Our Father in Heaven
His Kingdom, Power, and Glory, Forever
At the command of Almighty God, a blob of water-covered matter, floating in dark cosmic space, was transformed into a “tiny blue dot,” pulsating with life, in a flash of a week’s time.
The first ancestor human couple, created in the “image of God,” dominated Planet Earth until conned by the arch deceiver. Falling for Satan’s lies, led to corruption of their DNA and drift into depravity’s death spiral. Evicted from Eden’s pristine environment, they lost their honored status in God’s family and the privilege of living in God’s presence. When son Cain murdered his brother, death’s darkness tore at their hearts.
Evil’s pandemic swept through future generations, awash in gross debauchery that led to a global flood that carved up the face of the Earth and destroyed the human race except for the family of Noah, a righteous man who remained loyal to God.
God, the Father of all mankind, in all His wisdom and mercy, designed a master plan, offering humans a second chance to reclaim membership in His family. The plan centered on Jesus, His only begotten Son who appeared on Earth to show the Father’s love, justice, and forgiveness and to surrender His own life to pay the death penalty for all human sinners. Any person believing in Christ, repenting of sin and inviting the Holy Spirit to guide the life will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blood delivers life to the body. Loss of blood symbolizes death, the penalty of choosing to walk away from the Life-giver. Still, the heavenly Father will never walk away from children trapped in Earth’s cycle of death. His love and justice was so rich and deep, He allowed the life blood of His Jesus, to be shed to pay the penalty for all sinners. His master plan guaranteed whoever believed “would not perish” but would inherit “everlasting life.”
Abraham lived a righteous life, after the global flood, in the midst of a culture drifting toward evil enticements. Despite the fact he was a childless old man, God promised this hero of faith his descendants would be as “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
To activate His master plan, God chose this honored people to deliver His second chance message of hope that would break the shackles of sin’s death curse infecting the entire human race. As a critical step, God intervened to free Abraham’s enslaved descendants from baking bricks under the stifling heat of Egyptian skies and stoking Pharaoh’s iron-smelting furnaces.
Relishing the sweet taste of freedom in route to a Promised Land, this multitude of illiterate ex-slaves didn’t need to be polished academic scholars to sense the power of a loving God, who guaranteed rest from physical labor on the seventh day of every week—one of ten rules for better living, carved on two tables of stone.
While wandering in a desert wilderness, this band of slave survivors were shown a shadow of God’s master plan. Ritual sacrifices that shed the blood and caused the death of innocent animals, reminded the newly freed of sin’s deadly penalty. The graphic symbolism portrayed a coming Messiah who would voluntarily allow his blood to be shed as figuratively “the lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.”
Instead of bringing the message of hope to hurting world, Abraham’s genetic descendants drifted from a divine calling and assumed an inherited posture of privileged superiority.
During several centuries of ceremonial practices, an expanding list of man-made rules and regulations evolved into a pro-forma system, distorting the ministry’s original purpose. Assuming an elite pedestal of privilege, they not only looked down on gentiles but refused to enter the homes of gentile neighbors. Once Christ appeared, He warned against self-righteous bullying. “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” MATTHEW 7:1
Blinded to the spiritual significance of the sacred ceremonies introduced by Moses, practitioners of the ritualized religious tradition expected the Messiah to establish an earthly kingdom honoring the “chosen,” rather than God’s Kingdom of Glory. Subtle drift from Israel’s divine calling eventually blinded temple priests to the role of Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of God, the promised Messiah.
Bureaucratic religious leaders who had inherited leadership roles, misunderstand Christ’s mission and reject His ministry.
They inspired a mob to demand His Crucifixion. In an attempt to stamp out the emerging “heresy,” described as “The Way,” that followed His death, they pursued, imprisoned and encouraged the deaths of His followers.
The Friday Christ died, an unseen hand ripped, from top to bottom, the temple curtain dividing the Holy from the Most Holy. In less than fifty years later, a Roman army destroyed the temple itself. The system intended to point minds to a coming Messiah had no further purpose.
The Apostle Paul offers perspective. “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant…it will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” HEBREWS 8:8-10
Jesus, our High Priest “forever…has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” HEBREWS 4:15, 17
“The former regulation is set aside because it is weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced by which we draw nearer to God…Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” HEBREWS 7:18, 22 “By calling this covenant ‘new’ He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” HEBREWS 8:13
Devout Jewish students of Scripture, looking for the Messiah, had accepted “The Way,” unintimidated by threats from a hostile environment. Five hundred saw the resurrected Christ walking Earth during the forty days following His crucifixion. After HiS ascension into heaven, loyal believers filled an “upper room” in old Jerusalem, praying for guidance.
God answered their prayers by sending His Holy Spirit to go into the streets to share the good news of the redemption chance through Christ’s intervention with those who had come from sixteen regions to celebrate the Festival of Feasts. Three thousand devout Jewish followers of God, that day joined Peter and the other apostles in putting their lives on the line for God.
The Church had been born by the honest and the courageous. A short time later, after Paul had shared the good news of God’s coming eternal kingdom with Gentiles in many nations, the term “Christian” was first applied to Jews and Gentiles in Antioch who had joined the fellowship of “The Way.”
“To whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed?” HEBREWS 3:18 “Since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…Now we who have believed, enter that rest, just as God has said.” HEBREWS 4:1, 3
“On the seventh day God rested from all His work…It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in because of their disobedience. Therefore, God again set a certain day, calling it Today…” HEBREWS 4:4, 6, 7
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest, also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that, no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active…” HEBREWS 4:9-12
Worshipping God “Today” becomes a Sabbath “rest” by walking in the footsteps of Christ every day of the week. When the ten commandments are written on the living heart, the ten laws inscribed on inert tables of stone are not abolished or replaced but are animate in the lives of “born again” Christians. Fruits of the Spirit surface intuitively when powered by the Holy Spirit,
Christ reminded followers that the seventh-day Sabbath “rest” was “made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” While the rituals of the ceremonial traditions had no further purpose, the perfect character of God didn’t change, nor did His ten rules for better living change. Christ’s death did not free humans to steal, murder, covet, lie, dishonor parents, commit adultery or worship false gods, make idols, misuse God’s name, or fail to worship God on the Sabbath of “the Lord thy God.”
Weekly seventh-day Sabbath worship celebrates the creation of all life’s biodiversity on Planet Earth; it guarantees rest from physical labor every seventh day; it symbolizes a Christian’s rescue from sin’s death curse thanks to the gift of Christ’s sacrificial death and His Sabbath rest in the tomb and Sunday morning’s glorious victory over death’s sting.
And there’s more!!!
Assurance of life eternal in God’s everlasting kingdom coupled with the forever joy of Finding God “Today” brings the bonus gift of a personal “peace that passes all understanding.” Guided by the Holy Spirit, with God’s law written in their hearts, “born again” Christians, intuitively love God “with all their hearts” and “their neighbor as themselves.”
”Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
“Love does not delight with evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
“Love never fails…
And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.”
I CORINTHIANS 13:4, 5, 13
Looking to the future, John the Revelator pictured the simple beauty of membership in the Christian family. These are the “saints” who “obey the commandments of God” and “remain faithful to Jesus.” See REVELATION 14