Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Let me ask you this...
Matthew 11:11 "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than He.
Why did Jesus say this if there was no difference between OT saints and NT saints? I am not trying to prove a hierarchy just that Jesus pointed out a difference between OT and NT. Was it so important to have this distinction?
John the Baptist was the awaited Elijah, Jesus said so.
John died before Jesus did. John died under the Law. Those "least in the kingdom of Heaven" died under grace just as those who died before Jesus rose. Both are saved by faith. Both believed God, believed Jesus is God's Son, but the only thing that is different is that Jesus led captivity captive when He rose from the dead. (Ephesians 4)
Those things that had imprisoned humans since Adam's fall from grace were sin and death. It was a legal thing set up by God. (You have probably noticed a lot of legalese through the Bible such as court, judgment, and law.) Those saved before the Cross were saved by God's promise of the Cross and those saved after were saved by the literal blood of Jesus. (Of course by faith and belief!!)
The Law required blood sacrifice and yet, there was no blood perfect enough to cover, pay for and release a human from his sins until Jesus' perfect sacrifice whereby God was satisfied that the Law was fulfilled. Compare the following verses:
Isaiah 43:24 You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, Nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; But you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities.
Isaiah 53:11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
By faith and by God's perfect Grace, the OT saints were held in comfort for the day that Jesus' sacrifice would imprison sin and death and provide the door to God's presence. But, it wasn’t until the Firstfruits, the first resurrection of Jesus did we all have a doorway into Heaven.
Jesus is that Door! There was no door at all until Jesus rose from the dead and then suddenly the Door was there and was opened and all the OT saints came out from Paradise and went to God's Presence through Jesus the Door. Jesus explains this in John 10, but a word study of "door" is quite revealing.
God told Cain that sin lurks at the door but he should rule over it, speaking of Cain’s anger toward his brother Abel that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God and his own was not. Genesis 4:7
The Ark’s door was closed by God’s hand. Genesis 7:16
The detestable men of Sodom who desired to sin against the angels that had come to warn Lot were struck blind so that they wearied trying to find the door. Genesis 19:11
The door jambs, lintels, and sides were coated with the blood of perfect lambs to ward off the Angel of Death from the Israelites’ first born. Exodus 12:22-23
A slave’s ear was pierced on the doorpost, by his own choice, and he served his master forever after. Exodus 21:6
The artisans made a screen for the door of the Tabernacle. The altar of burnt offerings was at the door of the Tabernacle. Aaron and his sons were washed with water at the door of the Tabernacle before they could minister. All through the Torah, the people are to meet at the door of the Tabernacle, or stand at the doors of their tents when Moses went into the Tabernacle, and the Pillar of Cloud descended over the Tabernacle so Moses talked with God.
The people were always on the outside, looking toward the place of worship, but never allowed inside that place where the glory of God sat. Then Jesus said something that is quite startling, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20
In reality, all that has changed is the amount of the gospel that has been revealed. The Blood of Christ is eternal, and works both backwards and forwards in time. So, Abraham was saved by faith, and the last Christian on earth is saved by faith, both through the power of the atonement. There is no question that this is true.
The Blood of Christ works backward in God's promise that it would happen and forward from the literal happening. No matter from Adam to right now... no one was saved from God's wrath without belief and trust in God. Faith has been a factor always. However, Faith and Hope will fade away and the only thing that is eternal is Love.
The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is more like an eye witness account than a parable. Luke 16:19-31Jesus says the Law and the Prophets were until John. Luke 16:16 So exactly what does that mean?
Exodus 33:18 Moses asked to see the Glory of God, but he was denied that request. It is very interesting that it took 3 days for God to raise Jesus from the dead. Why so long? What had to transpire before Jesus was raised? It was not as the case of Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus. Jesus knew His disciples needed to know for certain that Lazarus was truly dead, and that his spirit was not hanging around to reenter his body. Jesus’ resurrection was into a glorified body, not an earthly, physical one that would one day die again. So what was Jesus doing while His body lay in the tomb for three days?
Ephesians 4:8 YLT: So then, the holy writings say, `When Christ went up to heaven he took those he had won with him. And he gave gifts to men.'
That says a lot to me about what Jesus was doing during those three days. Although scripture is not specfic, I believe that Jesus personally gathered to Himself all the Old Testament saints to Himself and led them like a Shepherd leads His own sheep to personally introduce them to God the Father in Heaven. For only after His resurrection was there a door into Heaven. John 10 explains that Jesus is the door and only through Him are we able to come to the Father.
Matthew 27:50-53Jesus went to Sheol, Hades but to the Comfort side as described in Luke 16 where Lazarus was. I find zero evidence that He went to the Torment side like the Rich Man. All the OT saints that died before Christ, had to wait to get into Heaven until the blood price had been paid. That is a legal matter, a point of Law. Isaiah 53:11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Only Jesus could satisfy the Law.
Revelation 21:24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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