The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship – Pt. 2

In Part 1 of this post, we looked at the matter of love, and explored where it comes from and what it is in its most essential elements.  We will now take a similar look at its opposite, hate.

The Origins of Hate

The first question we will ask, then, is, “Where does hate come from?”  Now, hold onto your seat, because I think I may just shock you with my answer!  I believe that “hate” is actually an “unexpected child” of a “virtuous mother”.  I believe that “hate” is, unwittingly, yet as a matter of course, actually generated by “LOVE”!  Yes, I did just say that!  I further believe that “hate” increases and decreases proportionally with the measure of “love” that exists.

We generally think of “hate” as an inherently bad and evil attitude or emotion, but if that were universally so, then God, Who is infinitely holy, would not hate anything.  But Scripture says things such as, “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing.” (Isaiah 61:8), and of the Messiah, “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Psalm 45:7).  It also exhorts, Let those who love the LORD hate evil.” (Psalm 97:10), and, “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9).

Here we see that there are things that God hates and that He also exhorts those who love Him and sincerely love others to hate as well, namely wickedness and evil.  In all of these Scriptures, “hate” follows immediately after “love” as a natural negative attitude to the opposite of what is loved.  As such, this form of “hate” constitutes a double negative which is in keeping with God’s positive attributes of goodness and righteousness.  It is the love of what is good and righteous that, as a matter of course, generates hate for wickedness and evil, which are the opposite of that which is loved.  I would sum it up this way:

We “hate” that which opposes, threatens, and/or violates what we “love”!

So, why does God “hate wrongdoing and robbery”?  Because “wrongdoing and robbery” oppose, threaten, and violate “justice” which He loves.  Why are we to “hate evil”?  Because “evil” opposes, threatens, and violates sincere love for God and others and our ability to “cling to what is good”.

That being said, however, “hate” is not usually holy, pure, and righteous, as in God, but is more often evil, impure, and unrighteous when found in and among men.  The reason for this is that mankind is fallen and, first and foremost, the focus of what people love has become twisted and misdirected as a result of that fall.  Instead of loving God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves, they love themselves primarily, and they love the things of this world that provide them with selfish, self-centered value, pleasure, and benefit.

As a secondary result, what people “hate” has also become twisted and misdirected.  We all tend to hate that which opposes, threatens, and/or violates our self-love and its carnal and worldly pursuits and satisfactions.  Because the sinful, fallen nature of both man and the world system are at enmity with God, humanity ends up hating and opposing God and that which is in keeping with His holiness and righteousness.  Thus, much of our hate becomes fallen, misdirected, evil, impure, and unrighteous.

Hate, in and of itself, therefore, is not inherently good or bad, righteous or unrighteous, pure or impure, but it can fall within the entire range of the moral spectrum depending upon its source, motivation, focus, and manifestation.

“Hate” can also be morally neutral.  In Part 1 I gave an example of how someone might say, “I love pizza.”  But if that person were served pizza with anchovies on it, they might say, “Eww, I hate anchovies on pizza.”  Now, those anchovies elicit a mild expression of “hate” because they in fact threaten something the person loves, i.e. the taste of the pizza without anchovies on itThis manner of “hate” is merely a matter of personal preference and doesn’t carry any moral weight with it, either positive or negative.  Even with something as innocuous as this, though, a sense of “hate” still arises from something opposing, threatening, and/or violating that which is “loved”.

To more thoroughly grasp this primary aspect of the “love”-“hate” relationship, I encourage you to try a simple thought experiment:  Think of at least five things that you would say you “hate”, and then see if you can trace each one back to something that you “love” being opposed, threatened, or violated.  (Here are some things that are on my list off the top of my head: alarm clocks, privacy policies, the separated liquid in the mustard bottle, getting old, and…come to think of it, anchovies on my pizza! 😉 )

The fundamental truth to be grasped is that the root of that which we hate, whether morally positive, negative, or neutral, is something that we love being opposed, threatened, and/or violated.  According to Scripture, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), but it doesn’t automatically cast out hate.  In fact, it first generates it.

So we see that love comes from God and, subsequently, hate is birthed from love when love is rivaled and challenged.  “Hate”, therefore, is the “unexpected child” of the “virtuous mother” called “Love”!

Now that we’ve explored the origins of hate, the next question we need to ask is, what actually is hate?

The Thorn/Seed

The primary Hebrew word translated “hate” in the Old Testament is “sane” (pronounced, “saw-nay”).  Interestingly, the Hebrew language began as a pictographic language with the Hebrew letters symbolizing certain objects that, when combined, gave meanings to Hebrew root words.  The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible explains the following concerning the Hebrew word, “sane”: “The pictograph is a picture of a thorn, then is a picture of seed.”  This symbolism is rich in meaning and worth exploring further.

  • The “thorn”

The first symbol is that of the “thorn”.  We understand from Scripture that thorns were a result of the curse because of the entrance of sin through Adam and Eve’s transgression.  God said to Adam, Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18).  If we consider what sin is, in its essence it represents a rival “love” to the love of/for God.  Prior to the entrance of sin (rivallove) into creation, all that God had made and loved was harmonious, unopposed, unthreatened, and unviolated in its pristine perfection.  Since hate only finds its origin when what is loved is rivaled and challenged, hate did not exist in this original state.  Once the rivallove of pride (self-love) entered into Lucifer’s heart and was then passed onto mankind through the temptation of Adam and Eve to independent self-interest (self-love), the conditions for hate were ushered into creation.  Once multiple, rival-loves existed, multiple rival-hates spontaneously generated as well.

According to Old Testament scholarship, the Hebrew concept of “hate” (“sane”) holds as its primary meanings the ideas of rejection and separation.   This helps us better understand what God meant, for instance, when He said, “Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated (sane)” (Malachi 1:2-3), He was expressing that He accepted Jacob and brought him into the blessings of His love, but He rejected Esau and separated him from those blessings.  Whereas love is a “drawing/unifying effect” (as was expressed in Part 1), hate is a “rejecting/separating effect”.

The consequences and effects of sin (rival-love) entering into creation were, likewise, rejection and separation.  Lucifer was rejected and cast out of heaven; Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, and separated from God’s presence and the “tree of life”.  As a result of Adam’s choosing of sin and disobedience, the ground was cursed by God and part of that curse was that the ground would produce “thorns” (Genesis 3:17-18).

If we consider this aspect of the curse closely, we see just how fitting a symbol for both rejection and separation the thorn is.  In fact, these two effects are a thorn’s primary functions.  By its threatening nature, a thorn minimizes the positive desirableness of the plant, creating rejection, and it also increases the negative consequence of invasive contact, creating separation.  Like hate, a thorn is a defensive mechanism that protects against that which opposes, threatens, and violates what it “loves”, i.e. the plantLike the curse, a thorn is a negative dynamic that threatens and inflicts severe consequences for trespasses and transgressions against it. Thus, a thorn is a fitting symbol for both rejection and separation as well as hate and the curse.

In the ancient Hebrew language, “hate” (“sane”) is represented in the first instance by a thorn because inherent to the nature of hate is rejection and separation.

Before we move on to the next symbol, we should note that as Jesus, in triumphant love, took upon Himself the sin of mankind and the curse of that sin, He bore all of the hatred of God for all that opposes, threatens, and violates what God loves.  In addition, He took on Himself all of the sinful hatred of mankind towards God and his fellow man.  It is, therefore, by Divine providence and purpose that as He hung on the cross, rejected by man and separated from God, bearing the full consequence of Divine and human hate upon His own head, that He bore on His brow a crown of thorns!

  • The “seed”

The second symbol in the pictograph of “hate” (“sane”) is “seed”.  “Hate” not only embodies characteristics of the “thorn”, it also embodies characteristics of “seed.”  We’ve probably all heard it said of some person or group that “they sow the seeds of hate.”  Hate is compared to seed because when it is sown in the hearts and minds of men, it takes root, sprouts, grows, bears fruit (after its kind), multiplies, and spreads.

When evil seeds of “hate” germinate in the hearts and minds of fallen men and women, they send out a root called “bitterness”.  This in turn feeds the sprout called “unforgiveness”, which grows into the thorny plant called “malice”.  This further produces seed-bearing fruit which sows anew the seeds of “hate”, starting the cycle all over again and spreading this malicious, thorny plant far and wide.  Given time, the briar patch of “hate” grows exponentially beyond what was originally sown.  

This is why God says, See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)  Or as the Message translation paraphrases the end of this verse, A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.  As we’ve seen, bitter roots grow from the seeds of hate.

As these seeds of hate grow and spread, both within the individual they were sown in and beyond them into relationships and larger social groups, their thorny growth further has the power to choke out any good seed that is planted.  Jesus expressed this in the Parable of the Sower concerning the seed that was sown among thorns.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” (Matthew 13:7)  The “seeds of hate” not only multiply hate, but choke the good “plants” of love and truth.  This shows the power of hate as both a seed and a thorn.

In conclusion, as with the symbol of the thorn, the symbol and reality of the “seed” is also bound up with and consummated in Christ.  The battle of the ages is, in reality, a “seed” battle.  After the serpent deceived Eve, and Adam partook with her of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Lord God cursed the serpent and declared,  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  (Genesis 3:15).

Jesus, the “Seed” of the woman, the “Seed” of Abraham (Galatians 3:16), was born in “the likeness of sinful flesh(Romans 8:3).  On the cross, “God made Him who had no sin, to be sin for us,” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and so He embodied the fallen “DNA” of the cursed “seed”.  This He brought into death and buried in the ground, never to rise again.  In resurrection, the “DNA” of the Seed of Promise came forth out of the earth, in the “garden”, ascended and “reseeded” the earth through His indwelling Spirit.  In the fullness of times, He will fully purify His “Garden” of all “rival-loves”, and their attendant curses of rejection and separation, and hate and hatred will forever be banished.  Thus, the Divine “Seed of Love” will ultimately triumph over the Luciferic/serpentine “seed(s) of hate” that were sown so long ago.

In Summary

We have seen how “hate”, the opposite of “love”, is generated when “love” is opposed, threatened, and/or violated.  We’ve further seen that “hate”, in and of itself, is not morally polarized, but only takes on a moral dynamic when its source, means, and ends are taken into account. Lastly, we’ve also seen that “hate” embodies the twin characteristics of a thorn and a seed.

In the next post, we will look more deeply into the “love”-“hate” relationship itself and make some practical applications of its dueling dynamics in relation to various psychological conditions common to man.


Picture credit: Eli Bolton

Posts in this series:
The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship – Pt. 1
The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship – Pt. 3

Related:
The Cross – The Unlevel Playing Field of Satan’s Defeat


“mystery post”  (Different with each click 🙂 )
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The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship – Pt. 1

The “love-hate relationship” is a well-known and studied psychological dynamic that is sometimes found among people in close relationship, and it can also exist in the hearts of people towards certain things (e.g., work, technology, money, etc…) rather than another person.

In this multiple-part post, my intent is to look beneath the surface of this emotional dichotomy, to examine the specific dynamics of love and hate themselves, and to explore their relationship to each other.  If we can understand this fundamental “love”-“hate” relationship, it will not only make the interpersonal “love-hate relationship” more understandable but also shed light on other psychological, cultural, and even spiritual dynamics as well.

It also seems there is a pressing need to focus on this matter at this specific time because the emotion of “hate”, in particular, is front and center in the culture wars and political battles that are raging in our world right now.  It seems there is a common misconception, however, that underlies much of people’s perceptions of “hate” that leads to very polarizing and even dangerous assumptions, judgments, actions, and reactions.  This highly-inflammatory, culture-shaping focus on “hate” will most likely increase in the days ahead, and so it is all the more necessary that we have a deep understanding of its roots, nature, and how it can possibly be diffused, tempered, and even channeled in positive directions.

To begin with, then, I’d like to pose a few questions and then seek to answer them.  First, where does “love” come from and what is it?  Next, where does “hate” come from and what is it?  Then, how are these two opposing dynamics related to each other?  And, lastly, how can we bring the strong emotions of love and hate in line with God’s heart, mind, and will?

Love

First of all, then, let’s consider “love” and where it comes from.  John 1:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God.”  The next verse says simply and profoundly, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (vs. 8)  Love, therefore, is an eternal and essential attribute of God’s nature and of the Divine “community” of His Triune Being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  All love finds its source in God Himself and would not exist apart from Him.

Furthermore, because mankind is made in God’s image and likeness, love is, likewise, an essential attribute of the human constitution and the human community.

The two greatest commandments given by God to mankind are commandments to “love”.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.’ ” Mark 12:28-31 NIV

We also see in Scripture that all of God’s law is summed up in love. “Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10), and, For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14.)  The testimony of Scripture shows the absolute primacy of love as to the Divine intention, design, and calling of mankind who is created to bear His image and likeness and is called into the Divine community of His Triune Being.

This gives us the most fundamental understanding of where love comes from, but what actually is love?

The Greek language has four words that are translated in English as “love”: “agape”, “phileo”, “storge”, and “eros” which express differing aspects and forms of this Divine/human virtue.  (C. S. Lewis explores these in his book, The Four Loves. For a summary, please see here.)  The English language has merely the one word “love”, which is used in a wide range of expressions and applications of this same virtue.  It should also be noted that the word “love” is both a noun and a verb.  It is a virtue of the heart and it is corresponding action that flows out from that virtue.

As I’ve looked to discover the most essential aspect(s) common to all of these words, their meanings, and forms, it seems one element stands out as central and essential to them all.  That element is summed up in the word, “value”.

I once expressed it this way in a tweet:

We “like” what we RECEIVE something of value from.
We “love” what we GIVE something of value to.

Liking often precedes loving for we generally give value to (i.e. “love”) that which we first receive value from (“like”).  For instance, we may say, “I love pizza!” and that is because we have received (or anticipate receiving) something of value from that pizza.

“Love” is not entirely dependent on “liking”, however, for God calls and commands us to: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Such love is unconditional as to whether we receive something of value from our neighbors or not; whether we may “like” them or not.  God’s love, “agape”, is not based on receiving something of value from its subjects, but, instead, of investing something of value into its subjects.

Since “love” is both a noun and a verb, we should look at how this matter of value applies to love along these two lines.  “Love” as a noun is a virtue, attitude, affection, and/or emotion of the heart.  Essential to its nature is that it inherently values its objects.  Words such as “esteem”, “respect”, “honor”, “appreciate”, “prize”, and “treasure”, as well as others like “precious”, “worthy”, and “dear” all have fundamental to their meaning the aspect of value and are the kind of attitudes and emotions that love holds towards its subjects.

This connection between value and love can also be seen in what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  We could paraphrase that in the context of what we are saying as, “For where what you value is, there your love and affection will be.”

Love is not solely a passive virtue of the heart, though, but is made complete when it acts in accordance with its inherent nature.  It is not merely a passive noun, but an active verb.  The primary action that “love” engages in is that of giving.  (Reba McEntire and Michael W. Smith both agree that “Love isn’t love until you give it away.” 🙂 )

Since love inherently values its object, what it gives away to that object is that which is, likewise, of value.  The greater the love, the greater the value it desires and is willing to give.  This giving is, first and foremost, of value to the recipient.  It can also be of negative value in the form of cost/sacrifice to the giver.  The greater the value to the recipient and the greater the cost/sacrifice to the giver, the greater the love that is expressed.

We can see the supreme example of this in the most well-known passage of Scripture, John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (NKJV)

Here we have God’s love that so greatly values the world that He desires and is willing to give the most costly, sacrificial thing He has to offer, His only begotten Son, so that the world may receive the most valuable gift He could possibly give to them in rescuing them from eternal perishing and giving them everlasting life!  In every respect, Love doesn’t get any greater than that!

The apostle John further said in his first epistle,

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  1 John 3:16-18 NIV

Here, again we see that love is made complete by the giving of that which is costly/sacrificial on the part of the giver and valuable/beneficial on the part of the receiver.  This is the essence of love!

Finally, there is one more characteristic of love that is important to note.  Love has a directional tendency/relational effect as well.  That tendency/effect is one of drawing the parties involved towards each other unto unity.  Love is both outreaching and attracting.  It breaks down barriers, bridges chasms, draws its object, gathers what is scattered, and binds up what is broken and separated.  Scripture calls love “the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:14 NAS)

This is, once again, supremely seen in the greatest expression of Love of the Father giving His Only Begotten as a sacrifice to reconcile the world unto Himself.  He moved toward us in Love, removed all barriers to unity, and is now drawing us towards Himself in Love until we come into perfect unity and union with Him.  This is the directional tendency and relational effect of love.

So, in summary, love is an esteeming affection, a sacrificial/beneficial action, and a drawing/unifying effect, all in one.  This is the essence of God and of His high purpose for you and I, His sons and daughters, made in His image and created for union and communion with Himself.

~ ~ ~

In Part 2 of this post, we will look at the opposing dynamic of “hate” and explore further the “love”-“hate” relationship that exists between these two very powerful forces.


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When God Does a New Thing – Pt. 5: Orientation

Possibly the most crucial aspect of rightly discerning and faithfully engaging in any work of God is to properly and deeply understand its “orientation.”  If this one aspect is missed or misunderstood, it can become the primary reason why a Sovereign move of God quickly wanes and becomes crystallized into a lukewarm, man-controlled, apostate movement.

“Orientation”

The word “orientation” is a very suggestive word when its origins and meaning are understood and seen in light of the things of God.  The root word “orient” means “east” and its linguistic origins are described as such: “‘from Latin orientem (nominative oriens) ‘the rising sun, the east, part of the sky where the sun rises,’ originally ‘rising’ (adj.), present participle of oriri ‘to rise'” (Online Etymology Dictionary* –  emphasis added.)

The noun, “orientation”, therefore,  has the meaning: “arrangement (of a building, etc.) to face east or any other specified direction,” (Online Etymology Dictionary*).

The primary meaning of the word, then, has to do with the direction of the rising Sun and of the positioning of something in relation to it, namely, facing East.

When it comes to the Biblical concept of “orientation”, we see, for starters, that one of the primary Hebrew words translated “east”, “mizrach”, is also translated “sunrise” and comes from a root word, “zarach” which means, ” to rise, come forth, break forth, break out, arise, rise up, shine” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance*) showing the inseparable connection in the Hebrew understanding between the word “east” and the rising Sun.

The other primary Hebrew word translated “east”, “qedem” has both a directional aspect, being translated: “east”, “in front of”, and “before”, and also a time element, being additionally translated: “aforetime”, “ancient”, “from of old”, and “beginning”*, indicating source or origin.

[Note: there is a similar connection between the English words “orient” (east) and “origin” (beginning) with both coming from the Latin root, “oriri”, meaning to, “arise, rise, get up; appear above the horizon, become visible; be born, be descended, receive life;”.*]

To the ancient Hebrew mind, “East” was the primary ordinance/direction and the other directions were derived from it.  Their maps, for instance, would have the East at the top of the map, West on the bottom and North/South to the left and right respectively. (Interestingly, their word for “north” also translates, “left”, and “south” also translates “right”.)  They further viewed the direction “east” as representing beginnings, origins, the past, antiquity, and even eternity.* 

In the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, we find that the direction East, the direction of the rising Sun, figures prominently as to the physical orientation of many of the most significant things God created, instituted, and/or ordained for His purpose.  Consider the following that had an eastward orientation:

  • The Garden of Eden – Gen. 2:8
  • The way to the tree of life – Gen. 3:24
  • Abram’s altar in relation to Bethel – Gen. 12:8 – (first mention of “Bethel” =“The house of God” and in keeping with later tabernacle/temple arrangement and pattern.)
  • The Tabernacle of Moses – Including the entrance to the outer court, the entrance to the Holy Place, the Veil, and the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies. – Ex. 25-27, 38,40  (See Ex. 27:13-16 & 38:13-15 for description of entrance on east end.)
  • The encampment outside of the Tabernacle of the preeminent tribe of Judah – Num. 2:3 (from which Jesus of Nazareth descended – Matt.1:2), as well as the assigned encampment for Moses, Aaron and his sons (the priestly family.) – Num. 3:38, and two other tribes.
  • The Jordan River in relation to Canaan, through which the Israelites crossed to enter the land of their inheritance.  (Josh. 3-4, See 4:19 for eastern orientation of where they camped after crossing.)
  • The Temple of Solomon – Bible Scholars and archaeologists confirm that the Temple of Solomon was oriented eastward, toward the rising Sun.* *
  • Ezekiel’s Temple – Faced east (Ezek.8:16, 41:14, 47:1); the glory departed to the east (Ezek. 10:19, 11:23); the glory returns from the east through the east gate (Ezek.43:1-4); the steps to the altar faced east (Ezek.43:17); the east gate was shut and was to “remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.” (Ezek.44:1-3); special regulations related to “the Prince” were given for entrance into the inner sanctuary through the east gate (Ezek.44:1-3, 46:1-8,12) water flowed out of the temple on the east side and flowed eastward to the Jordan river (Ezek. 47:1-8).
  • The Eastern Gate (“Golden Gate”, “Beautiful Gate”, “Mercy Gate”) of the city of Jerusalem, which led directly to the temple.  This is the gate through which Jesus entered the Sunday before His crucifixion (Matt. 21:1-11, i.e. His “triumphal entry”).  According to Jewish and Christian tradition, this is the gate through which the Messiah shall enter when He comes/returns.
  • The Garden of Gethsemane in relation to the temple mount and the city of Jerusalem [significant as to the Second Adam being in a “garden” making the choice that would undue the choice of the First Adam who was also in a “garden in the east.” (Gen. 2:8)]
  • The Mount of Olives in relation to the Temple and City of Jerusalem from which Jesus ascended (Lk. 24:50-51, Acts 1:12) and upon which His feet shall touch when He returns. (Zech. 14:4)
  • On Passover, halfway between the vernal and autumnal equinox, the sun rises due East of the temple mount over the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.*
  • The Magi came from the east at the birth of Christ. Matt. 2:1-12
  • Christian tradition has it that while was on the cross, Jesus Christ was facing West and, therefore, those who were beholding Him, were facing East.*
  • The believed direction from which the Son of Man will come when He returns. Matt.24:27

From these (in sum or in part), the following examples of Jewish and Christian practices were derived:

  • Synagogues were built with an eastward orientation
  • Certain sects of the Jews face eastward when praying.
  • Christians cathedrals were built with an eastward orientation.
  • Early Christians customarily worshiped and prayed facing eastward.
  • Early and Orthodox Christians baptized with initiants facing east.
  • In traditional Christian burial, grave stones customarily face east and the body is buried with the feet to the east so as to be oriented for the return of Christ.

[For an expression of early Christian beliefs and practices in this regard by John of Damascus (645-749 AD), please see here.]

In summary, then, God Himself attached great significance to the direction of the rising Sun, East, and has incorporated that significance into many of the most weighty aspects of His works, ways, and worship.  Orthodox Jews and Christians have, likewise, given special reverence and attention to this orientation in the ordering of diverse elements of their worship of God.

First the Natural, Then the Spiritual

The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual”
(1 Cor. 15:46)

You may be wondering why focusing on this matter in such detail is relevant, especially to this series on “when God does a new thing”.  Well, if we look closely at the above list of things God has created, instituted, and/or ordained for His purpose that have an eastward orientation, we see that all of them point, in some way, to the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The reason for this is clear when we see from Scripture that the natural Sun is merely a physical type and shadow of the spiritual Son.

But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings;” (Malachi 4:2 NKJV)

[For a more thorough exploration of this typology, please see the post,
A Copernican-Style Revelation and Revolution.]

The orientation of the most significant aspects of the works, ways, and worship of God toward the rising Sun in the physical realm, therefore, is merely a natural, God-ordained signpost pointing to the spiritual realm where all of the works, ways, and worship of God are ordained of the Father to be oriented to the risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The natural, physical “shadow” fades and even disappears in the brilliance of the supernatural, spiritual Light of its fulfillment.  Facing the rising Sun in all things religious is no longer the main point; facing the Risen Son in all things spiritual is!

The Orientation of God’s “New Thing”

It is this reality of the spiritual orientation of all things in God’s eternal purpose to the risen Son of God that critically comes to bear on the “new thing” God desires to do in the midst of His people today.  No matter what that “new thing” is or will be, it is forever and inviolably ordained of the Father to point to, be centered in, and further reveal Jesus Christ, His Beloved Son.  [To test the validity of this statement, I encourage you to go back through the Scriptures and find all the instances in which God did a “new thing” among His people and see if the “testimony of Jesus” is not somehow clearly evident and/or cryptically (prophetically) embedded within it.]  From the Father’s perspective, all of His works and ways are Christ-oriented!

This reality is not a matter of mere intellectual intrigue or ascent.  It is deeply practical and consequential in its spiritual applications and ramifications.  Only when this spiritual orientation is obtained and maintained will any and all works of God be able to go forward with His approval, endorsement, and favor without diverting from their ordained purpose, full development, and intended consequences.

If any other facet or feature of God’s work ever becomes preeminent and/or central in the hearts and minds of God’s people, or is looked to and trusted in as either the primary source, means, or end of God’s working, spiritual disorientation sets in.  The resultant consequences of such disorientation will eventually lead to increasing levels of spiritual distortion, deception, diminishment, and, ultimately, division within the Body of Christ, without exception.

Such disorienting factors connected to the work of God that often seduce away from and supplant Christ’s unrivaled preeminence in all things may include the following:

1. a distinctive emphasis
2. a preeminent truth
3. a prominent personality
4. a centralized location
5. an employed method
6. a desired manifestation
7. a distinguishing identity
8. a resultant effect

ALL of these are secondary matters and must forever be kept in their proper place and perspective as such.  If any one, or combination of these, ever begin to outshine the Risen Son as to His centrality, significance, and all-sufficiency in all things and become the distinguishing feature and/or focus of any work of God, they stand in the place of idolatry, and spiritual distortion and disintegration will shortly ensue.  Tragically, because man tends to look on the outward things and is also uncomfortable yielding control, not taking credit, and not crystallizing mindsets and methods, such distraction, defilement, and diminishment is all but inevitable.

In order to stay spiritually oriented then, according to the heart, mind, and will of the Father, any work of God must perpetually hold and guard as central, supreme, and all-sufficient the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as:

1. The Distinctive Emphasis
2. The Preeminent Truth
3. The Prominent Personality
4. The Centralized Location
5. The Employed Method
6. The Desired Manifestation
7. The Distinguishing Identity
8. The Resultant Effect

He is the Alpha and Omega of all of God’s ways.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life of all of God’s works.  ALL facets, features, and factors find their ORIGINS IN HIM and are eternally and immutably ORIENTED TO HIM

Let it be forever settled in the hearts and minds of God’s people, then, that whatever “new thing” God does in the earth, it is and will be, at its foundation and core, a fresh revelation and manifestation of CHRIST HIMSELF!   If it ever becomes anything essentially other than HIM, it has become spiritually disoriented and is surely missing the mark of God’s sovereign desire and intention!

Only when God’s people ORIENT themselves to the RISEN SON in all things will they be able to properly apprehend, align with, and engage in whatever “new thing” God is doing in the earth in a way that is pleasing, faithful, and fruitful to HIM!

~ ~ ~

JESUS CHRIST,
THE RISEN SON,
is our
SPIRITUAL “EAST”;

the
ORIGIN
and
“ORIENT”
of
ALL THINGS!

AMEN!!!

~ ~ ~

 To be continued…


“When God Does a New Thing” series posts: Pt.1: “Preparation”Pt.2: “Expectation”,  Pt. 3: “Misapprehension”,  Pt. 4: “Misapprehension (continued)”

Other related:
A Copernican-Style Revelation and Revolution (“Christ the Center”; series revisited – Part 1)


“mystery post”  (Different with each click 🙂 )
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Our Deepest Convictions (timely repost)

We are living in very intense, tumultuous times!  In America, the “melting pot” has become a “boiling pot”!  In the midst of the turmoil, deep convictions are creating intense emotions and intense emotions are, in turn, creating deep convictions…some good, some bad, and some downright ugly!

In the midst of the wild pendulum swings of intense emotions, it is very difficult to arrive at complete, balanced, plumbline truth.  In fact, it is almost impossible!  But it is only the Truth that sets us free…the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth!  Although partial truth, strongly felt, feels like whole Truth, it is not, and in the end it only brings greater bondage, not freedom!  Over-compensation for error only creates more imbalanced error that in time will be attempted to be over-compensated for in the opposite direction, creating more imbalanced error.  And so the pendulum swings and swings and swings!  Whole Truth, God’s Truth, however, hangs still and undisturbed like a Plumbline!

Christians are not immune to these imbalances, and are possibly even more prone to them than others, for we often latch onto a portion of God’s truth on a matter and cling to it as if it is the totality of His Truth.  Because we assume it has the authority of God behind it, having its foundation in the Word of God, we cling to it with a “holy” passion, tenacity, and conviction.  Partial, imbalanced convictions, however, even when drawn from Scripture, can actually be dangerous and even play right into the Enemy’s hand, causing distortion, deception, and division.  I see this happening on a broad scale right now among God’s people, and it breaks my heart.

In talking with my wife about this the other day, I thought of a “tweet” I put out some 7 years ago and then later expanded on in a relatively short post.  I pulled that post up for her to read and in re-reading it myself, felt it might also be very timely to share again on this blog.

I pray that it is helpful as you process the complex, deeply-layered, no-simple-solution challenges that are facing our nation and our world right now.  As those who are called to have the mind and heart of Christ, and to be “salt” and “light” in this world, may we be the most insightful, well-balanced, thoroughly-informed, holistic, reconciling voices in the midst of this volatile, polarized, broken world of ours.  I personally believe that becoming that voice begins with what is summed up in the following words. I hope you are blessed by them!  -David

~ ~ ~

Our Deepest Convictions

Our deepest convictions should come from a positive response to Truth, not from a negative reaction to error, or we will fall into new error.”

God Himself, and His eternal purpose, are infinitely positive.  He is Light.  He is Life.  He is Love.  All that He is, all that He does, and all that He will do flow out of His incomprehensible goodness, righteousness and truth.  His thoughts and His ways embody the fullness of glory and perfection.  Nothing in all of His infinite attributes are the slightest bit diminished or tainted by that which is negative.

All that is around us, however, is tarnished by the negative.  All falls short.  Everything here eventually fails.  We are immersed in the atmosphere of short-coming, disappointment, twistedness, opposition, destruction, decay and death.  These are the powerful forces at work in our fallen universe.  This is our daily reality.

As we are battered and bruised by these forces, our human nature reacts and responds with shun and disgust.  We become negative to the negative. Instead of this bringing us to a true positive, however, it merely keeps us whirling in an imbalanced cycle of partial and overcompensating negatives.  We latch onto jaded perceptions, reactionary conclusions and imbalanced convictions, and own them as Truth.  These in turn lead to subsequent excesses and imbalances which begin the cycle all over again.  Instead of being a settled plumbline, we become an ever swinging pendulum.

Nothing is more powerful for forming deep convictions within us than that which deeply touches our emotions.  When pain, heartache, injury, abuse, suffering, offense and the like creep or crash into our lives, we process it emotionally and draw conscious conclusions that fundamentally shape our lives and perspectives.  It is all but inevitable in the process that we over-compensate for our negative experiences by hyper-inflating certain aspects of truth that counter the error or evil that we have experienced.  Powered by our strong emotions, these partial and imbalanced conclusions form deep convictions within us that are rarely, in the fullest sense, objective, holistic, complete and balanced.

If we are to break this reactionary cycle, then, we must begin at a new starting point.  We must begin where all is positive and Truth is found in fullness and balance.  We must begin where all is proactive and nothing is reactive.  Our starting point must be God Himself.  “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)  As we look unto Him, we behold the One who is the TRUTH.  Nothing can be added or taken away from Him.  Nothing is jaded, askew, tarnished or tainted in all of His perfections.  All is full, balanced, unsullied, and at rest.  This must be our beginning point; our Alpha in the search for Truth.  All of our highest conceptions, deepest convictions and most far-reaching conclusions must spring out of this pure, non-reactionary revelation of God and His eternal purpose.

As this becomes our starting point and we come into a clear revelation of the One who is the Light, we begin to see that which is also of and according to the Light. “…in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)  “…for the fruit of the light consists in all righteousness, goodness and truth.”(Ephesians 5:9)  Here our understanding of that which is of and according to the Light is purely positive.  This is the Truth that God Himself is, knows and lives by.  This is where we discover Truth that is protected from the strong and subtle winds of human negativity and reactionism.  This is where our highest revelations and deepest convictions are purely fashioned.

Not only do we see “light” in God’s Light, we are also able to see and discern that which is not light in His Light.  “…for it is light that makes everything visible.” (Ephesians 5:14)  “The light shines in the darkness.” (John 1:5a)  Only through His Light are we able to clearly and properly discern all forms of darkness.  This darkness appears as varying shades of grey, all the way to black.  It also appears as shining forms of counterfeit light. When our starting place is the pure positive of God’s Light, all forms of darkness are seen proactively and purely as God sees them, not as reactionary “double negatives” to darkness.  Only then do our convictions become “plumb line” rather than “pendulum” in nature.  Only then do they purely represent Truth and not reactively embody a new form of “enlightened” darkness.

If we are to be the true “children of Light”, then, we must lift up our eyes far above all the darkness and negativity that surrounds us.  We must lay aside all the weights and hindrances that keep us earthbound and with sustained gaze, behold the One who inhabits eternity, enthroned in resplendent glory.  We must let the darkness-destroying purity of His Light permeate into the deep roots of our humanity, heal us and convert us to His pure positive.

This is where our deepest convictions must be formed if we are to fully and purely know and live in the TRUTH.

~ ~ ~

May we rise up above all the turmoil and turbulence of this hour and immerse ourselves in the pure Light of God’s Truth.  May we embody and be the voice of the wisdom that is from above” which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17KJV 

That is what Truth looks like when it is Plumbline!  Amen!!


Related:

Pragmatism and the Truth

Truth

RTs

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