e can go on and on talking about various paradoxes in the Bible. It definitely will be an unending task since none of us can accurately identify or subsequently treat with all of them. The essence of this book is not to deal with all of them but to point out some of the major ones and advance some wisdom keys with which to resolve them. The aim is to ensure that we do not go around thinking that the Bible contradicts itself.
We would be able to identify the apparent contradictions as paradoxes and invariably come to the conclusion, that the Bible complements rather than contradicts itself. However, I do not want to end without advancing a critical truth that will also help us in rightly dividing the Word of truth and maximizing our potentials in God. This truth has to deal with, our appreciation of the concepts of principles and formulas.
Our Christian Principles
The essence of wisdom is to ensure that we are principled in our operations. It has often been said that if a man cannot stand for something then he would fall for anything. Our principles are the things we stand on. Our principles can therefore be seen as our core values, philosophies, ideologies, moralities and doctrines or main beliefs that we live by as Christians. They also refer to our norms and standards. They are constant and they never change no matter the conditions around us. This means that racial, educational, ethnic and socio-economic or any other diversity cannot change or alter our principles.
Whenever a principle is altered or changed to accommodate a different state of existence, it ceases to be a principle. This is because as we stated earlier, our principles primarily deal with our Christian doctrines, our statements of faith and our core beliefs. This is why they are constant and do not change. They distinguish us from the adherents of other religions. Our principles are universal and compulsory because they affect our redemptive stance. An example of what I am referring to is the "Apostles' Creed" which is a summary of our Christian beliefs. Below is the Creed;
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
These are the basic beliefs of every Christian, no matter their denomination. I know some might say "I don't believe in the catholic church". If that's the case, then you're not truly standing by our Christian core values or beliefs. Do not mistake the "Holy Catholic Church" concept of the Apostles' Creed for the Roman Catholic Church. The word catholic simply means universal. Believing in the Holy Catholic Church means you believe in the Universal Church or Body of Christ, period. We are all Catholics, but we are not all Roman Catholic. In this sense all Christians are Catholics; you are either, a Roman Catholic, English Catholic or Anglican, Evangelical Catholic, Baptist Catholic, Pentecostal Catholic, Full Gospel Catholic etc.
Our Christian Formulas
Before I continue to expand on the concept of principles, I want to deal briefly with the concept of formulas. Formulas deal with our methods, plans, modus operandi and procedures. They deal with the way in which we implement our principles. Unlike principles, formulas are not constant, they are variables. They do not work for everyone in the same way as they are changeable and reflect the conditions around us. Therefore it is important for us to look closely at our formulas and review them ever so often. Racial, educational, ethnic and socio-economic or any other concern or diversity can change or alter our formulas. Many ministers and ministries do not realize this and have therefore missed their opportunities to reach diverse groups of people.
While principles are universal or general, formulas are personal. Further, while principles are compulsory, formulas are not, since they are preferential. Formulas include the methods we employ for conducting activities and or services. For example, most local churches meet on a Sunday but this is not compulsory at all. If you lived in a place like the United Arab Emirates, you cannot have Sunday morning services weekly because Sunday is a regular working day over there.
Christians there, usually meet on Friday mornings. Meeting on a Sunday morning is not a principle but a formula. It does not affect our redemption in anyway. Meeting either on a Sunday or on a Friday does not elevate our spirituality in any way. People who meet on Sundays are not more saved or entitled to a greater reward than those who meet on Fridays. Principles are the "majors" while formulas are the "minors" of our Christianity.
Constants And Variables
I've heard preachers say categorically "I cannot compromise my standards", when the issue they are dealing with relates to procedures or formulas and has nothing to do with their core principles or standards. This ought not to be so. As we stated earlier, principles are constant and they do not change while formulas are variables and are subject to change.
If we take a constant and make it a variable we get a cult. For example, once you take a constant like our core belief that Jesus is the way and change it to a variable that says Jesus is one of the ways then you get a cult. Cults do not accept that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father or to life eternal. On the other hand, if you take a variable and make it a constant, you get a religion, your own religion. Principles do not change because they have redemptive value. They affect our redemption. If something has no redemptive value, that is, it stops one from being saved or directly hinders a man's salvation, then that thing is not a Christian principle. Our redemption hinges on Christian principles not on our formulas.
This is because as we stated earlier, formulas are variables while principles are constant. I reiterate that a man will not lose his salvation or go to hell for not abiding by or keeping a formula, but he can, for not abiding by a redemptive principle. If we take a variable, like meeting on a particular day in the week, or whether or not women should wear wigs or braid their hair or whether Christians should participate in sports on a Sunday, and make it a constant or law for all Christians then we get our own religion.
None of those things we just mentioned can send anyone to hell or cause them to lose their salvation. Many churches have policies like you must attend a three month course before you can be baptised in water. While that it is commendable and increases commitment, it is not a constant and has no redemptive value. It is a variable and can be changed. Though such a rule is based on the principle of discipleship or commitment, which is a constant, there can be exceptions to it. We must embrace the constant principle, and always be prepared to change or review the formulas, when it is necessary.
The way in which we minister to people can also help us to understand the concepts of principles and formulas better. For example we cannot minister without the Anointing of God. Jesus did not minister until He was anointed. He commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from above (the anointing). They were not allowed to minister until they were anointed. We can then say that the principle is "we minister by the anointing". Now let's consider some Bible characters as they ministered by the anointing. Moses walked around with a rod, Samuel the prophet ministered using a horn of oil, Elijah operated with a mantle and Samson's strength was connected to his hair.
While the principle which is, ministering by the anointing was the same for all, the formulas used by the men of God mentioned above were very different. Note that Moses' rod, Samuel's oil, Elijah's mantle and Samson's hair were not the key to the results they obtained. The anointing was the key to the results. However, those things were simply the channels through which the anointing operated. Just as how Moses did not use oil, Samson did not use a mantle, Elijah did not use a rod and Samuel did not use his long hair, even though he had one (we have to remember that his mother promised God that a razor would not touch his hair). In case you didn't realise it, Samuel was a Nazarite, like Samson was. This means that they both had long hair.
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. 1 Samuel 1:9-11.
As we stated above both Samson and Samuel being Nazarites had long hair. However, with respect to the anointing, the length of his hair meant nothing for Samuel while it did for Samson. This means that the same formula (in this case the long hair) would not necessarily work for everyone but the principle of the anointing will work for all. It worked for both Samuel and Samson. Once we are anointed, we can minister, though the formula or method we use can be different from person to person.
The Message and The Method
It is not enough to know about principles and formulas; we must know how to appropriate them for our regular life as Christians. We are called to practical and not just to theoretical Christian living. More than a theoretical Christian, who has read and knows so much about the Bible, I want to be a practical Christian who becomes the Bible that others read as is described by the Apostle Paul. He spoke about us being an epistle written in human hearts.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3.
The wisdom of God is designed to enable us to live a life that exemplifies God; His character and His nature so that the world may marvel and receive Him.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16.
We are humanity's only hope of connecting with God. We cannot afford to fail Him. We must know when and how to balance our standards and our procedures. We must know when and how to balance our rigidity and our flexibility. We must realize that while our love for people must be the same or constant, we cannot deal with everyone in the same way. Apart from our statements of faith, which must be rigid, our general dealings with people must reflect a certain level of flexibility. This is because no one can bear all things at all times. Some people cannot bear certain things at certain times in their life. Jesus alluded to this when He was with His disciples. Before His passion He told them;
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. John 16:13.
That is very interesting. He also espoused the same thinking when He said;
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matthew 7:6.
I once told a group of preachers "God doesn't necessarily want you to teach or preach everything you know". Some things are not to be shared until certain things are in place. Look at these verses dealing with an account in one of Paul's missionary journeys. It will further shed light on what I've been sharing so far.
And he (Paul) departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Acts 18:7-11.
We notice that Paul was not allowed or released by the Lord to share or teach certain things until two events had taken place. Firstly, Crispus an influential ruler of the synagogue got saved. Secondly or following this, many others got saved, ensuring that multitudes had given their lives to the Lord. Then the Lord told Paul that he was free to speak and that no one would hurt him because He (the Lord) had much people in that city. This tells us that, there is a place for flexibility in ministry. Though the message must not change, we can vary the timing and the method used to convey it.
You probably have heard of the saying "you can change the method but not the message". In this context, the message speaks of our principles while the method refers to our formulas. Our message of salvation and general Christian ethics must remain the same no matter the situations we are dealing with. On the other hand the methods we use can and should change depending on who we are targeting. We cannot present the gospel in the same way to an adult as to a child or an adolescent.
We cannot present the gospel in the same way to people in a western culture as you would to people in an eastern culture. Please, understand that I am not advocating that we spend time teaching or preaching on culture. Our primary message must not be based on culture; otherwise we would need to continue to change the message. This is because cultures change or vary from place to place and even in the same place amongst various groups, the cultures vary. They even vary depending on the times and seasons we live in. As tribes and tongues differ, so people, groups and cultures are different.
Our Gospel then must remain the same it must not change, no matter the cultural variations we encounter. It is the same gospel message however the method of presenting it is subject to change from person to person and from place to place. It even differs across racial, educational and socio-economic lines. The power of the Gospel lies also in its ability to positively affect the lives of all peoples. The Gospel message is therefore adaptable in its presentation to all. If the Gospel message cannot be adapted to all people, then it is not for all people. To dominate or rule on earth everyone must learn to adapt. If you cannot adapt, you won't make it in life. The Gospel is for the salvation of everyone, that's why we should not be ashamed to preach it to all.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16.
Note, that there is no Scripture in the New Testament which tells us what type of music we should use in our church meetings? Neither do the Scriptures prescribe the order of our services. There is also no Scripture that specifically tells us how long our services should go on for. The concept of having one, two or three hour services cannot be proven using the Bible. Though we are given the elements or things that should form part of the service (one hath a psalm, a tongue a revelation etc.) we are not given a doctrinal statement on how this must be conducted.
God was did everything to ensure that no culture would dominate any other culture from a doctrinal stand point. That way the gospel message can be adapted to any and all cultures. An example of this adaptability relates to our choice of church music. While we are certain that God wants to reach all, we also know that certain kinds of music will not reach some people.
Relevance - The Key To The Right Method
We must look for creative ways to present the Gospel to everyone. As we stated earlier the Gospel message is adaptable, so let us adapt it to various groups using diverse methods. This desire to creatively reach everyone will even affect the programs we have, the music we use and the times we meet etc. Our aim is simply to get people to call upon the name of the Lord and confess Jesus as Lord, so that they would be saved. The challenge is in finding the right formula to do this and essentially work the principles of evangelism. Let us consider the following Scripture;
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:13-17.
We have already been "sent" by the Lord Jesus. Now, our challenge is to get people to the place where they can call upon the name of the Lord. We have to adapt our Gospel to them. This adaptation is not compromising the message but in changing the method. We must package the Gospel in a way that is appealing to people of various groups. This packaging can only be accomplished by making the Gospel relevant to the people we meet. If the Gospel message is not relevant to any group of people then it cannot reach that group. When Jesus met fishermen like Peter, Andrew, James and John, He spoke with them about fishing; He talked to them about being "fishers of men".
Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. Mark 1:16-17.
When He met the woman at the well; He made His message relevant by talking to her about water. He introduced everlasting life as a "living water".
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. John 4:7-15.
When Paul ministered in Athens, he made his message relevant to them, even to the point of quoting from one of their poets.
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. Acts 17:22-34.
Several of them got saved as he made the Gospel relevant to them.
The Gospel message makes no sense if people cannot appropriate it for their lives. The only thing we should be rigid about is our doctrinal statement of faith which is based upon an accurate knowledge and understanding of the Bible but we should be flexible when dealing with other stuff like the presentation of the message. If something is not against our doctrinal statement of faith then we can adjust it. We must never compromise our principles (message) but we can adjust our formulas (methods) if we are to accomplish our God-given mandate to reach the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The imminence of Jesus' coming back is dependent on this Gospel reaching to all groups of people on the earth.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14.
Since, the Greek word for "nations" in the above passage is ethnos, from which we get the word ethnic, this means that the end will not come until every ethnic group of people on the earth have heard the gospel of the Kingdom. It is interesting to note that the Bible accounts about people standing before the throne of God, recognises all the different groups of people on earth.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; Revelation 7:9.
We are told that every tribe and tongue will be present at the throne. That is wonderful. We cannot ignore the differences between tribes or tongues as we preach the Gospel. God calls us to make the necessary adjustments so that we can reach every tongue and tribe. It cannot be overemphasized that the Bible, upon which Christianity is based, is not written in a cultural vacuum. It recognizes and respects all cultures.
We must therefore not act as though Christianity is a religion based on only one culture. It is not only for white (Caucasians) people, nor is it only for black (Africans), red (Red Indians & Spanish), brown (Asians, East Indians & Arabs) or yellow (Orientals) people. It is for all people. I know that Christianity is primarily a relationship with Almighty God and as such is not a religion, but please permit me to describe it as a religion for the purpose of a better understanding of what I am about to say.
Christianity is the only "religion" that can truly unite mankind because it is the only one that is not racially, culturally or socio-economically exclusive. It is the only one that truly respects all peoples as one. There are religions that primarily recognise Caucasians as superior to other people. Some others recognise Red or East Indians as Superior to other people. There are also religions that recognise Africans as superior to other people. Other religions recognise Orientals as superior to other people.
Christianity is the only one that places all men as equal before God.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Galatians 6:15.
Jesus was sent for all mankind, not just to a privileged few.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17.
Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and is now established as Lord for all of mankind. Christianity appreciates that all men need God because all, not some, have sinned and come short of God's glory. The need for salvation and the provision of it is not for a chosen group alone, but for all of mankind.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:21-23.
Let us allow the Holy Spirit to grant us the wisdom to present the Gospel appropriately to the different groups of people on earth. That is the essence of wisdom; it is the ability to reach the world, the whole world, with the Gospel of the kingdom of God. It does take wisdom to win souls.
…and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30.
I trust the Lord that you are now better placed to show people that the Bible is not a confusing book, neither is it a book of contradictions. It is the book that launches man into a pleasurable life and also enables him to fulfil God's divine will or purpose for him on earth. It is the only book that reveals the fullness of God's will for man and it contains all the keys for reigning and ruling on earth.
A Word About Symbols And Idols
Having spent a lot of time discussing the concept of the method and the message, I felt it would be beneficial to say a word about symbols and idols. A symbol is a representation or emblem of something. In the biblical sense, they are like "types" which help us relate to spiritual things. A type is a natural thing used to substitute a spiritual thing so that mankind can have a better understanding of that spiritual thing.
Jesus often used natural things to explain spiritual realities. He used the sower sowing seed to explain the concept of the Word of God bearing fruit in our lives. He used water as a way to explain the workings of the Holy Spirit and even the concept of eternal life. Paul used a physical body to represent the Body of Christ. Both Jesus and Paul used bread as a type or symbol or emblem of the Body of Christ and wine as a type or symbol or emblem of the blood of Jesus.
A type, symbol or emblem is not the spiritual material or object and must never be considered as such. However through the mystery of faith, connecting with the type, symbol or emblem allows the symbol or emblem to become a medium or point of contact through which the power of God can move. This is in relation to the spiritual object or substance represented by the emblem or symbol.
For example by partaking of Holy Communion we can tap into all that the death and resurrection of Jesus made available unto us. Unfortunately, many however make idols out of the symbols. They literally treat the symbol as though it is the spiritual thing in reality and actually venerate it. Many believers treat the physical sanctuary (or building) as though it is the Church and they often respect it more than they do the people of God, who are actually the Church of the Lord.
Many are more concerned about the vestments used in ordination ceremonies than they are about the anointing that is released during those meetings. Some ministers actually rate ordination ceremonies by the number of vestments used. So, if an ordination is conducted where the candidates do not wear robes, it is assumed that it was not properly done. Beloved, it is not a compulsory scriptural requirement that an ordination service be conducted with robes, crosses etc. because what is important is the spiritual affirmation and prayers. We do not even need to have olive oil to anoint the candidates.
Do not misunderstand me. We can use the robes, the oil etc. (and I do) as long as we know that they are simply types, symbols and emblems of spiritual things, that actually become a medium or point of contact through which the power of God is released based on the law of contact and transmission. They are conduits for the power not the source of the power.
The moment we begin to place undue emphasis on these physical things, they become idols. We lose the essence of worshipping God in spirit because our mind-set is on the physical or natural emblems or symbols and not on the spiritual connection with God. I'm sure you remember that one of the Ten Commandments which clearly states that God's people, Israel were not to build any graven images or likeness of anything in Heaven or on earth.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:3-4.
The same God went on to tell them to build Him a tabernacle after the heavenly pattern and to include the images of two Cherubims (or angelic beings). This sounds pretty contradictory. The key is found in the following Scripture:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:5-6.
As we can see God's intent or mind-set is not really towards the image but it is directed to Israel's perception of the image and what they did with it. He is more concerned about Israel not worshipping the images. The image in itself was not the issue. If it was, He would not have allowed them to build those Cherubim neither would He, have allowed Israel to build the brazen serpent so that whosoever looked at it after being beaten by a serpent would be healed.
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld (or looked at) the serpent of brass, he lived. Numbers 21:5-9.
As you can see, it was the Lord who ordered the making of the brazen serpent, but it was never supposed to be an idol for the people to worship. They were to look at it, not bow to it. We must be careful to ensure that we never bow to the things God calls us to look unto, be they people (like church leaders) or things. There is nothing that God gives to us, brings to us or brings us to in the natural that deserves our worship. We must worship God and God alone. Elijah's brook dried up even though God provided it. Jesus did not allow Peter, James and John to build three tents for Himself, Elijah and Moses on the mount of transfiguration. Neither did He make the river Jordan nor the pool of Siloam to become the places to take the sick for their healing.
Anytime we immortalize anything on earth or we ascribe a permanent spiritual encounter unto that thing, we have made it an idol.
Everything or everyone we encounter in the natural shall pass away. Our time with them is temporal, never permanent so we must be careful not to change a symbol into an idol. Though an encounter with a physical thing or person might be spiritually relevant to a particular person, it must never be viewed as relevant to all persons.
The rest of us can learn from the encounter and use it as a point of contact to appreciate spiritual encounters with God. However, we must never proclaim or insist that the physical object or person is the key to such encounters. I am sure you would not recommend, looking at a brazen serpent as the cure to anyone who has been beaten by a serpent. This is probably why God told them in the book of Amos to seek Him alone and not to seek Bethel, Gilgal or Beersheba.
For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought. Seek the Lord, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. Amos 5:4-6.
Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba were all places where God's people had great spiritual experiences with God. However, God calls us to seek Him primarily, not to seek an experience with Him.
If you connect with God you will definitely get an experience but don't seek the experience, seek God
Our Holy Land
Many have claimed or stated categorically that Jerusalem is the Christian Holy Land. Is this really Scriptural? Muslims have Mecca and Medina and they even claim Jerusalem as one of their holy cities. The Jews have Jerusalem and those who practice the African Traditional religions have various cites depending on the type or version of this religion (the most notable one being the Yoruba version which has Ile-Ife as the head city). It is with pleasure that I inform you that Christianity has no official "Holy Land". Different religions have their holy land but for genuine Christianity, there is none.
Many people believe that their Christian experience will not be complete, until they visit Jerusalem (Israel). Child of God, that is absolutely fallacious. For us real and genuine Christians, wherever we are is our Holy Land: we have no "official" holy land like other religions. God does not want us to create idols. That is partly why He has given us no official Holy Land. When this current earth and Heaven, according to the book of Revelation, passes away the new Heaven and new earth, which is also the New Jerusalem, would be our Holy Land. The current Jerusalem looks nothing like our Holy land.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. Revelation 21:1-3
Jesus emphatically told the woman at the well that there is no permanent location on earth for the worship of God. He stressed to the woman, that the worship of God would not be at the physical mountain they were at nor even in Jerusalem, but rather that, God longs for worshippers who would worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Jn. 4:21-24.
This is the time and season Jesus was referring to, when God's people would worship Him in spirit and in truth. No physical location or worship can replace the true spiritual worship of God that we have been called unto.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Pet.2:5
Please do not misunderstand me; I am not against anyone going to Jerusalem. You can go to Jerusalem. However, I do not subscribe to the view that until we go "where Jesus walked" we cannot understand Christianity fully. The Scriptures tell us clearly that our knowledge of Jesus must be after the spirit and not after the flesh.
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 2 Corinthians 5:16.
This is because we walk by faith not by sight.
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Christianity has never been, and will never be based on our natural experiences no matter how wonderful they are. It is founded on our connection to the person of Jesus Christ (by faith) based on His Word as revealed in the Bible. Let us not take the good things of God and make them into idols because this will invariably distract us from the worship of God and God alone.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
I trust that what I have shared in this book has definitely helped you to appreciate the Essence of Wisdom so you can better understand the paradoxical truths of God's Word.
It's your time to reign so embrace "The Essence of Wisdom" today. Praise God!