Back to Square One – Part 1

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain or veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place in the Temple in Jerusalem, at that time, was rent or torn in two, from the top to the bottom. (Matthew 27:51) That which separates us from our Holy Creator God was removed and a way to directly commune and be welcomed in God’s sight became a reality.

That veil or curtain symbolized what separates humanity from God and God from humanity. With the death of Jesus on the cross, where He paid the price for our sins, that which separates us from God, was taken away, for all who truly believe and trust in Jesus, the Christ. It wasn’t torn from the bottom to the top, where humanity of our own accord and via our own means, try to make ourselves at one with God, but it was torn from the top to the bottom, through God’s intervention towards us.

That which separates us from God is written about between the covers of the Holy Bible. It’s God in His wisdom, explaining to us, about Himself and also explaining to us, about ourselves. And this explanation or testimony from God is conveyed in a written word format, starting at Genesis in the Old Testament and ending in Revelation in the New Testament. God tells us in His word that everything is established by two or three witnesses. So, the written Word of God is one witness, but there is indeed a second witness and that witness is Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). There is also a third and fourth witness but we’ll touch on that later.

I am anything but a scholar. I’m just an ordinary Christian like the vast majority of the rest of you. I don’t pretend to have any enlightened knowledge. Any understanding that I have gained is due to the grace of God and I would be the first to admit that my knowledge and understanding is far from being complete. But God laid it on my heart to write down a series of posts that focused on going back to square one. For me, that means right from Genesis. Think of these posts on going back to square one as a bird’s eye overview. I know even before I start that I will only lightly touch on some of a huge assortment of topics that could be included, so please bear with me. I currently have the basic outlines for five posts but there could be more, we’ll see how that goes. It’s quite possible that these posts are solely for me but I’m going to share them anyway because it’s also possible that they may be for some of you. We’ll see how that goes too. Ultimately I dedicate the posts in this series to the glory of God, written by a broken vessel, the recipient of totally unwarranted grace.

The Apostle Paul says the following to the Church at Galatia: Galatians 5:17 NASB

“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Is this a reality that we can acknowledge? Have you ever really looked at the Ten Commandments and seriously tried to follow them, not only via action (word or deed) but also internally via our thoughts and desires? Knowing what the right thing to do is and actually always doing the right thing, are seldom, if ever, one and the same, especially when all 10 commandments are collectively taken into consideration. Bear in mind that if you’ve broken one, you’ve broken them all, because the holiness of God is His totality, it’s who He is.

Call me crazy but I do want to understand. And I’m pretty sure that even what God does tell us in Genesis about the fall of Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, is probably quite limited, due to our inability to comprehend realities that are far beyond our comprehension. But God in His wisdom tells us enough for us to identify and comprehend what was and what is now, where a union between God and His creation was broken, where absolute trust and reliance in God was replaced with our own personal knowledge and understanding. And the result of that break produced the opposition between our flesh (our own independent free will) and the Spirit of God, that Paul speaks of to the Galatians. We are not a body with a spirit, we are a spirit with a body and unless our spirit within us is re-united with God, it, like our body, will die and be eternally separated from God. And because we are God’s creation, His will is that all of us will be reunited with Him, it is not His will that any of us should perish. But in order for that to be accomplished, there are some things that we need to come to understand, acknowledge and make a decision on.

So God breaks it down for us, He begins to show us what can transpire when we, in and of ourselves, follow the desires of the flesh. Left unchecked, it can and often does, get bad, real bad and God provides us with some examples. These examples of man’s ability to act inhumanely towards humanity, are not just isolated instances within the Old Testament, we have numerous examples of this happening within recent history. But God does not just leave it there in Genesis. He begins to provides hints of a coming solution and starts to put together an example or picture whereby we can begin to comprehend the magnitude of the internal conflict problem between God’s thoughts, ways and will and our own thoughts, ways and will.

Enter the creation of the nation of Israel, promised to Abraham, who willingly had faith in God and believed that God would do exactly what He said He would do, even when it seemed, from a humanistic perspective, virtually impossible. We’re talking one on one here. We’re talking about the reestablishment of trust and dependency in God, versus our own understanding, through the means of active faith.

And when God chose to use the creation of the nation of Israel as a means whereby humanity could begin to comprehend the magnitude of the difference between Himself, being God and Holy, and humanity, being us, and unholy, God made it clear that it was not because of anything that Israel had done to deserve this setting apart of Israel, as His own. This was an initiative from God to Israel, just like God originated the initiative to us, for salvation, via His Son Jesus.

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 NASB
“For you are
 a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

It’s interesting to note that God calls Israel His firstborn (Exodus 4:22) and the final act of God which causes Pharaoh to let Israel go is the death of the firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 4:23).

What follows in Back to Square One – Part 2 and beyond will be noting some of the visual and physical manifestations that God deliberately chose to illustrate to Israel, His protection over Israel (which includes the Passover) plus the realities of sin and how it was necessary for our acknowledgement of sin and a covering over or atonement of that sin, to enter into His presence. The holiness of God is not an attribute, it’s who God is. I don’t think, in the vast majority of cases that we truly ever get this. And of course, all of these manifestations, physical representations and practises, are designed to reinforce this reality and they are also a fore-picture or shadow of the ultimate sacrifice, the death of Jesus, the Son of God, for our sins.

As I start to get into this “bird’s eye overview” of God’s revealing of Himself to humanity through His Word, in the Bible, I am aware of the enormity of the task at hand. Many people have written books on this subject and here I am, attempting to provide a bird’s eye overview in a few posts. Please bear in mind that this is just a very basic overview, there are the very big dots and then a huge numbers of smaller dots that expand into the totality of God’s revelation to mankind. And it’s only as one starts to look at the big dots, where, over time, the smaller dots come into view, that the totality of God’s revelation is actually begun to be seen. Because I will only be touching on some of the very big dots, I am acutely aware that there is so much that I will miss.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so before we actually start this journey I will leave you with a picture. The marvel of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity is the mosaic picture that it paints.

JesusNamesTiltesBible

I can’t help but think that in many ways, what we see God doing is restoring what once was in the Garden of Eden.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

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