Testing God? Or God Testing You?
By Jack Hoehn, February 5, 2016: Jack’s Sabbath School for February 6, 2016 explores what the first and second Adams were tested about, and how that applies to us. Third in a series on the lessons for the first quarter 2016.
Jesus sought out a wee little man whose parents named him “Mr. Clean.” Just as a German will call their son Reinhart, or an Italian Innocenti, or the French daughter Cathy, the Hebrew zakah means clean, pure, fresh washed, or zakak meaning bright, shiny. So Zacchaeus was named bright, shiny, pure, Mr. Clean. By the time Jesus found him he was not. He was dim, dirtied, soiled, and impure by common consent. He was a collaborator with the foreign conquerors and universally suspected of padding his own pockets while working for the pagans.
But the second Adam who did not live in a protected garden of heavenly delights like the first Adam and wife, sought out Zacchaeus in order to fulfill his parent’s prophecy. And after welcoming the dirty traitor back to the family of God, announced to the dismayed “good folks,” that he hadn’t come to help them, using three key words.
ZETEO = to seek, to crave, earnestly desire, yearn for. As Herod craved to find his unwelcome competitor to destroy the infant of Bethlehem[a]. As an Unclean Spirit seeks, yearns for, demands a hiding place when cast out of a human mind.[b] As a Merchant longs for the biggest pearl ever.[c] As the Good Shepherd charges out into the night feverishly looking for his lost sheep.[d] Or the new bride anguishes over the lost bright shiny silver coin of her dowry.[e] So the Son of Adam zeteos, seeks, desires, yearns for the bright, shiny, clean boy that had become a lost, besmudged, dirtied, soiled man.
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man came to seek (zeteo) and save the lost.”
SOZO = to rescue, keep, make safe, heal, save. As Jesus was to sozo people from sins.[f] As he sozo the drowning from a storm.[g] Or healed the menorrhagic woman.[h] And as Jesus asked his Father to sozo him from the cross.[i]
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man came to zeteo and save(sozo) the lost.”
APOLLYMI = in, on, at, from-destruction, ruin, death by tragedy. Apollymi is the ruin caused by amputation,[j] explosion,[k] hell fire,[l] sword,[m]assassination,[n]rotting,[o] or the earth opening up and swallowing you![p]
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man came to zeteo and sozo the lost (appolymi).”
“The Son of Adam came earnestly desiring to search and find
then take to a safe place of healing
those who were at the point of death, danger, destruction.”
Tale of Two Humans
As we reviewed Eden a couple of weeks ago, we see the first Adam (the Hebrew adam means human or man, so the first man we call “man”!) mortal, chemical, destined to return to dust. This Adam was created on the wild earth, then placed in the protected garden, and given a partner, his half or side.[q]
The second Adam was immortal, spiritual and given a prepared body to tent in.[r] This second man was uncreated from the gardens of heaven, and placed not into an earthly garden, but out into the unprotected wilderness, and quite alone with no partner at his side.
Adam/Eve1 had one mild test. Eat all you want. Enjoy the Life Tree, but don’t eat the Death Knowing Evil Tree.
Adam2 had three. And they had nothing to do with eating, kneeling, or skydiving!
Luke 4:1-3 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forth days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said… tell this stone to become bread.”
#1 God’s Way not Mine
Will problems in life be solved on your terms, or on God’s terms? Will it happen in God’s time or in your time? Forty years in the wilderness for Israel, 40 days in the wilderness for Jesus. For 40 years they had manna, bread from heaven. But only after they had been tested by hunger.
Exodus 16:2.3 “In the desert the whole community grumbled…’If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death!”
Soon enough there were Graham Crackers from heaven, and Quail Fricassee for every pot, but not till Israel had been tested by hunger.
Deuteronomy 8:2 “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowing you to hunger, and fed you with manna…that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”
There was no sin in making bread from stones, or water from wine, or drawing water from a rock, if done at God’s time and by His direction. When God’s wisdom possesses us what we do will be in harmony with His methods, and result in blessings.
When however we try to possess God’s power to do our will, we are Balaam and Simon the Sorcerer. Altering nature after our plan is magic, not miracle. And wizard’s who mutter and peep are an abomination.[s] Adam/Eve yearned for knowledge and sought it their Satan suggested way. Tested by a little hunger and a lot of desire they failed their test.
Adam2 tested by a lot of hunger refused to act on His own outside of the Father’s will. His father humbled Him and tested Him[t] and Satan suggested an alternative to meeting His needs. A short cut, a contravention of the laws of nature and nature’s God. Speak to the rock and feed yourself, don’t wait any longer on the Lord, you take charge of your hunger. You march back to the fleshpots (and slavery!) of Egypt. God gave you enough manna for today, put aside a little extra for tomorrow too (ignore the stench). Take this girl and make me a son. To all the Satanic suggestion of “do it your way” Jesus said, “Thanks no, I’m waiting for God’s way and God’s time. God is humbling me and testing me with hunger, and I’m sticking with Him.”
Matthew 6:25-33 “Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
And behold, angels came and fed Him.[u]
Luke 4:5-6 “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”
#2 Strength by Service not Authority
Satan says, therefore if you will just show a little respect for my authority, all this authority will become yours, and you can do with the nations as you wish!
Matthew 20:25-28 “Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and those who are called great exercise authority over them. Yet is shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Adam did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Luke 9:46-48 “Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, ‘Whosoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me, for he who is least among you all will be great.’”
In August of 2015 Max Torkelson, my Union President received a letter from the General Conference president. It is reported to have come to him one day before the NPUC was to set up a promised Union session to discuss women’s ordination in the NPUC. Here is part the published wording in that warning letter to my Union President.
“As the GC Secretariat document shows, the authority for the unions to make decisions about the approval process for ordination candidates is delegated by the GC Executive Committee and is limited to that review and approval process. The authority for setting the criteria for ordination is not delegated since that is the purview of the world church as outlined in GC WP L 35 and voted on by world representation at Annual Council… etc.” The published letter was signed, “Ted.”[v]
Satan’s temptation to Jesus was to save the world by authority. You respect my authority, they will accept your authority. But Jesus told Satan to get behind him. Satan was trying to trip Jesus up. God’s way was the way of self-sacrificing service, and authoritarian salvation was no salvation at all. In fact Jesus quotes to Satan that there is only one authority a believer must respect, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.”[w]
Is it a co-incidence that Jesus used the same command to Satan on the first president of the universal church, Peter? “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”[x]
For not with sword’s loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums! With deeds of love and mercy thy heavenly kingdom comes.
#3 Faith on Evidence not Proof
We serve an invisible God. No one has ever seen God.[y] No one, except God’s Son.[z] The just shall live by faith.[aa] We live by faith, not by sight.[bb] The Psalmist cried, “My eyes have failed, looking for my God.”[cc] And Job knew, “I behold him not.”[dd]
As Michael Novak writes, “That is to say, our senses cannot touch God. Neither sight nor sound, scent nor taste, nor touch, either. Our imagination cannot encompass Him, nor ever bring Him into focus. How can we count on our memory? Our minds can form no adequate conception of Him; anything the mind imagines is easily ridiculed. The God who made us and out of His infinite love redeemed us and called us to His bosom is divine, not human. As such He cannot be found using human perceptual equipment.”(jj)
Luke 4:9-11 “Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, it has been said, ‘you shall not test the Lord your God.’”
Prove it! Satan demands. Show me the money. Put out your fleece, come down from the cross, throw yourself off the temple where everyone can watch, and put your God to the test. I hear of a man who quit the church when he found that he had just as much money when he quit paying tithe as he did before when he paid tithe. He tested God and God didn’t prove himself to him, there was no “tithe blessing,” so there was no God?
Really, Really? Human on a small blue dot in a Galaxy of Galaxies? You will put the Almighty to your test? You want Him to jump through your hoop? Frankly the existence of God is not a question, your existence is the question! Where did you come from, and where are you going are legitimate concerns.
God’s existence is to be admired, not tested.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above or the earth beneath in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them.”[ee]
“To whom will ye liken me or shall I be equal? Saith the Holy One. Life up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”[ff]
“You turn things upside down, as if the Potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the One who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the Potter, “You know nothing’?”[gg]
“How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tested God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power.. when He worked His signs in Egypt…Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God and did not keep His testimonies, but turned back and acted unfaithful like their fathers.”[hh]
Israel in the wilderness tested God, limited Him to their wants and needs, forgot all the evidence they had received of the Almighty, tested and provoked the Most High.
Jesus in the wilderness did not provoke the Father, He refused to put God to the test, and so must we. Our concern should be to answer the question Jesus later placed to us, “When the son of man cometh, will He find faith in the earth?”[ii] Not faith in magic, in power, in what can be proven, not faith in Adventism or faith in the Testimonies, but faith in the Father, faith in Truth, faith in Humility, faith in advancement.
Will His church be demanding to do things the “good old Adventist way”, but refusing to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth? Will we keep trying to make stones into bread, or let the stones lay where they lie, all 4.7 billion years of them? Will our hunger drive us to fundamentalism to try and whip up a solution to sin? Will we demand authoritarian rulers who lead by decree and manage by force? Or will we focus on being faithful to the loving and merciful character of our Father in heaven.
Jesus in the wilderness did what Adam/Eve in the garden did not do. Jesus in the wilderness did not do what Israel in the wilderness did.
#1 He did things God’s way not his way.
#2 He declined salvation by authority, but by loving service.
#3 He had faith based on evidence, not proof, and he let God test him, not the other way around.
“The Son of Adam came earnestly desiring to search and find then take to a safe place of healing those who were at the point of death, danger, destruction.”
(Illustrations are by English Artist William Blake and are public domain. The author of this artwork died more than 70 years ago. According to U.S. Copyright Law, copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death. WikiArt.org allows unlimited copying, distributing and displaying of the images of public domain artworks solely. We use here Copyright term based on authors’ deaths according to U.S. Copyright Law, that is 70 years. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:William_Blake )
[a] Matthew 2:13. zeteo, seek, crave.
[b] Matthew 12:43 zeteo, seek, crave.
[c] Matthew 13:45 zeteo, seek, crave.
[d] Matthew 18:12 zeteo, seek, crave.
[e] Luke 15:8 zeteo, seek, crave.
[f] Matthew 1:21. sozo, rescue, keep, make safe, save.
[g] Matthew 8:25 sozo, rescue, keep, make safe, save.
[h] Matthew 9:21,22 sozo, rescue, keep, make safe, save.
[i] John 12:27 sozo, rescue, keep, make safe, save.
[j] Matthew 5:29,29 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[k] Matthew 9:17 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[l] Matthew 10:28 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[m] Matthew 26:52 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[n] Luke 11:51 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[o] John 6:27 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[p] Jude 1:11 apollymi, by, at, in from – ruin, destruction, death by tragedy
[q] See “Not a Rib”, https://atoday.org/not-a-rib.html
[r] See https://atoday.org/was-jesus-brought-to-us-by-a-stork.html
[s] Isaiah 8:19 and Leviticus 19:31 and 2 Kings 23:34.
[t] Leslie Hardinge PhD taught me that because Jesus lived in obedience to natural and spiritual law, it took a severe fast of 40 days to reduce him to the point of weakness that other humans suffer, so that no one could say, “Jesus doesn’t understand why I had to buckle to temptation, my test was too severe.” He strongly advised none of us to ever try to duplicate that fast.
[u] Matthew 4:11
[w] Luke 4:8
[x] Matthew 16:23
[y] 1 John 4:11,12
[z] John 1:18
[aa] Romans 1:16,17
[bb] 2Corinthians 5:11
[cc] Psalm 69
[dd] Job 23:8-9
[ee] Exodus 20:4
[gg] Isaiah 29:16
[hh] Psalm 78:40-57
[ii] Luke 18:8
[jj] Michael Novak, “No One Sees God”, p. 5, Doubleday, New York, 2008. (Fantastic book for those whose eyes are wide enough to see the darkness in this world but not ready to reject the light.)
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