THE LAMB IS AT THE CENTRE OF EVERYTHING IN THE BOOK.

The honour due to the Son of God appears in relevant scenarios. People who believe and people who do not believe are unquestionably in the drama. It is encouraging to know that secular power is like a dog on a leash, and the keys and seals are in the hands of an unrivalled priest-king, the Lamb of God. As the victim and the vindicator he is in charge of the unfolding actions.

A Lamb Stood – as Just Sacrifice

His sevens show him

  • all-powerful (horns),
  • all-knowing (eyes)
  • on duty everywhere (dispatched globally)

Rev 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. ESV2011

His worthiness – seven times blessed0

The Lamb was slain and is destined to receive the seven-fold complement, blessing, or eulogy (as benediction) (Rev. 5:12).

saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive

  1. power
  2. wealth
  3. wisdom
  4. might
  5. honor
  6. glory
  7. blessing

OPENS THE WILL of GOD – a scroll of history

prodiving ASSURANCE, he flips the switch for the must-happen things,

Rev 6:1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” ESV2011

SHEPHERDS his flock and wipes their tears away

Rev 7:17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” ESV2011

STOOD – is in place with his people

Rev 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. ESV2011

IS VICTORIOUS

Rev 17:14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” ESV2011

IS THE PALACE

Rev 21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. ESV2011

LIGHTS UP NEW JERUSALEM

Rev 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. ESV2011

With a little comparison to the news of our day, it is clear that the world is mesmerized by the glitter of merchandize and abuse of power, while the spark of a bright lamp burns within each breast. At the centre of our being is a place where light, home, security, no tears, and complements are the priorities. Who needs darkness, refugees, wars, isolation, tears, ignorance, accusations, or injustice?

Shields Up

Above all, take the shield of faith…

Ephesians 6:16a

You may have been taught that the Christian’s shield is (a) his promise to follow and (b) the reliability of his performance. Let us be persuaded about our security.

Abraham’s Shield Should Shake us from our Slumber

After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Genesis 15:1

Golden Goose and Fabulous Failures

Gold is good, controversial, unpopular, demoted by legend and greed, and destined for street paving. It is one of the few acknowledged by all as a symbol of excellence and high quality. The people of new Testament times received a wake up call demonstrating how gold as a sacred commodity did not cut it.

The origins of God’s golden decor

  • Gold or golden appears on average 9 times per book in the Old Testament. The actual frequency is 383 times.
  • In the New Testament the terms appear 23 times. That makes an average of 1.3 per book.

Guess where it peaks. Exodus with 22%, and at the other end Deuteronomy showing less than 1% (.007). Pure gold and gold covered items dominate the Exodus tabernacle construction narrative.  Why does it matter?

Temple and fidelity

People used to swear by God’s life. They did not say “so help me God” but “As the Lord lives” and “by Yahweh’s life”, staking their promise or affirmation on God’s continuing existence. A person’s word should be reliable enough to take to the bank. In New Testament times the connection became quite transparent. They swore by the gold – the thing they supposed made the temple noble and majestic.

Matthew 23:16-22 has a set of warnings about common oath practices and the people developing policies regulating temple procedures increasingly swore – made vows – with respect to temple gold and not Yahweh’s life.

  • Oaths and temple gold
  • Oaths and the temple
  • Oaths and Yahweh’s name
  • Oaths and the altar

OUR LORD CLARIFIES THE ISSUE

  • Whoever shall swear by the altar, swears by it, and by all things on it.
  • Whoever shall swear by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells there.
  • He who swears by heaven, swears by God’s throne and by him that sits on it.

When gold is at the top of our value list we very well may keep asking for the wrong things, as did a lame man who saw Peter and John near the temple. He was probably certain that the disciples had cash, as are many who observe churchgoers.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Acts 3:6

Having gold or swearing by it did not advance the oath. The practice showed how people kept imposing distance and corruptible things between themselves and God. Food, drink, clothing, marital status, and yes, gold (silver, cash, credit) keep showing up as the genuine markers of our relationship with God.

Forasmuch as all of you know that all of you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

1 Peter 1:18-21

Make Friends not Fiends

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

Luke 11:8

This amazing saying – a conclusion of a parable – from the Saviour clearly extends our friendship circle to the friends of our friends.  The man who rises to share bread late at night was probably not aware that his action would make him a friend to a stranger.

A friend (friendship) is the result of helping people with the resources God has given us.  If the resources we end up sharing are the product of our human tradition we make fiends – people assigned to the burning flames of Hell, or demon-like people.

Fiends to hell

“It will be bad for you teachers of the law and you Pharisees! You are hypocrites. You travel across the seas and across different countries to find one person who will follow your ways. When you find that person, you make him worse than you are. And you are so bad that you belong in hell!

Matthew 23:15

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, all of you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Matthew 25:41

When You Pray

Prayer is at the centre of Christian life and Christ’s instructions include healthy practical examples of how to pray. We can understand the ineffectiveness of our prayers by comparing them with Messianic instruction. The preliminary survey is disturbing.

What do we say?

We are familiar with repetitious, lengthy, and improperly addressed prayers, and these seem to be the standard. It is rare for a prayer to have the kind of effectiveness that is anticipated by the writers of the New Testament.
Personal prayer, addressed in Matthew 6:5-6, is decidedly a private, Father-directed endeavour. When an individual prays he should not imitate the hypocrites who are essentially performing for human observers.
The instruction directed to all the disciples discourages empty repetitions and imitation of the heathen (vs. 7).

Common threads

In the actual content of the prayer our Lord expects the prayer to be collectively based. The Lord expected us to pray mindful of the common Father, the common bread, the common debts, the common protection from the risks of temptation, and the common rescue from evil.

The Father’s Realm

It will be evident that most (public) prayers turn intensely personal and even inappropriately private even though apostolic instructions, such as Paul’s, call for recognition of our community.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (1 Timothy 2:1) For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:2)

The Church is in grave danger of majoring in minors when it comes to prayers. Prayers quickly degenerate into exorcisms, decrees and emotion-eliciting cliches and misapplication of Scripture. The hindrances that show up in our prayer life ought to be addressed m in our daily life.

When you pray, are you self-centred? Do you prepare lengthy preambles to establish your authority in the spiritual realm? Do you claim to be other than what you really are; a person with human passions and reverence for the Father in heaven? Is Father-God just another “friend”?

(More tomorrow)

Deadly Viral Ark

The ark is a coffin. The deal inside is a death sentence. We are sure it had a reputation as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. It’s presentation was deceptive: it revealed perpetually unfinished business and expectations. It was a huge case of extreme Hollywood. Larceny dogged the trails of the ark’s keepers and greed and deception ruled the day. The ark is one more toy that fades when the real deal arrives. For those entities squeezing themselves into an imitation of ancient Israel the trip leads nowhere. We do not hear that the ark stands for the container of God’s will in the Messianic tradition because reverence for the ark as a law container does not fit with a God who has disarmed condemnation. We remain sure that the message for the world’s salvation is the God-with-us-man, not a deadly viral ark.

  • Should not every people have a coffin?
  • Should not every people have a priesthood for their coffin?

The sight of the ark is a temptation to talk – perhaps brag a little – when in fact there is nothing to say for a box that is disguised as treasure. Revelation 11:19 is a megaphone in this regard and follows Jeremiah’s prediction.

And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, The ark of the covenant of the Lord. It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. Jeremiah 3:16

Until John sees the coffin in vision no one in the New Testament period nor in the intertestamental period mentioned the coffin. It did not even come to mind and writing the covenant all over one’s clothing and talking about it did not save a single Israelite. They ate manna and died. They and the vast majority of their descendants talked a good game and provoked God to dramatic action. When we are talking about salvation people who think that the law is the whole duty of man should keep quiet.

Now comes the truth. It’s a man named Yeshua, not a tent or a temple.

  • If that box had a command that gave eternal life everyone needs one.
  • If that box had a promise in it that lengthens life everyone needs one.
  • If everyone has a coffin then there is no distinct chosen people, such as Israel.

Real treasure is excellence in human flesh, the good thing from Nazareth, the flower in the swamp (the Black man in the White House?)

Real treasure needs a nondescript background.

Since Christ revealed his righteousness apart from law and is our atonement ( hilasmon ) and our altar ( hilasterion ) why is anyone glorifying a death-dealing box, or trying to explain salvation and holiness by using the terms and processes of a doomed priesthood and the kindergarten principles of food and drink?

No Tabernacles for the Prophets

Matthew 17:4-8 shakes up the world of the prophets and the disciples. In this version of the story the two prophets do not get a briefing about Christ’s atoning sacrifice and I am loathe to try and harmonize the evangelists’ intentions. Luke alone (9:31) seems to have inquired about the conversation between the three and learned that the two prophets had been talking about (most certainly the meaning of) Christ’s death.

Who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

The narrative freezes any attempt to honour the prophets, even these two towering figures. It also denies the equality of Christ and the prophets.

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear all of you him.

Hear and Fear

Two things bring on the reverence due. The disciples are wrong about the prophets and wrong about Christ. They go from being excited about the prophets’ association with the Rabbi to sheer terror and to the stark reality that Yeshua is all there is.

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.