It is of interest to me, as I study the Bible, how God has revealed Himself to humanity. In the first 11 chapters of the Bible, we have an overview of God’s creative power and the development of nations. However, as you open chapter 12, you observe God revealing Himself to a man. Out of all the people groups at that time, God goes to the southern Euphrates river and finds a man called Abraham. Abraham was a Chaldean and a pagan. But the eternal Good reveals Himself to this man and tells him to leave the country he lives in, and travel to a country far away. From this man, Abraham, God says, “A nation will come from your loins and from that nation will come My Son. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham, and He confirms the promise He has made. Indeed, a nation does come from Abraham called the Jewish nation. One of those millions of Jewish people, who are slaves in Egypt is a man called Moses. God, through Moses reveals himself further. Moses was caring for sheep in the Arabian desert and sees a bush on fire, yet the bush was not consumed. Moses went out of his way to see this phenomenon and a voice comes out of the bush. “Remove your shoes, for the ground you stand on is holy”. God takes another step-in self-revelation, as he reveals Himself to Moses as JEHOVAH”. This is a unique name. God is basically telling Moses that He is a self-contained God. He needs no one nor any thing to maintain who He is. He later describes Himself, “I am that I am”.

Jesus comes as the ultimate revelation of who God is. In the incarnation is God Himself, clothed in human flesh, a God that can be touched and observed and is relational. For this, there is no match that can be compared to him.

However, there is one more man that God uses as He progressively reveals Himself to humanity. I became interested in his life as a man several years ago and began reading books on who this man was and how God used him. He is called “Saul of Tarsus’’ [Tarsus is his birthplace]. He later becomes known as “The Apostle Paul”. He is uniquely called by God to give interpretation to the teachings of Abraham, Moses and even Jesus Himself. He travels through the Roman empire and introduces “The Church” to a pagan Greek and Roman culture. He uniquely takes the teachings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus and gives us directions on how the Holy Spirit wants to bring us all into Abraham’s family through adoption and make us Sons of God. He wants us to accept Jesus, The Son of God, to be our personal Lord and Savior. As I have studied this man’s life, he has been lifted off the pages of his many letters, to become a friend of mine. He is intense. He is dedicated to his calling. He spends every ounce of his energy to fulfill his calling and to fulfill the charge that was given to him by Jesus Himself. But Paul is now in prison. He has refused to honor the Emperor as God. This gets Nero’s attention. [Nero was emperor of Rome] Nero has arrested Paul and Paul is at the end of his life in a Roman prison. Paul has a deep and loyal friend called Timothy. Paul has left Timothy in the city of Ephesus as a spiritual leader. Now, this man, so greatly used by God, needs the help of a friend. Listen to him as he asks Timothy for help. “The time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight and I have finished what God gave me to do. I know that there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me that I will receive from the righteous judge. Make every effort to come to me before winter. Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world. Only Luke is with me. When you come, bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and bring the books, especially the parchments…”.

This man has spent all his energy for the cause of Christ, and he is now asking his friend for help. There are several phrases that touch me. “Come before winter…”. I have carried those words with me for many years, but I have never preached on them. They are some of the final words of a man who needs help, now. “Come before winter! I need you right now Timothy. Others have left me here in prison and only Luke, the beloved physician is with me. Do not put it off Timothy! Come before Winter”! There are times we need help, regardless of how great we are. We need a friend. At times, life becomes more than we can bear alone. “Please Timothy, come before winter”! There are some things that cannot be put off. There is a sense of urgency, “come at once, winter is coming”.

What was it that Paul was asking Timothy to bring? Sometime previously, Paul had left a cloak and some books at a friend’s house whose name is Carpus. Carpus lived in Troas, an ancient city on the Aegean Sea coast. As Timothy “came before winter”, he was to stop at the house of Carpus and pick these things up.  I ask, “why the cloak”? This cloak had undoubtedly traveled far and seen much. It had been wet with the brine of the Mediterranean water. It was stained with blood from Paul’s previous beatings. The snows of the high Taurus mountain passes had fallen on it. It had been used as a covering on cold nights as he slept. “Bring my cloak”. Then, there were the books and the parchments he had left with Carpus. Books are heavy, and all of Paul’s travels were on foot over ancient caravan routes. But part of his cargo were his books and parchments. It tells me that right up to the end of this man’s life, he was a student and a scholar. He wanted Timothy to bring his books. Books become friends. Through books we meet people we would never otherwise meet. Through books we go places we would never be able to go. What books would you ask Timothy to bring to you? One man told me “all the books you have in your library are right here” as held up his cell phone. I do not doubt that to be true. However, there is a difference between having access to books, but it is another thing to have the material of the book buried into my inner being.

In my reverie I ask, “did you make it before winter Timothy? Did you get to Paul’s cell? Were you able to stop at Troas and pick up the cloak and the books”?

I like to think that he made it. I like to think Timothy, that you walked the final walk with him, as the executioner led him to the place of death. And then I ask, “who got the books, the parchments and the cloak”?

God has revealed Himself to us. He has used men like Abraham Moses and Paul and ultimately, His own Son Jesus Christ. The ultimate question is, “has he revealed Himself to you”? Paul used the words, “follow me as I follow Christ.”. Would you want anyone following you? In some cases, it is urgent. Paul was urgent. “Come before winter, do not put it off”. Some things must be done today, or they do not get done at all. Winter, the day after the final day is coming.

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