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The conflict of the ages is a battle between God versus Satan, good versus evil. It is a spiritual battle and yet it is being played out in the physical realm. The world is its stage and mankind serve as the players on the field or the chess pieces on the board. We, all mankind, are agents of both good and evil and are used to fight both sides of this conflict. We need to understand all of this so that we can put what happened at Calvary into the proper perspective. Calvary was the game changer. It was the climax or turning point of the conflict. Understanding what really happened at Calvary allows us to better comprehend the paradigm shift that Calvary brought about in this conflict. First let's look at Satan, his strategy and goals. Satan throughout this conflict has always been diametrically opposed to God's plan for mankind which of course was redemption. Satan therefore has tried relentlessly to thwart God's plans and keep God from making good on His promises to Israel and the world. Many examples of this can be seen throughout the Old Testament i.e. blood curse of Jeconiah to name just one. None of them however was successful at preventing God from sending His promised Messiah in the exact way He had proclaimed. Fast forward to the days leading up to Christ's crucifixion. Satan was obviously unsuccessful at preventing the Messiah from coming. Messiah's popularity was growing and thus His strength. So Satan needed to act quickly as he felt time was of the essence. Satan's goal of course was to eliminate the Messiah before He could successfully redeem mankind and reconcile the world back to His Father. With that goal in mind Satan hatched a plan to get rid of the Messiah before HE could bring about the salvation of mankind from death and Hell. To do this Satan would use mankind to do his dirty work by capitalizing on man's sinful nature, his greed and envy. It worked brilliantly and soon the crowds would be crying out "crucify Him". Satan's plan worked. He was instrumental in getting man to kill his own Creator, to take the life of the "giver of life". What an incredible victory this was for Satan. The messiah had indeed died before He could redeem and reconcile the world to His Father. Satan had never experienced greater victory. However Satan failed to understand the requirements for redemption that God had so openly laid out. For it was the death of the Messiah - the Lamb of God without spot or blemish - it was His death through the shedding of His blood that ushered in Salvation. Take some time to contemplate God's incredible plan and the irony it is fraught with. At the exact moment of Christ's death Satan realized his greatest victory for he had accomplished exactly what he set out to do which again - was to have the Messiah killed before He could redeem mankind. Done! Success! Victory!!! But, unbeknownst to Satan, at that same exact moment God's plan of Salvation had also been accomplished which is exactly what Satan through his plan was trying to prevent. Just as Satan used mankind to do his dirty work and carry out his plan to have the Messiah killed so too God used mankind to carry out God's plan of redemption. Let's recap. God took Satan's greatest victory and immediately turned it into his greatest defeat while at the same time He turned Christ's death and seemingly worst defeat into His greatest victory. Satan’s plan was accomplished causing him a feeling of great victory. However, the goal of his plan was to prevent Christ from redeeming mankind. So while Satan’s plan was accomplished his goal was never achieved hence both victory and defeat. Christ, on the other hand, was executed ( seemingly defeated) but did accomplish His goal of redeeming mankind, hence both defeat and victory. In other words Satan won the battle but lost the war. Jesus lost the battle and in so doing won the war.
But we're not done yet. What mankind did at Calvary we have only briefly discussed. We did indeed kill our own Creator - taking the life of the Giver of Life. This constitutes the worst act of mankind in all of Eternity. There is nothing worse that mankind has ever done or could ever do. Even if we completely destroyed the Earth and all of its inhabitants that would still not even begin to rival what we did at Calvary. We would be merely destroying a speck of the universe - God's creation... whereas at Calvary we killed its actual Creator. Yet God took this - our worst act - and turned it into the best thing that ever happened to us; for He used our most heinous act to bring about our Salvation. Calvary at a glance looks like Evil wins and Good is defeated. To this day we do not celebrate the events of Calvary but instead celebrate Christ's resurrection as the real triumph. While His resurrection from the grave is a great triumph - it would not have happened had Christ not been successful three days prior. It is my opinion that this is a huge oversight. I believe it is because we see Calvary at face value where everything looks so believable yet is so skewed. We fail to fix our eyes on what is unseen and instead allow our eyes to deceive us and rob us of the truth. Think about how you felt this past year on Good Friday as you contemplated all that transpired that day 2000 years ago. My guess is that you were flooded with feelings of sadness, regret, remorse, even anger. Is that what God wants you to fix your eyes on? Or does He want you to see things differently? Does He prefer you to see Good triumphing over Evil, wrongs being righted, death instead of being used to snuff out life – actually being used to perpetuate life. Do we look at the events of that day and shake our heads in awe of the God who can and does do the IMPOSSIBLE??? The God of the Bible is the GOD of the IMPOSSIBLE. He claims to be all powerful, all knowing and all present and says that with Him nothing is impossible. But He doesn't just make these claims and ask us to believe Him. He gives many examples of making the impossible - possible. We'll look at a few. The scene at the Red Sea is a great example of God doing the impossible. The children of Israel were fleeing from captivity in Egypt when they hit a dead end. There were 2 options. Stand there and wait till Pharaoh's army arrived to recapture them and lead them back into captivity or cast themselves into the sea and drown. There really just weren't any other readily available options. Enter.... the God of the impossible... who parts the waters and provides a path through the seabed for them to cross. Now parting the sea is pretty high up there on the list of impossible things to do. No one else has ever been successful at this feat. But parting the sea was not the "impossible feat" that God was trying to demonstrate. HE instead was showing us how He could not only free the captives but that He could at the same time take captivity captive. If we look closely we see that the Hebrews faced either death by drowning or captivity by the Egyptians. They weren't standing at the water’s edge thinking "I bet God will part this sea for us". Of course not, they were weighing their decision. Do we go back to slavery or just end it all here and jump to our death. But neither one happened. Only 2 possibilities - death or captivity but instead they end up alive and free! How can that be? It's impossible!!! But there's more. If you look at the Egyptian army in hot pursuit of the fleeing Hebrews they have to be pretty psyched as they see from the distance the whole entire Hebrew caravan stopped dead in their tracks with nowhere to go or hide. There could not have been the slightest doubt in their minds that they would be successful in their mission to recapture the captives. That was really the only option they could possibly fathom. But God instead, set the captives free by using a path through the Red Sea to lead them to freedom and also used that same path to take the captors captive. The waters of the Red Sea completely swallowed up Pharaohs' army - they were all captured by the sea. Before God stepped in it was absolutely clear who would be victorious and who would be defeated. The opposite happened. The seemingly defeated were victorious and the seemingly victorious were defeated. This is God's MO (modus operandi). This is His signature. Look for it. You'll see it when three Hebrews come out of a fiery furnace unscathed yet those who put them there are burned to a crisp. You'll see it when Daniel is pulled from the lion's den without a scratch and those who were responsible for putting him there were tossed in and devoured.... it’s all about captives being set free while captivity is taken captive. And now that you know His signature go back and look at Calvary again ... perhaps for the very first time...so you can see what God really did there. For we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen...
(As an aside I’d like to share another glimpse of what I see going on here at the Red Sea. I view this entire scene as a prophetic picture of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have never seen or heard of anyone who shares this view. You can decide for yourself. I see the Red Sea as a picture of Christ’s red sea - His blood stream. Like the parted waters of the Red Sea so too were the waters of Christ’s red sea parted. This is evidenced by the Roman soldiers who pierced His side and confirmed His death by noting that the water had “parted” or separated from the blood. I believe God was showing us a picture if you will of Christ’s death through the parted waters of the Red Sea and how He would use the death of Christ to free those in bondage just as He had used the parted waters of the Red Sea to free His people from their bondage. The waters of the Red Sea did not remain parted. They flowed together again as they once had. The parted waters of Christ’s red sea also flowed together again as His body was resurrected from death unto life - a prophetic picture of His resurrection.)
In chapter one, we discussed God's MO being demonstrated throughout the Old Testament and made the claim that God had also used this same MO at Calvary. To be specific, God once again freed the captives and at the same time took captivity captive through Christ's work at Calvary. The first action is easy to see. We being in bondage from sin were set free by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Many consider the “taking captivity captive" part as one in the same, in other words that our captivity was removed and that its removal constituted our "captivity being taken captive". But this notion diverges from the MO that God had previously demonstrated, for it is simply one action, not 2 separate and opposing actions. In this chapter we will look at Calvary’s concurrent and reciprocal action that is much less obvious. To be clear we are saying that there were two things being accomplished by Christ at Calvary concurrently. These two actions are reciprocals of each other. In one action those who have been captives are set free in the other action those who have been their captors are taken captive. This latter action is not readily seen at Calvary but is of great significance and must be understood in order to fully comprehend the work of Christ at Calvary. The Bible says that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. It also proclaims that Jesus is the Word of God therefore we can make the connection and surmise then that Jesus is sharper than any two-edged sword. So what message is this metaphor trying to convey? A two-edged sword is of course a sword with two sharp edges – one on either side. This type of sword has the ability to cut both ways/ in two opposite directions. Doesn’t it make sense then that Jesus could accomplish two opposing actions at the same time? Could He not free the captives cutting them loose with one edge of the sword all while using the other edge to slay the captors. This is what I have found to be the unseen that we are to fix our eyes on at Calvary. (I’m about to attempt to give you a glimpse of the unseen, to paint a picture, if you will, of the invisible. If I had a brush and some paint it might be easier but all I have are words. I ask that you bear with me and do your best to follow along in your mind’s eye. I am not asking you to believe what I say but to consider it and to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in order that you might discern His truth. We’ll start with our captivity and how it came about.) Our bondage began when Satan deceived Eve and she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. From then on Satan was declared the prince of this world and lorded over mankind. Calvary is where our bonds were removed as our sin was placed on Christ. You’re probably familiar with the saying “You are what you eat”. So think of Adam and Eve (and the rest of Adam’s race) as becoming like what Adam and Eve ate – a fruit suspended from a tree that will either be devoured or eventually shrivel up and die. Now to that picture add the imagery that Satan goes to and fro throughout the earth seeking whom he may devour. That’s kind of an imaginative way to look at the dynamics after the Fall of man. We were put on a path that leads to a sure death and we were helpless sitting ducks where Satan is concerned. What does God do? He sends his Son to save us by allowing His Son to become human as one of us, in other words God sent us another helpless sitting duck. His Son also becomes suspended on a tree like a piece of fruit and Satan in turn was the one who was deceived into eating the forbidden fruit. Why was Jesus the forbidden fruit? Remember that He who knew no sin – became sin – the sin of the world. Satan feasted on the death of Christ. The imagery is that Satan devoured Christ - much like a vulture would wait anxiously for its victim to die so it could feast on its flesh. Satan waited for Christ to die believing that he was victorious in getting rid of God’s Messiah permanently. He then celebrated his victory by figuratively feasting on Christ’s death. The picture here is Satan devouring the body – Christ’s flesh. But by figuratively devouring Christ’s body Satan was devouring that which Christ’s body had become which was the sin of the world. Remember that Christ’s human body was just His temporary dwelling place – His outer garment. Once Christ committed His Spirit to the Father His human body no longer housed the Son of God. All that remained was the sin of the world. Sin is what causes God’s wrath. Before Calvary, while we were yet in our sins, God’s wrath was aimed at us. Jesus then took our sin upon Himself and it appeared as though God’s wrath was aimed at Him. Many even believe that Christ somehow endured the wrath of God for the sin of the world while He hung on Calvary’s cross. But that makes no sense at all as we will discuss in the next chapter. What makes more sense is that Christ being our Deliverer, delivered us from sin and also delivered our sin back to its rightful owner – Satan. And again the adage “you are what you eat”… Satan becomes the embodiment of the sin of the world and the wrath of God is aimed fully at him. Just as Adam ate the forbidden fruit and made his death sure, so too Satan’s death was made sure at Calvary by his partaking of the forbidden fruit. We read that Christ died for the remission of sin. What does remission mean? It comes from the Latin word remittere which means to send back. The idea here is that Christ died in order to send sin back from whence it came. Where did sin originate? Sin is rebellion against God. Satan declared that he would be like the Most High and went on to deceive Adam and Eve, instigating their rebellion against God. The notion that God holds Satan accountable for the Fall of Man and all the subsequent sinful actions of Adam’s race may seem like a new concept to you. But if you look close you can see that just as Satan was instrumental in orchestrating Christ’s death albeit behind the scenes, so too was he complicit in the death of Adam. Could a Just God let Satan get away with murder? Let alone the murder of the entire human race – Christ included??? We’ll discuss God’s justice and judgment in the next chapter.
The God of the Bible claims to be a just God. What does He mean by that? A just judge is someone who judges an action that violates the law and renders a punishment that fits the crime. God too judges according to His law and His punishment also fits the crime. To allow a law breaker to go unpunished is not fair or just. Nor is it fair and just to punish someone wrongfully who has committed no offense. It is one thing for us to believe that God is just. But when He tells us He is also a merciful God things get a bit confusing. Mercy implies pardoning offenses. It is often said that mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve (punishment) and grace is getting what you don’t deserve(reward). So how does a God who is always just, show mercy? How does He pardon actions that violate His laws instead of rendering a fitting punishment? Mercy and grace seem to fly in the face of justice. So can a gracious and merciful God also be a just God? Much of the Church believes that Jesus bore the punishment for our sins by bearing the wrath of God while He hung on Calvary’s cross. In other words they believe that our Just God punished His Son for crimes He did not commit and pardoned all of us for crimes we did commit. I have never heard anyone in the Church who holds this position explain how a just God could do either of these. And if we look at what our punishment should have been, could Jesus have experienced that punishment for us while on the cross? Our punishment was supposed to be outer darkness, eternal separation from God, eternal damnation in Hell. So could Jesus have been cast into outer darkness? Technically I guess He could but He claimed to be the light. So what happens when you cast light into outer darkness? Hmmm. Could Jesus who claimed to be God – be eternally separated from God? Another Hmmmm! Eternal damnation in Hell – so is that where He is right now? After all it was supposed to be a “forever” thing. None of this scenario makes any sense nor does it align with the belief in a just God. Christ died for our sins sealing our pardon. This means we will not be punished for actions we committed that violated God’s Law. This definitely looks like mercy but certainly does not look like justice. But if instead of holding us responsible for these offenses God actually holds Satan responsible then it would be considered just to be merciful toward us while punishing Satan for the sin of the world. So if Jesus did not pay the penalty for our sin or in other words bear the wrath of God for our sin on Calvary’s cross then what exactly did He do? Calvary was all about our redemption. Jesus died to redeem us back to the Father. It is often said, “We owed a debt we could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe.” Jesus did not pay our penalty – He paid our debt. There’s a difference. When someone violates the law we see him as owing a debt to society for wrongs committed against that society. That debt must be paid and is often given a dollar amount and called a fine. If you can pay the fine, you do so and are then free from any further burden. You’ve paid your debt. If you cannot pay your debt then you must pay a penalty – usually incarceration for a given time period. However if you cannot pay your debt but know someone else who can and they are willing to do so, then they can pay your debt for you so that you can avoid having to pay the penalty. So let’s liken this to what happened at Calvary. We owed a debt for our sin. The fine for sin, so to speak, is righteous blood (the shed blood of a righteous man). We do not have righteous blood because of our sin so there is no way for us to pay our debt hence we then must pay the penalty – punishment. But Jesus who does have righteous blood could pay our debt, was willing to pay our debt and did pay our debt by shedding His righteous blood for us on Calvary’s cross. He paid our debt so that we would not have to endure the penalty which is the wrath of God. To say that Jesus paid our penalty means that neither we nor HE could pay the debt, in other words, that Jesus did not have the righteous blood needed to redeem us so instead He took our punishment. Since the Bible tells us we are redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ you would have to surmise that Jesus paid our debt not our penalty.
The Bible account of Abraham offering his son Isaac is a well regarded prophetic picture of what happened at Calvary. Abraham, a very old man and father, was instructed by God to offer his beloved son Isaac, the promised one, on an altar on Mount Moriah. Some 2000 years later on that same Mount another father, the Ancient of Days, would offer His beloved Son, the Promised One. These two accounts have such parallels it is easy to see that the former is prophetic of the latter. But if God meant for this to be prophetic why did God stop Abraham before he went through with the sacrifice of Isaac? Wouldn’t the death of Isaac have been more in keeping with an accurate picture of what was to come? God certainly could have resurrected Isaac three days later. But obviously that was not what God intended. Instead, Isaac lived. Yet a sacrifice was made on that altar. Right after God had stopped Abraham from delivering the fatal blow to Isaac a ram was discovered entangled in the thicket nearby. Not a whole lot is made of this part of the story. What’s mostly dwelt upon is Abraham’s trust in the promise of his God and Isaac’s obedience unto death. Both are worth our attention of course but that doesn’t mean we should not also consider the whole account in its entirety. In a figurative sense Abraham did offer his son as a sacrifice to God for he was completely willing to go through with the deed. Looking at it this way we see that the promised son was offered as a sacrifice, yet lived. Jesus too was offered as a sacrifice yet lives. In the end a ram was sacrificed that had ensnared himself. Again we must concentrate our focus on the unseen. So what are we to see here with this ram being sacrificed? This is a ram that was not caught by Abraham or Isaac but instead got himself caught in the thicket by his horns. (Interesting to note that the horns of a ram are meant to provide him a way to defend himself from harm or death.) Here we see that this ram’s horns which typically would be used to defend himself were actually what got him caught and then killed. I believe that this ram represents Satan at Calvary who was trying to defend himself (his power and reign over this world) by getting rid of the Messiah but the plan he used backfired and instead of putting an end to Messiah he ended up sealing his own fate. So in other words, a father offered his son as a sacrifice. The son was obedient unto death yet the son lived. The one whose life was really ended was one who was not human and who sealed his own fate by getting tangled up in some thorns.
In this chapter we’re going to take a look at the story of Esther. The name Esther for those who don’t already know means “something hidden”. Of course if something is hidden then it is there but unseen. Therefore we will focus our attention on what God has hidden in the story of Esther by again fixing our eyes on what is unseen. Esther, found in the Old Testament, is an unusual book not so much because of what it says but because of what it doesn’t say. In this book there is no mention of God or Satan. There is no mention of Messiah, redemption, sin, Heaven or Hell. These omissions set Esther apart from all other books of the Bible. So if these are such obvious omissions in the book of Esther then perhaps we should be focused on discovering where they might be hiding. So, close your eyes and count to 10 ‘cause ready or not here we come! And speaking of being ready, please get yourself ready by first reading through the book of Esther especially if you’re unfamiliar with the account. Queen Esther has a predicament. She is Jewish and it seems the King is unaware of that fact. Haman, the King’s top aide had been given an incredible amount of power over the kingdom to the point that it would appear he was the ruler of the land and was running the show. With all that power he wrote into law that on a given day all the Jews in the kingdom should be killed. This was how Haman planned to get rid of his arch enemy Mordecai, a Jew, who refused to show Haman the great measure or respect that Haman felt someone in his position deserved. Mordecai, who had raised Esther, told her that she should use her position as the Queen to petition the King on behalf of her people and try to stop the coming holocaust. Esther did just that risking her own life to go before the King but instead of making her desire known to him she asked if the King and Haman would be willing to attend a banquet that she herself would prepare. Both the king and Haman were pleased to accept her invitation. So maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the queen had a little bit of cold feet syndrome. Looks like she got up the nerve to go before the king even though it was risky but then chickened out when it came to asking the king to spare the lives of her and her people. Maybe she decided she’d butter him up a bit with a banquet that she herself would prepare before making her request known to the King. Now that may not be the case but then we see that even after the banquet, when the King asked Esther what it was that she wanted, she still didn’t blurt it out. Instead she asked the King and Haman once again if they would attend yet another banquet that Esther would prepare for the next evening. Now come on. At this point I’m guessing her toes are numb from having such cold feet. Of course we’re not told what all the stalling was about but we will look at what purpose God has in all of this seeming waste of time. As a result of the Queen’s first banquet Haman’s goals and plan are clearly defined. Haman wants the person he despises more than any other – Mordecai – eliminated/dead! And Haman reveals his deep desire to have the entire kingdom hail him as king. After the Queen’s second banquet the outcomes of Haman’s goals and plans are revealed; however, they were the opposite of what Haman intended. Instead of Mordecai being crucified on the gallows that Haman constructed, Haman himself was hung. And instead of Haman being hailed as though he were the King, Mordecai was the one who had been dressed in the royal robes and seen by all riding the royal horse. Mordecai was given Haman’s position as “acting” King over the kingdom. Following that first banquet we see Haman’s desires and plans for both himself and Mordecai. And since Haman had all the power given to him by the king he had no reason to think that his plan could in anyway be foiled. In his mind Haman would be revered by all – yes all -as though he were king since Mordecai would be dead and gone forever! This is a picture if you will of Satan’s plan for himself (I will be like the Most High) and for his arch enemy – Jesus. It represents Satan’s desires and plan for himself and Jesus through Calvary and all that Calvary would have gained him. Satan believed that Jesus would be crucified and gone forever and that he (Satan) himself would continue to reign over the kingdom of this world and all would be forced to hail to him. What followed the Queen’s second banquet shows was what actually did happen to both Haman and Mordecai and also represents what actually happened at Calvary. Jesus was not eliminated by Satan’s “gallows”. Instead Calvary’s cross served as the means for Satan’s elimination. And because of Satan’s defeat at Calvary, Jesus was given the power to rule and reign as king over all God’s Kingdom (even though God, the Father remained on the throne). The new law that Mordecai wrote did not repeal the law that Haman had instituted which should have resulted in the death of all Jews in the kingdom. Instead Mordecai’s new law provided the Jews a defense against the original law. We can view this as an allusion to the old covenant – God’s Law that because of man’s sin condemns all – and the new covenant in Christ Jesus, which provides our defense against that certain death that the old covenant demands. So hidden in the book of Esther we can see God, Satan, Messiah, the old covenant>sin>death>Hell, new covenant> redemption >life>Heaven.
The focus of this chapter will be Calvary's cross. Instead of dealing with what transpired that day, here we'll focus on the object itself, the cross. While its symbolism is often missed, the actual cross itself has great significance so we'll take a closer look. Calvary's cross is often referred to as Calvary's tree. It was made of wood from two trees. The vertical piece of the cross is believed by some to have been an actual tree rooted in Calvary's hill.* Either way, both the vertical beam/tree and horizontal crossbeam were wood and came from two trees. I see these two pieces of wood as representing two different trees. The trees they represent I believe are the two specific trees named in the Garden of Eden, the one being the Tree of Life, the other being the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of these trees if consumed would lead down completely opposite pathways, one toward life eternal, the other leading to certain death. So each of the beams from Calvary's Cross represent each of the two opposing trees from Eden and their subsequent pathways. At Calvary these two wooden beams were intersected perpendicularly (in opposite directions) forming a cross. The symbolism is that the cross represents an intersection of the pathway leading to death with the pathway leading to life eternal. Jesus commanded us to repent - Metanoya - to change directions. The only way to do so is if somewhere along the path we were on there was an intersection. Calvary was the place where our path leading to death was intersected by a path that leads to eternal life. All we must do is change directions. If you recall the horizontal crossbeam was the "tree" that was a "heavy burden" for Jesus and is also what caused him to "fall". It is clearly a picture of how the tree of knowledge of good and evil effected mankind. The other part of the cross - its "upright" tree represents the Tree of Life, though planted in the earth this "tree" ascends heavenward. So Calvary's cross is the intersection of the wood from two trees in opposite directions and represents the intersection of two trees from Eden that led in opposite directions. The Bible tells us that we should judge a tree by its fruit. That is what we'll attempt to do here judging Calvary's tree by the fruit it bore. Of course by "fruit" we mean Jesus who was suspended from Calvary's tree like a fruit. If indeed Calvary's tree was the intersection of opposites as we've claimed, then Calvary's fruit should also be the intersection of opposites proving exactly what kind of tree it is. The following list while not exhaustive should suffice. The fruit of Calvary’s tree was both: Man and God Mortal and Immortal Master and Servant Lion and Lamb High Priest and sacrificial Lamb Good Shepherd and "a Sheep before His shearers" Alpha and Omega (beginning and end) Foundation Stone and Stumbling Stone Smiting Stone and Smitten Stone Creator and Creature Sinless and the sin of the world Jesus being the intersection of opposites hung on a tree that was also an intersection of opposites and intersected the path we were stranded on with a path that leads us back to where we belong. It amazes me what this humble Carpenter was able to do with a couple of trees! * I personally believe that the vertical piece of Calvary’s tree was indeed an actual tree growing on Calvary’s hill. This would be more in keeping with the idea that it represents the Tree of Life in that it would have been a living tree. It would also serve as a starker contrast with the crossbeam which we know was not a living tree but was dead having been “cut off” from another tree. This belief would also be in keeping with the idea that Calvary’s tree was an intersection of opposites by being made up of both living and dead wood.
God promised the nation of Israel a Messiah. Based on their Scriptures He would be the Lion of the tribe of Judah. When Jesus came as the Jewish Messiah, John the Baptist called Him the “Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world”. The Jews rejected this Messiah as they wanted and felt they were promised a lion and were not willing to accept a helpless lamb. The Gentiles were not promised a messiah at all and were not hopeful of ever having one. So some Gentiles (subsequently referred to as the Church) were willing to accept the crumbs, so to speak, from the Jews table by accepting the Messiah that the Jews had rejected. The Jews wanted a lion, the Church was happy with a mere lamb. The Church being willing to accept the Messiah as a lamb has gleaned a Messiah they did not deserve and the Jews who were promised a Messiah – have no Messiah at all. So the Jews didn’t get what they deserved and the Church got what they didn’t deserve. Earlier in this book we talked about the definitions of mercy and grace being just that! And similarly we see this same phenomenon back when Jacob pronounced blessings (inheritances) on Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. Recall that Manasseh, who was the firstborn of Joseph, was by tradition supposed to receive the greater blessing; and Ephraim, as the second born, should have received the lesser. But Jacob switched hands at the last moment rendering the greater blessing to Ephraim instead, and the lesser to Manasseh. Manasseh didn’t get what he deserved and Ephraim got what he didn’t deserve. In this account we see a typology of Calvary. Jacob is a type, if you will, of God the Father who bestows blessings on His prodigy. Joseph is the son who In Jacob’s mind was dead yet lived – a type of Jesus, the Son of God who died yet lives. Ephraim and Manasseh represent the sons of God the Father through His Son that died yet lives. The blessings God bestowed on them were Mercy and Grace. So what is the Church’s obligation to the Jewish people? After all, they handed us an unspeakable gift that we were neither promised nor did we deserve. Should we not return the favor? Should we not reciprocate and give them a gift of equal value? Something they’ve been waiting for, for so long? Something they would willingly accept? How about a Lion? If the Church could remove the beam from its eye in order to see Calvary more clearly, they would actually be able to see that Calvary’s lamb was more accurately a lion in sheep’s clothing waiting to devour the one who sought to devour Him and His people. A clear understanding of what happened at Calvary would supply us with the “perfect” gift for God’s Chosen – the Jews. Behold, the Lamb …is a Lion. Behold, the Lion… is a Lamb. Impossible? For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37
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