Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on 5/16/04
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Mt. 5:17, NIV).
We had a large response from last week's writing, "Letting go of the Law." (See Link at End). It struck a chord in many who have struggled to free themselves from guilt and anxiety over missing the mark of God's perfection. As Lenny describes it, the Law is so subtle, so beautifully wrapped in silver and gold cords, that we may miss the fact that it IS law! Based upon soul power, not Spirit power, it is man centered religion, rather than the God given grace of Life in the Spirit. Even those who have been matured in grace occasionally hit a snag. A dear brother with whom we enjoy on-line fellowship, wrote, "What I struggle with most is the gut-wrenching anger and my seeming inability to forgive my wife for her obtuseness. Isn't our forgiveness before God related to our forgiving others?" I've been around this molehill many times myself so I recognize how well trained we are to beat ourselves up for real and imagined failures to keep the Law.
What he is asking is something I have asked myself, "If we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us, and I can't forgive someone, doesn't that mean I cannot get forgiveness for myself anymore?" Like this brother, I have struggled in the past with anger so white hot and fierce that it frightened even me. And also like him, I have felt despair at my inability to stop allowing someone to trigger me into wrath. You may be tired of hearing me say that counseling helped me with it, but it did help in surprising ways. I learned to my dismay that the one I was really angry with was God. Most people can barely say that aloud, let alone put it out there for who knows how many to read, but it is the truth about me. I was angry that God put people in my life who didn't understand me, who criticized me and blamed me for things which could hardly be my fault, and even if they were my fault, didn't they share the blame as well? Apparently not, because these "layers on of Law," if you'll pardon the awkward syntax, never once acknowledged that they had EVER done anything wrong, and apologize? Hardly. (Those who are under Law seem to be unable to admit mistakes or to apologize, which I suspect has to do with their fear of being perceived as weak, or their fear of the consequences.) I prayed for God to change those who were grieving me. He didn't. I prayed for God to help me forgive them. He didn't. As all this agony in my personal relationships was intensifying rather than getting better, God walked through the pain with me, using it to lead me gradually into the awareness of His total Sovereignty.
The Holy Spirit began to reveal to me through scripture that God is the one who knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). How could He know? He IS the Beginning and the End of all things (Rev. 21:6; 22:13). Perhaps the one scripture which was burned into my soul was Eph. 1:11: "In whom also we were taken as an inheritance, according to the purpose of him who energiseth all things according to the counsel of his will" (Rothchild). That was a blockbuster truth for me. If God works all things after the counsel of His own will, then He put these people in my life who were driving me nuts. Realizing that He was the one who was doing this caused me to shift the focus of my rage from the ones who were tormenting me to God Himself. He can take it; no one else can or should. It wasn't until then that I made any progress at all in getting a handle on my anger. That was decades ago, and out of my personal chaos came peace and love and a close relationship with our Father who gives us Light.
Six years after my divorce, I met and married Lenny, who used to tease me as we did our daily run together. I would rail on God, telling Him how angry I was about this or that, and Lenny would go to the far side of the street and say with a grin that he was putting a safe distance between us, so the thunderbolts wouldn't hit him. We would both laugh at that. Yet, I know many Christians who would NEVER argue with God because they are too afraid of Him. That's one of the characteristics of Moses that I admire so much. He was not afraid to get in "God's face" and tell Him exactly what he thought of what was happening. Time after time, Moses defended the Israelites to God and managed to make his point that if God killed them all off, as He had threatened, what would the neighbors think? Moses concluded that they would think that God was strong enough to bring them out of Egypt, but not strong enough to lead them into the Promised Land (Ex. 32:9-14). This interchange between Moses and God was incredibly wonderful and freeing beyond belief. I now know first hand that God is not only strong enough to deliver us from our sins, but also our neuroses.
I had always been told, "nice people don't say things like that, Jan." It didn't stop me from calling it the way I saw it, but it did cause me to feel like a second class citizen in the kingdom of heaven. The reason for that was reading the Apostle Peter's words about a "godly woman" with the lens of the Law. The King James Version is as subtle as a sledge hammer: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Pet. 3:1-4). That sounds so spiritual, but it was like a death sentence for me. This very husband (before Lenny), to whom I was to be in subjection, was my greatest tormentor. The Law beat me bloody because if I had been a godly wife, according to Peter and church teachings, my husband could have seen Christ in me and could thus have come to know Him. It was a hellish place to be, sold into slavery to the Law, unable to extricate myself, unable to get God to do anything to get me out.
At some point in this sorry tale, God sent me compassionate counselors to tell me that we live under grace, not under law. I finally got a divorce, which was supposed to make things better, and it did so far as my personal peace and tranquility was concerned, but then came the pesky and pervasive guilt which accrues to any Christian whose marriage fails. I could give you lots of examples of this, but suffice it to say, that again, I was sold into slavery to guilt and condemnation, and I accepted with anger and bitterness the church mandate that anyone who goes through a divorce is damaged goods, unable to serve God like those whose marriages are intact. Lenny was married before as well. We could never serve in any official capacity in almost any church you can name, because by legalistic standards, since we each have a living spouse, we are living in adultery. The hell fire and damnation message from the preacher here in Neosho, was that anyone guilty of drinking, dancing, and divorce (the damnable "d's"), was bound for hell. He preached that same sermon or a version thereof every time my divorced sister and I came home for a visit and attended church. It brought me up short and irritated the Law out of me, for I could see that the man hadn't a clue about our righteousness being a result of RELATIONSHIP, rather than ritual. Comparing what I had with the Lord at that point, with what my relationship with God had been BEFORE I received the Holy Spirit, was like night and day. It served to show me up close and VERY personal the failings of laying law on people.
Somewhere in there, I received Preston Eby's book entitled Jubilee (See link at end), which opened my eyes to how Christ came to fulfill the law of Jubilee. I encourage you to find this book on-line and also to read what the Law said about the year of Jubilee, which was God's way to set them free physically from the ravages of sin. The Law was a foreshadowing of redemption in Christ. Everything in the Old Covenant points to and is fulfilled by Christ Himself. Here's a short passage from Leviticus regarding how Jubilee worked:
"'If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves" (Lev. 25:39-42). The reason the man would be free is that in the year of Jubilee (every 50 years), all debts were forgiven, and any property sold was to be returned to its original owner. Here's where the kinsman redeemer comes into play: "'If an alien or a temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells himself to the alien living among you or to a member of the alien's clan, he retains the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may redeem him: An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in his clan may redeem him. Or if he prospers, he may redeem himself" (Lev. 25:47-49). Redemption was always part of the Law in one way or another. The blood sacrifices offered daily, were designed to display God's cleansing action in their lives, and remind them of the covenant God made with Abraham, which was sealed by the walking in the blood of animals. (Gen. 15). (See link at End for the Blood Covenant).
What Preston does so masterfully in the book by the same name is to show that the year of Jubilee was unconditional. In the 50th year, all debts were forgiven; the Israelites were to receive back all their property which was sold to pay a debt, or to be freed if they had sold themselves to pay their debt. It was a unilateral promise, not dependent upon their actions, their repentance or their sacrifices. To the best of my ability to discern, it is the only part of the Law which is based only upon God's word to them and not upon their obedience to same. The rest of the Old Covenant was a bilateral agreement between God and Israel in which His response to their needs, requests, and successful living, depended solely upon their ability to obey the commandments (Deut. 28). Only the Jubilee was based upon His provision for them to regain what was lost, either by misfortune, famine, or sin in their lives. It mattered not if they had lost their freedom or their property because of sex, drugs, or rock and roll; in the year of Jubilee, they got back what was lost.
This is a powerful, prelude of God's ultimate salvation of all. We had a letter from a new reader in the UK who had written because his father had died unsaved, and he worried that he was burning in hell. I shared with him my conviction, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night in my life, that God is going to save everyone. Jesus' statement, "If I be lifted up, I will draw ALL MEN unto myself" (John 12:32), is unconditional! It does not depend on man's response, as the Law did, but upon Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, shedding His blood for us. The Apostle Paul expands on it by declaring "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth (indicates the dead), and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11). If everyone is going to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, then everyone will be saved, because Paul also affirmed, "everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom. 10:13).
The reader from the UK wrote back and mentioned that when he had shared this truth with a Christian friend, she said she "hoped that universal salvation is wrong because it means that she has been trying to live a good life for nothing. In other words, she could have gone out and enjoyed herself more because she'd have gotten there in the end." When someone says something like this, or asks, "Shall we sin that grace may abound?" they have never truly met the Christ, for when He fills our heart with unconditional love, we do not want to sin. We would never intentionally violate someone's life with our behavior or our words.
Understanding the principle of the kinsman redeemer under Law, answers the question, "Why lead anyone to Christ if everyone is going to be saved anyway?" Under Law, if you had to sell yourself or your land to pay a debt, you would be out of business until the Year of Jubilee. Suppose you had incurred this debt in the first year of the 50 year cycle? You would have to wait 49 long years either to regain your freedom or your land, which was your livelihood. Enter the kinsman redeemer. He could purchase your land back or provide for your freedom by paying the redemption price for you.
When every good thing in the Universe, the very fulness of God dwells in Christ, and you can have HIM today, why would you spend another minute chained up in the charnel house of sin and degradation? People who serve Him only to avoid hell fire and damnation have missed the point entirely. Their spirit is in the kingdom but their soul and body is still lashed by Law, which is the POWER of SIN! (1 Cor. 15:56). They have never personally met the one who saved us, redeemed us, and who now dwells in us by faith. Usually these nominal Christians have also projected out into some future time (when Christ comes), all the beauty, wonder, provision and glory of God's kingdom, which is here to bless us NOW, empowering us bless others.
Christ IS our Kinsman Redeemer; He IS the most wonderful gift God ever gave the creation! We don't have to wait until the final year of Jubilee, glorious as that will obviously be, to get free from the shackles of sin. Knowing this truth is what gets me out of bed in the morning, and fuels my zeal to spread the good news of the gospel to anyone who will listen. This Gospel is NOT about what man must do, but is the very essence of what God promised Abraham (Gal 3:8). God's promise is fulfilled in Christ, Abraham's seed (Gal. 3:16). In Him will all nations be blessed (Gen. 22:18; 24:60; 26:4; 28:14; Acts 3:25).
In Genesis 15, Abraham is asking God for some assurance of this heir which was promised him. He tried to help God by offering to make his servant his heir, but God ".... brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Gen. 15:5-6). Against all odds, Abraham believed God's promise over and above what he could see with his own eyes. It has ever been so that "the righteous shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17). Against all odds, and what we can see when we look at our lives, we believe God's promise that He has delivered us from all our sins and has made us the righteousness of God in Christ! (2 Cor. 5:21).
Free at last! FREE at last! THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST!
Father we ask that You reveal the Kinsman Redeemer to all who are languishing in the torments of sin and guilt, and to those struggling to keep the Law, all longing to be free. Flow through us to those who are lost because of sin, and to those who are lost because they were bruised and wounded by the Law. Anoint our words with power so that all may come into the kingdom right now. Empower us to share the Good News, which brings glory to You, now and forever. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Letting go of the Law"
"Spiritual Adultery, Set free from the Law"
"The Blood Covenant,"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 5/12/04
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/18/08.