This is a question that Jesus Christ asked his disciples once as they sit and he had just told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Saducees. The disciples took the word ( leaven ) and assumed he was talking about something as simple as the bread they might eat because they had not eaten yet. You can read this account in ( Matthew 16 ).
I’d like to take this same account and build something that burns in my my heart and draws me to my knees. In doing this; let’s go all the way back to the tower of Babel. In a spiritual sense; it’s important that we understand something. The tower of Babel was an event that took place after the flood of Noah. We know that the Ark had only eight people on it. These eight people ( by faith ) entered that Ark and were saved from the destruction that was to come.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that all three sons of Noah were sold out to the will of God and, they taught their children these precepts as they began to replenish this earth with people. With that being said, we also know that out of the lineage of Shem came Abraham which was the father of the nation of Israel.
The tower of Babel was seeking to be built by the descendants of Ham. Nimrod was the son of Cush, he was to build the tower. You can study this out in ( Genesis 10-11 ).
My point in seeking to teach this is a spiritual one. Of the three sons of Noah, each having the very same opportunity upon this earth to seek and do God’s will; just how devoted were they to the will of God? What did they teach their children? Just how sincere were they about truly seeking God’s will for their lives and, the lives of their children?
We can even say that, although each of Noah’s sons were sinners and, even if they truly sought to teach their children in the ways of God, the possibility of the mindsets of people change as one generation gives way to another.
All through scripture we see this same picture as life unfolds. In the context of the verses we are looking at in ( Matthew 16 ); consider something. As Jesus sit and talked to his disciples, we see two other sets of people memtioned: ( Pharisees and Saducees ). Where do we see those people as it relates to any aspect of spiritual living before the birth of Jesus Christ? What do either of these two sects have to do with anything?
In ( Matthew 16 ) Jesus asked his disciples: who do men say that I am? His disciples began to tell him who men said he was. John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremias or one of the other prophets. In all of this and, we will look deeper into it, what is it that truly matters? The only thing; as far as one individual is concerned, that truly matters is ( what is your individual relationship with Jesus Christ?
Back in the generation of Noah, what do we see? We see men named Nimrod seeking to build ( a way ) to get to heaven apart from the truth of God the Father. Later on in the very Nation that God called out for his own, don’t we see the very same thing with the Pharisees and Sadducees? Aren’t they seeking to build a way to God rather than simply seeking truth. As a matter of fact, they denied Jesus Christ!
Even if we go back to the time before the flood, look at what we see:
( Genesis 6:5 )
AND GOD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT IN THE EARTH, AND THAT EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHT OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY.
Looking back one more step and, seeking to make the point that I’m trying to make; didn’t even Cain offer a sacrifice? The Bible says in:
( Genesis 4:3 )
AND IN THE PROCESS OF TIME IT CAME TO PASS, THAT CAIN BROUGHT OF THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND AN OFFERING UNTO THE LORD.
Couldn’t we say that ( as time processed ) that in the days just before the flood that men had also devised their own way of being religious? These people looked at Noah and his family as a deranged family; seeking rather to stick with their own man made way of worship. So, can we ask the question maybe from an aspect of Noah speaking? Who did men say that Noah was? ( Who do you say Noah was )? I say that Noah was a man that taught the very same type of grace that was seen in the blood sacrifice God offered for the sins of Adam and Eve!
That is the grace that Adam taught his children and they taught their children. However, as the years passed; many, basically all devised their own way of seeking to please God just as Cain did. As we look at the people all the way from Adam to Noah, even from Noah to Abraham and, from Abraham to Moses; it’s always the same. Every person that believed by faith, seen by faith the blood sacrifice that God himself did in the Garden of Eden. That truth was relayed by every generation.
Long before ( the law ) ever came into being. the questions were being asked, ( who do men say that I am ) ? And, ( who do you say that I am )? The gospel ( the good news ) that God offered his grace through shed blood was the messeage that was preached. That, not in a building by a particular man or person but, rather by those few people that actually believed that single thing by faith. Can you see how it was the responsibility of the head of each family to share that truth with his family? Can you see how it was still up to every individual to see that truth and build their lives around that truth?
The Bible actually make it this simple:
( John 1:17 )
FOR THE LAW WAS GIVEN BY MOSES, BUT GRACE AND TRUTH CAME BY JESUS CHRIST.
Since ( I believe ) that ( God was in Christ ) wasn’t it the same Christ that killed the animals, shed blood to make coats for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? ( Genesis 3:21 ) Wasn’t that the same Christ that met Abram in the body of Melchisedek? ( Genesis 14:17-24 ) If you remember; when Moses turned to see the burning bush and, God spoke to him. what did God say?
( Exodus 3:14 )
AND GOD SAID TO MOSES, I AM THAT I AM: AND HE SAID, THUS SHALT THOU SAY UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, I AM HATH SENT ME UNTO YOU.
Didn’t Jesus Christ use the same term here in this verse? Who do men say that ( I AM )? We often, even in our Churches seek to seperate Jesus Christ from God the Father indirectly. As a matter of fact; any time we seek to tie ( the law ) to salvation we seperate the two. It’s not that the law is not important because it’s very important. It shows us the we are sinners and, that we need Jesus Christ as our redeemer.
When the Apostle Peter answered Jesus and said this ( THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD )! He was acknowledging that Jesus was the same person that killed the animals in the Garden of Eden. He was the same person that met Abram in the body of Melchisedek. He was the same person that spoke to Moses at the burning bush.
As a matter of fact, he is the same person that spoke to Noah,; telling him to prepare an Ark, When all was finished with the Ark, he was the person that closed the door to the Ark. He was the person that spoke to Noah and gave instruction when the Ark had settled back to earth.
( Genesis 9:1-17 )
Instead of writing this whole segment; I’ll offer this one verse and, we’ll go back to a verse in ( Genesis 8 ).
( Verse 6 )
WHOSO SHEDDETH MAN’S BLOOD, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED: FOR IN THE IMAGE OF GOD MADE HE MAN.
Now, let’s look back at:
( Genesis 8:20-21 )
AND NOAH BUILDED AN ALTER UNTO THE LORD; AND TOOK OF EVERY CLEAN BEAST, AND EVERY CLEAN FOWL, AND OFFERED BURNT OFFERINGS ON THE ALTER. ( 21 ) AND THE LORD SMELLED A SWEET SAVOUR; AND THE LORD SAID IN HIS HEART, I WILL NOT AGAIN CURSE THE GROUND ANY MORE FOR MAN’S SAKE; FOR THE IMAGINATION OF MAN’S HEART IS EVIL FROM HIS YOUTH; NEITHER WILL I AGAIN SMITE ANY MORE EVERY THING LIVING AS I HAVE DONE.
There’s a lot to be seen here! However, I’d like to make one point and we’ll move on.
( Genesis 7:2 )
OF EVERY CLEAN BEAST THAU SHALT TAKE TO THEE BY SEVENS, THE MALE AND HIS FEMALE: AND OF BEASTS THAT ARE NOT CLEAN BY TWO, THE MALE AND HIS FEMALE.
We see that God had already, himself prepared for the ( burnt offering ) that Noah was to make. Noah, being a man of faith, built an alter to God, not because God commanded him to but, rather because it was his choice to do so. We see that ( the Lord smelled a sweet savour ) and ( said in his heart ). The actions of Noah moved God! I often make the point that God saved a part of everything living on the Ark. That included sin. We see that as we continue to read. Therefore, I wasn’t the absence of sin that was pleasing to God but, a willingness to acknowledge him by faith.
It’s not that God doesn’t desire us to live a life pleasing to him but, that we recognize our sinful conditions and, walk with him by faith. As we move foward from here we see the progressive sinfulness of man right in the family of Noah. The willingness to walk with God by faith is an individual choice. This choice is one that very few people ever come to realize.
In every family, before and after the flood we see the very same thing. Most of the people chose to follow the lust of the flesh, living to please their ownselves rather than seeking to walk with God the Father.
The Bible proves out that Jesus Christ, all the way back to Adam and Eve has always been in the mind and heart of God the Father. Look at this verse:
( Revelation 13:8 )
AND ALL THAT DWELL UPON THE EARTH SHALL WORSHIP HIM, WHOSE NAMES ARE NOT WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE OF THE LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.
In the mind and heart of God there has always been a place called Calvary that he, in the body of Jesus Christ would offer himself as the eternal sacrifice for the sins of this world. The blood he shed would cover the sins of all men all the way back to the sin of Adam and Eve. And, also to the very last man or woman that will ever be born.
What we often fail to realize is that the only difference is that the people in the Old Testamant looked foward to the Cross and the people in the New Testament look back to that same Cross, The Cross where Jesus Christ, God in a bady of flesh became the sin sacrifice for this world. Actually, we can see this in scripture. For instance: when the Old Testament saints died,; where did they go?
As we study through ( Hebrews ) we’ll get to this. However, the Bible says in:
( Hebrews 9:8 )
THE HOLY GHOST THIS SIGNIFYING, THAT THE WAY INTO THE HOLIEST OF ALL WAS NOT MADE MANIFEST, WHILE AS THE FIRST TABERNACLE WAS YET STANDING:
We’ll get to that later but, we see in this verse that what they were doing was not perfect but, jusy a picture of what was to come. So, what happened the very second that Jesus Christ gave up the ghost on his Cross?
( Matthew 27:51 )
AND, BEHOLD, THE VEIL OF THE TEMPLE WAS RENT IN TWAIN FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM; AND THE EARTH DID QUAKE, AND THE ROCKS RENT; ( 52 ) AND THE GRAVES WERE OPENED, AND MANY BODIES OF THE SAINTS THAT SLEPT AROSE, ( 53 ) AND CAME OUT OF THE GRAVES AFTER THE RESURRECTION, AND WENT INTO THE HOLY CITY, AND APPEARED UNTO MANY.
Now, let’s take this another step:
( Ephesians 4:8-10 )
WHEREFORE HE SAITH, WHEN HE ASCENDED UP ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE AND GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN. ( 9 ) ( NOW THAT HE ASCENDED, WHAT IS IT BUT THAT HE ALSO DESCENDED FIRST INTO THE LOWER PARTS OF THE EARTH? ( 10 ) HE THAT DESCENDED IS THE SAME ALSO THAT ASCENDED UP FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS. )
Again, there’s a lot to teach here however, God the Father has been building his kingdom for the body of Jesus Christ from the beginning of thr world. ( The problem ) only a few people see that by faith. As you go back through the OldTestament, we see many people but, few that actually walk with God by faith.
Now, God the Father didn’t have to allow these people to be seen did he? He did that for the benefit of those that were in doubt! Also, to inspire those that believed. I’m simply making the point that those Old Testament saints we not able to go in the presence of God the Father until the perfect sacrifice was made and that, in the body of Jesus Christ. Those Oldtestament saints were waiting for that time.
To bring the title back into focus: ( WHO DO MEN SAY THAT I, THE SON OF MAN AM? ) AND, ( ( WHO DO YOU SAY, I THE SON OF MAN AM? ) Just as those Old Testament saints were waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ, so are we today! We have Churches that are filled with people but, how many truly know him for who he Is?
So, what has happened over the years? It’s exactly like it was before the flood and, between that Ark returning to earth after the flood , even after the law. Men wandered away from the true and living God, they devised a way that they could worship. They made ( the creature more important than the creator ) ( Romans 1:25 ).
Its been this way from the beginning and, nothing has changed. We like to say we go to Church to worship but, who are we worshipping? When Adam and Eve sinned and God shed blood for their covering, those two people truly knew what had been done for them. They knew the sacrifice, the grace of God. Eve longed for a son that would continue to teach that same power!
Although we go through a motion, even naming the name of Jesus Christ; most people, members of Churches have little to no true passion for the ( grace of God ). That fact shows through the lives they live every day. Most Church members are tightly woven into the fabric of the things of this world.
Remember the tower of Babel? Nimrod, seeking to build a way to heaven? Now, we can say that those people had a mindset for God; why? Because they were seeking heaven! However, do you think they were sharing what had transpired in the Garden of Eden between God the Father, Adam and Eve? No, it had nothing to do with grace!
Now, let’s put this in an average Church setting. What is the Church building? Consider the members. Do they invite you to come to their Church, to join their Church or, do they sit down with you and, share Jesus Christ and his saving grace?
Adam and Eve were facing death; what does that mean? They had broken God’s law and were facing an eternity in hell which is ( death defined ). When is the last time a Church member came to your house or, met you on the street, maybe in a cafe, looked in your eyes and said this; friend, just like you are ( hell will be your home ) you are a hell deserving sinner! You must be born again! When is the last time you heard your pastor even say this?
We build up our Churches, the places we love; we even do it in the name of Jesus Christ but, we deny the power thereof! Have you ever considered why? The reason is that most members are just like the people building the ( Tower of Babel ). They know something needs to be done but, refuse to change anything about themselves to bring those changes to pass.
In reality, it goes back to the simple statement Jesus Christ asked his disciples. ( who do men say that I am )? ( Who do you say that I am )? When we get away from the roles we play in Church, forget what our Church might ask us to do and; look at ourselves, answering that question with our own hearts; who is Jesus Christ to you? Forgetting the message you pastor preaches, the fact you were baptized, the fact you joined Church, does Jesus Christ truly live within your heart?
These questions are paramount to your own personal salvation and, your relationship, not with a Church but, with Jesus Christ himself! From the time of Adam and Eve to the first destruction of this earth; only eight people ( believed ). From the giving of the law to Moses to the birth of Jesus Christ, the Pharisees and Saducees ( built ) different religions in the name of God the Father.
On the day of Pentecost; 120 believers were filled with the spirit and that number grew; fighting the religions of that time tooth and nail. Now, some two thousand years later, how many people are truly born again, washed in the blood of jesus Christ?
Can you see the same picture happening time and time again? Are you caught up in that evil deceit? Who do you say ( the Son of Man ) is? Are you truly born again or are you just a member of a local Church?
2 Timothy 1:7