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The Greatest Moment

Have you ever noticed that lives often change at pivotal moments in time?  In the twinkling of an eye everything flips upside down.  You’re driving along the highway, daydreaming about that vacation next month, then BOOM!  In a moment life changes dramatically in an accident.  Of course the same thing is true of good things.  You’re desperately seeking a job, and all your attempts end in failure.  Then RING!  You get that phone call from a friend of a friend, and life changes dramatically.  Those moments are “not as it looks” moments:  At the time life looks bleak, or life looks great, but all is not as it looks; everything is about to change forever.

Today is Good Friday, the day our Lord, Christ Jesus, was crucified.  That one day, that one moment when He said, “It is finished!” is the greatest “not as it looks” moment of all time.  In that one moment the whole cosmos was turned upside-down.

If one views life through the one way mirror of this world, everything appears over.  Jesus’ ministry appears to be finished and a failure.  He is dead, never to breathe another word again.  His disciples looked in that mirror and all they could see was the sorrow of their loss.  They had spent three years with Jesus.  He had taught them about great things, about the coming Kingdom of God and its blessings.  They believed.  They followed.  They committed their lives to Him.  And then, suddenly it all ended in a crash.  Their beloved leader was killed.  It was over.

The opposing side, however, must have sighed of relief, “Ah, at last we have succeeded in silencing this rabble-rouser Jesus who caused us so much trouble.  We’re finally rid of him!”  In their hearts they rejoiced.  Perhaps they even congratulated each other for their success, for a job well done

Even if one believes that there is more to this world than meets the eye, Good Friday still appears a bleak day.  There may be things we don’t know about this world, but one thing is certain:  Death is final.  It’s the end of the road.  And Jesus the beloved teacher reached the end of that road.  He died, yet the world seemed no different than a few moments before.  The Kingdom He had promised to usher in had not arrived.  He was just another man providing false hope in a long string of false teachers.  After all, no one ever returns from death.  What a disappointment!

Lastly, those who believe in that great cosmic battle of good and evil, those who have read the Book of Job and studied the Old Testament, those who were looking for a Messiah to establish an eternal kingdom here on earth had just witnessed the death of their presumed king.  All those dreams – for they must have been only dreams never to come true – were dashed.  How dejected, rejected, and despondent those believers must have felt!

And imagine the other side of that great cosmic battle.  How the enemy, the supporters of the evil one, the hordes of Satan must have felt.  “We have won!  We killed him.  Finally we have thwarted God.  We have proven that He is a liar, that he is not all powerful as He claims.  We win!  We can now take our rightful place as rulers of this cosmos.  It is finished.”  Imagine how they made jokes about God, cheered, and rejoiced with high fives (if one can imagine demons rejoicing).  It looked like evil had finally conquered good forever.

But all is not as it looks.   For in that very moment, that single breath when Jesus uttered the word, “It is finished!” everything changed.  We are told the veil (heavy curtain) separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom.[1]  The whole world was turned upside down; the one-way mirror was turned around.  We now have visibility past death; visibility we didn’t have before.  We no longer see just our own faces and sorrow, but we can see that there is something more to life than death, that there is an eternity of joy awaiting us.  We can now see – however faintly – the eternal glow of the light of the real world beyond our senses, the silhouette of our eternal future, the image of Jesus calling us from eternity.  Will you answer the call?

All is not as it looks.  Although it looks as if everything has been lost, in reality everything has been gained.  There is more to life than death.  Evil, sickness, sorrow, and death have been vanquished – even when it may seem otherwise.  Put your faith in Jesus and rejoice, for victory is assured. And in three days, on Resurrection Sunday, we shall see the physical proof.  Good Friday is indeed the greatest “all is not as it looks” moment of all time.

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[1] See Mat 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45.

The veil symbolizes the separation of God and His dwelling place from humanity and our dwelling place.  The Most Holy Place represented God’s dwelling place.  The Holy Place, where God’s priests ministered, represented man’s dwelling place.

No one was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place except the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement, symbolizing our lack of direct access to the presence of God. The tearing of the veil symbolizes the end of that restriction as a result of the work of Jesus on the cross.  Note that the veil was a very heavy curtain, and it was torn from top to bottom (from God to man), not the other way around, symbolizing that it was an act of God, not of any man.  See http://cbumgardner.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/the-thickness-of-the-temple-veil/ for a good discussion of the veil.

Note also that the enemies of Jesus did not dispute the fact of the tearing of the veil at the time; that fact provides further evidence for the truth of the crucifixion account.

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  1. Alister Deans
    April 7, 2012 at 4:14 am

    I would be interested in your comments to the following: –

    Through the Veil

    1. Curtain/Veil in the Jerusalem temple in front of the Sanctuary, (the HOLY of HOLIES).
    a. It separated the Holy of Holies (earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men performed their priestly duties. Hebrews 9:2-7
    b. The Curtain was – 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and a man’s hands breadth (approximately 4 inches) thick. A horse on each side could not pull it apart.

    2. Some Theologians say the veil was Symbolic of CHRIST HIMSELF…(John 14:6 “I AM the WAY THE TRUTH and the LIFE, nobody comes to the FATHER but by ME).

    3. Only the High Priest was allowed into the HOLY of HOLIES. He entered once a year to perform his priestly duties and only after he had sacrificed a sin offering, and thoroughly washed himself symbolically clean from sin. For anyone else entering in it was death.

    4. When JESUS’ Human Body died, as depicted by Mark 15: 37& 38: –
    “Mar 15:37 With a loud cry Jesus breathed his last.
    Mar 15:38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (NIV)

    5. The veil was torn by an act of GOD. The flesh on JESUS’ human Body, was torn and broken from flogging by men. (HIS human body died but HIS SPIRIT (unbroken) was set free to return to GOD in HEAVEN.)

    6. Heaven is now GOD’s Sanctuary. When Jesus died, the veil was torn, and God no longer needed a place on earth.
    Acts 17:24 “ The God who made the world and all things in it, is the Lord of
    heaven and earth, and does not live in temples made with hands.”

    7. In the Spiritual – receiving JESUS sacrifice has washed us clean by his BLOOD, (not the blood of an animal), and by the Water of HIS WORD, (Eph 5:26 that He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the washing of the water in the Word).

    8. HE now comes to take us with HIM, through the ‘veil’ of HIS BODY and into GOD’S KINGDOM.
    Heb 4:14 “We have a we have a Great High Priest, who is passed into
    Heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith of our confession.”

    Paul sums it up nicely in Hebrews 10:19 – 22

    Heb 10:19 Having therefore brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
    Heb 10:20 By a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
    Heb 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
    Heb 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

    • April 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      I concur with your comments. It is always amazing how many different levels there are in God’s Word. No matter how many times we read it or study it, there is always something new to learn. God is awesome!

      I have personally accepted that the veil was symbolic of our separation from God, but I personally have not considered the veil as symbolic of Christ Himself until you pointed it out. Now I certainly see all the parallels you cite. It’s absolutely true: Whereas prior to the Cross the only way was for one man to enter God’s presence through the physical veil of the temple just once annually, now through the grace of God all men have the ability to enter God’s presence through the veil of Christ Jesus at any time because He clothes us in the white robe of His righteousness. (Eph 4:20-24, Rev 3:5, and Rev 3:18). Christ Jesus is often referred to as our high priest and mediator with God, which is totally consistent with the parallel you point out.

      Whenever I think of the Cross and the price it represents, it completely overwhelms me. All I can do is thank Him and praise Him now and forever more.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Alister Deans
    April 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Thank-you for your encouraging words it is always good to have confirmation. I am pleased to have been able to pass on what I have and that it can be of help for you.
    Yes it is such a Blessing to know that our HEAVENLY FATHER has clothed us in the white robe of His righteousness. Our sin is covered now in the spiritual even as GOD covered Adam and Eve in the physical when they realised their nakedness after the first sin.
    Concerning the GOD covering Adam & Eve’s sin, I was fascinated when I first heard about the scarlet thread, (which I guess you knew about), that goes throughout the Bible starting from the first sacrifice in Genesis 3:21 where an innocent third party lost its life, blood and skins to clothe Adam & Eve’s sin. Many references to sacrifices, blood skins and garments follow from there including Abraham & Isaac, the sacrificial lamb in Exodus the perfect sacrifice of JESUS the LAMB of GOD, and many more through to Revelations (e.g. Rev 12:11 and Rev 19:13).
    I hope this is not too much off the theme of what this Blog is about – I just get excited, (and maybe a bit carried away), when I think of what GOD has done for us.

  3. Alister Deans
    April 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Please exclude the grammar mistake where I have put ‘Concerning the GOD covering Adam & Eve’s sin’, it is meant to read ‘Concerning GOD covering Adam & Eve’s sin.’

    • April 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Alister,

      Your comments are greatly appreciated. Maybe you’d like to post some additional thoughts on the scarlet thread. Perhaps because of those thoughts someone will take a closer look at what God and Christ have done for us. Every day I thank Him over and over for His grace, mercy and love, and praise Him for the huge price He paid for my sins. Praise God, and may He shower you with many blessings.

  4. Alister Deans
    April 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    The Scarlet thread refers to the shedding of the blood of an innocent and pure third party to cover the sins of mankind. References of sin, shame and the blood of sacrifices are found throughout the BIBLE from Genesis to Revelation with the pinnacle being the Crucifixion as detailed in the Gospels.

    The first significant verses I think concerning the Scarlet thread are the ones that refer to the necessity for the first sacrifice: –
    a) The first sin and the temptations leading up to it
    Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

    b) and shame – the effect of their realisation of what sin meant
    Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

    The significance of nakedness is interesting in that so often in the Old Testament, (GOD especially through HIS prophets) includes nakedness and sin together, (e.g. Lamentations_1:8 Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward).
    Or uses nakedness (along with shame) to represent sin, (e.g. Isa_47:3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

    The verse(s) that refers to the first sacrifice that we find in the BIBLE which begins the scarlet thread is
    Gen 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them
    Where do skins come from? I don’t think GOD just made them, my guess is an innocent animal had to lose its life and shed its blood to provide them in order to cover that sin. To me it makes sense that an innocent sinless third party had to die for God to show what man must do till JESUS came to make that perfect and final sacrifice for the atonement of the sins of mankind.

    I look forward to other people’s comments on this and ensuing sacrifices in the BIBLE.

  5. timburns
    April 22, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Excellent article!

  6. timburns
    April 22, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Alister wrote: “Where do skins come from? I don’t think GOD just made them, my guess is an innocent animal had to lose its life and shed its blood to provide them in order to cover that sin.”

    Exactly. To have made tunics of skin, God gave animals as a sacrifice. It is only through the shedding of blood that sin is remitted (Heb 9:22), and of course that is exactly what Jesus offers in His own blood when He died upon the cross for us (Matt 26:28). The sacrifice of the Son of God is illustrated all the way back in Genesis & throughout the Old Testament, finally revealed at the cross of Christ.

    Wonderful thoughts in this discussion. 🙂

  7. Alister Deans
    May 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Cain and Abel’s sacrifices – a matter of attitude

    This as I see it is the next step in the Scarlet Thread.
    Abel brought the sacrifice of a humble man knowing and acknowledging that he was a sinner – a sin offering, (where there was the death of an innocent third party). GOD was pleased by his humble attitude.

    Cain brought his offering, (a thank offering) to GOD – but it was rejected
    (Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the BIBLE says – ‘The minchah (offering), of green ears of corn dried by the fire, etc., was properly the gratitude-offering for a good seed time, and the prospect of a plentiful harvest. This appears to have been the offering brought by Cain.’)
    Cain, the older brother, was more confident and it seems was probably carrying pride (otherwise jealousy would not have caused him to attack his brother).

    I often used to wondered why GOD rejected Cain’s sacrifice until I remembered the words in Psa 44:21
    “Shall not God search this out? for he knows the secrets of the heart.” (KJV)
    GOD knew what was in Cain’s heart before he came to make his sacrifice,
    and what his reaction might be afterward.
    Mat 5:23 “So if you are presenting your gift at the altar and remember there that your brother has something against you,
    Mat 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar and first go and be reconciled to your brother. Then come and offer your gift.”
    Which is interpreted by Albert Barnes in his Commentary ‘Notes on the BIBLE’ as: –
    ‘This is often the reason why God does not accept our offerings, and we go empty away from our devotions. We do not do what we ought to others; we cherish improper feelings or refuse to make proper acknowledgments, and God will not accept such attempts to worship HIM.’
    It would seem that Cain had been harbouring feelings of pride, jealousy, anger, etc… hidden in the back of his heart and mind otherwise he would not have killed Abel.
    GOD offered him the chance to repent and also warned him the consequences if he did not.
    Gen 4:7 “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” KJV
    If Cain had repented and made amends for his failings to his brother and to GOD,
    (which may have required a sin offering), he might have retained his ‘Birthright’ position as the eldest and respected big brother. And also gained dominion over satan’s temptation and sin.
    The ISV puts it: –
    Gen 4:7 If you do what is appropriate, you’ll be accepted, won’t you? But if you don’t
    do what is appropriate, sin is crouching near your doorway, turning toward you. However, you must take dominion over it.”
    For all we know Cain’s offering may have been accepted in the first place if he had brought it in the right attitude and been in right relations with his brother. This is a lesson for us all.

    There are many other meanings and conclusions that can be drawn from this and I am interested to hear what you might have to add, (e.g. Abel might represent the coming Lord JESUS CHRIST, and Cain the punishing Jews?)

  8. Ann Warner
    January 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    It seems to me that the reason Cain killed Abel is because God rejected Cain’s offering since it wasn’t a blood sacrifice. So Cain sarcastically said to God, “You want a BLOOD sacrifice? Then I’ll give you one.” And then he shed the blood of his brother. The Bible portrays Cain as a moody sort of fellow so it wouldn’t surprise me if after giving into pride and jealousy he descended into committing murder, too.

  9. Alister Deans
    February 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    An interesting view you have there Ann.
    Another thing I came across to do with the with this sacrifice is the representations of personalities depicted here with those in the New Testament at the time of the crucifixion.
    For a start Cain could be seen as similar to the high priests and the Pharisees, who thought they had it all sorted as to what GOD wanted and did not want a danger to the power to they held. Cain was the first born and probably did not want to be usurped by his younger brother.
    Righteous Able might be seen as a representation of JESUS CHRIST, (and I guess also the ‘lamb/firstling of his flock’ that Able slew for his sacrifice. JESUS was the Lamb of GOD).
    JESUS is described in Rev_1:5 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth”.
    Able gave the best of what he had as an offering to GOD.
    JESUS was in human form and gave the most/best of what a human can give, even his own life for the forgiveness of all who turn to HIM. ( I might add here that a sacrifice in the Old Testament was often for cleansing or the forgiveness of sins).
    Cain killed Able in jealousy because GOD favoured Able’s sacrifice.
    The Jewish leaders stirred up the people to demand JESUS’ Crucifixion because they were jealous of HIM. GOD obviously was with JESUS, as the people saw in HIS miracles. The Sanhedrin and Jewish Leaders accused JESUS of saying that HE was the SON of GOD.
    There are many more similarities like this. I’ll be interested to hear what else you can find here.

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