March 22, 2002
Sky Valley Park
The following journal is a compilation of e-mail letters written to a friend who questioned why I said that Abraham alone was the prototype of the New Covenant man found in the Old Testament ("Coming Home," End Note "A"). This friend used the metaphor of prospecting for goodies in the scripture until we hit the "mother lode," (the main vein of gold, or in this case, truth). All who seek God are prospectors, and this writing is the essence of the treasure God has revealed to us and others.
Hi Boyd (not his real name),
I'm going to attempt to address the comments that your excellent e-mail letters stirred up in Lenny and me. I've written a lot about God's plan, which Paul calls, "the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things" (Eph. 3:9), "but now made manifest to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:26-27). Notice that he defines the mystery as Christ in you. Christ in us IS the mother lode, the essence of the Gospel, which God preached to Abraham many centuries before Christ was born (Gal. 3:8). Another way to put it is, Abraham was the headwater, the spring, from whence came the great river of life flowing from Genesis to Revelation, the river of life in Christ.
The nature of mysteries is that they are hidden from sight, which is why Jesus said the Comforter would come, to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). Like you, I have wrestled with God my whole life, asking Him to show it to me, give it to me, explain it to me. He has done so in bits and pieces, here a little, there a little. And like you, I know that whatever He has for us is revealed in the scriptures somewhere, waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us in His time.
The union of God and man is indeed the point of the whole exercise in futility which the human race has been involved in since Adam. The Jews missed it by a country mile, thinking that Messiah would come to deliver them from their enemies once and for all, physically. He DID come to deliver us from our enemies, but not all of them use helmets, artillery, and army boots to wage war against us. Lenny pointed out that Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36), and it "... is not coming with signs to be observed....behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17:20-21). The church got sidetracked with the literal millennial reign of Christ because they tried to make everything physical, just like the first Century Jews did, but it won't work. Jesus died, was resurrected, was taken from them in the clouds, and came back the same way, TEN days later, on the Day of Pentecost. The church has missed the glory of the indwelling Christ by projecting His return out to some future date, when in fact, He was only gone TEN days! The "coming in the clouds" phrase, like "the great and terrible day of the Lord" was a Hebrew metaphor. The Hebrews spoke in symbols: "God is a rock," for example. The Western mind expresses ideas more literally. "God is powerful and steadfast." You cannot take one paradigm and try to make it fit into another without losing the meaning.
This is why we have to have the Holy Spirit interpret for us, or else we get hopelessly lost in speculation and end up with a false conclusion, the way many would be prophets have today. For example, those who insist that the third temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, have failed to produce one scriptural proof of this. In order to make their theories work, millennialists have inserted a 2,000 year gap between some of Jesus' prophecies in Matthew 24, and in Daniel, but it just won't wash. The fact remains that the word "rapture" cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament, and there is not one word written by any of the New Testament writers about the destruction of the Temple built by Herod the Great in ! This proves that these books, including the book of Revelation, were written prior to . To have failed to include it, would have been a major oversight, and yet Paul, Peter and John warned the saints of what was to come, the judgment of God that was to fall upon them. Paul's admonition to remain unmarried makes perfect sense if you factor in the great persecution that began, but makes no sense at all if you consider that it was not to happen for 2,000 years or more. Likewise, what comfort would John's Revelation have brought the early church, had they believed he was speaking to folks living millenniums later?
Regarding your question of why I say Abraham was the only prototype of the New Covenant man in the Old Testament, he alone lived by the promise of God, not by law. Isaac and Jacob did live by law, the oral law which God gave to Abraham, but they had not walked through the pieces of the animals, through the blood (Gen. 15), like Abraham did (See The Blood Covenant, End Note "B"). He alone was approached by God who made a covenant with him, that in his seed, all nations would be blessed. Paul says that this is the Gospel! (Gal. 3:8). When the Spirit shined the light on that passage, it blew my socks off. The essence of the Gospel is that God will perform the promise He made to Abraham, to bless ALL nations in his seed. About this promise, the Hebrew writer said because He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself (Heb. 6:13,16). (Had God demanded Abraham's obedience in order to fulfill the covenant, He would have been "swearing by a lesser," rather than swearing by Himself. The covenant did NOT depend on Abraham at all, but only on God's word!) The church has taken the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ (the seed of Abraham, the fulfillment of that promise) and has watered it down with conditions, made it a response to law, rather than the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham.
God had a plan from before the foundation of the world, which always included the cross (Rev. 13:8), precisely because the covenant He made with Abraham called for blood to be shed if it was broken (Gen. 15:9-17). The church says we are the ones who had to shed blood in order to appease the wrath of God so He will be reconciled to us, but Paul says in II Cor. 5:18-19, that WE are the ones who needed to be reconciled to Him, not the other way round. God was in Christ on that cross. Because the covenant was broken by us, we tried and failed and tried and failed to mend it, which is what the law was for, to show us our impotence, our failure to comply, or utter worthlessness, if you will to stand before God. Christ's sacrifice restored the broken covenant. This New Covenant, written in blood (See End Note, "C"), was in fact, the "final draft" of the covenant that God made with Abraham.
Because Christ is the fulfillment of that promise, in a real sense, He is the land of promise, symbolically speaking. Since we dwell in Him, we are the Holy Land; we are the third temple, the place where God meets with His people (I Cor. 3:16, 6:19). When Solomon finished his gold slathered temple, he said, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!" (I Kngs. 8:27). Is He going to leave us at some future date and go back into a physical temple to please the Jews and the dispensationalists? I think not.
Land was the commodity upon which the ancient world traded, fought and died for. Whoever had land, had power. God promised Abraham the land to bless him physically and financially, but I do not agree with your conclusion that the PHYSICAL land of Israel is our inheritance today. Israel is a symbol of what God promised Abraham, which was fulfilled in Christ. After prophesying gloom, doom, and destruction upon Israel and pointing out ALL their failures, Ezekiel told them that it was NOT for the sake of the house of Israel that God would bless them, but for His holy name's sake. (Ezekiel 36:20-28). In this passage, He says that they were so corrupt, that He would put a new heart and a clean spirit within them which would enable them to walk in His precepts, obey His commandments, and dwell in the land. Where is it that all Christians dwell? IN CHRIST. Christ is the promised land, and because He lives in us, we are the promised land as well.
When God is manifested in His sons, which Paul says the creation is groaning for, all flesh will see it together, and that brings me to your question about are all the prophecies fulfilled? No, they are not. Isaiah 40:5, among others has not been fulfilled yet, but I believe, that when the manifestation of the sons of God occurs, it will fulfill these remaining prophecies. We both feel that we are on the threshold, but only God knows for sure when it will occur.
You disagreed with my statement that Abraham alone lived by promise, NOT by law, and you used the ritual of circumcision as proof that Abraham lived by law. In that assumption, you are looking at it backwards, it seems to me, much like the Fundamentalists who insist that we must repent in order to get forgiveness. The polar opposite is true. We can repent only when we realize we are forgiven. Likewise, Abraham practiced circumcision because He had already been given the gift of faith by God. Paul does a magnificent job of showing this, saying that Abraham's blessings were a gift from God, not wages earned for his works (Rom. 4:4).
Our NIV Study Bible has excellent foot notes. In Genesis 17, which is the chapter about the circumcision ritual, the footnote on verse 11 says, "Circumcision was God's appointed 'sign of the covenant' (v.11), which signified Abraham's covenanted commitment to the Lord, that the Lord alone would be his God, whom he would trust and serve. It symbolized a self-maledictory oath [analogous to the oath to which God had submitted himself; see Genesis 15:17: 'If I am not loyal in faith and obedience to the Lord, may the sword of the Lord cut off me and my offspring. (See Genesis 17:14), as I have cut off my foreskin.'"] End quote. Circumcision of the foreskin was an outward sign of the oath which God had sworn to Abraham with the blood covenant, but as Jeremiah said, what they needed was circumcision of the heart (Jer. 9:26). Stephen picked that up and said, ""You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51, RSV).
Some say that baptism is what saves us, using 1 Pet. 3:21, as their proof text. Others say that you don't need to be baptized to be saved, but you must believe and confess (Rom. 10:9-10). Both groups miss the point, that no one, including Abraham, can believe, confess, or be baptized until God gifts him with his presence in some fashion. This is why God's blessing is always a gift, not wages earned for work done.
As simply as possible, Abraham stands alone as a New Covenant man because he was God's elect. If our friend Harry Fox were standing here, he would tell us that ULTIMATELY, ALL men are elect (chosen) in Christ, but for the penultimate hour, God chooses by grace a remnant through whom to flow (Rom. 11:5), always for the good of the rest of His children. Abraham was that man, tapped on the shoulder by God Himself in Ur of the Chaldees, and told to pack up his saddlebags, pack up his ass, his camel, his donkey and, "Come with me to a land I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). This is the story of all those God has chosen since. It is the story of my life and probably yours as well.
When I talk about our father in the faith in my little "sermons" at Medicalodge, I always see the old dears' eyes open wide when I tell them that Abraham was what our TV writers would call a "sleaze bag." He was an idol worshipper (Joshua 24:2); he was a liar and a coward on occasion, in other words, he was just like everyone else. He was NOT chosen because of sterling character, moral fortitude, or doctrinal superiority. He was chosen according to God's plan, laid down before the foundation of the world, to be the person through whom the seed would come, in whom all nations would be blessed.
We agree on very many points, but I cannot support your conclusion that "God had to find a way to turn Abraham's sons into Gentiles," and so He "salted" the earth with errant Jews. I say this kindly but firmly, Boyd. This is a classic case of taking what you believe and trying to make scripture support it. What you have done, in effect, is to limit God to blessing SOME in all nations, who happen to share Abraham's DNA. You have limited God's magnificent promise to his physical descendants. This is NOT what God promised Him, not at all. Remember that John the Baptist smashed the Jews' pride in being descended from Abraham by saying, "and do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8). The promise was that in His seed, would ALL NATIONS (not a few in all nations who happened to have his DNA, but ALL NATIONS) would be blessed. You have made God's promise limited to and conditional upon the physical. It is not what the bible teaches. I respect you, but I have to rely on Paul, who declared that men of faith are "sons of Abraham" (Gal. 3:7), and again, "that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:14, RSV). This verse clearly says that the promise of the Spirit is through faith, not through Abraham's DNA.
We don't agree on this subject, Boyd, and that's OK. During the past year, I have soaked my soul in the gospel, which is indeed, the mother lode, making it the subject of many little "sermons" for the dear old saints at Medicalodge. What I see deeper and deeper, clearer and clearer, is that the salvation of all depends on God's grace to ALL, not on anyone's works. Your theory is even more depressing to me than the Fundamentalist position, because there are some people who can manage to "do" the things the church deems important, but according to your theory, if you do not have Abraham's DNA, none of that would matter. You would fail to inherit the promise because of your genes and chromosomes! Such a conclusion invalidates the mighty promises that "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21: Rom. 10:13).
Take this back to the Holy Spirit, Boyd. Lay it on the altar and give it up to God. If I am understanding you correctly that the born again experience is limited to those who have faith and Abraham's DNA, your position is insupportable in scripture. Like you, however, I continue to dig for the hidden treasures of scripture, and like you, I am honestly seeking truth, even if it means I am wrong in what I currently see. We're all on a journey and all of us take detours from time to time. God is the ONLY one capable of leading and guiding us into all truth, and that is a promise that I stand on every day. Love and blessings, Jan and Lenny.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
End Note "B": "The Blood Covenant"
End Note "C": "Written in Blood"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 3/24/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/29/08.