GNB 2.46

February 23, 2023


Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold; be the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. This gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations- and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24.12-14)


Yesterday, I reflected upon the power and will of God, because He is love, which transformed “nothing into something.” There are times in all our lives when we feel like nothing, when we feel nothing and when nothing seems to go right for us. Despite good intentions, in spite of the best intentions, failure seems to be the only outcome for those who dwell in the “land of nothing, nowhere, no way.” There was a place like that not far from where Jesus and the disciples had gathered that Monday evening of Passover week. It was called Akeldama, or “The Field of Blood.” If the disciples were troubled by the sight of the Gadarene demonic and the place in which he was “chained for life,” they would have been equally, if not more so, disturbed by Akeldama. It was a place most people avoided. It was an ancient cemetery filled with the remains and stories of those who were seen as “nothing.” In the days of early Israel, this was the place where babies and children were sacrificed to Molech. Yes, Israel had journeyed through a season of nothingness where human sacrifice to a foreign god was believed to be effective. It was a place where travelers to Jerusalem for business, pleasure or some high holy season who died while there were buried. They had no burial plan included in their travel itinerary. The Law required them to be buried within twenty-four hours of death. So, the caves and clefts in those rocks became their final resting place. It was where Judas of Kerioth took his own life when “the best laid plans of mice and men were soon put asunder.” His plan of action failed so miserably that he stepped beyond the “nothing” experience and into Gehenna. He went there to hang himself because he believed he was unworthy and devoid of all opportunity for repentance and forgiveness. I dare say, his act of grief was motivated by the very fact that he did not truly believe Jesus would be raised from the dead as the Christ of God. Having set his sights too low, he plunged down against the rocks and burst wide open. Yes, he couldn’t even kill himself effectively.

Gehenna. To some, the very place was seen as where the dead were tormented forever. They were caught in the fires of a furnace of death but could not be fully consumed. It was a place of spiritual agony and turmoil. There in the Valley of Hinnom where it met the Kidron Valley as it lay between Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives was what some would have called a “dump.” The refuse of life was thrown over the wall. Fires were set to burn the refuse. It was not a garden spot. It would not show up on anyone’s travelogue. Yet, it would seem that many might well choose it as their final resting place parenthetically than to repent and be redeemed. It was a place worse than nothing. It was a step in a hellish direction. When the apostle John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos in his last years of life, Jesus appeared to him in a vision. It was a “Revelation” of the days to come when the “end of the age” Jesus promised would be manifested. In that “Revelation,” Jesus gave a word to be shared by John to the seven churches under his charge in Asia Minor. Each church received an admonition with a promise concerning their choice to be faithful or unfaithful. To the church in Laodicea it was said by Christ, “I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you would choose to be one or the other. But, since you choose to be nothing but lukewarm I am about to spew you from My mouth like vomit!” Bland, dull, non-commital, milque toast, accommodating, tolerant, jellyfish are all terms we would rather be called to describe the nothing that may well identify our lack of determination to follow God’s word in order to live into the plan God has for our life. There is nothing complimentary about them but they would be preferred over “vomit.” I don’t know about you but after I vomit, I am drained and feel nothing but weak. Maybe that is the direction that Jesus was heading. Because of their lack of fealty to the gospel Jesus felt nothing but despair and virulent disgust. It troubled Him to the depth of His soul. For most middle eastern cultures, the gut was the symbol as the place for the soul. We know what happens when we get the “rock” feeling in our gut- we have to vomit it up and out. The after effect is a feeling of emptiness. Jesus was telling the church in Laodicea, as a warning to others, that such nothingness cannot be saved. So, before you are truly nothing be something. Be hot and on fire for the gospel. Be stone cold dead set against the gospel. Love God or love self. Don’t get caught in between and end up loving nothing at all. The dire consequence of that place is that you cannot know the love that could transform your nothing in God’s something.

And if God can turn our nothing into something, which I fear Judas Kerioth missed out on, imagine what He can do with our something that feels like nothing. The apostle Paul wrote “All things can work together for good to them who love God, to them who are accepting of His call to meaning and purpose.” (Romans 8.28) This is what I am speaking about. God’s plan is not thwarted despite the best intentions and vile directions of the enemy of both God and humanity. Only God can anticipate our every move and find a way for us to make it “to the House of the Lord forever.” Sin creates such detours in our lives. Grace creates breakthroughs and bypasses in our lives. And, as in the case of Ezekiel and Philip, transports them from one place to another. This is what the scripture means when Jesus said “What is impossible for man is possible for God. All things are possible for God to save us.” (Luke 18.27). Yes, not even the betrayals, denials and non-committal decisions of the disciples and the leaders of Israel could prevent God’s plan of salvation. In fact, God worked all of that together for our good. Our failures became His successes. Our tribulations became His victories. Our hopelessness became His opportunities. And as Jesus sat there on the Mount of Olives reflecting in the fading sunlight of a new day, He knew what was literally and parenthetically “just over the hill.” Before Him were the two symbols of our ultimate reality. In Jerusalem and the Temple was the glory of God reflected on earth as it was in Heaven. And in the fiery sky of sunset was the reflection of the fires of Hinnom, Gehenna, where the nothing of life burned “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” On the one hand, Heaven; on the other hand, Hell. There was no inbetween to be considered or even tolerated. A decision had to be made by us or a decision would be made for us. That is the truth which Jesus knew for Himself that night knowing what was just “over the hill.” Do we know that truth for ourselves, mighty ones of God and believers in Jesus as the Christ? Do we dare believe on our own terms to satisfy our own “spiritual” agenda for the world and mostly then for ourselves? Or shall we believe in the Word of God and be a part of His spiritual agenda for the world and for our lives? We must remember “God does not will [delight] in the death of anyone.” (Ezekiel 18.32). By that it is meant God does not ordain some to live and others to die. His will, desire and delight is that we would choose life and choose that life which is abundantly full, satisfying and good. He knows full well that sadly there will be those who choose the wrong hill to die on. Not without effort to persuade them to choose otherwise. That is our choice to make as well. Golgotha or Akeldana? Regardless, we cannot just sit on the Mount of Olives and wonder “what.” Jesus didn’t just sit there and contemplate what could have been and what could be. He choose to be obedient to God even to His own death so that we might have life and have it abundantly. Do you know someone who believes they are nothing who can still become the something God desires for them to be? He desires it so much that He sent His own Son to show us “the way, the truth and the life” which leads to “the House of the Lord forever.”


Father, we offer ourselves to You just as we are. Shape us, form us, prepare us and restore our purpose to serve You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Let us become leaders who point out the only way, truth and life which leads to the House of the Lord forever. Amen.

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