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The curse upon those who have been called and chosen by God, but yet refuse to obey Him, and worse still, refuse to repent is this:  “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”[1]

You see, Satan was perfect in beauty and full of wisdom, and through his widespread trading,[2] he probably acquired knowledge, but God withheld from this model of perfection understanding.  Solomon asked the Lord, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of Yours?”[3]  And because he asked for wisdom and knowledge and not for the death of his enemies and long life, God added to his request, “wealth, riches and honour,”[4] but no understanding was given to him.  Indeed, in his confession in Ecclesiastes 1:18, he had learned:  with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge the more grief.  This was the conclusion he came to as he sought the understanding of wisdom,[5] but he wrote in Proverbs:  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.[6] 

The curse of Matthew 3:14, which Jesus told His disciples of, was part of His answer about why He spoke in parables.  You see, you can hear a parable, but hearing a parable does not mean you understand the real meaning of the parable.

The classic example of the misuse of a parable, where those who have heard the parable did not understand the real meaning and true purpose of the parable, is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.[7]  Untold sermons have been based on this parable to exhort the people to do good works to help the needy, when the real purpose of the parable was spoken to answer the question of the expert of the law who asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”[8]  Jesus told that parable to help the expert of the law answer his own question, for after Jesus finished the parable, Jesus asked him, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”[9] 

So, if you read from Matthew 13:3-15, you will realise that Jesus taught in parables because He did not want people who are not interested in understanding God to know the secrets of the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God.  It was enough that they were permitted to hear and see, so that they have a level of knowledge, but the understanding of what they are seeing or hearing is withheld.  Why?  Jesus said it is because “this people’s heart has become calloused.”[10]  Knowledge, even wisdom, is given to anyone who asks and seeks, and for some like Satan, wisdom is given to them as part of their pre-ordained equipment so that they do not have to search for it.  But understanding is not given just because you ask for it or seek it.  Understanding is given according to the condition of your heart towards God.  If your heart is calloused to God, cold, hard and uncaring, then you will be given your share of knowledge, even wisdom, but understanding is withheld.  For since your heart is not one that seeks after knowing God’s heart, no understanding of what you see or hear is given to you.  Isaiah made this prophecy[11] about Israel and its people because of their repeated rebellion and forsaking of God.  God Himself said, “My people will go into exile for lack of understanding.”[12]

Now compare this with:  “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”[13]  Realise now that the faith to believe the Gospel gives the salvation that entitles a person to the eternal life with which he or she may come to know God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.[14]  But anyone who does not come to know God has no eternal life, and therefore faces destruction.  Thus, the lack of knowledge of God through eternal life that comes by faith in Jesus Christ causes destruction.  The lack of understanding, however, does not cause destruction, but exile.  This means you get to keep your life, in this case your eternal life, to come to know God and Jesus, but you will live that life in exile, that is, separated from where you really should be.

The word ‘exile’ carries with it the meaning of sending away or banishment for a period of time or permanently of a person from his home or country and that which is dear to him.  In a way, the exiled person is a refugee.  Though he is alive and living, he is not living where he should be.  And if you are not living where you should be living, you are also not living the life you should be living.  It is a form of a life, but it is not the real life.  If you are a refugee from another country residing in Australia, you will understand this.

If exile then means living a life that is not the life intended, then living in Heaven as a spirit, disconnected from the flesh with your soul asleep, is a form of exile.  For God has said, “My people will go into exile for lack of understanding.”  You see, Israel may have seen and heard the voice of God speaking to them and walked across the Red Sea on dry ground, but Israel never understood the plan of God for them.  They knew God had chosen them as a nation for Himself, but they did not understand the purpose of God for them.  And not only that, they did not consider it important to hold on to the knowledge of God that they had, but ran after other gods.  So their lack of knowledge and understanding saw most of them killed and the few that survived were exiled to different parts of the world.  The exiled in Babylon lived, but not as they should have.

Likewise, anyone who lives and dies in Christ is in Heaven now.  They are alive and are living their eternal life, but like the exiles of Babylon, not as they should.  For God never made man, male and female, in His Image for them to die.  Indeed, for them not to die was the key and central purpose, which is why He commanded Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”[15]  If you just forget about the tree for a moment, then you will see what God really said was, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not… die.”  “You must not die.”

That is why Paul told us death is the last enemy,[16] and why Jesus didn’t just die as an atonement for our sins that we might be the righteousness of God through faith, but having died, was raised back to life by the Holy Spirit with power, so that He might show us that death can be overcome by the power of God through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus Christ had to die for our sins, so for Him, the choice of not dying was not available at all.  But because He has atoned for our sins once and for all and defeated death, the choice for each person who is in Him is whether he or she wants to live or die.  That is why He used the funeral of Lazarus to tell us, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.  He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”[17] 

The writer of Hebrews wrote:  Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement,[18] the man he was referring to was sinful man, not man that God created in His Image, male and female, not Adam.  For man as made by God was never destined to die—dying was the destiny man chose for himself when he chose to disobey God. 

Because of our choice, Jesus was given no choice but to die to take away our sins.  Dying was not the choice for Jesus, which is why He pleaded in the garden when His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Three times He pleaded, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me.”[19]  Jesus’ personal choice was not death, but life, yet He laid down His choice and chose the Father’s choice, saying, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 

Because of Him, our sins are washed away so that we can start afresh, and the commandment of Genesis 2:16 is resurrected for all who believe, if only they understood.  You do not have to die, because Jesus said, “…and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  You must choose, not salvation or destruction, no, the choice in John 11:26 is for those who believe in Him already, just like Martha, for Martha had faith in Jesus.  She said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask for.”[20]  She may not have had a faith as great as the Centurion, but she had faith in Jesus.  This same choice is then available for all who believe in Jesus Christ.  You can choose Him, the Resurrection, and live again after you die, or you can choose Him, the Life, and live and never die.  Whether you believe this or not is your choice, for Jesus said, “Do you believe this?”

When Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar, the city was slaughtered except for a small number of survivors.  Amongst those survivors was Jeremiah.  Whilst some of the survivors were taken in exile to Babylon,[21] others were still in Judah, and they chose to go down to Egypt though God told them, “Do not go to Egypt.”[22]  But Jeremiah alone was given this permission by the Babylonian commander, “Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please.”[23]  You see, although the majority of Judah was slaughtered, there were two bands of survivors.  One that had no choice but to go into exile in Babylon, and another band that was given the choice to, as God said, “If you will stay in this land, I will build you up…  Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon.”[24]

Likewise, the people of Earth are like the people of Judah.  Because of sin, most people of the Earth die and then face judgement.  And like the exiles to Babylon, some, though they were believing Christians full of zeal for the Lord, had no choice but to also die for the sake of Jesus and His Gospel.  But now, with the restoration of the command to listen to Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a choice for those of you who have heard what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches.  You do not have to go into exile.  “Do not go to Egypt,” was what God said to those of Jeremiah’s days, and to us, “Live… and… never die” is the option available, for if you believe, then these words of Jesus are true for you:  “and whoever lives and believes will never die.” 

So, it is your choice, you who are alive to hear and read this.  You who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, will you be ones who “live… and… never die”?  So that when the Son of Man returns, He will find you waiting to greet Him, instead of the Son of God having to greet your spirit as you enter Heaven.

You see, understanding gives you eyes to perceive what you have seen and the power to produce the crop for eternal life,[25] “thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”[26]  For the fullness of the riches of God are not accessed by knowledge and wisdom, for if that were the case, Solomon and even Satan would have accessed the fullness of God’s riches.  But rather, Paul wrote for us:  My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.[27]  Though the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,[28] it is not until you have the full riches of understanding that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are yours in Christ.

It is then no wonder that it is written in Proverbs:  gain, get and cry aloud for understanding.[29]  For when understanding is withheld, then the amount of wisdom and knowledge one can have is always less than all that is in Christ.  So God in His wisdom has withheld understanding from those whose hearts are calloused towards Him, those who are rebellious, evil, wicked and unrighteous.  Though they may be beneficiaries of His mercy and compassion in that they will still have the sun rise on them and their land will drink of rain, they will never understand what they hear of God or perceive what they see.  And so they will be kept out of His Sanctuary, just like the dogs are kept outside of New Jerusalem.

So then, what do we understand of God thus far?  For God has said, “Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on Earth, for in these I delight.”[30]  And to Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough.”[31]  Take stock then of understanding, and do not let your wisdom and knowledge ensnare you.  For even he who called himself ‘the teacher’ came to this conclusion at the end of his study:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.[32]  If you have no understanding, cry aloud for it though it costs you everything, get it, for “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”[33]  But “whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”[34]

Now, do you understand anything?  Do you understand Jesus did not come that you may have resurrection?  For He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”[35]  So then, should you choose to live, die and live again, or should you choose to live and never die, you who are now alive and say you believe in Him?

And for those who may have already taken offence that I have equated exile with life in the spirit in Heaven for those who die, have you not read and realised that even the souls of those who are martyred for Christ are in a confined space, as if they should not be there?  For John wrote in the Revelation:  I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the Earth and avenge our blood?”[36]  Does this seem like the words or situation of one and ones who are resting in peace?  And if those who went as far as losing their lives for Jesus are not resting in peace, then what right do those, who gained Heaven just because they believed, have to experience the life that is to the full?  They don’t, and they do not, for even saints in Heaven are out of their flesh with their souls asleep and their spirit only awake and ‘enjoying’ Heaven.  That is not the life that God destined for man.  When He made them male and female, He gave them flesh, soul and spirit all in one place, not disjointed.

So then, be wise and choose life, and life abundantly, you who call yourselves little Christs, and make every effort to enter through that narrow door of Christ, live and do not die, unless it is God’s will.  For His command to Adam was, “You must not… die,” and through Christ He gave us a choice:  “I am the Resurrection and the Life… and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?” so that we do not have to die.

As the Psalmist asked God, Do You show Your wonders to the dead?[37]  It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.[38]  Our forefather of faith, Simon Peter, had the wisdom to answer the Lord, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”[39]  And if you agree with Simon Peter, then use the words of eternal life that you have received from Jesus and live life. 

·       A life with which you can boast that you do understand and know Him by exercising kindness to love your enemies and God’s enemies, heal the sick, drive out demons, multiply the food, cleanse the waters amongst them so that the light of life may shine out from you and cause them to praise God.

·       Exercise justice, and use your life to do all you can to fulfil Scriptures so that Jesus can come back and receive the justice that is due Him.

·       Exercise righteousness, and show yourself as one who listens and obeys the command God has given you, and help others obey the commands they believe God has given them.  Do all this on Earth and do not wait till you get to Heaven before you do it.  For God has said, “I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on Earth, for in these I delight.”[40]  It is on Earth that God delights in exercising kindness, justice and righteousness, not in Heaven.

May your minds be opened to understand the Scriptures you have seen and heard so that truly you may know the life that Christ came to give you.  Amen

[1] Matthew 13:14 (Isaiah 6:9)

[2] Ezekiel 28:12,16

[3] 2 Chronicles 1:10

[4] 2 Chronicles 1:11-12

[5] Ecclesiastes 1:17

[6] Proverbs 4:7

[7] Luke 10:30-35

[8] Luke 10:29

[9] Luke 10:36

[10] Matthew 13:15

[11] Isaiah 6:9

[12] Isaiah 5:13

[13] Hosea 4:6

[14] John 17:3 

[15] Genesis 2:16-17

[16] 1 Corinthians 15:26

[17] John 11:25-26

[18] Hebrews 9:27

[19] Matthew 26:39 (Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42)

[20] John 11:21-22

[21] Jeremiah 52:28

[22] Jeremiah 42:19

[23] Jeremiah 40:4

[24] Jeremiah 42:10,11

[25] John 4:36

[26] Mark 4:20,8

[27] Colossians 2:2-3

[28] Proverbs 1:7; 9:10

[29] Proverbs 4:1,5; 2:3

[30] Jeremiah 9:24

[31] Matthew 25:29 CES, (NLV, Holman’s); NIV – “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.”

[32] Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

[33] Mark 8:36 (Luke 9:25)

[34] Matthew 10:39

[35] John 10:10

[36] Revelation 6:9-10

[37] Psalm 88:10

[38] Psalm 115:17-18

[39] John 6:68

[40] Jeremiah 9:24


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