Photo credit to Julenine Rijon Balinas Llacuna.
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:15,16
Jesus takes up the honor challenge He has been led to by the Spirit. He upholds His Father’s honor before Satan in the wilderness. The angels minister to Him. He went into Galilee and leaves Nazareth, His home town and walks to Capernaum by the sea to live. In Capernaum, He settles in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. But that’s not coincidental. He moves here and settles here for a purpose. What was that purpose? Because He knew that Capernaum, precisely that territory in Capernaum, was where God wanted Him to be.
How do I know that and how did He know that? Oh, you say, “Jesus is God. He had inside knowledge.” Well, I do believe that Scripture tells us that Jesus was fully God and fully man. I also believe that He had “inside knowledge.” But I also firmly believe that what He showed us as man, was how to rely on the word of God to give us knowledge not only of how to make life choices guided by the Spirit, but to know the heart of God by actually coming to know Him.
Jesus was living out everything that was on the heart of God by living out what was in His Word. He could go back to Isaiah (Isaiah 9:1,2) and recall these words that Matthew recalls. “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shown.” Jesus knew that living out the will of God was His purpose. And it mattered where He lived because God had already established it.
Why did it matter where Jesus lived? Why would Jesus have to stick to God’s word? He had to in order to be the True Example, the True One that God had given us. Because if He chose not to live in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, then this would not be true of Him: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6,7) It mattered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. And it mattered that Jesus chose to live in Galilee of the Gentiles.
Sometimes Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit. There’s no prophetic directions. The Spirit leads and He follows. But at those times, His response in the middle of those circumstances always follows the character of His heavenly Father and always agrees with His Word. And other times, there are direct directions that He follows that come straight from the Word of God. It’s the same for us. But how do I get there?
“The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” What if that is just as true for Jesus as it needs to be for me? What if it was His zeal for the Father that compelled Him over everything else to obey and follow His will, His Word, His Spirit? What if my life ought to be filled and guided by that same zeal for the LORD of hosts, for my Wonderful Counselor, for my Mighty God, for my Everlasting Father, for my Prince of Peace? What if I was that zealous for Him that I would want to walk in the footsteps of His Word and the leading of His Spirit?
If I was zealous about that, like that, I wonder if the people who were dwelling in the darkness of never experiencing that wonderful zeal would have an opportunity to see His light shining through me? I wonder if they might get a little glimpse that would draw them to want to see more of Him? I wonder if my zealousness over living out God’s Word and honoring Him by allowing Him to bring it to pass in my life would affirm Him before those who are living in the shadow of death without Him? I wonder if my zealous love and honor of God Himself would make a difference in others? Would lights dawn all around me because they would see the truth of God through the truth of His Word?
The honor of God is at stake here. Either Jesus fills the prophetic ticket or He doesn’t. But He did. But prophecy is just the Word of God. It’s Him speaking before a thing has happened because He knows what is to happen. And maybe I ought to look at all Scripture in that sense, just as Jesus did. It’s all uttered by God for our benefit and for our direction in fulfilling our purpose of honoring Him. Am I zealous about knowing Him by knowing His Word? Just like the prophets, just like Jesus, and Peter, and Paul, and everyone since, God is offering us supernatural instruction. He may not be giving me the specifics of where to live or who to marry, but if I know His Word, I can know His heart about those things, and I can know how to follow the leading of the Spirit and the leading of Jesus by His Word. After all, Jesus is the Word, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We’ve seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…” And He has made the Father known to us. He has shown us what it looks like to walk in the will of God, to know God, and to honor Him. He has shown us intimacy.
Is true intimacy with God what I am really searching for? Well then, what does my zealousness look like? Am I zealous for what He is zealous over? Do I care about His words, every one of them, like Jesus did? Do I care about His honor? Do I listen to Him? Do I take joy in listening? Do I take joy in stepping forward according to what I read and hear? Would I follow His Spirit wherever He leads me no matter what situation He takes me into? Would my heart and actions stay rivetted to upholding Him?
Words matter and what we do with them matters. John the Baptist told two of his disciples as he pointed to Jesus walking by, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” He was upholding the honor of God’s Word. What would those two do with those words from God’s Word? Would they uphold God’s honor and live in them or would they retain them as knowledge alone? What did they do? “The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” And it gets even better. I mean, how zealous were they really about this truth? “Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, ‘What are you seeking?'” Jesus is asking each of us that same question. Will I answer like these two? “And they said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?'” “We want to know You intimately. We want to stay where You stay. We want to walk where You walk. We want to live how You live. We want to really KNOW You.” (Those are my thoughts on the deeper thoughts of what their response really meant.) And do you know what Jesus’ answer to that kind of zealousness was? “Come and you will see.” (Which means so much.) “Come and you will know.” “Come and you will understand.” But the whole point is, I must take the actions of coming in order to know. Knowledge is experience, not just retention. Am I experiencing the Word of God in my life? “Behold, the Lamb of God!” How am I responding?