Pondering God’s Eternal Nature

 

Stitching the Lord Jesus’ one-thousand-year earthly kingdom reign together with His eternal new heaven and new earth has been no easy task for this writer. One has to climb to the top of the highest mountain if they are to experience the ultimate view. Most of the time the trails up to this view are steep and sometimes treacherous.

But the view from the top is often found to be well worth the risks. This writer believes that if one can catch a small glimpse of the end purpose of God, all the pieces of the process of achieving that end will more easily fall into place.

Every study of God’s Word should begin with more knowledge of God. The more that we know about this absolutely amazing, invisible Being revealed from His Word, through His Son, and from His creation, the more we grow first to admire Him, then to stand in awe of Him, and finally and hopefully to deeply love Him.

A good place to start is with God’s eternal nature. Said simply, God has always been. He did not have a starting place, and He will have no end. God could not have created Himself because there never was a time when He was not. He is said to be “from everlasting to everlasting (Psa. 90:10). From everlasting goes back throughout all eternity. God had no “starting place.” If we believe this, then all that is had to come from Him. He had to become the source of everything – everything.  

If this is truly the nature of God, then everything that exists, exists because God willed it to exist. Everything that is in time and space – including time and space itself – originated from Him. “For you create all things and by your will they exist” (Rev. 4:11). To everlasting means that everything that is to come must come from God. The future of this small planet, the coming kingdom reign of Jesus Christ, and the new heaven and earth must come from Him (Rev. 20-22).

Narrowing the character of God down, the seraphim’s words to the prophet Isaiah come to mind. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3)! The Hebrew word “holy” is kadosh meaning “set apart.” Simply put, God is not like us, nor is He like anything that He has created. He is the “Totally Other.”

He stands outside of all that He has made – every visible and invisible thing. He created it all and He sees it all in one glimpse: our small sun, moon, and the innumerable stars along with this comparatively tiny earth with all its inhabitants and all the countless heavenly beings. God is far bigger than anything that our puny human minds could ever imagine.

God must chuckle within Himself as He observes us attempting to box Him in and make Him like us. From just a casual understanding of what we know about God, it seems futile to even try. The shepherd boy says it, “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Psalm 2).

Thus all we can do is, as the song writer puts it, just stand amazed in His presence. Blessings!

 

 

 

Pondering Teaching

 

I began my walk with Jesus Christ by studying the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. My very first mentor was a former Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named Donald Barnhouse. Through this study the Holy Spirit placed in me an unquenchable thirst to know more and more of God’s word but also to discover Dr. Barnhouse’s method of studying it.   

 

As it turned out, Paul’s letter to the Galatians was a great place for me to start. Paul’s desire was to clarify to young Galatian Christians, who were being confused by a crowd of religious zealots, what the gospel is. I spent my first few years in that book studying the truth of the gospel and the meaning of God’s grace.

 

My greatest desire has been and continues to be to lean heavily upon the Holy Spirit to teach me the Scripture. After all, Jesus Christ said that is precisely what the Spirit is sent here to do. “When He is come (the Holy Spirit) He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14). The word “glorify” means to shed light upon. I liken it to using a flashlight to make visible things in the darkness.

 

In this case the Holy Spirit will teach God’s word and through it make Jesus Christ and His work more and more visible and understandable to the student. The Holy Spirit teaches the believer’s living human spirit God’s mysterious hidden wisdom. He does so by taking the spiritual meaning of the words of the Bible in context and turning them into spiritual thoughts or truths that feed our living human spirits. He feeds our souls the very thoughts and truth of the living God. Wow! (1 Cor. 2:7-16). That is heavy thinking! It is through this “feeding” that we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God (2 Pet. 3:18). Blessings!    

Sodom and Gomorrah

by Richard J. Hill

Abram’s and Lot’s flocks had become large and their help began to clash with one another. God told Abram and Lot to separate from one another (Gen. 13:11). Abram gave Lot his choice of the land, and Lot and his wife looked and chose the valley of the green fields. Abram left the decision concerning his choice up to God. It is always far better to do that.  Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom – probably dreaming of the crops he could plant, and the number of sheep and goats he could raise, not to mention the beauty of the place. The people appeared at first to be decent, friendly, honest people and would make good friends and neighbors. It is clear from the Bible that Lot was a believer in the living God (2 Pet. 2:7-9). He was referred to as “righteous Lot.” Lot soon learned that things are not always what they appear to be.

 

Though his neighbors became generous, close friends, Lot realized that they were unprincipled people oppressed by serious sensual conduct. The Sodomites had a dark side that produced much anxiety within Lot’s soul. The land, true to promise, became very generous and produced much food for Lot’s family and his flocks.  He probably built a nice home and a beautiful lush garden. His wife and family grew to love their home and many of their neighbors soon became close friends. Lot took a leading position among the government officials of the settlement. He probably met often with other leaders in the town square to talk politics and discuss ways to help their community.  

 

Lot soon became painfully aware that his neighbors’ private lifestyle was far less than honorable. In fact, it was horrible, and in direct conflict with the character of his God. They were Sodomites actively involved in sensual, religious practices and private, illicit sexual activity. It became hard for Lot to live the good life among people who were very vile in their personal lives. But because of his family and their fondness for their friends and neighbors, and his daughters’ engagement to two men, Lot was trying constantly to negotiate. He was persistently trying to “straighten out” the Sodomites. He was attempting to legislate morality for the immoral. Impossible!

 

Believers who desire the best of both worlds – the knowledge of being a child of God and at the same time having an unquenchable thirst for all the temporal possessions of this life (position, influence, wealth, and power) become believers who seldom mature spiritually. They never really become productive for God, and they end up losing it all anyway.

 

There is always the haunting knowledge that God will discipline believers in this life for living contrary to His plan “Forwhom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). As long as God left Lot alone,he would continue to profess faith, while at the same time living among the Sodomites, quietly condoning their sexual immorality. Ultimately, he could not have both.

 

Sodom would have destroyed Lot if the Lord had not destroyed Sodom. One day two angels entered the gate of Sodom. The day of reckoning had come.  They had come to administer God’s justice on the Sodomites, who had constantly impugned God’s righteousness and His justice. The came to balance the scales (Deut. 32: 4) and to deliver Lot and his family out of harm’s way – to remove them from God’s judgment.  This is a vivid illustration of God’s act of mercy toward those who believe. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Pet. 2:9).  

 

Weak believers have the wrong emphasis in life. They busy themselves trying to clean up the devil’s world. They become actively involved in social actions to make this world a better place. On the surface that sounds commendable. God never tells believers to busy themselves straightening out this world. As one mentor once said, Christians are never told to clean up the fishpond; we are told to fish in it. God never tells believers to legislate morality for the unsaved – we are to share the gospel of grace with them and live a life that complements our words. A mature believer is to make a positive, moral impact on society because of who they are. We are to be God’s ambassadors to this fallen world.  We are told to be salt, making people thirsty for the living God, and light, showing people the way to life.  The unsaved are blessed by associating with Christians and their godly influence. Christians make the best salesmen, lawyers, doctors, bankers, etc.  And unbelievers are to recognize our integrity and have a desire for its source.

 

Lot’s urgency for the men to stay in the safe confines of his house indicated that he was well aware of the vile inhospitable treatment they would receive from the Sodomites if they chose to stay in the open square. Lot’s desire to protect them illustrated that there was spiritual life in him. Lot made it very plain that they really needed to stay in the safe confines of his home. He proved to be right! Every man of the city, both young and old, came to the house to involve themselves in homosexual rape of angels – angels!  The men said that they desired to “know them carnally.” This is a Hebrew phrase that would imply homosexual rape. There have been books written zeroing in on these words with the attempt to show that homosexuality is not considered a sin or an abomination to the Lord in the Old Testament.  However, this cannot be done. In the light of the context and the meaning of this word, homosexuality was and is a sin before God.

 

We are today living in a society filled with increasing emphasis on homosexual life. An article written in Time Magazinemany years ago was entitled “How gay is gay?” At that time, it was estimated, that ten percent of society was influenced by some form of homosexuality. Some of our leading citizens had announced that they were homosexual. Today it is much more so.

 

Today, much of our music, our dress, our hairstyles, (both long and short) are established by homosexuals. Our society today is filled with homosexual influence. The apostle Paul, in one of the most pointed sections of his writing, spoke loud and clear concerning this very subject in Romans one. The theme of his writing is a people that have fallen into sin and turned their backs on God and so God in turn gave them up. God gave them up to do that which was in the lust of their minds to do. Paul said that although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:21-23).

 

Therefore! This “therefore” in verse 24 is heavy with meaning. Here is God’s response to a homosexual filled society. Since they had given up God, God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. God just gave them the freedom to do what they wanted to do.  

 

“For this reason [leaving the living God], God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:24-25).

 

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:26-32).

 

The apostle regards prevalent homosexual activity as God’s judgment upon a society that has rejected Him. It is not something that God was going to do, it is something that He has done.  Rampant homosexuality is not a symbol that God’s judgment “is coming” but that God’s judgment “has come.” According to Paul, this is not a society that is moving toward God’s judgment, but we are already under God’s judgment, and moving toward a final cataclysmic judgment like Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Again, Lot’s begging his neighbors to cease from this activity is proof that he still had sensitivity to God and the wickedness of the people around him. It then appears that Lot then just completely fell off the wagon. He offered his two daughters to this Sodomite crowd instead of the angels (Gen. 19:8). In my thinking, Lot had become sodomized in his thinking, but not in his personal life. On the one hand, he appeared very moral, for he resisted homosexuality. He knew evil when he saw it. But ironically, he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters’ purity to fend off the vice of Sodomite men. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” becomes one of the heaviest burdens believers can bear. Believers who marry unbelievers are going to have problems.

 

This weak believer had anemic spiritual convictions concerning family responsibility. Here is Lot’s spiritual mentality. He was so immersed and disoriented in immorality that he viewed the giving of his daughters versus the sexual abuse of the men as the lessor of two evils.  And the Sodomites said to Lot, “Stand back!” They said that Lot had come to stay with them but that he was always acting like a judge. They turned on Lot completely. They said, “Now we will deal worse with you than with them” (the angels) (Gen. 19:9).  

 

Lot’s feeble attempt to stem the evil bent of his neighbors produced nothing. They did not respect him nor even like him. Believers who attempt to change unbelievers’ lifestyle by blending in with them, living with them attempting to influence them in the right way, will seldom succeed. The Sodomites pressed hard against Lot and came near to break down the door. Repeat! The weak compromising believer has no testimony with the unbeliever. Immature Christians think that they can change people’s view of Christianity by compromising their own lifestyle and just blending in. 

 

They think that they can join into their activity to show the freedom that God has given us through grace. Usually, the outcome is like this with Lot. In the end, unbelievers will turn on believers and attempt to destroy them. More than one believer attempting this maneuver has been consumed by the very crowd they were trying to spiritually placate.  God snatched Lot out of harm’s way. The angels pulled Lot into the house with them and slammed the door shut. And the angels struck the Sodomites who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Notice that it is angelic work to defend and deliver God’s elect. Speaking of angels, Hebrews says; Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

 

The Sodomites were struck with a supernatural blindness which is found in only one other place in the Bible in 2 Kings 6:18. It refers to a confusion of the brain by a confusion of the eyes. They thought they were seeing but they were seeing wrongly. 

 

The angels asked Lot if there were any other family members in his house or in the city. God remembered His promise to Abraham. If they could find just ten, He would forego the destruction. Lot’s prospective sons-in-law who were to marry his daughters (verse 14), thought he was joking.

 

When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, telling him to get up and take his wife and his two daughters away lest he be consumed in the punishment of the city.  But Lot hesitated! Repetition! He had lived among the Sodomites so long he had become a part of the sodomite culture. He had friends among them. His home was there. He was probably hit with the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years of hard work. Or it may have been his benevolent heart paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis?  This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that would have been fatal but for the urgency of the angel.

 

The angels took Lot by the hand and dragged him and his wife and his family to safety against their wills constantly telling them to escape for their very lives (Gen. 19:16). The angels forcefully delivered them. It was as difficult to get Lot out of Sodom as it was to get Sodom out of Lot’s family. Lot complained that he may have been too old and weak to make it through to the mountains. And there were dangers in those mountains. Lot never seemed to get it. He begged the angels to let him run to a small city close by (Zoar) and for them to spare that city for his sake. He said it would save his life. God granted Lot this request (Gen. 19:22).

 

Lot’s wife had been warned but she just could not let go of her home and her friends. She looked back and was destroyed for her unbelief. The sun was rising when Lot entered Zoar. God rained down brimstone and fire totally destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19: 28).  God possibly ignited the bitumen (oil) residue that was there. We do not know how! But we know that God’s wrath was poured out on the morally bankrupt Canaanite cities of the Jordan Valley.  This action provides seed truth for the fact that God is now storing up His wrath for every morally bankrupt city of this earth, upon everyone that falls short of His righteousness. “The Lord has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained concerning whom He has given assurance to all men that He raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). A prophetic glimpse of this coming judgment of God is found in 2 Peter. “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7).

 

Lot and his two daughters dwelt in a cave evidently near Zoar. The daughters had become overcome with a sodomized world view. They had probably witnessed incest many times. They schemed a way to carry out Lot’s genealogical line. They rationalized their actions by thinking of the disgrace to be barren according to the customs of the earth – their worldview. They had become so much a part of the Sodomite culture that they saw no shame in what they were about to do. It was just a product of who they had become. They made Lot drunk and both lay with him to produce children. Even though the text is careful not to insinuate that Lot did not know what he was doing, there was no evidence of any shame on Lot’s part even for his drunkenness. He had to sober up and realize that that was not the right thing to do. The product of sinful acts never bodes well. The first daughter had a son and named him Moab. He became the the Arab group known as the Moabites.  The second daughter’s son was named Ben-Ammi. His family became known as the Ammonites. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites have historically been and continue to be a thorn in the side of Israel to this very day.  The rest of Lot’s life is unrecorded. No one knows what happened to him.  No one knows how he lived or where he died. This epitaph could be etched on his gravestone: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap a harvest that will last forever. Blessings!

 

 

A True Miracle of Christmas

One of the most amazing miracles of Christmas, proving without doubt that the Bible is truly the Word of God, is the curse that God placed on a king named Coniah. The One to rule over Israel had to come through the biological line of King David from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).  He had to be the firstborn son of his line, giving him the royal right to the throne.  Something strange happened that disqualified Solomon’s physical seed (King David’s firstborn) from reigning in Israel. God pronounced a curse on a certain king and all his descendants. God had sent his prophet Jeremiah with a written indictment against the nation of Israel to King Jehoiakim. This document spelled out the nation’s sin against God. King Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, rather than repenting and turning to God, destroyed the document by shredding it and throwing it into the fire. Because of this act, God said that no seed of Jehoiakim would ever rule in Israel again (Jer. 36:23–31).

 

One just does not tamper with the Word of the living God. God declared that neither Jehoiakim’s son, Coniah, nor any of his descendants would ever rule on the throne of Israel (Jer. 22:28–30). Coniah is also called “Jeconiah” (1 Chron. 3:16).  Just before Jeconiah’s descendants were to come to the throne, the Babylonians took Judah into a captivity lasting seventy years. None of his descendants ever ruled. The Romans destroyed all the official birth records in Israel in 70 A.D.

 

The only official record we have to document the genealogical right to the throne of Israel is the Bible. The curse on Jeconiah appears seemingly benign until we read Christ’s kingly genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew and discover that Jeconiah’s name is there. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers… Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon (Matt. 1:2, 11). How can it be? The cursed king is in the line of King Jesus. During Israel’s stay in Babylon, sons were born to Jeconiah, but none ever ruled in Israel.

 

The royal line ended with a firstborn son named Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth (Matthew 1:16). Joseph had the royal right to the throne of Israel as the firstborn son in the line of Judah, but he had become ineligible from ruling because of the curse of Coniah. None of Joseph’s biological sons could rule. Was God caught by His own judgmental decision? No! He had a Christmas miracle under His mighty sleeve. Another genealogical record to the Messiah’s line is found in Luke 3:29-31.  This line came through David’s son, Nathan. Nathan carried the proper bloodline to the throne. His line bypassed Jeconiah and ended in a young virgin named Mary. Mary carried the legal, incorrupt bloodline to the throne.  She just happened to fall in love with a carpenter named Joseph who just happeded to have the royal right to the throne. But his bloodline had been disqualified.

 

Note God’s genius and the real miracle of Christmas. God slipped into the world through the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15).  This moment happened when the Holy Spirit supernaturally etched a tiny embryo in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The moment that deity touched humanity was a miracle equal only to the resurrection.  Nine months later, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, the God-man. He was perfectly human and yet perfectly God. Since the sin nature is passed seminally through the paternal parent, the new babe did not inherit the Adamic sin nature because his mother was a virgin. And since Mary came through the incorrupt line of Nathan, she carried the right bloodline but bypassed Jechoniah’s curse. Absolutely amazing! Joseph adopted Jesus, giving Jesus the firstborn royal right to the throne. King Jesus received both the royal and legal right to the throne.

 

God brought His Son into the world right under the noses of the world’s elite. Bethlehem was way out in the Judean hill country. Not much ever happened there, but the birth of that child that day was the single most important historical event ever. It took place without any fanfare and not only in the lowliest place possible, Bethlehem, but also in a stable. Mary was surrounded by all the critters that would normally inhabit a stable. There were probably cows, sheep, goats, geese, ducks, and chickens. It is quite amazing that the true and living God would make His appearance in such a lowly place, yet God had His way of making this moment in history special.

 

Bethlehem means “house of bread.” The bread of life was born there! There was the star shining more brightly over that place highlighting the Light of the world! There were the lowly shepherds, patiently watching their flocks of sheep on the surrounding hillside – waiting for their Good Shepherd’s arrival.  There were the angels whose voices contributed to this astronomical event that could never be forgotten. God’s Lamb was being born. He was born where one would think a lamb should be born, in a stable. And most important, born there was the only person in this entire universe with both the legal and royal right to the throne of Israel to this very day – the  Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Blessings!

 

Stephen – a Piece of the Puzzle

Not long after my new birth experience, I waded into the waters of the Word of God with the apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit as my mentors. God used Paul’s words in the book of Galatians (the first of his 13 letters) to begin to put my puzzle together – one piece at a time. The first small piece of the puzzle, ultimately leading toward the big picture of the new heaven and new earth, was through the testimony of Stephen and his providential meeting with Saul of Tarsus. Stephen was said to be a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). He was one of the first deacons. God used Stephen in a dual role. The Lord Jesus had instructed the church to leave Jerusalem and carry the message of the gospel throughout the world. The little band of believers and the disciples had grown comfortable with home cooking. They found it difficult to let go and begin to spread the gospel.

God used Stephen in a special way to begin to motivate them to leave quickly. He also used Stephen to become a prick in the heart of this man Saul, who was to become a major grace champion. In a special sermon given by Stephen to group of religious leaders, Stephen reminded the Jewish crowd of their rebellious hearts against the living God by recapping their history. He recalled how they had persecuted and killed the prophets that God had sent to them. The sermon ended with these scorching words: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51).

The mob hated the truth of this message so much that they began to stone Stephen. Before they began to pick up the stones, they laid their cloaks at the feet of a young Pharisee named Saul (Acts 7:58). Saul had become a notorious religious leader who was at the top of his religious game. He was educated in the Mosaic Law. In fact, he sat under the best legal mind of his day, a Jew named Gamaliel. From Gamaliel he learned to know and love God’s law and to defend it at all cost.

Saul was aware of a small group of nobodies called simply “The Way,” who were following a strange Rabbi named Jesus Christ. To Saul this was nothing less than a religious cult set on destroying the law of his God – the law that Saul’s father had taught him to live by his whole life. Note carefully how God began to put the pieces of His puzzle together. Again, Saul was on hand to participate in the tragic murder of Stephen. Saul, the lover of God’s law and a hater of anyone that he felt stood against it, was on hand to witness the whole scene. Just before Stephen died, he saw the heavens open and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. He cried out before he died, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit” (Acts 7:59). Young Saul must have been amazed and emotionally moved. What did Stephen see and who is this Jesus who could motivate people to love Him so much that they would gladly die for Him? Stephen’s death worked to perfection. A great persecution broke out against the church, causing them to run for their lives, leaving their happy homes in Jerusalem, and in a most amazing way, they began to obey their Lord. This put into place God’s first way that He used Stephen’s death. The seed of the gospel was being scattered. It is interesting that during the times of the persecution the gospel seed prospers.

The second way that God used Stephen’s death was to change Saul’s life. Saul’s love for God’s law quickly plunged him back to reality, and he continued his relentless attack on the church. He had grown to hate this small band of no names so much that he attempted to kill or imprison them all, thinking he was doing God’s will. He found himself on a horse heading to the city called Damascus. Then Saul, breathing out threatenings and slander against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and received letters to go to Damascus synagogues and arrest and bring Christians to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2). It was through this trip to Damascus that God began to change the world.

Saul had in his possession a written indictment from the authorities to continue his demolition of this small group of antagonists. What happened next was a miracle! God in the person of Jesus Christ performed a single person flash mob right in front of Saul’s face. Christ’s glorious presence shot a blinding light right into the eyes of this arrogant Pharisee; it was a light of God’s presence and power knocking this arrogant Pharisee off his horse. The piercing words coming from the light were right on target. “‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads’” (Acts 9:4-5).

One glimpse of our Savior in His resurrected glory immediately deflated Saul, leaving him quivering and shaking to his very soul. Saul at once addressed the risen Christ as “Lord,” recognizing that he was standing in the presence of God. The Lord Jesus compassionately asked Saul why he “kicked against the goads.” A goad was a small stick used to prod livestock along. In this context, however, goads symbolized the little pricks or stabs in the conscience of Saul used by the Holy Spirit to convict him of his sin and need of grace. The stoning of Stephen along with others who had died for the cause of Christ was no doubt used by the Holy Spirit to provide the goads pricking Saul’s conscience.

The Holy Spirit still uses the testimony of faithful believers today as goads to convict lost sheep of their need of His wonderful grace. The Lord Jesus changed Saul’s life and the mystery of the church began to unfold. From this one meeting, the truth of the gospel began to spread all over the world. The Lord Jesus Christ led Saul into the desert and there met with him. He began to teach Paul the message of grace, face to face. Later, Paul would simply write, “And called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1:16a). Now for a meeting with a man named Ananias.

Blessings!