Greetings Friends! In this post I would like us to explore the role of Jesus’ messiahship through the lens of the atonement story that was told in Israel in the Old Testament each year. Yes, it was the special religious observance called the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement is known in Judaism as “Yom Kippur.” It is a ritual performed yearly in the Old Testament setting in ancient Israel. (Lev.16) This is relevant as we enter and keep the season of Passover and Easter, 2021. The message of Atonement was prophetic in its scope and corresponds with the New Testament message of the cross and Jesus’ work of Messiah and Savior of humanity. (Hebrews chapters 9 and 10)
The story behind the Day of Atonement foretells the role of Jesus and His work of dealing with human sin and rebellion, but fundamentally to contend with and confront Satan, God’s and humanity’s adversary, who is the chief architect and instigator of sin and rebellion in humanity. Yom Kippur was a religious high day in ancient Israel because of its meaning and relevance to the people and to the God they worshipped. It is a day full of ritual and symbolism with profound significance.
Israel’s temple high priest played the chief role on this day. The high priest was enacting the role of mankind’s true High Priest who would later come in the Person of Jesus Christ. Paul tell us this, “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb.4:14-16).
The temple high priest was required to perform vital rituals associated with God’s relationship with the nation of Israel, and ultimately the whole world. (John 3:16) It is the only day the high priest is permitted to enter the most holy location in the temple, called the ‘holy of holies,’ where God is present when atonement is made for the people. (Heb.9:7). The people of Israel, for their part, were required to fast and confessed their sins before God as part of their act of worship. “Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites” (Lev.16:34). God would appear before Israel in the holy place of the temple to cleanse the people of all their sins.
On this most solemn of days in the Israelite religious calendar, the high priest performs a ceremony unique for this day where two goats are presented, and “he is to cast lots for the two goats – one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat (Azazel)” (Lev.16:8). A very interesting, one might say strange ceremony, but why the two goats, and what do they mean?
The goat allotted “for the Lord” represents Jesus Christ. This goat was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled in the mercy seat in the ‘holy of holies’ before God. This act represents atonement made for the sins of the people which symbolically cleanse and unify them with God. (Lev.16:15-16) The Bible states emphatically, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb.9:22; Lev.17:11). Yes, everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, forgiveness can’t be achieved. This sacrificial goat depicts Jesus and the atoning sacrifice upon His cross for humanity’s sin and rebellion against God.
The other goat is called the Azazel or scapegoat. (Lev.16:8) The High Priest performed a separate and unique routine upon the Azazel goat. The high priest shall “lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites–all their sins–and put them on the goat’s head” (Lev.16:21-22). This scapegoat represents the devil who is the instigator of all rebellion and sin in humanity against God. This had been Satan’s chief activity who was ultimately responsible for Adam’s fall in Eden. He continues to tempt and seduce humans from all walks of life to sin against God and His holy Love. This goat is allowed to be released ‘alive’ into the desert wilderness, for obvious reason as we’ll see a little later.
This live goat represented Satan the devil, and through this unique ceremonial act the high priest transfers all the sins and guilt of the people upon the head of the live goat (Satan’s head), for he is the great tempter, and first cause for all sin and rebellion committed by the people against God.
Let us now see the New Testament parallel of this vital message of reconciliation and forgiveness through Jesus’ cross from the Day of Atonement, and specifically as it relates to Jesus Christ, humanity’s Savior, High Priest, and heavenly eternal Mediator. We are told clearly from Scripture, “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (Heb.4:14). So, Aaron as high priest in Israel, was performing the role picturing the true High Priest, Jesus, who later came and fulfill this office and function in God’s grand plan of saving mankind, and continues to do so to this today. So, Jesus is both Savior and High Priest; the sacrificial Lamb of God and Redeemer.
And besides Jesus’ High Priestly function, the New Testament reveals how at this identical time, Jesus as humanity’s Savior defeated Satan in the titanic spiritual battle of the temptations unleashed by Satan upon Jesus as recorded in the Bible – Matthew.4:1-11. This was God’s overall plan for His Son to eradicate sin in humanity, by defeating the instigator of all sin, Satan, in the titanic battle of the temptations, and ultimately upon His cross upon Calvary.
Notice, one of the obligatory exercises expected of the people for observing the Day of Atonement was the people fasted and confessed their sins before God. (Lev.23:27; Lev.16:29-33) In the New Testament, Jesus fulfilled both obligations when He was baptized by John for the baptism of forgiveness of sins, and thereafter fasted for forty days in the Judean wilderness. Mark tells us, “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mar.1:4). Yes, John’s message was identical with the message of Atonement the people of Israel heard and confessed their sins before God on the Day of Atonement.
However, Jesus had no sin to repent of, much less the need for forgiveness. Being the Son of God, the Immanuel and Messiah, He was sinless. (Isa.7:14; Matt.1:23; Luk.2:11) Jesus is the second Person of the Trinitarian Godhead. (John 10:30; 17:21; Matt.28:28-30; 2 Cor.13:14; Act.7:55; 1 Pet.1:2) John affirms this truth, saying, “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)
Paul affirms this astounding truth, saying, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father” (Gal.4:4-6). He was both divine and human – “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us” – in the Person of Jesus Christ. (Matt.1:23)
The Bible further affirms Jesus divesting His divinity to take up our fallen humanity in Himself in order to save us from sin and death. Immerse yourself in the words of Paul, “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood (Immanuel). For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to fear of dying” (Heb.2:14-15, NLB; Matt.1:23; John 3:16, italics mine). Paul reminds us what sin and rebellion brings, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23).
Paul supports Jesus’ deity, saying, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature a God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phi.2:5-8) God knew what it was like to be a tormented human held in bondage of sin by giving His Son to identify with us and save humanity. John corroborated this most beautiful truth about Jesus’ perfect Being, saying, “And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in Him” (1 John 3:5).
So, we ask, what was the purpose of Jesus’ baptism considering He had no sin to confess nor repent of, much less be forgiven? The true purpose of Jesus’ baptism was He was baptized for all humanity. He was repenting for mankind’s forgiveness, absolution, and salvation. Humans repent, obtain forgiveness, and are baptized because Jesus has gone on before and done it for mankind. Hence, God the Father imputes Christ’s perfect work, His sacrificial death upon the cross, and His resurrected now glorified human life, upon us. (1 Cor.1:30; 2 Cor.5:21; Act.2:38)
In other words, humans cannot repent on their own volition, repentance is a gift of God through His Son. (Act.11:18; Gal.3:13) When John saw Jesus approaching to be baptized, recollect their dialog. John said, “I am the one who needs to be baptized by You,” he said, “so why are You coming to me?” He recognized who Jesus was. Then Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt.3:13-15). To “fulfill all righteousness” means they were obligated to carry out all that God required of them. And God’s plan was that Jesus was to be baptized by John for humanity’s repentance and forgiveness. (2 Cor.5:21; 1 Cor.1:30)
We repent and are forgiven upon the template of Jesus’ baptism, His saving work through His perfect life in our place. Just as Jesus was crucified for our sins, He was similarly baptized for our forgiveness. Paul said this, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade” (2 Cor.2:14, MSG). Yes, in life we are marching with Him in His triumphant procession. Thank God, like a true Loving Father, He has ascribed and imputed His Son’s finished work upon us for our ultimate salvation. (Phi.3:9; Rom.4:5; 5:19)
In truth, the new human life Jesus brought, the ‘Immanuel humanity,’ was to displace and substitute the fallen ‘Adamic humanity’ we inherited from Adam’s fall – so His whole life was a substitute for our fallen ‘Adamic humanity.’ He told us that we must be reborn and take upon us His new humanity energized by and enabled in the Spirit’s appeal and Love. (John 3:3-7; Rom.5:5) Paul affirmed this marvelous truth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor.5:17). Jesus said, “Unless you repent (change), you will all perish likewise” (Luk.13:3, 5). Essentially, the call to repentance is of and in itself the call to change and take up the new ‘Immanuel humanity’ of Jesus in place of the sin-conditioned ‘Adamic humanity’ from Adam’s fall. (2 Cor.5:17; Ezek.36:26; John 3:3; Rom.6:4) (You can read about the New Humanity Jesus brought from the Father to Substitute our fallen ‘Adamic Humanity’ at: http://bulamanriver.net/19496)
God gave Jesus this mission to bring us His new ‘Immanuel humanity’ empowered in the Spirit by coming as the Messiah who repented for us, lived a perfect human life, and died a sinless sacrifice upon His cross to save mankind from all sin, past, present, and future. (Rom.:12:1-2; Rom.15:16;) John said this, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2; also 2 Cor.5:21).
In God’s boundless mercy He has made provision for our destiny and salvation through His Son as our ongoing Savior and eternal Mediator High Priest in heaven today. He will not abandon us but will finish what He has begun in His Son. (John 3:16) Paul said this about God’s guarantee to bring us and all humanity into His divine realm and kingdom, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory” (Eph.1:13-14).
God’s limitless compassion for humanity is beyond comprehension, “Because of the Lord’s great Love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness” (Lam.3:22-23). Paul says here, “You were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” And here we see the second reason the Father sent His Son, to inaugurate the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell mankind and make real and tangible Christ’s new ‘Immanuel humanity.’
Recall, after Jesus was baptized by John, the Bible records, “Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mar.1:9-11). Yes, Jesus inaugurated the gift of the Holy Spirit, and later the Spirit was poured out upon the faithful and all humanity on the day of Pentecost. (Act.2:1-4)
So, we see how Jesus replicated the traditional obligation to solicit divine forgiveness of human sins through repentance as was expected of the people on the Day of Atonement. (Lev.16:29-33) He then gave passage for the Holy Spirit to enter human life from the Father for the purpose of sanctifying humans in God’s Love (Rom.5:5; John 16:7; 14:26)
In the ancient Israelite ritual, baptism was symbolized by the high priest washing in the laver, a washbowl filled with water. The Bible states, “And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water (Lev.8:6). Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5, also Eph.5:26-27).
The next ritual was that of fasting. Let’s note the parallel in Jesus’ own life. After His baptism, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him” (Matt.4:1-3). Yes, Jesus fasted as did the people in ancient Israel.
Recall, where was the live Azazel goat released? It was let go alive into the desert wilderness, and Jesus fasted for forty days in the identical wilderness. (Lev.16:20-22) And here is where Jesus confronted Satan in the titanic spiritual battle in the temptations for the soul of humanity. His spiritual preparation was He fasted for 40 days.
He was tempted by Satan during His 40 days of fasting. What was the purpose of Jesus’ fast and His simultaneous encounter with Satan’s temptation? Jesus faced up to four paramount aspects of the devil’s temptations revealed in the Gospel of Matthew. (Matt.4:1-11) These 4 temptations forms the very foundation of Satan’s primal force of sin and rebellion which he unleashes upon all humanity.
By defeating Satan, Jesus not only gave humanity victory over this invisible enemy who is the instigator of all sin, He has also laid bare the very core of Satan’s evil plan to keep humanity in the chains of sin. That’s to say, Jesus gave humanity the divine inside track (so to speak) to Satan’s blueprint by which he tempts all humans to sin, do evil, and rebel against God, and keep humanity in the bondage of sin and rebellion. It has been said that the key ingredient for defeating an enemy is, “know thine enemy.” Through the temptations, God has opened this eternal wisdom for humans through His Son. Not only was Jesus baptized for our forgiveness, He also defeated the devil in our place, then was crucified for our atonement.
So, Jesus led a glorious victory for humanity by defeating Satan by way of these temptations, and thereby defeat all of humanity’s sins which arise from them. If you were able to imagine all the sin and rebellion of humanity since Adam’s fall, they essentially can be categorized into and arise from these four temptation sub-headings. From their various pigments and color, indentations and grooves, and patterns and profiles, Satan blinds people and keep humanity in the chains of sin and rebellion. Be truly thankful for God’s divine wisdom, for Scripture tell us, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (by the devil)” (Heb.2:18). God our Father comforts us with His Fatherly words, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psa.32:8).
(You can read about the four temptations in my blog post, titled, a) – “The Four Temptations And God’s Promises,” at: http://bulamanriver.net/11339. Also, b) – “The Saving Faith of Jesus,” at: http://bulamanriver.net/21946; and c) – “The 4 Temptations, How To Overcome and Live Victoriously In Christ,” at http://bulamanriver.net/20216)
So, what is the essential meaning of Jesus act of defeating the devil’s deceitful cunning temptations with overwhelming victory and accomplishment in the Judean wilderness? You will recall the high priest’s extraordinary act upon the second live scapegoat (Azazel): “He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness” (Lev.16:20-22). Note the parallel with Jesus’ victory over Satan. The reason the live goat (Azazel) was released live in the wilderness is because it represents the devil who was created of spirit, not physical matter. Satan is a fallen angel who cannot die, hence the second goat was released ‘alive’ in the desert wilderness.
When the high priest in Israel laid his hands on the live goat (Azazel), he was portraying what the true High Priest, Jesus, would later do for all humanity when He effectively laid His hands squarely upon Satan’s head (the live goat) and transferred all the sins and rebellion of Israel, and by extension all humanity, when He defeated Satan in the temptations. (John 3:16, 36) Jesus had done what God His Father had planned in His appointed time and place. Today, Jesus Christ is mankind’s High Priest in heaven who continues to unceasingly mediate for humanity. (Heb.4:14-16; 1 Cor.1:30)
So, in Jesus’ temptation in the Judean wilderness, He was reconstructing the Israelite high priest’s ritual from the Day of Atonement of placing all the charge of humanity’s sin where they rightfully belong, Satan’s head. Jesus defeated Satan at his own temptations by which he has held humanity captive to the prison of sin and rebellion. It turned out to be the ultimate battle for the soul of humanity which culminated at His cross upon Calvary to restore humanity back to God. Seconds before Jesus breathed His last upon His cross, He uttered the words, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
Yes, Jesus had ‘finished’ a vital aspect of His earthly mission given Him by the Father, by defeating the devil once for all through the temptations and later by His death upon His cross. Jesus’ mission continues to this day upon those He calls. (Matt.28:18-20; Act.14:21-28; 26:12-18) Jesus has brought humanity back from the brink of eternal disaster which began at the hands of Adam’s rebellion and sin in Eden, and back to the eternal God and Creator and made mankind His eternal children forever. (Gen.3:1-6, 23-24; John 3:16)
The message of the Gospel of reconciliation continues today, as Paul declares, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Cor.5:18-19).
John, in a vision he was given of the end of time when Jesus has restituted all things to His Father, recorded this, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev.21:3-5).
If eternal justice must be served, it would not be divine justice for Jesus to carry the weight of humanity’s sin upon Himself on His cross for which He is not ultimately responsible, where the primary guilty party is allowed to go scot free without charge. Christ’s sacrifice was to pay for and atone human sin and rebellion – yes, humanity is culpable because the choice was theirs, albeit by the deception and cunning of the devil. Since humanity is responsible and thereby answerable for their actions, individually and collectively, they must repent, ask for forgiveness and receive Jesus’ as personal Savior through His baptism. The Bible is unambiguous, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Rom.3:23; also, Act.2:37-39; 3:19; 20:21; Mar.1:15; Eccl.7:20). Jesus came to redeem us from all our personal guilt and sins.
However, the absolute and incontrovertible responsible party who instigated, caused, and is indisputably guilty of all human sin and rebellion, Satan the devil, must be held accountable and answer to the charges of sin and rebellion against God and His human children, and be convicted of all guilt for mankind’s sin and rebellion.
For Satan, to live eternally with all his and humanity’s sins he was responsible for, misdeeds and failures, his defeats, disasters, and blunders, beginning with his revolt from the start, are of themselves considered as ‘hell’ to live through on its own self-sabotaging merits. Conceivably, a hell suited for a fallen archangel and other revolting angels with the incorrigibles who have turned against their Creator God. (Isa.14:13-14; Rev.12:9, 3-4; Matt.25:41) What is the closest place which analogizes the desert wilderness where the live scapegoat was released? The Bible calls it the “lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev.20:1-2, 10). One can say, this is the categorical ‘graveyard’ of all sin and rebellion,
After Jesus had defeated Satan, angels appeared and ministered and comforted Him. (Matt.11:4). Then the Scripture tell us what Jesus did immediately after His momentous victory over Satan, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt.4:17). Yes, the Scripture tell us something so powerful and astoundingly marvelous beyond comprehension here, which we can easily gloss over and miss altogether.
That is: since Adam’s fall in Eden at the hands of the devil, the “Kingdom of Heaven” have been closed to humanity. But not anymore…that is what Jesus announced after He defeated Satan in His titanic battle in the temptation…Jesus has now opened the doors of the Kingdom for mankind to enter. Hence, and not until Jesus defeated Satan the enemy, could this passage be stated by Jesus in its timely and foreordained manner, “the Kingdom of Heaven has come” (Matt.4:17). The ‘first Adam’ had closed the door to the Kingdom that was available to him and his children trough rebellion and sin. Now, the ‘second Adam (Jesus) has reopened the doors of the Kingdom. (1 Cor.15:22, 45)
Up to the point when Jesus defeated Satan in the temptations, humanity entered and experienced life in the kingdom of darkness of the devil through Adam’s fall. Paul affirmed this, saying, “For He (God the Father) has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Col.1:13-14, italics my emphasis).
Since Jesus opened the doors of the Kingdom He affirmed this announcement, saying, “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in” (Luk.16:16, also Matt.11:12). Yes, “the kingdom of heaven has come” (Matt.4:17). What a glorious announcement by Jesus to humanity. We ought to leap for joy in our hearts because of Jesus’ finished work of defeating the architect and father of sin, living the perfect human life, and ultimately sacrificing Himself for our atonement. (John 19:28; 30; John 8:44; 1 John 3:1)
Through Noah, the Patriarchs, Moses, Israel, and the Prophets, until the Messiah’s coming, God slowly but surely restored the Kingdom that was first available to Adam but sadly lost through his fall, and finally reinstated by Jesus through His birth, His colossal battle with Satan, His sinless life, His atoning death upon His cross, His resurrection and ascension to heaven. With that, Jesus changed humanity’s destiny forever when He finally opened the doors of the Kingdom where humanity may fulfill their rightful birthright as God’s offspring. (Gen.1:26-27) Be utterly thankful!
So, Jesus’ finished work of bringing humanity back to God the Father had started until mankind arrive at its destiny as stated in the Gospel, so we may enter and live with God our heavenly Father for all eternity. (Matt.25:34, NLT; John 3:16)
A final word about the temple of God. Bear in mind, all we have read about Atonement as it relates to the work of the Messiah and its related activities were focused primarily within the confines and context of the temple. Without the temple, the work of the high priest in Israel and the act of reconciling the people with God could not have been carried out. The most holy place where God is seated, where mercy flows and acquittal is obtained located within the temple’s holy of holies. God is the Tri-Personal Spirit Being who is composed of ‘spirit,’ and as such dwells in a spiritual temple. He is not a physical human being to dwell in a physical temple. The physical tabernacle/temple was a copy of the true spiritual temple of God in heaven, and now He seeks a dwelling to live and walk in upon earth. (2 Cor.6:16; Rev.21:3)
What and where is God’s temple on earth today? God’s spiritual temple is the very heart of His own spiritual people. (Act.7:47-50; 17:24-25) Yes, there is a spiritual component to man’s makeup. And yes, humans are mortal beings but he is given a heart and mind resembling God’s spiritual likeness. (Gen.1:26-27) Many today think that God dwells in impressive physical temples. No, God is not a human being to dwell in such physical edifices. Humans were created with the internal orientation of heart to receive God’s Holy Spirit and be made offspring of the divine, and God’s spiritual, living, temple.
He made this distinction between the physical and spiritual temples when He asks, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Could you build Me a temple as good as that? Could you build Me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are Mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word” (Isa.66:1-2, NLT). What an awesome declaration of truth about His physical and spiritual temples. Let’s break this passage down.
God is proclaiming He already has a physical temple – the whole of creation and the universe is His physical temple. Elsewhere God asks, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD” (Jer.23:24). The Scriptures says how God is adorned in His physical temple, “You are dressed in a robe of light.” It tells us what His temple looks like, “You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; You lay the rafters of Your home in the rain clouds; You ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants” (Psa.104).
We only have to look at the marvelous beauty of this earth and the awesome expanse of the heavens to witness His magnificent physical temple. Of course, it would be laughable to even imagine that humanity can build a physical temple that’s vaguely comparable to His wondrously sweeping panoramic creation.
When God commanded Moses to erect a temple so He could live among His people, He was portraying and characterizing His spiritual temple. What is that spiritual temple? Paul answers clearly, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Cor.3:16). Speaking to individual humans, God tell us through Paul, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So, you must honor God with your body” (1 Cor.6:19). Yes, individually and collectively, we comprise God’s spiritual temple on earth. So, His vast material creation is God’s physical temple, and the collective Loving heart of humanity is His spiritual temple.
Paul taught the Ephesians, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Eph.2:19-22). Again, we are all individual bricks that the Master Builder, Jesus, is building to erect the very spiritual temple of God.
Peter asserted this wondrous truth concerning our common human destiny with God our Father and Creator, “And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are His holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (1 Pet.2:5; also, Rom.12:1-2). Jesus told His hearers, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luk.17:21). Jesus was pointing to Himself living within each and every saved human being, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27; also, Gal.2:20)
The prophet Isaiah gives us this revealing passage about the human heart as the spiritual aspect of the human body wherein God dwells, “For this is what the high and exalted One says– He who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa.57:15). Yes, God lives in the heart of His human children who are contrite and humble in spirit and mind. John said this about this beautiful coexistence of God with His human children, “God is Love, and all who live in Love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).
The Psalmist’s prayer of contrition laments, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise” (Psa.51:16-17; Psa.34:18; Isa.66:1-2; Matt.22:37-40). His children have a “broken and contrite heart,” that’s to say, we Love Him with all our hearts and relate with Him in a humbling and respectful disposition and attitude of mind and spirit. We live to let His all-encompassing Love find a permanent home in the inner sanctum of our hearts. (1 Cor.13)
The act of Atonement happening in the heavenly temple in God’s presence, is replicated in the heart of humanity in those who have surrendered their lives to Christ, God’s High Priest. (Isa.57:15) The “holy of holies” in the physical temple portrays the “human heart/mind,” God’s spiritual temple on earth, where God’s presence is located in the inner sanctum of the surrendered heart of humanity. Here, humanity is cleansed through Jesus’ mediation and the Father communes in Loving relationship with us. It is truly an awesome divine picture of the future Loving union between God and His human children.
God’s ‘mercy seat’ in heaven is identical with the ‘mercy seat’ on earth in the inner sanctum of the heart and mind of saved humanity. It is here the Father is seated enthroned and exalted. It is here before the Father, that Jesus our High Priest appears and appeals for us with His shed blood in His glorified human life for our eternal absolution and reconciliation. (Gal.2:20; Rom.8:3; Heb.4:14-16)
This is the sacred abode of God, the atmospheric within the temple is heavily laden and saturated with delightful fragranced incense, symbolizing human prayers, our Love and worship, gratitude and praise, being perfected in Jesus who transforms them into a sweet-smelling aroma before God. (2 Cor.2:15; Eph.5:2) It is here that humanity meets with the Triune God all the days of sojourn upon earth, until our change comes at the resurrection in the Spirit’s power at Christ’s return to earth. (1 Cor.15:51-58; also, 1 Thes.4:16-18; Rom.8:11)
What we are seeing is the fusing of two hearts in Love – the heart of God and the ‘contrite heart’ of humanity. John tells us this, “We know how much God Loves us, and we have put our trust in His Love. God is Love, and all who live in Love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our Love grows more perfect” (1 John 4:16-17). We see the most beautiful picture of God living united with His human children in His divine nature of Love. (To read and understand the various functions of the temple and what they portray in our lives as humans and God’s children, you may read my post at: http://bulamanriver.net/11230.)
I close this post with my best wishes to all my readers for a solemn and blessed Passover/Easter 2021. May God’s grace be with you abundantly.
Petition: Friends, as I have closed my post in the past, I customarily give our readers the opportunity to give their lives to our Maker. I thank you for investing your precious time with me in the sharing of the good news of Jesus who has enabled us to live the Triune Life.* Jesus is alive today as our High Priest in heaven seated at His Father’s side, and ceaselessly mediating for us.
I hope that in your heart of heart you will receive Him as your personal Savior, receive God’s Spirit, and be part of living this glorious humanity made children of God forever. (1 Sam.16:7; Jer.17:10) You can privately and quietly pray the prayer below in your heart. I am asking you to pray this prayer as a human being Christ died for, regardless of your background. All are inducted into the one mankind Jesus saved, not into any religion, religious sect or denomination, color, culture, or nationality – but into the one glorious humanity that Christ is preparing as the holy temple for God’s dwelling:
Prayer: “Almighty God, Father of all humanity, forgive me of all my sins for I receive Your Son, Jesus, as my personal Savior. In Your incalculable grace, thank you for recuing me and my loved ones, and all humanity, from the enemy’s fearful and destructive waters, and bringing us home into the life-giving waters of your Ocean of Love. Grant Your promised celestial life in Your Son through Your Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the wondrous gifts you have conferred upon us all so we may serve one another in your Love. May Your Love guide and protect me and my Loved ones always, and bring us all into Your beloved and divine Kingdom. I praise and thank You, Amen.”
Welcome to the celestial life of Love in God’s holy, eternal Family. (1 Tim.6:19) Then keep in touch with God’s Word for you by reading and studying your Bible, and visiting this blog and website and look at various subjects that may be relevant for your situation – go to: http://bulamanriver.net. You can email me with your questions at – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blessing: Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you and your loved ones this Easter season and always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”*. In closing, pray for God’s intervention with regard to the pandemic that is sweeping this world. Finally, may you always find strength in the Lord’s Joy.
Farewell for now,
Kiang, (Your Servant and Friend in Christ)
*Triune Life: “Triune Life” speaks of the process of theosis or deification of humanity. What is theosis or deification? “It refers to apotheosis, meaning “making divine.” Theosis or deification is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God (as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church).” (Wikipedia.org) The belief in the process of ‘deification’ is understood in accordance with Jesus’ teaching, when He said, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods” ’? If He called them ‘gods,’ to whom the Word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside (cannot be broken)” (John 10:34-35; Psa.82:6). (You can read about the Triune Life at: http://bulamanriver.net/9199, and other posts)
I have written about this subject of ‘deification’ in my blogs under the theme ‘substitution’ and ‘attribution’ (see, http://bulamanriver.net/564), where I showed how Jesus came as God incarnate (Immanuel) to assume our sinful humanity in order to save mankind from sin and death for the express purpose of human deification. (Matt.1:23; Rom.3:10-12, 18, 23; John 3:16; 1 Cor.15:50-55; Rom.8:29) Further, we read the following, “As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria (‘illumination’ with the ‘vision’ of God). According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy (or cooperation) between human activity and God’s uncreated energies.” (Wikipedia.org)
So, the “Triune Life” reveals the intersection of human life and activity and the uncreated divine energy flowing from the Tri-Personal Being of God of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a way of life which explains that process of theosis whereby humans are transformed in body, mind, and spirit by the Love of God. God’s uncreated energy is His Love. So, the foundational tenet of the “Triune Life” is based upon the Love of God, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Thereby, it can also be called aptly, the “Triune Love.”
I had coined the term “Triune Love” and “Triune Life,” to refer to a person who lives the three-dimensional life within the Tri-Personal Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matt.28:19) This is opposed to the one-dimensional human way of life influenced by the devil. We see God’s Tri-Personal Love move in an inward, outward, and upward trajectory, in this process of theosis which I have called the ‘three ascents.’ The three ascents are three steps which dovetails into one another showing how all three Persons of the Godhead are in the relationship of Love with humanity – where God reveals the fullness of Himself to humanity, both individually and collectively. (2 Cor.13:14; 1 Pet.1:1-2) That’s to say, the act of one is the act of all three, and the act of three is the act of one, making them unified with in Love. (Mar.12:29; Deut.6:4)
Every aspect of human living follows this three-step format revealing the three-dimensional aspect of how the Tri-Personal Being of God in the Father, Son, and Spirit, directly and collectively involved in the life of human believers, individually and collectively to bring humanity to salvation. These three steps move in an ascending order, so I will call them ‘ascents.’ Each ‘ascent’ dovetails into the next and finally reveals the ‘manifestation’ of the topic, which we will call the fourth step, in this case, Love!
Hence, all my articles are framed within this three-step format, or ascents. The subject of the article dovetails into each ascent and spontaneously lead to the manifestation of the divine Love and reveals how humanity is enlightened by God, and cleansed in mind, body, and spirit. The ascents reveal three doors one must enter to attain the manifestation of God’s Love relationship with humanity. The ascents are not to be misconstrued as some ‘secret knowledge’ or mystical activity. Rather, each ascent represents the relationship of Love a human enjoys with the Triune God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, throughout a person’s life.
In fact, the ascents are actually three Love relationships the believer encounters with the Tri-Personal God. This three-way relationship is what I have called by the term, “Triune Life” or “Triune Love.” These ascents represent the movement of God’s Love in an inward, outward, and upward, trajectory to bring God’s enlightenment in a person. The fourth step reveals how the article is made to manifest in the life of the person, both individually and then collectively in humanity.
Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living/Loving,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune Godhead. (John 1:1-2) He took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead by cleansing it of all sin and rebellion. To live the “Triune Love (Life)” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit (Love) in humans. (Rom.5:5; Eph.3:16; Col2:2) The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27).
The Bible states, “He (God) does great things that we cannot understand and miracles that we cannot count” (Job 5:9; 37:5). If God acts in ways that cannot be fathomed and is beyond human comprehension, then the miraculous life where humans are privileged recipients, cannot be deciphered by the human mind to its grandest manifestation. But we understand its meaning through divine revelation in that God reveals Himself as Love, and His miraculous activities are enveloped in His Love. (Jer.29:11)
The three-dimensional Triune Life/Love is opposed to living the one-dimensional solitary life of the fallen humanity inherited from Satan through Adam’s rebellion. For additional information about the Triune Life: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036. Also at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092.
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, you may obtain a copy of my book, “Bula” Man-River, from Amazon.com; xulonpress.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online book stores. All proceeds will go towards furthering the work of Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.
*Mission Statement: Read the Triune Love Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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