A Red Heifer and a Bloody Bride

red-heifer-1For if the blood of bulls and of goats,
and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean,
sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,
purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:13-14

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded,
saying, Speak unto the children of Israel,
that they bring thee a red heifer without spot,
wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
… 5  and one shall burn the heifer in his sight;
her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
… 17  And for an unclean person [or thing] they shall take
of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin,
and running [Hebrew-
living] water shall be put thereto in a vessel.
Numbers 19:1-17

The Law’s remedy for uncleanness is living water poured through the ashes left from the burnt offering of a female calf, a red heifer. The special water is then called the water of separation. In studying the word separation, I discovered through Strong’s Concordance and Gesenius’ Lexicon that we may understand further the idea of waving away, as in shooing a fly. The priest uses the water to shoo away the uncleanness.

Why is this a female burnt offering?

The heifer is necessarily red according to the scripture. The Hebrew word red is a derivative of the word for blood. Everything that is described as red in Hebrew is compared to blood. (Similarly, everything that is white in Hebrew is compared to milk.)  The heifer may have been red in fur color, or she may have been blood red, possibly fertile and ready for breeding.

If she is offered to God in the height of her fertility, and then her ashes are mixed with living water, doesn’t that speak of resurrection?

What if this Red Heifer represents a bloody bride? -A bride who has laid down her life in offering to the Bridegroom. A bride who has given up marriage to this world for a heavenly union.

What if it is a resurrected Bride who sprinkles Living Water upon the unclean land?

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
John 7:38

Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.
Numbers 21:17

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The Sinner’s Prayer and the Rewards of Love

Does God give out white, red and blue ribbons?  Or, does everyone in heaven get the same orange “Participant” ribbon?  We all know that Jesus gets the big purple “Best of the Show” ribbon, but what about the rest of us?

He that cometh to God must believe that he is,
and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6  

Why does it say “diligently”?  An honest Sinner’s Prayer will bring anyone under the atoning blood of Jesus.  Is that reward enough? Yes, if all you want is “fire insurance.”  An honest sinner’s prayer requires honesty, but not necessarily diligence.  Are there rewards beyond a welcome at the Pearly Gate?

Let’s talk about love.

The weight of guilt suddenly rolls off your back.  Your soul is flooded with peace, relief.  Joy bubbles up from deep within overflowing on your face and upon everyone around you.  That honest sinner’s prayer is just the beginning.  Your heart glows for the One who set you free.  He is the One who gives you this flood of peace and overflowing joy.  You never want to leave Him.  You never want to separate from this experience.  Who is doing this for you?  Jesus, and you love Him because He loves you.

It is the honest sinner’s prayer that starts this wonderful experience of relief from the weight of guilt on your back.

An opportunity appears for some self-advantage.  It requires nudging past someone else.  You tell yourself the advantage is worth it.  You deserve it more than Smithy.  You make your move, and Smithy loses.

You barely notice the dry breeze that wafts across your face.  The excitement of your advantage covers the missing bubbles of joy.  Slowly, your back is feeling heavier.  It’s harder to look up.

One day you remember your overflowing joy and wonder what happened.

Think about it.  Can you remember the last time you experienced that peace, that relief?  The weight came back to your back.

How can you return to your first love?  You will find Him in the same place you found Him before, bubbling up from an honest sinner’s prayer.

The weight of guilt on your back is a tool.  It functions the same as the nerves in your finger that feel the heat of a stove and cause you to jump back.  You can suppress the guilt, ignore it, tell yourself that Jesus has carried your guiltiness, that God doesn’t look upon your guilt because He accepts Jesus in your stead.

Yeah, you can shoot Novocain into your finger too.  Then you won’t feel the hot burner on the stove.  You can hold your finger on the burner all day long, and you won’t feel the flesh burning off down to the bone.  Is that  a good thing?  Let’s not feel the pain!

Guilt is a tool.  It weighs down our backs until we return to God in honest repentance.  God’s forgiveness is not Novocain to numb our conscience from the pain of guilt.  God’s forgiveness wipes the soul clean, really clean.  There is no guilt in a clean soul.

That’s what you experienced the first time.  And you can have it again.

Now, about those rewards…

Jesus answered and said unto him,
If a man love me, he will keep my words.

John 14:23  

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  God rewards our diligence.  A diligent student will turn in all his homework assignments on time and study before a test.  A diligent athlete will show up at every practice, never be late for a game, and work out to increase muscle strength.  We know what diligence is.

What does diligently seeking God look like?  Like the student, we will do the homework assignments of keeping His words.  We will study the scriptures for our tests and trials.  Like the athlete, we will show up for practice by assembling with like-minded believers.  We will not be absent when someone needs our help.  We will work out with practical applications of our faith.

Does this description of diligence seem worthy of a reward?  It’s not really the doing that brings the reward.  It’s the love, the love that lays its life down for a friend.

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13  

The thing is, that unless we practice our faith diligently, when the test comes, we will choose self-advantage over laying down our lives every time.

Jesus laid down His life for us.  We are called to lay down our lives for others.  Jesus has a name above every name.  He alone gets the purple ribbon.  As we follow Him diligently, we will receive our reward.  Yes, He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  God rewards our love.

He loves us.  Will we love Him?

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

1 John 3:16  

Jesus the Sin Offering and the Priest

Part of this post is an excerpt from my book He Who Bleeds available on amazon.com

Is God angry, raging and vengeful? Animal sacrifice? What a barbaric custom!  Gruesome, even cruel.  No wonder many Christian theologians separate the angry God of the Old Testament from the loving God of the New Testament.   

Who is Who?

There is a gospel in the Old Testament.  Jesus opened the Old Testament scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection.

Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  Luke 24:27

What is animal sacrifice?  I mean, what is it all about?   I know it is representative, but who is who?  I mean, who is the animal representing?  Maybe he is representing me, and I should die for my sin, but the innocent animal dies in my place so God can forgive me.  Is this really what is going on?

What if, in the gospel according to the First Covenant, the sacrificial animal takes the representative role of the victim of that sin?  To find the answer we must look into the ceremony of Atonement.

Atonement is a Legal Term

The Hebrew word in the Strong’s concordance is #3722 kaphar[1].  An example of kaphar as a legal term is in Isaiah 28:18 “your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand;” A covenant is a legally binding agreement, like a contract.  Disannulment  brings the contract to a legal end.  Disannulment frees the signers from further contract liability.  Disannulment is atonement, kaphar.

Atonement as referred to in Mosaic Law is the waiving of the required legal punishment.  Sins for which atonement is made are covered.  They are covered from the punishment of the law.  The process of atonement does not negate the need for repentance and restitution.  On the contrary, confession, repentance and making restitution are necessary steps to atonement[2].  According to Leviticus, after these first steps had been accomplished, then the priest shall make an atonement for him.

The Priest is the Acting Intercessor

How did the priest make an atonement for the sinner?  What did the priest do?  

In a case where the sinner confesses and repents to the victim, as long as the victim is satisfied with the repentance, they may declare peace with one another, and the incident is over. Like Jesus said in Matthew 5:25,  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him.  There is no need for the law to step in and provide an intercessor.   But what if the sinner repents, and still the victim refuses to make peace?  Then there is need for the law to provide an intercessor.  The intercessor acts in the place of the defrauded victim and makes an atonement for the repentant sinner.   

The earthly pattern that God gave Moses for atonement had two parts.  These were two actors, so to speak, in this earthly pre-enactment of the necessary action in the heavens.  The sacrificial animal and the priest both represent the victim of the sin.  The animal loses his life as the victim who has been defrauded of a portion of his life.  The priest, in the place of the victim, makes atonement, in other words, waives the charges against the sinner. 

            Ceremonially, two actors were needed because the animal could lay down his life, but could not intelligently waive the charges.  The priest could waive the charges, but could not die or suffer equal defraudment for every sin he atoned.  So, the priest was required to eat the sin offering[3] to make himself one with the animal who was taking on the position of the victim.  It was imperative upon the priest that he eat the sin offering, and only the priest who offered the sacrifice was allowed to eat it. 

Because the priest representatively becomes the victim of my sin, he has the right to press charges against me or to waive the charges.  

What did he do?  The priest waived the charges in the stead of the victim and atonement was made.

            Jesus was able to be both sin offering and priest.  Jesus was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities[4].  He accepted the weight of pain and grief caused by every sin ever committed bearing it in his own body on the cross.  He is the Victim of all our sin, and He could choose to press charges or to waive the charges against us.  Thank God, he chose to intercede in the proceedings that were against us making atonement for our sins, not pressing the charges.  Only the victim or one who legally stands in the victim’s stead can do that.  Jesus is the True Victim who holds the right to forgive every sin; and he is our High Priest who “ever liveth to make intercession for us”.[5] 

Let’s go back to where we started.  Is this a barbaric picture of animal sacrifice?  Gruesome, even cruel?  Maybe; but who is cruel, God? or the sinner? 

Sin is cruel, and Jesus came to take away sin.

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29  

[1] 3722  kaphar {kaw-far’} From Strong’s Concordance
Meaning:  1) to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch 1a) to coat or cover with pitch  1b1) to cover over, pacify, propitiate 1b2) to cover over, atone for sin, make atonement for 1b3) to cover over, atone for sin and persons by legal rites 1c1) to be covered over 1c2) to make atonement for 1d) to be covered
Origin:  a primitive root
Usage:  AV – atonement 71, purge 7, reconciliation 4, reconcile 3, forgive 3, purge away 2, pacify 2, atonement…made 2, merciful 2, cleansed 1, disannulled 1, appease 1, put off 1, pardon 1, pitch 1; 102

[2] Leviticus 6:4-7  Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,  5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.  6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:  7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

[3] Leviticus 6:26  The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.

[4] Hebrews 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[5] Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Passing the Inheritance to Little Brothers

Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven…” 

God is not only Jesus’ father; He is our father also.  He is Father in many ways.  As the Creator, He is the father of all His creation.   He is the father to all humankind because He created man in His own image, as it says “male and female created he them.”  He is our father because of creation, and in that sense we are his sons.   He is the father of Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. Now we are getting to the point.  A father gives his inheritance to his children. The inheritance of the Creator is everything that the creator owns, and God is the estate owner of all heaven and earth.  God has given His inheritance to His Firstborn, Jesus Christ.  Jesus by inheritance is the owner all things.

 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth… Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, … And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. … No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. … Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.  … And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.  … Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: …  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  … The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  … He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
 The above quotes are found in order as follows: Genesis 1:1, Exodus 20:11, Genesis 1:31, John 1:18, Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 9:15, Matthew 25:34, Colossians 3:24, Ephesians 1:18, Revelation 21:7                 

Estate Owners

What happens when an estate owner dies? The executor reads the will and testament of the one who died and must remit the inheritance to the heirs.  Before his death, the estate owner owns all things.  The heirs may not take their inheritance until the death of the owner.  Death is required before the inheritance may be disseminated.

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. Matthew 17:5 

Jesus is the only begotten son of Father God.  Twice during his life on earth God said, This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.[1] Jesus was the fully matured son, the son who was ready to take over his father’s business.  He owned and had authority over all the estate of God the Father. Because Jesus was the True Firstborn, the only full heir of the Father under the First Covenant, at his death he had the authority to bequeath that same inheritance to his many brethren[2] under his own will and testament, the New Covenant[3].

 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal  inheritance.  For where a testament [a will] is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament [a will] is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Hebrews 9:15-17

Jesus is the Testator, the Estate Owner, of the Second Covenant who had to die as the son over his own house[4] to bequeath the eternal inheritance to His many brethren. In His death as the Testator of the Second Testament, he bequeathed the promise of eternal inheritance to all who would come to God by him.

 Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.   1 John 3:23  

He is the firstborn of many brethren,[5] and this is the inheritance bought for us by redemption through His blood.[6]

[1] Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5
[2] Romans 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
[3] Hebrews 8:7  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
[4] Heb.3:6
[5] Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
[6] Colossians 1:14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Calling for Intercessors

These are some of my recent tweets:

Cover the cries of the innocent
With the cries of the intercessors.

Pre BornTeach the intercessors
To cover the blood of the innocent
With the Blood of the Lamb.

Intercessors die daily.
Take up your cross.

Without the blood of innocents
The engines of anti-christ
Will sputter to a halt.

The blood of the intercessors is the seed of the Church.
Lay down your lives, and pray.

1 John 3:16  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Luke 9:23  And Jesus said to them all,  “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”2 Corinthians 5:18-20  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,
and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,
not imputing their trespasses unto them;
and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.

Interstellar the Movie, Who are They?

[Slight Spoiler Alert; so please go see the movie!]
Interstellar Movie PosterChristopher Nolan‘s newest blockbuster movie Interstellar leaves us questioning, “Who is They?”  As with his Inception, Nolan’s brilliance leaves no accidental intimations.  The audience is honored by the Nolan brothers with the expectation that they will think/meditate on their movie experience.  As expected, I have engaged in some deep thinking and discussing since I experienced Interstellar almost a week ago.

There is hope in Nolan’s futuristic sci-fi.  Coop [Matthew McConaughey]  has a daughter named after Murphy’s Law.  Very early in the movie young Murph is angry that she is named after something bad.  The answer her father gives is a twist on the common negative version of Murphy’s Law.  He tells her it is not about something bad, but that whatever can happen will happen.  That is a hint of hope.

Who is “They”?

Interstellar the movie who are theyScientists tell Coop that “they” have opened a wormhole to another galaxy with habitable planets just in time to save mankind from the inhabitable conditions on earth.  Coop asks, “Who is They?”  No one knows, but they are obviously a higher being capable of manipulating dimensions.  And They seem to be trying to help humans.  Possibly, it is speculated, They are multidimensional beings.

Cooper (Coop) is a former NASA pilot who is now trying to survive earth’s environmental deterioration, as everyone else,  by farming corn.  He says, “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”  Coop is clearly named for the proverbial eagle raised in the chicken coop.  The story has numerous variations and goes something like this:

A farmer finds an eagle’s egg and places it under a brooding hen to be raised with the chickens.  He wisely keeps the eagle’s wings clipped so it can’t fly out of the chicken coop, so the eagle scratches in the dirt for food like the chickens.  After a while the farmer forgets to keep the eagle’s wings clipped.  One day a thunderstorm is brewing.  As thunder rolls, the chickens scurry under the coop to huddle together in fear of the storm.  A gust of wind rushes through the eagle’s feathers.  The eagle feels the exhilaration of the approaching storm and hops onto a fence post stretching his wings into the wind.  The next current catches his wings and lifts the eagle to flight.  The same storm that causes the chickens to cower in fear lifts the eagle to soar above the clouds and above the storm.

Yes, Coop is an eagle among chickens.

Are the main characters’ names really meaningful clues? The simplest clue is Anne Hathaway‘s character Amelia Brand.  Using the name “Amelia” is an honest tribute to the brave female aviator Amelia Earhart.

Dr. Amelia’s “Love Soliloquy”  in the very center of the film time also carries the central theme of the story.  She is making her pitch to Coop about which of the remaining habitable planets to choose, when she says,

“Maybe we’ve spent too long trying to figure all this out with theory. … Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.”

In the end love is what saves mankind.

Dr. Brand’s Plan A and Plan B bank on innate human love of family to secure a future for mankind.   Dr. Brand [Michael  Caine] trusts that if humans  believe they can save their families, no sacrifice will be too great.  It is the strongest motivational force in humanity, even above self-preservation.

Another aptly named character seems to be an Adam figure.  This character deceives in order to secure his own rescue and then attempts to take over the plan for the future of the human race. It is he who tells Coop that the last thing one sees before death is the faces of those he loves most.

When all hope is gone and all possibilities for salvation are played out, love in the form of self-sacrifice wins a future for mankind on one of the habitable planets.  Both Dr. Brands were right in different ways.

Interstellar movie Who is They?

Tesseract

Coop enters the black hole to collect data necessary to human survival.  As he is pulled into the singularity, he is sucked into a tesseract that has been created for him by the multidimensional beings.  Nolan has impressively represented the tesseract in which Coop figures out a way to use gravity to communicate with his own past.  Therefore he passes the lifesaving data to his daughter on earth.

But who is They?

In the end the scientists say that “They” are evolved humans of the future who have learned how to manipulate dimensions.   Are we, the audience, required to believe this? Is Interstellar  an atheistic film championing human willpower as the salvation of humanity?   How many times have scientists in this story misinterpreted the data to form wrong conclusions?  Several times.
What data do we have?

  1. “They” opened a wormhole  in time to give mankind a way of salvation from earth.
  2. “They” created a tesseract and put Coop in it so he could communicate with Murph.
  3. All “supernatural” communication is discovered to be actually human to human.
  4. “They” set up the provision for human to human communication across dimensions.
The Paradox

How can humans go back in time to save themselves in their own past unless they have already been saved to be in the future at all?  For humans to have been “They” who opened the wormhole, some humans must have lived through earth’s apocalypse to become multidimensional.  This possibility would be acceptable if we were watching the BBC’s Dr. Who?, but we are not.  The timeline of the film gives no evidence for this possibility.  The same argument holds for the builders of the tesseract.

Are Christopher and Jonathan Nolan expecting us to make this leap of faith to believe without evidence ?  I am not willing to suspend disbelief that far.  I have more respect for Nolan ingenuity than  that.  As they expected me to think, I expect that they thought.

Here sci-fi transcends entertainment and becomes philosophic.   Can we believe in multidimensional beings?  Can we believe that a multidimensional being might want to save mankind?  Might that multidimensional being set up a system of communication to carry ideas across time from human to human?

Hey, it’s just sci-fi!

Where Earth Meets Heaven, a poem and a painting

Where does Earth meet Heaven?

After a season of illness that kept me weak and bed-ridden for an extended time, I wrote this poem.  The poem came to me because of a vision I received while in prayer one morning.  I saw Jesus walking on water.  Then suddenly the picture flipped.  I saw him upside-down, as it were, walking on water that was up and the sky was down.  I laughed at the thought, but I understood at that point that Heaven, not gravity, held Jesus to Earth.

 

Heaven Holds Me Here

 

Heaven Holds Me Here

The painting I call Where Earth Meets Heaven. It depicts two realms, and shows a man walking in both. It certainly goes with this poem because as we walk in this earth, we are also constantly confronted by the heavenly realm. We walk on earth and in heaven. We are offered the opportunity by God to bring His Kingdom to Earth by our involvement in it. Earth meets Heaven in the place where our feet walk.

My body may be feeble

Holding life by a thread.

As my Savior walked on water

I will rise from my bed.

 

He held to Earth by glory,

No need for gravity,

And when my work is over

I’ll ascend to God as He.

 

My feet daily walk this Earth.

I labor in His field.

Thirty, sixty, a hundred fold

I pray my work will yield.

 

It’s not Earth that holds me down.

Heaven holds me up.

My feet will ever walk this Earth

While Heaven holds me here.