The Heart of God
Part 2 - Now Face to Face
by Carl Foltz, Jr.
(Dr. T. Peterson, Editor)
We don't intend this to be a comprehensive study of characters and events in the biblical text. This however captures a chronology and an essence of persons who, through time, encountered the Spirit of God and thus gained a relationship with Him. His presence then, as His presence in our lives now, leads to life choices through varied and unique life experiences. Knowing purpose in life is to know a fullness that is poetically captured in the prose presented here.
Did you arrive here without reading Part 1? If you wish to read Part 1 before Part 2, then click on: Knowing His Presence
Note: for readers who have yet to find a clear identification of the Jewish Messiah, or why we refer to Yeshua (i.e., Jesus) as Messiah, we encourage you to read Chapter 15 in Part III of the feature area called Creator's Window. This identification is clearly discerned from the Hebrew Scriptures.
Preparing The Way For Him
When time was right, Yochannan was sent to prepare the way. To turn the hearts of God's people back to Him... or at least, just enough to let them be aware Messiah would soon arrive, for He was coming. (Matthew 2:6)
''...for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel.''
God yearns for His people, those He promised and chose to be His people. He supplied a shepherd for His people. One to lead them to protection and provision to lead them to rest and reward. He doesnt let them wander in the dark.
Yochannan the Immerser taught all who would come to hear him... teaching them to repent of their sins, to change their mind. Without repenting, there is no way to have fellowship with God. The fact that they were sons of Israel did not remove the barrier between them and God. (Matthew 3:9)
''And do not think you can say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.''
He wouldnt let the leaders of Israel fool themselves into thinking that they were automatically all right with God. That their actions assured their acceptance by God. Their lineage as descendants of Abraham did not remove their need to be humble and obedient before God. God wanted people to have fellowship with Him. People who were obedient to Him. Not people who counted on their lineage, or on Gods relationship with an ancestor.
The Anointed One Appears to Men and Women in Their Day
When Yshua (yesh-shu-a) came and preached, He also taught those who listened to Him to repent, to change their minds. He spoke from the Heart of God (who better?). In the sermon on the mount, He revealed that heart.
Yochannan (i.e., John) exhorted the sons of Israel to repent of their sins and seek Gods forgiveness. Not to justify themselves with observances and rules. God was expressing His heart through this prophet. And he was uncompromising, just as God is uncompromising. Those who felt justified because of their position, were confronted with their pride and folly. John minced no words with them.
- He taught that God wants His people to be humble, to be broken of pride.
- He wants people to yearn for righteousness (wanting what is right and turning away from what is wrong) even as He yearns for righteousness in His creation.
- God is merciful, and He wants His people to be merciful.
Messiah came as part of Gods mercy... to give people better than what they deserve. He was looking for people who would have pure hearts, not hearts filled with evil or pride.
- He wants people who are seeking peace.
- People willing to give up their rights in order to resolve conflict.
- People seeking fellowship with one another.
- He wants people who know that God is their reward, and who dont count on getting their reward in this world. Such people will not be shaken when they dont get their reward in this place. For the world today rejects and persecutes those that cant be deceived or controlled.
John turned the countryside upside down. People came from miles around to hear this prophet, to turn their attention to God, and away from worldly rulers (both Jewish and Gentile). He prepared the way.
And Messiah came...
Yshua taught people to begin caring for others, to extend their selfish concern to include the well being of others, to love others as themselves.
He taught that hard hearts were as sinful as committing murder; causing others to commit adultery; and inciting rebellion and lawlessness. He taught that what is external is a reflection of what is internal.
Some Pharisees took exception to Yshuas disciples plucking kernels and eating on Shabbat (Matthew 12). They confronted Yshua and accused His disciples of doing unlawful work on Shabbat.
Yshua reminded them David had done things that were unlawful. He was fleeing for his life from Saul. In one of his evil fits, Saul had determined to kill David (Gods anointed). David was going to meet his men, but he had no provisions. He stopped at the place of the tabernacle, and asked the priest for provisions. The only thing the priest had was his portion of the consecrated bread. David asked if he could have that. The priest consented and gave David the breadenabling his escape from Saul. David threw himself on the mercy of God, trusting in His protection, as he had learned to do countless times. David chose to rely on God instead of evil men.
Yshua related this story to the Pharisees to make the point that those who knew the Heart of God could rely on His mercy. He reminded the Pharisees that every Shabbat, the priest did work by offering the sacrifices that God commanded. He reminded them of Hoseas words, ''I desire mercy, not sacrifice'' since they wanted to use the Law, and their interpretation of it to condemn Yshuas disciples.
Yshua then went into their synagogue where there was a man with a shriveled hand. The same Pharisees wanted to know if it was lawful to heal on Shabbat. They were self appointed lords of the Sabbath, and were accustomed to setting their own standardsas to what was acceptable and what was not.
They were so caught up in their own purposes that they couldnt even ask Yshua the right question. So He asked it for them:
''Is it lawful to do good on Shabbat?''
And He got real personal about it and put them on the spot. If they had one of their own sheep fall into a pit on Shabbat, wouldnt they get it out? And isnt a man more valuable than a sheep? He then answered His own question and declared the only answer:
''Therefore it is lawful to do good on Shabbat.''
So saying, He healed the man with the shriveled hand (the sheep).
The Pharisees didnt accept Yshuas instruction however. They knewbefore they even asked Him the questionthat He could heal the man. The fact that He had the authority to do wonderful thingsand they didnthad no bearing on their agenda. They tried to trap Him into breaking their interpretation of the Law. He wanted them to see it from Gods point of view. But they only went out offended, and plotted to kill Yshua. They were so concerned about observances, that they had no mercy (on the man with the shriveled hand).
Why Sit With Sinners?
While fellowshipping with Levi and his friends, Yshua was seen by some of the local religious leaders. The leaders asked Yshuas disciples:
''How is it that He drinks and eats with tax collectors and sinners?'' When Yshua heard it, He said to them, ''Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'' (Mark 2:16-17)
These tax collectors and sinners were still Gods creation. They were made in His image. If they didnt repent of their sin, they would be lost. A large part of Yshuas message, and Yochannans before Him, was to repent of sin, sin no more, and turn to God.
...know God, love God, trust God, obey God
God wanted people, starting with the sons of Israel, to be in fellowship with Him. Sin keeps people divided, separated from God, but it does not limit His desire for them. And desiring them, He did something about it. He had been doing something for thousands of years.
Yshua left the throne room of God, and came all the way to this dark, unloving, sin-ridden world to express the heart of God and to turn lost people to Him. He wasnt going to stop a few blocks short (of Levis house) and let a bunch of those people remain beyond His reach. Yshua went, just like the Word of God, to both places where He would be received, and places where He wouldnt be received. Earlier in the day, when Yshua passed by Levis tax office... to Levi He said simply, ''Follow me'' and Levi followed.
- Levi received
- His friends would receive
So Yshua went to Levis house where the Word of God would be received and many would turn to God. This was a big to-do. Levi and many of his friends were there, many of Yshuas disciples were there, and even a bunch of the leaders (who were just as lost as the tax collectors) showed up. Even if their pride and self importance kept them apart, they did show up. True to His analogy, the physician went where the sick people were. They were not going to be healed any other way. Gods heart was revealed in 2 sentences (see below). And it included everybody there.
Their Rules and Customs or His Teaching (God's Law)
When some other Pharisees and teachers came to Yshua and asked Him why His disciples broke their customs, He asked them why they broke Gods commands for the sake of their customs. Rather than personally seek God, and to come to know Him and obey Him, they had substituted systems of customs and rules (their own law), that they thought would satisfy the requirements of Gods Law (as given to Moses). But they didnt seek to know God. And their customs couldnt begin to substitute for the knowledge of Him, or even lead someone to the knowledge of Him. Yshua spoke the words of Isaiah (stated many hundreds of years earlier):
''These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.''
God created man to have fellowship. He wanted men to know Him and love Him. And He gave them every reason to love Him.
Then Yshua called a crowd of people to Him and spoke concerning some of the customs and traditions, for it is:
''Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of his mouth, this defiles a man.'' (Matthew 15:10)
This was regarding their observance of the dietary portions of the Law of Moses. Much custom and myth surrounded this portion of the Law. The observance of these rules and customs had become a religion. No one understood the principle behind Gods command and, consequentially, they were violating other parts of the Law. Their actions and deeds, violence and rebellion, disdain for the poor, the affectation of Greek and Roman values and customs, and the lack of mercy for their fellow manthese things, and moredefiled them in Gods sight.
And they were blinded to their own shortcomings by obsessing with observing manmade customs surrounding portions of the Law of Moses. They didnt know Gods heart, and they didnt pursue finding out. Yshuas teaching on this subject offended those who made a show of observing these customs to impress others. The religious leaders impressed others by visible signs and displays, but they were not teaching anyone about pleasing God, nor about drawing near to Him. They didnt know the Heart of God.
RepentanceFor Me, For You, Why?
In Matthew 18, Yshua reveals Gods passion for repentance, when He speaks the parable of the lost sheep:
''What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety nine on the hills and go to look for the one who has wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way, your Father in Heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.'' (Matthew 18:12-14)
The Father does not want anyone of His creations to perish. Especially those already of His flock, those who are obedient to Him. If one strays from obedience, He wants that one to be restored. God is the One capable of protecting those who stay obedient and pursuing those who wander away. He uses these earthly rescuers, His earthly shepherds, to bring the lost ones to His protection.
When an erring believer is restored to the Kingdom, He rejoices more over the restoration of the one found... more so is His joy than over those who did not wander away in the first place.
The one who came back is like a new believer, one who has come back from the dead. One who was on the road to destruction, but is now saved. Gods passion for repentance is clear, and understandable. His joyover one who leaves the way leading to destruction and turns to the way of lifeis revealed in this parable. His passion for repentance and restoration is shown. He does not reject the one who wanders off, but goes to restore that one. As Yshua (the shepherd) said, ''I will not forsake you or leave you.''
Finding What is LostEmbracing What is Regained
Look also at Yshuas parable of a woman who loses a piece of silver (Luke 15:8). She sweeps the house and searches diligently till she finds it. Then, she calls her neighbors together and says ''rejoice with me for I have found the piece that I had lost.'' Yshua then told the parable of the prodigal son who demanded his share of the inheritance from his father and left home to squander it. After living riotously and hitting rock bottom, he returned home to humble himself before his father. But his father rejoiced that his son had returned, as one returned from the dead. The Fathers joy over the return of the lost is great indeed. These parables give us a glimpse of His heart.
From Pride to Humility
God looks for humbleness of heart, one who is not mastered by pride. Pride makes a man unacceptable to God. Especially since pride is what lead to the first disobedience and fall of Adam. Pride is the enemys tool, his entry point for deceit. Yshua says:
''Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant
And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your servant.
Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life, a ransom for many.'' (Matthew 20: 26-28)
Just as God chose a shepherd boy to be His chosen king over the people of His covenant, He uses those who are not disqualified by pride. Yshua said it again:
''But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'' (Matthew 23: 11,12)
When Yshua spoke this, He was with His disciples in the temple, addressing the multitude there. HE directly confronted the religious leaders there of setting themselves up in Gods place. He accused them of shutting the Kingdom of Heaven up to the rest of the people. This was not a casual teaching.
He condemned the behavior of the leaders and contrasted their attitude with this central principle of Gods desire for man. They had picked out certain principles from the Law of Moses, such as giving of tithes, and made a show of following this principle to others. They were ostentatious in their dress, overdoing certain things mentioned by Moses (tassels, borders of their garments, phylacteries, etc.) to appear as if they were following Moses teachings very closely, and even doing more to be zealous. But they were only serving appearances.
Yshua reveals that there are weightier matters of the Law, and that these matters were not being addressed. Matters such as justice, mercy, and faith. These weightier matters did not appeal to the leaders because they did not give visual indication. In fact, they revealed heart attitudes which cost something to embrace. They were not natural to man and came only by letting God change the heart. By letting God change mens hearts to be more like Gods heart. Yshua called the leaders down for misleading the rest of the people in this way. He named them hypocrites, sons of snakes, whitewashed tombs, fools, and blind guides. Yshua was very candid and personal about it.
Yshua looked for, and found, people whose hearts were open to His teaching. People who were humble and not filled with self-importance. People who were teachable. And some who actually knew the heart of God.
In Mark 5, a woman with a condition that left her bleeding for 12 years, somehow knew that if she just touched Yshuas clothes as he taught among the people, she would be healed. She struggled through the crowd, for many thronged about Him to hear Him speak. She touched Him from behind, and immediately felt healed from her condition. Yshua didnt waste the moment, but asked, who in the crowd around Him had touched Him. His disciples were flabbergasted that He should ask who had touched Himbut He wanted the woman to publicly reveal her faith. She did so by fessing up that she had touched His clothes in order to receive healing. Yshua then proclaimed:
''Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'' (Mark 5:34)
As this was happening, He was already on His way at the request of an important man, a synagogue ruler, to help someone else. The ruler had humbled himself before Yshua and begged Him to come and heal his daughter (Mark 5: 22-23). The man, Jairus, had put aside his position, his importance, and even his reputation, and asked Yshua to heal her. To provide what he could not, Jairus relied on nothing but the Lord.
- This is where Gods people need to be
- This is where God can work
Both Jairus, and the woman who needed healing, laid aside all else, and put themselves at the mercy of the Living God. While Yshua was still speaking to the woman, people came from Jairus house and informed him that his daughter was dead, and that he shouldnt ''trouble'' the teacher any more. They knew that Jairus had gotten outside of his boundary as a synagogue leader, and wanted him to be able to get back inside.
To save face, especially now that his daughter was dead and there was no point. They thought that his position was more important than any need he might have. But Yshua knew his heart was right, and encouraged him to continue on... to just believe. Yshua allowed only His strongest, soundest disciples to go along. The ones that would later record the events in the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant).
Yshua took just Jairus and his wifeand the disciples with Himinto the room where the girls body lay. He commanded her to get up. She did, and was restored to her family. Those who humble themselves before God, who trust implicitly in Him, are His people. And it is His heart to give life to His people:
''That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days'' (Deuteronomy 30:20)
The Heart of God is reflected in the things that please Him. Those that please God have attitudes in their hearts that echo His.
In Mark 10, the people were bringing children to Yshua to have Him touch them. His disciples, being men of importance and great wisdom, rebuked these people... maybe something like:
''Hey lady keep that squalling brat away from Him. Take your ragamuffins and beat it! The teacher is much too busy to be bothered by the likes of these.''
After all, this was the one who healed people of blindness, paralysis, deafness and other physical afflictionsall these conditions were beyond the abilities of men to treat. After all, this was the:
- Lord of the Sabbath
- Man who had called forth the twelve and personally instructed them
- One who taught the mysteries of God
- The One who could calm storms and restrain the sea
- One who broke the power of demons and sent them pleading for their existence
- This was the one who could raise those who were dead
- One who fed thousands of people on just a few fish and loaves of bread
- One who could walk on water
This was the Messiah, Gods Anointed One. He had better things to do than to touch a bunch of dirty, smelly, leaky children. Well, maybe...
When Yshua saw what His disciples were doing, He was indignant. Oops! Messed up. Who wants to have the Meshiach (Messiah) upset at them?
''But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, ''Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.'' (Mark 10: 14-16)
Not only did Yshua want to touch these kids, He said that God Most High loved these kids just the way they were. He revealed the Heart of God, in that anyone who wanted to enter the Kingdom of God, to receive the favor of the Most High, had to receive Gods blessing just like a little child. To trust as a little child. To not be swayed by the worlds logic but to be completely given over to Lord of creation, to love Him unreservedly.
Later, when two of His disciples made requests to sit at His right and left sides when He came into His kingdom... He again revealed the Heart of God, by the shortcomings, the selfishness of the hearts of men.
''But Yshua called them to Him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.'' (Mark 10:42-45)
The way of the world is for people to be filled with self importance, and to act out of pride. Kings and rulers were important, and were expected to act that way. The needs of the self are more important than those of anybody else. But God doesnt want His people to be that way. Gods way is different from the way of the world.
Whoever is the leader, or the most important, should be the servant of all. Whoever is the leader should be the most humble.
Even Yshua the Messiah, Immanuel (that is, God with us), the King of kings, came into this world to serve, came into this world in the humblest way, came into this world to lay down His life for others. Yshua showed by His example this principle that is close to Gods heart.
God has more than fellowship in mind. He wants those, whom He made in His image, those whom He paid the greatest price for, those whom He set aside, to be sons.
''He who overcomes will inherit all this land and I will be his God, and he will be my SON.'' (Revelation 21:7)
Do you see a bit of yourself in the struggles that were encountered by those who lived long ago? To know the Heart of God might take a moment's reflection, for you, now, right now. To approach personal humility and admit to a short fall in life is worth your time, especially if it brings the Heart of God to your life. We encourage you to look at the section entitled ''Step Up To Life.'' Likewise, you may wish to read more articles in this feature area at Window View. This may further define a need to make such a personal reflection. To be aware that you have the option to 'step up' to a life where the Heart of God is ever present is simply our heart-felt challenge to you!
References of Interest