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!

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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…

What’s Next?

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I think it all began with idol makers back in the Old Testament. They made something that was so new and shocking, it got people’s attention and they actually set it up as something worth bowing down to. Over the millennia, it has trickled down in various forms, sometimes manifesting itself through religion, sometimes through music, art, or dance. But, no matter how you look at it, shock value continues to prove its worthlessness as a true, creative currency.

It’s nothing new. People have been getting naked and making offensive statements and paintings and songs for thousands of years. So, what makes people continue to pay attention to all of the stuff we see a la Gaga and Cyrus? Could it be that people get bored with their “normal” lives and need extra stimulation? Maybe it’s because there’s a realization that some things have been done before and the shocking seems novel. No matter what it is, when people become desensitized to the “shock” of today, how insane will the next thing have to be to get consumers of crass to point their antennae toward it?

Around a decade ago when my wife was a student at the University of Georgia at the Lamar Dodd School, we saw a student exhibit that included a drawing of crucified male genitalia. At the time, we both were appalled by the image; offended. As Christians, it made no sense to us why someone would go out of their way to make such an image. But, as time went on, it became clear that other people were going to try to outdo even that image. But, instead of it becoming more and more shocking, the material became less and less artistic and meaningful. Instead of making informed and important statements, the students were obviously only looking for attention. How artistically disappointing. The art became all about the artist. And as any good artist should know, the artist is the LAST thing you should think about when considering the art form.

So, what’s next? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll see something akin to live porn acts. Extreme violence could be the next wave with something akin to the Roman Colosseum. But, no matter what it is that seeks to shock us next, it will never be so powerful as the thing that engenders love, peace, and joy in the human soul. I hope we look there first and leave the shock in its proper place; Hinnom…

Practice Makes…

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Malcolm Gladwell in his book titled, Outliers makes the assertion, based on research, that the magical number of practice hours it takes to make one an expert in his or her field is 10,000. While I agree with this approximation, I still see areas where natural ability can come into play when referring to talent.

My chorus director in college always said, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” Many people believe that if they practice long and hard enough, they can be great at anything. But, can a tone deaf person become a virtuoso? Can someone with a flat personality become an actor? These questions aren’t meant to put down or discourage, but rather to increase our perception of what talent is and how we develop it.

Practice is a way to improve a talent you already care about and realize you have. If you have a greater talent for singing, for instance, you are more likely to spend the time and effort it takes to develop that talent. If you have a lesser talent, you might make some improvement, but mostly you will integrate improvements that, with more practice, will continue with you throughout life.

This goes for writing, too. If you have the talent in the first place, you will be interested in the craft and will continue to hone your abilities. No matter what, if you love your art, you will never give up on it, no matter how difficult it may be to succeed. That’s what we do…peace to you.

The Ten-year-old in You

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My oldest son is ten today and I have to say he’s a great kid. He’s smart and funny and really sweet, but most of all, he’s creative. My wife is an artist. She does amazing and beautiful things with fiber, paint, and paper that have been passed on to Luke. Ever since he was old enough to hold a brush in his hand, he has been creating art. I love to watch it unfold as he thinks right onto the page.

Today, it occurred to me that maybe I’m not so different and neither are you. We all have this creative, excited person inside us, jumping around and yelling, “I want to make something pretty!” I think that maybe, if we just let that person out more, the world would be a funner and prettier place.

Love you and love your art.