The Sacrifice of God: How God Himself Was Torn Apart

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The Sacrifice of God: How God Himself Was Torn Apart

Covenant was the highest of all agreements in the Bible and remains so today. The act of making a covenant consisted not only of ceremony, but of blessings, curses, and blood. One of the most instrumental passages for explanatory power of God’s covenant is found in Jeremiah 34:17-20:

“Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

In this passage, the curse of the covenant is highlighted. When the halves of the calf were divided, the people making the covenant would walk between the parts as a promise that if they broke the covenant, then they themselves should be torn in half as a curse for breaking it. They effectively walked a straight and narrow path in order to uphold the promise. This is seen in an elevated way in Genesis 15 when God Himself makes His eternal covenant with Abraham as a promise that ALL people would be blessed through him.

In verses 9-10, Abraham obeys God’s instructions to bring a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. He then cuts each of these in half, but instead of passing between these himself, something else amazing and unheard of happens in vss 17-21.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

God Himself passes between the parts! He makes a promise that if He does not fulfill this covenant, then God, the God of all creation, would be torn in two.

And that is exactly what happened.

In Matthew 26:26-27, see what Jesus says about this same covenant promise made in Genesis 15:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

When Jesus tore the bread in half and said, “This is my body.” He was saying, I am about to be torn in two for you. But, He wasn’t being torn in half for us because of anything He had done. We know this from 2 Cor 5: 21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God Himself was about to take the curse for us all. In Mark 15:33-34, we see God Himself being torn in two:

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In that three hour period for the first and only time in human history and for eternity, God Himself was torn apart. The Father turned away from His Son because of the sin of all mankind, for our sin! God Himself tore Himself apart like the calf in Jeremiah and the animals in Genesis 15. He tore Himself and between Heaven and Earth, a straight and narrow path of the New Covenant Jesus instituted in His blood (Matt26:27) was made for you and me and His Spirit walked the path between (Gal 4:6) as the Spirit of God in the form of the fire pot did in Gen 15. And now Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me!” Matt 16:24.

We tear ourselves from this world and die to ourselves to follow this path and in doing so, we are joined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever!

Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: Upper Echelon Jesus

Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: Upper Echelon Jesus

Jesus the Son

JesustheSon

I understand how being a son might seem to be outside the bounds of work. But, it’s important to realize that not only was the position of son in the first century an occupation, it was an elevated position in society. Inheritance and the transfer of power and wealth in first century Jewish society was very similar to what we see throughout the Old Testament. The firstborn son basically inherited the greatest share of the father’s wealth and then carried on the family name. In Jesus’ time, He as a Son was doing this very same thing. He had all the inheritance, he was the firstborn, and He was expected to rule in His Father’s house and learn how to be just like Him. Not only was this a huge responsibility, it was very hard work and carried with it dominion over hundreds (or in Jesus’ case all of humanity for all time). This brings us to the upper levels of work in society. In a wealthy and powerful family of that day, the place Jesus occupied would have carried with it great wealth and influence. Not only did Jesus understand this extremely important position, He excelled at it! We’ll look at Jesus’ as the Son later, but keep in mind that as The Son, His work was and still is pivotal to our understanding Him and His Kingdom as well as our place in His Kingdom as heirs and sons.

Jesus the Prophet

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While the position of Prophet in the Old Testament was definitely one of power and exaltation, it was also one fraught with danger and rejection. However, in the manner of highly favored prophets like Samuel and Nathan, Jesus was able to bring information from the Father to the world and make a difference that was immediate and eternal. In the God-centered governments of David and Solomon, prophets were seen as not only respected, but absolutely vital to doing God’s will. As God’s special Prophet, Jesus was placed in the highest position of being a prophet that any prophet ever had been placed.  We don’t have a modern day equivalent to that of the Old or New Testament prophet, but we do have those who are in today who advise those in positions of power. In His infinite wisdom, Jesus perfected the work of the Prophet to such a degree that no other prophet before or after Him could even touch His insight and power.

Jesus the Priest

JesusthePriest

Priests also were included in the higher levels of society in the first century as well as the Old Testament. They were very powerful, usually to their own spiritual detriment. But, those who humbly carried out God’s will were counted as those who were closest to God, not only in proximity, but in heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus’ position as our High Priest is absolutely singular in all of history. His place of importance as intercessor cannot be overstated. But, how does this position of priesthood apply to us and to our own work? When we look at Jesus the Priest, we see someone who doesn’t hide that power or keep it from those who follow Him. There’s a place of work and importance in the priesthood for us all and we need to know what that is.

Jesus the King

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The highest level of work anyone could think of if asked would have to be King. Even during this epoch of history when the office considered as the “most powerful in the world” is occupied by one man, it’s really not a position of power anything like what a king wields. Kings don’t answer to anyone. They rule completely and without need for advice or instruction. At least, that’s how a true Kingship should be. This is the kind of King we have in Jesus. He is perfectly loving, just, kind, and powerful. There is no comparison anywhere else or at any other time in human experience. But, do you know what is the most amazing part of Jesus’ Kingship? He shares it with everyone in His Kingdom! We are princes and princesses in an eternal Kingdom.

Work Application

WorkApplication

All of us do different jobs and have to make various decisions about how we are going to work for God. Working for God isn’t just about the work we do for Him in His Kingdom, but the way we accomplish our daily jobs. Working with love, kindness, and deferential treatment toward our coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates must be a part of how we conduct our Christian walk. We think of Colossians 3:17 many times when we consider how we work. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” But, what does Paul say immediately preceding this verse? “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (vss. 12-14).  Working in Jesus name is more than just saying it; it’s a change of heart and mind where we live it! This is where Paul ties up the loose ends with verses 22-24: “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Wow! Isn’t that freeing? Isn’t it great to know that we are serving the Lord of Heaven and Earth, Jesus Himself? I can think of no better motivation to do a good job.

Questions for Thought

  • If a supervisor, coworker, or subordinate approached you in anger about something you did or did not do at work, how would you react? What if it was not your fault?
  • How do you accomplish your work as “working for Jesus”?
  • What kinds of conflicts might we come across when working for the Lord in our secular occupations?

Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: White Collar Jesus

Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: White Collar Jesus

Jesus the Public Relations Rep

JesusthePRRep

We now shift into the realm that most people today would identify as “white collar” work. Jesus knew how to bridge the gap between those who were considered the working class and those who were in the upper echelons of society at the time. Today, He still knows how to do this. Interestingly, there wasn’t really a middle-class during the early first-century. Basically, there were those who lived on most of the wealth and then those who were the poor, scraping along through life. Of course, there were exceptions like tax collectors (Matthew), but even these exceptions would have been considered so far above the poor in social and monetary status as to be considered wealthy. However, Jesus was in the mix with all of these segments of society and was able to understand and communicate with all of them, effectively demolishing the boundaries that separated them. This comes to fruition in the early church and later as Paul writes about the equality of humanity (no slave or free, male or female, etc.) Jesus was and is the penultimate PR guy. We’ll look at just how great he is at understanding and dealing with humanity on all these levels in a later chapter.

Jesus the Teller, Teacher, and Trainer

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There are three main ways to get information across to other people. You can tell them something. Telling is basically just giving someone information. I tell you that Jesus is God’s Son. Now you have the information. The end. Teaching goes farther. When you teach someone, you give them the information and then tell them what it means. I tell you Jesus is God’s Son and that He died to save you from your sins and that means that if you become a Christian, you can be with Him forever. But, the ultimate way to get information to someone is through training. When you train someone, you’re making a disciple. I can tell you that Jesus is God’s Son and that you can have eternal life in Him, thereby teaching you about what it means, but you won’t really get it if I don’t live it. Jesus was what you would call today a Full Professor of teaching about how to live in Him. He combined telling, teaching, and training into a perfect synchrony of how to have life and have it more abundantly. In our study on Jesus the Professor of life, we’ll get a clearer view of how He Professed life and how those who tell, teach, and train today can produce life and power in their own work.

Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: Blue Collar Jesus

Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: Blue Collar Jesus

JesustheCarpenter

Jesus the Carpenter

When people think of Jesus and work, one of the first things they imagine is Jesus the carpenter. This is obviously due to the nature of His earthly father’s occupation, but is this where Jesus’ experience with craftsmanship ends? Jesus uses His vast experience with the craft and art of carpentry on numerous occasions; probably far more often than we realize. His parables and sermons are replete with words like cornerstone, line, and build.  There’s a depth to His understanding and personal enjoyment of making something beautiful and useful that transcends the work itself and moves into a mentality and practice of being made new in His Kingdom. We’ll look more deeply at Jesus the carpenter in a later chapter.

JesustheShepherd

Jesus the Shepherd

I am a sheep and the Lord is my Shepherd…We’ve sung this song many times. We all can probably recite Psalm 23 by heart. There’s something about being a shepherd that Jesus not only understood, but found extremely instructive for the Christian life and work. Jesus used this type of work to explain the relationship between Himself and us and He uses this example today as well. The work of a shepherd is one of love, sacrifice, and danger. It’s a place of authority and protection and care. Our Shepherd leads us in a way that would impress Jacob and David, even though they were veritable masters of the trade. Jesus as the Shepherd, watching over our souls will be discussed later. We’ll also look at His shepherding pattern that continues in His Kingdom today.

JesustheFarmer

Jesus the Farmer

You might see a pattern emerging to the study. Yes, we’re approaching Jesus’ knowledge of occupations from what we would call “blue collar” jobs first. We’ll also look at some “professional” or “white collar” and finally the highest levels of work as society sees them. But, as the Farmer of farmers, Jesus understood a great deal about how to grow things. We’re very familiar with His parables concerning soil and seed. But, where does He draw this from and how does He interpret how this type of work can change humanity? You see with Jesus, it’s not just about using the farmer’s work as a model, but also telling those who are producers how they can use their own talents and might to produce for Him. Jesus, like you and I, loved to watch things grow and make something good and beautiful and delicious. When we look at Jesus the Farmer in a later chapter, we’ll see just how much joy He takes in things that grow!

JesustheFisher

Jesus the Fisherman

Jesus spent some serious time in boats. A full third of His core disciple group were fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) so He not only was exposed to fishing, but immersed in the full scope of a fisherman’s life. While fishing and the act of changing His followers into “fishers of men” were central to Jesus’ teaching, the act of fishing itself seemed to be of some importance to Him. Jesus didn’t just catch fish, He ate fish, multiplied fish, and even used fish in His ministry! Jesus the Fisherman was the best angler you’ll ever read about. He didn’t need radar equipment, waders, or even a fishing pole. He was that good! We’ll take a look into Jesus’ tacklebox in a later lesson to see how He viewed the act and work of fishing and how our own work can catch, produce, and multiply today.

JesustheCook

Jesus the Cook

Food and eating together was an integral social and religious activity of the day when Jesus carried out His traveling ministry around Palestine. The Jews still carried out all of the various feasts that are mentioned in Numbers 28 and 29. Besides daily, weekly, and monthly offerings, there were five major religious festivals on the Jewish calendar and every one of them included cooking and eating. Jesus didn’t just cook, He created. When we think of the culinary arts, we tend to see them as a means to an end. Someone takes the food, adds some spices, applies heat in order to soften, warm, and sanitize the food, and then it’s ready for consumption. But, Jesus did more than this. He went a step further and made food something altogether new. He showed humanity how to look at food and other material necessities in a new way. The blessing of food today is no different than it was then. We still need it to live and we still need to look at it in a way that makes sense within the context of the Christian life. Not in a legalistic way, but in a way that takes our attention off of the material and directs our heart, soul, mind, and strength toward the spiritual.

The Gift of Song: Part 1 Why Do We Sing?

gift of song

This is the first part of a lesson I presented at Dalraida church of Christ several years ago. It’s all about worship in song…

Music is a part of everyone’s life. Whether they choose to admit it or not, most people sing (get people to raise their hands if they have ever sung with the radio in their car; in the shower; in front of the congregation; during worship). This last one is the one we’ll mainly focus on during the lesson. But, mostly I want us to look at how music is a part of us. It is a gift from God and one that we use to praise Him. Singing makes us feel good about ourselves and others and is mentioned in conjunction with some of the most significant events in the Bible. Let’s see what the Word says about singing.

Why do we sing?

For Worship (horizontal and vertical aspects):

Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (horizontal)

Rev 5:9-14 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (vertical)

For Learning (education through song)

Col 3:19 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – listen to the words of the song and learn…

Because we have joy in the Lord!

If you love God, you will not be able to restrain your heart and mouth from song…

Jesus Works: A new book in the works from Sipper Books!

jesusbuilding

There’s a new book being written at Sipper Books! It’s titled Jesus Works and is and important look at work as it is defined by Jesus and how we can use our work for His service and glory today.

Christians often feel guilty about their work. They wonder if they’re working hard enough or too hard. Some feel that they should leave their career to go into ministry or missions when this might not be the best course of action. Jesus Works deals with these feelings and Jesus’ own view and sanctification of work for His servants.

Work, in American society especially, can be dehumanizing and discouraging. With the current economic, social, and religious upheavals people across all sectors of work experience, Jesus Works offers those who are disenfranchised and overwhelmed within their professions advice and strategies to deal with their negative feelings and experiences.

After completing Jesus Works, readers will:

  • Understand Jesus’ view of work in His own life and creation
  • Be able to deal with guilt and misunderstandings about Christian work
  • See their role in the Kingdom of Heaven and how their work matters

Jesus Works:

  • Examines Jesus’ work in all levels of society: blue collar, white collar, and high level
  • Explores how Jesus shares His power with us in His Kingdom at every level
  • Identifies the core human needs within and from work and suggests strategies to fulfill those needs

This is a really exciting time! Hopefully, this work will help people to find goodness and service in their work and service for Jesus.

God’s Word Upholds: Construction and Deconstruction in the Word Part 3: The deconstruction of the Physical World

Godsworduphold

God’s Word Upholds: Construction and Deconstruction in the Word  Part 3: The deconstruction of the Physical World

Now consider what would and will happen when God’s Word no longer upholds this physical reality…

Joel gives an early picture of the deconstruction in 3:15 “The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.” So, we are to understand that the ceasing of light will be a direct sign of the deconstruction of the physical universe. Is 13:10 states something similar: “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.”

Now look at Matt 24:29-31 ““Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is a later picture given of the darkening and the sounding of the trumpet on the Day of the Lord.

But, here’s where it gets really interesting as it relates to matter in the physical world. 2 Cor 5:1-4 “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Here we see a destruction of the “tent”. This could refer to our earthly bodies and possibly the “tent” that is the fabric of physical reality, like the tent that God spread out for the Sun and stars. Either, way matter will be deconstructed.

II Peter gives an even clearer picture of what will become of the material universe in 3:10-13 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” In this passage, it becomes immediately clear that everything in this physical reality will not only be melted and burned, but will actually dissolve away into nothing. Just consider again how matter works. It’s tiny bits of stuff held together with magnetism and gravity and is mostly comprised of empty space. Now, consider what would happen in those forced ceased to be upheld…It becomes immediately clear that all those little atoms and subatoms would merely dissolve away into nothing. Our whole universe and these bodies are mostly empty space, held together merely by weak forces that could not and will not be upheld if not for God’s word. And one day, His word will not uphold any of these things and it will all dissolve into nothing. But, we have a hope for something new.

Everything around us is an image of God’s power or His Word. It’s all held together by that Word and literally constructs everything we know in the physical world. But, deconstruction is coming. In the Day of the Lord, God’s Word will no longer uphold all of the matter we experience now and the Heavens and Earth will pass away. Fortunately, God promises us a new Heaven and new Earth that will never dissolve and will be upheld eternally.