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REAL REPENTANCE AND THE BLOOD COVENANT (AND ABEL AND CAIN)

In my last post I said repentance means to change one’s mind. That is the actual definition of the Greek root word metanoia. In our culture this means something far less…

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IT COST THE LORD JESUS EVERYTHING

It is the same for every real Christian. The Lord Jesus, the Man who is God manifest in the flesh and Immanuel—God with us—gave everything He had to purchase our salvation. He did everything He possibly could. He left nothing undone. At the end, right before He died on the cross, He said, “It is finished!” He absolutely completed His course and thereby made everything readily available regarding abundant life:

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” [John 10:7-15]

Yet, why is it and how is it that so many Christians, a likely majority, fail to recognize this? How did it come to pass that so many Christians seem to take the Lord’s suffering and death in stride? It appears as if most take His death for granted. It doesn’t register as it should. There is a disconnect from the reality of Calvary and the understanding of many believers: These people were apparently never told they must also give all, or were told to do so in some rudimentary sense that has no spiritual impact, or maybe they simply chose to never do their part in full so as to apply it. For these, it means the Blood Covenant has never actually gone into effect in their lives. For a replacement, something to assuage their conscience, they may have given mental assent to the covenant or merely acknowledged it without giving their heart.

REAL REPENTANCE

In my last post I said repentance means to change one’s mind. That is the actual definition of the Greek root word metanoia. In our culture this means something far less, as merely changing how we may think about something in particular. If we take the word literally, however, which is how it was presented in Scripture, it means to change one’s mind in total—to transform it. This process must have a starting point, of course, and is something in general generated from without. This is because one most often cannot convict himself of sin. One’s conscience can convict which may result in changing certain behaviors, but after years of such conviction the work of one’s conscience is usually only acknowledged without the person doing anything substantial to change overall behavior.

When the Word of God is properly applied, however, there is a much different scenario. The Word of God, especially when delivered by an anointed minister of the Gospel, flashes like a bright laser light show within one’s mind and exposes everything in it and puts it on full display so the person can actually see what is resident there the way God does. It’s like living for years in a very dark house with heavy dark drapes and next to no interior light while wearing dark sunglasses and never doing any cleaning and simply losing track of actual conditions and everything resident there and not being aware of just how bad it has become and then suddenly have the brightest LIGHTS on the planet shining full bore in every room at the same instant. Yikes. This can be quite unnerving (understatement alert) and quite motivating. After the initial shock. Any sane person would want to immediately start a floor to ceiling whole house deep clean and not stop until everything was spic and span.

Such cleaning is accomplished through the application of the Blood of Jesus.

This is what the Word of God means by repentance. It involves commitment. It demands a real changing of one’s mind and a complete change of heart as well.       

THE BLOOD COVENANT

For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:17-22]

Therefore, if one is to answer one’s half in the Blood Covenant he or she must also shed blood as the Lord did. This is not literal, of course, but real repentance does invoke the Old Testament Tabernacle Bronze Altar where the animals were sacrificed. Repentance essentially also means throwing oneself upon the altar of sacrifice and destroying the old life in order to save the new life. It is the end of the old mind, the mind containing the stain of sin, rebellion, and disobedience to God. It is the beginning of the new mind, the changed mind. John the Immerser said:

“Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance…” [Luke 3:8][1]

Real repentance is the initial act causing spiritual fruit to grow where it never grew before. The changed mind born of repentance and given to God, devoid of sin, is fertile ground for good fruit. The good fruit proves real repentance. It is the first step of the Blood Covenant. It proves one has laid down his life as the Lord did His. This good fruit is spiritual fruit and not mere works of the flesh disguised thereof. For illustration, Adam and Eve’s son Abel had properly repented and continued on to become mature in the Lord. He offered the correct sacrifices that God required. Cain, on the other hand, never repented and merely offered fruit from the ground which was indicative of the works of the flesh. Many Christians perform such “good deeds” as Cain did but do not please God. Abel understood what God required.

I wrote the following in my book Real Christianity:

To start with, there was a guy named Abel. He refused to do anything which didn’t show absolute respect for God. Because of his pure stand on this central issue of life, his brother killed him in a jealous rage. Abel was not like his mom and dad, and he was certainly not like his brother. He was thus the minority. His brother killed him because he couldn’t stomach the fact that Abel was blessed by God due to his righteousness which came as a direct result of obedience. Many Christians “kill” their brothers today for the same reason. Their sacrifice to God is not acceptable by God because their Christian service is not done in obedience to God but in obedience to man. Modern day Abels, therefore, are hated by the religious Cains who are envious of their brothers’ walks with God.

Abel was going to do the will of God even if it cost him his physical life. Contrary to prevailing popular opinion expressed through the worldly attitude of Cain, Abel understood that God required a pure sacrifice—a sacrifice represented by the ultimate in giving, with no strings attached. Cain, on the other hand, merely offered the fruit of a cursed earth.

In spiritual terms, Abel gave of his spirit, while Cain gave of his flesh. In order to relate this to the present, we must see Abel as the very first type of Christ. We must also see the true followers of Christ as those who are set on doing His will regardless of the costs involved. Abel’s sacrifice, therefore, relates in the present sense to recognizing the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, followed by the giving of ourselves—a sacrifice which must come before any other we might make and which must be complete. This is what real repentance is. If we understand this and apply it to ourselves, there is no need to make Abel prove his case. Instead, the burden of proof should fall squarely on Cain, an Old Testament type of the religious Christian whose alternative sacrifice has not been accepted by God. [2]

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

[2] Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

He Steadfastly Set His Face To Go To Jerusalem

Mount Everest from Kalapatthar.

Mount Everest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         There are times in our lives when we have to make tough decisions.

         We must decide to obey God.

         I remember hearing a relatively well known preacher several years ago make a statement regarding such tough decisions. In all honesty he said, “I’ve rebuked the Holy Ghost so many times…”

         What he meant, of course, is that there was no way what he was hearing was from God. It was too hard. Too difficult. Impossible, even. No way could it be God. He would never ask (command) me to do such a thing.

         But, of course,  it actually WAS the voice of God…

         Not only does the Lord have “hard sayings,” He also has very hard things for us to do at times. And this portends the theme of this article, that God, in all His grace and love, commands us to do impossible things that put our lives in peril and sometimes destroy our comfort zones.

         A lazy, lolling river suddenly becomes fast and filled with white water and giant boulders. But instead of simply getting over to the bank ASAP, the Lord directs us to enter headlong into the churning, violent rapids and commands us to ride the wave of the future.

         Right.

         These are some of the stepping off points in one’s walk with God. How many Christians are there in this world who are no longer real Christians because they refused such commands? How many are merely playing games, fooling themselves and almost everyone else in an attempt to live for God in disobedience?

         It can’t happen, you know. Would that you were hot or cold…

         You get the picture. Refusing God’s commands while claiming to be right makes one a veritable dab of spit at best and pool of vomit at worst.

         Yes, the Word of God actually says that. As Yogi Berra would say, “You could look it up.”

         The title of this post illustrates such tough obedient choices. The Lord knew all along He would make that fateful trip to Jerusalem one day and enter into the mouth of the dragon. He would drop His defenses, lose all protection, and become the object of not only the wrath of mankind, but the wrath of God.

         But how is that possible? Jesus IS God.

         And again, that’s the point. The strong must support the weak. The strong must do very difficult things on behalf of the weak. The strong must carry the day.

         Now, in English, the phrase Set His Face To Go makes no sense. We think it makes sense but only because we have discovered what it means. This phrase is an obvious example of a Hebrew idiom that found its way into the literal translation. It comes to us from the KJV translators and is over 400 years old. However, it is based on the earlier English translation of William Tyndale which is going on 500 years old. I do not think those people had any clear understanding of Hebrew idioms. Later translations give a clearer understanding in English. The following is from the NASV:

         He was determined to go to Jerusalem… [1] 

         Young’s Literal Translation states, that he fixed his face to go on to Jerusalem.

         The Hebrew idiom, from an original Hebrew Gospel, means that the Lord Jesus could not possibly be swayed from facing His fate. He was resolutely determined to complete His mission. He set His face like a flinty rock to enter the belly of the beast. This was not only sheer determination and willpower to do the job He was called to do; it was also the determination to face the greatest physical, emotional, and mental torture ever suffered by anyone in taking on the massive burden of our sins, and actually become sin on our behalf.

         He had every reason, in the natural, to reject such a trip. How could it be God’s will for me to face such a horrible fate? Anyone else would have found a way out, and would have justified his disobedient behavior.

         But not the Lord Jesus.

         He wasn’t thinking of Himself.

         He was thinking of you.

         So, we must set our minds at ease in that whatever difficult circumstances He is commanding us to undertake, He will never ask us to go to the cross the way He went to the cross.

         But we must go to the cross. We must be crucified. We must destroy our sinful and selfish human nature through real repentance and allow His life to course through our born again veins and arteries, and allow our hearts of stone to be transformed into living hearts of spiritual love and mercy.

         He made it relatively easy for us, you know. There is a place in each of us reserved for His Holy Living Spirit. The key to being like Christ, therefore, is not to engage in some ascetic attempt to be “holy” and Christlike through our own power and religious methods, but to unlock the door of our hearts, open the door wide, greet the Lord who waits patiently on our doorstep with a gracious smile and a loving hug, invite Him in, and give Him the best room in the house.

         Whatever price we must pay to get us to the point of accepting such a visitation is worth it, don’t you think? And so is anything else He asks us to do, no matter how scary or difficult.

         We must all Set Our Face to do the will of God. We must go to our own version of Jerusalem. We must swim across the ocean and ford every stream and climb every mountain (including Everest) and dream the impossible dream.

         We must sacrifice our lives in the greatest act of giving for the sake of His abundant life.

         It’s what people do when they’re in love.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Hebrew Month of Nisan 2012: Atonement and Resurrection (Part 3)

Nisan 14 / April 6, 2012 (Began at sunset on April 5):

         Four days after crossing the Jordan River, and exactly forty years after the first Passover in Egypt, the nation of Israel celebrated its first Passover in their new land:

         While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. [Joshua 5:10]

         They had received this teaching from Moses:

         “Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.” [Exodus 12:5-6]

         Also on this date, the Lord Jesus became our Sacrifice Lamb:

         So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” [John 19:16-19]

         We know that the Lord Jesus died on the cross at some point after the ninth hour[1]—about 3:30PM. The time was according to the Hebrew manner of reckoning the hours in the day, which began at sunrise. On that particular day, there were actually about 12.5 hours between sunrise and sunset, and sunrise took place sometime between 6:00 and 6:30AM. However, the gospel accounts do not say the Lord died at exactly the ninth hour, because other events took place after the ninth hour and before His death. It is safe to say He died somewhere between just after the ninth hour and with enough time remaining to bury His body before sunset.

         Also, this particular Nisan 14 was a Thursday, not a Friday. It was the fifth day of the week. Five is the Biblical number of Grace. The Lord did not die on a Friday. He died on a Thursday.  

         On the equivalent of Wednesday evening, the Lord and His disciples ate the Passover meal. He then suffered the trauma of Gethsemane. After being up all night, shuttled around to various false trials, and beaten severely, our Lord Jesus had been stripped of His clothes and nailed to the cross at the exact time of the Temple morning sacrifice, which was at the third hour of the day. This was somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30AM.

         Over six hours of excruciating pain and suffering later, the Lord died. His body continued hanging on the cross until it was taken down at the request of Joseph of Arimathea.[2]

         If the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, it meant the sacrificial lambs were slaughtered a day before the Sacrifice Lamb. The Lord must have partaken of the Passover since it was commanded in the Torah, and it was during which that He instituted the New Covenant by introducing His broken body and shed blood as a memorial.

         Could it be that the Lord’s death was progressive? It certainly appears that the “death angel” passed over the Garden of Gethsemane the night the Lord made His final surrender. At some point the sins of the world were placed upon Him. This was a legitimate form of death. There was no protection for the Sacrifice Lamb. It would have cancelled out His purpose. Once sin was placed upon Him, the spotless Lamb became sin on our behalf.[3] He continued “dying” until the next late afternoon when He breathed His last, when full payment was made, and when all was finished.

         Theoriginal Passover in Egypt took place in the middle of the night, when the death angel “Passed Over” each house while looking for the shed blood of lambs upon the door posts and lintels of the dwellings. Whichever family’s house did not display the blood of a perfect lamb suffered the loss of its firstborn son.

         Those families whose houses displayed the blood were representative of having the blood of Jesus displayed on their hearts as a substitute sacrificial firstborn Son, who died in place of their actual firstborns, and thus suffered no loss.

Nisan 15 / April 7, 2012 (Begins at sunset on April 6):

         After crossing the Jordan, the nation of Israel ate the produce of the Promised Land for the very first time:

         On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. [Joshua 5:11]

         This was the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pesach 1, a day of holy assembly, which concluded with Pesach 7, another high holy day on Nisan 21.[4] It was the day after the Lord was slain, the sixth day of the week, and equivalent to our Friday.

Nisan 16 / April 8, 2012 (Begins at sunset on April 7):

         It was on this day that the manna which God provided for forty years during the wilderness wanderings ceased. From that point forward, Israel would only eat the food of their new land.

         The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year. [Joshua 5:12]

         This was a Sabbath day. Manna never fell on a Sabbath, but a double portion always fell on the day before—the sixth day of the week (Friday morning). Therefore, there was still manna left over from Friday to eat on this day, but it never fell again. In the week of the Lord’s passion and death, this day was also the seventh day Sabbath, which always fell on a Saturday.

Nisan 17 / April 9, 2012 (Begins at sunset on April 8):

         The Captain of the Lord’s host appeared to Joshua:

         Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. [Joshua 5:13-15]

         It was also on Nisan 17 that the events of the week culminated in the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

         Scripture says that the Lord was resurrected on the first day of the week, which would have been equivalent to our Sunday. This means He was actually crucified, as stated previously, on Thursday, Nisan 14. That evening at sunset, after Joseph and the others had taken the Lord’s body off the cross, prepared His body for burial, and encased Him in the tomb, it become Nisan 15. This was not only the high holy day of Pesach 1, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it was also the day before the Sabbath.

         Then, after the Sabbath was over and the night had passed, Sunday morning dawned. This was Nisan 17, or the day of First Fruits, which took place after the Passover Sabbath each year.[5] On the agricultural calendar, it was the beginning of the barley harvest, and our Lord Jesus was the first fruits, the choicest portion. Imagine the scene, then, as all these days and prophetic events played out perfectly, and imagine the shock and delight of Mary Magdalene at the tomb that morning: 

         But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

         When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

         Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” [John 20:11-16]

         He had been physically dead, just as He said He would be, for three days and three nights:

         “For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” [Matthew 12:40]

         But on that resurrection morning of Nisan 17, also in keeping with another prophecy, a new Temple was raised by the Lord Jesus Himself that will never be destroyed again:

         “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19][6]

         This is the hope that every real Christian has, that one day he or she will also be resurrected bodily just as the Lord was, to spend eternity with Him and one another forever!

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 3 of 3]


[1] Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:44-46

[2] Mark 15:42-47

[3] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[4] Exodus 12:18

[5] Leviticus 23:11, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

[6] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.