Saturday, 18 March 2017

Know That You Know That You Know. ~ Ganeida

Isaiah 59:21 says: "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever.”

We have talked a good bit about words: about God’s words & our words & how we are to line up the words of our mouth with God’s words.  When we have God’s Holy Spirit in us He will remind us of what God’s word says.  It is up to us to speak it out.  It is important that we speak it out because it is a declaration in the face of every trial & tribulation that may come at us that God’s word is Truth.  Our circumstances are not Truth. God’s word is truth. John 17:17

Our part is found in Job 23:12
I have not departed from his commands,
    but have treasured his words more than daily food
.

There are 2 things here.  Firstly we are to treasure the word. The meaning here is to conceal, to hid, to put away for security, to cherish God’s word. It is not to be treated lightly or carelessly, to be disregarded, or diminished. 

Look at it this way: why is our world in such moral disarray?  Because we have not esteemed God’s word as we should.  You will hear people argue that it does not mean what the plain reading of the text says, that times have changed, that we are a more enlightened people, when the world clearly says "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9

The human heart has not changed in all the centuries since Adam’s fall & above all things the bible is a book that speaks to the condition of men’s hearts.

Which brings me to my second point: If we want to please God then we keep His commands but how can we keep them if we do not know what they are?  Where do we find them & how do we keep them?

We find them in scripture. In Isaiah 51:16 God says: And I have put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely in my hand. Knowing the word, esteeming the word, treasuring the word, gives us a measure of safety, of heavenly protection, & also a moral compass to guide us so that we know right from wrong.

So we are going to begin today by aligning our words with what God says about us & then we are going to look at what it means to belong to Jesus & how we know whether we belong to Him or not.

Say:
I have been redeemed out of the hand of satan by the blood of Jesus.
I have been sealed unto the Day of Redemption by the Holy Spirit.

He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.

Now 1 John 4:13 says: And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him & He in us.

Do you confess that Jesus Christ died for you & believe God the Father raised Him from the dead? Then Romans 10:9 says you will be saved.  If you are saved then according to Ephesians 4:30 you are sealed unto the Day of Redemption by the Holy Spirit & He is the proof that we belong to God.

And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

We have spoken about how we are grafted into Christ~ He is the vine, we are the branches & God identifies us as belonging to Him by the seal of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has a varied job description as comforter, teacher, testifier of Jesus, advocate… & much more.

Throughout 1 John, John identifies ways that give us assurance that we actually are who we claim to be.

·      1. If we acknowledge our sin.  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves & not living in the Truth. [1:8]

When we abide in Christ, when we are grafted in, we draw our sustenance from Christ Himself through the impartation of His Holy Spirit.  John explains this further in 3:4~6

Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

We know from the gospel of John that Jesus is the Word & the Word is Truth [17:17], so as we grow to know both the written word & the living word so will the Holy Spirit mould us more & more into the image of Christ & we will understand who He is.

·      The 2nd indicator John gives is love ~ specifically love of the brethren.

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. [2:9~10]

For how can we claim to love God, whom we have never seen yet hate the very people made in his image that He died to redeem? [4:20]
·      3. Throughout scripture faith is tied to action.  It is not to enough to merely say we believe.  It is by our actions we show whether our faith is genuine or not.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. [3:18~20]

Now many of us struggle between faith & feelings.  We know that Christ came that we might have life & have it in all its abundance.  And we know that satan is a thief, a liar from the beginning, one who seeks only to kill & destroy.  

Knowing this is enough to help us discern whether our feelings are valid or not.  Do they condemn us? Then they are of satan & we know what we are to do; we rebuke him in the Name of Jesus. Do they uplift us? Then they are of satan for the Holy Spirit seeks to uplift Jesus Christ only. Do they comfort us with the Truth of scripture? That’s the Holy Spirit. Do they convict us of sin?  Again, a work of the Holy Spirit;   there is a difference between conviction & condemnation. It is not our feelings that will justify us or condemn us, but our actions.  Our actions show the state of our heart.

However to do the right thing without the changed heart will not help us, so it is absolutely imperative that we have the Holy Spirit within us.  It is He who changes our heart & renews our minds & creates in our inner being the new creation.

I found it incredibly comforting to read that God is greater than our feelings ~ whatever those feelings may be. Just as our feelings have no impact on God’s truth they have no impact on His relationship with us. He does not love us more or less.  His attitude towards us is always that of lovingkindness, of goodness, of blessing & when we abide in Him what flows out of us is His lovingkindness, His goodness, & His blessing upon others.

The 4th thing is an ability to let go of the things of this world. Do not love this world or the things it offers you…[2:15]

One thing that has become glaringly obvious with the rise of secular humanism is that when you think that this world is all there is & your only opportunity for happiness then you will grasp after those things the world counts as success, happiness, power: wealth, glory, possessions; but the truth is that the one with the most toys does not win.  Dead is dead & nothing that belongs to this world can be taken with you into the next.  What you can take are faith, hope & love & the greatest of these is love. [1Cor. 13:13] We are to accumulate riches in heaven by how we live here, remembering that though God does not show any sort of favouritism He does give rewards & we will be rewarded accorded to what we do for Him here on earth.

The last thing I want to highlight is something John considered so important he repeats it twice, once in 1 John 2:6 & again in 1 John 4:17.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. [2:6]

… but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.[4:17]
We find this same principle in John’s gospel 13:15 I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you, & again in 1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps.

The greatest testimony we have is our life. When people look at us they should see Jesus.  Mostly they don’t. The biggest reason they don’t see Jesus in us is because we really don’t know Him either & because we don’t know Him we don’t know what He looks like. We don’t look like Him.  We don’t talk like Him.  We don’t act like Him.

We want to be liked; Jesus wasn’t.  We like to be popular; Jesus wasn’t.  We are taught to be tolerant & inclusive; Jesus wasn’t. We are told Christians shouldn’t judge yet scripture says we are to judge with righteous judgement [John 7:24] ~ see Leviticus 19:15 or Deuteronomy 1:16 for what that looks like & there are other references if you care to check. We want to be comfortable but Jesus Himself warned,  "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first…. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; John 15:18/20

The world says, if it feels good & hurts nobody, do it.  Jesus says, Go & sin no more.

There is a price to be paid for being like Jesus. The world won’t like it because it becomes convicted of its sin John 16:8 And when he[The Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

The flip side to being like Jesus is we will walk in the same power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus walked in: the power to testify; the power to cast out demons; the power to speak in tongues; the power to lay hands on people & see them healed ~ not because we are wonderful but because Jesus is! At the name ~ just the name~ of Jesus every knee must bow ~ in heaven; on earth; & under the earth. 
Walking with Jesus means we have access to that name & all the power that Jesus wields. The world may mock but this world & everything in it is fading away.  In the end all our surety & safety can only be found in Jesus Christ.

So let us close with another confession.

I declare that with the Holy Spirit’s help I will live like Jesus here in this world. Amen.



Friday, 10 March 2017

The Festival of Purim. ~ Ganeida

Over the past few years we have studied some of the Jewish Festivals as they come about. So far we have looked at Passover, Hanukkah & Sukkot. This year we are going to add Purim.

Keep in mind as we look at the Festivals that our purpose is NOT to become psuedo~Jews. Our first purpose is to know Jesus better.  One way we can do that is by understanding both that He was a practising orthodox Jew of His time & that each & every one of the 7 main Jewish Festivals prophetically reveals Jesus.

Our second purpose comes from our understanding that …some of these branches from Abraham's tree--some of the people of Israel--have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God's special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. Hebrews 11:17~18

Understanding the roots of our faith nourishes us. It includes a blessing. But we are a graft.  In order to remain in the graft we need to draw our nourishment from the source.  When a graft fails the tree reverts to its original form.  The tap root, the original source is Jesus. In John 15:5 Jesus refers to Himself as the vine & admonishes us to remain in Him. God’s purposes & plans for Israel have been suspended to allow for our grafting in.  This should prevent us from becoming proud & encourage us to be grateful.

Thirdly as we study the religious culture in which Jesus lived we understand better many of His statements as they are recorded in scripture, their spiritual context & the religious implications & consequences. 

Just to jog your memories I remind you of the great proclamation Jesus made in John 7:37  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” The festival mentioned in this scripture is Sukkot when the Priests led the people to Siloam to fill the water jugs that were then poured over the altar. It was a reminder that God provided for His people in the wilderness & brought them into a land flowing with milk & honey. At the height of this sacred moment Jesus gives His great cry. Make no mistake. Jesus did claim to be God & He was understood to have made that claim.

Fourthly, the Festivals work at multiple levels.  They are historically recorded facts of events that once happened.  On a physical level the main feasts commemorate the Spring & Autumn harvests. On a religious level they are God’s prophetic calendar of redemption through God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ.

So what are we to make of Purim? Purim is the celebration of God’s redemption from certain disaster  & complete obliteration as recorded in the book of Esther.

I am NOT going to read the whole book of Esther, as is done in the synagogues, or we would be here a lot longer than our allotted 2 hours. What I am going to do is give you some background, give you some spiritual parallels & read two excerpts, the first an imagery piece to give you some idea of Esther’s surrounds, the second a participatory piece because we have come to understand that God teaches using all our senses in order to help us remember.
First the history because we need some context.
Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem & Judah in 586 B.C & the Jews were carried off to captivity in Babylon ~ where they wept. Psalm 137:1 The downfall of Israel is recorded in the 2nd book of Kings, chpt 25.

In 539B.C the Persian King, Cyrus, conquered Babylon.. By then the Jews had been in exile for 47 years. It was Cyrus who decreed the Jews could return to Jerusalem & rebuild their temple using Persian resources & that part of the story is recorded in the books of Ezra & Nehemiah.
However, the interesting thing is that most of the Jews chose not to return. They were established in Babylon.  They were comfortable & many were well off. Jerusalem had been destroyed & to return meant starting from scratch, rebuilding homes, farms, businesses as well as the Temple. Esther’s family was one that chose to remain in Babylon. The book of Esther begins some 50 years after the decree for the rebuilding of the temple had been issued & it begins with a banquet given by king Xerxes for his nobles, officials & military leaders that lasted for 180 days.

By day 7, Xerxes was *in high spirits because of the wine* ~ read drunk as a skunk ~ & he commanded his queen, Vashti, to appear before him & his guests wearing her crown. Now that sounds like a reasonable request, so why would Vashti risk her life by refusing? Because what Xerxes actually commanded was that she appear wearing only her crown! What do you think, ladies?  End result, Vashti gets banished & the hunt is on for a new queen.
Read Chapter 1:1~9
These events happened in the days of King Xerxes, who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. At that time Xerxes ruled his empire from his royal throne at the fortress of Susa.  In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. He invited all the military officers of Persia and Media as well as the princes and nobles of the provinces.  The celebration lasted 180 days—a tremendous display of the opulent wealth of his empire and the pomp and splendour of his majesty.
When it was all over, the king gave a banquet for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were in the fortress of Susa. It lasted for seven days and was held in the courtyard of the palace garden.  The courtyard was beautifully decorated with white cotton curtains and blue hangings, which were fastened with white linen cords and purple ribbons to silver rings embedded in marble pillars. Gold and silver couches stood on a mosaic pavement of porphyry [a copper coloured large crystal stone used for paving], marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones.
Drinks were served in gold goblets of many designs, and there was an abundance of royal wine, reflecting the king’s generosity.  By edict of the king, no limits were placed on the drinking, for the king had instructed all his palace officials to serve each man as much as he wanted.
At the same time, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

Enter Esther. Esther was 14.  Xerxes was a sensualist who enjoyed all sorts of debauchery & had such a large harem most of his women only ever visited him in his chambers once, some not ever. Much as I would seriously love to go into greater detail about why the banquets & why Xerxes was being such a jerk I don’t have time.  Enough to say he had issues in Egypt then lost a war with Greece & arrived home with his tail between his legs & his fragile, bankrupted male ego in serious need of a boost.

As I was rereading the story of Esther what stood out for me was not her supposed beauty, helped along by a whole 12 months of beauty treatments & good food. Nope.  It was her smarts. She was wily, conniving, an incredible diplomat & quite bloodthirsty in spots.  No wilting maiden, that’s for sure. No doubt it helped that Xerxes wasn’t all that bright.

The villain of this tale is a man called Haman.  Haman was a man whose self~importance drove him to seek revenge on an entire people for the perceived offence of Esther’s Uncle, Mordecai. In the end he was brought down by the woman Esther & he & all his household perished.

During the Purim service the entire text of Esther is read & whenever Haman’s name is read the congregation is allowed to boo, hiss, stomp their feet, rattle noisemakers etc, that his name be blotted out.  So we are going to do that now. We have provided some basic noisemakers or you can just boo & hiss as I read Esther 5:9~14.
Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious.  However, he restrained himself and went on home.
Then Haman gathered together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, and boasted to them about his great wealth and his many children. He bragged about the honours the king had given him and how he had been promoted over all the other nobles and officials.
Then Haman added, “And that’s not all! Queen Esther invited only me and the king himself to the banquet she prepared for us. And she has invited me to dine with her and the king again tomorrow!”  Then he added, “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate.”
So Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and all his friends suggested, “Set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall, and in the morning ask the king to impale Mordecai on it. When this is done, you can go on your merry way to the banquet with the king.” This pleased Haman, and he ordered the pole set up.

Spiritually we are reminded that satan & his forces of evil have always sought to completely destroy God’s people. He is like the Amalekites, whom God instructed Saul to totally destroy because when The Israelites came out of Egypt the Amalekites attacked, not the warriors, but the stragglers ~ the weakest & most vulnerable.

 Saul disobeyed, & centuries later Haman, a descendant of king Agag, sought again to destroy God’s people so do not lag behind in your Christian walk.  Do not be a weak Christian for your adversary the devil, prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Like Haman, satan will find himself utterly obliterated but before then we are called to fight.  God does not do absolutely everything for us.  Rather He calls us to trust that He has everything under control but we must root out all sin from our lives because anything we leave will eventually seek to destroy us.








Friday, 3 March 2017

Until He Comes Again. ~ Ganeida

 To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In
pain will you bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you". Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.… Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field;… By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."…Genesis 3:16~19

As we have seen from Genesis 1:1 Christ is the sacrifice laid from the foundation of the world that we might be redeemed from the curse.

Adam’s fall did not surprise God. It is the price He paid for our free will that through Grace some might love Him freely.  There is no compulsion in grace.  We are free to come.  We are free to not come. The choice has always been ours.

 The fall did not surprise God, nor was He left scrambling for ways & means of redemption.  What’s more I discover God is very precise. There are 7 things brought about by the curse & seven ways the cross redeems them. There are 7 times that Jesus’ blood is shed & 7 ways the blood brings redemption.

I want you to consider these things carefully, meditate on them, & give praise for them as we come to communion because communion is all about the cross & the blood.
The 1st thing is the curse itself. Once the curse was activated a number of other sins followed in its wake ~ all of which then required a sacrifice but Galatians 3:13 says But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

The second & third things are sweat & thorns.  They go together.
Adam was given custodianship over the Garden of Eden. It would not have been onerous work because the land gave freely of its bounty & there were neither thistles nor thorns to hinder the work.  This was no longer true after the fall.  Adam was required to work hard [by the sweat of his brow] without guarantee of provision from the land, all his efforts hindered by thistles & thorns. Sin makes life hard.

Jesus took the hardship our sin had brought upon us at Gethsemane: And in His anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.…Luke 22:43 What’s more he bore our harvest of thorns. Galatians 6:7~8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

The 4th thing is death. But the LORD God warned him, "You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die." Genesis 2:16~17
Adam suffered a twofold death.  Firstly he suffered immediate spiritual death ie separation from God the Father. Only later did he also suffer the physical effects of decay followed by physical death but For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:21~22

Then there is Nakedness. As Adam & Eve were naked in the garden & knew shame, so too was Christ naked on the cross. There was no *modesty loincloth*.  Every article of clothing Jesus owned was gambled for by the soldiers at the foot of the cross yet He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  Throughout scripture you will find righteousness referred to as a garment.  On the cross Christ exchanged our self~righteousness for His righteousness that we might once again become children of God.
This is what happened on the cross: Psalm 22 … I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.

    They sneer and shake their heads…

Jesus has been here with us.  Any time we are mocked for the gospel we need never feel that an almighty God does not understand the depths of our hurt. When our children turn on us & throw our years of love & care back in our faces, Jesus understands.  That is what we did to Him but… Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God's throne. Hebrews 12:2

Ever since the fall there was a veil between God & man.  It took physical form in the temple as a curtain between the priests & the Holy of Holies but on the cross that veil was torn.  Access to the very throne of God was once again made possible but there is only one way to access that & that is by the blood of Jesus!

So we have the cross & then we have the blood.

Seven times Jesus blood is mentioned as He goes to the cross:

·      When He prayed in Gethsemane & His sweat fell like drops of blood.
·      When His face was struck as the soldiers mocked Him.

·      When His beard was pulled out.

·      When He was scourged.

·      When the crown of thorns was pushed down on his head.
·      When He was nailed to the cross.

·      And when the spear was thrust into His side.

Both the cross & the blood can be found in the Old Testament.  The Passover was prophetic of the cross & the blood. 

As you read through the account in Exodus you will note that the blood was applied to the top of the doors, but not the threshold; the blood was not to be trodden underfoot;  It was applied to the windows in a fashion that formed a cross &  It only covered those who stayed within doors as instructed. In other words the blood does not cover the disobedient.

Why Jesus blood? Because according to the law there is no redemption without the shedding of blood.  Hebrews 9:22 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 your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11

The trouble with animal sacrifices was that they were not perfect & so they were repeated over & over. Jesus is perfect & His life is in His blood.  When it was shed for us it made atonement for He poured out His soul unto death~ Isaiah 53:12 & according to Hebrews 12:24  His blood speaks of forgiveness rather than crying out for vengeance as does the blood of Able.

Now there are 7 main things the blood of Jesus does for us but first we need to understand something. We defeat satan by  the blood of the Lamb and by [our] testimony according to Revelation 12:11

Psalm 107:2 says ~ Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. The NLT puts it this way: Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.  That is very clear.

Hebrews 3:1 says: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. The word profession, confession, testimony, witness, means to say the same as God says. Literally we agree with God. Thus when we talk about how to apply the blood of Jesus in our lives we have to open our mouths & agree verbally with what God has said.

So the blood redeems us. 
 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7
Say: I have been redeemed out of the hand of satan by the blood of Jesus & forgiven all my sins.

·      It cleanses us. 1 John 1:7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
Say: While I walk in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses me now & continues to cleanse me.

·      Justifies. Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
Say: I am made righteous through the blood of Jesus just as if I had never sinned.

·      It sanctifies us. Hebrews 13:13 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that he might sanctify the people by the own blood.
Say: I am sanctified, that is, made holy, separated from sin, set apart to God & made holy with God’s holiness

·      Life. John 14:6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
In communion we come to Jesus, to eat His flesh, to drink His blood & to remember His death until He comes again.
Say: Jesus, you are the way, the Truth & the Life. We proclaim your death, until you come again.

·      Intercession. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 4:8~10
Romans 8:34 Who then will condemn us? No one--for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God's right hand, pleading for us.
Say: Thank you, Jesus, that your blood pleads forgiveness for me before the throne of Grace.

·      Access . Hebrews 10:19

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.

Say: Thank You Father that the Sprinkled Blood of Jesus provides access into your Presence,  Almighty God, & into heaven’s most Holy Place.



Acknowledgements: Derek Prince
                            Mike Beecham

Saturday, 25 February 2017

In the Beginning ~ The Cross.~ Ganeida.

The Gospel according to the apostle John begins: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

We may think John chose a particularly beautiful & lyrical way to begin his gospel.  If we have a little bible knowledge we may know that the Hebrew word used for God *Elohim* in Genesis 1:1 is a plural word used in singular grammar & so we understand that the Trinity is implicit in this statement.

However John is actually basing his statement on sound theology.  I want to take some time to look at the opening statement of Genesis because if you think the cross is not central to everything God is & says you have completely missed His point.

Revelation 13:8 makes this statement:. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Now come with me to Genises 1:1 & I will show you the undergirding theology that John based both these statements on.

In English Genesis 1:1 reads: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that translation.  It is an accurate & literal translation of the Hebrew.
However when you read this verse in the original layers of meaning are revealed.
The Hebrew reads: Beraysheet bara Elohim et HaShamayeem v’et HaArets.

It was originally rendered in Hebrew pictographs & it is the pictographs I want us to study this morning. I will simplify it as much as possible ~ & try & keep it short to make it as easy as possible for us.  For deeper insights you can study here & here.

The first word is Beraysheet made up of the pictographs Beyt, Resh, Aleph, Shin, Yud & Tav.  Remember there are no vowels in written Hebrew.

Each pictograph has a meaning & combinations form meanings. The first two pictographs, Beyt & Resh make the Hebrew word Bar, son of. The 3rd pictograph is Aleph, depicting an ox head & commonly used to denote God. Next comes Shin which can be translated as pressed. Yud is an extended hand or arm & Tav is 2 crossed sticks in the form of a cross. Thus the very first word in Genesis 1:1 can read : The son of God will be nailed by His own hand upon a cross. As God laid the foundation of the heaven & the earth He already foresaw Christ upon the Cross.
The original Hebrew has 7 words.  Seven is the number of completion. Thus the whole work of redemption was completed from the foundation of the world.

Now I want us to look at the middle word, et. In Hebrew et is a very common word but it does not translate into English.  Grammatically its purpose is to point to the direct object of the sentence ~ in this case heaven & earth. It is formed by combining the Aleph & the Tav.  Translated into Greek that would be Alpha & Omega. 

Grammatically the et is not needed as the meaning is clear without it.  Symbolically it is interesting. From the very beginning we have the Aleph, God, the first, & the Tav, the sign, the covenant, the cross. Because it is such a common Hebrew word it is found throughout scripture as a constant reminder that God is first & last, the sign, the covenant, For in him we live, and move, and have our being; [Acts 17:28]

In Hebrew the first 5 books of our bible are called the Torah ~ Tav, Vav, Reysh, Hey.
Tav as we have seen is the cross ~ a covenant.
Vav is nail.
Reysh is head meaning the Highest One.
Hey means Behold! or revealed.
Behold the Highest One nailed to a cross. Or The Highest one revealed, nailed to a cross.

If you keep head as the literal meaning of Reysh you would get Nailed at His head Behold. What was nailed at His head? Matthew 27:37, "Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  According to John this was posted in 3 languages: Greek, Latin & Aramaic. This gives us a tetragram if we take the first letters of The Aramaic/Hebrew which would read YHWH ~ the name by which God calls Himself.  No wonder the Jews were beside themselves & demanded that Pilate change it.

Again, looking at the pictographs for YHWH, we get Yod [hand], Hey [behold] Waw/ Vav [nail], & Hey [behold]. Behold the nailed hand!
Reverence the cross.  Reverence the sacrifice.  It is so central that it makes up the very name of God Himself.

We hold God’s word in highest esteem.  We believe it to be accurate & inerrant in the original language. Here is why:
·      The scribes could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts.
·      Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines.
·      The ink must be black, and of a special recipe.
·      They must verbalize each word aloud while they were writing.
·      They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies before writing the word “Jehovah,” every time they wrote it.
·      There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
·      The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document.
·      The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc).
·      As no document containing God’s Word could be destroyed, they were stored, or buried, in a genizah – a Hebrew term meaning “hiding place.” These were usually kept in a synagogue or sometimes in a Jewish cemetery. From Here.

This resulted in a high level of accuracy & as we saw from our short study of Genesis 1:1 each & every word is important & carries a weight of meaning.  We also see the centrality of the cross from the opening paragraph of scripture until its final lines in Revelation.

1st Corinthians 1:18 says: For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

We have seen the exact method of Jesus death was laid down @ the very foundation of our world: before God separated the light from the darkness; before he called forth the dry land; before the growing things; before there were lights in the sky; before the things of the sea & of the air & of the land were created; before there was man or woman there was the cross.

The cross is the foundation for all Christian belief & doctrine. It began in the garden with 2 trees. One was the Tree of Life. The other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Of the tree of knowledge Adam was forbidden to eat. Nachmanides, one of the foremost Torah scholars of his time, suggests that the name eitz hada’at, usually translated as Tree of Knowledge, would actually be more accurately translated as Tree of Desire ~ which in effect meant that Adam & Eve desired things other than God Himself because up until that point God was sufficient for all their needs.

The cross once again provides a way for all our needs to be met.
Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

The cross is called a tree & it was because of a tree Adam & Eve fell into sin. Having sinned they hid amongst the trees of the garden. Gen. 3:8

God is nothing if not precise.  Redemption is not partial.  When He saves He saves the whole. A person’s body & mind are just as important as their spirit.

Adam & Eve were banished from the garden & cursed.  Not only that, they brought all of creation under the curse with them because they had been its custodians.

Deuteronomy 21:23 says anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. The land itself was cursed & you can see in place like Leviticus 18:24~28 that when the Israelite's came into the land they were given specific instructions that would lift the curse from the land brought on by the pagan practices of idolatry, sexual immorality & the shedding of innocent blood.  The leaders were hung on a tree that the curse would be lifted from the land.  In like manner Christ was lifted up that we could be freed from the curse.

Galatians 3:13~14 says Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.  He redeemed us in order that the blessing  given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The cross restores everything that was lost in the garden


This has been a foundational teaching for when we come to communion next week & look at the specific parallels the cross provides for our complete redemption from the curse & how to practically apply the blood of Jesus that has been shed for us.