Jesus and Abundant Life

 

A Bible Study of the Gospel of John

 

 “Torrents of Living Water” – John 7

 

 

In John 2 Jesus did His first sign at a wedding in Cana which showed like God, He can turn the water of the word into the wine of redemption and like God He saves the best for last. In John 4 Jesus did His second sign of healing the nobleman’s son with a mere spoken word; a feat showing that like God His word is powerful. In John 5 Jesus healed a man who had been lame for 38 years showing Himself to be validated by the Father, the central point of scripture, and equal with God. In John 6 Jesus walked on water and fed over five thousand people with a few fish and some meagre morsels of bread. In John 7 we will see the source of the abundant life Jesus speaks about in the gospel of John; Himself. It is by coming to Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that torrents of living water flow from. Jesus is the Source of refreshing and powerful abundance.  

 

John 7

     After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.

Notice, Jesus, courageous Jesus, did not go looking to pick a fight with those who sought to kill Him. He did not run from a confrontation or those who opposed Him. But also did not allow opponents to deter Him from His primary mission. Sometimes following our ministry mission means avoiding confrontations. We need to walk prudently like Jesus did.

2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

The Feast of Tabernacles was a holy day to help the people remember how God was present with them and provided and protected them in the wilderness. This holiday involves making huts in which the family sleeps outside under the stars. It was like Family Camp for the Jews during which they enjoyed and appreciated God’s creation.

A good book on the Feast of Tabernacles is Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles by David Brickner.[1] In the opening lines of the book Brickner writes:

The Feast of Tabernacles is the final festival in the cycle of seven holy days mentioned in Leviticus 23 – the culmination of the calendar events in Israel’s sacred year. It is also the third festival of the “big three” known as the aliyah festivals mentioned in Deuteronomy 16 – the other two are the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and the Feast of the Harvest, or Weeks (Pentecost). The Hebrew word aliyah means “going up” and refers to the fact that God commanded Jewish men to “go up” to Jerusalem to celebrate these three holidays. From a biblical standpoint, regardless of where a person may be, the trip to Jerusalem is always “going up.” [2]

Brickner points out that “true worship of God always involves a journey.” True worship involves leaving the routines of life and traveling with others to a place set apart to worship God. Pilgrimage is an important part of worship. It’s good and acceptable to worship God in your home. But it is also important to make the pilgrimage to church and not neglect the gathering together of the fellowship of believers. Retreats, family camps and other things are also beneficial because they get us out of the routine and in a different environment where we can focus on God. We need to come together into the presence of God (Hebrews. 10:24-25). [3]

There are two major themes that run through the Festival according to Brickner; God’s provision and God’s presence. We will see these two themes over and over in this Feast. The Feast of Tabernacles is referred to by four different names.

The Feast of Ingathering (Deuteronomy 16:13, 15) - The first name for the Feast of Tabernacles is Hag Ha-Asif which means the Feast of Ingathering (cf. Exodus 23:14-17). Each of the aliyah festivals dealt with harvest in one way or the other: The Feast of Unleavened Bread or Pentecost incorporated the barley harvest or first fruits (Lev. 23:10-11); The Feast of Weeks or Harvest or Pentecost occurred seven weeks after Passover and referenced the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22). The Feast of Ingathering incorporated the final harvest of the season of harvest. Referring to the Feast in this way was a means to contrast the Biblical Creator God over against the pagan gods and their harvest celebrations. It also was a means to link God’s people forever to The Land. Lastly it emphasized that true worship was an expression of thanks for God’s goodness in provision. [4]

The Feast (1 Kings 8:2, 5; Num. 29:12; Nehemiah 8:14; Isaiah 30:29; Ezekiel 45:25). The second name used to reference this Feast was Ha-Hag which means The Feast. The Feast was the best attended of the Feast in part because during Passover and Pentecost people were working in the harvest. The Feast took place after the last harvest had been made. It was also the best attended because it was a Feast filled particularly with joyful expressions. Therefore, The Feast was known as the greatest of the holidays. It was God’s means to communicate to His people that there was a time to leave routine, journey with Him, and celebrate God in the community of believers. [5]

The Season of Rejoicing (Deuteronomy 16:13-15) – The third name used to refer to this Feast is Zeman Simchatenu which means the season of our rejoicing or you shall have nothing but joy. We sometimes get the idea that the people who lived under Old Testament Law were prudish, dour, and stale. Nothing could be further from the truth if God’s Feasts, particularly this Feast, are considered. During The Feast known as the season of our rejoicing there would be great scriptures would be recited and psalms sung that exhorted the people to rejoice in the Lord – “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). It’s offensive to God to serve Him joylessly or without gladness (Deuteronomy 28:47). The Feast referred to in this way emphasized that truth from God. [6]

Sukkot (Leviticus 23:42-43) – The fourth name used for this Feast is sukkot which means booth or tabernacle. A sukkah (sukkot is plural; sukkah is singular) was a hut made by shepherds while in the field to shelter them. It was a temporary structure and therefore became symbol of wandering and dependence on God. The point emphasized with this name is that all that we have comes from God; we are dependent upon God and therefore should humble ourselves before God and thank Him for His provision and presence. The booth is a reminder of God’s presence. That is why as part of Sukkot families build booths outside and live in them for the duration of the festival. The message that rings true is that “life is fragile and we are dependent upon God as the source of all blessing. God has chosen to dwell in the midst of His people.” [7]

During this seven day Feast sacrifices would be made, a lot of sacrifices. Over the seven day period 70 bulls, 14 rams, and 98 lambs would be sacrificed; 182 in all. These sacrifices were God’s way of emphasizing atonement involves substitution, identification, death (of the animal) as an exchange for life (cf. 1 Peter 1:19-20, 24, 3:18; John 5:24).[8]

Later in our study we will look at two traditions incorporated in the Feast of Tabernacles that Jesus used to communicate about Himself: the water ceremony and the ceremony of lights.

3 His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

Jesus never sinned. He never did anything wrong. He was the best son and brother of all time. He was perfect. And still His own brothers didn’t believe Him! Just because you live righteously before your family does not mean they will necessarily believe you and what you live and speak to them about Jesus. That did not deter Jesus. And that should not deter us.

We, like Jesus, need to press on. Our hope is that eventually people will heed God’s word and the working of the Holy Spirit. We do know that eventually the message of Jesus and Who He is got through to at least some of His brothers. His half-brother Jude wrote an epistle (Jude). His half-brother James was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15) and also wrote an epistle (James). But neither of these brothers accepted Jesus as Savior until after His atoning death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

We need to follow the leading of the Spirit when it comes to how aggressively we minister to the lost around us. One commentator puts it like this:

 

A lot of times we think, if I’m a nice person, my neighbor is going to get saved. I’ll mow his lawn; I’ll bake him cookies; I’ll smile when he drives by. I’ll be a lovely person—and that will convert him. Gang, there was no lovelier person than Jesus Christ. Yet His brothers did not believe in Him until after the Resurrection. Therefore, I think some of us need a greater aggressiveness in preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified. You can wave to your neighbor for twenty years and wave him right into hell. Or you can take the time at some point to say, “You know what? Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again from the dead—and you must believe on Him.” May we be wisely, but aggressively and radically, bold in sharing the full story of the gospel.[9]

There is a time to patiently, graciously, gradually live your faith out before the lost. But there is also a time to become more aggressive, overt and active in sharing the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who will empower and direct you in the way you should proceed. Follow the leading of the Spirit.

6 Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” 9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.

Here we see Jesus sense of timing and priority. He lived by God’s schedule not His own. He lived by God’s schedule and timing, not that of other people, even His own family. Jesus was not pressured into premature action. Sometimes we allow people to pressure us into forcing or trying to hurry up the plans of God. That’s a mistake. We have to guard against lunging ahead of God’s plan. We also have to guard against lagging behind Him. What we have to do is simply keep in step with God’s plans. We do this by maintaining a close connection with Jesus through prayer and His word.

Jesus was willing to wait. Yes, even Jesus had to wait for the unfolding of God’s mission plan for Him. What does it mean to wait on God? Someone has defined waiting on God in the following way:

Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort.  Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given. [10]

When we look in scripture we find seven aspects of what it means to wait on the Lord:

 

First, to wait on the Lord means to wait expectantly, watchfully for the Lord, serving Him in anticipation of further direction. Waiting on the Lord rarely if ever means sitting down and doing nothing. In fact it never does unless the Lord specifically tells you to do nothing while you are waiting. At the very least we should be in prayer for that for which we are waiting on the Lord (and prayer is hardly to be classified with doing nothing!). Like with Cornelius, the Spirit might bring the answer to your doorstep. But as we have seen this doesn’t mean we are to be inactive and do nothing. Remember, while he waited he assembled a host of people to share in the answer the Lord was bringing.

The psalmist expressed the right attitude of waiting on the Lord when he wrote:

  • Psalm 63:1-5 – “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” 
  • Psalm 123:1-2 – “Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He has mercy on us.”

We are to wait on the Lord seeking Him purely, not for ulterior motives to get what we want. And we are to wait on the Lord with a servant’s heart, looking to Him for direction. We are to be so attentive to and watching the Lord that like a Master to His servants, He will merely have to direct us with His eye and we will know what His desire is for us. That is the message in the two portions of scripture listed above.

To wait on the Lord can be illustrated by the way a diner serves its customers. When you go to a diner there are waiters and waitresses. Now what does a waiter and waitress do? They serve; they follow the instructions of the headwaiter or head waitress. They would not be considered a good waiter or waitress unless they did serve you. What would happen if when you go to a diner, no one came to serve you or take your order? You’d get up and move on. Like a waiter or waitress, we are to wait on the Lord by serving Him where we are until He gives us further direction to stay, move on, or give us further insight into what He is doing in and through us.  Service is often the means through which God directs us and prepares us for what He has for us. Therefore we can say a good waiter (on the Lord) serves.

Second, to wait on the Lord means to actively serve Him and trust in His word. The psalmist was inspired to say it this way:

  • Psalm 130:5 – “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.” 
  • Psalm 119:147 – “I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.” 

We wait on the Lord in service guided by and trusting in His word. If ever you are in a situation where you need to wait on the Lord, His word is a solid source of hope and direction and comfort. It’s in God’s word that you can find instruction and hope to be patient (Romans 15:4). We need to actively and prayerfully be searching God’s word for instruction as we wait on Him to fulfill His plans.

Third, to wait on the Lord means to hope confidently in Him. To wait and complain, or wait and pout, or wait and be depressed is not what waiting on the Lord is all about. To wait on the Lord means to go on serving where He has you, confidently hoping in God that He knows what is best for you. The psalmist states:

  • Psalm 27:13- “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.”   

God loves us so much that He lavished His love on us by sending His only Son to die in our place to redeem us from sin (Romans 5:8). God held nothing back in His love by giving His only begotten Son Jesus to save us and because of that we can be assured that He has out best interests at heart. That is what we should trust in. Remember:

  • Romans 8:31-32 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” 

When we wait and gripe and growl and generally rebel in our hearts against God’s plans, we expose ourselves as having little faith in God and little understanding of His love. When we wait and gripe and growl we reveal that our will is more important to us than God’s will and that we are really lusting after something rather than Trusting God. Don’t lose heart; trust in the Lord and wait on Him.

Fourth, to wait on the Lord means to trust in His sustenance.  God promises in His word to sustain us, guide us, provide for us or deliver us if need be, in whatever situation in which we are waiting on Him. This truth is revealed in the following verses:

  • Psalm 27:14 – “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” 

When you are waiting on the Lord, trust Him to work and sustain you by the Holy Spirit. In Acts, the Spirit is always working, always arranging an answer to prayer, to meet the need of the seeker. God is never silent; (though He may at times seem to be) He is always hard at work.

Fifth, to wait on the Lord means to call on Him in prayer. We should maintain a steady dialogue with God about a matter as we wait on Him to act on it. The psalmist said:

  • Psalm 40:1 – “”I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.” 

We should live in a constant state of prayerful dialogue with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Unfortunately it often takes a situation where we need to wait on the Lord to get us to pray. I wonder if God loves to hear us seek Him in prayer so much, that He sometimes delays acting simply to hear His child cry out to Him, lovingly speak to Him, trust Him in prayer.

Sixth, to wait on the Lord means to ultimately be blessed. We might not always understand why we have to wait on the Lord, but we can trust that waiting on the Lord is always worth it to us. The worst thing anyone can do is to break ranks while waiting on the Lord and impulsively do something for the sake of doing something. No, the Lord through Isaiah said this:

  • Isaiah 30:18 – “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” 

You see, whatever particular reason God causes us to wait on, we can be sure that in the end, those who wait on Him will be blessed. The psalmist said there would be joy at the end of the journey for those who wait on the Lord:

  • Psalm 33:20-22 – “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.” 

You can trust God with your life and everything in it. He made you and He will sustain you. He made you; He paid a price to redeem you from sin, His only Son (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); that alone should put our heart at ease to wait on Him.

Seventh, to wait on God is to trust Him to use you. The older we get, the harder it is to wait on the Lord it seems. As our inner clock ticks away and we age, we have an ever-increasing desire to accomplish things, to make our lives worthwhile, to be used by the Lord. This attitude is not all bad, but it can cause people to get happy feet. What do I mean? Well, in football during a pass play the quarterback takes the ball from the center who hikes the ball to him. Then the big linemen in the front of the quarterback form a pocket to protect the quarterback from the onrushing defensive players. The quarterback has to wait in that pocket watching for his receivers to run their pass routes according to the play that has been called. When a pass rush is particularly heavy against him, or a blitz is coming (i.e. additional defensive players are running to catch the quarterback before he can throw the ball to the receiver), the quarterback has to exhibit great courage and patience for the play to develop. Sometimes a quarterback, (usually one who has been previously sacked hard a few times in the game), gets nervous waiting for the play to develop and he gets “happy feet.” “Happy feet,” is a phrase used to describe a quarterback who begins to jump around nervously and who usually either throws the ball prematurely or runs away. That is what we do sometimes isn’t it? We are waiting on the Lord for His play to develop, for Him to act in some way in our lives, but we feel our biological clock is ticking. Tick, tick, tick, goes our age clock. We think, “I’m not getting any younger Lord!” As we see the protection of youth breaking down, we get happy feet and act impulsively. We run away from situations. We run for our lives. But what we inevitably find when we run like this or act on impulse or fear is that we only make things worse or cause more of a delay in the work of the Lord.

But I want to share an encouraging word with you. In the book of Joel God speaks through the prophet to His people who have experienced a great disaster. All seems lost to them. They must have thought, “What will become of our lives now?” God has an encouraging word to give them. He says through Joel:

  • Joel 2:25-27 - “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.” 

The point I would like to make here is that God is able to restore us and His timing is never wrong. No matter how old you are (Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead His people out of Egypt!), no matter how long you are asked to wait by God, it is always better to wait on the Lord than to act on impulse in your own fleshly strength. With God, it’s always worth the wait.

In Hebrews twelve Jesus is held up as our perfect example of faith with the inspired words:

  • Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame associated with it because He knew the redemptive and glorious effect the mission of the cross held. Like Jesus, we trust in God’s glorious plan for us. Like Jesus, the incredible blessing of being used by God sustains us for as long as it takes for God’s plan to be fulfilled in our life. Look to Jesus and wait on the LORD.

10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

Jesus eventually did go up to Jerusalem, even though there were people looking out kill Him. Here’s proof that Jesus didn’t make His plans purely based on self-preservation. Jesus was no coward!

Jesus was a Man of God’s word. God’s word stipulated that three times a year all Jewish males were to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). Jesus was obedient to keep God’s word even though it endangered His life; even though it cost Him. Will you, do you keep and obey God’s word even though there is a cost involved? Or do you ignore or neglect to obey God’s word. We need to be people of the Word of God like Jesus was.

We are to walk with wisdom but never use such a wise walk as an excuse to overlook or bypass obediently keeping the word of God. The Word of God and our obedience to it must be the priority in our lives.

11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). You can mention the name of Buddha, Allah, Krishna, but no name is like the name of Jesus. The mere mention of the name of Jesus stirs up conversations and debate. The name of Jesus demands definition and decision. There is no other name by which people can be saved (cf. Acts 4:10-12). There is power in the name of Jesus. Power to save and power to expose sin.

14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.

This is the second time Jesus goes to Jerusalem in the gospel of John. The first time Jesus went to Jerusalem He cleansed the Temple (John 2:13-16). This time He taught in the temple. Here is a principle. Cleansing of heart and mind must always precede and prepare us for Jesus’ teaching. The money changers and that which polluted the temple needed to be cleared out, then Jesus could teach the Word.

We need to always prepare for the teaching of God’s word with personal cleansing. We need to approach God’s word by first prayerfully asking God to search our mind and heart for sin. Then we need to confess that sin to Him and be forgiven and cleansed of it. Only then are we ready to receive from God’s word (e.g. Psalm 139).

From what do we need to be cleansed? Through the prophet Ezekiel God spoke of the need to be cleansed from the filthiness of sin, in particular idolatry (Ezekiel 36:25). God spoke again through Ezekiel saying we need to be cleansed from all “iniquities” (Ezekiel 36:33). The word “iniquities” (Heb. Aw-vone ) refers to moral evils, perversity, depravity, faults and sin. It is a word that speaks of the stain of sin.

In Hebrews in speaking about the superior effect of Jesus to ritual it states, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). A consequence of sin is a guilty conscience. Sin scars the psyche. We need to be cleansed from sin and its varied effects.

Why should we seek cleansing? In the Beatitudes, the introduction to what some see as Jesus’ landmark and greatest sermon, He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mat. 5:8). It is the pure hearted person, the one cleansed from sin and guilt that is able to see God and hear from Him. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Sin is repulsive to God (Habakkuk 1:13).Therefore we should seek to be and live out holy lives unto God for without holiness we won’t even be able to see Him (Heb. 12:14).  Sins leave us condemned and guilty before the Holy God (cf. Romans 3). If you want to make a connection with God, be cleansed!

We can’t expect to hear from the Lord if we regard or allow sin in our heart (Psalm 66:18). God loves us too much to allow us to wallow and be waylaid by sin that will cause us and others pain. Sin creates spiritual static so that we can’t hear God. If your prayers seem to be hitting and bouncing off the ceiling and if the word of God seems dry and you’re not getting anything out of it, go to God and ask Him to search your heart.

How can we be cleansed from sin? Let me share scriptural truths to help those who want to be cleansed from sin before God.

First, understand God is the Cleanser. Jesus spoke to Peter saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). God is the one who cleanses us from sin and its pollutants. If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse away sin in our life (1 John 1:9).

Second, therefore we should go to God for cleansing. When David’s sins of adultery and murder were discovered, he cried out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). If you have been convicted of your sin by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11), if there is sin in your heart and the scars of sin in your mind, call out to God for cleansing and renewal.

Third, understand that cleansing is something we receive “by faith.” The Bible speaks of “purifying their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9), and being “sanctified [cleansed] by faith” (Acts 26:18). God has promised to cleanse us from our sin. To be cleansed we must take Him at His word.

Fourth, understand that cleansing from sin comes through faith in Jesus. Jesus told Paul his mission to people was, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). The word “sanctified” (Greek hagiadzo) means purified, cleansed, made clean, made holy. We aren’t cleansed from sin by faith in faith. We are cleansed from sin through faith in Jesus!

Fifth, understand we are cleansed from sin through faith in Jesus because it is the atoning blood of Jesus that cleanses away our sins. The apostle John was inspired to write, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We are cleansed from all our sins by the precious redemptive sanctifying blood of  Jesus!

Sixth, The Holy Spirit uses His word to cleanse us from the effects of sin. In His word God speaks of “the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26). Through Peter God states, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). The Holy Spirit works in the believer to make them holy. And the prime instrument the Spirit uses to cleanse from sin is the word of God. The Holy Spirit uses God’s word to scrub us clean from sin and its effects.

Seventh, it is our responsibility to seek out God and surrender fully to Him for this cleansing. To the carnal self-centered Corinthians the Lord inspired Paul to write, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). We need to be reverent before God who is Holy. And we need to seek Him for His cleansing from sin. We shouldn’t seek with all our heart in full surrender to have any and all sin removed from our heart and mind.

15 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

Jesus didn’t have credentials from the thirty or so seminaries or rabbinical schools that existed in Jerusalem at this time. Therefore, Jesus’ academic resource was questioned. As far as they knew Jesus was uneducated. The same thing was later considered concerning His apostles. They were viewed as “uneducated.” But even though the apostles were uneducated they had Holy Spirit filled boldness. What was their source of knowing and credential? “They had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Going to Bible School or seminary can be helpful and edifying. But the most important credential, the credential that trumps all others, is whether or not you are with Jesus and He is in you. It’s not merely what you know; it’s Who you know that is most important.

 

16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law?

 

Jesus points out that His doctrine or teaching was in line with the doctrinal teaching of the Father. He points out an important principle. He says if a person is willing to do the will of God they will “know” that the doctrine is from God and the authority with which Jesus speaks is true. In other words, receiving revelation is linked to obedient application of what has already been revealed. The problem with the religious leaders opposing Jesus was that their teaching was from themselves and was self-seeking. They focused on their traditions rather than the scriptures. They didn’t seek the glory of God. They sought their own glory. They sought to establish their authority rather than God’s. They had the Law of Moses, and Jesus indictment was, “yet none of you keeps the law.” Obedience is a prerequisite to receiving the truth and revelation of God. The religious leaders were in reality living in rebellion to God’s word.

 

The righteous path to understanding the doctrinal teaching of God is to seek His glory even if it means crucifying our flesh. If you are not obeying what God has shown you now, you shouldn’t expect to receive more revelation. Part of the reason the Jews didn’t receive Jesus or know His identity was because they had not obeyed the revelation of God in the writings of Moses they had already received. If you obey and apply what God reveals to you, you can expect Him to reveal more. If you don’t apply what He reveals to you, you cannot expect Him to reveal more to you. Application of revelation is a prerequisite for more revelation. Do you want to know more of God and His word and go deeper with Him? Apply in the Spirit what He has shown you already. Then He will give you more.

 

Application is a matter of obedience. That ruffles the flesh. We don’t naturally want to obey. Our sinful nature is prone to rebel and disobey. But if we want to hear from the Lord and grow in our relationship with Him, we must obey. The lord reveals Himself and His word to those who are willing to submit in obedience to Him and His word. Why is this so? What does the Bible reveal to us about obedience?

 

First, obedience and faith go hand in hand. By faith we obey. And by obedience we demonstrate evidence of our faith. This is why those saved from their sins through faith in Christ are referred to as “obedient to the faith” – “Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5). Obedience is something God requires throughout the Bible. It is something that irritates the fleshly sinful nature. You can tell the unsaved or self-oriented person by how they respond to obeying God’s word or instruction in general.

 

Second, obedience is the means God uses to establish us in the gospel and our faith. In Paul’s closing words of the book of Romans he states, “25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27).  In his closing words Paul reminds the Roman Christians that God is able to establish them. Interestingly, the word “establish” comes from the Greek term steridzo from which we get the English word steroids. Steridzo means to set fast, to be resolute, strengthen, confirm. God is able to make us like Christians on steroids and the way He does that is OBEDIENCE to God’s revealed scriptures. Obedience strengthens us in our faith. The more we obey, the stronger we will be. The more we disobey the weaker we will be. This is the principle of sowing and reaping God has put in place (Gal. 6:7-9). Obedience is God’s means to strengthen and establish us in our faith.

 

Third, there is a battle test to obey fought in the mind. Isaiah was inspired to write, “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 1:19-20). God calls us to reason with Him. He associates willingness (which takes place in the heart as an act of our will) and obedience (which is a decision rooted in right thinking). Obedience is a decision we make and according to God’s words it is something we must decide to do. Obedience is the result of fulfilled accountability.

 

Spiritual warfare involves making a decision to obey. This is why Paul is inspired to exhort believers in the New Testament, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:4-6).

 

Satan is a liar and deceiver (John 8:43-44). He seeks to get people to disobey God by presenting them with alternatives to God’s truth. He tempted Eve with a lie that put her in a position to either trust God and obey Him or mistrust God and disobey Him. She chose to mistrust and disobey God (Gen. 3). Obedience therefore is a test of our faith (e.g. 2 Cor. 2:9).

 

Fourth, obedience determines your master. The Bible states, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). Obedience is enslaving. That can be good. That can be bad. If you obey God and His word you will become more and more likely to adhere to God and His word. If you disobey God and His word you will become more and more likely to continue the downward spiral of sin. You will crash and burn. This is why obedience is so closely linked with faith. Obedience is evidence of genuine faith (e.g. Matthew 7:21; John 14:15, 21).

 

Fifth, God disciplines us to make us obedient. There are consequences to disobeying God and His word. These consequences serve to warn and move us away from that which will harm us and if persisted in kill us even to the point of eternal death. God’s word is the way of life (Prov. 6:23; 10:17; Jer. 21:8; Psalm 16:11). God loves us and wants what is best for us. When we deviate from His way we endanger ourselves and others and move away from His best. God disciplines us to return to His best and right obedient path.

 

Disobedience was the downfall of Israel (Deut. 8:20; Isaiah 42:24). Obedience is expected from the time we are children and throughout our lives. From our earliest existence we are warned to obey God and our parents – “The eye that mocks his father, and scorns obedience to his mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it” (Prov. 30:17). Obedience holds the family unit together. It’s important to learn to obey at an early age. Learning obedience early in life prepares us for success later in life.

 

God makes obedience the key that opens the doors of blessing. Now we need to pause here and clarify that even though obedience and blessing are connected, God’s blessing is not primarily contingent on our obedience. God’s blessing is contingent on God’s own nature of grace. God blesses us not because of who we are, but because of who He is. If God withholds blessing because of disobedience it is only to discipline us and move us toward greater blessing. God disciplines us “for our profit” (Hebrews 12:10). He disciplines the disobedient because He loves them. God’s objective in us is to move us further toward and deeper into holiness where we will experience and appreciate the richness of His presence (cf. Hebrews 12:3-11).

 

Sixth, obedience is the product of the Holy Spirit’s holy work in us. Peter opened his inspired letter to persecuted Christians by referring to them as the, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” (1 Peter 1:2).  Here we see obedience is directly associated with the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Further in this opening chapter Peter exhorts, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16). We are to be “as obedient children.” Obedience is the mark of a genuine Christian. Obedience is what distinguishes the saved from the unsaved. Are you more disobedient or more obedient? Examine yourself. Seek the Lord. Surrender to the Holy Spirit and His holy work in you.

 

Seventh, obedience produces a good testimony. Paul wrote of the Christians in Rome, “For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil” (Rom. 16:19). The wattage of our light for Jesus is in direct proportion to the degree of our obedience to Him. Let your light shine.

 

Eighth, obedience is an encouragement to other believers. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.” (2 Cor. 7:14-16). It’s encouraging to see other believers obey the truth. When we obey we take our position alongside Jesus and other Christians who stand on the front lines of the spiritual battle.

 

Paul wrote to Philemon, “Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” (Philemon 21). Paul’s mind was put at ease because he knew he could trust Philemon to do the right thing in regards to the slave Onesimus. It’s a great source of encouragement for church leaders to know those who serve in the church will do so obediently.

 

Ninth, obedience glorifies God. Disobedience can discredit God because the sinful disobedience of those representing God becomes a negative testimony about the reality of God. When a Christian disobeys it communicates their unfaithfulness but it also reflects poorly on God (Titus 2:5). This is why King David’s sin with Bathsheba was so atrocious (2 Sam. 12:14).

 

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about their obedience in giving to the needs of the ministry. He said, “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, “ (2 Cor. 9:12-13). Their obedience in giving resulted in God being glorified because by their giving they were declaring their faith in God and God’s faithfulness to sustain them as they gave. Obedience, especially obedience in giving, glorifies God.

 

Tenth, obedience is Christlike. God’s prime objective for us is to be molded into the likeness of Jesus (Rom. 8:29; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6). Jesus obeyed. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8; cf. also Heb. 5:8). Jesus is our model of obedience. If we are to God’s purpose for us fulfilled in us, we like our Savior and Lord Jesus, must obey.

 

Finally, when we speak about obedience the temptation is to slip into a works righteousness or self-reliant attitude. If we rely on ourselves to obey, obedience will be a heavy burden that will ultimately crush us. But Jesus says “My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). How can that be? Jesus enters our life and empowers us to obey. The fuel for our obedience is God’s love. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord and He comes to reside within us by the indwelling Holy Spirit the love of God is poured out into our heart (Rom. 5:5). And it is that love of the Holy Spirit which brings the victory. God’s love “never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). That is why John is inspired to write, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3). And then John says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). Do you see the connection? The love of the Holy Spirit in us is the motivating fuel for obedience. And that obedience is the product of the faith worked in us by the Spirit. Love, obedience, and faith; they all work together to bring great victory.

 

When you examine your life do you see an obedient follower of Jesus? Do you love Jesus enough to obey Him? Will you obey Jesus, no matter what? If the Holy Spirit is indeed residing within you, if you have indeed been born again and spiritually regenerated, you will be moving toward greater and greater obedience. If on the other hand you are living a lie, you won’t much care about obeying God and His word. Obedience is the evidence of our faith (cf. James 2).

 

Where do you stand with Jesus? Will you begin by obeying His call to repent of your sins and accept Him as Savior? If you have taken that first step of obedience will you continue more seriously with the Spirit’s work to help you live a life of obedience to God and His word? Will you be “obedient to the faith”?

 

Why do you seek to kill Me?”

 

The Jewish leaders didn’t like what they heard from Jesus. But even more, they hated that He healed on the Sabbath. Because of this they sought to kill Jesus (John 5:16, 18; 7:25). If Jesus did said something you didn’t like or did something you didn’t agree with, would you want to kill Him; would you crucify Him? You may be aghast at that question. But killing Jesus, at least in our heart, may be more common than you think.

 

When we willfully sin it is as though we re-crucify or kill Jesus all over again. In Hebrews it states, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, . . . Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26, 29). By our disregard of Jesus cross-work we “kill” Jesus. Think about that. When we sin because we have lost sight of the magnitude of God’s grace and love and the extent of Jesus’ death on the cross, it’s as though we cross the line and treat Jesus just like those who first crucified Him. That should shock us spiritually. And that should get hold of our heart, give us pause, and help in deterring us from giving into temptation and sinning. Maybe the next time we are tempted to sin we should listen for Jesus’ question, “Why do you seek to kill Me?”

 

20 The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” 21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

 

According to Genesis 17 circumcision was to be performed on male babies eight days after birth, even if it fell on the Sabbath. Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-15). This had been made a huge issue by the Jews. A circumcision is a painful experience for a male baby and yet it is allowed on the Sabbath. When a child is circumcised on the Sabbath the baby shouts in pain. But when Jesus healed a man who had an infirmity for 38 years, though it isn’t specifically mentioned, we can bet that man shouted for joy. Jesus argument is why did the Jews have a problem with a work that resulted in a shout for joy when they themselves made allowances for something that resulted in a shout of pain?

 

Jesus is addressing a typical religious mindset. Happiness is seen as contrary to holiness. It’s possible to be happy and holy. In fact, your greatest happiness will be found in holiness. The principle of Sabbath and spending a day with the Lord is a good thing. But it shouldn’t mean we can’t experience happiness. When I was a young Christian I attended a denominational family camp. I was young in the Lord and not familiar with the traditions of the denomination. So on Sunday at the camp I and a similarly young Christian friend took my football and started having a catch. We were just having some fun and doing what young guys do; they play. We had bene to services. We had spent time with the Lord. Now we were just having some fun. It wasn’t long before an elder Christian came out and stopped that fun. He gave us a stern look and squashed our activity. Then we were told to do something spiritual. I kind of thought having a catch with my friend and getting to know him a bit better was something of value. But that wasn’t considered. There’s indeed way too much emphasis on sports and recreation in our society. But there is a time for it. And it can be of value in ministry. Religion tends to live by a rigidity that chokes off what the Spirit may be directing people to do. Just a thought.

25 Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? 26 But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? 27 However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”

Apparently there was a belief that the origins of Messiah would be unknown. Yet in Judges it states Messiah would be called a Nazarene (Judges 13:5) and the prophet Micah stated Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Part of the problem was that the leaders and people did not know God’s word. If they had known God’s word, they would have been prepared for the coming of Jesus the Messiah.

 

28 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

30 Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.

 

It’s not uncommon for those who are religious, when confronted with truth they don’t accept, to react with violence. It was the religious leaders who led the violence against Jesus. It was the religious leaders who led the violence against the apostles in Acts.

 

Notice they weren’t able to lay a hand on Jesus, “because His hour had not yet come.” Jesus was protected from their plan to kill Him as long as His mission was not complete. Part of Jesus mission was to die, but only according to God’s timing (e.g. Daniel 9:24-27). There is evidence that God sets our life span according to His plan (Psalm 139:16). We are on a mission from Him. Until that mission is completed, He protects us.

 

 31 And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. 33 Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. 34 You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”

 

Jesus didn’t water down His message in order to garner the approval of people or build up a following. Jesus spoke in love but candidly with the people. He was bold enough here to speak of His mission and destination. But He also added that “where I am you cannot come.” The enemies of Jesus who sought to kill Him weren’t going to heaven. If they didn’t repent, they would go to hell.

 

There is hope for those who oppose Jesus. Saul ranted and raved against Jesus and His followers. He outright persecuted them. But the day came when Jesus knocked Saul off his high horse and opened his eyes to the truth. Then Saul was converted to Paul and the rest is history (cf. Acts 9).

 

35 Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come’?”

Because of the hardness of their heart they weren’t able to receive or comprehend what Jesus was saying. If you are hard and closed to God’s truth, if you are set in your ways, no matter how wrong they are, then you will be unable to receive the truth of Jesus.

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) was an eight day festival. There are some differences of opinion about the ritual of this day. But we will do our best to lay out the ritual and how Jesus used it to speak of Himself. This was one of three Feasts that the men were required to attend in Jerusalem (Deut. 16:16). It’s estimated that there were upward of two million people in Jerusalem during the Feast.

This ritual Feast was a reminder of how God provided water from the rock in the wilderness (Numbers 20:8-11; Psalm 78:15-16). It also spoke to the coming days of Messiah’s reign (Zechariah 14:8, 16-19). The name of the Pool of Siloam from which the water was taken means “Sent One.” Water was taken from the Sent One.

This Feast was also an expression of thanks to God and call for Him to provide rains for the crops in the coming year. Rain for crops was not a given. Unlike today when we simply have to turn on a spigot for water, in biblical times people looked to God to provide water. 

The first and last days were special Sabbath days of rest (Lev. 23:35-36). Each day there would be a libation ceremony where water from the Pool of Siloam would be poured out in recognition that God had provided water for His people in the wilderness. Each day there was a joyous procession. Flutes and other instruments were played and Isaiah 12:2-3 would be sung while the pitcher was being filled – “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Psalm 118 would also be sung. It was said of the Feast ceremony – “Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life.” This was a time of great continuous celebration to the Lord for entire Feast. God loves His people to rejoice in Him. God loves celebration.

The high priest would lead this huge procession of thousands of people to the Pool of Siloam located just below the City of David to the south where he would get water for the ceremony. Why the Pool of Siloam? Because the Pool of Siloam had living water or a flow of water that was not stagnant but clean.

There were two pitchers used in this ceremony. The high priest had a gold pitcher which stands for royalty. He would draw the “living water” (Heb. mayim chayim) from the Pool with the gold pitcher. His assistant had a silver pitcher filled with wine. Silver is a symbol of redemption. Wine is a symbol for blood. So in this ceremony we have living water and blood represented.

The high priest would take the filled pitcher of water and lead the procession back to the Temple through the Water Gate to the Court of the Priests. As the priest entered through the gate there would be three trumpet blasts. He would approach the altar where there were two silver basins, one on either side of the altar. Then, as a drink offering, the priest would pour out the water from the gold pitcher into one silver basin. As he did so Isaiah 44:3 would be sung – “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” His assistant would pour out the wine into the other silver basin. So symbols of blood and water were poured out on the altar as part of this ceremony.

The Feast would climax on the eighth day referred to as “the Great Day” (Leviticus 23:36). During the eighth day of celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles there would be a solemn procession from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam. This Great Day was the day that Jesus made His proclamation. Bible Teacher Jon Courson explains the significance of what happened on this day in light of Jesus’ words:

 

On the great day, the last day of the feast, the priests provided a powerful picture of Israel’s longing for her Messiah. You see, whereas in the previous seven days, the priests had drawn water from the pool of Siloam and poured it out in the temple courtyard as an illustration of God’s provision for the thirst of their bodies, on the last day of the feast, the priests returned from the pool of Siloam with empty pitchers as an illustration of their need for One to satisfy the thirst of their hearts. Thus, it was at the very moment when the priests held empty pitchers in their hands that Jesus cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.” Certainly the crowd must have wondered about this itinerant Rabbi, this Carpenter from Galilee who had the audacity to cry out in the midst of the congregation. Yet no one called for the ushers or deacons to escort Him out because something about Him rang true. Perhaps something in His eyes, perhaps something in His voice caused people to listen when He spoke.[11]

Do you see now the significance of Jesus words, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jesus is announcing that He is the “Sent One,” the One who will fulfill the thirst of the people. Are you thirsty? Come to Jesus.

John clarifies very clearly the connection of the words of Isaiah – “I will pour My Spirit on your descendants” and Jesus’ words – “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John states, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  

Now we need to see something very important here in the words of Jesus. Jesus is not speaking about the born again indwelling of a believer with the Holy Spirit. Here Jesus is speaking of an outpouring of the Spirit until He overflows from the believer to others. This can be explained in the following way:

 

The long-awaited Messiah had come to the people of Israel. And here, in their midst, He invited them to come to Him. If they had, they would have received rivers of water—not only water within, but flowing forth from them in order that others might be served and refreshed. It is what is called the filling of the Spirit, the overflow of the Spirit, the coming upon of the Spirit, the baptism in the Spirit. The same is true today. If you’re a believer, you have the Holy Spirit in you. But has the Holy Spirit come upon you? Is He overflowing from you?

 

After Jesus died and rose from the dead, He said to His disciples, “Receive ye the Holy [Spirit].” He breathed on them, and they did indeed receive the Holy [Spirit] within them (John 20:22). But were they empowered? Were they like rivers of water? No. They were hiding in an upper room. Yes, they were Christians. Yes, they were born again. But they were still timid and unsure of what they should do. Then, [fifty] days later, the Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost, and three thousand were saved (Acts 2).

 

There’s a difference between the Spirit being in you, and the Spirit coming upon you, flowing from you. People say, “I received the Holy Spirit when I was saved.” “Amen,” I say. “You did. Like the disciples in John 20, when you opened your heart to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit took up residence within you. You have the Holy Spirit. My question is: Does the Holy Spirit have you?”

 

“Go and wait in Jerusalem until the Holy [Spirit] comes upon you,” Jesus said to His disciples (see Luke 24:49). “Then you shall receive power.” The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get the word “dynamite.” Jesus promised dynamic power to enable them to be His witnesses as His Spirit not only satisfied them but also overflowed from them.[12]

 

The church and many believers are as dry and empty as the pitchers of the Jewish priests on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. What’s the problem? The problem is the church and many believers have forgotten or gotten away from a reliance on the Holy Spirit.

There is an illustration of the process of Spirit filled life provided for us in the Old Testament connected with this Feast of Tabernacles. Remember, the Feast of Tabernacles was designed to help the people remember how God provided for them in the wilderness. Are you dry and parched spiritually? Jesus has the water you need. He can quench your spiritual thirst with the Holy Spirit.

John connects what Jesus said at the climax of the great day of the feast with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So the question we need to ask is what happened in the wilderness setting of this feast picture for us something about our relationship with the Holy Spirit? And the answer is yes.

The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The New Testament is our best commentary on the meaning of the Old Testament. In the New Testament we are told that the Rock in the wilderness represents Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:4). “Water” in scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit as alluded to in John 7:39. If Jesus is the Rock in the wilderness does the provision of the “rock” and what was done to it speak to us about Jesus and the provision of the Holy Spirit? Yes.

Come to the Rock Jesus and get started. In Exodus 17 after the people had expressed a thirst for water in the wilderness that thirst was quenched when Moses struck the rock and water flowed out. Similarly, on the cross, Jesus was struck and out of His side flowed blood and water (John 19:34). The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins. The water represents the indwelling Holy Spirit. Blood and cleansing must precede the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:6). The first step in experiencing the outpouring and overflowing of the Holy Spirit in our life is to come to the Rock Jesus and be saved from our sins. You can’t experience all Jesus has for you and the fullness of the Holy Spirit unless you have repented (turned from your sins) and placed your faith in Jesus and His completed work of the cross as the just basis for God to forgiven your sins.

Speak to the Rock Jesus and request by faith the empowering of the Holy Spirit. To get water from the rock the first time Moses was instructed by God to strike the rock. But after that Moses was instructed by God to “speak to the rock” (Numbers 20:8). This is because in line with the symbolism to Jesus, Jesus was struck on the cross once and only once. Jesus died once for all for the sins of the world. He does not have to die over and over again (cf. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10; cf. also Romans 6:10). Moses struck the rock again and again. He was punished for this because he misrepresented God as angry with His people for thirsting. God wasn’t angry.

Moses’ punishment was not being allowed to enter into the Promised Land. He would not be allowed to lead the people into the Promised Land to complete his mission. The Promised Land is a symbol of the fullness of life in the Spirit. Coming out of Egypt is like coming out of the world at salvation. It represents our salvation and deliverance from sin. Then like Israel we pass through the wilderness of relying on our flesh (e.g. relying on our own understanding and strength; complaining; etc.). Then by faith we step into the Jordan and cross it into the life of trusting in God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to strike the rock again and again to receive the refreshing water of the Spirit. We only have to speak to the Rock in faith and the water will flow. We don’t have to do spiritual gymnastics or work ourselves up emotionally to receive the outpouring of the Spirit in our lives. We simply have to speak to Jesus in faith and ask Him to open the flood gates of heaven to release the Holy Spirit in our lives (cf. Acts 2:32-33). Just seek and ask Jesus in faith for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God knows what we need and is eager and willing to provide the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13).

Worship and receive. Now here is one more point as depicted in the Rock of the Old Testament. In Number 21 after God’s people had drank water from the rock in the wilderness and as they moved on the question needed to be asked and answered was, “If our water comes from this rock, what happens when we move on from here away from the rock?” As the people moved on through the wilderness they came to a place called Beer and it states, “From there they went to Bee, which is the well where the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together, and I will give them water” (Numbers 21:16). And then it states, “Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well! All of you sing to it . . . .” (Numbers 21:17). And as they sang water sprang up from the well they had dug. You see, God provided an underground river of refreshing water for the people that flowed from the rock. This underground river provided by God was their source of continual refreshing water as they traveled on.

Do you see the practical picture here for us? The New Testament speaks of being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). We are to literally to be being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. How can we experience this in our lives? It’s no accident that Paul then goes on to say, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19-20). What do we have to do to be continually filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit? Worship and receive. Enter into worship of the Lord. Deny yourself and the distractions in life, look up and over your life obstacles to the Lord and WORSHIP JESUS! Worship and receive the refreshing overflowing torrents of living water of the Holy Spirit promised to you by the Father (Acts 1:4-5), provided by Jesus (Acts 2:32-33), and administered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; Rom. 5:5). [13]

What difference does the Holy Spirit make? A.W. Tozer, in his book The Mystery of the Spirit [14] answers the question, “What difference does the Holy Spirit make in a life?” He says if we look at the gospels we see the disciples preached, healed, cast out demons and performed miracles all before Pentecost (Mt. 7:21-24; Luke 9:1-2). So those things are not necessarily proof of the filling of the Spirit. So what difference does the Holy Spirit make?  A.W. Tozer noted Seven Differences the Holy Spirit Makes:

 

1.      A sudden brilliant consciousness of God being actually present – This is other-worldliness; a sense of wonder and joyous surprise at the work of God – Acts 3:10.

2.      The joy of the Spirit – A song in the heart – Acts 5:41; 13:52; 16:25.

3.      Empowered words that penetrate and arrest the heart – Acts 2:37-39

4.      A clear sense of the reality of everything – In the gospels the disciples were asking questions. In Acts the disciples were answering questions. This is speaking with authority – Acts 2:14ff.; 6:10.

5.      A sharp separation between disciples and the world – Acts 5:29; Acts 7.

6.      They took great delight in prayer - In the gospels only Jesus could stay awake in prayer. In Acts the disciples were a praying people – Acts 2:42; 4:31.

7.      A passionate love for the scriptures – In the gospels Jesus quoted scriptures. In Acts the disciples quoted the scriptures – Acts 2:42; 6:7; 12:24.

Tozer concludes his teaching by noting what one saint said: “When I was filled with the Spirit I loved the scriptures so much that if I could have gotten more of the word inside me by eating it I would have eaten the book, leather and everything.” He then adds that the Moravians described the fullness of the Spirit as, “a sense of the loving nearness of the Savior instantaneously bestowed.”

 

Love of Jesus and love for His word. Do you have that? Do you have an insatiable appetite for more of Jesus and His word? If not, it’s unlikely you are experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

 

How should we seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Andrew Murray in his book The Spirit of Christ gives the following comment on seeking the power of the Spirit:

In seeking for this power of the Spirit, let us note the manner of His working. There is one mistake we must especially be aware of. It is that of expecting always to feel the power when it works. Scripture links power and weakness in a wonderful way, not as succeeding each other, but as existing together. ‘I was with you in weakness . . . and my preaching was . . . in power,’ ‘When I am weak, then am I strong.’(See 1 Cor. 2:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:7, 16; 6:10; 12:10; 13:3, 4.).

The power is the power of God, given to faith, and faith grows strong in the dark. The Holy Spirit hides himself in the weak things that God has chosen, so that flesh may not glory in His presence. Spiritual power can only be known by the Spirit of faith. The more we acknowledge our weakness, the more confidently we can expect the Spirit’s power, even when nothing is felt. [15]

We should not run from our weakness but embrace it! We should not try to hide our weakness but proclaim it! If we think we aren’t weak, we are fooling ourselves, self-deceived, and not ready for the empowerment of the Spirit. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourself before God and He will exalt you in due time; He will baptize you in the Spirit (cf. 1 Peter 5:5-6).

Andrew Murray also makes a close connection between humility that is proved in obedience. We have to be humble and surrendered enough to obey the Lord. We need to truly surrender to the Lord and His will. The Spirit will only empower the person who is willing to obey and follow His marching orders. His power is not given for us to indulge. His power is given that we might glorify Christ! To this end Murray states:

Christians lose much not only by not waiting for the power, but by waiting in the wrong way. Combine ready obedience to every call of duty, no matter how weak you feel, with a dependent waiting expectation of power from on high. Let intervals of rest and communion be the exercise of prayer and faith in the power of God dwelling in you and waiting to work through you. Then your time of exertion and effort will bring the proof that by faith, out of weakness, we are made strong. . . .

Many pray earnestly for power in their work, and do not receive it, because they do not accept the only attitude in which the power can work. . . . We want to get possession of the power and use it. God wants the power to get possession of us and use us. If we give up ourselves to the power to rule in us, the power will give itself to us, to rule though us. Unconditional submission and obedience to the power in our inner life is the one condition of our being clothed with it. . . .

God gives the Spirit to the obedient. Power belongs to God and remains His forever. If you want His power to work in you, surrender to His guidance even in the least things.

Let us be clear regarding the purpose of this power and the work it is to do. Men are very careful to economize power and to store it where it can do its work most effectively. God does not give power for our own enjoyment. He gives it for one purpose – to glorify His Son. Those who are faithful to this one purpose and prove they are ready at any cost to glorify God will receive the power from on high.[16]

 

Who should seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit? R.A. Torrey, a man greatly used by God and solid Bible teacher commented regarding the empowerment of the Holy Spirit:

 

The disciples had been to school with Jesus, the greatest Teacher, for three years. They saw Him heal the blind, lame and even lepers. They saw Him feed thousands with only a few morsels. They saw Him walk on water and still the storm. They saw Him die on the cross and rise from the dead and even ascend to heaven. They were given the Great Commission. Yet they were told by Jesus to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” or baptized with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). Education and training is not enough to serve effectively and to the glory of God. We NEED to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and His power to serve.

Jesus was anointed with the power of the Spirit before He began His ministry (Acts 10:38; Luke 3:21, 22). After the Spirit (in the form of a dove) descended on Jesus, He resisted the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:1-13) and later declared the Spirit of God was upon Him to preach (Luke 4:14-21). Jesus was empowered by the Spirit to minister. We are to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn. 2:6).

It is better to “tarry” or wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit before we try to serve in our own anemic strength. In our own strength we will misrepresent God as weak and failing. While we wait, “The world is no loser. When the power came [on the apostles and disciples] they would have accomplished more in one day than they would have accomplished in years if they had gone on in presumptuous disobedience to Christ’s charge. We also, after we have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, will accomplish more in one day than we ever would in years without His power.” [17]

How should we seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Again, R.A. Torrey answered the question, How the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Can Be Obtained – by giving Seven Simple Steps to Receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Repent – Change your mind about Christ. Context showed people “cut to the heart” and convicted about their role in crucifying Jesus. Change from a Christ-crucifying attitude to a Christ-accepting attitude. Accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. You must be born again (Jn. 3:1-7) and regenerated (Titus 3:4-7) by the Spirit before or concurrent with (Acts 10:44-45) the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Jesus must be received as Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
  2. Repent – Renounce all sin. There must be a change of mind about sin from a sin-loving or sin-indulging attitude to a sin-hating, sin-renouncing attitude (1 John 2:1-6; 3:6-9). . Ask God to do a deep search of your heart (Psalm 139:23-24). Don’t be quick to think there is no sin in you (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). But if He doesn’t bring anything to mind, move on (Rom. 8:1-2). That which is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23; cf. also Ps. 66:18; Is. 59:2; Hab. 1:13). “Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).
  3. Openly Confess Renunciation of Sin - “Baptism” – is a symbol of humility and open confession of our sin and renouncing of it (1 Jn. 1:9). God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Ps. 51:17; 1 Pet. 5:6).
  4. Obey – Acts 5:32. Obedience means total surrender to the will of God. Obedience is an attitude of the will praying: “Heavenly Father, here I am and all I have. You have bought me with a price and I acknowledge Your absolute ownership. Take me and all I have, and do with me whatsoever You will. Send me where You want; [keep me where You want]; use me as You will. I surrender myself and all I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever to Your control and use.” E.g. like a burnt offering – Lev. 9:24; compare with Rom. 12:1-2). [18] Don’t hold back from total surrender due to fear of what God will do with you. God loves us and will only do what is best for us (Ps. 84:11; Rom. 8:31-32). Manifestation by the Spirit is according to the Spirit’s will and for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:6-7).
  5. Sincere intense desire for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13; e.g. Thirst – Is. 44:3. Have pure motives: not to build you up or bring attention to you or serve your purposes, but only to glorify God – even if it means you serve in obscurity. E.g. Acts 8:18-24.
  6. Ask in prayer– “definitely asking for a definite blessing”[19] – Luke 11:13.
  7. “Believe that you receive” - Ask in faith without wavering – Mark 11:24; James 1:5-6; Heb. 4:6; 11:6 - E.g. Property deed: you gain property in two steps – First you sign the papers; then you actually step on the property. Similarly, we pray for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but the manifestation and power may not be evident until we step out and serve. If we know and believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is God’s will, then we can ask confidently and receive in faith (1 John 5:14-15).

 

Will you have to wait like the first disciples did? You will have to wait only if you have not met one of the steps. If you have met the steps you won’t have to wait. Pentecost is the only time anyone waited for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the purpose of the Feast of Pentecost. Examples of not having to wait – Acts 4:31; 8:15, 17; 9:17, 20; 10:44-46; 19; 6

Do you lack the power of the Spirit? Are you filled but not overflowing in the Spirit? The Father has promised to provide the power we need to effectively minister in His Name (Acts 1:4-5, 8). We need to come to Jesus in full surrender and by faith receive that empowerment (Acts 2:32-33). This is God’s promise. God is faithful. Come in Jesus’ name and receive.

40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

Some acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ or Messiah. Others were confused with details. They were divided and argued. Tragic. Instead of answering Jesus call to receive the living water of the Spirit, they were distracted in a divisive argument.

“The Prophet” is a reference to the Messianic prophecy where the LORD stated He would raise up “a prophet like you” or like Moses:

 

·         Deuteronomy 18:15–18 (NKJV) - 15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, 16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ 17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.

“This is the Christ” is a direct reference to the Messiah, the One promised in the Old Testament who God would send to redeem Israel. The predominant belief at the time was that the messiah would be anointed by God as a political military leader to resurrect the nation in victory over their oppressors. So the light was beginning to turn on for some of the people.

The Messiah was to be “the seed of David,” or a descendant of King David and from Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:1; Micah 5:2; 2 Samuel 7). Jesus was known as coming from Nazareth in the region of Galilee. But that is not where He was born! The gospels tell us that while Jesus’ parents lived in Nazareth, that in response to a decree of Caesar Augustus requiring all people to be registered according to “their own city,” Joseph took Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) to Bethlehem of Judea “because he was of the house and lineage of David” who was from Bethlehem (cf. Luke 2:1-7). Jesus was born in Bethlehem just as God said Messiah would be.

The people were divided over who Jesus was. Some even wanted to take Jesus by force but evidently the Spirit restrained them. Their lack of understanding led to chaos and division. Everyone had an opinion, but they weren’t interested in spending the time to prove the scriptures and who Jesus was according to those scriptures. There is a saying in the Talmud, “where there are two Jews, there are three opinions.” Or, “Ask two Jews about something and you’ll get three opinions.”

Personal opinions aren’t worth very much. Look what it says in proverbs about them:

 

·         Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) - 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

·         Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV) - 2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

·         Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV) - 13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.

·         Proverbs 26:16 (NKJV) - 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.

 

Then there is what the prophet Jeremiah was inspired to say:

 

·         Jeremiah 9:23–24 (NKJV)  - 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

The book of Job is an account to a great extent of how Job and his friends could spend the vast proportion of the book going back and forth arguing and sharing their opinions (Job 3-37) and in the end be completely wrong about what the truth of the matter was. God then enters the picture and sets everyone straight (Job 38-42).

Paul was inspired to comment to the Romans, “Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom. 12:16c - NKJV).  The word “opinion” (Greek heautoui) actually means conceits,  or wise in yourself – as opposed to relying on God to form belief. We are often our own worst enemy. Relying on self for guidance can be a huge mistake since our heart is desperately wicked and deceived (Jer. 17:9-10). We need to go to God for direction!

The only opinion that matters is God’s opinion. It doesn’t matter what you or I think or what our personal opinion is. What matters is what God has stated. Our world is confused because it has turned away from God and looks to personal opinions for guidance. People are quick to offer their opinions, but unless those opinions are based on God’s word, they are worthless and more often than not, flat out wrong. The people of Jesus day had a lot of opinions on who Jesus was but because they didn’t search God’s word and apply it to life, they missed the mark on Jesus Messiah.

The critics questioned, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” And of course they were right. Here is evidence that they did know the scriptural criteria for Messiah. The only thing was they were ignorant of the facts of Jesus’ fulfillment of the scriptural criteria. There will always be critics and naysayers who oppose God’s plans even though they don’t have all the facts. That’s a dangerous place to be. Those who didn’t have the facts (either because they were too lazy to seek them out or deceived) missed out on the greatest provision and prophetic fulfillment of God, Jesus.

Just think of it, if before you were born to earth you had an audience with God and He offered to let you pick the time in history to be born, what would you choose? Certainly to be born during the time of Jesus’ incarnation would head the list! God had blessed these people to be born “for such a time as this” and they were squandering the opportunity for lack of attentiveness to the information God had provided (Eccl. 4:14). What a loss!

When Jesus entered Jerusalem he wept over the ignorance of the people:

 

·         Luke 13:34–35 (NKJV) - 34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

The exact day of Jesus Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem was predicted by the Prophet Daniel some 483 years, 173, 880 days from the time that Artexerxes in 445 BC gave permission for Jerusalem to be rebuilt by the exiles. This incredible prophetic flag made it possible to unmistakably identify the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). God goes to incredible lengths to clarify and clearly show His prophetic and redemptive plan. The people missed it.

Why did they miss the Messiah? Jesus said, “But you were unwilling!” The issue with accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord is not one of a lack of information. The issue is one of repentance from sin and entrusting one’s life to Jesus. Have you turned from your sins and trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord? If not, why not? What’s holding you back? It isn’t a lack of information or lack of God’s revelation. There is ample and abundant factual information about the reliability of scripture , the historicity of Jesus, and proof of the resurrection. Archeologists have never unearthed any artifact that contradicts the content of scripture. In fact, archeology has only verified and proved the factual accuracy of God’s word.

So what is holding you back, sin, some pet sin or immoral lifestyle that you are unwilling to give up? Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he trains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mat. 16:26). He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25).

There’s a lesson there for us. Be diligent in your understanding of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). Be attentive to what is going on in our day that is evidence of God’s fulfilling His prophetic word in current events. When we look around us it appears a great deal of prophecy is coming to fulfillment right before our eyes. A look at Jesus teaching on what to expect in the latter days (Mat. 24:1-14) reveals exactly what we see around us today:

·         Deception

·         False followers of Jesus who come in His name but who know little about being a genuine disciple of Jesus

·         False christs who say they are Messiah

·         Wars and rumors of wars, e.g. insurrections, revolutions, religious wars, Russia versus Europe, Middle East, etc.

·         Nation versus nation, kingdom versus kingdom – “nation” (Greek ethnos) refers to  ethnic groups (e.g. Jew versus non-Jew), and religious wars

·         Famines

·         Pestilences, e.g. Ebola, etc.

·         Earthquakes in various place, e.g. like that in Iceland, Alaska, and Guam

·         Persecution

·         Many are offended or rampant scandals

·         Betrayals, e.g. government removal of freedoms; oppression of citizens of nations

·         Hatred

·         “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Mat. 24:12)

·         In spite of all of these events, the gospel will be preached throughout the world, e.g. radio, TV, missions.

Paul spoke of a great falling away and apostasy before the Rapture of the church (2 Thess. 2:3). Then he spoke of the rise of Antichrist and all hell breaking loose on the earth (2 Thess. 2:4-12). Paul was inspired to write:

 

·         2 Timothy 3:1–5 (NKJV) - 1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

 

·         2 Timothy 3:12–17 (NKJV) - 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In these verses Paul speaks to a day of self-love, pride, false religion, brutality and evil much like our day. He speaks of persecution and evil men getting worse and worse. But he also speaks of how Christians are to go to God’s word and rely on it to show them the times and how to respond to them.

Don’t allow yourself to be ignorant or too lazy to care about world events. Prophecy and God’s signs of the times are unfolding before us. Be like the sons of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32). Know what is going on around you and in the world so you can be ready for the return of our Lord (Luke 21:36; Romans 13:11-14). And above all, if you haven’t repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, do it now! Time is short. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).

45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”

47 Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

 

The officers sent to arrest Jesus were arrested by the authority of His words. It was clear Jesus was no ordinary man. But the religious Pharisees were hell bent on destroying Jesus at this point. They didn’t care about living water or that Jesus was the Messiah. They were a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words – “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; . . . .Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate,’ says the LORD. For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:8, 12-13). The religious leaders just wanted Jesus out of the way so they could get back to their religious rule. Watch that you aren’t so dead set in your religious ways that you miss the blessing of God.

 

50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” 52 They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” 53 And everyone went to his own house.

 

At least Nicodemus stood up for Jesus. But he was shouted down. He still wasn’t born again. He hadn’t been empowered. But it’s clear God was working on him.

 

In John 3, as Nicodemus first came to Jesus, he was in the midnight hour of his soul. Here in John 7, not yet sure who Jesus is, he is in the twilight of transition as he pleads for fairness on the part of his fellow Pharisees. In John 19, we’ll see Nicodemus in the daylight of salvation. When did the sun finally rise on Nicodemus’ understanding? At the Cross (John 19:39).

 

Folks, as you talk with people about the Lord, don’t get tangled up in evolution, philosophy, or existential mind games. Keep focused on what Jesus Christ did on the Cross and how He rose from the dead. That’s where people see the Light. Turn every conversation, every debate, and every discussion back to the Cross. “Jesus died, rose again, and wants to be your Savior, King, and Friend. What are you going to do with Him?” [20]

 

Nicodemus first came to Jesus in the dark (John 3). Here he speaks on behalf of Jesus as the sun is fading. It isn’t until Nicodemus sees Jesus on the cross that the light comes on and he is born again (John 19:39). Where are you, in the dark, in a fading light, or at the cross in the shadow of Jesus, the Light of the World?

 



[1] Brickner, David, Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles, Chicago, IL: Moody Pub., 2006.

[2] Ibid. p. 16

[3] Ibid. p. 29

[4] Ibid. p. 27

[5] Ibid. p. 30

[6] Ibid. p. 33

[7] Ibid. 36

[8] Ibid. pgs. 44-48

[9]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 498

[10] http://www.higherpraise.com/illustrations/waiting_on_god.htm

[11]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 501

[12]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 503

[13] Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 503

[14] Taken from Mystery of the Spirit – a collection of teachings on the Holy Spirit by A.W. Tozer  -“What Difference Does the Holy Spirit Make?”

[15] Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House Pub., 1984) pgs. 61-62

[16] Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House Pub., 1984) pgs. 62-63

[17] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pgs. 31-32

[18] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pg. 44

[19] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pg. 51

[20]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 501