19 – Shoulders of Giants

“Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”
John of Salisbury, 1159 AD, Metalogicon

One constant in leadership and succession is respect for those who have held office before us. This applies to any position of employment and can help bring peace to a community dissatisfied with a leader of the past.

Revolutionaries, dictators, pharaohs, caesars, and emperors who despise previous establishments quickly sink in quagmires. While the past may be despicable, it was responsible for bringing you to where you are. Don’t despise it, just move forward and let history have its word in the annals.

The Fourth Commandment, to honor father and mother, includes so that your life may be long—respecting predecessors. David respected Saul. Jesus visited the temple and held a cordial courtesy even with the Pharisees. The Pilgrims and the Patriots of early America respected England in their ventures and separations. Look through history and you will find that fortune favors the respectful in many things, including where succession is concerned.

Leaders can be terrible at times. They will answer to God for bad stewardship, incompetence, and lack of love. But, they often accomplish things that the next generation can benefit from, if nothing other than rising stock value as the company gets back on track. Consider the departure of a bad CEO a fruitful investment opportunity; capitalize on his folly and let your thanks be your soft insult.

Bad parents are quite common, especially when absent or abusive. Learn what you can. Don’t excuse them, but don’t expect perfection from them either. Lowering your expectation of others does justice for you, them, and the entire situation. They get properly labeled, you release your burden of faulting another, and the future can open up.

If you have no objections to the past then you aren’t looking honestly enough. When you find fault, don’t let it consume you. Forgive and thank as needed, include them in the public memoirs, and then charge forward. Ancestors surely would have done more had they been so able and would salute our progress. The past was intended to be exceeded from the Beginning.

If you can look at your predecessors and find anything good to celebrate, your time at the helm will prosper and history will celebrate your voyage.

Exodus 20:12, 1 Samuel 24, 26, 31, Proverbs 22:28, Luke 2:41-52; 14:1-7

21 – Basic Definition of Justice

Justice is about balance. Essentially, that’s all justice is about. Justice also uses words like “fair” and “right”, but these also focus on principles of balance.

A “fair” price is equal in value to what is purchased. Looking at the supply chain, the manufacturer pays for raw materials at a “fair” price, essentially having gained or lost nothing. Then, the materials are refined and improved, then sold for a higher “fair” price since the goods’ value has increased. A trader may buy goods at a “fair” price, then go through the trouble of transporting them for the convenience of others until the end consumer pays the highest “fair” price, still having neither gained nor lost. For the consumer, the purchase is worth payment because the benefit of having the goods is more important than the equal value it was purchased for.

Business exchanges have justice, but so do all areas of life. It doesn’t matter specifically what is paid and purchased except that the values “weigh” or “balance” out to be the same.

When God commanded Israel “an eye for an eye”, He was not teaching Israel to be angry, venomous, bloodthirsty, and vindictive; He was teaching them the basic concept of balanced justice. At that time, Israel didn’t understand justice—at least not thoroughly as a complete society. Justice is not something that humanity instinctively understands—due to sin or what have you. Many people thirst for justice, but we don’t instinctively know how to balance justice.

Justice is an expertise. It is a skill, a philosophy, a science like any other study. Because of this, the first structure of government in any society is that of a judge. Judges are not bringers of wrath and harsh punishment on people who deserve whipping and beating. No! Judges understand and calculate from their wisdom to prescribe the “verdict”. By carefully “hearing”, a judge keeps justice balanced in a society so that the human instinct that cries for justice does not seek imbalanced justice through society at large, unguided and thus only creating more injustice than it solves.

Moses was Israel’s first judge. Even before kings, Israel had judges, a grace granting primal needs for justice.

Exodus 21:24-25, Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:20-21, Judges 2:16-19

23 – What Is ‘Righteousness’?

Righteousness is “right” doing, in other words doing the things that balance justice.

Since before the days of Noah, even before Enoch and Enosh, the concept of “righteousness” was that of balance. A “righteous” person was someone who used a balanced scale, who used the same measure for everyone including oneself.

More often in ancient times greed and dishonesty could easily be indicated by a merchant who carried two weights and two measuring sticks in his bag. When weighing for his own purchase, he would use the weight that would yield him more product; when weighing to sell, he would use the other weight that would sell less product for more money. The dishonest man would do this so he could dishonestly gain more wealth while appearing to buy and sell with equal standards of measure when he actually, secretly used two standards of measure—one for himself and one for everyone else. This is the meaning of the concept “double standard”.

Using a double standard is something that “righteous” people simply will not allow themselves to do. And, if they ever do, they deeply regret it, resent it, and take steps to prevent themselves from doing it again.

In the Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) and through the Old Testament, this was the initial and archetypal idea of a “righteous” person. The concept of “righteousness” is explained progressively through Scriptue, just as all virtues are explained in greater and greater detail as Bible history unfolds. All law, even sacrificial and priestly laws were built on the concept that they were “just” or “fair” or “righteous” or “balanced” in some way. By the New Testament times, ideas of other virtues are compounded with the idea of “righteousness”, so a “righteous” person also “does good and worthy, noble, and respectable things”. But, when reading about “righteousness” in the Bible, never forget the core, original meaning of “righteousness”. That underlying meaning of “honest and balanced measure” is the dominant idea and basis whenever the Bible mentions “justice” or “righteousness”.

“Righteousness” does not mean “sinlessly perfect”. Every sinner can be a “righteous” [yet also sinful] person—with the conscientious unction and lasting lifestyle habit of using standard measures.

Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 25:13-16, Proverbs 11:1,3; 20:23; 21:3, Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9

24 – Faith Is Righteous

When Abraham came along, God made a covenant with him that his descendants would be countless as the stars. God put His own name inside Abraham’s, changing it into Abraham from Abram. Abraham believed God’s promise, the covenant, and God “counted it as righteousness”.

Later, in the Prophets of the Old Testament and through the New Testament, came the theme The just shall live by faith. This was the idea that “faith in God” or “believing God” or “trusting God” is an act of “balanced righteousness”. Put more simply, “righteous people” will live lives of “trusting God”. Put in broader terms, “righteous people” are “godly people” because righteous people live with the belief that God is there, God is good, and God can and should be trusted.

In Heaven’s court—under God’s judgment—sinners become worthy to connect with God and have a happy afterlife simply by “faith” in God, namely Jesus.

The Bible’s idea of faith is that we trust God. In trusting that Jesus was who he claimed to be, we are adopted into his Eternity family and have a direct phone line to God. Believing our Creator and Redeemer is a fair, just, act of balanced righteousness.

During the medieval times of reformation, European and Roman Catholic theology held the idea that “righteousness” meant “sinlessness”. So, to them, the term “righteous sinner” seemed to be an oxymoron; it is not. “Righteousness” simply means “using standard measures”, which sinners like all of us can do. Righteousness and sin disagree, but a sinner can be considered “righteous” by using standard measures throughout one’s life. Still, that kind of “righteousness” does not forgive our sin.

Even with “fair, just” standards in our lives, our Eternal afterlife remains grim. Our own goodness can’t hold a candle to Eternity.

When Jesus died on the Cross, no one killed him; he sacrificed himself and it was according to animal sacrifice laws given to Moses. He was sinless—unlike the rest of us—so his self-human sacrifice was the last sacrifice ever needed.

Believing Jesus grants us Eternal adoption by God, even while remaining sinners in this lifetime—something we could not have before Jesus’ sacrifice at the Cross.

Genesis 15:6, Psalm 51, Habakkuk 2:4, John 3:16, Romans 1:17; 5:8, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38, I John 4:10

25 – Sin and Sacrificial Laws

The priests’ and animal sacrificing laws God gave to Moses, found in Exodus through Deuteronomy, point to Jesus’ death on the Cross. The purpose of all of the rituals and animal sacrifice schedules were simultaneously completed with Jesus’ trial, suffering, and crucifixion. Because it was completed, death lost its grip and Jesus rose from the dead. Now, Jesus offers resurrection to all of us.

The purpose of these laws were “spiritual”—that is that one would need to literally see angels and the spirits surrounding a human’s body in order for the laws to make plain sense. The presumption is that demons, angels, and disembodied evil spirits all exist.

Israel entered Canaan, the Promised Land, under Joshua’s leadership. The people who lived there were committing heinous acts of human sacrificing, along with other disgusting practices. These things gave power to demons over the land and invited evil spirits to rest on people, to influence their lusts, and derail their emotions. The laws of priests and sacrificing animals in a very specific manner temporarily broke off the power of these evil spiritual forces, keeping Israel free from demonic control until Jesus could complete the final sacrifice once and for all.

Sacrificial laws are gruesome, but more gruesome was the evil they defeated. Those laws were a gift to humanity. In the spiritual realm, as angels saw things, Mosaic sacrificing made perfect sense, making the world a better place.

The whole world had been shrouded in darkness concerning knowledge about God. Satan worship was alive and well. Empires taught that the Creator was evil and should be overthrown or else that an “upper class” should oppress and either literally or nearly enslave the masses. After Jesus’ time, governments in Europe exploited the Bible to achieve much of this anyway.

In this darkness, God would bring hope to all humanity. For reasons God only knows, Jesus would be a descendant of Abraham, live his life in that land Abraham did, and break evil’s grip on Earth. Israel needed to survive and prepare until the timing aligned. To do that, demons had to be held at bay. Moses’ sacrificial laws protected Israel and the world until Jesus finished everything.

Genesis 15:16, Deuteronomy 9:4-6, John 17:4; 19:30, Hebrews 10

30 – Eternal Book of Life

Bible study raises questions, as does any lifelong study. If “only Jesus saves” then what about “good people” who don’t believe Jesus? If “predestination” and “foreknowledge” are part of God’s plan, then do we even have a free will? These questions are normal, thoughtful, and good.

The Apostle John saw the Book of Life in his vision recorded in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. In John’s Gospel, John makes it clearer than any other New Testament writer that we receive Jesus and his Eternal Life merely by believing in him—all because Jesus did the rest of the work at the Cross. But, John never mentions “believing” in the Book of Revelation. That’s because Revelation addresses a different topic, not from any disagreement.

Revelation records what John saw, that’s all. Among the many things John saw, he saw the Book of Life. Based on Revelation, a “Biblical” theology tells us only a few things about the Book of Life: It was written before Earth was made, it belongs to Jesus (the Lamb of God who was slain for our sin), it has the final say at the Great Judgment at the very end of all things, and people who take the “mark” of the End Times’ Antichrist, hailing and worshiping him, do not have their names written in the Book of Life. That’s what we know.

The Book of Life offers clarity and still has mystery. Believing Jesus grants Life, power, happiness, and the Holy Spirit’s dwelling in our bodies in this lifetime. But, believing Jesus also includes resurrection from the dead and reigning with Jesus for one thousand years—after the Antichrist and before the Great Judgment.

It’s theoretically possible that “good people” who somehow didn’t believe in Jesus could be saved from the Lake of Fire at the Great Judgment, but the Bible is silent about that; we just don’t know. If so, however, it would be because of the Book of Life. Though mysterious as some things must always be, whatever the answer to questions about justice, Eternity, Fire, and the Great Judgment, the Book of Life will have answers and it will all make perfect sense.

John 20:30-31, Romans 8:29–30, Revelation 13:8; 20

33 – Rest & Sabbath

God commanded through Moses that we shall “remember” the Sabbath and keep it “holy” or “separate”.

God created the Sabbath day—Saturday, the seventh day of the week—as a day of rest. He Himself rested on this day after creating Earth. This set a precedent for Man, His Image, to rest.

Any day will do as long as you rest and remember God’s original Sabbath.

Rest is vital for any discipline. Proper rest is half of any training process. During times of rest, our bodies rebuild tired muscles—that’s when they actually become stronger.

Just as muscles need rest from exercise, our bodies need rest from labor and our minds need rest from work, especially creative arts and sciences. During rest, our bodies continue alternative forms of work and recovery, but something similar happens with our creative minds.

Our subconscious minds process our cognitive thoughts and deliver conclusions, but this happens only with things we aren’t actively thinking about. Time away from work leads to those “gut feelings” or “ahha!” moments where the solution to a problem suddenly snaps into mind. That’s because we never actually “stop thinking” about anything, we only “shift” between active and passive thinking—or conscious and subconscious thinking.

If you want inspiration, learn to shift your thoughts between active and passive. Prepare, understand, research, gather, toggle, get your bearings, and otherwise download as much data and experience into your active thinking while you work. Then, go play or think about something completely different. When you do, all that information will continue being processed elsewhere in your mind and whenever your mind finds a conclusion it will send you the results—just the results and only the results.

Nothing shifts thinking like a good, Biblical Sabbath day of rest. Any creative craftsman needs such a day. It’s not necessarily a day to roll around in bed all day, though that might not be a bad idea. The important part is to break your tiring daily routine. Whatever sums up the work of your week, take one day to rest from it and make sure you sleep well. A Biblical Sabbath makes the rest of your work ten times as effective.

Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 16:22-30; 20:8-11, Mark 2:27-28, Romans 14:5-6, Hebrews 4:9-11