For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says – Mark 11:23
We saw in the past weeks how faith can move mountains. When God created man, He vested him with authority. But he listened to satan and sinned, thereby giving up his authority to satan. Jesus came as a man to this earth to win back that authority from satan and hand it over back to man. The reason Jesus had to come back as a man was because God had given authority to man during creation. He had said “…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen 1:26). God did not say it just like that without meaning it. He really gave the authority to man. Sometimes, people say things they don’t mean. Talk is cheap in the world. But God does not go against His word and He means what He says. Since He had given the authority to man, He could not interfere in the way man used his authority. He respects His word and that is why we are able to respect His word. If He didn’t abide by His word, we would give Him no respect. We would think that He would say something and do something else.
God had given man authority in the garden. And when man chose to go against God’s instruction to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, God could not interfere or prevent man from doing so because God is a God who keeps His word. God had given him authority and the freedom of choice. Man could do whatever he wanted. He could do as he pleased. That is why the thoughts of a man are important. It is his thoughts that lead to action.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he – Prove 23:7
Do not blame God for everything:
People tend to think that everything is in God’s hands. Some others think that whatever happens, happens because God has allowed it. Thus people conveniently blame God for whatever happens saying either that God did it or He allowed it. Still some others think that satan is behind everything bad that happens in the world and that Satan deceived man and what could poor man do? But God had given authority to man. Moreover, He had given him clear instructions on what to eat and what not to eat. Beyond this, man was indeed responsible for that he did. One cannot blame God or satan.
Satan however deceives us to believe that everything that happens in our life is permitted by God. Many believers misunderstand this verse,“we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).Does it mean that God giving an instruction to Adam and Adam disobeying God and falling into sin was all part of God’s plan? Such a philosophy leads us nowhere. When our child commits a grave mistake do we accept it as ‘all for good’? We teach them what to do and what not to do and we impress upon them the consequences of disobedience. Therefore, the philosophy that everything is for good is flawed. Even Paul says in 1 Thess 2:18 that, “we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us”. An evil force called satan operates in this world. In ministry, we go against all the opposition that he creates. He may shut a door, but we open it.
The verses before Romans 8:28 teaches us how the Holy Spirit Himself helps us to pray in situations when we don’t know how to pray. Taking this verse in context, it teaches that when we pray thus with the help of the Holy Spirit, all things work together for our good. When we are determined that only God’s will should happen in our lives and when in a particular situation, we do not know what God’s will is, then we are to pray with the help of the Holy Spirit and everything will work our for our good. It doesn’t teach us that we could go about our daily business as usual and whatever may happen to us is because God has willed it so.
We cannot blame everything that happens on God’s will. Authority and power has been given to us and it is our responsibility to prevent evilfrom happening. People tend to think that God allows evil to happen in the world so that God can intervene. They pray for God to break their errant husbands leg, so that he will repent. They think that people will accept God in their lives only when they suffer, so let them suffer. They even pray to God to strike them with destruction and affliction so that the erring people will repent and turn to God. But that’s not how it happens.
The fire-fighter example:
Let me give you an example to help you understand. A fire-fighter had a son who was very interested in going along with his father on work. So the father took him along whenever he went. One day the boy asked him, “So do you go to places and set them on fire?” The father then explained to his little son that they went to extinguish fires. The boy had mistakenly associated fire with the fire fighters and thought that they made fires. Similarly, people associate disasters with God. Just like somebody’s carelessness starts a fire, people’s lack of exercising their authority and power leads to disasters. And just like a fire-fighterintervenes and prevents the destruction as much as possible, God intervenes and helps people who are in trouble. But like the little boy, people think that it is God who created the destruction in the first place.
It is the lack of knowledge if the believer’s authority and power that creates trouble. The amplified Bible says that“whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). It is our responsibility to know what is bound in heaven and what is loosed in heaven and speak accordingly in our lives. We should bind and loosen in our lives what has been bound and loosed in heaven. We must permit in our lives only what God has already permitted. If we don’t use our authority to restrict what is not permitted in heaven, then undesirable things will happen in our lives and it will be our fault/responsibility, not God’s. Thinking that God allows accidents, trouble and destruction in our lives in order to test us, purify us and take us to heaven is faulty thinking.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ- Ephesians 4:11-13
The Bible says that the God has given the above different special abilities for the equipping of saints for the work of ministry in order to help us to come to a higher level of maturity and strength in Christ, that we might become full-grown in Christ. But some people think that God breaks our legs and gives us trouble and affliction in order to help us mature in Christ.
Therefore be imitators of God – Ephesians 5:1
If we to be imitators of God, and if God is the one who sends trouble and affliction upon people in order to make them better people in Him, should we also follow His example and become people who trouble others? Should we go around breaking people’s legs in order to help them accept God as their saviour and get closer to Him?
God compares His relationship to us to that between a husband and wife. Not a punishing, leg-breaking relationship!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish – Ephesians 5:25 – 27
The relationship that Christ has with us is a loving one. He makes us holy and clean by the washing of water by the word and makes us without spot, wrinkle or blemish. He lovingly cares for us. Because Jesus Himself came as a man and reconciled us to God, we should not belittle ourselves as mere men. Instead, we must realize our authority in this world, as men who have been created in the image and likeness of God, and who have a loving relationship with God.
Man is above everything, except God & His throne:
But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone – Hebrews 2:6 – 9
“One testified”is an Old Testament reference of Psalm 8, which I shall explain next week.
Here the word “man”denotes mankind. The phrase “son of man”refers to Jesus.It occurs often in the gospels. Jesus used the phrase “son of man” to refer to Himself. People think that Jesus just used it as a pet phrase. No, Jesus was referring to the prophecy inDaniel 7:13 where it calls Jesus, the divine person, the second member of the Trinity as the son of man coming in the clouds. Jesus deliberately refers this verse to Himself.
The verse talk about man as being lower than angels. It’s an unfortunate translation that misinterprets the truth. The word used is ‘Elohim’. It is the plural for God. It refers to the three person of the Trinity as Gods. So the verse actually means that man is lower only to God. We shall discuss more about this next week.
The verse says that God crowned him with glory and honour and set him above all creation and subject all things under his feet. There is nothing that is not under Him. Man is above everything except God and His throne. But now we don’t see man in that condition of authority that God created him to be. He has lost his power and authority. Many Christians get saved and will get to heaven, but they don’t have authority here on this earth.
But we see Jesus. Jesus was also made a little lower than God. On earth, He operated in the position of man. But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour. Contrast that with man’s present condition. Jesus was not different from other men, but He was crowned with glory and honour. From the time He came upon earth, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, to give sight to the blind, to set the captives free, to destroy the works of the devil.Whatever He says happens. Wind and wave, satan, evil spirits and sickness obey His words. We see that man seems to have no authority and power. But here was Jesus crowned with glory and honour.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Verse 9) – God cannot die. So, Jesus became a man, a little lower than God, in order to suffer and die.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Verse 14)
Since we, God’s children, are human beings, made of flesh and blood, Jesus was born in human form. He could break the power of the devil, who had the power of death, only by dying as a human being. Here the word ‘destroy’ does not mean ‘to annihilate’. It means ‘to paralyse’, to make him incapable of doing anything.
The Bronze Serpent:
Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses:“Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived – Numbers 21:4-9
It says here that God sent the snakes. We should understand that though the Holy Spirit inspires people to write the word, it is still written by humans. They used their own words and wrote what they understood it as. God didn’t send the snakes, where would He send them from – heaven? The snakes had been there all along in the wilderness. They had kept to their business and hadn’t bitten anyone until this incident. It happened because the people started cursing God saying that He had brought them out of Egypt ‘to die’. They set in motion the principle of the dominion of man that God had created in the beginning. What they said was what happened. They called forth death and invited death. Therefore, the snakes came and bit them. Soon, thousands of them were dying. The same snakes that were there all along and had not harmed them, now started biting and killing them, because they had spoken death.
But God was ready to rescue them. He told Moses and Aaron to make a replica of that serpent and on the pole, that whoever looked at it might be healed. This incident is about the Cross. We see in John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so that anyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
Why did God tell them to put a serpent on the pole? Isn’t it something that’s seen as representing satan? Did people have to look on the devil and be healed? Let us go to Exodus to understand it. Exodus 4 starts with God turning Moses’ rod into a serpent. Later Moses goes to pharaoh with that rod and it turns into a serpant. Then pharaoh calls his magicians and they also throw their rod down. Look what happens.
For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods – Exodus 7:12
We see that Aaron’s serpent swallowed the other serpents.
What did Jesus do for us on the cross? He bore our sins, He became sin. Our curse was upon Him. He became accursed for us. The serpent was a cursed creature. The bronze serpent that Moses and Aaron hung on the pole represents the fact that Jesus bore our curses and sins on the cross.
The devil was defeated on the cross:
But there’s something more to it. The serpent represents satan himself. What happened when Jesus died on the cross? Just like the serpent of Aaron’s rod swallowed the serpents that came out of the magician’s rods, Jesus hanging on the Cross swallowed up the works of the devil. He completely consumed within Himself the work of the devil and destroyed it.
The bronze serpent represented the fact that satan was defeated. That is why the people of Israel were getting healed in the wilderness. Healing, victory, success and all good things come when we look at satan defeated. Our churches must present the bronze serpent on the pole to the people; they should talk about satan as the defeated foe. The bronze serpent on the pole shows how satan is paralysed, powerless and crippled and cannot do anything to us now. Instead, we make a big deal about satan in our churches as though the power is in his hands. No, the power is in our hands. We have the power and authority to tread on serpents and scorpions. We can speak and it shall be so.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage – Hebrews 2:14,15
Since we, God’s children, are human beings, made of flesh and blood, Jesus was born in human form; for only in dying as a human being could he break the power of the devil,who had the power of death. Only in that way Jesus could deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.
Jesus did this so that we could be freed from bondage and fear. Instead we should take the authority and power that had been originally given to us and exercise it in order to live a victorious live.
And though on the outside it may look like man is powerless, the Bible tells us “But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor”. We ought to lift our eyes and see Jesus because that is how we are meant to be. We don’t see Jesus and think that He is big and but we think that we are mere human and we are nothing. We need to see Jesus because that is how we need to be. That is what we are. We need to see Jesus who was crowned with glory and honor and went to Cross, so that we may be crowned with glory and honor and take our rightful place and exercise our authority.