Head Over Heels

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)

I recently read a statement that got me to thinking about heels. So I decided to look through the Bible and see if there might be something compelling to be found by researching the various times heels might be mentioned in the Word. What I am finding is more than compelling, it is very revealing as well. And what I am seeing is more than just fascinating information but I am sensing truths here about how God wants to really connect with me much deeper at the heart level.

First I want to take a look at one of the few references to heels in the Scriptures in the book of Job. This book can be very tricky to navigate if one is not aware that much of the book of Job are thoughts from his friends which are highly unreliable as truths to depend on to reveal what God is really like. In fact, quite the opposite is usually the case. Job's 'friends' most often expressed sentiments and assumptions about God and the way He relates to humans more in line with most people today who misunderstand and judge God as being very religious but not very compassionate. Unfortunately many people easily quote these ideas from the book of Job thinking they are gospel truth not realizing that they are simply parroting sentiments of skewed perceptions of God and play into the hand of God's enemies.

Notice in the following verses how one of Job's friends talks about a heel. Popular religion tends to view God as the one who is eager to punish and condemn people who are not performing up to snuff. However, Job in his response labels their ideas as insults and lies.

For he is thrown into the net by his own feet, and he steps on the webbing. A snare seizes him by the heel, and a trap snaps shut on him. (Job 18:8-9)
These ten times you have insulted me; you are not ashamed to wrong me. (Job 19:3)

One thing that surprised me was how few times heels are mentioned in the Bible. But pretty much every time they are mentioned it seems to have meaning far beyond just talking about a body part on the foot. I want to next share some verses directly related to the death of Jesus which is related closely to what is inferred in the first verse above from Genesis.

All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt, saying, "A wicked thing is poured out upon him, that when he lies down, he will not rise up again." Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. (Psalms 41:7-9)
For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean.
I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.'" (John 13:11, 18)

Behind this reference from Psalms there is a very fascinating story that is usually overlooked when we read this text. I am not sure how they link this, but not long ago I heard that theologians have noted that this person referred to by David as his close friend was none other than Ahithophel, a counselor that David had depended on and was very close to. But when we look at the history of Ahithophel and his relationship with David, some very interesting things begin to surface.

Most people are familiar with the story of David's wild fling with Bathsheba and how David had her husband killed in an attempt to cover up his own wicked indulgence. But very few people realize that the grandfather of Bathsheba was the very Ahithophel who was one of David's close friends and advisors. This puts a whole new spin on the stories of David and sheds light on all the intrigue and multi-faceted dimensions and social dynamics of some of these stories.

When David laments the fact that one of his closest friends has lifted up his heel against him, he was referring to the time when his own son Absalom launched an all-out rebellion against his father and literally ran him out of town. During his hasty escape for his life and experiencing public humiliation and shame before all of his nation, David learns that Ahithophel has stayed behind and has thrown in his lot with the rebellion against David. This is like a stab in the chest to David who had believed that this trusted advisor would be someone he could count on when everyone else forsook him.

It is in this context that Jesus compares His own betrayal by Judas many centuries later. In a way, Jesus is really giving Judas a great compliment by implying that he is considered one of His closest companions. Jesus had given Judas every advantage and had tried in every way possible to draw out his affections and get him to trust in Jesus. He had treated him with the utmost respect and had allowed him to live within the close circle of intimacy only shared with twelve men. Yet with all of those privileges Judas betrayed the trust that Jesus had placed in him because he believed he had a better way of helping Jesus become king over Israel. Judas felt his agenda was better than Jesus'.

But behind the confused ideas that had distorted the heart and mind of Judas was the false picture of God cherished by most of the religious people of Jesus' day. And behind those pictures was the originator of all lies about God, the old serpent who has ever sought to spread distortions and confusion and ultimately was the real instigator of the death of Jesus.

The Majesty of heaven had to leave the scene of His labor again and again because of Satan’s bruising His heel, and finally Satan’s malignity reached its utmost power when Satan inspired and controlled the minds of wicked men to crucify Him. . . . {CTr 248}

There are more fascinating references to heels in the Bible that have really grabbed my attention that I want to examine now. Another famous attention-grabber is none other than the great heel-grabber himself, one of the great patriarchs of the Old Testament.

Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. (Genesis 25:25-26)

The very name 'Jacob' literally reflected this event during his birth and also included the idea of deceiver. This name (and names in the Bible almost always reflect characteristics of a person) hung over him like a curse for most of his life. In reality he had been given this name as a prophecy of the kind of choices he was going to make for much of his life until that famous wrestling match with God Himself. During that night he finally broke free from his past identity and came into a new relationship with God and as a result received a new identity and name directly from God.

Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." (Genesis 32:26-28 NIV)

This event in Jacob's life is a theme that God has used to describe the experience of His people at different times throughout history. It is really the story of all of us who desire to press through into a final position of intimacy with God, unwilling to settle for anything less.

The Lord also has a dispute with Judah, And will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel And there He spoke with us, Even the Lord, the God of hosts, The LORD is His name. (Hosea 12:2-5)

Jacob's new name, Israel, embodies the meaning of this experience that he went through that night when he fought against his false views of God and literally acted them out in wrestling with the stranger that turned out to be the very One he was longing to know deep in his heart. If we are serious about knowing God at a much deeper level, we too will need to pass through our own time of Jacob's trouble. And all of God's faithful overcomers at the end of this world's history are going to have a very similar experience through which they will be transformed into a full reflection of Jesus as the final showdown of the great controversy draws to an end. (ref. Daniel 12:1 and Jeremiah 30:7 and context)

There is one last story that reminds me of circumstances around heels. And even though there is no direct mention of a heel, the posture implied in this event indicates to me that very likely someone's heels and surrounding anatomy was being clung to with very intense emotion.

Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

Quite likely Mary had thrown herself at the feet of Jesus and had wrapped her arms around His lower legs and was holding tightly to Him around the area of His heels in a desperate attempt to keep Him close to her. Her emotions were so intense that she could think of nothing else but keeping as close as possible to Him and never letting Him get away from her again. It had only been hour previous to this that she had poured the most expensive perfume in the world on these same feet and had bathed them with her tears of love, and now to her absolute amazement and joy she found that He was alive and well again and still loved her just as much as ever. Jesus did not force her to let go of Him but on the contrary He accepted her overwhelming love for Him. But He respectfully requested that she consider His immediate need to attend to pressing business in heaven.

When I looked up this verse I caught sight of another phrase here that immediately linked it to a previous story in the Bible I had never thought about before in connection with this story of Mary and Jesus.

And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Then she said, "Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law." But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. (Ruth 1:14-16)

These two women of the Bible are illustrative of the kind of passion that God is longing for all of us to experience in our relationship with Him. Instead of raising up our heels against God like Ahithophel or Judas because of our misconceptions about Him and His kingdom, God longs for us to come into such an understanding of His true character that we will be filled with the surpassing passion and longing to be close to Him forever like that seen in the lives of Ruth and Mary.

This is the experience that I long to have, to be so caught up with a passion for God that I can think of nearly nothing else than to remain close to Him and to enjoy His presence as the most fulfilling and satisfying experience I could every desire.

God, fill me with this passion for you that will eclipse all other desires of my life!


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