Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 9/21/03
"And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, 'To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!'" (Rev, 5:13, RSV).
When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they became infected with a deadly virus, religion. Prior to their disobedience, they had walked in Spiritual innocence, living solely by the words that came from God's mouth. He had warned them not to eat of the fruit of that tree, saying, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die" (Gen. 2:17). The wily old devil, posing as a serpent, told Eve that they would NOT die, but would become like gods, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). She was the new kid on the block, and because it sounded good to her, she failed the test. Knowing good from evil still sounds good, and is still prized by Christians today. It is the basis of all religion, beginning with the Law of Moses. As the author of the New Covenant, Jesus passed the test which Eve failed, and became the High Priest of the New Way (actually the original way) to walk with God. Accordingly, Matthew reports that the SPIRIT led Jesus into the desert to be tempted of the DEVIL. Notice that it was God AND the devil working together here! After He fasted forty days, "The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'" (Matt. 4:3-4, NIV). Adam and Eve learned to their sorrow that only the words from God's mouth bring life.
There are many different interpretations of God's curse, "In the day that you eat of it you shall die." Some limit it to spiritual death, because they did not fall over dead that day. Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years (Gen. 5:5). I heard a TV preacher declare that it took him that long to figure out how to die, because his body was programmed for eternal life. Others say that God clearly meant physical death, because no matter how long Adam lived, his body did die eventually, and men and women have been dying ever since. Afflicted with the curse of mortality, humanity began the inexorable march to the grave that lasted from Adam to Christ. Not only was mankind subjected to the futility of death, but the creation was locked up in bondage to decay as well (Rom. 8:19-21). God said to Adam, "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return" (Gen. 3:17-19). Thus, the mud creature, lived, died, and then returned to the dust from whence it was formed, until the joyful day when the curse would be reversed.
Clearly, knowing good and evil is the affliction of the law. Without the power to act on it, just knowing good and evil is a curse, leaving the participant no better off in the end than he was in the beginning. The truth of this statement is written in page after page, book after book of the Old Testament. It is written in the cellular structure of plants, whose seeds have to die to bring forth new life, and in the DNA of animals and humans, who begin to die from the moment they are born.
I watched a fascinating PBS show recently, about a scientific study done on the survivors of the Bubonic Plague in 16th Century Europe. They discovered that those who lived had one or two genetic markers which allowed their immune system to fight off the plague. If they only had one marker, they may have become ill, but did not die from the disease. If they had two markers (one from each parent), they did not become ill at all. At the beginning of the Aids crisis in America, homosexual men were dying like flies of this mysterious virus that had no cure. One man, who had been as susceptible to the virus and exposed to it as were all his friends who perished, expected to die also. He even moved from San Francisco to New York City to be with family, thinking it was just a matter of time until he sickened and died. He never became ill, though all who knew him expected his death at any moment.
One friend urged him to turn himself into medical researchers so his blood could be studied. Perhaps his body produced antibodies which would be helpful in creating a vaccine to this modern day plague. He offered his blood for research, and what they discovered, was that he carried these same genetic markers which they found in the survivors of the 16th Century Black Plague! They exposed a sample of his blood to the virus multiple times but it never became infected. He never got Aids!
It flashed across my spirit that this MAY be how the curse of mortality will ultimately be defeated. The children of God and in fact, all creation, will be changed at a cellular level by LOVE, God's antidote to the curse, so that in our DNA, mortality will be swallowed up by immortality and the perishable by the imperishable. For the last two Sundays, we sang the Christmas carol, "Joy to the World" in our Medicalodge service. Verse three has been ringing in my spirit for weeks now: "No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found." This then, is the essence and the reason for the incarnation. He came to reverse the curse wherever it is found in our lives.
It is impossible to understand the process of reversing the curse until God reveals to us HIS culpability in it. Most Christians steadfastly refuse to see God's hand in anything negative, preferring to blame it all on Satan, man's ancient enemy. We had an e-mail this week from a precious brother who loves the Lord and serves Him in many significant ways. He asked for prayer for himself and his family, for he said, "We have been onslaughted by the enemy with sickness." He then told what maladies each member of his family was facing: infections, viruses, and a bad back. He concluded, "I truly feel that this is a backhanded compliment from the enemy knowing that our breakthrough is very near (both in finances and our call). We are in faith and praising the Lord before the answer comes. Please join us." End Quote.
My heart aches for this brother, because to the degree he sees a two power universe, God and Satan, unsure who has won or will win, to that degree, his eye is far from single. Jesus said, "The light of the body is the eye. Therefore, when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light. But when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness" (Luke 11:34, KJ21). In other words, when you see God as the SINGLE force in the universe, your body (individual and corporate) is full of light, but when your eye is evil (seeing the devil in everything bad), your body is full of darkness. For generations, the church has propagated an "us and them" mentality, ending with the battle of Armageddon, which they say is the ultimate fight between good and evil. Listening to this tired theory, I always intuit that there is still some doubt about who will win. Hal Lindsey and others have made a tidy living predicting when this battle will occur, usually just before the Lord comes back to wreak final retribution upon His enemies.
This eschatological nightmare has scared Christians, caused the world to yawn in disbelief and indifference, and limited Christ to the same mode of operation Joshua used when he led the Children of Israel into the Promised land, i.e., the sword.
I just finished Jack Miles' book, Christ, a Crisis in the life of God, in which he asks the question, "When did God change?" He doesn't claim any theological merit for the book, but it has some nonetheless, as the Holy Spirit once more fanned the flames in me of God's eternal plan. Miles' question stems from the fact, that through Moses and Joshua, God led Abraham's descendants out of bondage in Egypt, into the land of Canaan, taking glorious victory over their enemies, as God had promised Abraham so long before. Thus, it was shocking to the Jews when Jesus said of our heavenly father, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish" (Luke 6:35, RSV). Miles asks, "Oh really. When did He change?"
In the conquest of Canaan, God was anything but kind. In addition to putting men, women and children to the sword, "... they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone, until it was covered; they stopped every spring of water, and felled all the good trees" (Deut 2:34; 20:16-17; I Sam. 22:19; II Kings 3:25). The Psalmist said, "But God will shatter the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways" (Psalms 68:21, RSV). This was the aspect of God that most interested the Jews in Jesus' day, as they groaned beneath the boots of the Roman occupation, having been in captivity to foreign, pagan governments, since the time of Nebuchadnezzar's defeat of Judah in 586 BCE.
To learn that this Messiah whom they had awaited since the time of Moses, would come preaching love and forgiveness, and instead of rising up against the Roman tyrants, would submit to death on their cruel cross, was beyond what anyone could have foreseen, or could bear. It was just too much. Jesus said that the sheep would be scattered without a shepherd, and so it happened (Matt. 26:31). "And of what value to the sheep," Miles asks, "is a dead shepherd?"
It's the same question that our friend asking for prayer might ask? "Of what value is God if He sends sickness and adversity upon us? Isn't that the specialty of the devil alone?" We've all been brainwashed by religion, my friends, telling us that evil is evil and good is good, and never the twain shall meet.
When Satan entered Judas, Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly" (John 13:27). Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him, but though He told the disciples, they never got it, until He was resurrected from the dead (John 2:22). How could they? They had seen the Lord restore sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, preach good news to the poor, raise the dead, and set the captives free (Lk. 4:18-19). After performing miracles like these, how could He end up on a Roman cross, charged with crimes He did not commit, dying like a common criminal? It was beyond the human mind's capacity to understand, much like it was beyond Eve's ability to fathom how eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could bring them death. It would seem impossible to get such horrible results from such great sounding actions, but true, nonetheless. "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death" (Prov. 14:12, RSV).
We remember that right after Peter declared that Jesus was the Christ (Mk,. 8:29), the one they were waiting for, the Lord began to tell them the things He would suffer (Vs. 31). This was so contrary to what Peter had believed about the Messiah, that he began to rebuke the Lord, insisting it couldn't be true. Jesus called Peter's refusal to believe that good could come from evil, Satan's work: "But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men"" (Mark 8:33, RSV).
The book of Job shows the intimate dynamics between God and Satan, and proves that God has the ultimate authority and responsibility for what happens in our lives. Job's friends, representatives of the best of what religion has to offer, condemned him as a sinner, a hypocrite, and a person in need of repentance. God told them in the end to ask Job to make sacrifices for them, lest He punish them for their lies against Him (Job 42:9). Eve and some Christians could say along with Job, "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you" (42:5).
It is pointless to fear Satan, for when he did his worst, killing the Son of God, our all powerful Father turned it into His best gift, salvation for the whole world. God works ALL THINGS after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). This includes the good and the bad. "'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand" (Deut. 32:39, RSV).
Every adverse and difficult thing in my life has brought a blessing to me from God. I shudder to think how I would have survived had He not revealed to me that all things come from His hand, not Satan's. May God reveal to you the truth of this statement: If you are fighting the devil, you are fighting God, dear ones, for He alone is the author of all things. "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (Isa. 45:7, KJV). When He opens our eyes to see that ALL things come from His hand, we can praise Him in ALL things, for everything works together for our good, as He conforms us to the image of His Son, the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:28-29). Our God is a refining fire, who burns off the dross. Our works may be burned up, but we shall be saved as by fire (I Cor. 3:15).
God, who cursed the creation with mortality and disobedience (Rom. 11:32), left the Ivory Palaces in order to join us in the soup of sin, sickness and death. He took upon Himself the curse. Paul declared, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Gal. 3:13-14, NIV). By the power of the life giving Spirit, we overcome whatever obstacles He puts in our path; we traverse the deep waters, walk through the fiery furnaces, and mount up with eagle's wings as He delivers us according to the plan laid down before the foundation of the world. God has never changed! His plan is and has always been UNCONDITIONAL LOVE to us and through us to the rest of creation.
Father, we thank You for loving us perfectly, unconditionally, and eternally. We ask that You remove the scales from our eyes to see Your love for all, and in so doing, allow that love to flow forth from us to all creation, far as the curse is found. In Christ, You have reversed the curse in us. Open our eyes to see it, our ears to hear it, and our senses to feel it, with the power to give it out to others. All glory to You forever and ever. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
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The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 9/17/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/27/08.