fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day

Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day by Julie McAllen


grave stones14 “If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.
15 “You will call, and I will answer You;
You will long for the work of Your hands.
(Job 14:14-15)

Many a person has pondered the question of “coming back to life” and there’s no shortage of answers from a variety of religions as to where the dead go.

Christians are familiar with the story of Lazarus and how the power to resurrect was in Jesus. After learning of his death, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” (John 11:11)

We may take that for granted now, but at the time the Jews to whom this was spoken believed the dead would remain asleep until the Messiah came. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, had no doubt there would be a Messiah and a future resurrection but her expression, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” is a bit surprising. Did she believe that the very presence of Jesus would prevent her brother’s death? Remember, when Jesus first received news of his sickness, he intentionally waited so that he would not be present and Lazarus did die. And the reason Jesus gave for this delay?

“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” (John 11:4)

Jesus was not present four days earlier when Lazarus was about to die, but now, in the presence of Martha he says, “Your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23) indicating it “would not end in death.”

Martha understood that the dead slept in Hades. No one had risen from the dead before but she was aware of the promises, and so from this premise Martha answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:25-27)

Did Martha believe Jesus was the Christ? Yes. Did Martha believe in the promise of the resurrection? Yes. Then why did Jesus later have to ask, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Oh how we can relate to Martha! She had expressed such faith in the presence of her Lord saying, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11:22)

“Even now” those are her own words. “Even now.”

And here is Jesus “even now” declaring to Martha “I am the  resurrection,”  but her gaze is still far off into a future time her people had known as “the last days.”

She knew God had spoken to the prophets of her people and even trusted His Son had come, but how surprising it must’ve been for Martha to accept that the last day was closer than she had imagined!

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)

Martha knew that God had called Israel His chosen people. However, even they slept in death. But we learn from this same letter to the Hebrews, written about 62-64 AD, that Abraham, the father of Israel, believed God was preparing a heavenly city for him and other faithful ones even though they died in faith without receiving it.

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13-16)

Jesus Christ spoke of this heavenly city when he told his followers, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:2-6)

That “coming again to receive” them was oh so near, for he had even promised, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28)

If she knew the account of Job and his question of “if a man dies, will he live again?” Martha may have pondered the meaning of his words,

“So man lies down and does not rise.
Until the heavens are no longer,
He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.” (Job 14:12)

The resurrection would not occur until the passing of the heavens. But “even now” in Martha’s generation she was about to witness the glory of God to confirm this long-awaited promise of new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65-66).

Jesus had come to declare the blessings of his kingdom. One of which was this resurrection hope. Those present would not have to go to Hades at all but rather pass from death to life. And concerning the resurrection of those long asleep in the grave? The time was at hand for their release!

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who  hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come  into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
25 Truly, truly, I say  to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice  of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has  life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and  He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do  not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs  will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a  resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of  judgment. (John 5:24-29)

The resurrection of Lazarus was the  demonstration of that transitional time period which Jesus spoke of as “coming and now is.” The generation living in “the last days.”

Martha was correct in her understanding that the resurrection would occur “on the last day,” but I believe she was surprised to learn that she herself was living in the generation that would see all things fulfilled.

And “even now” Jesus is asking, “Do you believe?”

Some Christians believe that their dearly departed loved ones are not yet risen but like Martha thought 2,000 years ago, the dead are in a type of “soul sleep” awaiting a future resurrection. This view is valid for those who believe the “last day” has not yet come. I used to hold to this view myself. It’s also a valid view if you believe we are still under the old law covenant. But it is incompatible with scripture to maintain a belief that Abraham or our own departed loved ones are enjoying their heavenly reward now and yet say we are “in the last days” still awaiting the arrival of the new heavens and earth.  Jesus validated Martha’s belief that the resurrection of the dead would happen “on the last day.” Usually when someone claims we are the generation of the last days, they point to a newspaper, but I find more evidence about the last days in my Bible. And the Bible clearly states that the resurrection of the dead would occur then. Based upon the consistency of God’s word, I believe the resurrection of the dead took place during the time that Jesus said it would, when all things were fulfilled after the passing of the old heavens — a term representative of the old law covenant.

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18)

I believe my Lord and Savior accomplished all that he came to do.

Do you believe?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

February 26, 2013 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christ, our passover–part two

Christ, our passover–part two by Julie McAllen

For Christ, our passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor 5:7)

Picture that night in Egypt as the Israelites huddled inside their houses hearing the wails outside of those witnessing the death of each firstborn in the land. They were saved by the blood of the passover lamb painted on their door frames earlier that evening. When they left Egypt, liberated from bondage and on the frontier of new life, they owed it to that blood. Saved by the blood of the lamb!

As Christians, we too claim to be saved by the blood of the lamb. Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. I am deeply moved by that title given to Jesus. A constant prayer of mine is to understand more fully the meaning of his blood shed for me. I’ve learned that just as those redeemed Israelites leaving Egypt were later given instructions on the meaning of blood in Leviticus, I also was delivered by the blood while waiting for further understanding. What do I know about the blood of this passover lamb?

To begin, I would like to say I can sympathize with the doubting Jews of Jesus’ day. In John 6, Jesus loses a large amount of followers due to his proclamation that they should drink his blood. If I had been a Jew at the time, this would have confused me as well. Jehovah God had laws against eating blood. It was understood by this time that blood was sacred to God, so what was this Jesus talking about? Was he asking them to break God’s law and eat blood?

 53Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John  6:53-59)

Those who continued to follow Christ after this hard-to-understand teaching were blessed to be part of the first communion meal, the passover, which we have come to call the last supper. But unlike their forefathers saved by the passover blood, the disciples were given instruction that very night as to the meaning of this new tradition involving blood. The gospels tell us those gathered at the table were told Jesus’ blood would be poured out for forgiveness of sins, to confer upon them a kingdom, to give them thrones on which to judge, and to mediate a new covenant (Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20, 29-30). But like most of what Jesus taught them, it was not fully understood until later when Holy Spirit led them into His truth.

The writer of the book of Hebrews understood. By God’s Spirit, he connected the Old Testament with the New covenant.

Poured out for forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God

 16In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:16-22)

Most of us are quite familiar with the understanding that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. We readily claim the blood of Jesus upon us!  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:28)

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Have you ever considered that? As you claim the forgiving blood of Christ, you enter the Most Holy Place, a place once reserved only for Levitical priests. Forgiven through this blood, we can have confidence to draw near to God, in fact to sit right next to Him! This without the intercession of anyone else in religious duty. The blood of Jesus alone qualifies us for this audience with God.

A Holy Priesthood

 23Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Heb 7:23-27)

Do you recall all that blood being sprinkled by the Levitical priests for purification? God saw to it that we would have a priest forever interceding for us. A High Priest whose blood is able to purify us from all sin (1 John 1:7), because as a holy and blameless one, he could offer himself.

18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.(1 Pe 1:18, 19)

Each and every member of the church was bought with this precious blood of Jesus, the slain lamb, who is pictured standing in the center of the throne where he is worshiped. Yes, the very blood of God purchased us (Acts 20:28).

 6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
(Rev 5:6-10)

If you have claimed the blood for your salvation, have you claimed it also as your vocation to be a king and priest to serve God?

 9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pe 2:9, 10)

We have been bought with the blood and our cry is “you are worthy!” But did you notice that is also his cry back to us? He calls us royal, holy, and a people belonging to God. He considers us worthy now. Do you claim the blood when under attack and feeling less than worthy? We belong to God! Who can possibly condemn us? We have entrance to the Most Holy Place because we are washed in the blood of the lamb. Forgiven and purified, we have been given the honor of standing as priests before His Throne of Grace on behalf of those who have not yet claimed the blood of Christ for themselves. Do you bring them before Him in prayer honoring that priesthood given by the lifeblood of God? And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me (Luke 22:29)

As the disciples ate their last Passover meal with Jesus before he was betrayed into the hands of sinners, they drank from the cup representing his blood and were told they would receive forgiveness of sins and a kingdom.  When Jesus was taken from them that night to be crucified, they did not understand the wisdom of God told through the old covenant. Holy Spirit would take care of that later. For in God’s wisdom, those who shed the blood of Jesus thought they could silence his message, but it was His plan all along to speak even louder through the redeeming blood of Christ!  As the enemies of Christ nailed him to the cross, forgiveness and a kingdom were poured out on us through his blood. The blood of Christ is a profound message of wisdom that was cleverly kept hidden until the Spirit revealed the Divine Mystery of which we now partake. Praise God for Good Friday!

 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

(1 Cor 2:7-10)

As you celebrate this Easter season, claim the blood of Christ, our passover lamb!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

April 9, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christ, our passover–part one

Christ, our passover–part one by Julie McAllen

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7)

It is Holy Week. Christians world wide are preparing their hearts to reflect on the last week of the life of a man whose story has caused more discussion, debate, discord, division, delight and desire than any other in history. Though the events happened 2000 years ago, we each fall into the same categories of response as the people of his day. Some thought he was a blasphemer to the Holy God of Israel, others thought he was the fulfillment of what the Jewish nation had been seeking, and some thought he was just plain nuts. Who is this man Jesus Christ? Was he just flesh and blood or was he something more?

Jesus Christ was fully man. Christians and non-Christians alike believe this. The difference is that one group claims their sins were forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus. We claim there is power in the blood and commemorate this with communion wine poured out for forgiveness of sins and the mediation of a new covenant.

When I had my first communion as a believing Christian, it was out of obedience to something I prayed often about for further understanding. I found help in going back to the Old Testament to see how the Jews were taught to view blood. By studying this, I have a greater appreciation for the blood shed for me.

I’d like to break this up into two parts beginning with the Old Testament laws on blood and finishing with the fulfillment in Christ our passover in part two.

Earliest recorded sacrifice of blood

After the sin of Adam and Eve: In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, (Gen 4:3, 4)

It’s been debated as to what God was pleased with, the physical sacrifice presented by Abel or his attitude at the altar, but I believe it was both. Abel, by his pure faith presented to God a physical sacrifice worthy of God’s approval. That sacrifice was one of blood, the firstborn of his flock.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:4)

How might Abel have known this before the laws on blood were given?

Blood is Sacred, it represents God’s justice

By Noah’s day, God spoke His laws concerning blood.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. (Gen 9:4-6)

In a culture where hunting is life to it’s people, they become keenly aware of the connection between their own survival through the death of a slain animal. Yet, here God allows the eating of meat but not the blood itself. How sacred life and blood are to God! It represents the very life of a person and if blood is shed, the perfect price to be made is equal blood. God is holy and in his perfect equality and justice, He set forth His ideal payment as eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Exodus 21:24)

Blood saves

By Moses day, God was revealing a deeper connection through blood using Moses as a mediator.

Remember, God had promised a seed to bless all nations through Abraham. The promise continued through Isaac and Jacob. Jacob’s son Joseph was sold into Egypt where later the Israelites became many and were enslaved. Moses was called to liberate the people and proclaimed the 10 plagues against the hard-hearted Pharaoh to let the people go. The last of the 10 plagues was death to the firstborn of Egypt. Moses instructed the Israelites to put the blood of a lamb on their door frames so that the angel of death would pass over their houses (Please read Exodus 11-12).

Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:22)

What would you think if a terrible plague were running rapant in your neighborhood with death all around and someone said, “here, paint some blood on the door of your house.” I wonder what they were thinking as they obeyed? Why blood? Why did God ask for blood as their protection from death? How does the God of Israel view blood?

Blood seals a covenant

Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:4-8)

As the priesthood formed, Jehovah revealed more qualities of the blood sacrifices.The book of Leviticus contains instruction on how the priests conducted worship at the tabernacle on behalf of the people. Leviticus chapters 1-7 even gives instructions on selecting the most perfect of animals for these offerings. The emphasis throughout is on God’s holiness.

I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. (Lev 11:44)

Why is God concerned with the Israelites holiness? How does this connect to the promise given to Abraham of a seed to bless all nations?

Blood purifies

4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed.

6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water.

51 Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times.

52 He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. (Lev 14:4, 6, 51-52)

Blood atones for sin

14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover. 15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it.

21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Lev 16:14, 15, 21, 22)

Blood is life and makes atonement

11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonementfor one’s life. 12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”

13 ” ‘Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.” (Lev 17:11-14)

I find it difficult to grasp that sprinkling blood throughout the house can purify it. My modern thinking does not equate messy blood with cleanliness. It’s difficult to understand how a goat could carry the Israelites sins into the desert. I wonder if they thought so too. Do you find it difficult to grasp that blood painted on the doorposts saved those inside from death? Do you find it hard to grasp that your sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Christ? I do. The Israelites obeyed and had proof that the angel of death had passed over their houses and they were saved. Even if it is hard to understand, God has given us ample proof throughout His word that blood is sacred to Him, it seals covenants, purifies, atones for sin, and is life itself. I believe in the saving power of the blood of Christ. Though it is difficult to understand, I claim it as I reflect on his words ” I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The life is in the blood.

Though it was His divine plan all along to send his son to die, God allowed Satan to think he had defeated the Promised seed by shedding his blood and yet it is this blood of Christ that redeems us. Amazing. As I reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior this week, I am peering into the history of God’s view of blood and the lessons given to His people Israel. In part two, we shall see how Jesus himself fulfills all these qualities of sacred blood.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

April 5, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , | Comments Off on Christ, our passover–part one

   

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