“It is finished!”
This is the cry of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, just before He breathed His last breath and gave up His spirit.
It was a cry of victory – to what were accomplished, all that which were spoken of Him by the prophets. “It is finished!” from the Fall in the Garden of Eden to Calvary! The prophecies of the prophets concerning His sufferings as shown in the types and shadows were finished. Yes. It was perfect according to the sure foundation that was laid before the world began. Now the Holy Spirit could be given to work in the hearts of His people to bring them into subjection to the Word and Work of God. That’s right, the finished work of Jesus Christ is availed only to those that are His, those who are broken through an agonizing consciousness of sin in repentance and is born again by the Spirit (cf. Matt. 1:21; 1 John 2:15-17).
“It is finished!” from Calvary to Eternity! Yes, “It is finished!” from Calvary to Eternity! Certainly! For God “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (cf. Rom.4:16-17). Calvary looks back to the past and says, “It is finished!” And Calvary then looks forward to the coming ages and says also, “It is finished!”
Amen! All is accomplished. The job is done. The work is complete. Surely all that pertains to its finished work is the cross at Calvary. The resurrected Lord of Glory is still the Lamb of God on the cross. Though the work is finished His agony is a constant reminder until the consummation of the age. As believers, wretched though we were once, are as yet not perfected but we push toward the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ till the PERFECT comes at the end of the world, and the manifestation of the sons of God is become a reality. The believers must avoid thinking that they have arrived and are in a sinless purified state. So, the Apostle Paul wrote thus:
O how true! “It is finished!” But it is not over. We “press on” in this tension-filled time between times, to remain awake to the many troublesome waters which roll all around us. Certainly, our spiritual souls are affected. No matter how overwhelming and unbearable our every present moment maybe, all is well. Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. Yes, He is. And we are His witnesses to the fact that He is to a dying world. Therefore, struggle not, but press on for this is a battle to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of” – you and me. God in Christ Jesus put on humanity that we might put on divinity.
“THY KINGDOM COME”
“Thy kingdom come” (cf. Matt.6:10; Luk.11:2). Crucifixion marks “thy kingdom come”. It is “thy kingdom come” and nothing less! It is the great long-awaited apocalyptic moment that declares the Messiah-King! What John the Baptist and Jesus came to preach, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is now “thy kingdom come”. By the resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ on that cross at Calvary, a new age has began, a new life for all who choose to worship and follow this King in His Kingdom. The Anointed Son of God, the Messiah, is now King as the Holy Spirit of our Lord came on the Day of Pentecost to dwell in His Kingdom of believers (cf. Luke 17:21; Ezek.36:26-27).
“It is finished!” The cry unites creation and redemption – the old and the new, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). It is a cry of joy. It sums up what is perfection, consummation, that is, the end; and that end is that Victorious One on the cross – Yeshua Ha’mashiach. Not only had He conquered death but He has the power to give life, life that was given to Him by the Father (cf. John 5:26; 1 John 5:11-12). Hallelujah!
O the blessings of redemption! To the believers in the city of Ephesus, Paul invoked this revelation:
Can you comprehend that? All that is made possible because of Yeshua Ha’mashiach. Notice these words:
These words of our Lord Jesus tell me that whatever will be on this earth has its part ordained in heaven. This is even shown by the very first letter of the Hebrew alphabet ALEPH א, which symbolizes “air, wind”, in which we see two YODsי (“hands”) and a slanted VAV ו (“hook”) between them. (The Jewish Sages considered the Hebrew Alphabet sacred and that by divine arrangement the Almighty uttered forth creation.) The upper YOD י is the Heavenly, Spiritual Realm and the lower YOD י is the Earthly, Physical Realm. YOD י is suspended in space and has no physical foundation. It has no beginning, so to speak. The upper YOD י is the first and smallest stroke of the Hebrew alphabet. It represents the Eternal Spirit whose “hand” creates Adam, the inverted lower YOD י, in His Own image upon the earth (cf. Gen.1:26-27). The VAV ו hooks the two YODs י together – the Eternal Spirit breathing Life into the dusty body of Adam. Spirit and Flesh are thus joined together. In the Gospel the Eternal Spirit came to clothe Himself in flesh – hooked Himself to flesh – to manifest Himself to the world (cf. 2 Cor.5:19; 1 Tim.3:16). At Calvary the WORD was VAV ו on the cross, that is hung (“hooked”) on the cross. VAV ו literally hooks the words of God together (as one would hook pieces of curtain together to form a continuous length). That is the reason why we see that a line of scripture always begins with the letter VAV ו. In the English Bible, we see the word “AND” at the beginning of a verse, a statement, an account. Therefore, in the Bible, the word “AND” is not necessarily and always a conjunctive word, per se.
Prior to the beginning of time, eternity was silent. ALEPH א, the beginning of the Hebrew Alphabet is silent in pronunciation. Its numerical value is 1. Hence, we see ONE BEING, the Eternal Spirit who embraces ETERNITY, breaking forth to reveal Himself (Gen.1:1; Rom.1:20). He did that only after He had counseled with Himself. The Heavenly Being unfolds Himself in creation – LIFE brings forth Life, according to all that which He had planned and ordained.
ALEPH א is LIFE but it is only through BETH or BEIT ב, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, that ALEPH א, the unseen essence of LIFE, brings forth all His thoughts into play. BEIT ב is “house”. The Eternal One stored His Plan and Purpose in BEIT ב after He had counseled with Himself according to His Own Will and ”according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself”. His unwritten words were then uttered by BEIT ב in creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb.11:3). BEIT ב houses the WORD of LIFE. BEIT ב proceeds forth from ALEPH א. BEIT ב is the revelation of the Eternal Spirit – “the Word was God”. BEIT ב said: “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me” (John 8:42). “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Without ALEPH א, BEIT ב would not exist and neither would the rest of its brethren, the letters of the alphabet. It is BEIT ב who brought forth the rest of the family of God for it is He who said: “Let there be…” and it was so. BEIT ב also said: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:28-30 cf. Col.1:19; 2:9). BEIT ב is “the firstborn among many brethren” (cf. Rom.8:29).
[Note: The letter ALEPH א does not represent a Trinity of Gods as some Trinitarians suggest. In such a suggestion they contradict themselves; even their false teaching of the equality of a Tri-unity of Beings – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – where the three strokes of ALEPH א consists of two YODs י and a VAV ו. The three strokes are not equal and do not represent a Trinity of Beings. Ancient Jewish sages did not see such a representation. Some Trinitarians have suggested it to be so, so as to force feed their “Trinity” doctrine.]
Now, let us look at the REVELATION of God from the Garden to Calvary as God unfolds the mystery of it in His Word: His Plan and Purpose being made known to us.
IN HIS IMAGE
The beginning of creation was the beginning of the manifestation of the attributes of God. Of all God’s creation there is nothing more special to Him than Man, even as shown in the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, ALEPH א. The Heavenly image of YOD י is reflected on the Earth in an inverted YOD י – ،– and both YODs י are hooked together by a VAV ו. Of a truth, Psalmist David sang: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psa.139:14). In God’s image was ADAM created, and for the sole purpose that the Eternal One might have a family of children unto Himself.
However, the Fall had marred the image, and death reigns supreme over that which is supposed to be life. Ha, but that did not take God by surprise. The Apostle Paul wrote:
The creation is moaning and travailing. The Mighty One had put it to futility and that according to His infinite wisdom in His Plan and Purpose to bring about something far more glorious. Yes, it will be when the glory of God is revealed and manifested in His children for we are a purchased possession in the Mind of God even before the foundation of the world was laid. And this is the reason God brought forth His Only Begotten Son into the world that He might reconcile His children to Himself. He took on humanity that we might put on divinity. As ALEPH א in BEIT ב brought forth life in the creation plan, so ALEPH א in BEIT ב brings forth LIFE in the redemption plan. For ALEPH and BEIT together is AV אב, “father”. God in Christ has made it possible for us to call Him “Father”. How beautiful! “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal.4:6 cf. Rom.8:15). As Born Again children of God we are spiritually quickened and birthed into the very image of the Living God. O mine, “It is finished!” before it even began!
Yes, the Fall was an ordained part of God’s Plan and Purpose. From the Garden to Calvary all that were His Plan and Purpose. The most subtle beast of the field, the Serpent, intruded into the garden of Adam, His wife. Eve was in transgression when she opened up to the Serpent to receive his seed – a seed of discrepancy. Adam identified with her transgression and from that time Satan has been playing monkey in the mind of fallen carnal Mankind. Even Adam and Eve took what was leafy food for a covering of their sin when vegetation had nothing to do with the Fall. While they were aware of their sin, their carnal mind did not comprehend the depth of it. Though a physical fornication between Eve and the Serpent was committed, the true cause of the Fall was spiritual fornication. Eve had entertained the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and partook of it.
“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not” (Job 14:1-2 cf. 15:14; 25:4). “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt.3:10).
Yes, every person is born of a woman – through sexual desire. Hence everyone’s fruit is corrupt for the tree himself is corrupt. Like a flowering tree a person is soon cut down in life for the axe of God had been laid to the roots. There is but ONLY ONE GOOD TREE – the Tree of Life (cf. John 14:6; Rev.22:2). Yahweh (YHVH, יהוה) had subjected His creature, Man, to vanity that out of it his spirit-soul might be reborn into His Glorious Light through the LIFE of that One Good Tree. To make it possible Yahweh had to reach down upon the earth and to VAV ו (“hook”) Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh of Man. In accordance to His own counsel established in His Mind before the foundation of the world, He willingly made a covenant with a man, Abram, to carry out that plan of redemption. He had to come down in order to carry out His own Plan. He had to make a blood covenant with the man.
Blood Covenant was a ritual practiced in a time, as it is today, when the earth was a perilous place to live in. It is believed to be one of the first and oldest traditions practiced among man. Such a covenant, when established, binds two friends (and even their clans) together for life. Each friend was responsible to the other in time of crisis when a life could be saved. It was a contract that cannot be broken without dire consequences for blessings and curses were included in it. As the covenant was so named, blood from the forearm, or palm, of the two parties were drawn for the signing with the wounds joined together as the blood flowed making the blood one. After this, the two friends exchanged certain portion of their belongings, even their names. The ceremony then concluded with an animal killed and split entirely into two halves. The two halves were laid side by side and the two friends walked between them as a sign that they walked in one blood.
That God should carry out such a blood covenant with mere man is inconceivable. He came down to call a man, Abram, and made him His friend. He drew up a covenant with him. Abram believed Him and agreed. Some 24 years later, Yahweh renewed His covenant with Abram. He gave a portion of His Name to Abram and changed it to Abraham. Yahweh יהוה gave Abram אברם His HEI ה and changed his name to Abraham אברהם. Now, Yahweh יהוה is “I AM THAT I AM” – I AM LIFE; I AM SELF-EXISTING. The letter HEI ה in Yahweh יהוה is the sound when one breathes out. HEI ה is LIFE, the breath of LIFE (cf. John 20:22). Having received a portion of Yahweh – His Name, His Life, Abraham then shed his blood through the act of circumcision. But how could Yahweh shed His blood when He had none to shed? Well, when Abraham was ready to fulfill his side of Yahweh’s covenant with him through the sacrificing of his son, Yahweh knew he had perfect faith in His covenant with him. When Yahweh stopped him from carrying out the sacrifice of his son, Abraham discerned that Yahweh would “provide a lamb” for a sacrifice. That lamb was Yeshua Ha’mashiach.
When Yahweh sacrificed His Son (the One Good Tree), blood was shed. That opened the way for the HEI ה of Yahweh יהוה to be imparted unto all who would accept the covenant that Jesus made at the Passover Table, the night He was betrayed: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (John 6:53-57). When the Spirit of Life of the Son of God is breathed into a believer, his spirit is quickened to life, he is a new creation (cf. John 20:22). He is born again – this time, he is born of a Man (the Man, Christ Jesus) – and he will never be cut down and cast into the fire. In truth, he is grafted onto the Tree of Life. Yes, the hope of our salvation is in the Man – the Man Christ Jesus with eternal glory. And so, “It is finished!” from the Fall in the Garden to Calvary!
What is the soul? The soul is the nature of the spirit. As a man created in God’s image, the spirit of Adam had the nature of God. After sin was committed, death set in and Adam could no longer manifest the life of God. A sinner is a man who is spiritually dead. He has a soul that is carnal, being fed by the senses of the flesh. Unlike a sinner, a spiritual man has his spirit quickened (being born again) and his soul made alive. His soul now feeds on the Word of Life that his quickened spirit yearns for. His soul controls his spirit and its needs. In return the spirit controls the body (the flesh, the carnal senses). As the Apostle Paul said: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil.2:12b,13).
Where does the soul of man reside? This is what the Scripture says: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” (Pro.23:7). Correctly translated by Young as “For as he hath thought in his soul, so is he, ‘Eat and drink,’ saith he to thee, And his heart is not with thee”. We think with our heart because the soul resides there. The carnal man thinks and reasons with his head. Interestingly, some scientists believe that the soul resides in the heart, in the centre area where the four chambers of the heart meet (forming a cross). Rightly so, for that is the area where God said He will write His Word (cf. Jer.31:33; Heb.8:10), giving a repentant man a new heart (cf. Ezek.36:26). God’s Word is enthroned in the center of the heart of His saints. That is why God goes for a man’s heart whereas Satan goes for his head. Truly, Paul said: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom.12:2 ). Our mind is the battlefield where Satan and his horde will come in like a flood, seeking to destroy us.
The four-chambered heart is surrounded by two lungs and a cage of twenty-four ribs. How fitting, for we read in the Book of Revelation, chapter 4, where the Apostle John, in his vision on Patmos Island, saw the Throne of God surrounded by Four Living Creatures and Twenty-four Elders. What an appearance! As saints of God, our souls are guarded by the Four Gospels of the Salvation of Christ – Matthew (Lion), Mark (Ox), Luke (Man) and John (Eagle) – which the Sinless Blood of Yeshua flows through and from the Two Testaments (of the Bible) which are the Lungs of Life that came to us from the Twelve Patriarchs of Israel and the Twelve Apostles of the Church. On earth these were typified by the twenty-four priestly courses (each headed by a chief priest) who performed the regular daily services in the temple on a rotational basis (1 Chron.24:1–19; Luke 1:5, 8).
Consider the following scriptures:
After Jesus Christ gave up His spirit and breathed His last breath, the Roman soldier speared His side and blood and water came forth showing us that He died of a broken heart – His passionate love for His Bride. Our Lord Jesus did not come just to fulfill religious ceremonial law of cleansing so as to teach God’s people how to overcome the world and to live a holy life. He came both to fulfill the law and the prophets to where the cleansing of animals and the shedding of their blood would be done away with by His sacrificial death. How important then is water baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ to a true worshipper? The washing of the water for the remission of sins is reflected by these words of Paul concerning our Lord and His Church: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph.5:26 cf. Tit.3:5). However, it is only by the death of Jesus Christ that a true worshipper could have the power of eternal life, the power to overcome the world. It is the Spirit of the Father in the Son that indwells the believer.
The Spirit was in existence before the world begun. When the earth was created, the water was separated to form dry land. Water is life to the earth and all its creatures. Vegetation is composed of mainly water. Animal and man are 60% to 75% water. The blood, which carries the oxygen of life, is mainly water which is a cleanser. The blood (life) is bathed by water (cleanser). Literally, the earth and its creatures are bathed or soaked with water or in water. Yes, there are three that bear witness that eternal life is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because of our faith in His blood and being cleansed by the water of the Word, even as with water baptism in His Holy Name, the Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are sons of God. And so, “It is finished!” from Calvary to Eternity! The Spirit bears record.
The loud cry “It is finished!” rent the veil of the temple into two from top to bottom showing that the way to the Throne of Yahweh was open. Jesus Christ was the Veil and Temple of Yahweh (Matt.27:51; Mark 15:38; Heb.6:19-20; 9:11-12; 10:19-20).
The Tabernacle of Moses was a tabernacle for the Shekinah Glory of God. The tabernacle and all its services were “patterns of things in the heavens” (Heb.9:23). The Prophet Moses had a vision of the Tabernacle and all things associated with it (cf. Exod.25:9,40). The physical objects associated with the earthly sanctuary were “figures of the true” (Heb.9:24) — the “shadow of heavenly things” (Heb.8:5). Each physical item had its spiritual counterpart in heaven. In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John even testified of them because he had seen them when he was caught up in the spirit while on the Isle of Patmos. In the visions were material reflections of God’s Heavenly Palace, the Temple (Rev.15:5), with many physical objects found in the earthly Tabernacle of Moses. There was a Throne where God seated surrounded by 24 Elders and four Living Creatures (Rev.4:2,4,6) and the Son of man walking in the midst of a Seven-branched Candlestick (Rev.1:12-13; cf.4:5). There was the true “ark of the testament” (Rev.11:19), a Golden Altar with incense and a Golden Censor associated with it (Rev.8:3), and an Altar under which were the “souls of them that were slain for the word of God” (Rev.6:9; cf.8:5).
The Tabernacle of Moses represented God’s home on earth. The whole layout of the tabernacle had two areas: the Court, and the Sanctuary. The entrances to the Court and the Sanctuary were from the East. The first item was the Altar of Burnt Offering in the court, then the Laver. On entering the Sanctuary, the Holy Place contained the Table of Shewbread on the right, the Golden Lampstand (or Candlestick) on the left and the Altar of Incense before a Veil (or Curtain) which was hooked (clasped) on to four pillars on the far end. Hidden behind this veil was the Holy of Holies (or the Most Holy Place), which housed the Ark of the Covenant. Each furniture speaks of Christ and His Body, the Church: the Brazen Altar, His sacrificial death for us (Rom.3:25; 1 John 2:2); the Laver, His cleansing us (John 13:2-10; Eph.5:25-27); the Golden Candlestick, His enlightening us (Rev.1:13); the Table of Shewbread, His sustaining us (John 6:27-59); the Altar of Incense, His interceding for us (John 17:1-26; Heb.7:25); the Veil, His body which was broken for us (Heb.10:20); and the Ark of the Covenant, His humanity and deity in the midst of us.
Now, for God to “hook” man to Himself He first had to “hook” Himself to flesh. The Ark of the Covenant behind the Veil in the Holy of Holies speaks of Yahweh hiding Himself in the “thick darkness” of the flesh of Jesus Christ which was His Veil (1 Kgs.8:12; Rom.8:3; 2Cor.5:19). When the Veil was rent at Calvary, “…the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of the testament:…” (Rev.11:19a). “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power;…” (Rev.15:8a). “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb.9:24). Yes, the WAY is wide open for man to approach a Merciful God and to be able to stand before His Presence (Heb.4:14-16; 10:19-20) or forever face His wrath (Eph.5:5-6; 1 Thes.5:9). “It is finished!” The account is settled. Receive it or be damned by the same Holy Fire of the Word of God. Remember that the Word of God is a double-edged sword. Christ the Word will sits on His Throne to judge. To those who believe He will cut them in into Life Eternal. To the unbelievers He will cut them off and cast them down into everlasting fire.
The Apostle Paul wrote of this revelation in the Book of Hebrews chapter 9 as much as John had witnessed it in his visions some years later on the Isle of Patmos. Notice carefully what John witnessed:
The Veil of the Tabernacle of Moses (or the Temple in Jerusalem) hides Yahweh from prying eyes. When Yahweh tabernacled in Yeshua Ha’mashiach He was still not seen and understood by the natural eyes. Unless the Veil allowed to reveal Him no man would see Him (Luke 10:11). With the Veil rent Christ offered the way to whosoever would come before the Throne of Yahweh by way of the shed Blood. Those that did come have to present themselves as living sacrifices at the “Brazen Altar” of God’s Word – “I die daily” (1 Cor.15:31 cf. 1 Pet.4:17). And they have to offer up a life of sweet smelling savour to the Father like Christ did (cf. John 11:42). So, they have to daily present themselves as standing at the “Golden Altar” of our Lord Jesus (lacking the Veil) to offer up incense, ministering faith, love, obedience and praise (Exod.30:34) directly before the Father on His Throne. Yes, the Holy Fire of God’s Word which consumed the sins of the true worshippers was taken from the “Brazen Altar” of God’s Word and put into them for now are they clean and holy golden censers that must offer up sweet incense, morning and evening (cf. Exod.30:7-8). However, for those who rejected the same Holy Fire of God’s Word, the very Christ, Who offered up His Life as a sweet-smelling incense of sacrifice for a propitiation for sins, would face His fiery wrath. The day will come when the Fiery Word would cast judgment on them, even upon them who offered incense with “strange fire” (Lev.10:1-2).
The Apostle Paul revealed to us one very important truth: the Golden Altar, which was before the Veil and on which incense was offered up to Yahweh (from a copper censer morning and evening), rightly belonged to the Holy of Holiest where the Ark of the Covenant was positioned (Heb.9:2-4; 1 Kgs.6:22). Each year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would take a Golden Censer, instead of a copper one, bearing fiery coal from the Brazen Altar into the Most Holy Sanctuary. There before the Ark, the Throne of the Shekinah Glory, he would offer two hands full of incense before the Lord. The smoke would dim his sight of the Mercy Seat that he dies not. Then he would sprinkle the blood of the bullock seven times before the Ark to be accepted of the Almighty (Lev.16:14). And so it was the cry of our High Priest and Lord at Calvary, “It is finished!” after shedding His Blood, rent the Veil, to site the Golden Altar before the Throne of Mercy. O the Precious Blood of the Lamb of God! O what a fragrant Life! As true worshippers we are able to boldly approach the Throne of Mercy by the Grace of Yahweh, made possible by the torn Veil of our Lord (Heb.4:16). It is not about the Candlestick, “a LIGHT that shines in a dark place” (2 Pet.1:19); it is not about the Table of Shewbread, “the FOOD which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27); but it is about the Golden Altar, “the MEDIATOR of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things” (Heb.12:24) “that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb.9:15), and to stand in God’s very Presence. Hallelujah! “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:20, cf. 14:21). And there, in the Most Holy, in Christ alone we stand before the Father daily in faith, love, obedience and praise (Phil.4:6; Heb.13:15). “It is finished!” at Calvary even as the Heaven declared it before the foundation of the world. That’s what the Apostle John saw in his vision – “the golden altar which was before the throne” upon which a golden censer with much incense of the prayers of the saints was offered to the Lord (Rev.8:3).
The Golden Altar of Incense of the Tabernacle
It is essential for us to have a further look into the words of Paul concerning his revelation of the Golden Altar of the Tabernacle. Let me expand on it a little more.
The Tabernacle of Moses is a very interesting Bible topic of study. Apostle Paul in Hebrews 9:24 states that the holy places made by man in the Old Testament are “figures of the true”, meaning that they speak of the throne room of heaven. “Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Heb.8:5 cf. Heb.9:23). If Moses did make all things according to the copies shown to him on Mount Sinai, why then did Paul place the Golden Altar in the Most Holy Place?
This particular text of Scripture has many Christians seeking to find an answer to Paul’s perspective with regards to the arrangement of the furniture in the Tabernacle of Moses. The above words of Paul have caused splits in the theological mind of Bible seminarians over the originality and accuracy of the text. Some theologians and translators have argued and debated over the Greek word “thumiasterion” which is translated “censer” in the King James Version but “altar” in some other versions. The Greek word “thumiasterion” is often rendered as “an altar of incense”.
In the Book of Revelation, Apostle John recorded:
It is important, firstly, to understand that the “golden censer” and the “golden altar” are two separate items. The words “censer” and “altar” are translated from the Greek, “libanotos” and “thumiasterion” respectively. “Libanotos” is the gum exuding from a frankincense tree, or a censer, whereas “thumiasterion” is either a utensil for fumigating or burning incense, or an altar on which incense is burnt.
The Tabernacle was divided into two rooms – the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies). The Holy Place housed three items of furniture –the Table of Showbread on the north side, the Golden Candlestick on the south side, and the Golden Altar of Incense on the west just before the veil that separated the two rooms (Exod.30:6; 40:26). The Golden Altar must not be confused with the Brazen Altar (of sacrifice) which was located in the courtyard.
God commanded the priests to burn incense on the Golden Altar every morning and evening, the same time that the daily burnt offerings were made. The incense was a symbol of the prayers and intercession of the true worshippers going up to Heaven as a sweet aroma to the Lord God. It was made of an equal part of four precious spices (stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense) and was considered holy (Exod.30:7-8, 34-38). God wanted His dwelling to be a place where His people could approach Him and worship Him (Psa.141:2; Rev.8:3-4).
The holy fire of God that was to be put into the censer comes from the fiery coals under the burnt offering on the Brazen Altar. It was then carried into the Holy Place and placed on the top of the Golden Altar of Incense. The incense was then dropped into the censer sitting on the altar, and a cloud of incense would rise up out of the fire. This shows us that no worship or intercession is acceptable to God unless it comes as a result of the work of Calvary in the life of the Believer. Truly, “It is finished!” as Calvary had cried out. The true fire of God now burns within us to serve Him. We stand daily as a living sacrifice before God and with sacrifices of praise, offering up sweet incense unto Him.
[Note: There was no place provided on the Golden Altar for fire to be placed or ashes to be carried out. There were also no fire pans or shovels related to it. Therefore the censer of live burning coals had to sit on top of the Golden Altar. This is the picture we see in Revelation 8:3-4, where the angel had a censer and incense to offer upon the Golden Altar, where the smoke of the incense ascended up “out of the angel's hand”, that is, from the censer he held in his hand.]
The most popular opinion among conservative scholars is that Hebrews 9:4 refers not to a Golden Censer but to the Golden Altar of Incense. Is it true that this passage actually say that the Golden Altar was in the Most Holy Place? The Greek text literally reads: “...behind the second veil was a room which is called the holy of holies, having [Grk: echo] a golden altar of incense” (Heb.9:3-4). The Greek word “echo” [echousa, present participle] gives the sense of “belonging to”, that is, in close “association with” or “accompany” something (as in Hebrew 6:9: “accompany salvation”). In fact, God’s Word in 1 Kings 6:22 stated that the Golden Altar “belonged to” the oracle, that is, the inner sanctuary, not that it was in the Most Holy Place.
What did Paul see in his revelation?
Remember that Moses was told to build “all things” as shown to him on Mount Sinai. How was Moses shown the blueprint? Did God give him a papyrus on which were drawn all the items in full details? Or, did God show Moses a vision of the layout that John the Beloved saw in his vision some 1500 years later on the Isle of Patmos? The layout of the whole tabernacle that was built had two areas – the Outer Court and the Tabernacle proper. The Tabernacle proper or Sanctuary was divided into two rooms, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Both Moses and John had apparently seen the divine layout but of course without the curtain enclosure and animal skin covering. There was no need for such as the whole heaven was God’s covering where He dwells. (Of course, Moses would have had further instructions on making and putting together of the whole structure.) And, the Golden Altar stood before the Throne of God without a veil between them. What does it speak of?
By revelation, Apostle Paul was enlightening us to the ritual associations of the Golden Altar to the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place by virtue of the Golden Censer just as the Golden Altar was connected with the Brazen Altar of Sacrifice by its horns being sprinkled with the blood of animal sacrifice. Moses wrote:
When Aaron, the high priest, entered the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, he took a censer with him. This censer was not a Brazen Censer as used by the priests daily in burning the incense upon the Golden Altar. There were censers of brass (Num.16:39) and censers of pure gold (Lev.16:12 cf. 1 Kgs.7:50; 2 Chron.4:22). The brass was to be used in the outer court, and the gold in the sanctuary. Bronze represents judgment. Gold represents divinity. The Most Holy Place represents the Dwelling Place of God. In there is where we find holiness and truth. Carrying a Golden Censer of bright lively coals from the Brazen Altar together with twice the normal amount of incense, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies where the curtain (veil) meets the north side of the wall (according to the Jews). [Note: Some theologians have twisted Paul’s words (in Heb.9:3-4) when they interpreted that one end of the curtain (veil) was drawn past the middle to expose the Golden Altar of Incense to the Ark of the Covenant. Such exegetes are blinded to the fact that the woven curtain of blue, purple, scarlet yarn, and fine linen thread, which was about 10 centimeters (4 inches) thick, was clasped or hooked on to the four pillars at the ceiling and therefore could not be drawn. Some others interpreted that the curtain was lifted high up or that it was lifted over the Golden Altar so as to hem it in to the Most Holy Place.]
After Aaron was within the veil he would take the fine beaten incense from a cup that was in his hand and drop it inside the Golden Censer which was placed just before the Ark of the Covenant. This would create a great amount of smoky incense that would cover the mercy seat as it filled the room. The smoky incense dimmed the high priest’s vision of the Mercy Seat that he died not (Lev.16:13). Once this was accomplished he would go out and take the blood of the bullock and come back to sprinkle it before the Mercy Seat of the Ark, which faced eastward. This was repeated with the blood of the goat of the sin offering.
The four horns of the Golden Altar were also sprinkled with blood from the animal sacrifice to cleanse and purify it from the sins of the Israelites (Lev.4:7, 16:18) just as the horns on the Brazen Altar was also sprinkled with the blood of sin offering (Lev.4:25; Exod.29:12), and which represent the power of Christ’s blood to forgive sins. The horns of Golden Altar signify the power of His blood in prayer and worship of the saints.
The Golden Altar is a representation of Christ who is our High Priest and Intercessor before the Almighty God, our Heavenly Father (Heb.4:14-16; Rev.8:3). “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people…But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb.9:7,11-12). What Christ has done for us, true worshippers, we can now come boldly and stand before the Throne of Grace (as represented by the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant) for He has made us a holy and royal priesthood unto God (1 Pet.2:5,9 cf. Phil.4:6; Heb.13:15). Amen, for the VEIL, that is Christ, which was rent. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt.6:10). And so, “It is finished!”
The incense symbolizes not only faith, love, obedience and praise, but also prayer accepted before God because of the atonement, and acceptance not only of what was offered, but of the worshippers, the Golden Altar being the symbol of the individual vessel that offers up the spiritual incense. At the time of the judgment trumpets (Rev.8), the Judgment Angel stands over the Brazen Altar with a Golden Censer. He is given much incense to offer it together with the prayers of all the saints upon the Golden Altar that stands before the Throne of God. “And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand” (Rev.8:4). After that the angel again stands over the Brazen Altar and fills his censer with fiery coals from the Brazen Altar, but on these coals no incense was placed, no prayer is offered up to God. Instead, the angel casts the fiery coals scattering them abroad as a symbol of the destruction that will soon ensue. This is the judgment upon all who rejected the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God.
MYSTERY OF REDEMPTION
One great mystery of God in His Plan and Purpose for Mankind is Redemption. The Fall of Man is a purpose of God for there to be Redemption. Connected to the Work of Redemption is that of Restoration. There must first be a restoration of the true worshippers to the Word of God. The true worshippers must receive the Word before the Work of Redemption can begin in their life. Without a restoration REDEMPTION could not be realized. Throughout their history Israel was often rebellious, breaking away from the Faith of their forefather Jacob (whose name was later changed to Israel), son of Isaac, son of Abraham, and turning themselves over to idolatrous worship of their surrounding Gentile nations. Yahweh would send messenger after messenger to turn them back to Him and His Law, His Word. One of the great prophets that God used is named Elijah. Elijah is connected to the RESTORATION and REDEMPTION Plan of Yahweh. He is connected to Yeshua Ha’mashiach.
The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi. Malachi was the last prophet to Israel about 400 years before the First Advent of Christ. He prophesied that Elijah would return and he would precede the Messiah. The children of Jacob since then were looking for that coming of Elijah. Notice the opening and the closing words of Malachi.
the original Hebrew Scripture, some names were intentionally misspelled
for significant reasons. ELIJAH’s name in Hebrew is written thus:
However, 5 times in the Old Testament was Elijah’s name intentionally
spelt without the letter VAV
And on the other hand, 5 times was JACOB’s name
intentionally spelt with the letter VAV
added to it
Malachi’s prophecy points to a new order that was coming, which crossed from the Law to Grace; from dealing with a physical nation of people to dealing with a spiritual nation of people; from God writing His Words on tablets of stone to God writing His Words on to the hearts of men.
Some 40 years ago I was intrigued by the Hebrew alphabet because each letter is pictorial (very much like the character depicted in a Chinese word). However, I had no resources at that time to peruse and study the subject. Nevertheless, back then, the Lord prepared my heart so as to see the mystery hidden in Malachi’s prophecy concerning the coming of “Elijah the prophet” to His redeemed.
Now, why are there these oddities of the VAV ו missing from the name of Elijah 5 times, and have it appeared in the name of Jacob 5 times? Why was it added to Jacob’s, and why Jacob?
In the Hebrew alphabet the 5th letter is HEI ה and the 6th letter is VAV ו, and respectively they represent the GRACE of God and MAN. GRACE providesFAITH: “by grace are ye saved through faith” (cf. Eph.2:8) by HEI ה, the BREATH of Life, given to Fallen Man to VAV ו (“hook”) them into God’s Kingdom. Just consider the significance of the WORD (which was made flesh) VAV ו (“hooked”, “hung”) on the cross, carrying the sins of Man. Even the Bible is a volume of 66 books given to disorganized sinful Man (11 x 6). And as to “why Jacob?”, well, Jacob was to be Israel. But he was not Israel. (Like Abram was to be Abraham. But Abram was not Abraham. They are entirely two different personalities though the same man.) Prophet Malachi calls our attention to Jacob in the opening of his prophetic address concerning things to come. He had reasons. Jacob was a supplanter, an usurper. JACOB יעקב was born grasping the heel of his twin brother Esau (Gen.25:26). Notice the “hand” (YOD י) grasping the “heel” (עקב) in the name JACOB יעקב. Jacob was always grasping for something and paying the consequences. It was when he was alone that the Lord came and wrestled with him to break him. God loved him.
Yahweh came to give Jacob the LIFE that he should have. He came to give him the HEI ה to change him. Notice that one of the “legs” of HEI ה was “out of joint”. Jacob was a broken man, oh no, he was but a blessed man. With Yahweh he had become a prince, Israel. Yahweh had changed his life. He was a new person with a new name for he had received the HEI ה of Yahweh יהוה.
Now, the children of Jacob (Israel) were just like Jacob himself, for most part of their lives, they were grasping at something and paying the consequences too. They were rebellious. They sought after the faiths of those nations around them and mix together the teachings of Yahweh with that of paganism. They had drifted from the HEI ה of Yahweh into falsehood. Yes, they were backslidden. To the Prophet Jeremiah, God asked: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot” (Jer.3:6 cf. 3:8). And God threw backsliding Israel into captivity. Nevertheless Yahweh still remembered Jacob and loved him and sought to VAV ו (“hook”) him back to Himself. “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him” (Hos.14:4 cf. Jer.3:12). That is right. To turn Jacob around Yahweh had to VAV ו (“hook”) him. Where and how? Yahweh had to hook him in the heart with the Gospel of Truth, the Word that would set him free. Hence, the ending of Prophet Malachi’s prophecies:
Prophet “Elijah” had the WORD that Jacob needed. “Elijah” had the message of LIFE for Jacob’s people. It was a message of reconciliation with their God. The message of “Elijah” was given unto Jacob to VAV ו (“hook”) him back to the Faith of God. But who was this “Elijah” who “shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children” (Mal.4:6a)? He was none other than John the Baptist, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Isa.40:3; Mark 1:2-3). He was the “Elijah” who was to introduce the Christ. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (Mal.3:1). Yes, John the Baptist was the “Elijah” who even witnessed “the messenger of the covenant” “suddenly come to his temple” right after he baptized the Son of God (Matt.3:16-17). The WORD of God came to tabernacle in Jesus Christ, His Temple of Flesh.
Now, is not the Church just like Jacob? Are not the Christians like the people of Israel? They too have been playing the harlot ever so often throughout the Church ages. They have been in and out of falsehood and finally in this last age, the age of Laodicea, they have grown to be lukewarm (Rev.3:14-22). They have been grasping at things that do not edify the Body of Christ. They have been grasping at things that do not belong to the Lord nor His Word and His Kingdom. They have been warned of the consequence that would follow if they did not take heed to God’s rebuke and admonition. Even so, as it was with Jacob and his descendents, God loved His own – the true believers who were caught in the deception in the midst of all who claimed to be “spiritual Israel”. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev.3:19). And so, our Lord would heal their backsliding. He would VAV ו (“hook”) those whom He loves back to His Original Word, the Apostolic Faith.
“But what does the prophecies of a Jewish prophet, Malachi, to do with the Gentiles?” This is a question often retorted by Pharisaical Christians who steadfastly hold and defend only the traditions of their churches. Well, let us consider: there is but only One True Church which came by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord first dealt with the Jews for they were His chosen nation of people. However, after about two decades, the Jews felt that they should just hold to the “traditions of their elders”. They disallowed the Gospel of the Messiah into their life. Thus, God blinded their eyes. He turned to the Gentiles offering them the very same Gospel the Jews rejected. To those who saw the light of it and received it they are grafted into the “commonwealth of Israel” (Rom.11:13-27; Eph.2:10-20). Therefore the prophetic words of Malachi 4:5-6 has everything to do with the Gentiles. The prophetic words are tied to the revelation of the Prophet Isaiah: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isa.49:6 cf. 60:3).
The word “heart” is the keyword within the prophetic words of the Prophet Malachi even as the Prophet Jeremiah spoke of it: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer.31:33 cf. Heb.8:10; 10:16). For long had Israel the Words of God on tablets of stone. But now the New Covenant of God was to deal with the HEART of His people. His Words would now be written no longer on tablets of stone but in their hearts (2 Cor.3:3). The HEART of each individual believer will have the Word of God etched on to it. Yes, Yahweh VAV ו (“hook”) His Word through the Gospel of Jesus Christ on to the hearts of those whom He loved to reconcile them back to Himself. The HEART of His saints is where Yahweh resides because He is in His Word, and He has hooked the WORD onto His people. “It is finished!”
“ELIJAH THE PROPHET”
When John the Baptist came proclaiming “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel”, many of the Jews thought he was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. Even Christians are taught to believe so by referring to the answer that Jesus gave to His disciples.
However, in his testimony to the Jews, the words of John the Baptist appeared contradictory to the answer given by our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, was John the Baptist Elijah or was he not? Yeshua clearly and emphatically stated the obvious that “Elijah indeed comes first and shall restore all things”. And according to him, John the Baptist was Elijah but John the Baptist was certainly not the Elijah whom the Jews were looking for to “restore all things” that constitutes the nation Israel as a kingdom for their coming Messiah and King. (The Apostle Peter revealed to his fellow Jews that the resurrected Christ must remain in Heaven until the appointed time comes for the “restoration of all things” which would be after the Church Age is over – Acts 3:17-21.) Moreover, John the Baptist did indeed tell the truth that he was not Elijah – not that particular Elijah the Jews had in mind. He knew he was the Elijah of Malachi 3:1 and that he was sent to prepare the way of His Master and Lord (Isa.40:3).
That John the Baptist did indeed fulfill the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 can be seen from the words of the angel to his father, Zacharias. However, notice carefully the words of the angel:
As can be seen John the Baptist clearly fulfilled only a part, not all, of Malachi 4:5-6 – “he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children”. Yet, there are those would force the words of the angel into the words of Malachi, making the phrase “and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just” to mean the same as “and the heart of the children to their fathers”. How foolish is such an insinuation. One might as well advocate that the rest of the verse of Luke 1:17 is also similar to the rest of the verse of Malachi 4:6. [Can anyone say that our Lord meant all the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3 when he took the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19)?]
As the GRACE of God would have it, five times was “Elijah the Prophet” ordained to carry the message of restoration to God’s Chosen people. Each “Elijah” was to cast forth the message to VAV ו (“hook”) the elect to the WORD of God and restore them back to Him. Firstly, there was Elijah the Tishbite. Secondly, there was Elisha, the son of Shaphat from Abel-Meholah, who was anointed with a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. Thirdly, there was John the Baptist, the Forerunner of the First Advent of Christ, whose message, in particular, was to affect a change in the hearts of the very traditional religious fathers that it might turn their hearts to that of the children, the converts to his gospel (Mal.4:6a). Fourthly, there was the 7th Church Age messenger, William Branham, the Forerunner of the Second Advent of Christ, whose message, in particular, was to affect a change in the hearts of the Christians that it might turn their hearts to that of their Apostolic Fathers (Mal.4:6b) – the true Faith which was once delivered to the saints (cf. Jude 1:3). Finally, the fifth was to be the “Elijah” of whom the Jews were greatly expecting and whose message would bring about a reconstitution of the kingdom of Israel as the Apostle Peter had made known to them:
This last “Elijah” would fulfill the compounded prophecy of Malachi 4 in its totality. The day that he was to come and VAV ו (“hook”) Jacob’s children back to Yahweh would be a Great and Dreadful Day. Many of God prophets to Israel had prophesied of that terrible Day of the Lord (Amos 5:18-20; Zech.14:1-9). But when “Elijah” comes, he would not be alone; with him would be “Moses” (Rev.11:3-13). And unto the end of their ministry would be the cry “It is finished!” declared even before it even begins.
Yes, Lord, “Thy kingdom come.” “It is finished!” Amen.
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