ECHOES from EDEN, PART 37
END-TIME PROPHECY – TRUTH REVEALED
BY: J. PRESTON EBY
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE BLOOD of the LAMB
The Blood of the Lamb
The Cleansing of the Blood
The Light of Life
Overcoming the Blood
A Lamb is obviously a very familiar figure in the Word of God. The first blood earth’s startled soil ever drank was shed in that primeval Paradise in Eden. Thousands of years later John the Baptist began the ministry of Christ by proclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) In the last book of the New Testament we read, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing...” (Rev. 5:12) In the opening chapters of Genesis we read: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make COATS OF SKINS, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:7, 9-10, 21) We would be totally void of understanding as to what kind of victim it was that provided this blessed covering for the sinning man and his wife, were it not that the Holy Spirit has shed precious light upon this wonder, revealing that Christ is “the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8) who verily was “a LAMB without blemish or spot...foreordained before the foundation of the world.” (1 Pet. 1:19-20) I now invite you to meditate deeply upon my words. In the process of changing our garments, covering our nakedness, and clothing us in the righteousness of Himself God brings us to the LAMB, which has its base in the foundation of God before the world (cosmos – world system) began, for Christ the Lamb was foreordained before the foundation of the world, and He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and however you interpret “the foundation of the world” that certainly carries us back to Eden.
Redemption is not an afterthought of God by which He hopes to salvage a few of the broken and shattered pieces of His creation. Redemption is PART OF THE PLAN OF CREATION. If the fall of man is part of the plan of God, then the redemption of the fallen creation must also be a part of the same plan that issued forth from the fathomless depths of His omniscient mind. If Peter was speaking the truth when he wrote of God’s Lamb, “Who verily was FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (I Pet. 1:20), then the fall of man must certainly be a part of the plan of the Creator. For what possible purpose was the blessed redemptive Lamb foreordained before the world began if redemption itself were not already in the mind and plan of God? All Christians love to quote the Golden Text of the Bible, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...” (Jn. 3:16) Yet what is the real message of this beautiful passage? Is it not that God SO LOVED that He GAVE His Son? Does not I Pet. 1:20 make it very plain that the actual giving of that Son was before the world began and before man was driven from the Garden planted eastward in Eden? Ah, the agonies of the cross were endured only two thousand years ago on Golgotha’s hill, but the actual giving of the redemptive Lamb took place before the present world-system began and the actual slaying of the Lamb took place from the beginning of the world-system, in the mysterious mists of the sacred Garden of long ago. Well do I know that there are deep mysteries involved in this, yet the meaning is clear enough. It is that long ago before “The morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy” the purpose of redemption was conceived and carried forth as a burden of love and a sacrifice of pain, in the heart of God. But the day came – wonderful day! – when that love-purpose, conceived in eternity, was born into time. The fullness of time having come, God “sent forth His Son.” Upon the cross of Calvary the eternal purpose became a historical verity.
It is clear that the plan of redemption was prepared in its fullness before ever the voice of God commanded, ‘“Let there be!” It was not completed just in case man should fall, but because the fall of man and his redemption from sin and death was part of the process by which he would come into God’s image and live in the eternal realm as a creature of experience and knowledge, completely redeemed, completely purified, completely perfected, completely matured, completely instructed, and completely incapable of sin or death forevermore. Is it any wonder that John on Patmos heard every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and all that are in them exulting in such a plan as this and crying out in ecstasy, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto THE LAMB forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13) Creation and redemption walk hand in hand through all the pilgrim journey from Eden to the new heaven and the new earth.
Two thousand years ago, the CROSS didn’t inspire religious awe or thoughts of the Messiah’s redemption. Instead, the cross inspired sheer TERROR. A crucifixion was a gruesome, torturous, and shameful way of dying – the lowest form of execution, reserved for traitors and hardened criminals. It was undoubtedly one of the most barbarous and exquisitely cruel forms of torture known to man. The method used by the Romans in the time of our Lord was a refinement of this gruesome form of death devised by the ancient Assyrians. The sadistic form of crucifixion originally was IMPALEMENT of the enemy upon sharp stakes. Cutting the branches off a small but sturdy tree, these masters of torment would shape it into an upright post with a razor-sharp point. Hauling their victim to the crucifixion site they would rip the clothing off his body in the presence of his frightened associates. These strong soldiers would then lift him up in the air over the upright CROSS, poising his wildly twisting body momentarily over the sharp point in the rectal area. Suddenly, with precision timing, the powerful warriors who held him would drive his body downward with all their might. If they were especially skilled they would drive the sword-like stake through the intestines, and all the way to the diaphragm. Although strong enough to drive the cross into the heart they would stop short so that the screaming, jerking victim would gyrate long enough to burn the event into the souls of his watching countrymen. The Assyrians knew that such a memory would aid them in conquering other cities, tribes, and nations without so much as a battle.
The Greek word used in the New Testament for “cross” is STAUROS. From the time of Alexander the Great, who also practiced the awful art of crucifixion, the term STAUROS meant “an upright stake.” In respect to the Roman cross the word STAUROS referred to the upright post – the horizontal beam was called the PATIBULUM or cross-arm – for there was no word in the Greek language for “cross” as the Romans made it. The Persians who picked up the practice of crucifixion from the Assyrians were the first to change the form of execution by impalement through the bowels to impalement through the hands. Their purpose in this was not to be more humane but, rather, to cause a more lingering death to impress the vanquished with the foolishness of resisting their military might. The Persian version of crucifixion, using the crossbeam in addition to the upright post, was picked up by Alexander and his generals and carried back to the Mediterranean world.
The Romans learned the art of torture by crucifixion and immediately set out to refine and improve it in many subtle ways. At the time of Christ the Romans made use of four cross forms. In addition to the upright STAUROS which was used alone for impalement through the bowels, there was what they called the CRUX IMISSA in which the cross-beam was located about one-third the way down the post. This is the traditional design which is usually associated with the cross upon which Jesus was slain. The third Roman cross form was called the CRUX COMMISSA in which the crossbeam was hauled to the very top of the pole, forming a T-shaped cross. The fourth Roman cross form was in the shape of the letter “X” and was called the CRUX DECUSSTA. Tradition maintains that Peter was crucified upside down on this shape of cross. The Latin word CRUX, which was the Roman term for these instruments of torture, comes into English as “cross” by way of the French CROIX.
Regardless of the cross form used it was a slow and agonizing death – reserved for traitors, slaves and in general the SCUM of the Roman world. But the process of crucifixion involved more than the shame of a brief public hanging. First, the victim was mercilessly scourged with spiked whips, sticks and all manner of physical and verbal abuse. Then the victim was forced to CARRY his own heavy cross to the site of the crucifixion. Afterwards came the painful process of nailing his hands and feet to the cross. Finally, this slow, agonizing death was aggravated by taunts, threats and buffeting from the crowd. The terror of the cross – like the anticipation of a public hanging – is heightened by the victim’s fear of the event. Most criminals were crucified immediately after their trial because the forebodings of pain were more than most mortals could handle. The crucifixion of Jesus was typical in this respect – He was crucified on the same day He was convicted. But this death sentence was no sudden surprise to Jesus. He anticipated His death by the cross throughout His three-and-one-half year ministry. As a young man growing up in Galilee, He undoubtedly witnessed a number of Roman crucifixions.
Of all the lives that have suddenly ended in what would seem to be defeat and tragedy, none would have appeared to be more defeated or more tragic than the life of Jesus, the teacher from Nazareth. He had claimed to have power over all things, even over life and death. In fact, He had proved His claim by bringing the dead back to life, yet, to all outward appearances, He seemed to be unable to forestall His own death. Not only did Jesus die, but the tragedy and defeat seemed even worse because He died under the most shattering circumstances. According to the custom of the times, to be hanged on a tree was to be forever accursed – to have the memory of your name blotted out both in earth and in heaven. The triumph of Christ over this kind of death only adds immeasurably to His ultimate victory, because He transformed His cross – the symbol of the curse – into the symbol of His eternal triumph. Yes, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death – EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS! Oh, the wonder of it! Oh, the mystery of it!
When Jesus hung upon the cross the heavens robed themselves in midnight mourning and bowed to the earth and wept. The rocks in their dumb grief burst, because their Creator was put to death by those whom He came only to save and bless; and the earth itself rocked with convulsive throes. As the Lord of glory hangs there – absolute silence takes the place of the noisy babble of the crowd. At length after three hours, the silence is broken, and a cry pierces the darkness, till it strikes a heaven not opened now, but closed even to Him, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
In spite of the awful fact of Calvary’s dreadful scene I would be remiss if I failed to tell you that the CROSS OF CHRIST was not a cross of wood. The cross on Golgotha’s hill was undoubtedly a wooden cross, but the cross of Christ which the apostles preached and in which they gloried and by which the world is reconciled to God was something more than a wooden beam. When in wisdom and holy expectation our Lord exhorted His disciples, saying, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up HIS CROSS, and follow Me,” He was not making reference to a cross of wood, but to a cross that would bring death to one’s own identity, will and ways, and identify his life henceforth with the life of Christ. The DEATH OF THE CROSS is in some mysterious and divine way the gateway to the LIFE OF THE CROSS. The wooden Roman cross on which Jesus was crucified was not actually HIS CROSS, for the cross of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, all the handwriting of ordinances of the law were nailed to His cross, and He made peace and reconciled all things in heaven and earth unto Himself by the blood of HIS CROSS. No literal parchment was nailed to the cross of Calvary, nor does that cross even exist today.
It is my deep conviction, and I say it with all reverence and respect to my blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, but the truth is that Jesus in the natural suffered no more on the cross than thousands of others who were nailed to a tree, or thousands of others who died on the rack during the Roman inquisition, or thousands of others who were burned at the stake, or fed to the lions, or made blazing human torches at the Circus in Rome. The physical suffering was no greater. The cross of Christ refers to a greater spiritual cross and a greater spiritual death. The cross of Christ had its beginning that day in heaven, when the Word of God, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of NO REPUTATION, and took upon Him the FORM OF A SERVANT, and was made IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN; and being found IN FASHION AS A MAN, He HUMBLED Himself, and BECAME OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS.” Fierce as was His suffering at Calvary, that fearful hour of agony and blood was but the final act of a life of the cross as step by step He descended from the majesty and glory of equality with God to the fearsome moment when in anguish He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Though I am sure it is impossible to plumb the shining depths and the inexhaustible riches of the meaning of the cross, I would like to endeavor to set before you the deeper meaning of the cross of Christ. We will never understand the mystery of the cross until by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God our eyes perceive the eternal cross in the heart of God Himself. The only true and eternal life in the universe is the life of God. He alone is self-existent. He alone is reality. He alone is eternal substance. If we are to fully know and partake of that life, we must die to all that is contrary to that life. Everything that exists in the universe has its opposite – and as surely as God exists there is the opposite for all that He is. God is love – and the opposite of love is hate. God is light – and the opposite of light is darkness. God is truth – and the opposite of the truth is the lie. God is life – and the opposite of life is death. Every positive has its negative, and all the laws of the universe reveal this principle of opposites. Jesus enunciated the fundamental principle of life (spirit, God) when He said that except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it die it brings forth the increase of life. Every negative must be brought to death. Everything in the universe must die to all that is contrary to divine life and nature, being born again of the Spirit. This is the meaning of “Behold, I make ALL THINGS NEW.” (Rev. 21:5) This has been the Father’s plan for man – man in the image and glory of the incorruptible God.
The principle was set in motion with the first man, Adam. Adam had to fall into darkness, sin and death, not because he was inherently evil or rebellious, but because all that is contradictory to God must be stirred up, experienced, faced, understood, repented of, overcome and eternally put to rest in man’s will before the image of God can shine safely and eternally through him. In recent months my whole understanding of why the cross is the gateway to LIFE has been clarified and crystallized within my spirit. I have come to see that God Himself dies to everything but His self-giving self, which is love. God Himself dies to every dark principle that would sow selfishness, pride, strife, bitterness, trouble, pain, sorrow, chaos, disappointment, weakness, limitation or evil of any kind. The cross is the very heart of God, and the basis of why He is the ETERNAL GOD. He is eternally God just because He IS ETERNALLY all that makes Him God.
In the increasing light with which God is filling the hearts of His elect, this scripture, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is ONE Lord,” bears a depth of meaning greater, far and deeper than the surface truth we have understood with natural minds. That this passage may become clearer to our minds, scintillating in heaven’s light like the ray which is broken into many prismatic hues, consider now the glorious things concealed in this mighty word of the Lord. The Lord our God is ONE. One, in the numerology of scripture, means UNITY, UNITED, UNDIVIDED, UNFRAGMENTED. One is the primary number, denoting beginning or source. Unity being indivisible, and not made up of other numbers, is therefore independent of all others, and is the source of all others. “One” excludes all difference, for there is no second with which it can either harmonize or conflict. One means unity and unity comes from the word “unit”.
In reference to His substance, God is SPIRIT. In reference to His state of being, God is ONE. That which is ONE is that which is UNITED, UNDIVIDED, UNFRAGMENTED. Oneness speaks of unity, harmony, singleness, concord, solidarity. God is ONE! The fact that there is ONE GOD must not be confused with the truth that GOD IS ONE. Perhaps, as someone has said, this is only another aspect of viewing the same truth, for God is truly one, undivided in Himself, or in His will and purpose. And surely HE alone is God! But this One God IS ONE. It is a great and blessed fact that God is ONE. He who is united, undivided and unfragmented in every aspect of His nature and state of being cannot be influenced, affected, moved, upset, frustrated, changed, altered, damaged, destroyed, made discordant or set at variance in any way. The character of God is eternal, change-less, unaffected. The love, joy, peace, righteousness, wisdom, justice, power and will of God do not rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. Matters not what happens nor what men devise or devils say or do, the love of God, the purpose of God, the holiness of God, the power of God are steadfast, unmoved, unquenched, unaffected, without fluctuation. He is Jehovah, the SELF-EXISTENT ONE. He is ONE. No power in the universe can cause any deviation whatsoever in God’s nature, will or action.
But how is it that God is UNCHANGEABLE in His nature – is it because He CANNOT change or because He CHOOSES not to change? Truly God “cannot lie” and God cannot be anything other than life, light and love. But why CANNOT He be? The answer that the blessed Spirit of Truth has revealed in my heart is because HE HAS ETERNALLY DIED TO THE POSSIBILITY THAT DARKNESS CAN ARISE IN HIS LIFE! The entire principle of darkness has its foundation in the life of God, for was it not God Himself who “divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called night.” (Gen. 1:5) “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7) This mystery of darkness in God’s nature remains unrevealed because He has eternally WILLED to be Life, Light and Love. All the negative potential is there – the law of opposites – but there is a cross in God’s heart--by which He eternally dies to all that would make Him anything less than GOD. This is ALWAYS happening in God’s life, because the cross is an eternal fact. “Eternity” doesn’t mean unbeginning time in the long ago or unending time in the inscrutable future. Eternity means NO TIME. Eternity is TIME-LESS. This means that the decision to die to the negative principle is not subject to review or change – it is forever settled and determined in the heart of God. That’s why He says over and over, “I change not.” It is not that He is intrinsically set so that He cannot change. Rather, it is that He has ETERNALLY CHOSEN not to change. It is an eternal, accomplished, irrevocable choice, born of wisdom and understanding. It is the eternal cross in His heart. Therefore He cannot change. He is forever love. He is forever pure. He is forever righteous. He is forever wisdom. He is forever Light and Life. He is forever SAFE!
The cross is the secret of God’s gift of love. It means that God does not live for HIMSELF. All the selfhood of God is forever crucified upon the cross in God’s heart. Selfhood must be a vital characteristic in any life. The selfish desire that would cause God to live for Himself--to this God eternally dies. He has willed to be a self for others instead of a self for self, by eternally dying to the dark, selfish principle. Andrew Murray said that the spirit of love in AN ETERNAL WILL TO ALL GOODNESS. The best and most wonderful word in the universe is Love. For God is love. What is love? The deep desire to give itself for the beloved. Love finds its joy in imparting all that it has, all that it is, to make the loved one happy and fulfilled. This is THE ONE ETERNAL, IMMUTABLE GOD that, from eternity to eternity, changeth not, that can be neither more nor less, but an ETERNAL WILL TO ALL THE GOODNESS that is in Himself and comes from Him. The creation of ever so many worlds adds nothing to, nor takes anything from, this immutable God: He always was, and always will be the same immutable WILL TO ALL GOODNESS. So that as certainly as He is the Creator, so certainly He is the Blesser of every created thing, and can give nothing but Blessing, Goodness and Happiness from Himself, because He has in Himself nothing else to give.
The spirit of love does not want to be rewarded or honored; its only desire is to become the blessing and happiness of everything that needs it. The wrath of an enemy, the treachery of a friend, only gives the spirit of love opportunity to be more triumphant. The rebellion (selfhood) of Adam opened up avenues for mankind to experience and know the incredible depths of the love of God! God IS LOVE! And His sons are of His own nature. The Sons of Love! What a blessed title! Little wonder, then, that the whole vast creation, sold under slavery and bondage to sin, sorrow, and death GROANS for the manifestation of THE SONS OF LOVE!
From this flash-point, Life sheds forth Light and Love. The whole creation sprang out from this unselfish love, for God said, “Let there be...” and “God SO LOVED THE WORLD that He gave...” Life begins after the cross, even in the life of God. The cross is more than Calvary – it is the fulcrum or point of power in which the entire infinite might of the forces of divine desire issue in love, creation, and self-abnegation for others. This is why Jesus said, “Take up YOUR CROSS and follow Me.” We carry our cross with us in our walk IN SPIRIT – the cross that God has in His heart – not to suffer physically necessarily, but to die to all negatives and all selfhood and selfishness and spring forth as rivers of living waters in life anew. So we become life and light for others. As Adam Parker wrote, “How does the sun in the sky give light? It is continually dying to produce light. We don’t see the death or the dark contracting forces in this great star. We only see the light. But death is the key to the light. And that light is the life of our world in the physical dimension. So also the Son, with the cross in His heart, is the Daystar risen in our lives. We share in His eternal death and new life, for He is our very life – and He in us is the light of the world that brings life to all men.
All the books in the world, though written with pens of silver and ink of gold, could never fully describe the glories of His cross, nor could all the learned tongues of men or the heavenly voices of angels explain to the mind of man how He, who was rich, for our sakes became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich. Eternity itself will not be too long to sing the praises of such a One, who came from the cross in the bosom of God to shed His life blood that all creation might find eternal life in Him.
I would draw your reverent attention to a few significant passages of scripture. Most Christians seem to think that the time the Christ of God left the glory above was when He was conceived in the womb of the virgin of Nazareth and born a babe in Bethlehem’s stable, laying down that life that He had with the Father, birthed into our life which is a life of death, separated from the eternal glory of the Father for a mere 33 years, then laying aside that robe which was of flesh to return to the Father and take again that glory which He had with the Father until that wonderful day when the angel Gabriel was dispatched by God to Mary in Nazareth. But a close inspection of the scriptures will give us a different idea.
In that wonderful prayer Jesus prayed on the night before His crucifixion, He said, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” Then He went on to ask, “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory I had with Thee before the world (cosmos) was.” (Jn. 17:4-5) These words certainly indicate that Christ had been away from the Father’s glory for a lot longer than 33~ years. He is actually saying that He left the glory BEFORE THE KOSMOS CAME INTO BEING. How long ago that was I don’t have the foggiest notion--but it was certainly centuries, millenniums, yea, vast and innumerable ages before our blessed Christ walked among us. Now He was asking the Father to restore to Him the glory He had forsaken before ever the cosmos came into being. In the 24th verse we read: “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: FOR THOU LOVEDST ME BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”
Why these references to the beginning, yea, before the beginning, before the founding of the cosmos? What happened away back there that He should appeal to it? Why did He speak of the Father’s love for Him in that distant point of time? Did not the Father always love Him? I feel deeply within that something tremendously important happened at that time that invoked a special love from God, His Father, causing Him to love His Son in a very special way. One thing is certain--that was the time when the Christ left His pre-existent glory. Otherwise, why should He say, “Father, glorify Thou Me, with Thine own self, with the glory I had with Thee B-E-F-O-R-E THE KOSMOS WAS.” If He had left the glory of the Father only when He came to earth as a man, why not say, “...the glory which I had with Thee before I came to earth”? Ah – it was not in Mary’s womb that He descended from the glory of the Father, it was much farther back – BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD!
Notice now these wonderfully meaningful words penned by John the Revelator. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the beast), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” (Rev. 13:8) Let us notice just what truth is stated here. A better rendering would be, “The Lamb that was PUT TO DEATH from the founding of the cosmos.” Weymouth’s translation reads, “All the inhabitants of the earth will be found worshipping him; every one whose name is not recorded in the book of Life--the book of the Lamb offered in sacrifice FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.” The sacrifice and death of the Christ did not start with the events surrounding Calvary; it began away back there at the beginning, and culminated on Calvary. He was the Lamb who was put to death from the beginning. Just as the cross did not begin at Calvary, so the crucifixion of Christ did not begin at Calvary. Peter expressed the fact that the cross existed as a work of God before the foundation of the world in this manner: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was FOREORDAINED B-E-F-O-R-E THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (I Pet. 1:18-20) The Lamb whose offering was already a glorious and eternal reality in the heavens, remained only to cast its shadow upon the earth, on Calvary’s hill. We would have thought that in calling our Lord “the Lamb” this name would have been used only in respect to His humiliation in His earthly life. However, in scripture it is most used in reference to His glory in the heavenlies. Peter saw Him as a Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world. John saw Him as a Lamb that had been put to death from the founding of the cosmos, highly exalted, standing in the midst of the throne. Actually John saw the Lamb SLAIN IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE! What a wonder!
What does it mean that Christ was the Lamb slain “before the foundation of the world”? The word “world” in these passages translates the Greek word KOSMOS meaning “order, arrangement, system of things.” The “world” is a negative thing in relation to God. James declares, “...the friendship of the world is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4) The apostle John adds his testimony, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I Jn. 2:15-16) The world is the present system of things upon this earth conceived by the carnal mind and generated by the natural man.
The world consists of all that man has instituted that replaces God (the Spirit) in his life. The present political systems, economic systems, educational systems and religious systems are not of God, but of the world. When people, activities, or things – whether good or bad, beautiful or ugly – enslave man, they comprise the world. Anything that causes man to disregard the SPIRIT, be removed from the anointing, trust in the outer world of flesh, or be independent of God is the world. All that does not come from the Father, all that originates outside of SPIRIT, all that man institutes by his own carnal wisdom and fleshly ability is of the world, and is contrary to the life and nature of God.
The word “foundation” (foundation of the world) translates the Greek word KATABOLE which is a compound word made up of BALLO meaning “to cast, to throw” and KATA meaning “down.” When man fell from his high and holy relationship with God and was cast down into the carnal realm of consciousness, the “foundation” of the world was laid in his heart and actions. But--blessed be God! The apostle Paul informs us that God the Father elected some SONS in Christ BEFORE the foundation of the world! “According as He hath chosen us in Him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD... unto the adoption of sons...” (Eph. 1:4-5) The word “before” translates the Greek word PRO meaning “to go before, to precede.” Hence, the Father’s act of choosing us in Christ preceded the fall of man and the establishment of the world system.
These blessed ones chosen by the Father are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), and they are the heirs of the Kingdom of God “prepared for them from the foundation of the world” (Mat. 25:34) Praise God, our sonship is assured, our victory over the world is certain, the outcome of God’s plan is sure – therefore all creation is standing on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of God’s sons coming into their own! The world, as a result, shall pass away and “the kingdoms of THIS WORLD shall BECOME the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ!”
It was when the Christ hung upon the cross before the foundation of the world, in the precincts of Eden that He became the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He tasted death for every man and was made perfect through sufferings that He might lead many sons to glory. It was under the shadow of His cross, that we were found and were quickened by His Spirit. It is there He found us, and it is there that we found Him, the Man who is our hiding-place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest. It was there that streams of living water were poured out in the dry place; from that moment the Rock followed us, and out of it, living streams are flowing more abundantly. It is the cross in OUR LIVES which brings the release of these living streams to mankind, for the body of Christ is the channel of His life by the extension of His cross. While we praise God for the cross of Calvary, and while the soul of man will ever love to thank Him who gave His life for us, yet I believe the triumph of the Christ began at the cross in the heart of God before the foundation of the world and ends only when the race has received from God the Father, through the Christ, Head and body, the grace, power and glory of God that makes them sons of God like Himself.
The glorious theme of the Holy Scripture is the Person and Work of Him whose lovely title is “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This gracious title for our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed one of the most charming symbols used in the Bible to describe Him who loved us and has washed us from our sins in His own blood. Whenever the serious seeker after truth explores the meaning of the various Semitic symbols used to depict the Person and Work of the Saviour he becomes aware that each stands for a specific aspect of truth. In the case of the “Lamb” it is with the truth of redemption that we deal, for redemption is by the blood of the Lamb. “Ye were not redeemed by such corruptible things as silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Pet. 1:18-19) “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” – not the child that was born, though He was indeed worthy. Not the miracle-worker of the sea, or by the grave of Lazarus. Not the teacher whose words enthralled the multitudes on the mountain, or across the waters of blue Galilee. Not the healer restoring sight to the blind, or causing the lame to walk again. But – “Worthy is the LAMB THAT WAS S-L-A-I-N to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing!” Why was He born in a stable instead of a house? He was a Lamb! Why did He not just run up to His altar where He was sacrificed – the cross? Because He was a Lamb! He was led to the cross as you lead a sheep to the slaughter.
We would have thought that in calling our Lord “the Lamb” this name would have been used only in respect to His humiliation in His earthly life. However in scripture it is most used in reference to His eternal glory in the heavenlies. Peter saw Him as the Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world. John saw Him as a Lamb that had been slain from the foundation of the world, highly exalted, standing in the midst of the Throne. This slain Lamb is IN THE MIDST of everything: in the midst of the Throne, and of the four Living Creatures, and of the Elders. This Lamb is peculiarly the One who is IN THE MIDST, just as the tree of life was IN THE MIDST of the Garden of God. His eternal centrality is set forth in these significant words: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist...and having made peace through THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, by Him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:15-20)
The term “Lamb” is used of Christ no less than twenty-eight times in Revelation, and has two vital characteristics. Christ is the sacrificial Lamb and the conquering lamb. He is never presented this way except in the majestic scenes around the Throne. We see the Lamb marching to the ultimate throne of universal empire in complete triumph and as absolute victor. Confronting the power of the beast and the kings of the earth, and the hordes of hell, and the lewdness and deception of the harlot system, and the wars and battles and bloodshed that fill the soul with dread, is THE POWER OF THE LAMB, whose victory has been assured and whose glory is guaranteed. God has given the Lamb for a leader and a counselor; so He is both our leader – for we are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth – and He is our counselor and commander; a counselor to counsel us concerning the things of God and His Kingdom, the Kingdom that hath no end. So glory to God and to the Lamb! Glory be unto God and the Lamb forevermore! And the Lamb shall have the victory! Of this we are assured, though all the wild beasts and the wolves, and the dogs, and the goats and bulls of Bashan, the spotted leopards, and all the wild heifers of Ephraim, the horses of Pharaoh, and the wild Ishmaels, profane Esaus, envious Cains, which may gather in a brotherhood, and Gog and Magog, professor and profane, if all these rise against the Lamb and His followers, without or within, yet I say the Lamb shall have the victory over the beast, the whore, and the dragon, over the flesh, the world, and the devil, for Christ is Lord over them all, for He was slain before they were, and will be reigning when they are gone, blessed be His wonderful name! He has conquered and shall conquer all who rise up against Him. For seventy years the ruthless, atheistic communist regime in Russia blasphemed the Lamb and jailed, tormented and killed all who proclaimed His name. They planned and purposed to eradicate His Kingdom from the earth. Today the communist government no longer exists in Russia and it is ironic that the Russian government, through its ministry of education, has invited a consortium of sixty American evangelical groups and Christian colleges to train educators in 120,000 Russian public schools on how to teach Christian and spiritual principles. In commenting on the invitation, Evgeniy Kurkin, the Russian deputy education minister told U.S.A. Today on November 10, 1092: “Seventy years ago, we closed God out of our country and it has caused so many problems in our society we cannot count them. We must put God back into our country and we must begin with our children. “AND THE LAMB SHALL OVERCOME THEM!” This is the great and beautiful message of the book of Revelation, and this is why the Spirit witnesseth “Blessed (happy) is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” (Rev. 1:3)
But the Lamb in the book of Revelation has another note. The word used for LAMB here is peculiar to this book. It is the diminutive form of the Greek word for lamb, and is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. It means a young lamb, or a lambkin, weak and small. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is THE LAMB of God, and joined to Him are the members of His body, His brethren, the younger sons of God, the lambkin company. To see this company as the body of the Lamb is not to magnify man, but to exalt Christ, for it is HIS LAMB LIFE formed in them and lived out through them, giving expression to the Lamb nature. We know that HE is the preeminent One, and that it is HIS LIFE which is given, and by that life we are conformed to HIS image, made partakers of HIS divine nature, becoming the revelation of HIMSELF in the earth. All the qualifications of The Lamb must now be found in this people who make up the body of The Lamb. As one has written: “THE LAMB beautifully took care of all the work on God’s side towards man, and the lambkin will have a beautiful ministry from man’s side, to bring things back to God. His kingdom shall come, His will shall be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. There are many paths through the sunshine and the shadows, but we learn to see His hand in it all, for He is preparing and fashioning those who shall become part of the lambkin, who are ONE IN THE LAMB, to be given for the salvation of the ends of the earth.”
It is in keeping with this that in Revelation chapter fourteen, we find the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. Having been rewarded with “the glory that follows,” He is now highly exalted. We are told that in eastern countries where, of course, this symbolic scene is set, when sheep and goats are left to roam where they will, the goats invariably climb to the tops of the hills, while the sheep ordinarily seek the low places, the valleys. So to John it must have seemed most unusual that a Lamb should be on Mount Zion. By this is brought to light a most important truth concerning Jesus, The Lamb of God. He did not attain to His high position on Mount Zion by means of self-exaltation, but because, sheep like, He had sought the low places.” He humbled Himself, and because of this His heavenly Father exalted Him. It was because Jesus permitted Himself to be led as “a lamb to the slaughter” and did not open His mouth in self- defense or seek otherwise to justify Himself before His enemies that the Father, by resurrection and ascension, highly exalted Him. He had sought the “low places,” and now we find the Lamb exalted to the Throne of the city of God! Our Lord does not sit enthroned in the heavens, as Ruler of the universe, because He was divine in His birth, and messianic in His office, but because He was a LAMB IN CHARACTER. It was because He “made Himself of no reputation.” It was because, coming as a man, He “took the form of a servant.” It was because, as a bond-slave, He “learned obedience.” It was because, in obedience, He went all the way, even “unto the death of the cross.” “WHEREFORE, God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.” (Phil. 2:5-10)
Even now, as Christ sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father, He reigns in virtue of the fact that He is a Lamb. He reigns as a Lamb-King, because God is raising up lamb-kings in the earth, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the earth to establish in each member of the body of the Lamb in the earth the nature, and the character, as well as the authority of Him who sits on the Throne. “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (Jn. 16:14) It is the work of the Holy Spirit not only to impart unto His people the POWER of God, but ALL that pertains to the exalted Lamb, His very nature, and character, and life, that He might be here in the earth, dwelling in His body, to be to you and me, yea, to be through you and me EVERYTHING THAT JESUS IS UPON THE THRONE. The “lambkin” as a figure of Christ is indeed complete and perfect; yet it is a type of Christ in a limited measure and at the same time in the greatest measure. How strange this sounds to our ears, how curious to our minds! As far as the Lord Himself is concerned, He is not limited at all, but as far as our experience of Him is concerned, there is such a limitation. When we come to the Lord and receive Him as our redemption, the Christ we receive is whole, complete, and perfect; but as far as our experience of Him is concerned, we experience Him in only a small measure, just as the little lamb of salvation. From the time we experienced Christ as the Lamb, we have always been progressing and advancing; we have continually made progress in our experience of Christ and received of Him more and more. This does not mean that Christ has become greater and greater. No, Christ is the same, He changes not! But as we grow in our appropriation of Him He becomes greater and greater TO US AND IN US. Day by day in our experience Christ is becoming greater and greater. At the stage of our experience in which the total triumph of the Lamb is achieved within, Christ is unlimited to us, He becomes ALL IN ALL. It is His almighty strength in the heavens revealed through the weakness of our humanity on earth — the TRIUMPHANT LAMBKIN! Hallelujah!
THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
What is this stream of life from the Lamb upon the Throne, and why is the Lamb so highly exalted until eternity re-echoes the song of His praise: “The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing!” The wonderful answer comes: “Thou art worthy... FOR Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy Blood.” It is the blood of the Lamb that bestows this glory upon Him. By His own blood He has entered the Holiest of all, and is seated upon the Throne of the Majesty in the heavens. His blood has accomplished this. The blood of Jesus is the greatest mystery of the ages, the deepest mystery of divine wisdom. Let us not imagine that we can easily grasp its meaning. God thought four thousand years necessary to prepare men for it, and we must take time, yea, sacrificial time in His presence, if we are to gain a knowledge of the awesome and marvelous power of the blood. I know of no word in the Bible or in human speech that contains such glories! This great and eternal truth shines with ever increasing brilliance from Eden’s fragrant Garden of long ago to the jasper walls of the New Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven; from Adam’s covering of skins and Abel’s humble sacrifice of the firstfruits of his flock to the very Throne of God Himself where, glorious in power and might, the Lamb reigns and the seven Spirits of His divine Life are sent forth into all the earth.
The blood of Jesus Christ is of such vast importance to God the Father that He has decreed that there shall be (1) no remission, (2) no salvation, (3) no atonement, (4) no redemption, (5) no propitiation, (6) no cleansing, (7) no justification, (8) no peace, (9) no new covenant, (10) no sanctification, (11) no reconciliation, (12) no entrance into the Most Holy Place, (13) no sonship, without the blood of Jesus Christ whose blood is called by Paul the BLOOD OF GOD (Acts 20:28; Heb. 10:19-20).
Mary Rosenthal, a Christian Jew, has related the following story. “My grandmother was a very religious Jewess. She was an orthodox Jew. So under Judaism, as an orthodox Jew, my grandmother would have a man, a Gentile, in our case a black man, who would come into our neighborhood every Friday evening after sunset. He would come into our neighborhood and he had his prescribed customers within that Jewish community. He had those customers because under the Law, they were not permitted to turn on the lights or turn off the lights after sunset on Friday, the beginning of the Sabbath. He would come into our home because my grandmother would begin cooking a chicken dinner before the Sabbath began Friday evening, but she couldn’t turn the stove off after the Sabbath began – that was breaking the Law. She could get it started in time, but she couldn’t turn it off. We had a coal furnace – you were not allowed to throw coal on the fire during the Sabbath – you would be breaking the Law. You were not allowed to remove the ashes from underneath – that was breaking the Law. So we had a Shabat Goy, a Sabbath Gentile, who would come into the neighborhood, and he would come into my grandmother’s home, and she would say, ‘Turn that light on, turn that one on, and shut that one off. Come back in an hour and a half, and the chicken will be done then,’ and he would return and turn the stove off at 8:30 at night. Then he would return a third time at 11:00 P.M. to fill up the furnace so the coal burner would burn all night. My grandmother would get up on Saturday morning and she wouldn’t get into a car because it broke the Sabbath. She wouldn’t carry money – it broke the Sabbath. She wouldn’t walk more than three-quarters of a mile – it broke the Sabbath. Let me tell you what my grandmother would do for Yom Kippur, the highest holy day, the Day of Atonement. I can remember as a youngster, she would take me by the hand on Yom Kippur, and she would go into a store in our community. In this particular store, at the season of the year, the only thing they sold was chicken – live chickens – chickens that would be in wooden, slotted crates, along the whole wall of that store from the floor to the ceiling. My grandmother, with me in tow, would go up and down, looking at all those chickens, for a half hour she was examining all those chickens. I often wondered why – I now realize she was looking for one without spot and without blemish. Then she would find one that looked healthy and wholesome and she would open the cage and grab that chicken; she would turn around to the counter and pay for the chicken. With the chicken in one hand and me in the other she would walk to the back of the store. We went into that little room where there was a man who was trained in the ritual slaying of animals. He would kill the chicken by slitting its neck, the prescribed way by the Law, turn it upside down, drain all the blood out according to the Law. Then he would take that chicken and swing it over our heads, and he would say a prayer – I remember seeing this bloody chicken going over my head, and he would say, ‘This is a kaparah – a covering or atonement for sin!’ There is a small remnant to this day, just a handful, perhaps one fiftieth of all Jews, who know that God said in the Old Testament that without the shedding of blood there is no covering for sin, no remission of sin. So she would take a chicken, have the chicken slain, and it was for a covering for sin – still seeking to be justified by the continual works of the Law.”
Never forget, precious friend of mine that Jesus came as THE PRICE WHICH COVERS, the substance in the scale that replenishes all deficiency. He shed His blood – His divine life – pouring it out for us. Life and blood are synonymous. Spirit and blood are synonymous. Spirit, blood, and life are all different names for the same element. Jesus performed His mighty works by the shores of Galilee, but then He died, resurrected and returned in mighty SPIRIT POWER to be the MIRACLE WORKER WITHIN. Nothing less must become ours, than HIS LIFE – the divine life He lived in human flesh. “As I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me even he shall live by Me,” Jesus said. The truth is so simple – He has poured out His blood-life to us to quicken us again to the glory of God that belongs to man. Our spirit is quickened by His Spirit and in union with Him we are brought to union with God. Christ gave Himself FOR US and TO US. Our spirit must be quickened by His Spirit. This is the power of His redeeming blood. That He might liberally pour His dear-bought treasures into benighted human storehouses, was the inspiration of Jesus’ intense human sacrifice. Some hold not to this truth, choosing rather to believe that they are a self-sufficient god within themselves, needing no Saviour beyond the development of their own inherent divinity.
There is a deep longing and intense hunger in the hearts of vast numbers of the Lord’s people in this significant hour. They are earnestly searching for reality but the church systems and so-called revival movements have failed to meet their need. But the profound hunger, the intense need in their life cries loudly for satisfaction, their soul seeks ardently and resolutely after truth, life and eternal substance. Their great need is not being met by the churches nor by the television evangelists, nor by the crusades, nor by all the good meetings with their tongues, prophecies, healings, manifestations, and preaching of faith and prosperity. So these dear folk begin to look to other sources. Many of these “other sources” are dangerously deceptive, especially to those who desire “more knowledge,” “deeper truth,” or “the latest revelation.” My beloved, there is an invasion right into the camp of those whose hearts have been moved by the call to sonship of “humanistic – new age” philosophy that is deceiving many precious people today. It was prophesied by the apostle Peter that this enemy of the Lamb of God should appear right in the midst of the very elect. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction (separation from the flow of divine life).” (II Pet. 2:1) The key word is – “even denying the Lord that bought them.” The denial is against the atonement, the ransom, the redeeming blood. They are offended at the Lord that bought them, though they may be devoted to the Lord that taught them. Ah, in very fact, they do not deny the Lord – they call Jesus Lord and esteem Him as the Son of God, the Christ, our Guiding Teacher, our Great Example, the Way-Shower, our Pattern. They speak effusively of His goodness, His love, meekness, unselfishness, understanding, compassion, mercy, power, and wisdom. They believe that His mission was to show us just how great is the potential of the true spiritual identity within every man, and the raising up of the Christ-consciousness within. They proclaim that Jesus became the Saviour by blazing the trail and showing the way of salvation to all who would follow in His steps. The only problem is that they are required to go in their own power, their own inward identity, their own godhood, their own inherent divinity, to follow Jesus into the fullness of the divine life. There is no reconciling, atoning, redeeming, cleansing, sanctifying, justifying, transforming power of His precious blood involved, no quickening of His life, no new birth, no washing of regeneration or renewing of the Holy Ghost. And yet, to the natural mind it all sounds so good – so very right! But we must truly allow the Holy Spirit of Truth to give wisdom and understanding that we may discern the difference between the precious and the vile. These satanic agents are described by the inspired apostle as those who appear to be teachers of the deep mysteries of God, yet they bring in damnable heresies, in all cunning craftiness and subtlety, consummating in the repudiation of the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. It is not strange that there is resentment against the mystery of the blood which does not exist against any other thing in the vast panorama of Truth. It is not strange that the ministers of satan, appearing as the apostles of Christ and messengers of Light, should fortify their lies and hypocrisies by contending for almost every phase of revealed truth, including the bright hope of sonship; yet subtly omitting, or violently denying, the one and only point upon which the interests of God and Satan divide.
In the testimony of scripture the order is ever: “Unto HIM that loved US, and WASHED US from OUR SINS in HIS OWN BLOOD.” And, “to as many as received HIM, to THEM gave HE power to BECOME the sons of God.” Break these links and the chain is gone. Let us never forget this! Some trust so strongly in their own divinity, in the raising up of the Christ-consciousness within every man that they need no Saviour beyond themselves, no sun or wind or rain from without to quicken the life within. The unwary are caught by it. All this time the blood of Christ is omitted or ignored. Not one word is said about it. The silence is ominous. Do let us understand truth clearly, for “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even DENYING THE LORD THAT B-O-U-G-H-T THEM and bring upon themselves swift destruction. The destruction is the drying up of the spiritual life, the aborting of the spirit of sonship, and ultimate separation from the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. Do away with the blood of atonement, the blood of remission, the blood of salvation, the blood of propitiation, the blood of reconciliation, the blood of justification, the blood of cleansing, the blood that gives eternal life, the blood of the new covenant, the blood that speaketh better things than Abel’s, the blood by which entrance is made into the Most Holy – destroy, I say, this wonderful stream of the precious blood of Christ as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot and every room within the towering temple of reality comes crashing down to earth! The love of God became a man, the love of God became human flesh, the love of God in Jesus Christ has flowed into our souls as the precious blood of Christ to wash away the veil of carnal consciousness and quicken us again to our true heritage in God. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed by such corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” Hallelujah for the blood!
Multiplied millions of Christians in all lands hold the blood of Christ to be precious. The word precious means of great price or value, costly, of great desirability, honored, esteemed or beloved. But there must be a reason why the blood is precious! Through many years of my Christian walk I never learned of any reason why it is esteemed except that God counts it to be the most valuable and precious of all blood to Him. I was never told whether it was intrinsically valuable or if it was valuable because of what it could and did accomplish. To be intrinsically valuable or precious means that it is of itself precious and does not necessarily need to accomplish any work to get its value. For example, the value of precious gems is determined not so much from their usefulness as from their intrinsic value and the desire that people have to own them. My sincere prayer is that the spirit of wisdom and revelation may enlighten the eyes of our understanding until we clearly see that the blood of Jesus Christ was and is precious both in respect to its INTRINSIC VALUE and because of WHAT IT COULD AND DID AND DOES NOW DO.
The mystery of the blood is far too intricate for my little mind to fully grasp, but there is a most interesting statement found in the very first command which God gave to man after the awful judgment of the flood in the days of Noah. After the wickedness of man had reached its peak in antediluvian days, God, in order to spare the human race from complete corruption sent a great flood upon the earth and destroyed all men except one single family which by the grace of God had still remained “perfect in his generations.” With this new family on a cleansed and renewed earth, the Lord begins a new chapter in the history of humanity. No sooner had God, however, released Noah from the ark, than He gave him some instructions concerning his conduct, lest another judgment fall upon them. Chief among these instructions was the commandment, “Eat No blood.” “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, ye shall not eat.” (Gen. 9:3-4)
Because life is in the blood, and not in the flesh of God’s creatures, He permitted men to eat flesh but it must be without blood. God is very insistent, even in the New Testament, on this point. In giving the national dietary and ceremonial laws to Israel He repeats the prohibition of Gen. 9:4. “And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel... that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set My face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. FOR THE LIFE OF THE FLESH IS IN THE BLOOD” (Lev. 17:10-11) God says, “It is sin to eat any manner of blood.” So serious was this sin that the transgressor was to be put to death! Meat which had not been thoroughly drained of its blood was unfit for food as well as all things strangled. Today, the orthodox Jew at least, still remembers this prohibition, and will eat nothing but kosher meat, that is, meat that is without blood and slaughtered according to the law. Every kosher meat market and every bit of kosher food is evidence of the sacredness of blood!
God’s commands are never arbitrary but always logical, reasonable, and with divine purpose. Many reasons can be found for abstaining from blood. We might mention the reasons of health and hygiene, but there are two reasons which stand out most prominent. First, the life is in the blood – and life is sacred. It was God’s special gift and the effect of His own breath. Moses tells us in Genesis this wonderful and little understood fact: “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and BREATHED into his nostrils the BREATH OF LIFE; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) Truly do I declare unto you that a profound mystery lies here! Since life is in the blood, all flesh is lifeless without blood. Here then is Adam formed of the dust. Just a lump of matter without life. God breathes into his nostrils and lo, he lives. Now mark well, God did not cause Adam to begin to breathe the air in the atmosphere around him. It was not breathing air that made Adam a living soul. GOD BREATHED into his nostrils. God is Spirit. It was the very breath of God that entered into Adam, the very spirit of life from God. Since the life is in the blood, it is my deep conviction that it was blood which God added to that body when He breathed into him the breath of life! Not the mortal, corruptible, dead blood that flows in mankind’s veins today. Adam’s body was of the earth but his blood was DIRECTLY FROM GOD. Since the life of all flesh is in the blood, and in view of the fact that God typified the regeneration of man’s blood by the slain animals of Israel’s altars, God demands that we respect the life of all flesh and to eat blood, therefore, is to insult the life of God! Ah, the power of the blood is in the worth of the life. In the blood of Jesus THE POWER OF THE DIVINE LIFE DWELT and worked – hence its intrinsic value. He came with a blood not unlike the first Adam’s blood before he sinned and the spirit of life fled from him. He was the Son of God by conception but the Son of man by birth. He was a specially prepared body to contain a SPECIALLY PREPARED BLOOD that was to be THE LIFE of all humanity. This blood was precious from the fact that it was a unique blood which would do something for all humanity that no other blood could ever do. It was the Word that became flesh, who was made man. It was the life of God that dwelt in Him. That life gave His blood, every drop of it, an intrinsic value. The blood of a man is of more worth than that of a sheep. The blood of a king or a great general is counted of more value than hundreds of common soldiers. The blood of the Son of God! – it is in vain the mind seeks for some expression of its value; all we can say is, it is His own blood, the precious blood of the Son of God!
Jesus came as the Head of an entirely new creation. In fact He Himself WAS A NEW CREATURE, different from any that had ever been. I want to make it very plain that Jesus was in no way derived from the First Adam, either by flesh or by blood. If He had even one ounce of the first Adam’s blood coursing through his veins, then He Himself NEEDED A SAVIOUR. Hear now what Paul says of the Christ: “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is THE LORD FROM HEAVEN.” (I Cor. 15:45-47) Jesus was not fifty percent the first Adam and fifty percent the last Adam. He was one hundred percent the last Adam! He was not fifty percent the first man and fifty percent the last man. He was not fifty percent the man of earth and fifty percent the Lord from heaven. The second man I-S (100%) THE LORD FROM HEAVEN. To be the second man and the last Adam He could in no way contain any part of the first Adam. To be the man from heaven He must not be a descendant of the man of the earth. He must be an entirely NEW KIND OF MAN, separate from every other creation of God, as was the first man Adam in the day when he was created. The first Adam was truly without father, without mother, and without descent – he was not derived from the life of any other man who had ever lived. So the last Adam! Though He was conceived IN the womb of Mary, He was not OF Mary. He was not formed from the union of the sperm of God with the ovum of Mary. His genes were not half from Mary and half from His heavenly Father. “That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called THE SON OF GOD,” declared the angel to Mary. Mary was merely a surrogate mother. That fact should settle for all time the morality of surrogate motherhood! Jesus was as truly man, as truly flesh, as was the first man, but He was also as truly a UNIQUE CREATION OF GOD as was the first man in Eden.
Oh. the mystery of it! Oh, the wonder of it! Jesus Christ was THE WORD MADE FLESH; He was not old Adam’s flesh imbued with God’s life. He was the second Man, the Man from Heaven, the God-man, Head of a new species of Men, a new creation of God in the earth, each member of which is a SON OR DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH! The life is in the blood. As the value of this life, so the value of the blood. In Christ there was the life of God; infinite as God is the worth and the power of that blood! In Christ there was the life of man in its perfection; in His humility, and obedience to the Father, and self-sacrifice, that which made Him unspeakably well-pleasing to the Father. The blood of Jesus, God and man, poured out in death, that was a perfect fulfillment of God’s will, and a perfect victory over sin and self, effected an everlasting atonement for sin, and put it forever out of the way, destroying both sin and death and him that had the power of it. Therefore it was, that in the blood of the everlasting covenant Jesus was raised from the dead: that in the power of that blood He entered the highest heaven; and THAT PRECIOUS BLOOD IS NOW AND FOREVER AVAILABLE TO US WITH ALL ITS INCORRUPTIBLE POWER. His blood is His divine spirit of life which has come into us – Christ in us, our hope of glory.
This great mystery of the blood has often been misunderstood. It has been supposed that the Old Testament sacrifices meant that God exacted bloodshed as a condition for the requital of man’s guilt. What a hideous affront it is to the God of our salvation to wickedly accuse Him of needing to give His own Son as a propitiation TO APPEASE HIS OWN WRATH, though this is the inexcusable lie we hear continually from the pulpit and over the air waves! God is portrayed by the preachers as so mad at sin and sinners, so violently angry and beside Himself that He is metaphorically foaming at the mouth with uncontrollable rage which can only be appeased by looking upon the bloody sweat and cruel, ugly death of His Son upon a Roman cross. All sermons and songs that picture God as a God of rage who must be “appeased” and “soothed” by blood are heathenish and should be piled on a bonfire and burned. The Old Testament sacrifices serve as a beautiful revelation of God’s love towards us, in His reconciliation. Whatever Israel brought to God was brought at HIS COMMAND and was an expression of their dependence upon Him. Sacrifice was not intended to make God gracious it was brought in recognition of a grace which He Himself had assured. Every sacrifice was offered from this point of view, and free from any thought of appeasing an angry and hostile God. The idea of man being able through the death of a victim, or through some act of self-immolation, to appease the anger of an offended deity or to change His mind toward the worshipper, has clung persistently to most pagan religions. How alien it was to the Israelitish conception of the relation between God and man is clear from the statement in Lev. 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I HAVE GIVEN IT TO YOU UPON THE ALTAR TO MAKE AN ATONEMENT FOR Y-O-U-R S-O-U-L-S.” Ah, God gave the sacrifice, and not to change His attitude toward man, but to CHANGE SOMETHING ABOUT MAN! How could the blood of the sacrifice appease the wrath of God and make Him merciful toward man? It was the gracious, loving character of God that gave the sacrifice! “I have given it to you upon the altar.” How clear that the blood of the sacrifice was not God-ward, it did not avail to make God gracious, for HE AGAINST WHOM THE OFFENCE HAD BEEN COMMITTED HAS HIMSELF PROVIDED THE MEANS OF RECONCILIATION!
Never was holiness more vindicated, than at the cross, when Jesus “suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” (I Pet. 3:18) Never was love more lavishly outpoured than when “God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have the life of the ages.” (Jn. 3:16) Notice, dear reader, it does not say that God was so mad at the world, or so offended by the world, or so angry with the world, or so vengeful toward the world, or so caught in a dilemma because of His justice – but GOD SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE. Hallelujah! We stand in awe before this fulfillment of Gen. 22:8, when by the Spirit Abraham prophesied to Isaac, “GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF a lamb for a burnt offering.” As one has pointed out: “And that is just what He did, He provided HIMSELF! Stripping Himself of His glory, He who was in the form of God, took upon Himself the form of man, and offered that form in that great sacrifice, yea, POURED OUT THE LIFE CONTAINED IN THAT FORM, which life was freely given to reconcile all things back into Himself. Never was grace more majestic in its operation, than when ‘He made Him to be sin (Greek, literally, A SIN-OFFERING) for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ (II Cor. 5:21)” How inspired the words of John the Baptist when he declared of Jesus, “Behold the LAMB OF GOD, which taketh away the sins of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) Ah, this Lamb was no sacrifice to appease – it was the perfect and purposeful embodiment of God’s grace and mercy and love and life to reconcile a hostile world unto Himself!
Appeasement is the basis of the offerings and sacrifices in all pagan religions. J. A. Dowie once wrote: “The religions of the world are worldly, are sensual, and are devilish for the most part. No one will doubt that is true in China. No one will doubt it, notwithstanding the clever philosophies and moral axioms of the Chinese Analects, or the works of Menclus or Confucius or the commentators upon these. No one will doubt that the worship of the Chinese is essentially a Devil Worship. I remember once going into a very fine Chinese joss-house (temple), in Australia, where offerings of the costliest kind hung upon the walls, where many interesting things were to be found. I was talking with the chief priest, and said to him: ‘Tell me how you worship.’ And he told me, ‘Why,’ I said, after I had heard attentively, ‘My dear fellow, it seems to me that you are worshipping bad divinities.’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘Of course we do. The good ones we do not need to worship. They will do us no harm. To protect ourselves we have to get right with the bad ones, so we make it right with the devils.’ I thought to myself that there were some other people like that in America and Europe, who are not Chinese.’” – end quote.
Can we not see by this that the Christians have copied the heathen and have made a fiendish devil of their God, and have then used the sacrifice of Jesus to “appease” this God who is more like a malicious devil than a loving and gracious Creator and Redeemer? Most Christians know, by hearing at least, that “God is Love,” but the sense of condemnation from His Presence beclouds the vision of the heart, so that The Face which He has revealed in Christ Jesus cannot be seen. Often that is because of the continual preaching which describes God as a destroyer of Him as an avenger of every little thing that they did wrong. Parents have said, “Now don’t you do that because GOD will punish you! He will punish you!” And even much stronger things are told to little children. It is one thing to describe God as a loving Father, and all the relations of the little child to a LOVING Father who corrects in order to bless. It is quite another thing to darken the heart of a little child with threats of the certain vengeance of a Being who is a constant terror over their life. It is a false and terrible thing to leave upon the heart of a little child, as their first impression of God that He is always waiting, lurking around, to punish them.
Think of it! That little child whose whole being is susceptible to LOVE; who is always looking for and wanting LOVE; who is capable of the purest and fullest simplicity of response to LOVE – think of it! Marked and stamped with the impression that “God” is one to be constantly scared of. As though He is waiting everywhere with a punishing whip of large dimensions! Such impressions remain through a whole lifetime as an actual foundation of belief and action. That Wonderful Father! That Gracious Redeemer! That most Loving of all Beings! Oh, how I LOVE Him! He turned my heart back again and restored me into His life. God, the Father, the Most High, sent Jesus – the very fullness of His own heart – sent Him into the world to die on Calvary’s cross. But the real grasp of what that love and mercy actually IS, may often be nearly destroyed by the impression of WRATH deeply ingrained in the mind. If our basic understanding of “God” is that He is a Destroyer, that impression can discolor and influence our thought and our prayer life and our faith so that we can with great difficulty SEE HIM AS HE IS. How wonderfully He changes that when we come to Him repenting and believing in His loving Word. We cry out with an almost inexpressible joy that we LOVE Him. It is love, HIS LOVE, which does it! He flows in to our lives in WHAT HE IS, and we no longer think of Him as a great force out there somewhere or a great destroyer, but as the LIFE GIVER.
The real meaning of the Old Testament sacrifices in time became lost, but originally they were not based on the idea that God was exacting the penalty of death from an innocent victim as a means of satisfying His vengeance against sin and sinners. The blood of the victim has an altogether different meaning: it symbolized not death, but life. Dr. Westcott in his note on I Jn. 1:7 calls attention to the passage I have already referred to in Leviticus which throws great light on the Israelite sacrifices. “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life.” The blood was shed with the object of detaching and releasing the life, setting it free, so to speak, from the gross material conditions of the body, and in this state presenting it as an offering to God. The idea was not primarily that of exacting a death-penalty from an innocent victim. Incidentally the creature had to die, but only in order that its life might be offered to God as a symbol of the life God has provided for all men as an atonement, a covering, a remedy for sin. The outward and visible sign was the blood, but the inward and spiritual grace is the life which it symbolized, the life God gives above and beyond our human capacity, to give freedom from guilt and victory over sin. This life is the blood of God’s Lamb, Jesus the Christ. But the blood of the Lamb is something more than the red liquid that ran through the veins and arteries of Jesus’ physical body. That red liquid is not the property of our salvation, and there is no Biblical basis for attributing any unusual properties to Christ’s body fluids. The term “blood of Christ” is far more significant than any magical or mystical power ascribed by religion to the natural blood of Jesus. There is an old Roman Catholic dogma which says that Christ carried His blood with Him to heaven in a bowl. Without even knowing its source, the preachers and churches today cling to that ludicrous idea from the Dark Ages and perpetuate a form of mysticism around the physical blood of our Lord. But it was not the plasma with its corpuscles, platelets, and nourishment which provided redemption for a fallen race, but the DIVINE LIFE of God in Christ! It was His heavenly blood, His celestial and divine life which was poured out to transform men and raise them up into the Kingdom of God.
Beloved sons and daughters of God! The blood of Jesus! The blood of the Lamb! Oh, think what it means! God gave it for your redemption from Adam’s race and your transformation into the image of God. God accepted it when the firstborn of the new creation entered heaven and presented it on your behalf. God points you to it and asks you to believe in its omnipotent energy, in its everlasting sufficiency. Ah, this heavenly Man was injected into a whole world full of men descended from the earth-man to impart something we had lacked from the day Adam was driven from Eden’s portals. That something was LIFE, LIVING BLOOD, for He said He came to give life to the world. He could impart a life to the world that would change it completely.
When Adam transgressed, the life of God, which had been breathed into his nostrils, departed from him and all that was left was a residue, that mortal something which flowed as blood in the veins of his body. This blood contains nothing of the life of God and in its composition and nature is similar to the blood of the animal kingdom, for when the glorious power of divine life departed from Adam, he entered into the kingdom of death. Adam was made a living soul. From the Greek the statement reads, “The first man Adam was made a zoe psuche (living soul).” ZOE is the word which throughout the whole of the New Testament is used of the life of God, divine life, eternal life. PSUCHE, on the other hand, is used of the natural life of animals and men. This life, ZOE, is the life Jesus promised to give to man when He said, “I give unto them eternal life (zoe), and they shall never perish,” and this, beloved, is the LIFE THAT DEPARTED FROM ADAM when he transgressed, leaving him ashamed, fearful and dead. The life is in the blood, but our blood, being devoid of eternal life (zoe), is in reality dead blood capable of sustaining only physical, animal life (psuche), and that only poorly until man returns to the dust from whence he came. It is not without significance that, when the bodies of men are embalmed, the first act is to remove the corruptible blood that the dead body may be better preserved. To redeem this dead sinner, life must be again imparted. The only remedy for death is LIFE. This life is in the blood, and so blood must be furnished which is sinless and incorruptible. Now none of Adam’s race could do this, for “in Adam all die.” There was only one, yes, ONLY ONE, who could furnish that blood – the virgin-born Son of God, the Man from heaven, with a human body, but sinless supernatural blood, inseminated by the Holy Ghost.
Jesus came to bring life to the world. Here is where His blood differed from the ordinary blood or life of men. His blood was precious in that it was able to do something for all mankind which mankind’s own blood or life could not do. The natural blood or life of mankind was only for a few years at most, but the blood of the Christ was the LIFE OF THE AGES. So there must somehow be a discontinuance of the blood of a few years that the blood or the LIFE OF THE AGES might be injected into mankind.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Heb. 10:4) It was impossible for the blood of Old Testament sacrifices to take away sin because that blood was dead blood. There was no power of life in it. Nevertheless, because of the faith of the worshippers in that BETTER BLOOD which was to come, those animal sacrifices were accepted by God for the time then present or for the time being, and by this faith the worshippers were sanctified, and being thus accepted by God they patiently awaited the day when the BETTER BLOOD OF THE LAMB OF GOD, in which was eternal life, would not only remove their sin, but erase the sentence of death, quickening them in spirit and transfusing their beings with the incorruptible blood of the Man from heaven. We say, and rightly so, for the scripture says, that Christ died for us. There is marvelous significance in those words, however, for when He died He GAVE HIS LIFE TO US. The precious blood that drained from His body on the cross is now manifest as THE SPIRIT, the LIGHT OF LIFE. That eternal life, which two thousand years ago was confined to the blood of His body, now, being loosed by death, is SHED ABROAD to become available as life eternal to all who believe. By the shedding of His blood life was given. By the receiving of His life DEATH IS CANCELED. In the light of life darkness and death flee away. Hallelujah for the blood!
THE CLEANSING OF THE BLOOD
In the service of God as ordained by the hand of Moses for Israel, there were two ceremonies to be observed by God’s people in preparation for approach unto Him. There were the SACRIFICES and the CLEANSINGS. Both were to be observed but in different manners. Both were to typify the redemption by which the Lord Jesus Christ would restore men to right relationship with God. As a rule it is only the sacrifices which are regarded as typical of redemption through Christ. The writer of the book of Hebrews, however, points out that the DIVERS WASHINGS as well as the SACRIFICES were figures “for the time then present” of the “good things to come” through the High Priestly ministry of Jesus Christ and through His blood. We are told in I Jn. 1:7 that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” This word “cleanseth” does not refer to the forgiveness received when we first trust in Christ; but to the effect of God’s grace IN God’s children who WALK IN THE LIGHT. The word is: “If we walk in the light as He is in the light...the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, CLEANSETH US from all sin.” That this cleansing refers to something more than pardon appears from what follows in verse nine: “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness.”
There are two kinds of functions of the blood of the Lamb. One is to take away or kill, and the other is to add or supply. On the one hand it takes away the negative elements we should not have in us, and on the other hand it adds in the positive elements we should have in us. What is taken away is the element of Adam in us, and what is added is the element of Christ – the new creation life. What is taken away is old. What is added is new. What is taken away is earthly and carnal, and what is added is heavenly and spiritual. What is taken away is dead, and what is added is living. When the blood of the Lamb works within us, it has these two kinds of functions manifest within us: one is to progressively take away all of our old creation man, and the other is to continually add all of God’s new creation man. In this way HIS LIFE within us gradually increases from glory to glory.
It is like the blood in our physical body, which contains two kinds of elements: the white corpuscles and the red corpuscles. White corpuscles have one function, to kill germs that invade the body; the red corpuscles also have one function, to supply nourishment to the whole body. When the blood circulates and flows within us, the white corpuscles kill and clean up the germs which have invaded our body, while the red blood corpuscles supply every part of our body with needed nourishment. Likewise, when the blood of the Lamb works within us, or when the life of God in the Lamb works mightily within us, the two elements, life and death, contained in the life of God have the function of killing and supplying within us – that is, killing the spiritual germs of the carnal mind and the fleshly nature, and supplying us with spiritual nourishment, which consists of the life and nature and power of God Himself.
Concerning the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb, no greater statement of truth was ever made than that given by the beloved John on the rocky steeps of Patmos: “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” (Rev. 1:5) Some modern translations substitute the word “freed” for “washed”, but a look at the Greek word shows that they are in error. The word is LOUO meaning “to BATHE THE WHOLE PERSON in the same way clothes are laundered in water.” But praise be to God! this is not an outward washing but an INWARD CLEANSING. One aspect of the power of the blood of Jesus lies in its marvelous ability to ABSORB all that is in the blood or the life of the Adamic man. The apostle Peter by inspiration penned these words of deep and wonderful truth: “Who His own self BARE OUR SINS in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should LIVE UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (I Pet. 2:24) This one who hung upon the cross possessed a life or a blood that would course its way through the veins of our inner nature and remove all our sins, infirmities and death. It is very wonderful and thrilling to many Christians to stand up and testify that they have been washed in the blood of Jesus. But if you would ask them to explain how they were washed in the blood, about the only answer many could give is that it was by faith. The Christian who has testified concerning being washed in the blood of Jesus has been unable to tell how because he has not understood the significance of one word that he was using. That word is WASHED. We have somehow in the past unconsciously given to that word “washed”, as used in connection with the blood of Jesus, some special meaning. It must be that we have not been able to associate such a common and lowly procedure as washing clothes with the work done by the blood of the Lamb. And that is just where we have missed the whole point!
I would point you to this simple and self-evident fact: WHAT IS TO BE WASHED IS DIRTY. That is the reason for its being washed. It is filthy and contaminated and it needs to be washed. And the result of the washing is that the article becomes clean! Ah – what a good feeling it is after a day of sweaty, dirty work, to come home, take a refreshing bath, and get into some clean clothing. The dirt and grime and filth of the work has been washed away and we feel like a new person. All the members of Adam’s race need washing! Not physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The mind, the heart and the nature of mankind are as full of the filth of the flesh as it is possible to be. The life of the blood is as full of filth and corruption as is the man, so it can do nothing to cleanse. Man’s nature is literally saturated with sin, evil, fear, pride, self-righteousness, hatred, bigotry, weakness, anger, lust, sickness, sorrow, limitation and death. We know what it means to wash our clothes in water, how they are plunged into it and saturated with it, for several minutes agitated and moved about in it until the dirt is softened and loosened, it is then removed from the garment and SUSPENDED IN THE WATER and carried away. The water has TAKEN UNTO ITSELF all the defilement that was in the clothing. After some rinsing the clothes are taken out of the washer, sparkling clean, and with none of the filth that was in them in the beginning. How beautiful they look! How fresh they smell! Such is the process used today by millions in the washing of clothing. Yet this has not generally been associated with the wonderful washing process that mankind goes through in the blood of the Lamb.
Where does this washing take place, and what is it that is washed? It is the heart. It is in the deep, hidden, inner life of man that this effect of the blood, the life, the spirit of Christ is experienced. Sin has penetrated into the heart, and the whole nature has become saturated with it. The blood too must PENETRATE THE NATURE; as deeply as the power of sin has gone, so deeply must the inner nature be cleansed by the blood. This is wrought by the daily experiencing of HIS LIFE in the nitty-gritty of everyday experience. This is not some mushy, sentimental, religious experience at the altar of some church, but the APPROPRIATING OF HIS LIFE in the crucible of each problem, trial, temptation, weakness, testing, and difficulty we encounter, until self and sin are completely dealt with, washed away, and the mind and will of Christ reign supreme in our lives. Clothes are agitated when they are being washed; in the old days and still in many areas of the world they are beaten with rocks to loosen the dirt. Ah, we hope to kneel on a thick carpet before a plush altar and experience the wonderful cleansing of the blood of the Lamb, but it can never be so, my friend. It is in the midst of all the agitation of the pressures of life, in the turbulence of crisis, trouble, pain and despair that we encounter HIS LIFE WITHIN as the answer, and submitting, receive a mighty and eternal cleansing. Where sin ruled, His life must rule. Where self reigned, His precious mind must reign. Where the flesh manifests its lively activities, there the spirit of the Lamb must conquer, bringing righteousness, peace and joy. It is in the minds and hearts of men that the cleansing of the blood must take place. Out of the heart “are the issues of life” – just in proportion as the heart is cleansed, so the entire life is cleansed, the whole man outwardly and inwardly is TRANSFORMED by the power of the blood!
THE LIGHT OF LIFE
There is a wonderful statement in the Song of Solomon wherein the Shulamite maiden, beautiful type of God’s elect, says, “My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” (S. of S. 5:10) This was in answer to a question put forth by the “daughters of Jerusalem.” The daughters of Jerusalem represent those who are truly people of God, saved by grace but who never grow up to maturity, they fail to go on to perfection, and do not press into the depths of Jesus Christ. These are the children of God, not the sons of God. They are not quickened to enter into intimacy of fellowship and vital union with HIM – thus are no part of that blessed company standing on Mount Zion who “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” These daughters of Jerusalem ask the Shulamite, “What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women?” (S. of S. 5:9)
The scene is set in the Shulamite’s search for her Beloved. As she pursues her Beloved the flame of her love burns brighter; faster and faster she hastens through the streets of the city to find Him, all the while He appears more wonderful to her soul. In her marvelous description of her Beloved, she mentions, first of all, the combined, though contrasted colors of “white and red.” To a superficial reader, this might signify only health and beauty. Let us bear in mind that the daughters of Jerusalem did not ask for a description of her Beloved. They inquired in what He differed from, or was more than another beloved. You see, the daughters of Jerusalem always have lovers other than Christ – lovers of earthly things, jobs, homes, cars, hobbies, lovers of men, personalities, preachers, someone whom they can follow and commit the care of their souls to; lovers of religiosity, denominations, movements, church systems, multiplied religious works, rituals, ceremonies, programs, sacraments, etc. – all of which supplant a living relationship with Christ alone. The Shulamite needs and desires nothing but HIM, while the daughters of Jerusalem find many other things just as important in their lives as Him. So they asked concerning the distinguishing features that belong to Him alone, what it is that the Shulamite sees in HIM that causes her to forsake all else and all others for the knowing and possessing of HIM. From the question asked and the motive in asking it, we see at once that “white and ruddy” do not have the significance of “health” when used by the Shulamite to describe her Beloved.
These two colors make her Beloved different from and more than every other beloved. They, above all, make the Christ of God different from, and more than all others. They, more than all else, make Him the only fruitful Tree in all the forest of the sons of men. These two colors distinguish Him and mark Him out before all eyes; and because of which, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. She knew, as some even who profess to be sons of God do not know, that all religions are not “a way” into union with God! The meaning of the word “white” is dazzling, bright, illuminated by the sun, sunny. Dazzling white, as the brightest sunlight. The meaning of the word “ruddy” is red, to show blood, to dye or make red. The one name above all other names, by which the Christ of God is known, is “the Lamb.” This is the name by which He is known as the sacrifice of God. John the Baptist calls Him “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” It is the pure, spotless Lamb of God to which the sacrifices of the Israelite worship pointed, and whom they foreshadowed.
The characteristics of the meaning of “white,” namely, “dazzling, illuminated, and shining as the sun,” were literally manifested in the transfiguration of Christ on the Mount. We are told in Mat. 17:2 that “He was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light.” In the ninth chapter of Mark, we are told that “His garments became glistering,” which, in the Greek, means: “To lighten forth, flash forth like lightening.” Within that form that was marred more than the sons of men, dwelt glory ineffable. As He prayed upon the Mount of Transfiguration, He opened a little way the robe of humanity with which He had covered Himself when He came down to earth, and His majesty and glory burst forth! None can overlook the precious significance here, when the scripture is compared with the clause that we are now considering in the Song of Solomon. The Shulamite declares that her Beloved is “white”, or that He is dazzling, white as the light, shining as though illuminated by a mighty sun.
Ah – was this not a “breaking forth” of the glory of the incorruptible blood of God flowing through the veins of His perfect humanity? With this wonderful thought in our minds let us with humble reverence consider the words of the apostle John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In Him was LIFE; and the LIFE was the LIGHT OF MEN.” (Jn. 1:1, 4) Notice the words: IN HIM WAS L-I-F-E. Now: THE LIFE IS I-N T-H-E B-L-O-O-D. Finally: THE LIFE WAS THE L-I-G-H-T OF MEN. In these statements we discover three synonyms: life, light, and blood. In an article that has come across my desk are found these words of truth: “You have heard of the light of a candle. You have heard of the light of the stars. You have heard of the light of the moon. You have heard of the light of the sun. But this is the light of life. When men speak of the light of the sun, we understand. When they speak of the light of the moon, we understand. May we not now understand the truth of Christ’s words: the light of life? I doubt not that my next sentence will be a disturbing jolt to the understanding of many, but the truth as I see it is simply this: Life and light and blood are one and the same thing, manifest on three levels just as vapor and water and ice are one and the same thing on different levels. I am well aware that what I am saying is entirely new and may come as a shock to many who read.... a proper understanding of it will assist us to grasp the greatness of that prominent Bible theme, the precious blood of Christ. Not only will we better grasp its meaning, but we will know why that precious blood of Christ is THE LIFE OF THE WORLD. I see no way that we can avoid the conclusion that His LIFE is in fact RESURRECTION itself. It redeems from sin, because sin found man in life and brought him to death, but the blood of Christ, which is eternal life, finding man in death, brought life, and that is what redemption is.”
The glory of the transfiguration was the momentary unveiling of the glorious heavenly light of Christ’s blood-life. It was in truth the manifestation of the light of life promised by our Lord Jesus in Jn. 8:12: “He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the LIGHT OF LIFE.” It shone from His face. It glistered from His garments. It surrounded Him like a halo. It radiated from Him like the rays of the sun. His eyes were like lamps of fire – the light that swallows up all darkness and death of the carnal realm. There in the Mount of Transfiguration His disciples beheld Him in the glory of the light of life of His incorruptible blood. This was resurrection life, kingdom life, heavenly life, incorruptible life. And, my beloved, this beautiful picture tells us what OUR INCORRUPTIBLE BODIES WILL BE, the glistening light of life that Christ Himself actually is. What a powerful metamorphosis when this light of life has matured and bursts forth from within all the sons of God, vanquishing all that pertains to this mortal realm. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body, the inspired apostle tells us. Those who imagine that the incorruptible body will be a body that sleeps, drives a car, goes to work at a factory or office, and eats hamburgers have never seen by the spirit the glory of the resurrection. When Jesus burst out of the tomb in resurrection He came forth in the full brilliance of this divine light of life. In this glory Paul saw Him in his Damascus vision, a light brighter than the noonday sun (Acts 16:13-14), and in this way John beheld Him in the wonder of his Patmos vision (Rev. 1:16). This, my dearly beloved, is the full and glorious and eternal reality of the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST. it is the blood, yea, the life the saints will possess when the fullness of His resurrection has been experienced in spirit, and in soul, and in body. It is the glory of the manifested sons of God!
OVERCOMING BY THE BLOOD
If your desire is to truly be an overcomer in all things, a part of the firstfruits of God’s redemption in this important hour, a most wonderful key is found in I Jn. 1:7. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST GOD’S SON CLEANSETH US FROM A-L-L S-I-N.” There is a way for the Lord’s people to be freed from ALL SIN! “If we walk in the light.” How? “AS HE IS in the light.” Do not forget for one moment, dear ones that the life is the light and the blood is the life. To walk in the light as He is in the light means to walk in the LIFE as HE is in the LIFE. There is a great principle here!
Paul says in Rom. 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” What makes me free from the law (power) of sin and death? Why, the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE makes me free! Do we not understand that life swallows up death and light dispels darkness? His precious life – blood (spirit) flowing through our lives accomplishes this. But haven’t we always had it turned around in our thinking? How many of us have been struggling to “die” so we can live! How often have we told ourselves, “If I can get rid of my old man, if I can conquer this habit, overcome this temper, this unruly tongue, this lust, this nature, this... this... this... then I will have the life of Christ manifested in me!” We have tried to get rid of sin so we could have righteousness. We have made valiant efforts at conquering the death in us so we would have life. We have worked at eradicating the darkness from our lives so we could walk in the light. Dearly beloved friends, we have had the cart before the horse! It is like saying, “I will stand here in this dark room and rebuke the darkness, and when all the darkness has been chased away I shall have light.” The simple fact is you can rebuke the darkness until men carry your dead body out to the mortuary, but THE DARKNESS WILL NEVER LEAVE UNTIL YOU TURN ON THE LIGHT. There is no vacuum that can suck up darkness, no chemical that disintegrates it, no force that can move it. The problem is not to get rid of the darkness, but to produce the light!
The LAW OF LIGHT is that it always dispels darkness. It never fails! So if you have been trying to get rid of the darkness of the carnal mind and the fleshly nature in you, by rebuking it, resisting it, struggling with it, fighting it, ignoring it, praying to be delivered from it, having hands laid on you for it – FORGET IT! These are one and all efforts at self-reformation. None of those methods has one iota of power to remove the darkness from a life. Only LIGHT is able to remove darkness! Brother, sister, TURN ON THE LIGHT in your life, expose yourself to the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, open yourself to the creative power of His Word within, thrust yourself into the living stream of His precious blood, and the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF HIS LIFE working powerfully within will begin to make you free from the law of sin and death. You can’t take death out of a corpse to make it live, but put life in it and it will live! And there is no way that you can remove the law of sin and death from heart and nature, but you take the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ into you and I tell you the truth – the death will be swallowed up!
I have had the experience of becoming so involved with the pressures of everyday living until the vital presence of God was crowded out of my life. When we spend all our time working and visiting and fellowshipping in carnal things, reading the newspaper, watching television, tinkering with hobbies, and multiplied other natural activities the Spirit is crowded out of our lives, the flow of His life-blood is hindered. How filled our lives are with EARTHLY THINGS! Constantly going, going, going, and doing, doing, doing. Occasionally we spend a few minutes in prayer, or in the Word, or in blessed fellowship with another saint, or time and effort wasted in some dead meeting, and then wonder why there is no power in our lives and we are not overcomers! There is a LAW OF LIFE that must be at work in us. But you don’t really need to be concerned about the law of life, you just need the LIFE! The law will work naturally. When the life is there the law will work. When the law is working the power of darkness and death is annulled, the negative realm is neutralized. Therefore, seek LIFE! If the glorious presence of God, the light of life, can keep me in the spiritual state of overcoming victory for ten minutes...or for two hours...or for three days...then the same substance of HIS LIFE WITHIN can keep me in that condition of victory and transformation for as long as the flow of His life is maintained – this is the absolute unfailing key to overcoming! Death always sets in in any body member where the flow of blood is prevented. People have lost hands and arms and feet and legs when for some reason the blood circulation was cut off. Maintain the flow of the precious blood of Christ and you will have little trouble with the flesh.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 12:11) All who would be sons of God must overcome the dragon of the carnal mind and the beastly nature of old Adam. It comes not by “pleading the blood,” thinking positive, or confessing the promises. In proportion as we live in close and abiding contact with the blood we shall experience increasingly its powerful, omnipotent effects. He who gives himself up to continual intercourse with THE LAMB, joined in one spirit with Him, will experience through His blood a TRIUMPHANT LIFE beyond his conception. He will see the law of life at work. The old carnality, the old weaknesses, the old desires, the old thoughts, the old emotions, the old frustrations will begin to fade away, diminishing and diminishing in the cleansing of His blood. Ah, precious saint of God, try no longer to “get rid of,” or “quit doing,” or “kill,” or “die,” or “change,” anything! Only expose your whole being to the light and you will begin to live by the life of God’s dear Son.
The blood of the Lamb is described as a “fountain opened in the house of David for sin and uncleanness.” (Zech. 13:1) By the power of the Holy Spirit it streams through the heavenly Temple. I must in faith turn away from all that is seen, to plunge into that spiritual fountain, with the assurance that it will manifest its blessed power in me. WE ARE BEING CHANGED – even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” God is seeking the fully developed life of His Son in us in order to manifest HIMSELF through us as the central revelation of Himself to the Whole Creation. God in the Lamb IN YOU is His purpose! So let us with childlike, persevering, expectant faith, open wide our souls to an ever increasing experience of the wonderful power of the blood of the Lamb.