Have you ever heard Christians sincerely say, "Jesus took my place on the cross" or "Jesus died in my place"? Many beautiful worship songs have been composed with these thoughts as the sole theme of the composition; and when the last stirring note has subsided, whole congregations have applauded their agreement with the words of those songs. Enthusiastic believers have given beautiful testimonies of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus; and then have clouded the facts by a statement that goes something like "I should have been hanging on that tree; He took my place."
These are troubling statements; for surely, no one could really believe that a little game of switch-a-roo on the cross would produce the salvation of all mankind. Throughout scripture the Holy Spirit very clearly proclaims that Jesus and only Jesus could have fulfilled the old covenant; only Jesus could have accomplished our reconciliation with the Father God; only Jesus could have sealed the new covenant with His blood; only Jesus could have made the fullness of the Fatherís storehouse available to us; only Jesus could have died on that cross!! The death of no other human being would have accomplished the same results; not just any blood sacrifice was required. It had to be Jesus! He took no ones place! He took the place that He and He alone could fill.
So, how could so many Christians with beautiful testimonies of the redeeming love of Jesus not understand this? It seems like such a minor contradiction to scripture. It is generally spoken in such love and with such a grateful heart that it would appear no harm could come from the thought. But this is actually no little annoyance. This is a full blown effort, although a subtle deceit, of Satan designed specifically to deprive Godís children of the full knowledge of all that was really accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Itís true that all of us "have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and itís true that we have probably felt at one time or another that we should have just been taken aside and quietly put out of our misery; but the fact remains that, that would not have produced the same result. Our death on the cross or by any means would not have canceled our sin or made available to us any part of Godís wonderful plan of salvation. The truth is that if we remain focused on our sinful past, if we cannot look past the cross, we will never really see the Father and His glory or experience the fullness of the new life that He intends for us in His son Jesus. And if as Christians we can not even begin to see the Fatherís full provision for our lives, we are in truth severely handicapped - limited in what we can accomplish for God and limited in what we can show the world of Him.
This booklet is written to the glory of God and to help equip all Christians with the understanding that only Jesus could have died for their sin.
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Have you ever contemplated what it must have been like for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They lived in a beautiful paradise surrounded by everything they needed to live a full and happy life; and in addition to enjoying all the benefits of that perfect world, they enjoyed the daily conversation, fellowship, and wisdom of the Father God. This mental image is so compelling that it is almost impossible to imagine how anyone would freely choose to do anything to jeopardize the relationship or the surroundings. Yet, we know that Adam and Eve did just that. With a little help from Satanís subtly deceptive suggestions they freely chose to disobey the Fatherís only rule: "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (Genesis 2:17) There it was, right there in the Garden of Eden - the same difficulty we have today.. You can call it inability to follow directions, difficulty obeying authority, or out right rebellion. Whether it is one rule or hundreds we as human beings have difficulty with obedience.
As incredibly unbelievable as Adamís behavior seems to us, we can only imagine how the Father must have felt to find Adam and Eve attempting to hide in the garden after their disobedience, attempting to conceal the fact that they had broken covenant with Him. Anger and disappointment could hardly be an adequate description of the Fatherís feelings as He watched Adam give away to Satan all the dominion, power and authority over creation that the He had given him; at the very least the Father, God must have felt betrayed by the focus of all His attentions, the center piece of His marvelous creation. In Genesis 3:14-19 we read how a just and loving father handled the situation meeting out what psychologists today would probably deem a severe punishment. There were no second chances. As a result of his disobedience Adam was now spiritually dead; he was unable to freely fellowship with the Father and all trust was lost that Adam and Eve would ever again be able to unconditionally obey the directions of the Father. As a result, they were banished from the beautiful garden forever.
They were not banished from the garden in anger, but in the Fatherís greatest love. In Genesis 3:22-24 the Father turned to His Son, Jesus* (We know that Jesus was present from these scriptures: Genesis 1:3, John 1:1-5, Proverbs 8:22-31) and said, "ĎBehold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" --- therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.". The Tree of Life was the seal of the covenant that Adam had with the Father. Before his disobedience, Adam could eat freely from the Tree of Life; his life was in effect eternal. Now, as a result of Adamís spiritual death, the Father denied access to the Tree of Life. In doing so, the Father, God was limiting the earthly life of His family. That may sound harsh, but only a loving Father could have made such a choice for His children. The prospect of His children living eternally in a guilt ridden, death (Satan) dominated, and sinful state was unthinkable. Of course banishment had its drawbacks too. With banishment also came the loss of their daily provision and the constant fellowship of the Father.
All of creation had been made for Adamís provision and enjoyment; and Adam himself had been made in the likeness of God that the Father might enjoy Adamís fellowship and that Adam might be a praise to the Fatherís glory. (Genesis 1:26-31) But as Adam and Eve soon learned, the Father God can not look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13), and they found themselves out of fellowship with God and ashamed of the condition in which they found themselves. They were naked - shamed both physically and spiritually. As we read the third chapter of Genesis, we can almost feel the Fatherís sadness as he listens to His Children lie about and make all manner of excuses for their disobedience. (Genesis 3:8-13) Yet we feel his compassion and love as He finds them hiding and ashamed and teaches them how to cover their nakedness. God himself made garments to cover their bodies; and no doubt, showed them how to offer the first blood sacrifice to cover their spiritual sin from His sight. (Genesis 3:20-21) Then, in one final act of love the Father banished Adam and Eve from the garden forever forcing them from the perfect life He had planned for them into the hostile land that surrounded the garden. (Genesis 3:24)
It is amazing how little conditions have changed over the centuries. We can probably all say that before we came to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ we had been feeling pretty much isolated and ashamed of our situation. If not alone and ashamed, how about alone and desperate, or just plain alone? Man was created to fellowship with the living God and without that daily fellowship we feel alone even in the midst of the gayest gathering of our friends. The friendship of a man cannot take the place of our need for a savior to restore our relationship with the Father, God.
The Fatherís desire for fellowship with His children never diminished either. Eve acknowledged the Fatherís presence with thanksgiving when Cain was born, and we find the Father talking to both Cain and Abel as they offer sacrifices to Him when they are young men . We know the story well. Abel and his sacrifice were accepted by the Father; Cain and his sacrifice were not. (Genesis 4:3-7) Was God partial to Abel? Did He love Abel more? Oh, no! For the scripture clearly states that God does not show partiality (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Gal. 2:6). It was not the person, Cain, or the grain that he offered that was unacceptable; but rather, Cainís heart attitude. The Father clearly explained this to Cain when in verse 6 He told Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door: its desire is for you, but you must master it." "If you do well"... if you are obedient to My directions, Satan cannot master you. When the Father spoke to Cain, he was making it perfectly clear that fellowship with and acceptance by Him was influenced by obedience. Disobedience to His ways was sin, and sin meant no fellowship with the Father.
By faith Abel had followed the Fatherís instructions concerning sacrifices for sin (Heb.11:4); he had offered a blood sacrifice (Heb 9:22 - "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin"); Cain had not. Cain had ignored the Fatherís direction and had offered the works of his own hands. In essence saying to the Father, "my way is sufficient for you." Cain had elevated himself with pride in the work of his hands.
God responds to the attitude of Cain (an attitude that we so often find in operation in ourselves ) in Isaiah 55:6-9 when he said, "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." The Father owed Cain no explanation; he simply required obedience. Cain needed a savior to guide the redirecting of his thoughts from self to the Father, God.
In the days of Cain and Abel and for many centuries following, the outward sign of a repentant heart was a blood sacrifice - a blood sacrifice which only temporarily covered the sin and enabled God to once again look into the eyes of His children and fellowship with them briefly. Imagine the millions of sacrificial fires, the tens of millions of animals, and the unending hours of labor to prepare the sacrifices that would be necessary to cover the sins of mankind today. And that would be for just one day because everyone would have to begin again the following day. Yes, we as human beings have a natural affinity for selfishness and self-will which always ends in sin; so, being able to daily fellowship with the Father, God would require a blood sacrifice daily. It would be an almost endless process. Oh, thank you God for sending Jesus! Yes, our loving Father finally sent His only son, Jesus (John 3:15-21) to permanently wash away our sins with His own blood and bring about the rebirth of our spirit. The blood of Jesus is the permanent cure for the sin state of man kind and is the only means by which man today can access the presence of the Father with a renewed spirit. "But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Heb 9:26) And in the face of that great love how can we ignore the Fatherís invitation to come by faith in Jesus into His presence? Since the Father has made it so clear that Jesus is the only way back into His presence today, (John 14:6) are we not like Cain when we insist that there must be another way? Or when we insist that a daily personal relationship with Jesus is not necessary? Or when we go to church each Sunday to socialize with friends, but do not expect to fellowship with God? Are we not telling God that our way is sufficient, that His way does not seem reasonable?
To make an honest attempt to try to understand the Fatherís desire for our fellowship and to understand why He ultimately sent His son, Jesus, we need to return to Genesis and take a close look at Godís further relationship with men. We see generation follow generation in the scripture; each seems to grow more sinful and farther away from the Father and His loving provision. Only Enoch stands out as having understood Godís full intent for man. The scripture concerning Enoch is short and to the point: "He walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." (Genesis 5:24) What a testimony to obedience! In other words, the Father was so pleased that for 365 years Enoch had walked with Him in obedience and had desired His daily fellowship that He took Enoch to live in the heavenlies with Him. Why not leave Enoch here longer then to be an example? Well, by the Spirit, I believe that Enoch was removed from this earth at precisely the right moment. Not one day sooner or one day later would have spoken what the Father wanted to say. There are 365 days in a year and the Father, God requires obedience to His word on every one of them.
Complete obedience - You say: impossible! Yes, complete obedience for man seemed to be an impossibility, but the Father never stopped searching among His children for fellowship. In the sixth chapter of Genesis verse 5: "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth and it grieved him to his heart." Free choice had been one of the many gifts the Father had endowed His children with; He had wanted them to freely and joyfully choose to follow in His ways as loving and obedient children. (He still desires that we make those choices today.) Instead of choosing to follow in the Fatherís footsteps, however, they had chosen to seek the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life. (Heb 11:25) If you have ever had problem children, you may be able to relate to the Fatherís disappointment and regret; but does there not always remain a shred of hope that one redeeming quality will surface? So it was with the Father, God. In the midst of all the evil that filled His creation and His children, God saw Noah trying to be pleasing to his Heavenly Father. (Genesis 6:8)
What was Godís response? He began to talk to Noah - Not just idle chit chat. But the Father, God began discussing with a mere man what He was about to do to the earth. He was fellowshipping with Noah; He was taking Noah into His confidence. God must have been very pleased when Noah, by faith, believed Him and began to build the ark. Not only did Noah fulfill Godís eternal desire for fellowship with an earthly family before the Great flood; but when the rain had stopped and the water had receded, Noah built an altar of thanksgiving and made sacrifice to God. (Genesis 7:20-22) When God smelled Noahís offering, scripture says, "And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, ĎI will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of manís heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have doneí." The ninth chapter of Genesis details the agreement (covenant) that God established with Noah that day and records the sign of that covenant as the rainbow.
It definitely appears that a temporary pattern was emerging which seemed to be pleasing to God. In addition to a blood sacrifice being necessary, it was necessary for man to accept what the Father said in blind, unquestioning faith. (Num 23:19; Heb 11:6) Jesus, himself, spoke of the blind faith that was necessary to please the Father in Matt 18:2-3 when he spoke of becoming as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Translated into modern terms that means putting aside our reason and head knowledge to meet with God. Imagine how foolish Noah could have felt while building the ark; scripture records that his neighbors dropped by on a daily basis for several years just to laugh at him and to taunt him. Of course, in the end, it was his neighborís who looked not only silly, but desperate as the flood waters rose around them. So the real question for us today remains: desperate and foolish without a personal relationship with God? or confident and happy in a personal relationship with God? Have you made that decision, yet?
Noahís covenant was not an elaborate one, but God clearly makes a promise to him. By definition a covenant is a legal and binding agreement between two or more people or nations. Noahís covenant on the surface seems to be one sided, however. God seems to have bound only himself in this agreement. But then, the Father had always expected obedience from His children, and we know that He expected them to cover any disobedience through a blood sacrifice. When we take all that into consideration and remember that God realizes that "the imagination of manís heart is evil from his youth", it becomes clear that God had not required more of Noah than He had already covenanted with mankind. Why require more, when it was obvious that man had difficulty obeying even the simplest things asked of him by the Father. So, Noahís obedience to the existing requirements and obvious desire to fellowship with the Father was rewarded by God increasing the benefits of the existing covenant. Not only did God intend to provide for and protect Noah; but now He had extended His promise to Noah to include all mankind - He would not destroy the earth again by flood.
The new promise had hardly been given, however, until it was business as usual among the sons of Noah. And as the generations of Noah increased their fellowship with the Father decreased. Even though God had plainly made His love known to mankind, sin abounded among the sons of men and fellowship with the Father became more and more impossible. Devoid of the Fatherís influence on their lives, mankind became so self absorbed that nothing seemed impossible for them to accomplish in their own strength. And this is the state that we so commonly find ourselves in today when we are out of fellowship with the Father and have been operating in our own strength. While we bask in the pride of temporary accomplishments, we never seem to realize that those accomplishments fall far short of what the Father had intended for us.
Now once again the Father, God searched for a man with whom to fellowship; He had fellowshipped daily with Adam before his disobedience, and the Father desired fellowship with His children again. It was not the daily blood sacrifice that God desired; if that had been so He would have required Adam to make daily sacrifices while he was yet in the garden. The blood sacrifice only became necessary after manís nature became sinful; the blood sacrifices were simply a means to cover the guilt of that sin and make it possible for man to enter into the presence of God again. It was fellowship with His children that the Father desired above all else so long ago; and it is fellowship with His children that still remains His focus today.
The Father, God found no pleasure in the sacrificial fires that occasionally wafted the aroma of a blood sacrifice before Him (Psalms 40:6-8) The only pleasure God found was in meeting with the one who had sought His presence through that sacrifice. Sin - sacrifice, sin - sacrifice - the cycle was unending, and few men even bothered to try to enter into a relationship with the Father. (Heb 10:1-4) Even so, the Father still looked for a man to enter into fellowship with. In fact, 2Chronicles 16:9 tells us that the eyes of God run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward Him. And in that search, God saw Abram in the land of Ur and called him out from his people. Genesis chapter 12 to chapter 22 is the written account of Godís persistent and eventually successful attempt to cut a more permanent and binding covenant with the man Abram.
When the Father, God first approached Abram, He came offering to make Abram a great nation with a great name. But that was not all; God also promised Abram that He would bless those who were friendly to Abram and punish those who were not. Well, that certainly would have turned the head of most materialistic businessmen of today; and apparently, it was enough to cause Abram to follow the Father into a new land. He was at least interested in surveying the real estate. But aside from moving into the new territory, we really do not see a change in Abramís usual behavior. He continued to offer sacrifices to the Father in the old manner, but did not seem to be relying on the Father to meet his needs. Abram did not seem to fully believe that what the Father said was true. In the midst of a serious famine Abram sought help from Egypt instead of God. And when he found himself in Egypt and in trouble with the authorities because he had lied, Abram again did not call on the Father for help. Fortunately, "God is not a man that He should lie nor the son of man that He should repent, has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?" (Num 23:19) God had given His promise to Abram that He would bless and defend him. God kept that promise and delivered Abram, unasked, from the hand of Pharaoh. Why would Abram not call upon God? Did he just consider Godís promise to be empty? Was he really seeking fellowship with the Father through the sacrifices that he offered or had those sacrifices become a ritualistic habit?
As we consider Abramís position, we have to also consider our own. Do we really believe what the Bible tells us of the Fatherís love and promises? Have our devotions become a meaningless ritual? Do we just mouth our requests in prayer not really expecting the Father to fulfill His promises to us? Is it that we have forgotten what God has promised? Or do we really know what He has promised? As a result of these attitudes of unbelief and complacency we end up making our own way, doing our own thing, and digging a deeper and deeper pit of misery for ourselves just as Abram did. We need the intervention of God in our lives, but we fail to do what is necessary to receive His help.
The next time we see Abram, he is back in Canaan a wealthy man. God again appeared to him and promised him all the land that lay before him. The Father invited Abram to walk through the land and see its richness. The Father, God also again promised Abram descendants. But other than the customary altar of thanksgiving, we really do not see Abram making a move to legally enter into the covenant that God offered him. He made no move to commit himself or any part of his vast wealth to the Lord. It is difficult to imagine why any one would hesitate to enter into an agreement with the creator of the universe, but Abram was anything but enthusiastic. In spite of the Fatherís promise to defend Abram and all his possessions, in spite of Abram having experienced the Fatherís defense in Egypt, the next thing we see is Abram alone and at war with several kings of the area. Why had he not called on God to defend him? Once again, however, we find the Lord coming to Abramís aid, "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." (Genesis 15:1) Surprisingly, Abramís response to God is almost hostile, and Abram gets right to the heart of the problem. What will he do with all this wealth and land? Why would he want more? He has no child, no heir. God has not given a child as He had promised. Quickly, gently, the Father explains. We can just imagine him lovingly taking Abram outside his tent into the quiet of the night. With arm around his shoulder the Father says, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them......So shall your descendants be." (Genesis 15:5) In that split second of time as Abram surveyed the vastness of the heavens in the arms of a loving Father, he must have realized that all the Father had spoken was true. He would have a son. God could not lie. He would enter into covenant with Him. And as Abram decided to believe God, the Father was able to see into the very depths of his heart and counted Abramís faith as righteousness.
There is something about the fifteenth chapter of Genesis that reminds us of our own walk with the Lord no matter who we are. If you take the time to consider the past events of your life, you, no doubt, may be able to see the Fatherís hand at work in your life for years protecting you and gently wooing you into a deeper fellowship. If that is so, why do we resist? Could there be fear that we would have to change, that we would have to give up what we have? If we are asked to exchange what we have managed to scrape together for ourselves for the best offered by the creator of the universe, how could this be bad? (1 Cor 1:18-31) Scripture clearly states that the Father's very least is far better than our best. What do we have to compare to what the Lord of the Universe can give? In fact, what can we really give to God other than our belief that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him? (Heb 11:6) And if we are just playing around the edges, half-heartedly seeking Him, if we know of His promises, why would we not want to partake? Even if we resist because we have brought charges against God in our hearts for some past misfortune, the love of the Father calls to us, "Oh taste and see......the Lord is good" (Psalms 34:8). If Abramís example of expressing anger toward God is any indication of the nature of the relationship God desires, we can see that God wants us to hold nothing back from Him; the Father wants to talk it out. "Come and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land...." (Isaiah 1:18-19). He yearns for the opportunity to show Himself to us and to be found by us. The Father longs to look briefly on our heart and see that we trust and believe Him as no other.
At last the Father had found in Abram a man who desired to enter into a legal agreement, a permanent agreement with Him. Abram would be a man who would hold God to the test; a man who God could hold to the test. They would walk together and discuss the plans of the day; they would seek each otherís council - yes God would allow Abram to give his opinion. Abram was His friend. To be a friend of the living God is almost beyond our comprehension, but even Jesus spoke of the possibility in John when He told His disciples that they were now His friends because He had shared all things with them that He had heard from the Father. (John 15:15). God still felt that man would rise to the level of the confidence that God had placed in him. To be a friend of God, man would surely choose to be perfect even as God is perfect. (Lev 19:2; Matt 5:48) The Father expected His friend Abram to clean up his act, wash himself of the evil of his past doings and learn to do good through daily association with the Father, God. (Isaiah 1:16-17) Of course, if Abram should sin and fall short of the glory to which the Father was calling him, he could always resort to the blood sacrifice to temporarily cover his guilt from the eyes of a loving Father. It was always the Fatherís hope, however, that Abram and all men would choose fellowship with Him above all else in the world; God has always longed to be the sole teacher of His children.
Before the Father ever spoke to Abram about making changes in his personal behavior, however, God Almighty wanted to demonstrate to Abram His own sincerity and emphasize the seriousness of His intent in making an agreement with him. To accomplish this, God sealed the covenant with Abram with blood; He wanted Abram to know that the creator of the universe was willing to pour out His life for His children (Lev 17:11). Because God was the greater party in this legal agreement, He had the right to dictate the terms of the covenant and to select a stand-in to offer the blood necessary to seal the covenant. The Lord exercised this right and instructed Abram to kill several specific animals, cut them in half, and stack them against one another. As the sun set the Father enumerated all the provisions of the covenant to Abram, all the blessings that would be bestowed on him in life as he walked with the Living God. God also gave Abram a prophesy of things to come. And then, as sleep fell upon Abram the Lord himself passed between the sacrifices in the form of a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch. "On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying ĎTo your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river; the river Euphrates.........í" (Genesis 15:7-18)
True to His promise and His idea of friendship, the Father shared His heart with Abram expressing His love through promised provision and information about things to come. As difficult as it may be to believe, the same information and blessing is available to us today as children and friends of the Living God. (Galatians 3:14 and 29) The Holy scriptures are a personal letter from the Father, God to us. As we seek His council from them daily, we are fellowshipping with Him in part and learning His ways and discovering His provision for our life. Proverbs 27:19 tells us that the mind of man reflects the man; and Romans 12:2 pleads with us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed or changed by the renewal of our minds, so that we can prove to the world what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect. So then, we renew our minds by who we talk to/fellowship with and what we read. The ideas and information that we put into our mind produces change in our life. To fellowship with God, to be counted as His friend, we must read His word daily expecting to receive council and direction for our lives that will change the way we think and act in this life. In addition to council and admonition, the Father also imparts faith to us from scripture that we will have the courage to put Him to the test - step out and receive the fullness of His promises. (Romans 10:17)
Scripture does not tell us how many years transpired between the time the Lord passed between the sacrificial offering to seal the covenant He had made with Abram and the time Sarai conceived a child. We do know, however, that when Sarai did not become pregnant immediately following that momentous evening, she set out to help God by offering her personal servant to Abram. Sarai decided (and Abram agreed) that being a surrogate mother must have been what the Father had in mind when He spoke of their descendants. It is more than amusing to think that a mere human thought it necessary to help God.
We laugh at Sarai, but we are guilty of the same thing when we rush ahead of the Father to work out the details of His promises in our lives without seeking His council and without any desire to wait for His best. How could we be surprised if God was deeply angered by our behavior and simply decided to withdraw from His agreement. But that would be entirely contrary to the nature of God for scripture tells us that HE is slow to anger and remembers His covenant forever. (Psalms 106:43-45)
And so it was with Abram and Sarai; at their next recorded meeting with God, the Father came right to the point and addressed Abram rather harshly. "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless." (Genesis 17:1) From the tone of that sentence it is clear that God did not feel that Abram had behaved as someone who had a covenant with the living God. The Father first addressed Abramís apparent opinion that He (the Lord) was unable to cause Sarai to conceive and bring forth a son. That was the matter the Lord addressed when He told Abram that He is God Almighty. He knows all and can do all. If He had promised; it would be done. God cannot lie.
The Father also made it very clear that Abramís behavior had been faithless and therefore sinful. (Romans 14:23) Well, thatís a shocker to most of us! God considers that actions which do not proceed from faith are sin. How could this be when most of the actions we take in our life are carefully planned usually six months in advance. We have counted the cost and pretty much know the outcome. To wait on God and embrace the unknown with confidence is not ordinary human nature, but the Father expects us to do just that at His direction as an act of faith.
What was the Fatherís solution to the problem of Abramís faithlessness? A total change. Abram was to live a new life and to help him do that, the Father started with a name change. "No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you." (Genesis 175-7) After changing Abramís and Saraiís name, the Father verbally reaffirmed and expanded His part of the covenant. When that was done, the Father turned to Abraham and said, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised." (Genesis 17:9-10) So, in addition to a name change, the Father, God commanded Abraham to invest something of himself into the agreement. He did not ask Abraham: He commanded Him. In other words, if the covenant was to continue, if Abraham expected God to continue performing His part of the covenant, Abraham would have to be willing to invest his life into Godís and fully receive Godís life into himself. Abraham was going to have to stop fooling around on the edges of this covenant; he had to decide to be totally committed. He had to be willing to submit himself to the control of the Father and expect to be changed. As an outward sign of that submission all that Abraham owned would have to be placed under the control of the Father; and as a physical sign of that total submission, God required that all the males of Abrahamís household had to be circumcised. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. God had begun to woo him when he was seventy-four. The length of time that God spent to establish a relationship with Abraham clearly speaks once again of His love for His children and His deep desire for fellowship with them. Has God been calling you to a deeper walk? Has He been speaking to you about total submission of your life and substance to Him?
Now with Abraham fully committed to the covenant and to the Lord, God was able once again to visit freely with His child. So it is no surprise that in Chapter 18 of Genesis we see the Father stopping for a visit with Abraham beneath the oaks of Mamre. Not just the Father, but God had two other men with Him. Who were they? The scripture refers to them as angels, but perhaps more significant than who they are is that they visited Abraham with the Father, God. Since God cannot look on sin, these other two visitors were not ordinary men; they were heavenly beings and confidants of the Father and so, were welcome in Abrahamís home. This was a family visit and the Father God was looking forward to His grandchildren. He was anticipating how Abraham would describe Him to his children. And the Father was fully confident that Abraham would teach them of Him. (Genesis 1819) It was at this meeting that God spoke specifically about the son Sarah was to bear in the spring. Have you had such a familiar visit from God lately? If you have not, it is not because God does not desire it. He desires to discuss your children, His grandchildren with you. HE wants to hear of their progress in life and advise you on their upbringing. He wants to know how you speak to them of Him and His provisions of your life. And when the needs of the day have been thoroughly discussed and satisfied, He will also be open to discuss the politics of the day, the needs of the world.
And that is what the Father did with Abraham; he had not only come to discuss His future grandchildren, but He had come to discuss with Abraham a pressing situation in Sodom and Gomorrah. "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me." (Genesis 18:20-21) However, before the Father left Abrahamís house to check on the situation, He wanted to discuss it with Abraham. It is recorded that the other two men started down the road toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Father lingered with Abraham to discuss the situation. It was during this discussion that Abraham (not God) dictated the terms for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. If there were ten righteous men in Sodom and Gomorrah, God would not destroy the cities. (Genesis 18:23-33) It is almost too wonderful to fully grasp. Here sat the Lord God Almighty talking to His child, Abraham. The Father valued Abrahamís opinion, enjoyed his company, and looked forward to increasing his family.
We have almost come full circle now. The principles of covenant, a covenant with the Living God, have been well established. First there was the mingling of blood: the blood of the sacrificial animals as Godís stand-in and the blood of Abraham from circumcision to say "my life is in you; your life is in me". Then there was the exchange of gifts and food: God provided Abraham with all his worldly needs including protection and Abraham prepared and served the Father a feast from the best that he had to say "all that I have is yours; all that you have is mine". The Father, God was fellowshipping with Abraham just as He had done with Adam. The circumstances were different, however. Abraham did not live in a perfect garden. He was surrounded with countless temptations, and the blood sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin would always be necessary if he was to continue in the presence of the Father. However, unlike Adam, Abraham wanted to continue in the presence of the Father at any cost. Several years later Abrahamís commitment to the covenant and love for God was tested when God instructed Abraham to offer his precious son and long awaited heir, Isaac, as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah. Dutifully, obediently, Abraham took Isaac to the mount for sacrifice. As father and son prepared the altar, it was clear that Isaac knew what must be done. It would seem that Abraham had, indeed, taught his son the ways of God. And had no doubt explained to Isaac the conditions of the covenant with the Father and how it came about. When at last Abraham and Isaac had laid the wood for the sacrificial fire as they probably had so many times before Isaac said, "ĎBehold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?í Abraham said, ĎGod will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.í" What faith! Abrahamís desire to obey and please God was so great that he was able to take Isaac to the mount. His faith in the faithfulness and promises of God was even greater, however. Even as he laid Isaac upon the prepared altar, he was confident that God would provide a different sacrifice. And, of course, the Father provided a ram which was caught in the bushes near by. (Genesis 22:9-14) The test of the covenant was complete. Both God and Abraham had proven faithful to honor their promises!
Now the generations of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob moved forward, and the Lord remained faithful to Abrahamís descendants and His covenant. But the descendants of Abraham were still men, and retained the old sinful actions and attitudes of the patriarch Adam. They freely chose again to seek the ways and council of the world about them The sacrificial fires burned regularly on the altars about their tents; and while most of them went through the motions of the offerings for the forgiveness of sin, few actually sought the fellowship of the Father, Himself. How had it come to this again? Why couldnít they understand that the sacrifices were simply to prepare them to be received into the presence of the Almighty God - into the arms of a loving Father who wanted to provide for them and protect them?
Well, we cannot be too hard on the children of Israel when we have the very same difficulty. Ritualistically we wind our way to the church house every Sunday because our family has always done this; and frequently, we feel we have sacrificed our free time to be there. Is it no wonder that all too often we bring home only the latest joke or gossip? At our meals and in our private prayers we frequently rattle off empty words that have been memorized since childhood. Could habit really substitute for His presence? Why is it so difficult for us to expect and anticipate fellowship with the Living God if we have really received Jesus as our personal savior? Why do we not expect Him to defend and provide for us? To understand the answer to these questions, we must first understand who we really are.
God created man in His likeness (Genesis 1:26); so, the real man is spirit. We (the spirit man) live in a body and have a mind to process information delivered by the spirit and our five senses. The five senses are the means by which we are able to interact with the creation around us. The spirit is the means by which we interact with the Father. (Romans 8:26-27) It would seem that we have become more practiced in the use of our five senses or reason as we operate in this world than in the use of faith in revelation knowledge of God and His ways. The spirit man operates solely by faith or fear, and it is only by faith that we are able to commune with God (1John 4:13-20). It is only by faith that we can enter into covenant with Him. So it would follow that we do not expect His fellowship or any of His provisions because we have difficulty moving from sense knowledge to revelation knowledge. We are too frequently bound in unbelief by fear which rises out of information produced by our five senses (II Timothy 1:7) . When this happens our lives are being governed by what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. And because the Father is a spirit and we are not practiced in the matters of the spirit, we fail to recognize Him with our senses and miss the wonders of His provisions for us. Whatís the remedy? Our mind needs to be changed (Ephesians 4: 22); our thinking needs to be reprogrammed. (Romans 12:1-2) We need to be taught again from the word of God why the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary; we need to learn again from the word of God what that sacrifice bought for us; and we need to renew our minds from the word of God as to the requirements of walking in covenant with Him. (1 Peter 1:13-21). Then and only then can our spirit man respond in faith to lifeís trials with what the Father has to say about the situation instead of reacting in fear after assessing what our senses have to say about the situation.
The Father, God knows our inner most being and identified mankindís problem again and again. In an effort to reach the spirit of His children, He sought to give greater and better explanation of Himself, His ways, and His love through the Law. He tried appealing to their senses.
Out of the press of isolation and suffering, came the man Moses. And God saw yet another man who sought to fellowship with Him. The requirements for Moses were no different than for Abraham; for Moses to walk in fellowship with the living God, he had to enter into covenant with Him. No doubt Moses had been circumcised by his adoring , obedient parents on the eighth day of life (Genesis 17:10-14). He was committed to the covenant of God by his parents before he ever entered the palaces of Pharaoh. But notice that the commitment of his parents to this covenant was not enough for God. In the fourth chapter of Exodus verses 24-26, God requires a commitment from Moses. Notice that Moses is already returning to Egypt to do Godís bidding when he is met by God and threatened with death. On first thought it seems strange that God would commission a man to do a job and then kill him. Had God changed His mind? Impossible! God does not change. God was demanding complete obedience from Moses. His household was not in order; Moses had failed to circumcise his son. Was it an oversight? Or had Moses yielded to the desires of his spouse or the pressure of the unbelieving people he lived among. It really makes no difference why this matter had not been taken care of. The important lesson to learn from Mosesí situation is that God requires total commitment and obedience to His covenant. If He had allowed Moses to return to Egypt without requiring full compliance to the covenant, Mosesí life would have been one of hypocrisy. His ministry would have failed under the watchful eyes of the people of Israel. (one standard for them, another for his family) He would have brought reproach on the name of God. (Romans 2:17-24)
This situation with Moses brings us to consider our own commitment to the Lord. Are we still trying to operate out of the dedication and commitment of our parents or have we made a personal decision to invite the Lord Jesus into our lives and commit all that we are and have into Godís care. Being at church every time the door opens and serving on all the right committees does not replace entering into covenant with the Living God through Jesus Christ. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior and made Him Lord of your life, you are merely playing church and are attempting to substitute works for His glorious salvation. Remember Cain? He tried to enter into the Fatherís presence by the works of his hands. The Holy Spirit reminds us that no man comes to the Father except by Jesus Christ. (John 14:6)
Now the Father once again had a reason to act on behalf of the descendants of Abraham; and in response to Mosesí quest for the Father and the peopleís cries for help, God miraculously led Abrahamís descendants out of the land of Egypt, out of the land in which they were enslaved. (Exodus 6: 2-8) It is very important to pause here and realize that the Father led the children of Israel out of Egypt under the covering of blood. We know the occasion today as Passover, because it marks the night the Lord passed over the homes of the children of Israel and spared their first born from death. The physical sign by which the Lord recognized the children of Israel was the blood from a sacrificial lamb which was painted on their doorposts. Once again the cover of blood marked and prepared the children of God to be in His presence. Exodus 12:12-13 says, "........I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." The Father further instructed them to put all leaven out of their bread for seven days. (Exodus 12:15) In other words, put all sin out of your lives every day of the week. God was trying once again to teach His family how to walk before Him.
After delivering them from Egypt, the Father God honored His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By day He led the children of Israel through the desert places under a cloud (He was the cloud) to protect and cool them from the rays of the sun. By night He protected and warmed them through a pillar of fire (HE was the pillar of fire). (Exodus 13:21) He fed them daily with bread (manna) from heaven (He was the bread). (Exodus 16:31-35; John 6:31) All this He poured out on His children in love to demonstrate that love for them and to prove His faithfulness to His covenant with their forefathers. All this He did to show His continual desire to fellowship with each of them and to provide for each of them the fullness of His storehouse. Then, to further help them understand what He expected of them, the Father called Moses aside and gave him the Ten Commandments. Rules for the children of God to live by. Rules that were permanently written and daily before their eyes - perhaps this would help them to recognize sin and learn to walk in ways pleasing to the Father. Perhaps there would be a need for fewer sacrifices. But when Moses returned from the presence of God with these ten simple rules, the children of Israel had already forgotten the goodness of God and His covenant. In the face of all the Father was giving them and was doing for them, the people of Israel had in the absence of Moses, built an idol to worship. (Exodus 32:1-4) Once again the love and magnanimous gifts of the Father were spurned by His people.
What happened here? Well, what happens to us today happened to the people of Israel during the Exodus. The people were operating in the sense realm and had their eyes on Moses and not God. They looked to Moses to supply their needs and never realized that is was God who supplied all their needs (Hosea 2:8-9; Phil. 4:19). When Moses was delayed on the mount while receiving the Ten Commandments, the people panicked. The one they had considered to be their provider and protector was gone, and they reverted to what was deeply ingrained in their hearts - idol worship. We do the same all too often. We look to our jobs (worldly security), our employers (money), our family (emotional support), our friends (social acceptance), our pastors (spiritual intercessors), our doctors (prevention of death) to meet our needs instead of looking to our heavenly Father who has made provision for all of these needs. Of course, why would you look to God for provision, protection, acceptance, or health unless you have renewed your thinking according to what the Bible says the Father has provided in His covenant? You have to know your covenant and by faith receive every word of that covenant as truth.
In addition to the Ten Commandments, the Father directed the building of the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant and added the Law in a further attempt to explain Himself to His people, (Hebrews 9:1-10) but the people did not have eyes to see what was at work in their midst. The Law provided the detailed explanation of the Fatherís way of life; and in it the Lord tried to impart the spirit of His just and loving nature. But like so many things that man approaches, he caught only the letter of the law and could not grasp the spirit of what God was saying. (Romans 8:1-8) So, the next generations, the children of Israel either walked in disobedience to the law or walked in bondage to the letter of the law. Sadly both were condemned by the law; the one was condemned for out right disobedience and the other was condemned for pride and rigidness that ignored justice, mercy, and faith. (Matt 23:23-24; James 2:8-14) How many times we, today, are caught up in the same practices! We make copious rules and regulations trying to keep everyone in line, trying to maintain order. We impose our own will on others in an effort to control; and when the rule is broken, as it inevitably is, justice is required. To validate the rule, punishment must be meted out. (Deut. 30:15-20)
So it would seem there was no answer to the Fatherís dilemma. He had ratified a covenant with mankind that could not be permanently kept by any man. The children of Abraham grew in number, as God had promised, until they were a huge nation - a nation of covenant breakers. Generations of covenant breakers followed. Time and again the Father searched the earth for a man who could walk uprightly before Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 17:10; Proverbs 15:3; Proverbs 22:12; Hebrews 4:11-13) The Father still desired reconciliation with His creation; He still wanted to walk and talk with His children in the cool of the evening; He still longed to look into the eyes of His sons and daughters. He wanted to find a family who would willingly choose Him against all else for His loving kindness. (Psalms 40:1-8) And as the centuries passed, the Father called to His children through a few devoted although flawed prophets, kings and spiritual leaders. Sadly, these men succeeded in turning the hearts of few to the Father, and those who did hear soon succumbed to the crushing cares of the world because they had long since stopped expecting a personal relationship with the Father. Godís dilemma was manís dilemma.
The children of Abraham once again suffered sorely from the loss of the Fatherís provision and protection as they drifted away from Him and into bondage to other nations. Over the centuries only the Fatherís repeated promise of a coming Messiah - a Divine deliverer, offered hope to the faithful few. The Father called to HIS children yet again while they were in bondage in the land of Babylon. Through the prophet Isaiah he encouraged them for the day and spoke eloquently of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 41 and 42) who would bind up the broken hearted and set the captive free. And even as the few believing waited for the Messiahís appearing, a loving Father still worked unseen and unacknowledged on behalf of the whole nation of Israel re-establishing them as a nation and rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and their holy temple. It was clear that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; it was new every morning. Great was His faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22)
After decades of slavery in Babylon, the people of Israel were finally back in the promised land, the land that God had promised Abraham. (Jeremiah 24:4-7) They were once again offering sacrifices to God in the rebuilt temple, but they were also busy defiling themselves and His house with their sinful practices. (John 2:13-17) They were an occupied nation and were enduring the brutality of Roman occupation under the reign of Caesar Augustus. (Luke 2:1) You would think that hardship would have softened their hearts toward one another and toward the Father, but that was not the case. Class distinction was practiced with malice separating Pharisee, Sadducee, Samaritan, rich and poor, slave and free. The outer court of the temple itself had become little more than a marketplace for the sale of sacrificial animals. The people were hard pressed from every perspective without even a breath of freedom. The distressed cries of the people of Israel were heard throughout the Roman world that dominated them, and they were also heard in the throne room of heaven. (1 Peter 3:12)
It is this part of history that I have so often pondered. What caused the Father, God to intervene at this precise moment in history? Was Roman occupation truly more difficult to endure than the military defeat and captivity by Babylon had been? After all, that defeat had followed years of siege and then there had been the arduous and dehumanizing trek during the deportation to Babylon. Was Roman occupation more difficult than the decades of slavery in Egypt? In Babylon? Or was it really Roman taxes that caused the Father to act? Or had the appointed time for action simply arrived, and the Messiah was bound to come regardless of which conquering nation subjugated Israel? Actually, I feel by the Spirit of God that none of the above answers the question. When you remember that throughout the history of man God had been looking for a man/woman to walk in fellowship with Him, that He had been looking for a man/woman to receive His promises by faith, you have to know without a doubt that the next events in history were dictated by God finding such a human. Who, you ask?. Well, let us consider Mary.
Picture if you will a young girl about sixteen rising early in the morning with a prayer on her lips. (Psalms 5:1-3; 11-12) From her youth she has been taught of a loving heavenly Father who will bring deliverance to His people. Perhaps she has been taught by parents and teachers who only have a head knowledge of what they speak (they may have entirely lacked a real heart knowledge of the Father). But the spoken Word takes residence in her heart, and she believes every word she has heard to be absolute truth. (Deut. 30:11-14) Putting aside all reason and acting in the simple faith of a child ( Luke 18:17) she believes that such a God really is and that He truly is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) A joy in knowing of Him begins to build within her, and she begins to sing praises to His name and extol His loving kindness. This is not the first morning that she has begun her day in such a fashion, but the Lord, God has heard her prayers of thanksgiving daily for some time. He has observed her growing love for Him although He is unseen and until this moment, unheard. (Psalms 5; 1 Peter 3:8-12)
Now, picture the Father, who takes delight in Mary and her worship, (Psalms 18 - look particularly at the 19th verse. "... he delivered me, because he delighted in me.") as He turns to His son, Jesus who is seated beside Him in the heavenlies. Their gazes may have locked in hopeful pleasure. Could Mary be the handmaiden who would hear what the heavenly messenger had to say? Is it possible that there had been other devout maidens in previous generations who had failed to hear the call of the Father to become the mother of the Messiah? Of course, we can never know if the Father, God had called to other young women, but the possibility seems very great. Even if they had heard when He called, they would have also had to act on that call as Mary did. (Luke 1:26-38) I can truly envision the whole throne room reverberating with angelic "Hosannas!" as Mary responded to the angel Gabriel, "Be it done unto me according to thy word." Gabrielís word was the word of God, and Mary had received it by faith into her very being. She did not doubt or waver (Mark 11:22-24; Matt 21:21-22), and at that moment the implanted word of God (JESUS) was moved upon by the Holy Spirit of God to produce a child in Maryís womb. The very Son of God was conceived by the power of Godís Word. In the beginning that is how God created the world and all that is in it; He spoke the word (JESUS) and the Holy Spirit moved upon that word to bring it into existence. (Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-5; 14-18)
Equally so, that is how the unchanging Father moves upon His word in each of our lives to perform the miracles (truth) of His word. Like Mary we must know without a shadow of a doubt that "All things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23) We must believe that God is a loving heavenly Father who hears our prayers. (Hebrews 11:6) We must expect Him to respond (speak) to us through His word, through others or in a "still small voice". (1 Kings 19:12; John 10:27-30) And when we hear the response of the Father, we must act on His instructions in blind faith without question. Godís economy is faith, and HE is moved to action when we exercise the faith He has given us. (Hab 2:4; Hebrews 4:1-2; Gal 3:23-26; Gal 5:5-6) His word is transformed into substance as we act on it in faith. (Heb. 11:1)
So, now the Fatherís answer to the unending dilemma is made apparent. He Himself, in the form of Jesus, His son, (John 1:1; 1:14; John 14:10-11; 17:11; Heb 1:3) would come down to earth to live as man under His own rules and regulations. (John 3: 16; John 17:8) God Himself (in the form of Jesus) would fulfill the covenant He had made with mankind. (Phil.2:5-13; Romans 8:1-4) In human form Jesus experienced every emotion, and physical attribute that we all possess; He dealt with anger, discouragement, sickness, and physical pain. He was taught the law by His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph and correctly practiced every aspect of it in love and mercy. As a child, He was completely under the authority of His earthly father, Joseph, and learned obedience through the things He experienced. (Heb. 5:7-10) He worshiped the Father privately and in the synagogue; He had a very personal relationship with the Father, walking and talking with Him just as Adam had done in the Garden. Unlike Adam, however, Jesus continually walked before the Father without sin. (Romans 5:12-14) And when Jesus had been made perfect through His human experience; when He had fulfilled the law in every aspect, the Father, God was ready to cut a new covenant with mankind. Jesus had proven that as a human He could walk in perfect obedience to the Father. Jesus had operated in the Fatherís faith economy; He had believed the Fatherís every word and had acted on it and had spoken it with the end result being astounding miracles. He had proven that the Fatherís desire was to do good for His children and greatly benefit them. He did all this as a man not as God.
In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus clearly announced that the Father was about to cut a new covenant. He announced that He, Himself would be the sacrifice for God because He is God. He, Himself would be the sacrifice for man because He is man. He began in the 27th verse by talking about things that appealed to the senses of man - particularly the senses of taste, touch and sight. He talked to the people about being centered on their physical needs and looking to a man to supply those needs. He referred to Moses and the misconception of him that the people had in the wilderness. Jesus talked about the misconception that the people still had of Moses. Jesus not only told the people that Moses did not supply the daily bread (manna) in the wilderness, but He went a step further and declared that He Himself was that bread. After trying to turn the thoughts of the people from blind devotion to Moses, Jesus spoke of the Father and the wonderful life that the Father had intended for His children. He told them exactly what it would take for them to enter into that life and a relationship with the Father. He told them that they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood - become a part of Him in order to enter into relationship with the Father and experience the abundant life the Father had for them. And then, He plainly told them that operating in the sense realm would not accomplish that end; for, "It is the Spirit that gives life" (John 6:63). The first Adam had become a living being; but Jesus, the last Adam, was a life giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Now the stage was set for the coming events. God had declared His intentions before all heaven and earth. With one righteous man (Jesus), in one righteous act, the Father would reclaim His creation and family from the dominion of Satan. (Romans 5:15-21) The perfect covenant between the Father and His children would be cut. An unbreakable covenant would be struck and whosoever would believe (John 3:15-18) on the mediator of that covenant (Hebrews 9:13-28; I Timothy 2:5-6), Jesus, would find direct passage into the Fatherís presence for fellowship with the Father. (Hebrews 4:14-16) And in His great love the Father would now have a way to open the storehouses of heaven to His beloved family. Never again would there be a need for the blood of sacrificial bulls and goats to temporarily cover sin. There would never again be a sin or circumstance too great to separate His children from the love of the Father (Romans 8:31-39) for the blood of Jesus would cleanse them from all sin (1John 1:5-10) and make it possible for man to once again walk and talk with the Father as Adam had in the garden. Jesus, Himself proclaimed this in John 14:6-7 when He said, "I am the way (the way back to fellowship with the Father), and the truth (the very word of God), and the life (eternal life); no one comes to the Father, but by me."
In all of His final actions Jesus was keenly aware of the need of man to process information in the sense realm. In the 14 chapter of John verse 7 Jesus said, "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know Him and have seen Him." Because the disciples had seen Jesus, had walked and talked with Jesus they had seen the Father. He was trying to give them a point of reference for their spirit man to grow on after His death and resurrection. He wanted them to transfer their living relationship with Him to the Father. He wanted them to continue to live by faith as He had taught them for He had taught them the ways of the Father, God. (John chapters 15, 16, and 17) He was trying to help them to focus on Him as the bridge back to the Father instead of being side tracked and overwhelmed by the cares of the world as their minds processed input by their five senses. He made this effort again in the final Passover meal when "He took the bread , and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ĎThis is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.í And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ĎThis cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.í" (Luke 22:19-21) Jesus gave His disciples a visual reference to remind them of Him and what He was about to do for them. He was going to make it possible for them to once again fellowship in person, in the spirit with a loving heavenly Father.
Fellowship in the spirit with a loving heavenly Father - that is exactly what the Father, God wants for us today. That is exactly why He sent Jesus to die on the cross. The Father desires us to fellowship with Him, to consult Him about the smallest detail of our lives. He wants to council us, and He wants us to know without a doubt that He will do as He has promised. He will do whatever we ask in the name of Jesus (Matt 18:18-20; John 14:12-14) He desires that our spirit man be built up in His word until we are able to see Him, to know Him as He really is. Knowing Him and understanding all that He has provided to enrich our lives can only draw us closer to Him. Yes, in all our imperfections, the Father still wants to fellowship with us. And He is able to do just that as we are covered by the precious blood of Jesus, His son.
No greater love has ever been experienced by man. (John 15:12-17) No other blood would have accomplished the task. No matter how much we may have deserved to die for our own sin, only the blood of Jesus could have washed away our guilt and made a way for us to enter into a personal relationship with the Father again. - a relationship like Adam originally had with the Father in the garden. We could not have died in Jesusí place; he did not die in our place. As Jesus hung there on the cross, it was a place that only He could have occupied. For as He hung there on the cross, the blood of God (Jesus was fully God) and the blood of man (Jesus was fully man) was mingled to cut the perfect covenant, an unbreakable covenant. So, of what then do we sing? To what then do we testify? We sing of and testify to the almost incomprehensible love of the Father God. A love so great that He left His heavenly splendors and came down to personally make a way to bring His children home. And that way is ONLY JESUS!
Copyright © 2012 Still Waters Ministry
Smith Mountain Lake Virginia