Do you remember the story of Saul, how God’s light blinded him and how that blindness was used of God to give him sight? Now Saul knew the Torah from back to front. If anyone could boast in his knowledge of God’s laws, it would have been Saul. And yet Saul was persecuting and commanding the killing of his brethren, believing he was doing the will of God.
So, God’s response was to blind Saul with His light, causing him to fall to his knees, where Jesus confronted him for persecuting Him. Notice, Jesus does not say “You are persecuting my people.” No, He says (Acts 4:9): “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” For, whatever we do unto the least of these, we do unto Him.
This life-changing encounter with Jesus would radically change Saul’s understanding of the Word of God. No longer would he seek to kill the Body of Christ, wielding the letter of the law as a weapon of destruction, but instead lay down his life to proclaim the Name of Jesus, loving unrighteous sinners (like himself) into the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
Literally Proverbs 13:22 tells us – if we look at the root meaning of each Hebrew Word- that the good leaves an inheritance for his Son’s offspring and that sinners becoming strong or firm is hidden treasure for the righteous. Have you ever recognized the hidden significance of this?
Jesus tells us that there is only One who is good: God. We also know that each and every one of us are sinners (unrighteous in and of ourselves) – let him without sin cast the first stone … and of course not one was left to stone the adulterous woman. So, do you also see what I do?
Could this in fact mean in this verse that God was already prophecying through Solomon, long before He sent His only Son to die for our sins: “I leave you an inheritance as the offspring of my Son, Jesus. As sinners, unable to fulfill the Word of God, Jesus will become your hidden manna, through whom you will become the righteousness of God, being made firm and strong in Him, as He reveals Himself to you.”
Oh how hard Saul strove to fulfill the letter of the Word and yet how horribly wrong he got it: hating and killing his very own brethren. And yet God’s grace met him on the road to Damascus, giving him sight by blinding and humbling Saul with the light of truth.
From that moment onwards the letter of the law became as nothing to Saul /Paul- and the living and active revelation of the Word of God through Christ Jesus: everything to Him. No longer did he use his own or other people’s interpretations or understanding to interpret the Word of God, but he waited upon the revelation of Jesus, through the Holy Ghost, at every turn to discern his path.
And in so doing He uncovered hidden treasure and manna all around him: called and chosen Sons of God. Men and women who in the past he would have judged and condemned as unrighteous and as deserving nothing other than the wrath of God, he sat down to break bread with. In Jesus breaking him open and filling him with the Holy Spirit, Paul became the bread of life to others, bringing man the Good News of salvation, as Jesus daily witnessed through him.
By the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit at work in Paul, God uncovered the seed of eternity in men. A seed He had planted inside of these men and women’s hearts to awaken them and bear fruit in them at the appointed time. And He continues to do this today, through the very much living witness of Jesus through Paul that is bound up and being unraveled in our Bibles daily, the world over.
Oh yes! The once self-righteous Paul BROKE the letter of the law daily to sit amongst “sinners” (just like him) that he might fulfill the Living Word of God in Christ Jesus. That through the power of the Holy Spirit, God might draw many unto glory through the witness of Jesus in and through Paul.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul daily died to himself, to his understanding and to his reputation as the “righteous one”. Paul openly and unashamedly declared himself as the very worst of sinners saved by grace alone that he might declare the righteousness of Christ, and the Good News of salvation and deliverance for all men and women the world over.
I believe that each time he took up his Cross, God was weaving a beautiful lattice, much like the lattice decoration found upon the pillars of the Temple built by Solomon to house the Presence of God. Lattice work that held the two rows of pomegranites. For, a lattice is a framework of crosses woven together to support the fruit of the vine, it is a window into the very heart of God.
And today too, I believe that every time we boast in our weakness and every time we confess our sinfulness and the deep abiding daily mercy of our God, our God is weaving a framework to support the harvest to come. He is giving those around us a window into His heart of love for them, which will reap the fruit of righteousness in His beautiful and appointed time. And hidden in that fruit of righteousness there will also be an abundance of seed for the sowing of future harvests (just as the abundance of seed found in the pomegranite – that just keeps on giving).
Did you know these pillars in the Temple Solomon built, that were decorated with little crosses holding the pomegranites, were given human names? They were called Joachim and Boaz. Joachim means “Yahweh establishes/prepares” or “raised by/offspring of Yahweh” and Boaz means “in him is strength”. Isn’t that just so beautiful?
Do you see how Jesus parents and strengthens us in His righteousness/justice, just as He did Saul/Paul? He blinds us with His light, exposing the darkness of sin in our own hearts, and then leads us by the hand into a newborn faith. A faith built solely and wholly upon the righteous works of Christ Jesus, as He prompts and persuades us daily to do His will: to love others, just as He loves us.
Beautifully, as He parents (raises) and strengthens us, He parents (raises) and strengthens others through us. As we sit and break bread with those who do not know our Jesus and His love for them, they will come to know the Father’s love through our witness to our Abba Father’s love for us. As Christ redeems and heals our past, through the Father’s love expressed at the Cross, He will redeem and heal others through us – as they too begin to recognize and receive the extravagance of God’s goodness to them. And their redemption and healing will in turn be used of God to take our own relationship with Him and our own healing and redemption ever deeper.
In persecuting and killing the least of these, Saul only followed in the footsteps of those before him. He did what he was taught and raised to do – by unrighteous man, enslaved to sin, fear and shame. But when Jesus got ahold of him that all changed.
Jesus took every letter of the law Saul ever digested and birthed it anew – to speak life (Jesus!), rather than death. Where Saul had once lived in fear of the wrath of God, he now daily tasted the compassion and mercy of his God, as he abided in Jesus and broke the religious rules and traditions of his time to fulfill the law of love. Interestingly, God refused to take away the thorn in Paul’s flesh – Paul’s greatest weakness. Why? I believe because God knew that this very weakness is what would keep Paul dependent upon Jesus and His righteousness and stop Paul from going back to striving to fulfill the law in his own strength and understanding (and harming himself and others in the process).
For it is our weakness that confronts us daily with our sinfulness, our human inability to fulfill the law and our daily need for the empowering grace of God. It’s then we lay down our will (fighting/fleeing) and our weapons (deceit and sin) for Christ’s will and weapons (love, truth and grace). And it is our weakness and dependance on God’s grace that fills us with compassion for those around us, who are hurting themselves and others (including us), as they respond to the triggers of pain and trauma screaming inside of them.
By His Spirit at work in us we do not see others’ sin when we look at them, but we learn to look for and find the heart of Jesus so very present in them. As the Holy Spirit lifts away their burden of sin (fighting/fleeing/pain) and uncovers the beauty of Christ’s workmanship in them and their lives (love, truth, grace) – He has us affirm His work in them.
In my case, He has even been doing this affirming by repeatedly leading ME to repentance before these seeking souls. The truth these seeking souls (that He is awaking) have spoken in my midst has deeply convicted my own heart, again and again leading me to a change of my mind, giving me new sight in Christ Jesus. My God has continually been lifting the burden of my own sin and self-righteousness, setting me free from so much through these called and chosen seekers around me. And in so doing He has only increased my trust and faith in Him and His every Promise to me – Promises that declare these seekers around me as His already!
Do you see how the Spirit of God uncovers the seed of eternity (Jesus) hidden in others’ hearts, by uncovering more and more of Himself in us. The hidden manna is revealing Himself daily – oh may He give us eyes to see Him and ears to hear Him and hands, arms and feet to receive Him. May our self-righteousness continually bow at the foot of the Cross. And may Christ’s righteousness – as expressed in His compassion (a joining with in suffering) and mercy – arise in its place, drawing us and many more through us into the waiting arms of Jesus and the incredible inheritance awaiting us in Him.