Archive for My Faith Journey

David and Goliath

Earlier this week (February 23, 2022) Fox News had a very insightful comparison between the military might of Russia and Ukraine. The graph speaks for itself, but I instantly thought, this is like David and Goliath! All week I have been praying with that thought in mind. Today I have heard several news reporters use the same comparison and at church today one of the men shared his concern for the situation and asked for prayer, referring to it as like David and Goliath.

The story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17 is fascinating. David was anointed king of Israel by Samuel at a very young age, but it would be fifteen years before he was inauguration King of Israel. In the meantime, he tended his father’s sheep and went to Saul’s palace to play the harp whenever an evil spirit came over Saul. The Israelites were preparing for war as the Philistines had surrounded their nation and was threatening to attack.

One day Jesse, David’s father, sent him to check on his three older brothers who were in Saul’s army and deliver a care package from home of dried grain and ten loaves of bread and ten cheeses for the captains of the army. When David arrived, he found the army hyped, shouting, and ready to attack in battle formation with the Philistines on one mountain and the Israelites on another with a valley in between.

The champion of the Philistine army was a tyrant, a giant named Goliath, who stood between 9-10 feet tall. He stood on the Philistine’s side of the mountain dressed in a full body bronze armor yelling taunts and challenging the Israelites to a fight. His spear was approximately 13′ long and weighed about 33 lbs. Whoever lost would be the servants of the other. The Israelites were dreadfully afraid and quaking in their army boots.

The young lad David saw Goliath’s insults as defying the armies of the Living God. David’s words were reported to Saul who asked to speak with David. David presented his case and said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of that giant. I will go and fight him.”

Saul was horrified. He said, “You are a youth and this man has been a warrior since his youth”. I don’t know how David managed to convince King Saul but God was with David and Saul finally let him go. Suddenly the whole future of Israel was squarely on the shoulders of a young lad versus a menacing giant.

David took his shepherd’s bag, staff and sling and on his way stopped by a brook and picked up five smooth stones.

Gebhard Fugel (1863-1939), “David and Goliath” (photo: Public Domain)

When Goliath saw David coming, he was filled with rage and disdain. Goliath yelled, “Am I just a dog that you come to me with a stick. Come on, I will feed your flesh to the birds and wild beasts”. And David said, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day God will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you.”

I think of the song we sang as children…. “Only A Boy Named David”. David put one little stone in the sling and it went round and round and the giant came tumbling down. It only took one stone!

Is this a David and Goliath situation? I am praying for the people of Ukraine to trust in God and stand even when it seems impossible. I saw a picture of Christians in Ukraine kneeling in front of their capital praying.

I saw a video on fb of Ukrainian Christians in Kiev who sought protection in an underground subway tunnel singing hymns. I read a clip on that said Ukraine sends out more missionaries to other European countries and Eastern Asia than any other country.

The military facts are startling and there seems no way Ukraine can humanly win against the haughty, mighty Russian army unless…. unless they (we) call on the name of the Lord against the one who has defied Him before the whole world.

David versus Goliath. It’s not just a cute children’s story. We know Ukraine is a corrupt country but so is every nation in the world. What if the impossible could happen and the name of God could be lifted high for the world to see. What if the tyrant could fall because of the prayers of Christians? What if….

Some things I ponder:

  • What is the heart of Jesus in all this conflict and aggression.
  • How do I respond to and pray for the Russian people who are against the position of their leader and the aggression against the Ukraine?
  • How would I respond to war in my land, against our home and government?
  • As a Christian who believes Jesus taught peace respond when a tyrant boldly attacks innocent people and destroys their homes and livelihoods?

These and others are hard questions. We need to seek the heart of Jesus, maybe not so much to seek our answers but to seek his response. I pray especially for the Christians on both sides of the conflict.

When Covid Hits Home

I guess it is time to write this post. I just didn’t have it in me to write earlier. Gene has Covid and has been really sick but I am so very grateful he is now improving. Here is our story….. it has been quite a trip.

This past Thursday Gene was admitted to St. Francis Hospital with pneumonia in both lungs and low oxygen levels due to Covid. We knew he had Covid, he was under a doctor’s care and had tested positive, but he just didn’t seem to be getting better. During the ten Covid days, he had two different rounds of antibiotics for the fluid in his lungs which was settling into pneumonia. It turned out he had viral pneumonia and the antibiotics were doing no good. He was running fever, coughing, had congestion, and no energy. They were trying to keep him out of the hospital. He was watching his oxygen levels and on Thursday morning it was 82. Under 90 is danger. It was time to be admitted to the hospital.

We have now experienced the current state of the art health care experience! After checking him in I had to leave. It is hard leaving when your man looks so rough. The staff was really nice and did their best but there were no rooms available. He spent Thursday morning until Saturday evening in his “suite” in the ER. That had its own challenges and was not pleasant but at least he did have medical care. The bed in the ER is not comfortable, there are no personal toilets, you are under the care of emergency care staff not experienced Covid professionals and there was almost no room for your personal belongings. Your personal stuff had to lay on your bed. He was tattered to the bed so trying to use a laptop or keep his phone charged was challenging. The ER is equipped for stabilizing emergencies and getting the patient into the hands of the proper medical professionals. By Thursday evening they had not given him anything to eat. His blood sugar spiked because of the steroids they were giving him and lack of food. I went to Arbys and got him two roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. They don’t normally feed patients in the ER and weren’t in any hurry to find him some! I slipped into the ER and asked the staff to give Gene my care package which they did. I was not allowed into the hospital so I could not stay with or help him. I mostly understand but hate the policy as it is so vital for a family member to help loved ones with their care. They need an advocate, encourager and someone to pick up the Gatorade that just fell off his bed or plug in the lap top to charge.

Finally, on Saturday evening he was given a room on the Covid floor. That was so much better. The nurses actually had answers to questions and were not evasive. They knew the symptoms they were looking for and what to do. They were reassuring and encouraging. His nurse said, “I have never lost a patient that was vaccinated. I have lost some who weren’t.” It was amazing how positive that statement sounded. Gene had his vaccinations.

This afternoon oxygen was delivered to the house and I got to bring him home. He has to quarantine for twenty-one days. We think most of that is to protect him because I do not have to quarantine any more.

Meanwhile, I was at home answering the phone, text messages, emails, and keeping the home fires burning. It is amazing how many extra small things I had to do or think about. Tim is having to adjust his time to feed the cows, Steve took calves to the livestock market and beef to Farmville to be butchered. Daughter Jill came to keep me company and be my moral support. We played “Splendor” and put several puzzles together.

Mom’s Pantry-1000 piece puzzle
Yoga Cats-1000 piece puzzle

The ironical thing is there are nine people in my immediate family that have Covid right now. None of our three families have been together.

Getting Covid leaves its own set of questions with few answers. All are affected differently, all have different symptoms even within family units. The vaccinated and unvaccinated, masked and unmasked, young and old all get it. Health status, gender or age does not seem to matter. And would you believe, it does not know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat!!! Was Gene’s serious case lessened because he was vaccinated? Why haven’t I gotten it from Gene? Now we wonder if the sinus congestion I had five days before he got sick was Covid. It is very suspicious, especially since I haven’t gotten it from him. If I did, no one else who was around me got it. We wonder why we have been sick more this winter than we have in years and years. Several weeks ago we both had a Covid scare but tested positive for Type A Flu. I was even vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia for the first time this year. Did they make a difference? In September I had Cough Asthma. I have never had Asthma. Why now? The questions are many and the answers are few. Who knows? Who knows?

There is one thing for which I am so grateful and that is a loving supportive family, friends and church family. When we are ill, we pray for one another. There is so much comfort and strength that comes from the care of other people. When Gene was admitted to the hospital our family and church was very concerned. Our church called for a time of prayer at 2 that afternoon for him. I was amazed how quickly that information spread and I heard from friends from all over Virginia and Pennsylvania and beyond who joined the call to pray. God hears, He knows even before we pray. Things don’t always work out the way we wish even when we pray, but that doesn’t mean God has turned a deaf ear. God tells us to bring our petitions, desires and needs to Him. Yahweh God, the great “I Am that I Am” is also the God Who Sees and Hears. (Genesis 16: 11-14)

In my devotions this year I am centering on names and attributes of God, Jesus, and their meaning. This week I have read the following script multiple times, soaking in the truth and reality of who God is. I reaffirmed my trust, faith and praise in the eternal God, my Heavenly Father. I expressed my desire for total healing for Gene. But if that was not to be, I said I would still trust, praise and have faith.

I can not claim authorship of this piece or even give credit to who wrote it, but I can claim its truth. I did find it on the Bible.org website; no author is attributed to it.

God is….

God is Lord Almighty, Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, Kings of Kings, Lord of Lords, Provider, Protector, Paternal Leader, Ruling Lord and Reigning King of all the universe.

He is Father, Helper, Guardian, and God. He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the keeper of creation and the Creator of all He keeps. The architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.

He always was, is, and will be: Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone. He was bruised and brought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and brought freedom, He was dead and brought life, He is risen and brings power. he reigns and brings peace.

The world can not understand Him, the armies can not defeat Him, the schools can not explain Him and the leaders can not ignore Him. Herod could not kill Him, the Pharisees could not confuse Him, the people could not hold Him! Negro could not crush Him, Hitler could not silence Him, the New Age can not replace Him and Donahue cannot explain Him away!

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God. He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me! He is my Redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide, He is my peace, He is my joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life.

I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomes, and the sovereign Lord of all that was, is, and is to come.

And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size. His goal is a relationship with ME! He will never leave me, forsake me, mislead me, forget me, overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives me. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He is the Way. When I am afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I am hurt, He heals me. When I am broken, He mends me. When I am blind, He leads me. When I am hungry, He feeds me. When I face trials, He is with me. When I face persecution, He stills me. When I face problems, he comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face death, he carries me home!

He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and in every way. He is God. He is faithful, I am His, and He is mine. My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world, and so, if you’re wondering why I feel so secure, understand this: He said, I believe it, and that settles it.

God is in control, I am on His side, and that means all is well with my soul.

“Could Life on Mars Be Lurking Deep Underground?”

Mars-The Red Planet from pixabay.com

Oh, really? Do scientists really believe we are that stupid? 

Mindy Weisberger wrote an article, “Could Life Be Lurking Deep Underground” for Live Science that caught my eye as a headliner on a news website. And just to see what she had to say I read the article.

It basically says that since life has not been found on the surface of Mars (how shocking is that?) it must be deep underground.  Is she trying to infer that since there is no life on the surface, aliens or humans, whichever you prefer to say, have morphed into rodent-like creatures that have tunneled deep in the interior of Mars and left not a clue on the surface? Now she didn’t say rodent-like creatures but how else could life get there without leaving a trace of infrastructure on the surface. She actually refers to them as “microbial Martians congregating underground”.  Maybe this microbial life is still evolving and after all these billions of years is still just microbial.  The whole concept would be totally laughable except that it is sad that people actually believe and promote such lies.

Surface of Mars-From pixabay.com

I have no problem believing microbial organisms could be there but she ties it to “a window into our own origins 3.8 billion years ago”.

Depending on your “source” of truth as to how you believe the earth was created.  Science interpreted through the lens of the inspired Word of God sees the Creator God actively speaking and forming the world into existence in six days. If you read Genesis with an open heart you will see that there was a beginning to the heavens and earth. You can see the Spirit of God moved over the vast nothingness and then God spoke and it was created. No billions of years of evolution there!!! You can see God created man differently from the rest of creation; God knelt, formed and breathed into man the breathe of life.

God created Mars and all the other planets to be just that, Mars, Pluto, Saturn, Venus and Jupiter. He created the heavenly galaxies to be just that, galaxy after galaxy of stars and planets light years away. This is not too difficult for my God and neither is it to difficult for me to believe. God created earth to be different; it is the only planet created to sustain life with oxygen, forage, trees, tillable fertile soil, animals, marine life, birds and humans. Why would a human in his right mind trade the beauty of earth for the harsh, barren nothingness of another planet? God created earth ready to live in with everything man needed for survival and to thrive.  It is to earth that He sent His Son Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin.

The evidence of God’s handiwork is on-going and always presence: the beauty of a sunset, the vastness of the universe, the delicacy of a flower, the minuet detail of an atom, complexity of the human body, the wonder of birth, the vast array of color, detail and variety of plants and animals and the list could go on and on.

You will not physically see the form of God on this earth but by faith you can know, understand and experience the presence of God. Romans 1 says that we can know the unseen attributes of God because they were plainly revealed to us at creation and are clearly seen in observing the amazing creation of God’s hand.  It is so clear that it leaves us without excuse and we can not say we did not know.

….for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have seen clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse…

Romans 1:19-20

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “let there be light” and there was light….

Genesis 1:1-3a

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Hebrews 11:3

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up and clouds drop down with dew. My son, let them not depart from your eyes, keep sound wisdom and discretion.

Proverbs 3: 19-21

Is there life on Mars? No.

Has there ever been life on Mars? No

Will humans ever populate Mars? Time will tell. They may try for a short period of time but I seriously doubt it will succeed. I can guarantee they will leave their trash behind. Seriously, now tell me, who wants to look at the above picture and say they really want to live there?

God’s Heart

The other evening several of us were sitting at mother’s bedside singing some of the old familiar precious hymns of faith and hope; “Solid Rock, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Shall We Gather at the River, I Love to Think of My Home Above, Oh Come Angel Wings, Blessed Assurance, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Power In the Blood, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, Near To The Heart of God, Sweet Peace the Gift of God’s Love (mother’s favorite)…..” mother was singing along and it was a binding together time of worship, hope, love and faith. The hymns spoke to and of our heart need.

Mother’s time on earth is drawing to a close and yet as a family we could sing songs about gathering together some day in heaven. I mentioned to mother to stand by that grand river and watch for us to come. Music has a way of binding us together and connecting us with God’s heart. Scriptures says “He inhabits the praises of his people” (Psalms 22:3). To think that when believers sing together it moves the heart of God in a special way and He literally comes near. A holy, almighty, loving, Father God settles himself in our midst. Do I really comprehend how tender and precious that is. Maybe we should sing all day long!

As we were singing, I was reminded of another precious time when a song ministered to me through my granddaughter Lauren. She was sitting on my lap in church when a song touched and moved her even at the tender age of 18 months. I have never forgotten the experience. As I watched my ninety-two year old mother attempting to sing along and my dad moping his eyes, I knew we were on holy ground. It was a moment to be treasured and remembered.

Below is the blog post I wrote July 6, 2003.

By Cleland B. McAfee

There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God:

A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God

Chorus:  O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God,

Hold us, who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God

 

There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God;

A place where we our Savior meet, Near to the heart of God

 There is a place of full release, Near to the heart of God;

A place where all is joy and peace, Near to the heart of God.

Sitting on Grandma’s lap in church is a very special privilege and one my granddaughters relish.. On this particular Sunday, it was 18-month-old Lauren who reached out her arms to me after Sunday school. As we worshipped in singing, Lauren amused herself by quietly flipping the pages of the songbook When the chorister started to lead “Near to the Heart of God”, she pushed the book aside, turned around on my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. With her little heart quietly beating on mine, Grandma and Lauren shared a very special bond for the entire song. With my head resting gently against hers, I gently rubbed her back hoping to not break the specialness of the moment. Suddenly the words of the song took on new meaning. It was as if Lauren knew and understood the words to that precious song. Tears welled in my eyes as I vividly saw my Jesus gently rocking and holding me tight. It was a holy moment to be near to the heart of God and my granddaughter unknowingly showed me how precious it is.

Meeting Jesus in a quiet place is a special privilege that only His children know. Words cannot convey the pure love of the moment when my heart beats against God’s heart and He wraps His arms around me, holding me tight. That moment doesn’t happen accidentally.

Psalm 73:28 says, “It is good for me to draw near to God.” God is always there, but I have to turn and give God a squeeze. It is a “place of full release, where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.”

Show Me Your Path

This morning I was running an errand and I was pleading out loud to God, “God show us your way, your path through this difficult time.” My mind immediately went to Psalms 25: 4. David cried out to God the same prayer.  I do not know what David was going through when he penned these words, but it was not a calm, peaceful day. His enemies had galvanized an army to find and kill him. He was afraid and desperately needed to feel God’s presence, protection, and truth. He needed a way, a path through the mess that was totally engulfing him.

Psalms 25:4-6

(A Psalm of David)


Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from old.

When we face difficult times or tough situations, we feel like we are “between a rock and a hard place”, squished between two boulders that you can not wiggle your way out of.  The only way to look is up because in that situation you cannot see your feet! David looked up and pleaded with God to show him, teach him God’s path forward. He knew there was a way, a path forward, and he wanted to be led in truth, a truth that saw the broader picture, a truth that was beyond the muddled, jumbled mess in his brain. Sometimes paths meander through flowers and meadows with a cascading stream and mountain top views. But often it is through rough terrain with rocks, mud, briars, and danger lurking on all sides. Sometimes it seems impossible to move forward. The path is there, even when we can’t see it or it is too difficult to walk. 

I enjoy reading books about the adventures of people who hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The 2,190-mile trail is a hand-hewn, well-worn path through the forest, across meadows, rivers, and up and down the mountain ranges. Even though the trail is marked with white blazes, hikers tell of crossing a meadow and not being able to find the continuing trail or suddenly not knowing where the trail you were on just disappeared to.  They tell of being stopped in their tracks because a rattlesnake is relaxing and enjoying his day curled up on the trail or a black mama bear with cubs steps out of the dense forage.  Their heart pounds when the path is a narrow ledge on the side of a cliff or there are only rocks to jump crossing a stream or river. They are constantly on guard against creepy crawly things, roots and rocks.  To see the beautiful wild flowers, colorful birds and sweet berries growing in the wild you have to look beyond your feet. They have to be ever vigilant, brave, strong, and preserve with their eye on the finish line.

The Appalachian Trail is marked with white blazes, which are painted on trees and rocks so hikers don’t lose their way. (Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN)

And so, it is with life. Our eye must be on the goal, the finish line, but in the meantime we navigate the path.

David had an personal relationship with God; you are my God, and I am going to sit before you and wait. He reminded God of his mercies and loving kindnesses from times past. When we remember the past, we can see from a different perspective the faithfulness of an ever-present, ever-faithful God who knows the way. When we come to God and lift our heart pleas to him, confirm our trust, He will show us the way and in the rough times, we will see the flowers and eat sweet berries.

Bye Mommy

When loved ones are dying, it changes our life perspective and makes us think about heaven… a lot. We watch them cling to the earthly while the heavenly begins to pull stronger.

I was reminded recently of a blog post I wrote about my granddaughter Lauren in January 2004. It seems appropriate to post now.

Lauren was running as fast as her little legs could carry her to my house.  But every few steps she would stop, turn back towards Mommy standing on her front porch just across the drive, clinch and unclench her fist to wave, and say, “Bye Mommy.”  The pull to the comfort and love of Grandma’s house was huge, but to leave Mommy for even a small time was also a big deal. The moment she was in the door she no longer looked back.

It reminds me of our life struggle. My desire to see Jesus and to live with Him forever has me running full steam ahead while the love of the present has me strongly anchored to earth’s soil.  God has prepared a heavenly city with precious stones.  A mansion is waiting with streets of gold.  There is a river of life flowing with crystal clear, nourishing, everlasting water.  The banquet table, laden with food, is set. There is a tree bearing life-giving fruit every month.  The heavenly garments are washed pure white.  But my shoestrings are firmly knotted to my anchors. 

How can one say goodbye to loved ones?

How could my family get along without me?

Who will complete my unfinished work? 

Who will cherish my treasures?

I want to see my granddaughters grow up and hold their babies.

I love my husband and cherish our time together.

I still have things to do, places to go and words to say.

The pull towards the comfort of my heaven home is huge.  Father God is there. I often look to the sky and wonder when Jesus will return.  To leave earth is also a big deal even though Scripture reminds us over and over that our time here is temporal and fleeting. I am strongly rooted and attached to the things of this earth. God has created within us a desire for fellowship and belonging.  God blessed the creation of male and female and commanded us to be stewards of the earth, to be fruitful and multiply.  Jesus commanded us to make disciples in every nation.   I am grateful it is not for me to decide when my task is done.

Titus challenges us to keep a proper perspective while on earth, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)  When God beckons, my shoelaces will snap and I will go; I will not look back for I shall see His face.

I Tell You the Truth

When someone says, “I tell you the truth” you have one of two thoughts; either they haven’t been telling the truth and now are or they want you to listen up, this is very important.

There are 76 times in the New Testament Jesus says, “I tell you the truth…” (NIV).  Depending on the translation, it may say “Verily, verily I say unto you…” (KJ) or “most assuredly I say unto you…”  (NKJ). A number of years ago, Bill Iazzi preached a message on some of Jesus’ statements of “I tell you the truth…” This became a challenge to me; I decided to find and write all 76 down. It makes an interesting read. Jesus is telling us to listen up, what I am saying is very important. Let Jesus’ words speak…..

Matthew:

  1. (5:18) I tell you the truth, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title will by no means pass from the law till it is fulfilled.
  2. (5:25-26) ….I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
  3. (6:2) So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
  4. (6:5) And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
  5. (6:16) When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward in full.
  6. (8:10-12) I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel which such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where their will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  7. (10:15) I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
  8. (10:23) When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.  I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
  9. (10:42) And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.
  10. (11:11) I tell you the truth:  Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
  11. (13:17) I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
  12. (16:28) I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
  13. (17:20)  Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.
  14. (18:3) I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
  15. (18:18) I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
  16. (19:23) I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
  17. (19:28) I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
  18. (21:21-22) I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, nor only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
  19. (21:31-32) I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.
  20. (23:35-36) And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
  21. (24:2) I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, everyone will be thrown down.
  22. (24:33-35) Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  23. (24:46-47) It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
  24. (25:11-12) Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’  But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
  25. (25:40) “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
  26. (25:45) “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
  27. (26:13) I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
  28. (26:34)” I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Mark:

  1.  (3:28-29) I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.  But whosoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.
  2. (8:12) He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”
  3. (9:1) And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
  4. (9:41) I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
  5. (10:15) I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.
  6. (10:29-30) “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
  7. (11:22-23) “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself in the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
  8. (12:43-44) Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.”
  9. (13:30-31) “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
  10. (14:9) I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
  11. (14:25) I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.
  12. (14:30) “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today-yes, tonight-before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

Luke:

  1. (4:24) “I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
  2. (9:27) I tell you the truth, some of you who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.
  3. (12:37) It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.
  4. (12:43-44) It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
  5. (18:17) I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
  6. (18:29) “I tell you the truth, Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
  7. (21:3) “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
  8. (21:32-33) I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  9. (23:43) Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

John:

  1. (1:51) I tell you the truth, hereafter you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
  2. (3:3) I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless one is born again.
  3. (3:5) I tell you the truth, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
  4. (3:11) I tell you the truth, we speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
  5. (5:19) I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
  6. (5:24) I tell you the truth, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
  7. (5:25) I tell you the truth, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
  8. (6:26) I tell you the truth, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
  9. (6:32) I tell you the truth, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
  10. (6:47-48) I tell you the truth, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.  I am the bread of heaven.
  11. (6:53-54) I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
  12. (8:34) I tell you the truth, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.
  13. (8:45-47) But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.  Which of you convicts Me of sin?  And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?  He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore, you do not hear, because you are not of God.
  14. (8:51) I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps My Word, he shall never see death.
  15. (8:58) I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I AM.
  16. (10:1-2) I tell you the truth, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
  17. (10:7) I tell you the truth, I am the door of the sheep.
  18. (12:24) I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
  19. (13:16) I tell you the truth, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
  20. (13:20) I tell you the truth, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
  21. (13:21) I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me.
  22. (13:38) Will you lay down your life for My sake?  I tell you the truth, the rooster will shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.
  23. (14:12) I tell you the truth, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
  24. (16:7) Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
  25. (16:20) I tell you the truth, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
  26. (16:23) … I tell you the truth, what you ask of the Father in My name He will give you.
  27.  (21:18) I tell you the truth, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.

Hebrews-Old & New Testament Covenants

The book of Hebrews in the Bible is rich in theology. Theology may sound like a big, intimating word that is just for scholars but it is really just an explanation of the foundation and meaning of our faith.

Hebrews 1:1-2

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son (Jesus), whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom al He made the worlds….

Augustine said, “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.” In early history, God revealed Himself to man through the law, rituals and the sacrifice of animals. In the New, God completed his revelation through grace by laying down his life as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Hebrews brings together the Old and New Testaments in a way that makes sense. The Old Testament has rich mean and foreshadows the coming of Jesus the Messiah.

I love reading and studying Hebrews. Hebrews is the story of faith, the faith of our spiritual forefathers, many who struggled unimaginably hard circumstances and some even died for their faith, but in the end were overcomers, listed as men and women of faith.

Hebrews presents to us Jesus, the Son of God, who is our High Priest interceding to the Father on our behalf. It challenges us to faith, believing in what we can’t see but knowing it is true. It exhorts us to be faithful, obedient and to treat one another with brotherly love. It promises that if we endure, we will win the race and have eternal life with Jesus forever and ever and ever.

Below is a chart I created to help show how the New Testament reveals the fulfilment of the Old.

Behold the Lamb!

Introduction:

This blog post is different from any I have ever posted. This is a study and I decided to share it with you. It is long but it is not a difficult read. Just before Easter I was preparing a Sunday School lesson which I never got to teach because of Covid-19. I became intrigued with John the Baptist’s profound proclamation, “Behold the Lamb” and Isaac’s heartfelt question, “Where is the lamb?” I decided to follow the theme of the lamb through scripture.

This became more than just a Sunday School lesson for me. I became intrigued with the intrinsic detail, planning and structure to the work of God in and through 8,000 years of history. It is not by chance. No human could have put together a puzzle with such interlocking details. I have really appreciated the writings of Jonathan Cahn and some of puzzle pieces came from his book, ” The Book of Mysteries.”

Messiah, the Lamb of God, is the center and foundation of my faith. Jesus is the only way to God. If you are struggling to believe, I pray that this will touch your heart. There are probably aspects of the sacrificial lamb that I have missed. Feel free to share them in the comments.

Behold the Lamb

John 1

One day when Jesus was around 30, he went out into the desert to find his cousin, John the Baptist, who was preaching. Jesus knew his time had come, the time for his ministry to begin and he wanted to be baptized. John was preaching repentance from sins and that one mightier than he was coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. The people were wondering and discussing whether John was the long awaited Messiah. John tried to put that narrative to rest. John didn’t feel worthy to baptize Jesus, He wanted Jesus to baptize him. John did baptize Jesus and while Jesus was praying the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and rested on Jesus while a voice said, “This is my beloved Son. I am well pleased with Him.”

It is interesting that Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the baptism of Jesus, but John records another part of the story that the others omit. (John 1:19-36)

The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him as he was preaching and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

John knew he was not the Messiah nor did he pretend to be. He was a forerunner, a revealer, of the long-awaited Messiah.  John’s exclamation was a divine revelation and deeply symbolic of the mission and purpose of Jesus coming to earth. In verse 31, John admits he did not know Jesus but knew that the Messiah was coming very soon and would be revealed by the Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Jesus was indeed revealed by the Spirit in the form of a dove, and John introduced him to the world, as the Lamb of God.

Why is this significant and what does it mean? I discovered this is a theme that runs through the complete Bible, from beginning to end. It is the foundation of our faith and the only way to have forgiveness of sins. Meet the Messiah, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of me and you, and all who receive him as that sacrifice.  

Abraham and Isaac

(Genesis 22)

Two thousand years prior, Abraham woke his son Isaac early one morning to go on a three- day journey to a place that God would show him. God had revealed a message to Abraham-a message that was unimaginably difficult and clear. God had said, “Take you son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to a place I will show you and offer him there as a burnt sacrifice”. Abraham heard and understood what God said. He knew Isaac was the long-awaited promised son. Did he lay awake all-night fretting and worrying? Probably, Abraham was human. He knew that sacrificing children was a heathen practice. Did it take a day, a week or a month to act? Did he discuss this with Sarah? Probably not. Somehow, I think he carried this burden in silence and responded in obedience within hours. He was up early in the morning, loaded his donkey with firewood and provisions for the journey, awoke two of his young men and Isaac, and they hit the road.

On the third day, God showed him the mountains in the distance, the mountain range that was called the Land of Moriah. As they neared the mountain, Abraham asked the two young men to wait with the donkey. As father and son were walking in silence the last distance, Isaac, who was carrying a bundle of wood on his back said to his father who was carrying the pot of hot coals for a fire, “Father, where is the lamb”?  Isaac knew the routine. He knew when an alter was built, something had to die. For three days he was traveling with his father and saw the wood and carefully maintained coals, but no lamb. (Don’t you wonder what all Isaac was thinking?) Abraham simply and quietly responded, “My son, God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering.”  You know the story. Abraham built the alter, place the wood and fire on the alter and tied up Isaac. Abraham knew, that he knew, that he knew, he had heard from God and did not question how God would solve the problem, he just knew he would. Hebrews 11:19 reveals that Abraham knowing and understanding the promises of God, believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Just as he raised his knife to plunge into the heart of his one and only beloved son, God called out from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham.”  God said, “Do not lay a hand on your son. Now I know you fear God, seeing that you were willing to not withhold even your son from me.”

This story is a foreshadow of Jesus, the only begotten beloved son of God, coming to earth to be that lamb, to become the sacrifice for my sin and your sin. Abraham did not know that, but we understand it looking back at history and through the continued revelation of scripture. From the beginning of time and through the Old Testament prophets, God revealed more and more of “the lamb” to us. Isaac’s question echoed through the years as faithful men and women watched and waited for the Messiah. “When will the Messiah come?” “Where is the Lamb?” 

Where is Lamb? Let’s follow the scarlet thread of redemption, the meaning of the sacrifice of the lamb through scripture and exclaim with John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb!”

Sacrifice and The Shedding of Blood

Genesis 3:20

After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. They were suddenly acutely aware of their nakedness and were ashamed. God came looking and calling for them as they feared. God made tunics of skin and clothed them before he chased them out of the garden. The covenant love of God required that innocent animals be sacrificed to provide garments of skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. The first blood was shed to cover the first sin. The flimsy covering of fig leaves that Adam and Eve attempted to make were not adequate or sufficient. The works of man’s hands could not cover his sin. An animal had to die; its blood had to be shed to provide a covering for their sin. Was it a lamb? Scripture does not reveal that nugget of information, but we do know an animal was sacrificed.

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4.

One day the two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, had a worship service out in the field. Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the soil. Each brought an offering or sacrifice to God. Abel’s was accepted but Cain’s was rejected.  Why? Because Cain had disobeyed God. God had already revealed to man the need for an animal sacrifice in the garden. Cain became so angry at God’s rejection of his sacrifice of choice that he killed his brother. Blood sacrifice was essential for right standing with God. Cain’s self-righteous, deliberate disobedience separated him from the presence of God. Right standing before God requires obedience. It is a matter of life and death, not merely a matter of one’s good efforts. The theme of the lamb begins in this chapter and go all the way through scripture to the grand climax in Revelations.

Why is the blood of special value to God?  When God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And God said, “The voice of Abel’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).

In Leviticus 17: 11, God gives us the significance of the blood, saying; “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life”.

Genesis 8. When Noah left the ark after the flood, he offered a sacrifice of burnt offering from the “clean” animals that God had commanded he take into the ark for this purpose. Noah’s sacrifice was pleasing to God and God made a covenant with Noah-the first mention of a covenant- and it was established with blood.

The Institution of the OT Passover

(Exodus 12)

We know the story of Israel’s bondage (slavery) in Egypt and how after 400 years, God visited his people and sent Moses and Aaron to set them free. There were ten plaques, the last of which was the slaying of all the firstborn males of the Egyptians, man and animal. It was at this point that God instituted the sacrifice of lambs and the shedding of blood as a covering for sin. It also started a new calendar for the Israelites. It was Nisan, what we call March-April, and this would now be the new first day of their calendar year to signify a new beginning of Israel’s life as a people.

  • Exodus 12
    • On the tenth day every man shall take a lamb from their herd of sheep. A young Tamin lamb is chosen and taken for the household. Tamin means without spot, unblemished, undefiled, innocent, and perfect, a male of the first year. (Take note of the word Tamin-we will mention it again later.)
    • Four days later, on the fourteenth day, they were to kill the lamb at twilight and the blood put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the house.
    • They were to eat the lamb in haste, all of it and not one of its bones was to be broken. (verse 46). They were to have their clothes on, shoes on their feet and a staff in their hand so that they were really to flee.
    • Only unleavened bread was to be eaten.
    • Blood will be a sign signifying where you live.  God said, “When I see the blood on the door post, I will pass over you.” (verse 13)
    • Obedience to the instructions of the Lord regarding the sacrificial blood of the Passover lamb brought deliverance from the wages of sin and death for those within the house (Exodus 12). The lamb died in their place that they might be saved.
    • Verse 26-27 “And it shall be, when your children ask, what does this mean that you should say, “it is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord.” It is to remember, to remember what God did for them and how the blood saved them.

The Lambs of Bethlehem

Jesus grew up in Nazareth but he was born in Bethlehem. Did you ever wonder or consider the significance of Bethlehem? 

“In the writings of ancient rabbis it is recorded that in the days of the second temple, the only place where one could shepherd a flock was in the wilderness. But there was one exception, the flocks or lambs that were specifically appointed and destined for the Temple sacrifices, the sacrificial (Tamin) lambs. They needed to kept in close proximity to the Holy City (Jerusalem).”  Bethlehem is undoubtedly the place were the temple lambs were raised.” (Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 125).

Sheep by nature are helpless, defenseless animals and need the constant watch of a shepherd. It was shepherds who attend to the birthing and care of lambs. The natural birthing season for lambs is in the spring and it was often still cold. Crudely made shelters and caves were used to help protect the sheep. When a lamb needed extra warmth or care, the shepherds would wrap the lambs in strips of cloth called swaddling cloths and lay them in the manger of hay for protection from the other sheep. Is this beginning to sound familiar?

Luke records the story of Jesus birth. Joseph and Mary needed to travel to Joseph’s ancestral home, Bethlehem, to register for the census. There was only one way to travel, by foot or donkey. It was a 90-mile grueling and dangerous trip south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. For Mary who was nine months pregnant and heavy with child it must have been almost unbearable. No where in scripture does it say that Mary rode a donkey. We like to think she did, but in reality, she very possibly walked every step of the way.

God’s timing was perfect. Jesus would not be born until they reached Bethlehem. He had to be born where the sacrificial Tamin lambs were born. Joseph and Mary arrived to discover a city full of other travelers coming for the same purpose. There was no place to stay, all the inns and homes were full. A compassionate innkeeper allowed them to sleep in his stable. That night, in the stillness and quiet of a humble, smelly stable, the Lamb of God was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

Who were the first visitors?  During the wee hours of the night, shepherds who were caring for their sheep in the fields outside of Bethlehem had a divine appointment with angels telling them of the birth of the Messiah and where to find him. Their clue; “You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” These were the shepherds appointed to care for the Tumin lambs of Bethlehem and the clues told them exactly where to search. They hurried to see the new born baby. Was this coincidental? I hardly think so.

The NT Passover: The Death and Crucifixion of Jesus

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Passover celebration. On the 10th day of Nisan (our March-April) Jesus entered Jerusalem. We know it as the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday. On Friday he was crucified, buried, and on Sunday he rose from the dead.

Jesus, the Tamin lamb, enters the city-where the house of God was, and would be killed.

Jesus was the first born, a male, without spot or blemish. He knew no sin. He had to be unblemished so that the blemishes of our past could be removed. He had to be spotless so that the stains of our past could be undone. He had to be innocent and undefiled to take away all the defilements in our lives. And so it is from the Passover Lamb, Messiah, that we are given the power of Tamin, the miracle of Tamin, by which the guilty can become innocent again, the defiled can live an unblemished life, with an unblemished record, and an unblemished conscience and with unstained memories. The blood of the Passover Lamb must also be applied to the doorposts of my life.

Jesus would observe the Passover with his disciples on the fourteen day, a Thursday. He broke the bread with his disciples. This had deep meaning for Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem, known as the House of Bread. Jesus was the Bread of Life.

Just as Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice, so Jesus was forced to carry his cross for his sacrifice.

And to fulfill the requirements of the Passover Lamb, none of his bones would be broken.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

The is the first mention of the word “love” in scripture.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 79, 85, 95, 227)

Day of Atonement

(Leviticus 16)

The Holiest day of the Jewish year was called the “Day of Atonement” or Yon Kippur where an incredibly unique ceremony took place.  Yon Kippur means “covering over”.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would stand before the people with two goats before him. The priest would reach into an urn and pull out two lots. One was placed on the head of the goat on the right and the other on the head of the goat on the left. One was chosen by lot to be the sin offering for the people and the other as a scapegoat.  The one chosen as a sin offering will be offered as a burnt offering. The one chosen as a sin offering or scapegoat will be present alive before the Lord to make atonement and then let go into the wilderness.

What took place before Jesus’ sacrifice, or death? Two men were presented before the High Priest. Jesus and Barabbas for the determining of two destinies. One would be chosen for the sacrifice and the other let go. Only one could be the sacrifice.

According to the requirements for the ancient sacrifice, the two goats had to be identical.

  • Messiah was the Son of God, the Son of the Father.
  • Barabbas comes from two Hebrew words; bar which means son and abba which means father. Barabbas means the son of the father.

Here we have two men, each bearing the name “The Son of the Father”. The one sacrificed and the one set free must in some way be identical. If God were to die in my place, he had to become like me, flesh and blood, in the likeness of man. He would be my identical and take my place.

The lot was cast. The people shouted set Barabbas free. Jesus was the one sentenced to judgement so that I could be set free. Barabbas became a freed man.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 29.)

Jesus Became Sin

II Corinthians 5:21

“For God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Jesus)”

The Scriptures concerning the sin offering were written in Hebrew. In Hebrew, sin offering is called the Khataah. The Messiah became the Khataah. Khataah has a double meaning.  On one hand it means the sin offering or sacrifice, and on the other hand, it means the sin. The sacrifice and sin both bear the same name, Khataah. Since the sacrifice is the very thing that takes away sin, Jesus had to become sin itself, even though he never sinned. In Hebrew that is basically saying …”every one of your sins bears the name of the sacrifice, Every one of your sins is written (covered) with His Name, His blood. They all belong to Him. We no longer possess them. To keep them is keeping stolen property, an act of theft as they were given to Him.”

 We need to let go of our sin and live in the righteousness of God.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 233.)

The Suffering Savior Led as a Lamb to Slaughter

(Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The Suffering Savior was led as a lamb lead to slaughter. Jesus understood his mission and work as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The ProphecyThe Fulfillment
52:13 He will be exaltedPhilippians 2:9
52:14 & 53:2  His visage was marred more than any other manMark 15: 17, 19
52:15 He will make a blood atonementI Peter 1:2
53:3 Widely rejected and despisedJohn 12: 37-38
53:4-5 Will bear our sins and sorrowsRomans 4:25; I Peter 2:24-25
53: 6,8 Will be our substituteII Corinthians 5: 21
53:7-8 Will voluntarily accept our guilt and punishmentJohn 10: 11, 19:30
53:9 Buried in a rich man’s tombJohn 19: 38-42
53:10-11 Will save those who believe in HimJohn 3:16. Acts 16:31
53:12 Will die on behalf of transgressorsMark 15:27-28 & Luke 22:37

What scripture was the eunuch from Ethiopia reading when Philip was led to his chariot?  Isaiah 53. Philip explained the verses, and the eunuch understood and was convicted. He asked for baptism. Philip said, “you may if you believe with all your heart.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:26-40

The Second Coming

Matthew, Mark, and John refer to the site of crucifixion as Golgotha and Luke calls it Calvary. There is some difference of opinion as to the location of the exact spot but most scholars believe that Golgotha was actually on the Mount of Olives in the area known as the Upper Land of Moriah, which was just east of the city of Jerusalem. Remember where Abraham went with Isaac. Could it have been the same spot? The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mt. of Olives.

The prophet Zechariah adds another interesting tidbit to the narrative:

“Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:3-4)

The Mount of Olives was also the location from which Jesus ascended to heaven after being resurrected from the grave and appearing to His disciples (Acts 1:9-12). Jesus will return to the same location from which He previously left the earth and where he offered His life as the ultimate sacrifice.

The Revelation Lamb

A number of years after Jesus returned to heaven, severe persecution attacked the believers. Many were killed and even some of the disciples. John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to the island of Patmos for his unrelenting faith and open witness of Jesus.  God revealed to him in a vision what is going to happen at the end of time and in heaven and told him to write it down so that it could be given to the churches.

Someday Jesus, as the sacrificial lamb, will be revealed to all whose sins have been covered by his blood. We will see and know and understand the full impact of the sacrifice he made, in love.

 Rev. 5:6:  “And I looked and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…” and verse 12 is a scene beyond our comprehension. “And I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousand of thousands (literally gazillions) on their faces saying “worthy is the Lamb who was slain….”

What a scene!  In this scene the lamb, the most defenseless of all creatures, so weak it must be protected by shepherds, is on the throne. The lamb is king and reigns over all. The Lamb, the symbol of the Messiah. Messiah, the Lamb of God.

  • Revelations 5:9
  • Revelations 6: 15-17
  • Revelations 7: 9-17
  • Revelations 17:14
  • Revelations 21:7-9, 22-27

Forgiveness of Sin

Hebrews 9:22 “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”

At the time of God’s choosing, Jesus, who was without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19), became the perfect Passover lamb sacrifice; meeting all the requirements set forth by God for a Passover lamb to fulfill the blood sacrifice requirement for the remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). His blood sacrifice was made so that when we believe and obey; accept the substitute shedding of blood for our sins, we will be saved from the wages of sin and death. God made a way for mankind to enjoy Him forever, establishing a new covenant with man for the remission of sin, by giving us His son (Luke 22:19-20), the perfect Passover lamb sacrifice.

I Peter 1:18-20 “We are not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

The entire purpose of Jesus life, from the moment of his birth to his death was to give Himself, to give His life as a sacrifice. What a gift of love!

These facts were revealed, not hidden, to John the Baptist. When he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world” it was loaded with significant and meaning.  Like Abraham many years before, John knew, that he knew, that he knew, Jesus was “the Lamb of God.”

John was born into a priestly family.  The priest were the ones who ministered in the temple and were in charge of the offerings and presenting the sacrifices. A priest had to be thirty years old to perform the duties of a priest. If you remember, John was born about six months before Jesus. (Luke 1) making him eligible to perform priestly duties. John the Baptist, a pure-blooded priest of the lineage of Aaron presented and identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the acceptable final sacrifice to Israel. God made sure to have a priest of Aaron certify the Lamb according to the Old Testament requirements to fulfill the New Testament covenant. That means your sins are completely and certifiable taken away forever by the Lamb who came with priestly certification. There would now be no more lamb sacrifices to take away sin. It is done, once and forever, for all who repent and let the blood of Jesus take away their sin. In the Old Testament the blood covered everyone. In the New Testament it is by choice. Your choice. What will you choose? Like Abraham and John the Baptist, the Bethlehem shepherds, and the ancient prophets of old, do you know, that you know, that you know?

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 66, 130.)

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God took what was not his-our sins

so that we could have what was not ours-love.

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Resources:

  • The Bible (Word of God)
  • “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Days 16, 29, 37, 61, 66, 79,85, 95, 125, 130, 223, 227, and 233.
  • Picture came from pixabay.com a website for free pictures.

By Pat Hertzler, September 12, 2020

When Your World Is In Turmoil

I was watering my plants this evening and my mind was thinking about the crazy, upside down world and the violence, tragedy, and turmoil that has seeped into every aspect of our existence. I was thinking about the recent sudden death of Gene’s first cousin from a massive stroke and the cancer diagnoses of someone very close to me. Some of my friends and friends of friends are going through difficult stuff. My world is in turmoil.

All of a sudden I became aware of the stillness and beauty of the evening. The sun had dropped over the western horizon and in its wake left a soft pink and yellow sky. I glanced to the east and it was aglow with a huge fluffy cloud that reflected the after glow of the sun’s rays. It was a stunning, brilliant pink and yellow. I was standing and working in the midst of it all and almost missed it. I was so focused inward with my mind churning with the weight of many problems and failed to see God’s hand painting the the massive sky canvas in front and behind me with the glory of His presence.

Today the message at church spoke to this very need in my soul. In the midst of a very trying time, the Psalmist cried out to God four times, “How long?” How long will you feel so far away? Forever? How long will my prayers be unanswered? How long will I be overwhelmed with sorrow? How long will I feel like the enemy is winning this battle?” (Psalms 13).

The circumstances did not change between verses 4 and 5 but something changed inwardly for the Psalmist. He stilled himself and remembered God’s work in the past. He remembered God’s mercy. He determined to be joyful in his salvation. He declared that he would sing as he remembered God’s bountiful work in his life.

In the midst of his turmoil, he almost missed seeing the canvas of life God was painting.

Following the sermon we sang the words to an old familiar hymn written by Katharina von Schlegal in 1752…. the words may reflect an old English way of speaking, but the words are still true and powerfully speak to the deep need in our heart.

Be Still, My Soul

1. Be still my soul: the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend. Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know, his voice who ruled them, while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul. The hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief are gone; sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past. All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Amen.

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