Chapter 24 Meanings
The king of the lowlands (Satan) promises Abigail there are a hundred paths leading out of the orchard. This illustrates the world’s belief that there are many paths to God or that all religions lead to God.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The Wind Touches Adam
When Adam had lost everything and was at the end of his rope, the wind touches him. He feels crushing guilt.
This represents the work of the Holy Spirit to convict unbelievers of sin (John 16:8).
Chapter 25 Meanings
The result of Adam’s crushing guilt is a compelling drive to go to the Ruler. This shows the difference between worldly regret and godly sorrow. Mere regret over sin leads to death, but godly sorrow leads to repentance, which drives us to God (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Another feature of his repentance was hatred for the orchard. To fear the Lord is to hate sin (Proverbs 8:13).
“In that moment, Adam knew there was only one hope for Abigail, and, for that matter, for himself. He must find the Ruler.”
True repentance forces a person to Christ because it becomes plain that the problem of sin is so massive, only God can solve it.
“When he saw the change in Abigail, something changed in him. Desperation? More than that. It was like the morning sun had broken the horizon on the world—the real world. Values came into focus. He was beginning to see what mattered … and what didn’t.”
The opening of Adam’s eyes to reality illustrates the enlightenment brought by the Holy Spirit when he draws a person to salvation (2 Corinthians 4:6).
The wind is at Adam’s back all the way to the banquet hall, showing that when a sinner comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit enables him to do so.
The Coming Destruction
Destruction is coming to the lowlands. This depicts the coming judgment on this world.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).
“When the Ruler comes in judgment, he will offer them amnesty. But all who are enslaved by Judas desires will reject it and will be destroyed.”
God offers all sinners amnesty (Revelation 22:17). But those who love the darkness will reject the offer (John 3:20).
“Then, a hunger pang. It was a strange sensation. A pure, wholesome desire—powerful, yet no threat to his self-control.”
This illustrates the fact that when our desires are good, we are free to indulge them without fear of losing control or overindulgence. There is no law prohibiting good things (Galatians 5:22-23). When our desire is for the Lord, there are no rules restricting our indulgence of that desire (Psalms 37:4). I depicted this in the story by the fact that the one and only law in the high country is that one must prefer the Ruler’s delicacies over the fruit.
Hodia And Tichi
The Hodia and Tichi characters are based on Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4. Both were godly women who had worked with Paul, but they had a conflict with one another that was so serious, Paul wrote about it in his letter and commissioned a third party to work it out.
In the story, the conflict begins with Hodia developing a self-righteous, judgmental attitude. When she begins to gossip about Abigail, it infects others in the church like a disease. This illustrates the infecting nature of gossip.
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8).
As the problem progresses, it can affect the whole church, so that everyone attacks one another.
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).
The Mutilated Bodies
It is in this chapter where the mystery of the mutilated bodies is explained.
“Levi, I saw your body in the lowlands. You looked like your heart had been ripped out. I know it was you.’
‘That’s the old me. When I went through the cottage, the old Levi died.’”
“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:5-6).
The Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
The spectacular appearance of the Ruler in this chapter is derived from Revelation 1.
“And among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:13-18).
The Ruler’s speech is a combination of Revelation 21:6, Psalms 2, Isaiah 40:11, and Matthew 11:28-30.
The Servant Ruler
“Isn’t it amazing? He’s the great Ruler of the kings of the earth, and yet he serves every week as our chef.”
Jesus taught that the greatest is the one who serves (Mark 9:35). This applies to Jesus as well.
“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).
“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Luke 12:37).
Chapter 24 Study Questions
| “You told me I could leave this place whenever I want. But I feel like a prisoner. Can you show me the way out?”
“Of course. There are a hundred different paths. And I will gladly point you to any or all of them.”
The most popular religion in our culture is the one that says all religions lead to God and all paths point to heaven. What does Scripture say? See John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13–14, and Matthew 7:21–23. Why is it impossible for any other religion to lead to heaven?
It’s impossible because there’s no other way to satisfy God’s justice. Jesus died for our sins. No one else did. Apart from Jesus, there is no sacrifice to cover our sin, which means we would have to pay for our own sins.
|You feel trapped because you’ve been trained to fear freedom. All those taboos and rigid traditions in the high country—it’s paralyzing.|
The world defines freedom in terms of breaking free from moral taboos. How does this compare to God’s definition of freedom? See 2 Peter 2:19; John 8:34; Romans 6:22.
The person who breaks “free” from moral taboos becomes enslaved to depravity. The only other option is to be freed from sin and become enslaved to God. There is no absolute freedom. Either we are free from sin and slaved to God, or we attempt to free ourselves from God’s law and become enslaved to sin.
|The wind gusted and a painful gnawing grew in his stomach. In the past, pangs of conscience struck only after bingeing on fruit. But why now? He had eaten no fruit today. Yet these guilt pangs pressed harder than ever before. He sensed they had nothing to do with any individual failure. It was something worse—something deeper, as if he were failing in his very purpose for existing.|
Which is more accurate:
- We are sinners because we sin.
- We sin because we are sinners.
See Romans 7:15-24; Mark 7:21-23.
Both are accurate. However the second one is a better description of our condition.
Chapter 25 Study Questions
True repentance not only turns from evil, but also hates it. See Amos 5:14-15. Why do you think the emotional element is so important to God? See James 4:4. What tends to prevent us from hating our sin? See Psalm 36:2.
If all God cared about were behavior, he could have simply created a race of robots. What he desires is our hearts. It’s like a marriage. If a wife tells her husband, “I will cook and clean for you, but my heart belongs to the guy next door,” that would not be acceptable to him. He wants her heart. If we stay in love with the world, our “good” deeds become meaningless.
Our inner lawyer constantly arguing in our own favor prevents us from making honest assessments of our own sin. Even when we admit committing the sin, we tend to excuse it because of the difficulties and exigent circumstances surrounding it.
How can one be freed from the bondage of his own will—when his own desires hold him in chains? See Romans 6:6-8; 8:13; Galatians 5:24-25.
First, he must be converted. It is only when a person is born again that he dies to his old life. After that, it is important to be continually reminded that we died to that old self.
Secondly, he must keep in step with the Holy Spirit. The more we respond to the Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis, the more we will desire righteousness and develop a distaste for sin.
What is our message to the world in light of the looming threat of judgment day? See Acts 17:30-31; Luke 3:9-16.
Repent! Now! Lest you end up in hell forever.
What does Scripture teach about the urgency of rescuing those who have wandered from the truth? See James 5:19-20; Jude 1:23.
The picture is of something that is moments away from being lost forever. And even if you somehow manage to pluck them from the flames, they have most likely already been deeply damaged, and you risk being damaged as well if you’re not careful.
Satan’s objective is to take you captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). What are some strategies he uses for that? See Acts 8:23 (the term for bitterness in this verse refers to the bitterness of envy); Colossians 2:8; Titus 3:3; 2 Peter 2:18.
Acts 8 – Envy. He diverts our attention from what we have been given to what others have been given.
Col.2 – Philosophy and human wisdom.
Titus 3:3 – Passions and pleasures.
God offers forgiveness to all (Revelation 22:17), but most will reject it. Why? See John 3:19-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.
Receiving forgiveness requires coming into the light, having one’s sins exposed, and forsaking those sins. They will not do this because they delight in their wickedness.
Can you think of an example of a time when God’s enlightening grace opened your eyes in a way that changed your values?
When I lost my job as a pastor and realized I would likely never be a pastor again, I felt worthless. I even wondered if God was going to take me home and began getting my affairs in order. I realized I felt this way because, without realizing it, I had come to believe only pastoral ministry was important.
God opened my eyes to truly appreciate the value of other kinds of ministries.
Can you think of a time when God granted you the ability to take delight in some element of his grace that you previously had little ability to appreciate?
For many years I never understood why Jesus’ intercession was a comfort. In fact, I didn’t understand the point of it at all. I wondered why it was necessary. If the Father and the Son will the same thing, and they are in perfect agreement, why would one have to plead with the other for anything?
One day God opened my eyes to see that the purpose of intercession, throughout Scripture, is to show how much God favors the one interceding. For example, when God said he would only bless Job’s friends if Job prayed for them, the point of that was to show how much God favored Job. God is eager to forgive us and bless us, but by saying, “I won’t do it except as a favor to my Son,” he glorifies the Son.
Sometimes it is necessary to talk about a person’s sins to a third party. Other times doing so is sinful gossip. Where do we draw the line? See James 4:11-12; 5:9; Matthew 18:15-16.
When it is essential for bringing the sinning person to repentance, we can bring others in to help. However, that must never happen prior to us confronting the person one-on-one. When we gossip, our attitude is usually against the person. When we do it the right way, we are for the person, and we are only saying what needs to be said for that person’s benefit. Our goal is restoration, not condemnation.
What effect does gossip tend to have on the community? See Proverbs 26:18-21.
It wreaks havoc, doing damage to all kinds of bystanders who may not even be involved in the dispute—like a mass shooting in a mall. And it throws gasoline on the fire of quarreling.
We often assume we can listen to gossip without letting it affect us. What does Scripture say? See Proverbs 26:22; Proverbs 22:24-25.
When someone speaks negatively about someone else, it does affect the listener. Even if you try to ignore it, the words sink down into your heart like food being metabolized into your body. Those words will impact the way you think about that person in the future.
Secondly, all negative character traits, especially hostile ones, tend to rub off on those around the person.
If a person gossips to you about someone else, what is your responsibility? See Proverbs 31:8–9.
It’s not enough to simply refuse to participate. Once we hear the gossip, we are obligated to speak up in the person’s defense.
We often evaluate a church service by how much we enjoyed it. Is there a better measure? See 1 Corinthians 5:4; Psalm 63:2–3.
A church can be measured by the degree to which the power of Christ is present in the gatherings and the degree to which his glory can be experienced.
Scripture presents God’s glory as both dangerous and desirable. In what sense is it dangerous? See Exodus 33:18-20.
One of the elements of God’s glory is his hatred of sin. The better someone is, the greater his aversion to evil. Since we are evil, his glory is a deadly threat to us if we are not protected from it.
We might be amazed by fireworks or special effects in a movie, but not in awe. How would you define true awe? And how important is it that we experience awe? See Hebrews 12:28.
Awe is one of those emotions I think I know what it is, but I find it difficult to define. You have to feel it for yourself. And when you do, you know it goes far deeper than mere amusement.
It carries an element of fear. But it’s a kind of fear we want to feel. In some contexts, we don’t like being belittled. But in other contexts, we pay money to go to places that make us feel small—the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Himalayas, a planetarium. We feel the need to be dwarfed by that which is awesome. Things that make us tremble with an inspiring kind of fear. It’s one of the God-given appetites of the soul.
The feeling we get in those places is a sampling of what it’s like to behold the awesome glory of God.
The description of the Ruler in this chapter is taken from the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13–17. All the imagery in that passage is symbolic. Make an effort to interpret the meaning of each symbol and make a list of characteristics of Jesus taught in this passage.
The robe and sash show his priestly role. Jesus is our great high priest who intercedes for us before the Father.
His white hair represents his wisdom as the Ancient of Days. He has observed and remembers everything that has ever happened, and fully understands it all.
His fiery eyes stand for his penetrating insight into every heart as the Judge of all mankind.
The molten bronze feet represent his dominant supremacy and his perfect holiness and purity. His feet crush all his enemies in perfect purity, staggering might, overwhelming glory, deadly holiness.
The roaring voice is his commanding, divine authority.
Holding the stars in his hands shows his omnipotent power and supremacy as he grips the universe and the spiritual powers in the heavens in his hand.
The sword from his mouth is his word, which levels anything that opposes it.
His shining face is divine glory.
A theology textbook will state the dry fact that God knows all things. But when the Bible describes God’s omniscience, it shows us what’s beautiful about it. What are some reasons God’s omniscience matters? See Psalm 139:1-4; John 21:17.
Scripture doesn’t speak of God’s omniscience as a bare theological fact. In Psalm 139, it’s not just that God knows everything, but he knows everything about me. He pays attention to my thoughts and my actions, which means he cares about them. He knows me deeply and thoroughly. Sometimes when you tell someone you love them, they don’t believe you—especially if your actions have hurt them. But we can do what Peter did. We can say, “You know all things. You know that I love you Lord.” We don’t have to prove anything to God because he knows our hearts.
Jesus told a parable about the messianic banquet in which the master dresses himself to serve and waits on his slaves (Luke 12:37). Why would the master wait on the slaves? See Acts 17:25; Psalm 50:9-15.
It’s important that we realize that, while there is a sense in which we serve God, we do not serve him to help him in any way. There is nothing we can give him that he didn’t first provide for us. He is utterly self-sufficient.
Scripture teaches that the entire law hangs from the command that we love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). In what sense does everything else in the Bible dangle from this one law?
Nothing in the Bible has meaning apart from the command to love God with all your being. And it is impossible to obey any command in the Bible while not loving God.
For example – the Golden Rule. If you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and you carry that out all day every day, but you do not love God with all your heart – you are not obeying the Golden Rule. Everything in the Bible depends on loving God.
What role does preferring God play in loving him? See Psalm 63:3.
Just as a wife can’t claim to love her husband is she prefers another man over him, so our love for God must be such that we can honestly say we prefer him above life itself (all the best life has to offer).
What role does enjoying God play in loving him? See Psalm 104:34.
It is when we rejoice in the Lord that we are pleasing to him. If a husband tells his wife, “I have no desire to be with you and I don’t enjoy it. But don’t worry—I’m committed to forcing myself to stay with you” she will not interpret that as love.
What is it that most threatens to spoil your enjoyment of God?
For me, it might be busyness. I can get so caught up with trying to be productive and getting things done—even things like Bible study, memorization, or fellowship—that I stop paying attention to God. I’m so busy about doing his work that I forget about him. And, like Martha, when that happens the work inevitable becomes burdensome.
Scripture calls us to simultaneously fear God’s anger and rejoice in him (Psalm 2:11-12). How do you reconcile the apparent contradiction?
I think the best earthly model we have for understanding this is the father-child relationship. In an ideal family, the children fear their father and at the same time long to be near him. Normally, when you fear someone, you want to flee from them. But when the relationship between a father and child is as it should be, that child trembles at a stern look from dad when he’s misbehaving. But later than night, he’s wrestling with dad on the floor and he’s never been happier.
When we raise our children, we should strive to create a relationship that is such that it makes sense to that child.
What does it mean when Scripture says God carries his lambs close to his heart? See Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28-29. How might you experience this is practical terms in your life?
It means God protects us and cares for us with tenderness and gentleness. When our strength or ability runs out, he takes over. The lambs walk when they can, but where it is too much for them, the shepherd carries them, and with great affection and warmth.
It times when following God’s way is too difficult, God provides spiritual strength, motivation, and security that encourages us and enables us to continue. There have been times when I felt overwhelmed, afraid, or depressed and I turned my attention to drawing near to God. I focused on several of his attributes and sought ways to experience them. When I did, I found strength, security, and joy.
The various responses to the Ruler’s greatness were expressed in physical ways. Make a list of as many different physical expressions you can find that Scripture calls for when we worship God. See Revelation 19:1–6; Psalm 47:1; 95:6; 134:2; 150:3; Mark 11:25; Luke 24:50; Ephesians 5:19. If worship takes place in the heart, why does Scripture place such emphasis on the physical responses and posture in worship?
Standing, bowing, kneeling, prostrate (on one’s face), clapping, shouting, singing, raising hands, and instrumental music.
God designed us as whole beings, with an incredibly deep and complex connection between soul and body. People cheer at ball games because physical celebration increases and fulfills the internal feelings. Physical expression between husband and wife enhances feelings of love. When we worship, our affections toward God are often weak. Physical expression can help strengthen them.