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Posts Tagged ‘blood of the lamb’

blood of JesusLife patterns change in the face of death. It is rare that a death would have no impact, but it’s possible in the case of a lonely soul, a homeless person. And yet, even they, once discovered, impact the finders. So, now I can’t think of an example of a death not causing some ripples in the fabric of life.

Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins. [Hebrews 9:22 +/-, The Message]

In Judaeo-Christian traditions, death, symbolized by the shedding of blood, marked covenants and promises, as well as standing in as a symbolic gesture for the forgiveness of transgressions. Blood is a powerful conceptualization and its significance is lost on no one. We all know that without blood, the body cannot survive. Breath is good but blood is life-giving and sustaining.

And most of us understand that the death of Jesus was intended as the ultimate sacrifice, that of God’s son (or God in human form) for the sake of humanity. The death of Jesus changed his followers; the resurrection of Jesus changed the world. Jesus accepted his mission and willingly gave all that he had to give, from power to heal to direct access to God to forgiveness of sins and mistakes for eternity.

SONY DSCThe death of Jesus is a macro event. In my own life, our family has experienced what may seem like a micro event in the face of a dying deity, and yet Mike’s death has changed us all, significantly. We are all seeing more clearly what is important and what matters. When people say “don’t sweat the small stuff,” I never realized before how much small stuff is really out there. I have been majoring in non-essentials. Even my young adult children have shed much of the clutter in their lives and squeezed several years of maturing into a few months. We will never the be the same.

But really, is anyone the same after someone has sacrificed on our behalf? All are affected, the one who gives and the one who receives. Sacrifice is not easy.

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From this point in the book of Revelation and forward, there is a flurry of activity, none of it good. But the “white robed ones” are the survivors. Like most God events, I believe this tribulation multitude stands outside of time.

Revelation 7:14
And he said to me, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation (persecution), and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
[Amplified]

My slow walk through the book of Revelation is becoming more and more difficult. Yes, this book is rich with symbolism but it is also filled with confusing texts and “timelines” that have been peeled apart by the most studious of scholars. As noted before, I am totally out of my element. And yet, I want to get something from the book that I can use and apply to my life, that I can engage in my heart and embrace. I am not interested in the controversies of pre-millennial or post-millennial; pre-tribulation or post-tribulation. I just want a nugget of understanding, a glimpse of truth.

The multitude referenced in verse 14 is huge, uncountable. This is no special group of 144,000, but another collection that represents the peoples of the earth. These are people who have known deep affliction, persecution, and sorrow. Are the tribulations or grievous trials referenced here, are they the ones to be described next (linearly). Or, are we simply seeing the “survivor benefits” on the front end, or, is this some huge group of people that has already had enough pain and are being given a reprieve? I don’t know. Does it matter?

In my “earthly time,” I’m not in this group on either score.

But there is an inherent promise to the verses, 15-17. Extrapolating from the description, I see these promises:

  • to experience close proximity to God;
  • to have opportunity to serve and interact with God;
  • to be protected from any subsequent dangers;
  • to be satisfied and all needs met;
  • to be comfortable;
  • to be guided and have clear direction;
  • to be filled; and,
  • to be happy.

Some people have taken these promises as the state we will enter in “heaven.” And perhaps that’s true. These are the goals that most humans seek in their corporeal lives, aren’t they? Isn’t everything we do, particularly as believers, built on these long-term objectives?

Life is hard. Whether people are rich or poor, healthy or sick, there are challenges and tragedies which cross most human lives. Why do we bother to keep living? Because we believe in life. We believe in the evolution of the soul; we believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit; we believe in a purpose.

Or, we die. Those who have lost sight of the “golden ring,” no longer believe in human, in God, in a future, often give up and choose death over suffering.

People who dissect the book of Revelation believe the worst is yet to come. And that may true, but that should not discount the sorrows, the wars, the persecutions, the deaths, the miseries, the tortures that have already happened to many parts of the world, to many people through human history.

In or out of time, there is still the promise of the divine.

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I did a quick study of “drink offering” and two things stand out: the drink offering is always given along with something else (usually the meal offering); it is wine and represents the blood. It is often followed by oil which symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:17-18
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

He is saying that his death is poured out over their “sacrifice and service” and as such, will be additionally blessed. And later, Paul asks that his followers rejoice in this, rejoice in his offering, rejoice in the implications of their offerings, both his and theirs. It will be followed by the Holy Spirit who will give back life to their planted seeds. The seed must “die” to bring forth a plant [John 12:24].

But what is in this for me? I am not in the drink offering business. At least, not yet.

Perhaps I need to be aware of the sacrifices that others have made for me though. Do I appreciate the pouring out of my mother, let’s say, who gave everything for her children, even her emigration to the United States for our sakes, to have a better chance. She worked, she saved, she spent, she did the best she could with the resources she had.

I think about David in II Samuel 23:16, when three mighty warriors broke through Philistine lines just to get him a “drink of water” from the well near Bethlehem. Some find it odd that once the warriors brought the water, he would not drink it, but poured it out on the ground. In essence, I believe he was acknowledging it as a type of drink offering. It was holy and symbolized sacrifice for the cause.

To what have I sacrificed? Where is my drink offering? This offering is unlike the offerings described in the early chapters of Leviticus. I believe this offering is not mandated, it’s extra, it’s a choice.

Oh Lord, give me courage and desire to identify and pour out my offering when the time comes.

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Here’s an idea: every time I tell a lie, it does harm to the Body of Christ. That Body requires truth. And anything less diminishes it. Either I have a corporate corporeal responsibility or not. I’ve managed to minimalize the impact. It’s so big after all. Well, time to think again.

Ephesians 4:25
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Another image that comes to mind is one of those psychology experiments in college where small electric shocks are given to someone else based on the subject’s (my) answers or failures (or whatever the testing might entail). If I could see or feel the impact on this “Body,” would I act differently? If I had a chart of the body and every time I sinned or lied or cheated, a red dot representing pain in some other region or area of the Body would light up. Would I stop?

I know that’s silly, but really, am I a unique part of this larger Body or not? And does my place in it make any difference?

Telling the truth is the hardest of all really. I lie with my lips and I lie in my mind. I lie to others (sometimes masked in halves or exaggeration) and I lie to myself.

Sometimes, I get another crazy picture in my head like I’m standing at the “pearly gates” and, as I have been forewarned [Romans 14:12], I begin to give an account of my life. When I get to the lies part of the list, It’s so long, I end up in some kind of purgatory (waiting tank) after all.

Have I placed ALL the lies under the covering of the blood sacrifice? Have I stopped telling them? Really?

I will probably never get very good at the “not telling lies” part. Some of this is my quick mouth and some of it is the way I think and blab at the same time. I sometimes don’t even “hear” something until I say it. This leaves on option for me: silence. Not speaking. Also difficult, but probably a better choice for the sake of the Body.

I am planning another fast. I do these on occasion but this time, it’s as a result of my previous days’ revelations about the superficiality of the “old self” and the power of sensuality to rule. I’m thinking that food and unrelenting appetite fit into the same drama (not just sexuality and violence). And today, I can add lies and too much talking into the mix. Can I fast from so much talking? Something to consider.

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It takes me ten minutes to figure out one verse out of Romans 7. Sin, sin, sin . . . law, law, law. Does it matter anymore? Is sin just a “church” word?

Romans 7:7
What then do we conclude? Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not! Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin or have known its meaning. [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet and have an evil desire [for one thing and another].
[Amplified]

I’m not sure how much more I can write about sin. I looked back over my other meditations and there are already quite a few, What is Sin?, and Sin is EOE, and if anyone wants to read other blogs on sin, have at it, there’s reading for a full day.

Personally, I think Paul beats this idea to death. I get it, honestly. Without the law, we wouldn’t know about sin. And without sin, we wouldn’t know that sin kills our body, mind & soul (eventually), and without knowing we die from our sin, we wouldn’t know we need grace (a savior) just to survive.

When Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Matthew 5:48], he actually meant that. It’s the only way to have an intimate relationship with God.

Oh, if anyone thinks I don’t mean that. Think again. That is the whole point. We can’t be perfect. Everyone breaks the law. We break the laws of God, we break the man-made laws of the land. We can’t even get the basics right: “love your neighbor as yourself.” If we did, there would be no orphans, no homelessness, no poverty, no starving people, no unemployment. There would be enough for everyone. The earth can supply our basic needs. But, human as we are, we want more than that. The evidence of our lawbreaking is everywhere.

Lawbreaking crosses cultures and religions. People who love Allah or Buddha or Brahma or Vishnu or Shiva (or any of the 300 million gods and ancestors that abound in this world), still break the laws, mandates, and guidelines of their faiths. There is always a cost. For some faiths, the cost is higher than another.

In reality, the Judeo-Christian faiths have the highest cost: death. It’s the reason for all those sacrifices. Jews only stopped sacrificing animals because they lost their holy place. But their law clearly states that blood sacrifice is a necessary substitute for breaking the law.

And the same is true for Christianity. The only difference is that the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ came to be that sacrifice for all. This is the point that Paul was driving home, again and again and again.

So now that Christ Jesus made this sacrifice, I am asked to confess our sins to him. My sins still require the covering of a blood sacrifice. This is weird stuff really. It all seems so archaic.

But what would our world look like without any of it? No laws, no rules, no order? Anarchy doesn’t work. Instead, some kind of order rises up, and usually, in these situations, it’s the biggest, strongest dog in the pack.

Who is my pack leader? Who is my Master? Who is my Dictator? Who is my Savior? Who is my King? Who is my sacrifice? Who indeed? I gave my answer thirty years ago, before I even understood the full impact of my decision. But I thank God that I can say I am a slave, by choice, to Christ Jesus. Handmaiden of the Lord.

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John 6:53
Jesus said to them, “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…”

In chapter 6 of John, Jesus says, at least five times, “I tell you the truth…” Now, I have always been taught that anything repeated several times in scripture is important. And so, this morning, I have been meditating and dozing on this (I am trying to follow His lead here and tell the truth: meditating can be a sleepy business).

Why does Jesus keep saying this? Clearly, it’s because he suspects they don’t/won’t believe him. What he is saying is too fantastic or difficult to comprehend. He’s expecting their reaction to be, “You,re kidding, right?” No, He says, “I’m telling you the truth.”

By the end of this chapter, we are told that many of his disciples (the unnamed ones who followed him around for awhile and got a few free meals along the way), left him after this instruction. Apparently, He convinced them that he meant what he said. And, because He convinced them that He was telling the truth, they rejected his message… intentionally.

And what was the hullabaloo about? Eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Since there has never been a tradition of cannibalism in Judaism, He wasn’t talking about a barbecued ribs. But He was talking about consuming the life force of Christ. There is something to be said for cannibalism as a sacred practice. In primitive tribes, to eat someone was to become one with them. They ate the bodies to take in a person’s essence, strength, and soul.

Accepting Christ is serious business. It’s not just an idea. It’s a process. It’s breathing in. It’s consuming. It’s transforming. It’s energy. It’s eating. It’s nourishing. It’s life-sustaining.

And without Christ, we die.

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Hebrews 10:20-22 says “…by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain [that is the separation between us and the Most Holy Place of God], that is, his body [the curtain], and since we have a great priest [Christ Jesus] over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

We have access to God. We are no longer separated by a “curtain” – the symbol of the previous covenant and law. By Jesus’s sacrifice, by the blood of the ultimate lamb, we have been covered and we can “get in.” The work on His side has been done. We must enter!

And it is as we enter that we can truly “know God.” If you want to become like a person, you’ve got to get to know them. If you want to become more “Godly” then you’ve got to know Him…. intimately… and that kind of knowing happens in the Holy of Holies.

We have all heard the old story of how you really don’t know a person until you’re married to him. How true. All those dates and talks and experiences were wonderful during the engagement, but the real “knowing” happens in the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room, and the kitchen (maybe I should include the garage in this list too). You have to live with a person day to day to really begin to know them, and even then, there are secret corners. That’s how we humans are.

But God, through Christ, has invited us into his deepest places. He has invited us to know Him. He has promised to reveal Himself to us. But we must enter.

P.S. As we begin to truly know Him, others can begin to know us…. and as they begin to know us… they meet Him.

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