Thursday, January 14, 2016

Like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar

“And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, LIKE THE LAND OF EGYPT AS YOU GO TOWARD ZOAR.  Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east” (Genesis 13:10-11 NKJV).

Though Scripture declares Lot righteous, he often made poor choices, choices based on natural sight (his own perspective) and deceptive light (eastward inclinations).  Abram and Lot were not nearly as far removed from “the garden of the Lord [Eden]” as we, and no doubt, the lore of its resplendent beauty still moved them.  When Lot “saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere,” he desired it.  The lust of the eye dictated adherence to beauty’s promise.  The phrase, “like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar” is an interesting phrase, and not something we today can wholly understand except that it reminded Lot of Eden and the paradisiacal pleasure it promised.

Let us discover what it means!  But in order to do so, we must first understand the meanings of two words in particular, “Egypt” and “Zoar.”

The word “Egypt” has a complex etymology and seems to break down to roughly this definition: “a place where the projection of an attribute of divinity [an aspect of God] manifested via the physical projection of the soul.”  As might be ascertained via this definition, a projection of soul is equated with an attribute of divinity; and herein lies an intractable problem—and consequently—the need for extraordinary deliverance.  The entrenched but false divinity of the human soul is not easily extracted.  And it is a condition that still plagues humankind today.  Symbolically, slavery in Egypt (which came much later than Lot’s time) continues as the human soul reigns supreme in the majority of people.  Television shows today glorifying “heroes” and “supermen” and those with “evolved powers” dominates the airwaves, but adhering to the idea of the evolution of man (an unfounded theory), rather than the devolution of man (an established fact), is the delusion of our time (and the continued chains of our enslavement).

The word “Zoar” means “smallness” or “little.”  It is a city situated at the southernmost extremity of the Dead Sea.  According to Alfred Jones, Zoar was formerly called “Bela” (see Genesis 14:2), but was renamed from “the circumstance of Lot supplicating that he might escape” there before God judged Sodom and Gomorrah.  Even in Lot’s appeal to the angels of destruction he speaks too much from his own perspective.  “See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live” (Genesis 19:20 NKJV).  Even to the end, many blindly kick against the goads of God’s ways and means of salvation.  Too many are enemies of the cross of Christ—God’s only method of saving and healing souls!  If only the Christian would lose his soul today (and then only temporarily and into the safekeeping of God’s hand) he’d have it back tomorrow (permanently preserved and healed of its Egyptian influence).  “Bela” means “devouring” or “swallowing down greedily to destruction,” but according to Lot, only a little bit.  Can greed, an inherently voracious concept, ever mean “only a little bit”?  And therein lies the deception—the deceitfulness of sin!  Additionally, the city of Bela, as it is located on the southern shore of the Dead Sea, is very provocative.  The shores of the Dead Sea are the lowest points on dry ground in all the earth, more than 400 meters below sea level.  It is fed exclusively and finally by the Jordan River.  The south, in Biblical symbolism, is primarily a negative symbol represented by the wilderness (where life does not prosper) and Egypt (which opposed God’s power and oppressed His people).

Putting it all together, we see that Lot—with pictures of Edenic paradise feeding his imagination—desired that which suggests the possibility of its realization.  He sees the well-watered plains of Jordan and is transported by the sight.  “Jordan” means “descending”—“to go down, to flow down.”  When parted by the Israelites after their Egyptian experience and then their wanderings in the intervening wilderness, it heaped all the way back to Adam (suggesting a healing back to our origin whenever we die to self in order to reach the Promised Land).  At the core of our persons is a dead sea of salt where nothing lives; no man can keep his own soul alive.  It is delusional to think otherwise. “All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul” (Psalm 22:29 KJV).  The well fed, as well as the starved, eventually die!  The land of Egypt—the realm of man projecting his soul as an attribute of divinity—as you go to Zoar—to smallness or to relative insignificance, to the “nth” degree, all the way down to the lowest point, to the fullest extent of a dying light, is delusional and unreasonable stubbornness.  But alas!  This is the experience of too many of us.

Now, before I tie up the loose ends of this writing, I must digress to contrast the righteousness of Lot with the righteousness of Abram/Abraham so as to capture the full meaning of what it means to think that Eden is “Like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.”

“If He [God] condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;  and if he rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Peter 2:4-10 NASB).

Though God declares for all time that Lot is righteous, he also calls Lot’s uncle Abraham righteous.  Both are saved; both are God’s people.  But there is a distinct difference between the two.  Whereas Lot was often carnal, choosing that which appealed most to his natural eye whenever occasion permitted, Abraham was more often spiritual, choosing rather a city made without human hands than a city made with human hands (however small that city might be).  Though both suffered the trials and tribulations inherent within the reality of all those who choose the way of righteousness, Lot suffered immeasurably more that Abraham because he travelled this narrow way closer to the edge of its outer extent whereas Abraham mostly travelled it right down the center.  God is often likened to a storm in scripture, and like a whirlwind more specifically.  Imagine God as a tornado, but a wide enough one to allow for a hurricane-like eye of the storm place in the center of that tornado.  That utterly still and peaceful place dead in the center of its raging is where Abraham mostly lived; Lot mostly lived at the fringe of that center and was therefore often clipped by the swirling cyclonic winds.  Sure, Abraham made an Ishmael—an external irritant—but Lot made two inbred and systemic problems—two internal irritants.  Why suffer more than you have to?  Scripture instructs us to “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32); but also, Scripture implies that we ought to remember righteous Lot!  It is of no small significance that immediately after Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife,” He says (in the very next verse), “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33).  The contextual backdrop of “the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30) is sinful man oblivious to judgment while living out the normal and everyday exigencies of life.  “They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, and they built” (Luke 17:27-28).

Oblivion to spiritual reality is pervasive, and when young and in the beginning days of our mortal existence upon this earth, perhaps understandable, but when age and circumstance mature, they are to enlighten us, not narrow us to oblivion.  As the great wisdom of Solomon put it, “I returned and saw under the sun that—the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.  For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 NKJV).  Matthew Henry, commenting on these verses said, “Men's success seldom equals their expectations. We must use means, but not trust to them: if we succeed, we must give God the praise; if crossed, we must submit to his will. Those who put off the great concerns of their souls, are caught in Satan's net, which he baits with some worldly object, for which they reject or neglect the gospel, and go on in sin till they suddenly fall into destruction.”  To be duped into following one’s uplifted soul inclination is something all of us experience; but to fight the ever present declination reality of gravity is utterly fruitless and ridiculous.  Time and chance are designed to bring us to the humility of our knees, not to rigid and unrepentant stubbornness.

The whole of truth leads down a narrow road through a narrower gate/door (Christ Jesus) out into the expansive, eternal and abundant life as doctrinally expressed in the New Testament; the whole of falsehood leads down into a dead sea of stagnant reality, to the narrowing down of one’s native life force (one’s soul) into oblivion.  The New Testament in His blood is based on better promises, not on promises made as payment for performance, but those based on faith in Jesus Christ’s already finished work.  The Apostle Paul quotes this—“Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him, but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness” (Habakkuk 2:4 AMPC)—to explain “The Gospel (good news) of Christ”; indeed, “It is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).  In Paul’s reiteration of Habakkuk’s revelation, he first says, “For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]” (Romans 1:17).  Eventually, Paul condemns those who don’t exercise faith in the only way out of their dying light, because as he put it, “God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.  For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them” (Romans 1:18-19).

Ultimately, to be mesmerized by the lesser light of soul (the Egyptian scope of reality), and even more so, in the lessening lesser light of soul (to the furthest extent of its downward and extinguishing reality terminating at Zoar), is to be fascinated by the lesser light of the cult of personality (soul) above the greater light of the Morning Star reality (Jesus Christ [God] in man [Immanuel]—or more specifically—God’s Spirit within the spirit of redeemed man).  As the Apostle Peter said, “You will do well to pay close attention to it [all prophecy of Scripture] as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19 AMPC).  In other words, stop looking to self and the beauty of your own understanding (soul functions) and start receiving the word implanted in your spirit instead.  The Seed must become a tree of righteousness, and only as the soul dies and falls out of the way can the redeemed spirit enlarge, displace and replace the soul’s force.  “So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness [the soul in its Egyptian bondage], and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.  But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]” (James 1:21-22 AMPC).