Good for Food

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8–9, ESV)

Our fallen nature seems to always be seeking a reason why God gave us a particular set of commands in the Torah. One such area is is regarding food. In Genesis 2:8-9 the Torah tells us that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for food, but just a few verses later he says this to the man:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15–17, ESV)

There is no explanation, no reason, no argument, just what the consequence will be if it is not obeyed. Is it possible that maybe God just wants to see if we will just walk in obedience by faith alone without reason?

When we get to Leviticus we see this instruction given:

“Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:41–47, ESV)

Here in Leviticus we are given a reason for why God tells us not to eat certain animals, He wants us to consecrate ourselves and be Holy because He is Holy.

Then man steps in and says why? We come up with all kinds of reasons and speculation as we ague with God. We may say he was protecting us from disease, or some other problem related to eating those animals.

Maybe God just wants to see if we will walk in obedience to him by faith. And if we do, did not our Lord say something about that as well to His people:

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 28:1–2, ESV)

So, in obedience to the Lord (as His already saved people) he desires to bless us.So what happens if we are not obedient?

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…….“The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.”(Deuteronomy 28:15–21, ESV)

Seems that as God’s people, when we disobey the Lord (which He says is forsaking Him) we will then experience curses. Curses and not some magical incantation or God zapping us. They are simply resistance in what we try to do and accomplish. It is confusion and frustration in what we undertake to do, until the day we die, or until the day we REPENT!

So, we come to the apostolic writings and try something new. We translate certain passages with a bit of bias towards our theological position, or we take passages out of context or infer meaning onto a passage to make it fit the way we want it to. Let’s take a look at just a couple examples:

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)” (Mark 7:18–19, ESV)

The assumption here is that Jesus declared all foods clean. But, is that really what the passage says? It is also a passage that needs to be kept in the context of the entire dialog of Mark chapter 7.

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” (Mark 7:1–5, ESV)

The question that Jesus is answering is a question on not washing hands based on TRADITION. The problem that the Pharisees had was if your hands had touched something unclean and you did not wash them, then when you ate and touched the food with your unclean hand, then the food which you ate would make you unclean. This was not what was in the Torah, but was a FENCE that the Pharisees had put up.

Now, that is not the end though. Seems that some of our translations have tried to help us with our theology. Let’s take a look at the first passage from the KJV and Young s Literal translation:

and he saith to them, ‘So also ye are without understanding! Do ye not perceive that nothing from without entering into the man is able to defile him? because it doth not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and into the drain it doth go out, purifying all the meats.’” (Mark 7:18–19, YLT)

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” (Mark 7:18–19, KJV 1900)

This passage simply does not say “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)”  Jesus is just showing that food touched by our hands does not make us unclean.

Another verse that is used to say we can eat any food we want is in Peters dream in the book of Acts. I am not going to have a long discussion or argument about it, but if we truly believe that scripture interprets scripture then why do we infer our own interpretation into Peters dream when Peter himself tells us what the dream was about:

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” ………And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. (Acts 10:17–28, ESV)

The text has many opportunities to tell us that not only has God declared Gentiles clean, but food as well.  For Peter seems to remain perplexed until the arrival of Cornelius and the understanding that the TRADITION that Jews not associate with or visit anyone from another nation was not of God’s will and that he should not consider them unclean or common.

In the Apostolic scriptures, God through His writers still asks us to be Holy, and still asks us to be obedient. The question we must ask is are we willing to walk in obedience by faith and faith alone? Or do we need God to explain to us why?

Lord, Help me to put away pride and self deception and give me a heart that desires to follow you in faithful obedience to all you teach and show me. Amen.

First Love

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4, ESV)

I was reading a book the other day and a comment was made regarding the condition of the church in america. The argument basically said that  we do not understand church, that we have many unbelievers mixed with believers in our churches and thus looking like the world around us has a lot to do with those who claim to be Christian but are living like the world. The argument also claims that the real believers are humble and broken and in the grand picture the whole church is the remnant of true believers.

I partially agree, but also disagree with the assessment. I do agree that because we employee a method of casting a large net into the world and bring as many people to church as we can so they can hear the message and get saved that we do bring in many no-believers. Those non-believers may hear a message that tells them to say a prayer and they can get to heaven. No repentance, no commitment, just say the prayer and you will be saved. These people then are told your in the club and your trip to heaven passport is stamped. Then they go out and live just like they have been living except now they have the Christian label. These misguided people do reflect in those statistics that say the church is like the world. But, I don’t think that is the only reason and that true followers are guilt free.

If we look at revelation, we find churches that have problems, and these churches are only 70 some odd years removed from the resurrection of Yeshua.

What kinds of things did the Spirit say to these churches? Let’s do a quick recap.

The Church of Ephesus – “you have abandoned the love you had at first”

What does it mean abandoned the love you had at first? Maybe there is a clue in Jeremiah 2:1-8 :

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest……What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.” (Jeremiah 2:1–8, ESV)

Just a little bit farther down in Jeremiah the Lord says something that should sound familiar:  “Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.” (Jeremiah 2:11, ESV)

If Romans 1:21-23 came to mind, you are correct: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21–23, ESV)

So, to leave there first love was to leave the devotion to the Lord, to forget about the love they had as a new bride, and for those who where in leadership to not handle the word of God properly anymore. The result was the exchanging of the glory of God for things that are worthless.

The Church in Pergamum: 

 “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:14–16, ESV)  

Here, idolatry and immorality have become a problem in the church. Those who heard the message could reflect back on Numbers 31:16 and those of us today can also reflect also on 1 Cor 10:8

“Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord.” (Numbers 31:16, ESV)

“We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.” (1 Corinthians 10:8, ESV)

The Church of Thyatira:

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.” (Revelation 2:20–21, ESV)  

Again we see sexual immorality and idolatry.

The Church at Sardis:

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” (Revelation 3:1–2, ESV)  

Wow, this is a church that thinks it has it all together, and even has a reputation in the community of being alive. But, the Spirit calls them dead. This seems to be an issue of pride.

The Church at Laodicea:

 ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:15–17, ESV)

It would seem that their actions did not align with their faith as James outlines in his letter:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14–17, ESV)  

All of these passages in Revelation are churches, and the people that God is speaking to are believers. Now 2000 years later, do we really think we have it all together here in america where the temptations are all over the quick media we have before us? Are we so prideful that we think our huge mega churches are a sign of God’s approval. Or that we can throw workers at community problems and say it is all God? I see lots of non Christian groups doing the exact same things. I am not saying that God is not moving in those places, God is active all throughout His creation at all times and his grace and mercy I believe are delivered both from the body and from whoever He chooses to use to accomplish His purposes, even a donkey. What I am saying is that we need to listen to what the Spirit said to those churches and what he is saying even today through many good preachers…

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5, ESV)

“Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:16–17, ESV)  

“Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.” (Revelation 2:22–25, ESV)  

“Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation 3:3, ESV)  

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19, ESV)  

The message is clear, we need to return (repent) to the pure devotion of the Lord, we need to love Him as a newly wed bride, and we need to come back to handling the Word of God properly.

The Body of Christ is the Temple of the living God, and we love to quote 1 Chron 7:14, but keep in mind the whole context of that passage. It is a request of God to Solomon when the house of the Lord was completed…

“Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:11–15, ESV)

Lord, help us to have a humble and broken spirit, and repent and return to a life that is of pure devotion and a love that is like that of a newly wed. Help us to understand the idols and sexual immorality that is in our mist and as a body, turn from these sins and even our tolerance of them. May your word penetrate our hearts and stir us to good works that are holy and acceptable to you our Savior. AMEN!

Rend Your Heart

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” (Joel 2:12–13, ESV)

Lately this verse has been showing up in a lot of different places in some form or another. Though it is a common desire of the Lord since the fall in the Garden of Eden for man to repent and return to the Lord, the message even today seems very strong. Do we hear it? Is this a message that God’s people need to hear as well?

In my blog I have talked a lot about repentance, but today I wanted to focus on what it means to “rend your hearts”. But, before we can understand what it means, we must first have a understanding of what the word “heart” means.

Often we think of the the heart in terms of emotions like love and kindness but a biblical view of the word “lev” (heart) has a much more rich meaning.

First, I really like the ancient word picture we get from the original pictographic definition of the word for heart. Jeff Benner describes it this way:

“The first picture in this Hebrew word is a shepherd staff and represents authority as the shepherd has authority over his flock. The second letter is the picture of the floor plan of the nomadic tent and represents the idea of being inside as the family resides within the tent. When combined they mean “the authority within”. (Jeff Benner, Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings)

I have also heard it described as “that which controls the inside”. This seems to line up with other descriptions that one can find in various OT dictionaries and word study books. A summary of these could read as the heart being the seat of emotions, the seat of thought, with fear, love, anger, joy, sorrow, hatred, all attributed to the heart. Important to understand is that scripture also describes the corruption of our human nature in connection with the heart. You can read of a heart that is hardened, that is wicked, that is perverse, godless, deceitful, and desperately wicked.

In our verse from Joel above the Lord asks us to repent (return to me) with all our heart. So that which is “the authority within” needs to turn back to the Lord. We must submit our authority to the authority of the Lord. But it requires something radical. It requires weeping, mourning, and fasting. It also requires us to “rend our hearts”. The word rend is an imperative verb which suggests a command or instruction with the idea to to break, shatter, smash, crush “the authority within”. Seems that David understood what this means:

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, ESV)  

But, how can we do this, our heart is deceitful, and wicked. Lucky for us, Scripture does not leave us hanging. Let’s just explore some verses from both the OT and NT.

“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed…..his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.” (Psalm 112:1–8, ESV)  

This verse starts with the fear of the Lord, and relates this awe and trembling reverence to one who delights in the Lords commandments. It then describes the benefits to this delight. One of the benefits is a heart (the authority within) that is firm and trusts in the Lord, and a heart (the authority within) that is steady and is not afraid.

David also knows how this must happen:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10, ESV)  

It is a work that David knew must come from the Lord. Later the Prophet Jeremiah would write about this in terms of a new covenant:

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:33–34, ESV)

Thus we see in the New Covenant verses that being the same ideas forward…

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:10, ESV)

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14–19, ESV)

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:6–7, ESV)  

“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21–22, ESV)  

Ezekiel describes the removal of a heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh, what does that suggest? (I will let you ponder that one)

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26–27, ESV)

There is a action of God in all of these verses that bring about the end result of a pattern of life that is careful to walk in obedience to the Lord. An interesting question still comes to mind, and the Lords instruction in Deuteronomy may help answer, what comes first – a desire to seek God, or God giving us the desire to seek him?

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today.” (Deuteronomy 30:1–8, ESV)  

So, based on this pattern we could lay out this idea:

1. The Lord sets before us His pattern for living. His Word given both written and in the world around us. 

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19–20, ESV)

2. We remember who He is, and the promises that He has given. He sets them before us.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14–17, ESV)  

3. Return to the Lord (Repent).

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37–38, ESV)  

The Holy Spirit is given AFTER they repent!!

4. By God’s Spirit he circumcises our heart and gives us the ability to walk a life of obedience.

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today.” 

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:3–6, ESV)  

Part of this whole process is the rending of the heart (the authority within) and then the Lord giving us the power through His spirit to walk in obedience to His commands. But it is a process, and until the Lord returns we must continue to turn to the Lord, and sometimes our old nature will require use to rend the authority within as we fall back into sin. The words our Lord had to the church of Sardis should be a sobering reminder that even the church must seek to “rend its heart”

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation 3:1–3, ESV)  

Lord, help me to put away pride and self, and to submit “the authority within” to your will.


“See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5–6, ESV)

At my church we just finished a series that looked at sections of the book of Ecclesiastes. During the sermon we read from chapter 7 and this particular verse stuck out to me.

“For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12, ESV)  

So I thought, what does Wisdom really mean? Then I could better understand how it can preserve life.

First I looked up the definition in Holman’s Bible Dictionary and found this basic definition:

First, wisdom is considered by many to be simply the art of learning how to succeed in life. Apparently ancient persons learned very early that there was orderliness to the world in which they lived. They also learned that success and happiness came from living in accordance with that orderliness (Prov. 22:17–24:22). Second, wisdom is considered by some to be a philosophical study of the essence of life. Certainly much of the books of Job and Ecclesiastes seem to deal with just such existential issues of life (Job 30:29–31). Third, though the other definitions might include this, it seems that the real essence of wisdom is spiritual, for life is more than just living by a set of rules and being rewarded in some physical manner. Undoubtedly in this sense wisdom comes from God (Prov. 2:6). Thus, though it will involve observation and instruction, it really begins with God and one’s faith in Him as Lord and Savior Hunt. (2003). (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.)

The first two definitions seem to be the more predominate views that I have heard on wisdom in the past, and the third view is one I have heard more frequently in church settings, but does it really capture what it means?

I went back to Deuteronomy 4:5-6 and found that the definition for wisdom was laid out plainly by our Lord…I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them.

I looked up the OT word for wisdom (ḥokmâ) in the Theological Wordbook of the OT and believe that it actually captured the essence of Deut 4:5-6:

The wisdom of the OT however, is quite distinct from other ancient world views although the format of wisdom literature is similar to that of other cultures. Reflected in OT wisdom is the teaching of a personal God who is holy and just and who expects those who know him to exhibit his character in the many practical affairs of life. This perfect blend of the revealed will of a holy God with the practical human experiences of life is also distinct from the speculative wisdom of the Greeks. The ethical dynamic of Greek philosophy lay in the intellect; if a person had perfect knowledge he could live the good life (Plato). Knowledge was virtue. The emphasis of OT wisdom was that the human will, in the realm of practical matters, was to be subject to divine causes. Therefore, Hebrew wisdom was not theoretical and speculative. It was practical, based on revealed principles of right and wrong, to be lived out in daily life. (Goldberg, L. (1999). 647 חָכַם. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.)

There are 2 verses that come to mind that also encapsulate this basic idea in the NT.

 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)

It equips us, is this not what we are to gather together each week to do?

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11–13, ESV)  

Then, as we are equipped (See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me) we are then suppose to use them in our daily walk with the Lord:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22–25, ESV)  

Again, this is what we find in Deut: “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.”

Today, we do everything in our power to find the loop holes in the Words of God. Just like we do in our american legal system. We argue passionately over what God expects of us based on our own desires, and many even use the erasable Bible to justify living the way they want instead of seeking the way God desires us to live.

Yeshua has paid the penalty for our sinfulness, but that does not give us the license to live our lives the way we want to live them. The Lord’s standards for living in His covenant community have not changed, nor has He. Yeshua set the standard for us to follow by living it out in it’s fullness through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have that same Spirit dwelling in us and therefor the full power of God giving us the ability to live the same way.

Is it not really our stubbornness and pride that truly stand in the way?

Lord, help me to put away pride and stubbornness. Help me to hear your words and Keep them and do them for living each new day that you bless us with.

I can now fill in a more complete version of Ecclesiastes 7:12:

“For the protection of hearing and doing the words of God is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that hearing and doing the words of God preserves the life of him who has it.” (hmm, sounds like obedience!)

Is that not what Solomon concludes at the end of Ecclesiastes?

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, ESV)