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6.2 A God of Travail

6.2 A God of Travail
© 2016 Christ Revealed Bible Institute

A God of Travail
The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26b). The Spirit groans– a word whose meaning is found entirely inside the context of a woman screaming to give birth.

What is a God who groans in travail to be known? We certainly do not imagine that we have any kind of an answer for this question. But we do know this: without the right question, the right answer can never come. And we have the right question.

What is a God who groans in travail to be known?

The Invisible One Seen and Handled
By faith Moses … endured as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life … which was with the Father and was manifested to us (1 John 1:1-2).

How does a God who cannot be known become seen and touched? Because of our familiarity with Jesus, we imagine such a thing to be easily answered – “fully God and fully Man” – something God never actually says.

I like playing Angry Birds because I like blowing things up without anything but imaginary green pigs being hurt! Most people imagine the power of God to be similar, zap, bang, boom. Someone is missing a leg – zap, boom – a new leg appears! Dunamos (power) – Dynamite!

According to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead (Ephesians 1:19b-20a). God-power is something different from what humans think. God-power comes out of God-hope. God-power is Life-power, swallowing up death with Life.

A Precise Formula and Picture
How does an invisible God become seen and touched?

We are speaking of the most incredible power, a power immeasurably larger than the universe. And we find that Paul gives us a precise formula for how an invisible God becomes seen and touched and Moses gives us a precise picture of that same most incredible transformation.

The picture Moses gives us is the forming of the Mercy Seat, beaten with hammers out of a non-descript block of gold, and the formula Paul gives us is Philippians 2:5b-8a. We will look, first, at how most Bibles translate Paul’s words, knowing that they have forced their opposing definition of God upon the critical Greek word Paul invented.

Theological Non-Thinking
Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself.

Most of this is reasonably accurate to the Greek except for one line – “but made Himself of no reputation.” Theologians argue that this really means that “Jesus emptied Himself of God,” but since everyone imagines Jesus to be “God the Son,” they cannot say it that way, so they accepted “made Himself of no reputation.” Both interpretations are in a paradigm of thinking that is not.

The Crossbar of DNA
What we are looking at is also seen as the cross bar of DNA, that is, Paul is describing the connection of Jesus, first inside of Father, then, passing from Father to us, to be found as that same thing inside of us.

In order to describe this transition that is Jesus, Paul invented a word that had never existed before. That word is ekonosen; we must know what it means.


The Greek of Philippians 2:6-8
I want to write this same thing, now, inserting the primary Greek words into the flow of English. Feel free to look all this up:

Christ Jesus, who, hyparchon (continuously and always existing) in the morphe of God, thought being isa (equal in substance) with God not something harpagmon (to be continuously or actively held onto), the morphen (form) of a servant having labon (willingly and actively received), Himself ekenosen (action upon something else) and becoming (passively, by the doing, the faith, of others) the homoiōmati (likeness) of men and being found (passively, that is being found by others) in schēmati as a man, He humbled Himself.

The underlined words are form – ekonosen– appearance.

Paul Added Ek
The word that turns this passage with all these mysterious phrases from being the fodder of intellectual theological debate into the Travail and Revelation of God is ekenosen. We must know what it means. It does NOT mean “emptied.”

Kenoó: to empty; to be emptied, that is, to be without recognition, to be perceived as valueless, not to be noticed.

Do you see the problem here, the sleight of hand, the deception? Paul did not say kenoó, a common word; Paul said ek-kenoó, or in the aorist indicative active form – ekenosen. Paul added ek, OUT OF, to kenoó.

A Direct Action
Aorist indicative active tense means a direct action of the subject upon the object, an action that occurred in the past, but took place over a period of time (the entire life of Christ). Notice that the “Himself” of “Himself ekonosen,” occurs before the verb, whereas in “He humbled Himself,” the “Himself” occurs after the verb. Jesus performed the action of ekenosen upon someone else; whereas Jesus performed the action of “humbled” upon Himself.

We have determined that the “form of God” is formlessness, no boundaries in space, no confinement to time. It is God who is invisible; it is God who is not known.

Called Out Of
God is the One with no reputation; He is neither known nor valued by any part of His creation. Here is the response of the entire creation to this “God” who is not known or regarded: You talk to us, Moses, and we will hear you; but don’t let God talk to us, or we will die (Exodus 20:19 modified). Death means something to creation; God does not.

Here is what I am convinced Paul meant when he invented the word ekonosen. Jesus Himself CALLED an invisible and unknown God OUT into visibility, that God might be seen and touched. He who has seen Me has seen the Father.

Servant Comes First
One more thing before we lay out this travail of God from being unknown in Himself, to being known by Jesus. The Greek places ekonosen before Jesus’ receiving the form of a servant, but I placed receiving the form of a servant first. The verb tense for receiving is having (already) received, thus the servant form comes first.

Here is the layout of God’s travail, the cross bar of Jesus in the DNA of God. Jesus – IN God, first what God is in Himself, then, not staying there, not needing to hold onto that form, but rather, with all willingness Jesus takes on, actively receives to Himself, the form of a servant.

I Am Willing
The form of a servant – I am willing to be the becoming known of Father. Then, in this willingness to be the becoming known of Father, Jesus CALLS Forth an invisible God out of invisibility.  God who … calls those things that be not as though they are (Romans 4:17).

Then Jesus, receiving the active faith of others, Mary first, Let it be to me according to Your word, and then us, becomes the same as us. And thus God, now found in schēmati, in appearance, as a man, humbles Himself. That which … we have seen with our eyes … and our hands have handled.

Just As
Then, in the exact same way that Jesus called forth an invisible God out of invisibility and into the appearance of a Man, so this same Jesus now in us connects us to Father and Father to us in the exact same way. Let this same mind be in you (Philippians 2:5a).

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as (in the exact same way) We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (John 17:22-23). – For all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them (Hebrews 8:11b).

A Formless Chunk of Gold
Let's consider the Mercy Seat; the Mercy Seat was fashioned out of a single chunk of gold.  You can cast gold, of course, and that is how the original chunk of gold for the Mercy Seat was formed. But you do not make something enduring and beautiful with gold by casting it, but rather by beating it out from a formless glob until it takes shape and form and beauty. Let’s guess that the original orb of gold sufficient to be the Mercy Seat weighed about fifty pounds. That fifty pounds would be much smaller than you might think. It's just a block of gold, without form or beauty. It does not glitter.

Beaten and Beaten
Then the craftsmen use special little hammers to beat and beat upon that formless blob of gold. They beat it for weeks. Slowly the formless blob divides into two blobs connected by a thin piece. Then portions of those two blobs spread out thin all around. Finally, the two blobs are beaten, bit by bit, into the shapes of the cherubim, wings spread wide, looking down upon the shelf of gold in between them.
Thus the form of God, formlessness, no boundaries in space, no cessation in time, yet utterly invisible, takes its first form as God readies Himself to be seen and touched, the form of a Servant, the form of the Mercy Seat.

The Form of a Servant
Yet this form, the form of a Servant, is still 100% gold, 100% God the Father. You see, Jesus cannot be anything in Himself unless the Father is first that in Himself. Jesus cannot be a Servant unless the Father Himself, in the core and nature of His Being, is first a Servant.

But it is inside this quality of Servitude inside of Father that we first pass from God the Father to the Son of God and the Spirit of God. What is the Son of God? What is the Spirit of God?

A Framework of Word
We will not focus fully on those two questions until we come to the sessions on What Is a Sustaining Word? And What Is a Comforting Spirit? Yet in the next lesson in this session we will attempt to open to ourselves the appearance of God as Christ Jesus walking this earth anointed by the Holy Spirit. In this lesson on a God of Travail, I find that the Spirit has not led me into story, into the drama of childbirth, but rather, to lay out the framework of Word by which we know the truth.

There is one more significant reality, however, inside this framework of an invisible and unknown God becoming seen and touched; that reality is symmorphy.

God the Father, in His own Person without consideration of any others cannot be known, ever. The effort to make God “appear” is idolatry.

God the Father can be seen and known in only one way, and that is to inhabit another Person, to share the same form with other Persons. It is the other Person, then, who possesses the form, the outward appearance, that is God seen and touched.

And God inhabits these other Persons in an incredibly divine way – through symmorphy. We have a whole session, coming up soon, in which we hope to know – What is Symmorphy.

Next Lesson: 6.3 A God Made Visible