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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, June 06, 2011

God's covenant of sacrifice

“Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50:5).

The watchword of Christ’s ministry was, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24,25).

Total self-denial. Perfect self-abnegation. No room for self-service, self-indulgence, self-exaltation. Absolute self-sacrifice. Was this an Old Testament imperative also and not only a New Testament commandment? Judging from the sound of the 50th Psalm our Lord has always required the highest standard of righteousness from His holy people, His “kingdom of priests, and … holy nation.” (Ex. 19:6).

Israel was to love instruction and keep their Lord’s words close to the heart. When they saw a thief they were to stop and rebuke him, and the same for adulterers. They were to keep their mouth full of righteousness and to use it for honesty. They were to protect their brother rather than destroy him through gossip.

They were to fear God, to always to hold Him of greater authority than man. They were never to forget Him, but to fill their mouths full of His praise, to order their conversation aright and thus receive the salvation of God.

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2Pet. 1:6-11).

The Old and New Testaments correspond perfectly.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps. 24:3-5).

“Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” (Ps. 15:1-5).

How was this to be accomplished, in sinful people? How can the mystery of iniquity—self-centeredness—ever be cleansed from fallen man?

To accomplish obedience, we’ve been given an example since the beginning of the world. That example came through the sacrificial animal. For 4,000 years sinners had the opportunity to feel the pain of the wilting baby lamb or goat or cow or bull, and to know that it was dying because God required it in the place of the self-centered, guilty, and ashamed human. Both animal and repentant worshipper died together. Here was a cure for sin. Our Creator was willing to feel the pangs of death for millions of His beloved animals, in order to produce in man what he couldn’t do for himself, that is repent. The Lord would even sacrifice His best loved servants in order to save His rebellious children.

So, Abel shows the fruit of God’s successful sacrificial system—Abel’s life of sacrifice, his refusal to fight Cain, falling under his brother’s deadly blows. By faith he had beheld the humble and loving character of the Lord his God through the submission and trust seen in the dying lambs, the children of his own bosom. The death to self, witnessed in the humble lambs, was transferred to Abel and it transformed him. “[He] with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [was] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18).

The covenant by sacrifice required more than just an upright life. It also demanded one void to selfishness, a slain heart that was dead to sin, a soul gutted of pride. Nothing short of complete and utter humility could the Eternal One accept. A total covenant by sacrifice alone would satisfy the Father, a covenant comprising both aspects for uplifting the total man. Justification—reconciliation of the heart and restoration to His kingdom in full favor and trust; and sanctification—the cleansing of hatefulness and rebellion from the life in order to appropriately represent the great King of heaven and earth who has clothed us in His royal inheritance.

Later, that sacrificial animal was substituted by the very Son of God. Those who know Him will die with Him on His cross, as Abel did, and be raised with Him to the life He lived while here. “Made under the law,” He perfectly exemplified the Law in the statutes of Moses, the psalms of David, and the declarations of the prophets. (Gal. 4:4). “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” (Is. 42:21). Jesus was love and obedience and wisdom personified. He was a living soul, and a quickening spirit.

Our God, through His Son, had resurveyed the invisible boundaries of Satan’s turf and pushed him back into a territory not inhabited. For everyone who fully surrenders to their original Master from Eden, God will “[lay] hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and [bind] him … And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive … no more.” (Rev. 20:2,3).

“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” (Is. 49:24,25).

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