Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #249 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2nd Corinthians 12 today and our focus is on What is Paradise? Where is Paradise? What is the Third Heaven Paul Was Caught Up To? + The Power of Weakness. . We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Today we are talking about the ultimate paradox of the Christian life: The power of weakness – which seems like a self-contradictory statement, if there ever was one. I have a love-hate relationship with today’s chapter. I initially hated it, but have grown to grudgingly love it, and maybe, hopefully, I am losing the grudging part. You see, to be completely honest, I don’t like the dynamic here. I know it is true, but I struggle with it. I want to be the strong one – weakness doesn’t appeal to me in the least, but the fact is that Paul says this:
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Wow. Three huge truths we see here:
- The power of God is perfected in our weakness.
- When we walk in human weakness – not seeking to overcome by the flesh/human power, then Christ’s power resides in us in a greater way.
- When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the Lord.
How important is this message of weakness=the power of Christ? Well…God allowed a messenger of SATAN to TORMENT Paul. Why? So that he would not be prideful. Think about the ramifications to this. Think about this question: Which is more dangerous to you:
- A TORMENTING and TORTURING Messenger of Satan that you are powerless to fight against, and God won’t protect you from.
– OR –
- Your own Pride….
I’ll bet most would choose the messenger of Satan as the most dangerous, but, in fact, Pride is EVEN MORE DANGEROUS. How can this be? Because HUMILITY is SUCH A TREASURE and PRIDE IS SUCH A DANGER. Pride goes before failure and destruction: Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a person’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. Humility leads to answered prayers: Daniel 10: 12 “Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard.
AND Being Lifted up by God.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
If we walk in pride, God will bring us to ruin, if we walk in humility, God will hear our prayers, bless our lives and exalt us and lift us up.
Psalm 37:11 But the humble will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity. AND Isaiah 29:19 The humble will have joy after joy in the Lord,
The power of weakness is the power of humility and the power of walking by faith in God and not by our own power and strength. Remember the Word of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah:
This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.7″But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-7
May the Lord be our strength!
Next topic: What is Paradise? If you recall, Jesus told the thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in Paradise.” What is Paradise? A Catholic might think it another word for purgatory, but I don’t find the word or the concept of purgatory in the Bible. We do find Paradise in the Bible, however. The word itself seems to be borrowed from the Persians, where it meant, “among the Persians a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting ground, park, shady and well watered, in which wild animals, were kept for the hunt; it was enclosed by walls and furnished with towers for the hunters – a garden, or pleasure park.” That tells us a little but, but how is the word Paradise used in the Bible? Interestingly, it is used in a way that CLEARLY tells us what Paradise is. In our chapter today, Paul appears to be coyly talking about himself in the third person and says:
2 I know a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. 3 I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I don’t know; God knows— 4 was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a human being is not allowed to speak. 5 I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses. 2nd Corinthians 12:2-5
I love passages like this, because Paul uses TWO different words to describe ONE concept – Paradise and “Third Heaven.” What is Third Heaven? In first century Jewish understanding, the sky/atmosphere was the first heaven, what we call outer space was second heaven, and what we think of as Heaven – God’s Kingdom and abode – was the third Heaven. One more clue is found in Revelation 2:7, “7 “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” So – Paradise/the Third Heaven – is a Heavenly place that Paul visits, that the thief on the cross would go to immediately after his death, and that the tree of life grows in. And where is the Tree of Life now? Revelation 22 tells us:
Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, 3 and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5
In fact, Revelation 22 mentions the tree of life 3 times as being in the New Heavens and the New Earth, so I conclude from this that Paradise = the New Heavens and the New Earth and the New Jerusalem, which Christians consider to be Heaven, and not some mysterious other purgatory like place.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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