched quite too far.

Nowhere in the Bible does it designate Cain being a rebellious son from the beginning. As a matter of fact, he, as his young brother Abel, was raised in the strictest obedience to Adam's Godly tradition. This is manifest in his deliberate adherence to the pre-mandated ritual sacrifice of their firstfruits. Here is where the controversy started to simmer.

There is a popular notion that Cain actually offered up the rotten portions of his farm produce. This is downright impossible on the account that the sacrificial rite needed to take place at a time shortly after harvest time, if not at the onset of harvest itself, to ensure freshness of the yield. There is no known problem the Bible makes mention prior to the sacrifice that would connect Cain into committing the unprecedented first murder. Cain was, in fact, the unlikeliest person to fall precipitously from the grace of God. Being the firstborn of the earth's first man, it is all so possible that Cain felt great responsibility in taking Adam's culture of worship beyond his father's lifetime. It is almost doubtless that Adam instilled to his firstborn the solemnity of his call. Cain was seriously aware that his title as the firstborn male of God's firstborn male lay beyond the concept of privilege. Yet if this sentiment brought him to believe that it was up to himself to prove his worth, to do something to match his father's credit, his life then lay in harm's way. If this ever was the case, then it is here where Cain's downfall takes root, not in the day of the sacrifice.

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Cain was a hard worker; and he delighted in the sacrifice he always gave. He surrendered to God what was due God, and every time he did, he did it with a hilarious heart. It is not difficult for us to surmise this, for God, according to the Bible, "does not change" (James 1:17, also in Malachi 3:6, New International Version). The writer of the Book of Hebrews, in asserting Jesus Christ's equality with the Father, claims in effect that God "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:6). When it comes to sacrificially giving to Him, therefore, such an act would not be complete if it were not given by a "cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7, New International Version). Note that this blessed joviality was the first thing to vanish when God one day looked with favor at the younger sibling Abel's immolated lamb, and not at the rich crops freshly picked from Cain's arduously plowed farmland. Cain was a farmer. It was no doubt that hard work was the only kind of work he knew. Giving his best and his physical and intellectual fullest became a lifestyle for him. As far as he was concerned, he toiled harder than Abel, who was mostly seen merely standing among the flock or sitting rested under the spreading canopy of a tree in the heat of the day. Back then, predatory beasts were unknown or unheard of for both man and animal lived under a heavenly mandate that limited food consumption to only vegetables and fruits (Genesis 1:29–30). Slaying flesh-bound beings for food was called bloodshed, a practice that later dragged all creation into corruption.

Abel’s Sacrifice

What was it then about Abel's sacrifice that caught God's attention and not to afford any affection for the firstborn's? The concept of the younger brother's offering can be traced back to the Garden of Eden on the day God delivered unto Adam, Eve, and the serpent the judgment of the Fall. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree to corrupt all creation with the sin of disobedience. To restore all that was lost, God promised the arrival of a Deliverer, a Messiah. Genesis 3:15 contains this promise, including the specific measure the Christ would take to consummate the re-purifying task: a sacrifice of earthly death.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (New King James Version).

The sight, therefore, of a slain lamb being offered in holy sacrifice gripped the Creator's heart, since it vivified the idea of His very prophecy. And the only spectator to behold this ritualized interpretation of the Christ's sacrifice was God. It was to Him a unique, creative, and unexpected realization of His promise carved by a flesh-bound child of finite days. The typology was perfect. He took the "firstlings of his flock" (Genesis 4:3 NIV), a concept that established the lamb as the everlasting symbol of the Christ. Three instances in the Book of the Revelation (5:6, 12, and 13:8) was Jesus Christ pictured as a "Lamb, looking as if it had been slain" (NIV). In John 1:29 and 36, John the Baptist called Him "the Lamb of God." At that point, Abel was able to accomplish for the first time since the expulsion from Eden what Adam, Eve, and Cain had endeavored: to capture the heart of God. It was the beginning of the blood sacrifice, adopted much later into the Mosaic worship pattern for sin offering. It was also the beginning of Cain's spiritual downfall.

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As far as Cain was concerned, touching the heart of God was his privilege as firstborn, after all, being such not only entitled him to grip the torch of worship leadership after his father but also to raise it to even further heights. By the younger's sacrifice, however, that dream was apparently washed away from "rightful" hands to one so unsuspectingly least. There was a new form of worship born into the Adamic house, approved by God, and Cain had nothing to do with it.

Did Cain feel his authority and privilege slipping from him to his young brother? He will continue to be firstborn, yes; but in the ensuing event, only as one in the order of birth. The substance of Cain's life-long envy, as felt at the very moment he watched God savour the bloody sacrifice, will be that his birthright will be transferred to Abel. For this not to happen there must be no Abel to receive this blessing. It was a plan Cain thoroughly laid out, totally drenched with the spirit of bitterness.

Significance of the Brothers’ Conflict:

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The Old Testament is no stranger to sibling rivalry gone lethal, that of Cain and Abel merely being one of them. We are all so familiar with the story of Joseph in Genesis who was hated by his brothers (Genesis 37:6) because of a vision for his life shown to him by God. Some commentators criticize Joseph for impulsively verbally spilling his secret to antagonists. Yet down does one expect of a seventeen-year-old boy (verse 2), the least in a family of over a dozen brothers, who was given a vision from the God loved and feared by all? In this story, the spectre of death did hover over young Joseph’s life. In verse 18, his brothers “plotted to kill him.” In the verse that follows, it was almost agreed by the seething brothers that this young and harmless “dreamer” be killed and thrown into a cistern. Fortunately for Joseph, the plan took on a different course: Reuben, the firstborn, discouraged any bloodshed; dropping the boy into the cistern alive, however, was concurred.

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Before the story of Joseph, his father Jacob also had a life-and-death situation with his brother Esau, also involving the destiny of a birthright. The futures of Jacob and Esau had been discernible from their time in their mother Rebekah’s womb. In Genesis 25:32, it says that “the babies jostled each other within her.” Distressed, Isaac inquired of the LORD in behalf of his wife as to the significance of this turmoil.

“The LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger’” (verse 23).

How this was accomplished almost destroyed the family. Esau became his father Isaac’s favorite. It is suggested that Esau became a hunter, “a man of the open country” (verse 27), a sportsman.  With an image that could be arrayed with the likes on an Orion, he was physically the stuff that a hero was made of. Adorned with a six-gun and a lasso, he would look no different from the cowboy of western legend. He was the best candidate to establish a “stronger people.” Probably every time he came home, he had a gift of wild game for his daddy, who had a taste for it (verse 28). He was everything his father was not, and therefore became the latter’s favorite.

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Jacob, the twin, on the other hand was everything his brother was not. He was smooth of skin while his brother was hairy (27:11). He loved to cook (26:29). He was “quiet…staying among the tents” (verse 27).

The story of the brothers’ fate is so rich with significance that many of us have given up exploring what has yet been unravelled. And among these is the typology drawn of the relationship between the Christian church and Judaism.

Throughout the Bible, a curious trend sweeps its stories, and is eventually explained by Jesus Christ to be a principle to God's chosen nation and the church: the first will be last, and the last will be first. And it begins with Cain and Abel. Did the brother's offerings reflect the death of the old form of worship, embodied by Cain, to give way to the new, as typified by Abel? In most instances, we cling to the more obvious lesson of the fallen brothers: carnality versus spirituality. Never have we seen the principle of a worship cycle's rise, ebb, and rebirth depicted by Cain and Abel. What is more chilling is that Cain's murderous reaction to the new trend pictures, in fact, a disposition that resides in the heart of any God-worshiper. It lies dormant and hidden until the opportune time, when God's attention is drawn to "another favorite."

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Evangelical Bible scholars speak of the periods and stages of church revivals in history as "moves of God." And in every "move of God," there has been displayed a hostile welcome by the very body that birthed it. Christianity, for instance, faced several attacks by its mother, Judaism, until achieving independence by enrooting its membership in Europe's gentile population. At this time, St. Paul, in his epistles, vehemently taught and instructed various churches to reject the doctrine of certain "Judaisers": infiltrators and "false brothers" (Galatians 2:4 New International Version) who came to spy on and convince the Christians in fellowship regarding the importance of the circumcision rite in order to ensure spiritual salvation. In essence, what the Judaisers wanted was for Christian’s gentile members to adopt Jewish religious customs, beginning with the vital rite of circumcision: the first Jewish rite established by Abraham. This was one of the three decisions made by the Apostle Paul to distance Christianity from Judaism.

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Since its inception, it seemed in the least that Christianity had always longed for the acceptance of Judaism, as a child yearning for its mother's smile and embrace. Almost none, however, was afforded the new spin-off faith. What it received instead was the death of its greatest teacher and unrelenting persecution. In its defense, survival, nourishment, and right to growth, Christianity's greatest and most unexpected convert, St. Paul, decided on three major factors that spelled independence from Judaism's standard: extending its membership to the pagans, or "Gentiles"; the abandoning of the customary Jewish dietary laws and the indispensable rite of circumcision; and the replacement of the Torah for Jesus Christ as the most vital link between man and the Father.

What If Abel Survived?

At this point, we cannot resist supposing what would have been if Abel survived at all. Would have he retaliated? Again, the Bible presents instances of warring kin where the chosen of God neither dies nor raises a finger against the aggressor.

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One is seen in Genesis 28:2–3 where an aged Isaac charges Jacob to flee to Padam Aram to escape the murderous wrath of his brother Esau. Another is in the First Book of Samuel where David, newly anointed to be the second king, is relentlessly pursued all over the Palestinian by a bloodthirsty and incumbent King Saul. David could have waged a counterattack against the King but chooses to flee believing that Saul was “the LORD’s anointed” (I Samuel 24:6 New International Version). Twice, David resists the opportunity of slaying the King, once in a cave where the latter to relieve himself (I Samuel 24:3) and another at the King’s very camp (I Samuel 26:7). It is amazing that these two instances had been prearranged by God, as expressed by David in 24:10 and by the Bible itself in 26:12, wherein it says that it was the LORD that had put Saul and his men “into a deep sleep,” so David and Abishai could sneak into the camp unnoticed and steal away the spear and water jug near Saul’s head.

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Therefore, instead of standing his ground in defense, David opts to seek asylum among Israel’s archenemy, the Philistines (I Samuel 27:1–28:2). And as if David’s running days were not over, in II Samuel 15:14, he—already crowned the King of Israel, the champion of many battles—decides to flee Jerusalem instead of suppressing the coup d’├ętat launched by his son Absalom. This usurping son and King Saul met the same gory fate, but not by David’s hands or through any of his clandestine directive. Absalom was killed by David’s commander Joab because of a swollen personal grudge, and Saul in a war against the Philistines, where twice he attempted suicide and finally orders a complying armor-bearer to kill him.

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In the New Testament, Jesus declined in a number of instances to prove his Godhood, from His temptation in the desert to His death on the cross. St. Paul enumerated some life-threatening sufferings he faced from his enemies: “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; in journeys often …in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils among false brethren” (II Corinthians 11:24–26 New King James Version). Fighting back was never in their list of options.

Only a few people in the world know what it's like to be at the ugliest end of persecution. Among them are the Christians. And the Jews.

Finally, in the driving the examples closer to home, the Jewish people also chose to run—worse, to run and hide—first from their homeland in Palestine, then from almost every country they have sought refuge in. In the last two thousand years until May 14, 1948, a Friday at 4:00 P.M., the Jewish people had been adopted and then spewed from Western to Eastern Europe, then back to the West where they ran into the holocaust. The amazing thing was that they never fought back. Throughout two thousand years after the Roman siege of Masada, the Jewish diaspora was characterized with peaceful co-existence in an alien land and compliance to its laws, including edicts of banishment. Instead of putting up a fight, a Jewish enclave would almost immediately pack up and leave in choosing the best possible alternative to promote peace. Yet even before the Romans, the Jewish captive life under the Egyptians, Romans, Babylonians, and Persians prioritized peaceful co-existence and cooperation without being assimilated to the majority’s culture and gene pool.

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Being a typology of the Christ, Abel would not have retaliated at all. Rather, it must have been he who became “a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:14 New International Version), and not Cain. Abel would have been the one to found the first city mentioned in the Bible, and it certainly would not have been named Nod. And, again, being a typology of the Christ, there must have been no Cainite culture replacing the God-oriented Adamic. Instead, the latter would have been reinforced and taken into new heights of glory than being later debased by Cain’s line. Abel’s calling would have been sooner fulfilled in that he becomes the new generation priest of God to lead the world into a renewed and improved worship of the One True Creator.

But what of the Cainite culture? Though we may be primarily geared to believe that it would have gone better for the world without this decadent generation taking over the aging dominant Adamic culture, the suggestions given by our alternate scenario unfortunately bring something no less foreboding. The continued existence of Cain might have meant a successful turnover of leadership from his father, and this fault might have dealt an ignominious blow to Adam’s righteous house in the course of time. Again, this view can be justified by the example of King Solomon.

Who would have thought that the wisest and most-loved King in Israel was able to develop adversaries? I Kings 11:14 is clear that it was “the LORD who “raised up an adversary against Solomon” by the name of Hadad the Edomite; then Rezon the son of Eliadah in verse23; and Jeroboam, whose story is told throughout verses 26 to 40. With Jeroboam, not only did God raise him up, but through a prophet he was told: “Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give the ten tribes to you” (verse 31).

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Being a leader of a society and of a culture, Adam was in effect a king, Cain a prince. And should have Adam successfully bestowed his authority to Cain, God would have surely disapproved and most certainly did something about it, during the course of Cain’s reign if not before the actual bestowal. Yet there may have been a twist to this: what if Cain truly repented of his act and searched for Abel for forgiveness?

Such a situation will truly warrant forgiveness, knowing the character of the God they served, being of everlasting mercy (Psalm 100:5). Being the king of the Adamics, however, remains a different matter. Let us remember that, back during the momentous sacrifice, God had made the decision in favor of Abel.

This final matter on forgiveness is a basic matter fondly pondered by every believer of the Bible: what if he actually asked for forgiveness? It is a noble thought, credit given. But did Cain truly ask for forgiveness?

"Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9 New International Version)

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