Following Biblical truth leads to confidence, not to insecurity where one cannot say “I am safe” and “I am a child of God”. That is one way of recognizing persons lost in the desert of unbelief.
Despair and heartache stallk many consumers because they have a cheap view of the agent with remedies and his product. Salvation in Christ suffers the same fate. We routinely bypass fresh fruit for their processed versions. We are doing the same when it comes to the equally important spiritual life and health. Calvary is not the same as the Exodus. Of course not. It is like the Exodus, but the Exodus is not able to show the high definition of the cross. Old wine and new bottles end in disaster. Salvation is not only an old idea and expectation; it is a divine and timeless mystery unveiled completely in 3½ years.
Full moon on a dark day
It was a full moon, 14th of Nisan, a high festival in Judea when Christ died. The Passover was a real event that doubled as a picture of the liberation of people all over the world from sin’s bondage. Now that Passover is no longer a local affair its Lamb selection and routines are irrelevant. There is only memory of the event. For Christians the Passover is an eternal reality that touches down when people come to faith. That day put a cap on 3½ years of public service – preaching, teaching, healing.
Scandal we avoid
Most people who say they are into something special with God are likely to be far from him. Look no further than our own fathers in the Christian faith. Paul was a virulent antagonist before his conversion. James tried to turn the church into Israel after his conversion. Far too many believers are eager to lay aside the gold of Christ for the tin of Moses. It seems so much more easy to subscribe to rules and regulations. To associate with a Saviour is to admit the need, and that need is inconsistent with “good people”, people who are not afraid of death, or people who “don’t understand how humans can disobey and rebel against God and man”.
Salvation’s door is open. The day it closes is the day we die or the day God rolls up the sky and land and put them away. Christ’s work is done. He passed the torch to the Holy Spirit who alone can keep people in the truth and guide them to more treasures of divine majesty. He is not dying today and cannot die again. There is no need for a second death. He dies once. We die with him once – no repeat – in order to life in him.
We will never find access to the truth beneficial if we keep distancing ourselves from the ancestors as if we were automatically better off or in possession of better and mightier things. The Christ who cried, took the side of the oppressed, owned no property, had dinner dates with sinners and prostitutes, and died, is not a hero. Far from it! Many of us actually despise Christ for not making us spitting images of our heroes. He made a troublefree life for noone. It is a Balaam attitude to expect a life of ease – a crossless and stagnant (no growth) life.
Salvation is not a good or better job. Just looking at the people who profess this kind of salvation delivers a shock. Everyone is aging and decaying. Salvation is not improved health or healing. It is not getting a victory in every circumstance. It is wholeness that needs no human contribution. Christ saves us or we are not saved at all.
Salvation will mean nothing at all to people with a sense of “I never” because that is precisely the last thing God wants to hear. How Hollywood and abominable it is to put on an air of disgust and personal achievement of a sinless “victorious” life! Eternally sinless people cannot call God Father or pray to him without reference to how one becomes his child, because his children always need a Saviour.
The first day of the last week of Yeshua’s life is on public display at this time of the year again with its well-rounded appeal and its popularity as a fabulous deep. The light streaming from the triumphant entry is somewhat dimmed torch when compared to the untrimmed prophecy from which the gospel writers cited Zion’s joy. That now famous donkey ride calls for a closer look at Zion’s reason to rejoice greatly.
King nobody wanted
Yeshua’s contemporaries and the Jewish leadership objected to his preaching, teaching, and his healing. The people even exploited his feeding of the hungry: this food manufacturer could be our king. Was he not born king? Yes, but they did not really want the Nazarene. I think the Roman governor hit the piñata when Yeshua’s opponents tries to get the cross-sign changed from “Jesus, Nazarene, Jewish King” to “he called himself Jesus, Nazarene, Jewish King”
I N R I
In that last week Yeshua pushed the buttons to shift to the work he came to do: establish who is really in charge.
The ride into Zion is more than popular acclaim. The full prediction breaks out of the mold of Moses and the prophets.
The gospel-writer’s citationMatthew 21:5
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
The full Zecharian prophecy
A. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. B. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. C. As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.Zechariah 9:9-11
The lines following the procession description play out in the sayings and interactions in the following list. Israel’s pride is over. Everything she had at the top of her power list is now useless. Abraham’s family, those countless Gentile “sinners” will be have God’s peace through His decree. There comes a covenant that releases people from wells without water.
- Clearing the temple of merchandising
- Cursing the fig tree
- Condemning the rejection of the Baptist
- Evaluating and evicting the murderous tenants
- Identifying the wedding guests who disinvited themselves
- Separating Caesar and God
- Resurrection and human destiny
- Capping the law and the prophets
- Identifying David’s son
- Trashing the leadership (people in Moses’ seat)
Weeping over Jerusalem
The events in the list cover Matthew chapters 21 to 23 and they are clearly the final actions of the king before he finishes his work on the cross. Joy vanishes quickly as people return to their ways, kicking and screaming that YHWH was not their king. It was too much to be under the wing of a loving mother.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Desolation vs Covenant
The united memories of both Zionite and the waterless wells cannot paper over the manifest fate of Zion vs the desolation, not merely the physical destruction but the loss of spiritual relevance to life, of the temple. There is no evidence of a God until the airwaves begin to record the sound of relief. People have to welcome the king.
Blessed is he who comes in Yahweh’s name
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.Joel 2:32
Is it all the families of the land or all the families of the globe who get the blessing through Abraham’s seed? The answer may surprise you.
The good old days when a person counted if the pedigree was right are still with us. Christian evangelism and outreach is solidly on the same foundation as Jewish xenophobia of New Testament times.
Paul uses this prophetic saying of Joel to declare that (a) salvation is between God and individuals. Christians believe that calling on God gets attention and eternal results. He declares too (b) that it begins with Jewish people. – in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance – God must be listening. Despite the use of distinct language about salvation many think that salvation is probationary. Two tenses in Greek make it clear. Simple past tense, the aorist, tells us that the action is not a lengthy process. Christ is not dying any more. We do not keep rising from our sin-death. The other past tense, the perfect, informs us about an action that has lasting effect. A saved person is safe. A saying written is in print.
Most Christians seem to be tormented by the risk of being lost because they fail to perform perfectly. It is a known demonic lie. We have fallen from grace if we think we need law, obedience, or work to be saved.
God wrote ten words! That’s it, folks. The rest of sacred literature is the product thievery and robbery, temporary and subject to human whims. This is part of a mantra belonging to people in death’s shadow who think they are God’s exclusive lamp.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.Isaiah 45:22
God did not write Isaiah 45:22 with his finger but if one does not “look and be saved” one’s condemnation and perishing is assured apart from a thousand violations of law and prophetic judgments.
No one Needs to stare Perpetual Condemnation in the Face to be Saved
Who wants to be condemned? Certainly not the saved. Proof that all people are victims is readily available before we read or hear what the law and the prophets say.
Now we know that everything said in the Law is addressed to those who are under its authority, in order that every mouth may be closed, and the whole world become liable to the judgement of God. For ‘no human being will be pronounced righteous before God’ as the result of obedience to Law; for it is Law that shows what sin is.Romans 3:19-20
Fingerprinted and blinded
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?2 Corinthians 3:7-8
Spotlighting and sighted
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 4:6
The contrary handwriting
So you love the handwriting more than you love God? You do not know what parts of Scripture are hostile, and bring condemnation and death? That’s incredible. You do not know what parts of Scripture are beneficial and bring hope and life? That’s incredible too. No child of God needs to hear “not”, “not”, “not” to stay alive. Who wrote what is no secret and who gets life is not rocket science.
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.Colossians 2:14-15
The stone inscribed handwriting gets eclipsed by a person. The Messiah does not turn things over to Moses and the prophets. Yeshua’s face is light, but Moses’ face is a dim ember that points to blindness. Handwriting will never trump atonement.
Whaddya know! Look what you bought!
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,1 Timothy 1:9
SALVATION is not just an argument we make about human status but the person we need to make life livable.
We can pretend that we do not know his name even though it is in the highest place, higher than all blessing and praise (Neh. 9:5), and above every kind of authority.
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:Ephesians 1:21
Creative interests adorn the gospel; witness “y’all are a new creation”, not merely new items in the workshop. There is new status available: sons and daughters of God. We each carry a potter’s logo. His name identifies every vessel, every living stone, just as surely as name-glory distinguished Jerusalem, as surely as the name-excellence is everywhere. We are a new world order: a family grounded in God, not Adam.
God made us to be shepherded (Psalm 100:5). How many universes has any human made and how many angelic insurrections have we had to put down and manage?
Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:Philippians 2:9
I embrace Peter’s caution about the necessity of “one name unlocking salvation for all humans”. That puts me at odds with all the faiths without malice or anger.
And Salvation is in him alone; for there is no other Name in the whole world, given to men, to which we must look for our Salvation.”Acts 4:12
I pledged a long time ago, taking a cue from Paul (nothing of interest but the Crucified) to reject any theory that does not have the Son of David as front and centre, and him as A and Z. No one can survive the hypocrisy, thievery and robbery without him. No relief comes without his name.
Idols litter the landscape while the majesty of the Risen Lord gets a passing mention. No repeated claim attends the memorial of Christ’s death for all human sin. We belittle and denigrate the covenant by inserting our desire for a miracle.
The cross must be accepted as full and effective payment for sin, not for financial, physical or mental wellbeing. People do not have to claim anything when the Church celebrates the Lord’s supper. No one needs to apply for what is theirs by virtue of their once-for-all confession and faith in the once-for-all propitiation in the Blood of the Lamb?
People can add whatever they wish to their celebration of Christ but only at great risk of showing how much shipwreck is part of their beliefs. One pastor proclaims that no physical death will touch our families when we partake of the Lord’s supper. We ought to know what the Scriptures authorize and quit making it up as we go. Remember does not mean request.
One of the strange alleyways of Christian thought is the one that assigns priority to first or ancient things even when no evidence exists for a golden human age. Not even Eden’s pristine moments hold out any example of excellence. The gold and goldplated items in the sacred tent are themselves eyeopening realities. At Sinai, however, the people declined a one-to-one with Yahweh and Moses’ protest was met with Yahweh’s resignation that they did not have the heart. This does not mean that they were afraid. It means that they did not have (and could not get, since the Lord was not yet incarnate much less glorified) a heart to receive God’s will. So what does Ezekiel’s prediction of new heart mean for Israel?
We can ask Isaiah. He confirms (29:13) that the Israelite kept his heart at a distance from Yahweh. Jewish religion had become nice talk.
And the Lord said: Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
Jeremiah (13:10) tells a similar story.
This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.
Some people, including Christians, would like us to conduct our lives as if the events in the Gospels have no bearing on God’s will. They dress up for truth and salvation but put the one Way in a subsidiary position. They prefer the symbols to the Life.
Mark records (7:6-13) the same condition as Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
And he said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. But you say, If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.
When the world ruling power calls for allegiance and compliance with its actions and legislation the masses will think it is a good thing because they have not committed themselves to the truth of the gospel. We would be in great company if we accept the call for obedience to human institutions and secular powers – with their presumed new heart full of old lies – but we would be en route to the darkness ditch. The church is Christ’s body.
The new is not the old. Symbols and types are not saving realities. They never were.
We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10