Homily for the fourth Sunday in Lent – For God so loved your soul

Updated: Mar 3



Last Sunday here at the bus stop I told the riders that I had seen all the readings with new eyes. I saw things appear from the text that I had not seen before. I said I was blown away by those revelations.


Today, I have to say the same thing … again.


Today’s reading from Numbers, about Moses making a bronze serpent and raising it on a pole, I had always read that and my mind went to the Caduceus or the Rod of Asclepius [the symbols for medicine and healing]. Just by thinking that, I guess I imagined some mystical power healed all the snake bit Israelites.


This week, I saw the truth change that imagery forever in my mind.


Just this past Sunday, when I watched the local Baptist minister preach on live stream YouTube, I heard him quote John 3:16 and clearly state that meant Jesus Christ. I remember as a child memorizing that verse:


“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” [I learned it as "everlasting life."]


This week, reading the text surrounding that verse, with it following Jesus saying, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life,” my new insights on that reading from Numbers made me see John 3:16 as Jesus really meant it to be heard.


It is not how the Baptist minister uses it in sermons; or any other denominations' ministers.


To tell the truth, I don’t recall ever putting much effort into the Ephesians reading or Psalm 107. Paul is so difficult to read – it is certainly not meant for casual viewing – I do not remember dissecting it like I did this past week. [I posted a 5,100+ commentary about it.]


As for Psalm 107, the verses we read [only about 21% of the whole] are as if David was doing a sermon [in song] of Numbers 21. I do not remember ever seeing that before.


All of this is beautiful to see. It does nothing to weaken what I have seen before, because it supports all I have seen, making that stronger. It is insights exposed that need to be shared. So, please let me share this with you.


I believe that being a priest of Yahweh means being a teacher … the root meaning of “rabbi.”


The meaning contained in Scripture is meant to be shared, but sharing meaning says the teacher has to know what the students … disciples … are wanting to know; and, that means a teacher has to somehow be taught the meaning first.


Being a priest of Yahweh means Yahweh is the teacher of meaning. Unfortunately, Yahweh does not work for any seminaries or theological schools, so Yahweh does not officially teach His priests there.


A priest of a seminary can become a priest of a Christian denomination, thereby being ‘legal tender’ for income tax breaks and special seating in churches and cathedrals; but unless such a college graduate has been taught the true, deeper meaning of Scripture by Yahweh … something seminaries and theological school do not do, because they cannot do it … that priest is nothing more than a hired hand. Hired by a church.


Churches are not like bus stops, because they have more than one bench. They want those seats filled by the same butts, week after week. The local transit authority isn't expecting more than a straggler or two to be at any one stop, at any one time. The bus runs are scheduled accordingly. So, churches don't look to lose paying customers by teaching them how not to come back.


I stand here at this public bus stop as a priest of Yahweh, with nothing in my wallet that identifies me as a priest of anything. I never anyone to believe in what I say, because everything I say comes from above. I never prepare words that make me seem like I paid well to be educated, so I can expect donations. Please, hold onto your bus tokens and ride cards.


This condition of being false shepherded is always something to be wary of. It existed when Yahweh sent His Son Jesus to be a teacher of truth. Jesus was a priest of Yahweh, without any credentials that said he was ‘legal tender’.


In the Gospel reading today, found in your cell phones, we hear those words of Jesus that preach, “For God so loved the world ….”


Raise your hand if you memorized that verse of Scripture as a child and still know it by heart.


<look for raised hands>


When I learned that verse of Scripture, I could not have told you who Nicodemus was. Raise your hand if you know who Nicodemus was.


<look for raised hands>


Nicodemus was, as John wrote in his Gospel, “a Pharisee” and “a leader of the Jews.” That means Nicodemus was a man who claimed to be a priest of Mosaic Law, which is akin to him being a graduate of some theological school for Jews, ‘legal tender’ to make a nice living off that title. It says he was even a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling counsel for all Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Galilee. One could say he held a position that was similar to an Episcopal bishop today.


Still, Nicodemus was not a priest of Yahweh.


Raise your hand if you knew that when Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,” he said that to Nicodemus.


<look for raised hands>


Jesus was teaching Nicodemus by saying that. A priest of Yahweh was teaching a man who had made himself rich from being able to call himself a ‘lawyer’ of Mosaic Law, yet Nicodemus did not understand Jesus when Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”


The problem with Judaism back then is the same problem Christianity has today, which is an inability to understand Scripture. That standard failure becomes personified in the character Nicodemus. Nicodemus becomes representative of the blind leading the blind, such that everyone is being led to a great pit in the ground, by way of numerous stumbling blocks.


All of that is metaphor for teachers of religious studies not being taught by Yahweh what their religious studies mean. The people seeking wisdom from Scripture are given nothing of value by teachers like Nicodemus. They get nothing, all while the leaders who call themselves teachers get rich; and, they stay rich by milking seekers for donations, knowing they will always pay more and more, to be told the same ole same ole … nothings.


I say all of this because I am a firm believer that we, individually, must always and foremost put ourselves into the scenes of all Scriptural readings, in order to know why we, individually, are reading those particular words we read, from Sunday to Sunday. Scripture must reflect upon us, individually. It is intended to be that way by God.


The tendency, as Christians, based on what false shepherds teach, is to see oneself as Jesus or some other hero of a Biblical story. At worst, we think we are fans in the stands, always rooting for Jesus and the good guys. We fail to gain from the readings each Sunday when we think in this way. We have to see ourselves as the villains or the bad guys; because, after all, we need to find God, which says we are lost, thus sinners.


Having a permanent place in a church pew is always an indication, "Here sits an unrepentant sinner."


So, today, as you sit here on the bus stop bench, I want you to think of yourself as Nicodemus. Wealthy in material possessions. Powerful as a leader of humanity; but piss poor as far as knowing squat about spiritual matters … ignorant in how to understand Scripture.


When you sit here thinking “I am a Nicodemus,” you can then think about the reading from Numbers 21 in that character. As one who knows nothing of spiritual matters, you become the soul of Nicodemus transported back in time, to when that soul walked behind Moses, near Mount Hor. The character Moses is now like the character Jesus, who Nicodemus followed at night. Night is a reflection of darkness, not led by the light of day.


This means you, as the soul of Nicodemus, are a leader of the Israelites who knows nothing of spiritual matters, so you gather all your pals and create a rebellion. You get some to go together and complain against God and against Moses.


Can you see this? It is important to be there as part of the story, for it to have importance to your soul.


Maybe it will help if you close your eyes and listen to me tell you the story of Numbers 21.


You, as the soul of Nicodemus, say, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?”


Can you hear yourself having such little knowledge of spiritual matters that you are asking, “What the hell is Lent anyway? You want me to give up something for forty days? I’ll die without that!”


Then, hear yourself say, “For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.”


This is the soul of a man who used to be rich from selling religion, as if knowing some Biblical verses makes him special. It is you saying, “I love my chocolate” and foods of decadence. It says you have no emotional connection to God … as “no water” … so you think being in the wilderness without that which you love is a waste of time.


Hear Jesus telling you, “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above,” and thinking those words are meaningless to your soul, because your body only knows your own kingdom [or queendom], where you get to have everything you desire.


See yourself being unable to imagine what the kingdom of heaven looks like. It just seems like a big question mark.


Now, hear yourself say to Moses, “I detest this miserable food.”


Here is where I saw something for the first time. What your soul just said was (in essence), “and I hate manna!”


Where reading the repetition of the word “food,” translated the second time as “we detest this miserable food,” the Hebrew actually states, “and our soul loathes,” with a comma then inserting pause, before then saying, “bread this worthless.” That revelation says the people were not complaining about physical food, but “bread for the soul,” which is manna.


With that revelation now passed onto you, you need to imagine you are the soul of Nicodemus, before his soul had that name, and hear him telling Moses [and thereby Yahweh], “I abhor having to figure out what Scripture means, because I am sick and tired of it always being Lent around here.”


Can you hear the soul of Nicodemus saying that?


<look for nodding heads>


Now, when I say we should always see ourselves reflected in the characters of Scripture that are the bad guys [not Jesus and the heroes], ask yourself now (silently), “When was the last time I went to a Bible Studies class?”


Without your needing to respond, I want you to see how the complaints of those souls, in the wilderness following Moses [and Yahweh], were souls that got tired of being taught by Yahweh how to be His priests.


Moses was not making manna and placing it all around, like some parent at the park placing food – candy eggs and chocolate bunnies – where children can easily find it, like many do these days at Easter. It was God sending the manna and it was God who told the Israelites (through Moses) it was mandatory to get some to digest daily (twice on Friday for rest on the Sabbath). God commanded, "Manna is spiritual food that must be consumed every day of the week, if your soul truly wants eternal life."


The word "manna" means, "What is it?" Scripture bringing about that same question, means it is food for a soul to share while alone with Yahweh.


Moses did not tell the Israelites, “This Sabbath I will be handing out spiritual food between 9:00 and 9:45 AM, before the church service begins at 10:30 AM.” So, spiritual food is neither optional nor clearly understood, quickly figured out.


For anyone who has not studied the books of the Holy Bible every day – just a day’s worth of insight taken in, not the whole Bible every day – those people become reflections of the soul of Nicodemus. They act all high and mighty because of religion only requiring them to say, "I believe in the Law." But, such a profession reveals they known nothing of spiritual matters.


Why?


Because they detest that food.


Can you see the tie-in there?


<look for nodding heads>


Okay, here’s another morsel to chew on, in the back of your mind. This tasty bit is relative to the bronze serpent.


The Numbers translation has us read of Yahweh telling Moses: “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole.” That is easy enough to comprehend. Our minds can then imagine Moses going and hammering on some bronze he had laying around, so it looked like a snake; and, he then twisted it around some long stick.


The problem is that is not what is written in the Hebrew. That text actually says, “Make you seraph,” where “seraph" is Hebrew for both “a fiery serpent” and “a six-winged angel.” As an angel, it represented an eternal entity, as one of the “seraphim,” which were “elohim” ["gods"].


That revelation becomes God telling Moses to make it appear as if his soul – a seraph – were impaled on a stake, dead to the world, but eternally alive because Moses was married to Yahweh.


To better understand this, when we read “ the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people,” the Hebrew actually repeats “serpents,” using words that say “serpents fiery serpents” – “nachash seraph.” The only way one can see Yahweh sending poisonous snakes into the wilderness is when God banished the “serpent” – also “nachash” – out of Eden, for having influenced Eve to sin.


This means the “serpent” was one of those descendants that got in the ears of some bodies of flesh following Moses and injected the poison of sinful thinking that told their souls, “Complain about everything in the wilderness, especially the manna.”


This means the bites that were killing the Israelites were less about their bodies dying from snake venom and more about their souls losing the promise of eternal life. Everlasting life was only possible by following the lead of Moses and studying a little Scripture every day.


Raise your hand if you can see that meaning.


<look for raised hands>


To see that makes it easier to see God telling Moses to make a likeness of a seraph – his souls depicted as an angel – and then nail it to a long pole that would be stuck in the ground, so all eyes would have to look upward and be reminded that not only were they out in the wilderness, separated from fancy foods and exotic drinks, but so too was Moses. Moses had sacrificed his mortal life to serve God, which meant impaling his soul on a stake for all to see said his soul was saved because Moses refused to be influenced by evil snakes in the grass.


The Nehushtan [what they call that] was iconic for everyone else who wanted to be like Moses.


This means, rather than seeing God giving Moses some mysterious healing ability by erecting a Rod of Asclepius, so curing physical snakebites so bodies would heal was not the purpose, Moses made an image that would become antivenom against a soul being poisoned by Satan. The Nehushtan was a reminder for all souls to stop wanting things that were only good until the death of a body forced them to be without; and, only the repentant could see that as divine salvation.


That realization then means one can understand why Jesus would say, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”


And, that brings up yet another insight that was revealed to me, which I will now pass along to you. It is relative to the “Son of Man.”


Not read today in the Gospel is verse 13, which says, “ No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” That is Jesus establishing a definition that explains the “Son of Man.”


This is Jesus saying that Adam was the “Son of man,” where “man” is not capitalized. It means one “of mankind,” “of the human race.” The capitalization of “Son” comes from realizing “one [who] has ascended into heaven” is the one made by the hand of God. Adam was “raised into heaven,” which was a garden called Eden.


This realization says that when Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,” he was giving Nicodemus a day’s worth of spiritual food. Adam is the only Son begotten by the Father.


As a learned man of school-taught intelligence [the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets], the brain of Nicodemus would have heard that AND understood the "Son of man" as having been Adam.


However, Jesus was teaching Nicodemus that Adam was sacrificed – banished out of heaven (“descended from heaven”) – so the world could gain knowledge of Yahweh, something the world of mankind did not know.


Adam became the first priest of Yahweh.


Can you see that?


<look for nodding heads>


Here is the kicker, which I had not realized before, even if I might had read this before somewhere in my Bible studies. It too comes from a realization of some of the Hebrew that comes from David’s Psalm 107.


Psalm 107 is purposefully selected verses that have David’s soul returning to be there with Moses, when he raised a pole with a seraph impaled upon it. In what was sung today, the translation from verses 20-21 is:


“He sent forth his word and healed them and saved them from the grave.”

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children.”


Where the translation says “wonders he does for his children,” the Hebrew says, “and his wonderful works of the sons of man.” This is then David’s God-led soul being with Moses and his having Yahweh reveal to him how those whose souls were saved by looking upon the seraph upon a pole, then becoming “sons of man” – “lebne adam” – each "ben adam."


In the same way that God had Moses save wayward souls – lost lambs – by giving them a reminder that your spiritual leader is a soul imprisoned within a mortal body of flesh, just like you, Moses became a priest of Yahweh by passing that truth onto others who likewise wanted to become priests of Yahweh. As "Sons of man" they were saved from death.


For Jesus to prophesy that he would be the same as had been Moses, says both were Sons of man, as priests of Yahweh whose souls were promised eternal life. Sons of man teach others to become like them, not simply tell them to believe they know God personally.


Jesus told that to Nicodemus, who was led by poisonous serpents that told him to get rich off foolish believers. Nicodemus knew religion was big business. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which meant he believed in Sheol, which is something like what the Roman Catholics call Purgatory. It is neither heaven nor hell. With a philosophy like that, only a fool would give up great wealth and follow some guy named Jesus.


Jesus ended up telling Nicodemus, “Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” Nicodemus was doing deeds in the name of Nicodemus and his pals in the Sanhedrin. Deeds done in God means raising one’s soul on a stake of sacrifice, having become totally submissive to the will of God.


That is the promise of hope for the promised land – heaven. That means God is merciful, just as He was when the lost souls following Moses in the wilderness admitted they had done bad deeds and wanted God to save them.


Paul wrote to the Ephesians, saying: “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.”


That, as is typical of Paul, is more than a mouthful of spiritual food. However, it says mortality is the reward of sins for a soul – reincarnation. Paul said, in a round about way, the ruler that breathes air is the body that rules the soul [“the spirit]. That becomes “those who are disobedient.”


The Greek written by Paul there actually says the “spirits of the sons of disobedience” or the souls of the sons of willful unbelief.”


The promise of death – reincarnation, back into who knows what future life on earth one's soul will start over as [a roll of the dice?] – comes from a lack of true faith.


The promise of eternal life – release from the prison the flesh becomes surrounding a soul – comes from the sacrifice of self, to follow a true priest of Yahweh into the wilderness and survive happily on the spiritual food that enhances true faith.


To look upon the soul of Jesus on a cross becomes the promise of hope to all Christians, who were dead through disobedience and lack of faith. That does not mean Jesus’ death will save anyone, just like Moses did not save any of the Israelites.


Paul was one saved. He used to go by Saul, but changed his name when he became saved. Paul became a Son of man, as Christ Jesus reborn into his flesh. Paul certainly was a priest of Yahweh.


Therefore, from that personal experience, having been there, done that, as a sinner transformed into a saint, Paul wrote to us today, saying:


“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”


It was not a gift of Jesus. It was a gift of God from having looked upon the soul of Jesus and believed in the power of God to save souls.


As the bus is due to arrive at any minute now, let me just say we are now twenty-six days into the period of sacrifice some religions call Lent. Self-sacrifice is not about giving up just a part of you to God, for just a brief period of time. Lent is about one’s soul being married to God for eternity, leaving all the whispers of snakes and false shepherds behind.


Lent is when you have realized you are a worthless Nicodemus, who complained against God, telling Him, “I hate learning what Scripture means!”


Lent is after one has come humbly back, begging God to forgive your worthless self and impale that you on a stake, for all your friends to look upon and be saved too.


Lent is about marriage to God, as that short time when your soul feels God sees you alone as the most important soul He ever created. Thus, Lent is your soul’s honeymoon with Yahweh.


Honeymoons are when future babies are made. Lent is about getting impregnated by the Holy Spirit, so within your flesh will be born Jesus. It is when one stops being an idiot like Nicodemus and hears the words Jesus spoke to him with understanding.


“Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”


Jesus will be born from above in your body of flesh, after opening your soul up to Yahweh. It is your soul’s honeymoon, when you are tested to completely let go of your past deeds in your name, for the promise of commitment to God, in the name of Jesus Christ.

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