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“What do you see Jeremiah?”  “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.  The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that My word is fulfilled.”  And Jesus said, “For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

The ability of Jeremiah to give a simple, truthful answer to what was shown him allowed God to give him a reply where the answer lay not in what he saw, but rather in what he should have heard by his own words.  For Jeremiah said, “an almond tree,” which in Hebrews sounds like the word ‘watching’, and so the Lord used that sound to say, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that My word is fulfilled,” thus revealing to Jeremiah what was on God’s mind during his time.

You see, it is not what we have in mind that matters, but what God has in mind that matters when He shows us what is happening and He tells us what is about to happen.  God has a habit of painting a picture for us to see, which is why He said from the beginning, “Let there be light,” as He started this creation off.  As He called forth the heavens, the sun and moon, and the creatures of the air, land and sea in all their beauty and goodness, giving everyone a display of His creativity, power and goodness, the purpose of all of His works He kept to Himself.  What God had in mind, what He was thinking, was privy only to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not an angel or cherub knew what was really on Their mind.  And when He brought all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air… to the man to see what he would name them… the Lord was not only teaching Adam about the power of speech, but also seeing if Adam would describe honestly, truthfully, that which he saw.  And in the goodness of the animals and birds that were brought before Adam, God waited to see if Adam could see the goodness of God.

For to come to know the mind and therefore the thoughts and plans of God, one has to have the basic simple ingredients that God is seeking, that is, to be worshippers of God in spirit and in truth, as Jesus said.  The spirit that one needs towards God, the attitude, is the ability to see the goodness of God in all situations and circumstances in the truth that He shows us, without wrapping it up in tinsel and ribbons, without dressing it up or down, but just the ability to speak honestly that which you are shown with the attitude that whatever He is showing you is for good because He is good.  You see, when God made everything in those first six days, He kept seeing what was made and God saw that it was good.  Now, was God just complimenting Himself or was He simply being honest?

In our apprenticeship to learn to know the thoughts of God and the very mind of God, what is required from each and every disciple, and in your case, elect, is the ability to see what is shown you and to reply honestly, truthfully, with an enquiring spirit or attitude as to the goodness of what is shown you.

You all know that it was because Peter did not have in mind the things of God but of men that Jesus called him, ‘Satan,’ and rebuked him after the Father Himself had shown Peter that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  What did Peter say that earned him this rebuke?  “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to You!”  Humanly speaking, a good, correct, faithful answer, for after all, his Rabbi whom he respected, even loved, is the Christ, the Son of God.  It is therefore unimaginable that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  So, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.  When Peter rebuked Jesus, he failed to see what Jesus was trying to show them of God’s plan for Jesus and therefore of God’s goodness towards Jesus and them.  For Peter had jumped to a conclusion and therefore a judgement and immediately cried out, “Never, Lord!”  He did not stop to consider what he had been told and shown so that he might know what was in the mind of God.

He had been told by God Himself that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” for as Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in Heaven,” and now that same Son of God was showing him His suffering, His death and His resurrection in plain speech and Peter jumped to a conclusion and said, “Never Lord!”  Instead, he could have and should have said, “What are You showing us, Lord?”  Or spoken plainly and said, “I see Your suffering, Your death and Your raising from the dead.  What does this mean?”  You see, when the Lord showed His disciples what was about to happen, He was showing them what was in the mind of God in terms of what would be said and done, but not what was in the mind of God in regards to His purpose, plan and motives.

Now, consider this:  If Peter was Satan because he did not have in mind the things of God but of men, and we cannot have the things that are of the mind of God until we know His thoughts, then in reality, how often have we been a stumbling block to Christ and how often have we out-Sataned Satan?  Thus, your apprenticeship into godliness begins with circumspective questions of what you see and what you think, but above all else, what is God thinking and what is in the mind of God.  It is not a matter of power anymore and it is not a matter of being able to do miracles, prophesy or drive out demons, rather, it is now a matter of understanding the God you know that you may know and understand Him even more.  As it was before that you were to come to know the God you believe in that you may believe even more in Him, so now it is time for you to begin to understand the God and Jesus Christ you have come to know more.  And this is where, again I say to you, the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Understanding comes into His own to help us, for no one understands God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son more.

The thoughts of God are never revealed to give you understanding into God if you cannot recognise the one feature of God’s handiwork and character from the beginning—His goodness. That from the beginning all He made and spoke into existence was good, and if that which overflowed from His mouth produced good, then how good are the thoughts of His heart?  That is why Jesus replied to the young man, “Why do you ask Me about what is good?  There is only One who is good.”  And to the ruler, “Why do you call Me good?  No one is good—except God alone.” The commandments that Jesus recommended the young man to follow were to show him God’s goodness, that is, God does not murder, does not commit adultery, does not steal, does not give false testimony, does not defraud, and if He had a mother or father, He would honour them, that is what is good about God.

No one who comes to God thinking that God is not good, that He is harsh, evil or wicked, a tyrant, will ever come to know the thoughts of God, much less understand Him.  That is why as you observe the different religions around you, their approach to their God is rarely on the basis of goodness, and as such, they may preach faith in God, but they can never speak with understanding about their God.  To them, the excuse is always the mystery of God.  The bad news for them is this:  The one true God has no intention of keeping Himself a mystery for those who desire to worship Him that they may boast about Him to His glory and praise.  Even Christians who speak of God’s mystery that we would never know are merely excusing themselves from the eternal walk with God that will last forever for those who truly want to come to know Him and understand Him.  It is a long, long journey for eternity is a long, long time, but then as Solomon wrote:  He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  We have not fathomed that what God has done from the Alpha to the Omega, the Beginning to the End who is Jesus Christ, is to reveal Himself to us through Jesus Christ, that we may not only believe in Him, but come to know Him and not only to know Him— understand Him. 

Earlier I have taught you that when you know what a person desires, you have begun to know that person.  Now learn this, when you come to understand what a person desires, you have come to begin to understand Him.  God desires mercy not sacrifice.  If you know this to be God’s one desire, then you have begun to know Him.  However, do you understand why God desires mercy and not sacrifice?  If you say it is because He is good, you are correct because that is what goodness contains, mercy.  However, if God is good and being merciful is good, then He has already what He desires.  So why still desire it?  It is because God is perfect, and perfection dictates that it cannot be merciful to itself, it cannot afford to forgive any error nor commit any error in the first place, for then it will destroy itself and eternity can only be maintained by perfection.  Thus, God who is merciful, as Jesus said the Father is merciful, desires mercy, for God cannot show mercy to God, for God is perfect and His perfection maintains eternity.

Whereas, God can show mercy to those who are not God who are His children, sons and daughters learning to be like Him, who are made in His Image and who are still growing, forever growing, but upon whose shoulders do not come the weight of maintenance of eternity.  The weight of maintaining eternity lays squarely on the shoulders of God and God alone—and only those who are His equal can give Him rest from that burden.  And who is His equal?

Now you might understand why no mercy was shown to Jesus Christ, the Word who was God who became flesh, when He became sin to be the sin offering for us.  For one transgression that was not even His doing, His silence in the face of false witnesses, He was flogged by Gentiles without the mercy of the law that dictated no more than forty lashes could be given.  Even Paul was flogged with forty lashes minus one from the Jews, but because the Romans had no such law, Jesus was not flogged forty lashes.  That’s not the truth; He was flogged more than forty times.  No wonder He did not resemble that of a man on the cross.  He was not just hung on a tree for being a curse as one hangs a man with a rope, snapping his neck so that death is swift; He was hung on a cross where death is agonisingly slow. 

Not only did He receive no mercy from those who are His enemies, He had to experience the forsaking by the One whose love and obedience in Him had placed Him there.  And He received no mercy and sought no mercy when Pontius Pilate offered Him a way out.  He turned it down, placing on Himself an even heavier yoke, saying, “You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore the One who handed Me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”  We have speculated who He meant as being guilty of a greater sin.  Was it the Jews?  Even the Father who commanded His sacrifice?

Now, understand that Jesus was referring to none other than Himself, absolving all of any sin or wrong doing.  He permitted Himself no mercy for He is perfect and perfection cannot afford mercy upon itself, if it were to maintain eternity.  And with that one merciless act to Himself, He shouldered the burden of the government of eternity upon Himself and gave His Father rest.  Thus, when Isaiah wrote:  For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, we have only thought of the government of Israel, of the world, of the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God and even the Kingdom of Christ, but never did we understand it was the government of eternity. 

In His suffering, He who was perfect was perfected because, just as God who is Spirit allows Himself no mercy and so He desires mercy even though He is merciful to His enemies, so now God the Word who became flesh, born of the virgin to be the Son of Man, allowed Himself no mercy.  So that now He who is of the flesh is one with He who is Spirit and the two are truly One, and being One with He who has borne the weight of eternity, Jesus Christ can bear the weight of eternity on His shoulders, an eternity that is not only of the spirit but now of the flesh.  Being able to do so means that the existence of the creation that is of the flesh can now be carried into the eternities just as the creation that is of the spirit can endure for eternity.  For now, the flesh has One who can bear the weight of the government of eternity in the flesh, just as the spirit has always had One on whose shoulders was the weight of the government of eternity.  So, the Two are made one through Christ; that which was temporary, governed by time, seasons, day and night, but not eternal, could now become eternal so that there is no need of night, but just an everlasting unending eternal day without night, just as the realm of the spirit never had day or night, only eternity.

If we can begin to fathom what He has done from beginning to end, then eternity is not a mystery and there is no mystery that eternity cannot reveal, even all the mysteries of God.  And if no mystery is out of your reach, then perfect understanding is within your grasp, and with that, your understanding of God can begin.  So, what do you see?  What do you think?

“Now give careful thought to this from this day on—

Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy.

You are My witnesses and My servant whom I have chosen,

so that you may know and believe Me

and understand that I am He.

Before Me no god was formed,

nor will there be one after Me.

I, even I, am the Lord,

and apart from Me there is no saviour.

I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—

I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are My witnesses that I am God.

Yes, and from ancient days I am He.

No one can deliver out of My hand.

When I act, who can reverse it?”

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