An old letter to a Jewish friend

Introduction

To be born into a belief system that is not truly [genuine objectively] investigated and tested, is a deadly trap set by self-righteousness [in ignorance]. As far as ones faith goes, a false sense of security can prove to be fatal and tragic because of the self destruction therein.  It is certainly worth the effort and time to review this again.

God is Love. This means God is not a manipulator (as popularly preached) and will therefore not for a moment remove your free will He has given you. This needs deep and thorough thought to digest properly.  What Jesus pointed out was that He was the Word of God that became flesh (Jn 1:1,14), and therefore often said, “It is written, but I say unto you…”, and then gave startling revelations that were accompanied by powerful miracles to prove the Word of God fulfilled.   I sincerely invite you with this letter to be secure enough (not afraid) to really investigate in our search for truth, a few points to ponder.  It hopes to reveal that the Bible can – at the very least – be found to be extremely inte­resting indeed.  Please ponder the following quote in the next two paragraphs.

The Apostle [ex-pharisee and expert in Jewish Law] Paul, stated in Rom 10:1-21 the following:

“Betheren, with all my heart’s desire and goodwill for [Israel], I long and pray that they may be saved.  I bear them witness that they have a [certain] zeal and enthusiasm for God, but it is not enlightened and according to [correct and vital] knowledge.  For being ignorant of the righteousness that God ascribes [which makes one acceptable to Him in word, thought, and deed] and seeking to establish a righteousness (a means of salvation) of their own, they did not obey or submit themselves to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the Law [the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him Who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled.  That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him] as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trusts in and adheres to and relies on Him.  For Moses writes that the man who [can] practice the righteousness (the perfect conformity to God’s standard) which is based on the Law [with all its intricate demands] shall live by it [Lev 18:5].  But the righteousness based on faith [imputed by God and bringing right relationship with Him] says, Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into Heaven?  that is, to bring Christ down; Or who will descend into the abyss?  that is, to bring Christ up from the dead [as if we could be saved from our own efforts].  [Dt 30;12-13].  But what does it say?  The Word (God’s message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach, [Dt 30:14].  Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous and acceptable to God), and with the mouth confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms his salvation. The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] wil [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed. [Ps. 34:22; Is 26:16; 49:23; Jer 17:7]  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek.  The same Lord is Lord over all of us and He generously bestows His riches upon all who call upon Him in faith.  For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved. [Joel 2:32] But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]?  And how are they to believe in Him of Whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without a [Gospel] preacher?  And how can men [be expected to] preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings! [Is 52:7]  But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what was heard from us? [Is 53:1]  So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes from the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Jesus Christ [the Messiah Himself].  But I ask, have they not heard?  Indeed they have; [for the Scripture says] Their voice [that of nature bearing God’s message] has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the far bounds of the world. [Ps 19:4]  Again I ask, Did Israel not understand? [Did the Jews have no warning that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth?]  First, there is Moses who says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry. [Dt 32:21] (Note by author: refer to the meditation “The will of man, the will of God” to realize that this does not mean God manipulates but that men with free will given by God, ends up in places of disbelief and a curse) Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, I have shown (revealed) Myself to those who did not [consciously] ask for Me.  [Is 65:1]  But of Israel he says, All day long I have stretched out My hands to a people unyielding and disobedient and self-willed [to a faultfinding, contrary, and contradicting people]. [Is 65:2]

This is captivating, is it not?  Especially considering the time it was written originally (about 57 A.D.)

Similarly hear the same Paul in Romans chapter nine

I tell the truth in Christ, I do not lie, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great heaviness and continual pain in my heart. For I myself was wishing to be accursed from Christ for my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh, [Ex 32:32] who are Israelites; to whom belong the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; [Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1] whose are the fathers, and of whom is the Christ according to flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Not however that the Word of God has failed, for not all those of Israel are Israel; nor because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children. But, “In Isaac shall your Seed be called.” [Gen 21:9-12] That is, not the children of the flesh are children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for a seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, by our father Isaac (for the children had not yet been born, neither had done any good or evil; but that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who called,) it was said to her, “The elder shall serve the younger.” [Gen 25:21-23] As it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” [Mal 1:2,3] What shall we say then? Is there not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! For He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So then it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of God, the One showing mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.”  Therefore He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will, He hardens. You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? No, but, O man, who are you who replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him who formed it, Why have you made me this way? [Is 29:16; 45:9] Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor? What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; [Prov 16:4] and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He had before prepared to glory; whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also of the nations? As He also says in Hosea, “I will call those not My people, My people; and those not beloved, Beloved.” [Hos 2:23] And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them. “You are not My people; there they shall be called sons of the living God.” [Hos 1:10] Isaiah also cries concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel is as the sands of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. For He is bringing the matter to an end, and cutting short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work on the earth.” [Is 10:22,23] And as Isaiah said before, “Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a seed, we would have been as Sodom, and would have been like Gomorrah.” [Is 1:9] What shall we say then? That the nations, who did not follow after righteousness have taken on righteousness, but a righteousness of faith. But Israel, who followed after a law of righteousness did not arrive at a law of righteousness. [Is 51:1] Why? Because it was not of faith, but as it were by the works of the Law. For they stumbled at that Stumbling-stone; as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a Stumbling-stone and a Rock-of-offense, and everyone believing on Him shall not be put to shame.” [Is 8:14; 28:16].

Note that Jeremiah 31:31-32  states, “Behold, the days come, says Jehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke…” (Emphasis mine).  So, Israel broke its covenant with God, ultimately by not recognizing Jesus Christ as the Messiah and thus rejecting God’s only salvation plan for all of us on earth.

Two popular opinions that need correction

First, the claim that Jesus could not have been the prophesied Messiah because he did not bring peace on earth (Is 9:6; Zech 8:19).  Well, Jesus is on record saying that He brought peace – not between men (Mt 10:34-41) but between men [mankind] and God (Mt 10:34; Jn 3:16-21).  Even Lk 2:14 says that God’s good will [peace to all] announced by an angel at the birth of Jesus was in fact to “all men of goodwill”. Jesus repeatedly gave His command for us to love one another (Mt 5:9; Mk 9:50; Jn 14:7,16; 15:12; 1 Jn 4:-21).  God will not force you…

The second notion that needs correction is that all nations (gentiles) owe their spiritual blessing to the Jews as a nation, as the divine order was that the Messiah was for the Jews first, then (only) the gentiles. Jesus seemed to have confirmed this in Mt 10:5,6; Jn 4:22. However, the fact is that all spiritual blessings to all people are in only in Christ (Eph 1:3; 2 Pet 1:3-4; Jn 14:6).  The Jews gave a lineage for patriarchs, prophets, apostles, the Bible and our Savior. But Jesus also pointed out that He would be rejected by His own (as a nation, not individuals) due to religious and national pride and self-righteousness. The OT is riddled with prophetic examples of this sad fact and God’s salvation to gentiles as well as re-born Jews (Jn 1:12-13,17; 3:3, 6-7,16-21).

Further discussion

Jesus of Nazareth as a sinless Man, and the only (first) to reveal hidden OT secrets (truths) only God could know after a 400 year “silence”. Remove the deity of Jesus Christ and God has been “silent” for 2400 years; this is not the nature of God – God is love! The truth is that His communication and prophecies never failed: Jesus reconciled mankind to God, Jew to gentile, slave to freeman, and woman to man with equal status before God – if His vicarious offer is accepted. God has always initiated reconciliation, not man (Gen 3:15,21). If we sacrifice the “self”, we are all one in Christ Jesus… No one has an advantage over the other anymore – we all have to be reborn through Jesus Christ. It is not what we can do (in sin), but what a heavenly Father (Love) has done for us who accept His offer by faith. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hab 2:4; Heb 11:6). Abraham was justified by faith 430 years before the law was given. True love means no manipulation: He will not force (pre-program) you to love Him back; He already paid for you. This [Jesus] is the Stone which was despised and rejected as prophesied in Isaiah 28:16 and Ps 118:22,23.

So, if the law (own merit and works) is what saves a man, let’s see how you fare with Moses’ law. Have you ever told a lie? What do you call someone that tells (or lives) a lie? What does that make you? Have you ever taken something without permission (even an idea or credit)? What does that make you? Have you ever looked at someone with lustful thoughts? Jesus (like Solomon in Prov 23:7) says that your thoughts determine what you are, and that then makes you an adulterer. So, by own admission, you could be a lying, adulterous thief by only looking at 3 of the commandments. If you stand before God right now, are you guilty or innocent? How will you acquit yourself? “Sorry” will not cut it – even in a worldly court. Sin has to be paid for, because God is the Source of righteousness. Since Jesus paid with His Blood on that dead tree (cross) as the Lamb of God once and for all, no animal’s blood can ever be good enough. You and I need Him as Savior. He is the one that paid, His name is Jesus Christ. He is superior to David as king, for David did not ascend into the heavens 40 days after his resurrection, yet he himself says: “The LORD (YHVH) said to my Lord (Jesus), sit at My right hand and share My throne until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet (Ps 110:1). Jesus supersedes Aaron as a High Priest because Aaron could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement, while Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father enabling us to overcome as He did. We can identify with Him wherever He is now, because He came to identify with us here in this realm – that is why His suffering had to happen to make His sacrifice perfect and complete (see and explain Isaiah 53)… Jesus is infinitely superior to Moses. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land and was buried in the valley of the land of Moab opposite Beth-Peor (Dt 34:6). Jesus rose from the dead, ascended alive and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all those who accept His atoning sacrifice (His blood) on that cross. The 7 festivals and the Tabernacle were given as a visual aid to help recognize the Messiah when He came. Lev 23:15-16 and Joel 2:28 is fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4,33 as Jesus said He would do, as recorded in John 14:6,26; 16; 13,14). He overcame temptation, sin and death and demonstrated we can again be a spirit, with a soul inside a body (a trinity in the likeness of God revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Only He could break satan’s power (desire to sin) like this. The state of the world today affirms and demonstrates our free will and God’s extraordinary patience toward mankind, not desiring that any should perish, but turn to repentance: to Him. Understand this: when He returns (come again in bodily form), He will return as Perfect Judge. He gives enough time now to accept Him as Savior. He came to save, heal and deliver, then the second time, to end this suffering for good, especially for those who accepted Him as Savior by faith. See how the whole creation waits for Jesus Christ to return as Judge – then bringing eternal peace {“Messiah” [Heb] = “Christ” [Gr] = “anointed” [empowered by God] to fulfill His Word – Ps 96:11-13; 98:7-9; 2 Chron 16:23-33; Romans 8:18; Philippians 3:20-21; (Ez 1:1 in Rev 1:10; 19:11)…}

The Jews expected a political and military leader (savior) and overlooked what He came to do in body, soul and spirit (Ez 21:27). No one could see God’s Face and live, yet see what Jacob said in Gen 32:30; Gideon in Judges 6:22; and Manoah in Judges 13:18 (Is 9:6), 21-22. This “Angel of the Lord” or “of God” or “of His Presence” is readily identified with the Lord God (Gen 16:11,13; 22:11-12; 31:11,13; Ex 3:1-6 and other passages). But it is obvious that the “Angel of the Lord” is a distinct person in Himself from God the Father (Gen 24:7; Ex 2:30, Zech 1:12-13 and other passages). Nor does the “Angel of the Lord” appear again after Christ came in human form. He must of necessity be One of the “three-in-one” Godhead. The “Angel of the Lord” is the visible Lord God of the OT as Jesus Christ is of the NT. Thus His deity is clearly portrayed in the OT. A fascinating forecast of the coming Messiah, breaking through the dimness with amazing consistency, at intervals from Genesis to Malachi, Abraham, Moses, the slave girl Hagar, the impoverished farmer Gideon, even the humble parents of Samson, had seen and talked with Him centuries before the herald angels proclaimed His birth in Bethlehem. Now we can see His face (nature and character) and live! He also is the Rock in Deuteronomy 32:18-21! So He became flesh in Jn 1:1-3, 14! For us!

Throughout the Old Testament it is apparent that God the Creator-Father never wanted religion, but a personal relationship. Religion honours what God has done, but refuses what He is (constantly) doing now. So how does a human, living in time,which God (Who is eternal and unlimited by time) has made for him, decide when to reject what God wants to do (presently, as the beginning of something new)? God always does what humans cannot comprehend because He is Who He is (ex 3:14). He is infinitely above what we are or think (Num 23:19; Is 55:8-9; 1 Sam 15:29). He is a Person (as the Creator, Sovereign, the Source of righteousness, morality, intel­lect, love…). So He is the most creative and intellectual Person in the universe – and how do we relate (speak and pray) to Him? – in a monotonous “religious” voice (act, ritual, monologue) at the same old time in the same old place, or is it a dialogue? Religion is, therefore, no more than a system of traditions, rituals and ceremonies; and dismally short of a living, dynamic, personal relationship. It is external, while God gave us a heart (a spirit, not the organ) to be internally set aside for Him and His Kingdom plan (be hole, for He is Holy/ set apart/ con­secrated); continually and habitually in our thought processes. It is the software, more than the hardware, that determines (the power, or use of) the computer as a machine (purpose). The natural realm has parallels in the spiritual realm to help us in our spiritual lives (to visualize and perceive the unseen). Laws were given unto Moses 430 years after Abraham was justified by faith (not rituals or traditions, still uncircumcised – Gen 17:4-6; 22:16-18). Note that Abraham, the Chaldean, was not a Jew; neither was Elijah, the Tishbite, a Jew. So the Bible with the New Testament included, reveals that the true (prophesied) Israel consists of those who accept the Messiah. Remember that Jesus Christ came to save – not judge – mankind (accepting Him), and will come again as Judge. It would be too late then to try and force Him back into His already fulfilled role as Savior. He could only sacrifice Himself once! This is why the world is in such a mess today: humans refusing to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, rebelling against the perfect salvation plan of God. But when He comes again, He would certainly have given enough time for sinners to repent and believe His long effort.

Attempts to strip Jesus Christ from His deity [from the Bible as the revelation of God, revealing God perfectly, representing the Father perfectly to us, and representing us (as He intended us) perfectly to the Father to recon­cile us back to Him] compares to removing the melody from a symphony (the OT with no Jesus is like notes with no melody). It was, as a matter of fact, prophesied in Is 53 and Ps 22. The Bible tells, with amazing con­sistency, of one unfolding, progressive revelation: the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Overwhelming evidence exists throughout Scripture that Jesus fulfilled all prophesies regarding the Messiah. But for now, please think of the following: It is said that the Scribes and Pharisees knew the Torah so well (by memory or information know­ledge – not revelation knowledge) that they could accurately predict through which words a needle would penetrate the scrolls. If Jesus, then, is not Who He claimed to be, He must be a deceiver. How then, did He manage, for example, the following:

  • How did He get Judas the Iscariot and the high priests to betray Him for 30 pieces of silver, then (after the crucifixion) cast the money on the temple floor and get the Sanhedrin to buy a potter’s field with that money and exactly fulfill Zech 11:12-14 who prophesied this more than 500 BC? (recorded in Mt 26:14-15; 27:3-10)
  • How did Jesus, hanging on a cross, persuade Roman soldiers to cast lots over His blood-stained garments and raiment (seamless under-tunic) and fulfill Ps 22:18, and get them to give Him vinegar, to fulfill Ps 69:21?
  • Who arranged that Jesus’ legs were not broken on the cross, to fulfill Ex 12:46; Num 9:12 (in Jn 19:31-33)?
  • Who got them to thrust a spear into His side, to fulfill Zech 12:10? Jesus fulfilled 300 prophesies in amazing detail!
  • How did He get into that time window? (Ps 22:16 was prophesied 1 000 years before the Romans invented crucifixion).
  • How could He have performed all those miraculous attesting signs and wonders like healing the blind, lame, cripples, even raise the dead? Hallucinations are not contagious. Hundreds of eyewitnesses attested that these signs were done by a true Prophet Who saves, heals, delivers; fulfilling Ps 103:3-6, etc. The fact that these signs were done was never in question, but the Scribes and the Pharisees wanted to know by whose authority He did all those supernatural things. Today, people who are still skeptical basically try to be “I AM” (Ex 3:14) – their own savior, in pride and self-righteousness! …

People remarked that Jesus taught not like the Scribes, but as One Who has authority (revealing OT mysteries, imparting revelation knowledge [God’s secrets], and not mere [human] information). If He (and His followers today) cast out demons (and infirmities and sicknesses in His Name), surely it proves that He is Ruler over (overcame) Satan! Collectively, as more prophesies are added, the picture overwhelmingly favors Him as the Messiah: the Savior and Redeemer (first), then the Judge Who will return from heaven in the same way that He ascended into heaven. No other hope in (for) the world is founded so profoundly as by what God has revealed in Jesus Christ. Only He can deliver from eternal death (Is 40:3-5; Lk 3:6). Obviously those who reject Jesus look at external symbols, while those who have accepted Jesus have come to realize that all those rituals and laws illustrate the true circumcision, i.e. worshiping God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances. No man can talk away personal expe­rience. By implication (definition) it defies logic to attempt saving yourself – when you need saving, you need a Savior! It is of no use to read a set of rules on survival whilst drowning in a deep ocean, overcome by strong currents, exposure, exhaustion or sharks. You need to be hoisted out of there by helicopter (from above). You get the idea – be rescued by a ship if you will – the point is we cannot earn eternal life.

So, dear friend, what if this Jesus of Nazareth (despite His Galilean accent) truly is the eternal King and Priest Who was prophesied to be our Messiah? He did change the world, you know: extensive studies have shown that He gave women and slaves their status (back); He brought morality to the forefront (again); the world would have been a much, much worse place had He not come. Think of all the disaster relief funds and workers who are Christians (following Christ). Those who (just) say they are Christians but fail to produce the fruit of the Spirit (do His commandment, i.e. mainly to love), are liars and will, according to Jesus, burn in hell (Rev 21:8). He cannot be fooled. He accurately prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD to prepare the Jews for the divine truth that the OT sacrificial system was finished. There was no more need for a temple (the “church” is His Body on earth until He returns). The unblemished Lamb of God gave His Blood which continually removes all sin of those who accept that price… God’s system is vastly superior to the abolished Jewish system that only served to point out what sin is and that we all need Him: Jesus Christ. That is why we get what we ask in His Name! The first fruit, the first (tenth) of the harvest (as OT shadow) determines the rest, sets the standard or norm. He was without sin, only did the will of the Father and got a resurrected Body, proving eternal life. No (other) man could do that, ever. Of course people scoff and reject Him, among them are the ones who messes up “innocent” people’s lives. But, tell me, have those “innocent” people really asked the Father first where (and when) they should have been? (And you can only really call Him “Father” through His Son, inheriting what He left – and paid for – us in His last will and Testament: the Bible). It is very plausible that bad things happen (to us) because we are not where (when) He wanted us to be.

Remember that God’s will can be better understood in three (!) parts

(1)   His perceived will (like the Ten Commandments). See Deut 28:1,15; 30:19 regarding your choice);

(2)   His decreed will (Gen 8:22); and

(3)   His permissive will. This is the place where God’s wrath, punishment and where curses are experienced. This is how bad things are in His (omniscient, permissive) will, but not in His perceived will, nor done by Him. He made natural and spiritual laws (He can override them, performing miracles at His will). He allows us to suffer or enjoy the consequences of exercising our will. This is why He wants us to have fellowship with Him, to be habitually and constantly obedient to His Holy Spirit’s guidance (Dt 28). This is why Jesus Christ, and only Him, could give us righteousness (in His perfect Name, nature and character) to enter the throne of God boldly (assuredly, confidently). His love and grace are demonstrated in the ama­zing patience which He shows toward us. Read about Jesus Who wept for an unrepentant Israel who rejec­ted a loving Creator-Father’s perfect salvation plan in Matthew 23… He is truly God!

Isaiah 53:1; Ps 95:7-11 and others prophesied that there would be unbelief towards God’s sent Messiah. The sobering thought is that God regards unbelief as sin (Heb 3:12, 19; Ps 95:7-8; Ex 17:1-7; Num 20:1-3; Deut 6:16). 1 Cor 10:4 tells us that Rock depicted Christ. Once smitten at Rephidim He did not need to be smitten (crucified) again at Kadesh. To strike the Rock (Gen 49:24, Deut 32:4; Is 9:6; 49:26 – the Shepherd-Rock: Jesus Christ) twice (Num 20:7-12; Deut 32:51), was to imply that Christ’s death on the cross was not effectual or sufficient for time and eternity. Possibly Moses was not aware of the significance of what he had been ordered to do, but nevertheless, God held him responsible for not obeying Him exactly. Obedience to His perceived (and decreed) will is vitally important – whether we understand His purpose or not. The motto “God’s will – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, at any cost” would have been priceless to Moses and Aaron that day, if they had only followed it. Jesus said that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (note: they sinned for speaking against the Lord – Num 21:7-9), so must the Son of Man be lifted up (crucified), “so that everyone who believes in Him (who cleaves to Him, trusts Him and relies on Him) may not perish but have eternal life and (actually) live forever” (Is 40:5)! Obviously that “look” was to be more than a casual glance! i.e. to look intensively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze. Jesus said “who does not rely on Me, will never see” (Jn 3:14-16,36). That gaze ought to be a God-honouring, God-answered, fixed and absorbing gaze! Ask Jesus Christ into your life! …

Note also that both Abel and Cain were religious, but that Cain proved to not be a child of God by insisting to offer his way and not according to God’s already worked-out plan (which Abel did), i.e. one lamb for one man (Gen 22:8), then one lamb for one family (priests – Ex 12:3), then one lamb for one congregation (nation – Ex 30:10, 20; Lev 17), and then – the whole purpose – one Lamb for all who accept His final offer on that cross (Is 53:7; Jn 1:29; 1 Peter 2:24; and other).

Perhaps few believers have ever identified with Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10) and yet few, if any of us, have not done exactly what they did in principle. Their sin, which God took seriously and proved fatal to them, was not a mere matter of failing to obey the letter of God’s law for priests – their inexcusable folly was in trying to please the Lord in their own way instead of His way. Who of us cannot recognize ourselves as the offer or of this prayer, with only the details lacking: “O Lord, make me rich (faithful, obedient, trustworthy – this would not be true love!); then I will make large donations (effort time, money) to Your interests!” How do we know God’s ultimate purpose (testimony) which He planned for our lives unless we follow His guidance (willingly, as a joyful giver, as a servant-priest-king like Jesus) daily?

(Our) tests are not for us to fail, but to give Him legal right to promote (bless) us! [We can be trusted with more, only if we are faithful with the little given in His wisdom, planned for us in His Kingdom-plan, to the ultimate purpose of our creation, perhaps, which substitution of our will for His would utterly defeat.]  We ought to regard precious all that God entrusts us with, whether we see value therein or not. He lives, we live – it should be a continual dialogue… No wonder God removed Nadab and Abihu from the earth! They, like us, had acted like the small child of a great painter who attempted to work on his father’s priceless canvas instead of on the tablet assigned to him. They, like that child, were banished from the father’s presence; and every believer does well to recognize the importance of being entirely surrendered to God’s will – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, at any cost. That means making a holy alliance in a marriage, or in business, or in thought, to God’s will. Jesus Christ is God’s perfect revelation and will. Remember the sons – priests, sons of the high priest (!) – Nadab and Abihu, who offered “strange and unholy fire before the Lord”. It does not pay.

To know who the “enlightened” people of the world are, consider the following:

For God Who said “let light shine out of darkness” (Gen 1:3), has shone in our hearts [so as to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the Face of Jesus (the Messiah). There it was – the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illuminates every person (Isaiah 49:6). He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him [did not know Him]. He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own – His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him. But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in, adhere to, trust and, and rely on His name – Isaiah 56:5.

The trustworthy testimony of the OT is: He is coming; the trustworthy testimony of the NT is: He has come. Many signs, wonders and miracles today still happen when asked in His Name. Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is always the same – yesterday, today and forever. Why would this all happen and complete the OT so perfectly, if not God?… The whole OT fits as “shadows” fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Melchizedek foreshadowed Jesus as the High Priest [perfectly adapted] to our needs, as was fitting – holy, blameless, unstained by sin, separated from sinners, and exalted higher than the heavens. He has no day-by-day necessity, as did worldly priests, to offer sacrifice first of all for his own sins and then for those of the people – a Son Who has been made perfect for ever (Ps 110:4). This Melchizedek (Gen 14:17-24) [“righteousness”], king of Salem [“peace”, later called Jerusalem] and priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of kings and blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave him (not from Levitical ancestry) a tenth portion of all the spoil before the Levitical priest­hood with tithing was instated (through Abraham’s then yet unborn grandson). This Melchizedek (Gen 14:18 pointed to Mt 26:26-28 and Jn 6:35) foreshadowed a new type of non-legalistic priesthood, not based on the basis of a bodily legal requirement [externally imposed command concerning his physical ancestry], but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible life, that Jesus Christ fulfilled. Noah, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, Isaac are all good “types” and “shadows” of Jesus Christ when studied carefully. To merely be “born into” a position of privilege does not guarantee a personal relationship (intimacy) with God the Father – the sons of Eli, Samuel, David, etc. could testify to that… the whole OT is astonishingly made clear by Jesus, the unique and only begotten Son of God by Whom all are saved who trust in, cling to and rely on Him.

While Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were who they were – a type or shadow – was foretelling of a Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Abraham (as a prophet – Gen 20:7) spoke and acted prophetically in portraying the role of the Father, and referred to that Lamb of God Whom He had provided for Himself, Who in the fullness of time would take away the sin of the world (accepting that offer, price) and of Whom Isaac was a most expressive type. He knew his son would be resurrected, although no record of any such phenomenon had been recorded up to then. How else would Abraham have remarked in Gen 22:5 that he and the boy would be back after he vowed to obey what God instructed him to do in verse 2? Abraham was not lying to his servants or trying to deceive them. He believed God, Who promised him that this young man’s posterity was to inherit the promises made to Abraham (Gen 12:2-3). Isaac, the son, carried the wood for the offering on his back up the mountain, just like Jesus would carry that dead tree (cross). So, in the father’s mind his son was dead for the three days it took them to get there. Jesus was resurrected after three days. In the valley (low point, not high) Isaac asked Abraham where the (offer) lamb was: father said: Jehovah-Jireh (“The Lord foresees and provides”). Up on top, God provided a ram (which dangerous horns were caught in a bush), but where was the lamb of verse 8? Note also that the mysterious “Angel of the Lord” (Himself) stopped Abraham in verse 11 and 12 from doing what He was about to do on Golgotha; for 1 500 years later John the Baptist said (pointing at Jesus): “Behold, the Lamb of God!”… The Holy Spirit Who never draws attention to Himself, but glorifies the Son Who glorifies the Father, is “unnamed” as “the servant” who had to find the son Isaac (portraying Jesus) a bride (Rebekah, suggesting the bride [church] to be when Jesus returns). At this same well called Beer-lahai-roi (“a well to the Living One Who sees me” – Gen 24:62), Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about living water, recorded in John 4:4-32. Dt 18:15,18 was remembered by people recognizing Jesus as an offspring of David from Bethlehem, the village where David lived (Ps 89:3-4; Mic 5:2) when He was speaking of the Spirit Whom those who believe would receive after His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and then the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Jn 7:38-39; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). So we are to know Him (the King) personally, and not just about Him (seek the benefits of His Kingdom)…

The agony Jesus experienced in Gethsemane was the agony of the Son of God in fulfilling His destiny as the Savior of those (any) who would accept that offer. His agony was the basis for the simplicity of our salvation. Because of what the Son of Man could accomplish and went through, we have been provided with a way of access to the very presence of God. The cross is not a cross of a man, but the cross of God, and can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The cross is God exhibiting His nature of Love and Grace. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. The heart of salvation is the cross of Jesus Christ. The reason salvation is easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The cross is the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to Life was opened. The cross is not something that just happened to Jesus – He came to die for us all; the cross was the purpose in His coming as the slain Lamb of God since the foundation of the earth. But all the cost and pain were absorbed by the heart of God – for you and I…

So Christians have a vision, an anticipation, an expectancy and a pursuit of holiness based on what Jesus Christ demonstrated, accomplished and prophesied (promised). Note that salvation does not always bring happiness. Christians will not always be happy. The NT is the most logical wok ever penned. It teaches how tribulations are overcome by the sure way to react to them. The good news for us is that we can look forward to receiving a resurrected body (like Jesus has) when He returns for those who are His – those who truly loves Him back…

The resurrected body will be:

(1)   incorruptible (not decay or age);

(2)   glorious (not humiliated, dishonoured);

(3)   powerful (no infirmities, not weak);

(4)   spiritual (not soulish or self-controlled); and

(5)   immortal (physical, but never to die) – 1 Cor 15:35-55.

Just as Jesus called Lazarus to come forth – and he did – also will He return so that our spirits, souls and bodies will be united for eternity. Those that have accepted Jesus for Who He is will already for always be with Him in spirit. The spirit is God-conscious, the soul (intellect, emotion and will) is self-conscious, the body houses all this and – with the resurrected body – will house this trinity for eternity. Praise His Name! You are a spirit, with a soul, inside a body. Nobody had proof of this on earth until Jesus Christ was resurrected and shown this over 40 days.

I believe all Jesus said, did and prophesied (promised), unreservedly. He, and only He, perfectly represented God and simultaneously perfectly represented man. He identified with mankind and we can identify with Him where He is now. He said and proved that we can! He is God. Only God can send His Holy Spirit to indwell humans permanently. In His Name – the Name above all names: Jesus Christ – miracles are performed in their thousands all across this earth. In His Name Is 9:6 makes perfect sense: “…for unto us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Coun­cillor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father (of Eternity), Prince of Peace”. Isaiah 25:1 says: “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will praise and give thanks to Your Name, for You have done wonderful things, even purposes planned of old [and fulfilled] in faithfulness and truth”. Jesus claimed this in Mt 28:18.

Brief glimpses of amazing portrayals, prophesies, testimonies and (modern day) miracles like these all testify that the mystic secret of God (hidden for us, not from us), is Jesus Christ (the Anointed One). The mystery of the good news (gospel, “God-spell”) is that Jesus Christ – not our merit or good works – is how we get saved through His mercy and grace alone by our faith in Him Who paid for our righteousness with His Blood on that cross. The choice to accept Jesus as our Savior and Friend sets us free (from desire to sin and spiritual death).

Thank You, Father, for paying for us what we could never set right being born as slaves of sin. Thank You for providing a Way and Truth that would remove all from that awful market who would accept Your price: Jesus Christ. How about you He loved so much?

By implication there can only be one (absolute) truth. This means (only) one belief-system must have one unique aspect (truth) separating it from all others that would share a basic, common idea. I believe that no human (group of humans) on earth have all truth completely – this will only be when Jesus returns. Yet, if one belief-system would stand out with one drastic, radical idea that would cause all other belief-systems to be classified in one opposing group, that would be an extremely strong case indeed. Note here that Christianity has such a qualification: all belief-systems can be grouped as having external requirements for man[kind] to save the self (from situations, enemies, circumstances): while Christianity teaches that you approach God as [sinful as] you are, through accepting (recognizing) the price God Himself has paid for you personally (and all believers collectively – out of HIS perfect love and by HIS grace alone), and He then indwells your heart, changing you from the inside out. This price, this Savior, is the resurrected Jesus Christ. The God-Man born of a virgin, Who perfectly identified with us in suffering (even rejection) and so perfectly represented a sinless [meek – not weak; mild, forgiving] man (only a God-Man could do) whilst simultaneously perfectly represent­ing God to us so that we all “can see His Face” (again, what only a God-Man can do) and life eternally! Only such a God-Man could be the (only) Mediator between man and God to reconcile a sinless man to God. Only One Who overcame death (not dying again) but was prophesied to raise from the dead in three days by OT prophets, and was seen ascending into the spiritual realm [again], could demonstrate our spiritual existence and give hope for us to also have a resurrected body when He comes again to call us… who accepted Him.

As a post-script, let’s briefly consider a few attempts that try to reason the empty grave in Gethsemane away:

  • Jesus’ disciples stole His Body. Right, so a weak, discouraged, confused group of 11 (Judas the Iscariot committed suicide after he realized what he had done) ordinary guys probably looking like “losers”, over­powered hardened Roman soldiers (or convinced professionals to do it on their behalf) helping the Sanhedrin who were desperate to prove Jesus would not fulfill this one prophecy that would condemn their wicked unbelief. To break Caesar’s seal would be as good as signing your own death warrant. Yet, they preached the gospel for years afterward, eventually being martyred for, and still believing and confessing this “lie”. Still Jesus appeared to hundreds of eyewitnesses over the 40 days following His resurrection. They all were prepared to die for this lie…!
  • The Sanhedrin (Jews) stole Jesus’ Body. Surely they would be the first to display Jesus’ Body to prove this Man walking around claiming to be [looking just like] Jesus resurrected was a fake? Still Jesus appeared to hundreds of eyewitnesses over 40 days…
  • It is a concocted story, a myth, some sort of clever trickery. Hallucinations are not contagious. Thousands of people just do not die a martyr’s death individually to confirm a (suspicious) lie. All those prophesies ful­filled amount to a magnificent mathematical probability. Millions of people worldwide, since, must then fake their personal experience, miraculous healings and supernatural experiences. The Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, to whom Jesus appeared after Jesus’ resurrection, was reborn and wrote most of the New Testament. Jesus gave him at least 12 major revelations, enlightening OT mysteries only God could know. His name changed (like all who have had an encounter with Jesus, like Abraham, Jacob [Israel]) and placed the OT prophesies regar­ding Jesus’ resurrection on the third day before all those hundreds of eyewitnesses; they spoke in the first person, but their words clearly applied to the Messiah Jesus Christ [Ps 16:8-11; 71:20-21; Hos 6:1-3; see 1 Tim 3:16 and 2 Tim 3:16-17]. Interesting how the first eyewitnesses to see Jesus resurrected, were of those who He came to give status back again, since Eve… women were regarded as inferior and not credible, when Jesus entered the natural realm legally (His birth through a woman!). He came to uplift the oppressed and downtrodden – He came for sinners and people realizing they were (are) helpless. The self-righteous and pride-filled sinners He left like a true ‘gentle-Man’ (allowing them to be their own god, if they wanted to!). He is righteousness and love and will therefore never violate your will. But He will want you to repent, to change your mind-set about sin, to change your thought processes and turn away from the feeble world systems of empty philosophical nonsense or dead religion, and submit fully to Him, Who is omniscient and omnipresent. Whoever believes in (be a disciple of) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal life (everlasting life). God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. Just observe what happens everywhere where people reject Jesus Christ as the only Savior; also those who genuinely have accepted Him… This unfolding, progressive revelation of a Bridegroom and His Bride must be the biggest story ever told! Maybe that is why the Bible still is the bestseller today, trans­lated (not altered) in over 1 700 languages, changing millions of lives and constitutions of great nations.

The gospel (Christianity, good news) has survived the biggest attempt (of all belief-systems) to have it eradica­ted from the face of this planet in history (study especially the years -4 to 313 AD – by the way, “AD” stands for “Anno Domini”, ‘in the year of our Lord’… how many important documents can we sign today omitting this date?). Christianity will be here until Christ Jesus returns. He gives true (known) hope to believers across the globe who are looking forward to meet Him in the air, with a resurrected body on that glorious day. If I go now, my body will die but my spirit and soul will be with Him already until He comes again to give me my resur­rected body – for eternity. Do you have that hope? (hope is based on faith, on being fully persuaded. If not, it is only wishful thinking). May God our Father help us, in Jesus’ Name. My prayer is that He convicts us of His truth and His perfect salvation plan for us; that He intervenes in this spiritual warfare to deliver (free) us from satan’s attempts to darken our souls and spirits. Thank you for reading this far… I salute your earnest search for righteousness and humbly pray that you will seriously, sincerely and prayerfully contemplate the above with an open heart.

Now, kindly consider the meditations on www.gospel-truth.co.za.  First, the one entitled “Who is Jesus Christ”, then those such as “Israel racism”, “The Covenant and the Law”, “The Gospel”, and so on.

Shalom.