Topic: The Scarlet Thread Of Redemption
Member # 2450
Here is a statement regarding this subject that I have written from my experience of God's redemptive work in my life and years of service in the ministry. (It is rated #3 out of 22,400,000 on this subject by Google)
God’s Work of Redemption
God’s basic need to do this
“In the beginning, God created” (Genesis 1:1) a physical universe that was constructed of physical elements, like light and water, and which was filled with plants and “living” creatures that had designed reproductive power within them, including male and female physical human beings identified as “man” whom he created “in our image”, and all of these elements and creatures functioned in accord with the physical laws that God established to provide order within the universe. And he gave “man” the authority to have “dominion” over all these plants and “living” creatures to manage it all in a way that would glorify him. And when he had finished with his acts of creation, he concluded that “everything” was “very good” (See Genesis 1:2-31 for the details regarding the creation of these various physical elements).
In order for “man” to maintain his blessing of “dominion” that he had received from God, the creator, in a living dynamic personal relationship with God, he only had to keep this one law: “‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but 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 surely die (Genesis 2:16-17).’” In this law God was requiring “man” to trust him for the guiding “knowledge” of what was “good” and what was “evil” in the physical “garden” of “earth” where he had been placed, and to not seek any other sources of such “knowledge” through his ability to exercise his unique freedom to make choices, which was a special part of his divinely given “image” and his personal relationship with God, his creator.
But when Eve, the male’s female partner, and Adam, the male human creature, decided to eat the forbidden “fruit” in order to receive within themselves the “knowledge” of “good” and “evil”, trusting the seductive lies of the “serpent” rather than obeying the law of God and his wise and loving guidance in such choices, their living dynamic personal relationship with God was broken and their physical bodies began to “die” and the entire harmonious and glorious order in the earth and in this physical universe became corrupted by their sinful rebellious decision against God. This made it necessary for God to take additional steps of divine action in order to redeem his human creatures from physical death to which they were now subjected and the broken relationship of love and trusting daily living that he had intended to enjoy with them for eternity.
God’s procedures for his work of redemption
After their rebellious act of disobedience of God’s command, it became clear to Adam and Eve that they were now “naked” and that they should not expect to appear in the presence of God without at least having their genitals covered, so they “made themselves loincloths” out of “fig leaves” (Genesis 3:7). But when God returned to the “garden” to resume his fellowship with them, he immediately discovered that they were hiding from him and no longer innocent in their created nakedness. God cursed the “serpent” for his seductive action against him and his human creatures and he pronounced a set of curses against Eve and Adam and even the “ground” of the garden that produced their daily resources of food, indicating that their bodies would eventually return to the “ground” from which they had been created (See Genesis 3:14-19 for the details of his cursing judgments). God then began his work of redemption by making for Adam and Eve “garments of skins” and he “clothed them” (Genesis 3:20) so that they would have their sinful state properly covered in his Holy presence, which required the death of innocent animals and the shedding of their blood.
This process in which God engaged with his sinful creatures of Adam and Eve is the consistent model for all of his work of redemption with all of the human beings that would come from them throughout history. It would determine the nature of each human being’s personal relationship with God throughout the span of their physical life and on into eternity after their physical death. The basic steps in this process were these: 1. God’s call to trust him enough to act in accord with his will, 2. to demonstrate one’s faith in God by obeying his will. Faithful obedience to God’s will is always the base for any redemptive saving relationship with God that extends into one’s personal eternity; and God is always the redeemer. There is nothing that any human creature can do to redeem himself or herself from the curses of sin in their life and their broken relationship with God their creator.
After many generations of human creatures being born into this world and living their lives in sinful rebellion against God’s loving will, God became so “sorry” about this condition in his creation that he decided to “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens” (Genesis 6:7). But there was one human being, Noah, who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (vs. 8), and God came to him with some specific instructions to make “an ark of gopher wood” (vs. 14) and to gather his family and two of every creature that breathes into the “ark” in which they would be saved through God’s “covenant” (vs. 18) with him from the deadly flood of judgment that God was going to bring down upon his creation. And Noah “did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22 and 7:5). It rained for “forty days and nights” (Genesis 7:4) and the resulting “flood” killed all of the “living” creatures on the earth as it lasted for “150 days” (vs. 24). After the flood waters had receded, Noah and his family and all of the creatures came out of the ark. Noah made an altar and offered some “burnt offerings” (vs. 20) to God and God “blessed Noah and his sons” (Genesis 9:1) with some specific blessings and a new “covenant” with them and all of their human ancestors (See Genesis 9:1-17 for the details of this blessing and covenant). In his commentary on the importance of “faith” the writer of Hebrews in the documents of the New Testament cites Noah among his list of individuals from the time of the Old Testament history of human life and God’s work of redemption who was “an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith”, because “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household” (Hebrews 11:7).
Although the writer of Hebrews does not conclude that Noah and the other faithful individuals (See Hebrews 11 for the complete list that includes Abraham, who Paul considers to be the “father” of all who “believe” according to Romans 4:11) that he cites in his writing received the same initial blessings that God promises to those who trust him by believing in his Son, Jesus, and accepting him as Lord in their lives they would be “made perfect” through their spiritual union with those who are redeemed by God through their personal obedience of God’s will to trust him and to accept his Son, Jesus, as Lord. This step of “obedience” is cited by Jesus as being an essential part of any disciple’s redemptive relationship with God. This is what he taught to his disciples shortly before he was arrested and crucified to redeem them from the curses of their sins: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…. I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him…. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:15-23). So a person can only live in a “righteous” eternally saving relationship with God by trusting him and obeying the specific instructions of his will in his or her life. This was the process for God’s work of redemption before the arrival of Jesus in human flesh and it was the process that was implemented by God after Jesus came and surrendered himself to God’s will to be crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all human beings.
God’s current call
There is no way that rebellious sinners can initiate their own redemption. Paul emphasizes the importance of God’s call in his teaching regarding God’s blessings in his letter to the Romans (see Romans 8:28–30). The specific content of God’s current call is to believe in Jesus, his Son. The importance of such belief is clearly stated by Jesus in his dialogue with Nicodemus as recorded in John 3:16–18, and 36: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son....Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” God only enables those sinners to become his righteous “sons” who believe “in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:22).
God’s call may come in a sermon by a preacher who is declaring the “good news” (the gospel) of God’s redemptive work through Jesus. It may come from the testimony regarding God’s blessings that a friend or relative shares as a “witness” to God’s grace in Jesus. It may come through a person’s intense struggle with sinful addictions or hopeless depressions. It may come when one’s pursuit of abundance ends in the loss of every secure treasure and comforting possession. It may come in a personal experience of God’s judgment. It may come as a definite nudge from God in a moment of personal reflection or meditation in a time of quiet private thought or in an experience of awe at the power or beauty of God in creation. It will come when a sinner realizes that Jesus came into this world and died to redeem him or her from a life of sin because God and Jesus love him or her.
Redemption is implemented through the activity of God’s grace and his gift of faith
God accomplishes his work of redemption in the ongoing activity of his grace, which is “the expressive function of himself in His fullness”, and “the self-giving of God takes place through His Son.”1 Paul, an initial teacher of Christian doctrine and author of many New Testament letters, put it this way: “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–7).
Faith is demonstrated by obedience
And the redeemed sinner receives God’s grace through faith, which is “the continuous response of man to God’s grace”.2 But, as Paul indicates, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). This “continuous response” is basically trusting God and Jesus to do their work of redemption in the sinner’s life by making him or her into a new person. It is much more than just a momentary insight of intellectual recognition that Jesus is the Son of God in human flesh.
Redemption calls for confession and repentance
God’s primary call to sinners is to invite them to recognize and to believe that Jesus is his Son, the expression of himself in human flesh. Paul put it this way: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9–10). The heart belief is more than intellectual. It is a conviction at the center of one’s being that cannot be shaken or removed by any lies of the devil or arguments of heretics. The verbal confession that “Jesus is Lord” is more than a one-time public statement that is usually made prior to a sinner’s baptism. It is an ongoing expression of the sinner’s personal priorities that Jesus is his or her “master”.
And another basic aspect of God’s call is his requirement that rebellious sinners repent of their sins. This was the initial point of Peter’s invitation to the crowds of Jewish and gentile sinners to whom he preached (see Acts 2:38, 3:19), and it was an essential part of Paul’s preaching wherever he went (see Acts 20:21). This means that rebellious sinners must turn from their willful and persistent efforts to live with attitudes and behaviors that deny God’s authority over them and to live for their own self-serving pleasures and glory. Repentance from sin is more than a momentary emotion of sorrow for having offended God for something that a sinner did, or even thought. It is an ongoing change in direction and focus for the life of a redeemed sinner who is no longer being attracted by selfish pleasures and setting the course of his or her life in accord with humanistic pride and ambitions.
Redemption includes God’s work of justification, sanctification, and glorification
As a sinner receives God’s grace, a new heart in the indwelling presence of Jesus in his or her life (see my revised statement regarding the Christian faith on my website), through the faith that God has given to him or her, God declares that the sinner is justified as being righteous because of his or her union with Jesus, his sinless Son who submitted to being crucified in order to pay the price of the sinner’s redemption. This declaration of justification for the sinner is not a static one-time announcement at the time of the sinner’s conversion to becoming a “son of God”, but it is a dynamic ongoing affirmation from God that the sinner is righteous because of what Jesus has done in his crucifixion and because of Jesus’ ongoing presence in the sinner. This declaration of righteousness can never be claimed as a right by any redeemed sinner because of his or her keeping of God’s laws or rules for morality. It is completely given in accord with God’s independent authority as an active expression of his grace.
As a redeemed sinner who is justified as being righteous because of his or her union with Jesus, part of God’s work of redemption through the activity of his grace is to set the sinner apart through the dynamic process of sanctification for a life that will implement God’s holy purposes through Jesus. As James Fowler indicates, “You cannot possess Him (Christ) without being made a partaker of his sanctification.”3 Although no redeemed sinner can be consistently good or strong enough to resist every temptation of selfish ambitious sin, God in his process of sanctification expresses his forgiveness to his growing “son”, the imperfect redeemed male or female who is still on the battlefield between good and evil that is the world. John states this promise for God’s sanctifying blessing in these words: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Part of this dynamic process of sanctification in the life of the redeemed sinner makes him or her uncomfortable with the presence of sin in his or her life. Sanctification involves a change in the sinner’s ongoing attitude toward sin. His or her obedience to God’s will and rules is no longer seen as a limiting restriction on his or her choices, but it is seen as a joyous expression of his or her union as a disciple with the indwelling presence of Jesus. This process of sanctification is important to God, because, as Paul says, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,...” (Ephesians 2:10). But we must remember, as James Fowler indicates, that “All ‘good works’ in the Christian life are the outworking of His life and character.”4 Sanctification enables the redeemed sinner to cooperate and to participate with Jesus as his disciple in these “works”, and he or she experiences this joyous participation in the dynamic activity of his or her obedient faith, as the redeemed sinner says “Yes” to God regarding each thing that God requests.
God’s work of redemption extends beyond a sinner’s death to provide for his or her resurrection from death, which is the redeemed sinner’s glorification. Paul makes this very clear in his teachings to the Christians at Corinth: “[For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:22–23).
And Paul describes the nature of the sinner’s resurrected body in this way: “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another....So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown (like a seed) is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor (one’s original sin), it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:39–40, 42–43). This is the redeemed sinner’s reception of God’s activity of God’s grace for the glorification of the sinner for an eternal living relationship with God with a new “spiritual body” that is no longer subject to death.
And this activity of God’s glorification of a sinner is not limited to the time of his or her death. Paul teaches that the transformation of the redeemed sinner’s body from that which is “perishable” to that which is “imperishable” and that which is “mortal” to that which is “immortal” is the sinner’s victory over death, citing references to Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 (see 1 Corinthians 15:53–55). Then he goes on to teach this: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:56–58). This “victory” is the redeemed sinner’s experience of God’s dynamic activity of grace even while he or she is engaged in personal struggles with sin and fears and pains on this battlefield of the world while he or she seeks to participate with God in his work of redemption. This glorifying “victory” is really GOOD, because its benefits are clearly for eternity!
The goal of God’s work of redemption is to bring him glory
The objective of God’s work of redemption in and through Jesus is to enable sinners to show “fruit”, particular benefits, in their lives as his disciples that will bring glory to God. Jesus makes this clear to his disciples and to us in part of his final instructions to them: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing....If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit....You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:5, 7–8, 16).
Summary regarding God’s work of redemption
The process of God’s work of redemption in the lives of sinners is initiated by God’s call to believe him and to obey him in loving trust. That current call is to believe him when he offers them his loving grace to forgive them of their sins through Jesus, his Son, and to repent of one’s sins. When an individual responds to this active call of God’s grace by his or her active faith (trust) and confesses that Jesus is Lord and repents of his or her sins, Jesus takes up residence in the redeemed sinner in the person of the Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, the redeemed sinner is “born again” (John 3:5–7) and transformed into a “new person” (2 Corinthians 5:17), a disciple, who is “dead” to sin (Romans 6:2–11) and “resurrected” to a life of cooperative obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10, 14) and fruitful service (as noted above) that will bring glory to Jesus and to God, the Father.
If you have any questions about this “work”, contact me at Disciple Bob. You may also find help in other statements that I have written related to this matter on my website, including one on “God's Sovereign Will and Man's Allowed Will” and one on “What is Christian faith? (Revised again)” and another one on the “The Plan of Salvation (Revised)” and one on “Discipleship”.
The above Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
1. James Fowler,“The Dynamic of Christ, p. 3”
2. Fowler, op cit, p.5.
3. ibid, p.6.
4. James Fowler, “Union with Christ, p. 9”
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The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
The Bible is a book of redemption. It is that or nothing at all. It is not a book of history, or of science, or of anthropology, or of cosmogony. It is a book of salvation and deliverance for lost mankind.
The idea in the word "redemption" is twofold: it refers to a deliverance; and it refers to the price paid for the deliverance, a ransom. We are redeemed from the penalty of sin, from the power of Satan and evil, by the price Jesus paid on the cross for us; and we are redeemed to a new a freedom from sin, a new relationship to God, and a new life of love by the appropriation of the atonement for our sins.
The entire Bible, whether the Old Testament or the New Testament, looks to the mighty, redemptive atonement of Christ. His blood sacrifice is the ransom paid for our deliverance. He took our sinful nature upon Himself in order that He might satisfy the demands of the law. His sacrifice is accepted as the payment for the debt the sinful man owes to God and His death is accepted as the full payment for man's deliverance.
Our Lord's redemptive work for us is three fold.
One, it is closely associated with forgiveness through the redemptive price of Christ's death.
Two, it involves justification since the deliverance establishes us in a restored position of favor before God.
Three, it promises final deliverance from the power of sin at the coming of the Lord.
I. The Creation and the Fall
When God made the heavens and the earth, they must have been beautiful, perfect, and pure.
In the Garden of Eden, however, through a denial of the verbal word of God and through a deception of the woman, our first parents fell. Eve was deceived, but Adam chose to die by the side of the woman whom God had created and placed in his arms.
When the Lord came to visit the man and his wife in the cool of the day, He could not find them. They were afraid and hid themselves from the Lord because they were naked and ashamed. To hide their guilt, they made for themselves loin coverings of fig leaves.
Covering for sin (atonement for sin) cannot be woven by human hands. Therefore, somewhere in the Garden of Eden, the Lord took an innocent animal, and before the eyes of Eve and Adam, God slew that innocent animal as the ground drank up its blood. This is the beginning of "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption". Through the slaughter of an innocent victim, God took coats of skin and covered over the shame and the nakedness of the man and his wife. This is the first sacrifice, and it was offered by the hand of Almighty God.
I have often thought that when Adam saw the gasping, spent life of that innocent creature, and when he saw the crimson stain which soiled the ground, it was his first experience to know what it meant to die because of sin.
So, the story of atonement and sacrifice begins and unfolds throughout the Word of God until finally in glory we shall see great throngs of the saints who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
This is "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption".
II. From the Seventh Day in Eden to the Call of Abraham
In the Garden of Eden, as the Lord covered over the nakedness of the man and the woman, He turned to Satan and said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel." Genesis 3:15
For centuries the old rabbis pored over that word of Jehovah God to Satan. "The seed of the woman." Seed is masculine; seed belongs to the man. A woman does not have seed. The old Rabbis pored over that word and the promise of God that the seed of the woman shall bruise Satan's head.
We now know that the promise is related to the long conflict and struggle between the hatred of Lucifer and the love of God in Christ Jesus. It speaks of Jesus at Calvary. Jesus suffered. His heel was bruised. But in that bruising, He defeated once and for all the power of that old serpent, the devil. He bruised his head.
As the man Adam and his wife Eve made their first home in an earth cursed for their sakes, in the passing of time there were born to them two sons. One was named Cain and the other Abel. In jealousy and insane fury, the older brother murdered the younger brother. But the seed of God must be preserved. The Lord, therefore, gave to Eve another son named Seth. Seth was a man of faith as Cain was a man of the world. When the children of Seth, the godly remnant, intermarried with the children of Cain, the seed of the world, the result was a fallen progeny that filled the earth with violence.
Finally, God said: "Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.” Genesis 6:17 But a member of the line of Seth found grace in the sight of the Lord. His name was Noah. To preserve the righteous seed, God told Noah to build an ark; and into that ark of safety, salvation, and hope Noah brought his family. After the passing of the awesome judgment of the flood, the earth once again began its story of redemption through the life of this one man and his three sons.
It was not long, however, until the ravages of sin began to waste the select family of God. Instead of carrying out the great commission of the Lord for mankind to inhabit the whole earth, the people drew together into one plain and announced their purpose to build a tower around which they were to center their civilization and their collective, communal unity.
When God looked down and saw the pride of men in their hearts, He confused their speech and caused them to "babble". From this "Tower of Bable", therefore, the different component parts of the human race, being unable to understand each other, scattered in different directions and so fathered the nations of the earth that grew up from those three great family lines of Noah.
III. From the Call of Abraham Through the times of the Judges
We begin the story of Abraham in a dark, dark day. The whole world has been plunged into abysmal idolatry, but God calls out this man to leave his home, his place, his country, and his family to go into another country which he should afterward receive for an inheritance.
In obedience, Abraham left the Mesopotamian valley and came as a pilgrim, a stranger, and a sojourner into the promised land of Canaan. There he dwelt and there God gave him two sons. But the Lord God said to Abraham that Ishmael, the child of the flesh and the son of a slave woman, would not be the promised seed. When Abraham was one hundred years old and when Sarah was ninety years old, God miraculously placed into the arms of the parents the child and seed of promise whom they named Isaac. Isaac was the father of two sons, Esau and Jacob. The Lord, refusing Esau, chose Jacob whom He renamed, after a deep conversion experience, "the Prince of God", even "Israel".
Because of a severe famine in Canaan and because of the presence of the son of Israel, Joseph, in Egypt, the entire household of Jacob went down to live in the land of the Nile. In the passing of the years, there arose a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph. The chosen family became slaves to the new ruler of Egypt, and their heavy groaning mounted up to the ears of the Lord God in heaven. The Lord, therefore, raised up a mighty prophet by the name of Moses to deliver his people form the bondage and slavery of the Egyptians. God wrought this deliverance by a marvelous miracle called the Passover. For the Lord said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you and will spare you and your home". This way of salvation through the blood is once again, "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption".
After the Lord God delivered the chosen family out of Egypt, He brought them by the hand of Moses through the parting of the Red Sea into the Sinaitic Peninsula to the base of Mount Horeb. There for forty days and forty nights Moses was with God, and there the Lord gave to Moses the pattern of the Tabernacle, the ritual instructions of holy worship, and all of the other marvelous things in the book of Leviticus that portray and prophesy the sacrifice of the Son of God.
After the death of Moses, Joshua went over Jordan and completed the wars of conquest. In the first confrontation at Jericho an incident happened which gave rise to the title of this summary.
The scouts sent out by Joshua to spy out Jericho were saved by the faith and the kindness of Rehab. The men of Israel promised her life and safety, both for her and her father's house, if she would bind a scarlet thread in her window. This she faithfully did, and, when Jericho was delivered into the hands of Joshua by the mighty intervention of God, Rehab and her family were spared because of that scarlet line. "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption".
After the conquest of Canaan, through the military prowess and genius of Joshua we have the story of Judges. The difference between a judge and a king is this: a king gives to his son in succession his throne, but a judge is raised up according to a crisis and endowed with special gifts from God for that one period of time. The days of the Judges end with the birth of Samuel.
IV. From the First of the Prophets to the Founding of the Kingdom
During the time of Samuel, the people began to cry for a king. It was the purpose of God in the beginning for the children of Israel to have a king (Deut. 17:14-20 OT), but it hurt the heart of the Lord that the request should come in so vain and rebellious a way. But according to the the word and instructions of God, Samuel anointed Saul to be king over Israel.
In his beginning ministry, Saul was a mighty man and carried out the mandates of heaven, but he soon fell away from the instruction of Samuel and fell into gross disobedience to the will of God. The Word of the Lord, therefore, came to Samuel that he anoint a man after God's own heart.
That anointing was directed toward a lad from the shepherd field, a son of Jesse by the name of David.
V. David and the Kingdom of Israel and Judah
The first part of David's life as king of Israel was magnificent. Then, in the very prime of his life, at the very height of his glory, he turned aside from the will of God and became soft and indulgent and lustful. This brought to David an infinite tragedy, one of which the name of God was blasphemed and has been injured ever since. Nevertheless, God forgave the sin of David and chose him to be the father of that marvelous Son who would sit upon His throne as King forever. A type of the glorious son of David, called Jesus the Christ, was the immediate son of David, called Solomon. Solomon also began his reign gloriously and triumphantly, but like his father, Solomon also fell into tragic decline. Upon his death, the kingdom was torn apart.
Thereafter, the people of God are divided into two kingdoms; that of the north is called the kingdom of Israel, and that of the south is called the kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel was taken away into captivity by the cruel and ruthless Assyrians in 722 BC. The southern kingdom was carried away into Babylonian captivity in 587 BC. In the days of the Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem while Daniel, the prophet-statesman and Ezekiel, the holy watchman, comforted and strengthened the people of God in Mesopotamia.
Out of the Babylonian captivity came three great establishments by which God has blessed our world. First, the Jews were never idolatrous again. Second, the synagogue was born, and from the synagogue came the Church. The services of the synagogue are the same type of services we have today. Third, of the captivity came the canon of the Holy Scriptures.
Out of tears and suffering comes our greatest blessing: "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption".
VI. From the Prophets to the Christ to the Preaching of Paul
Out of the agonies of the days of the kingdom of Israel and of Judah came the depiction of the prophets of a more glorious Savior and King whom God would send to His people. When we read a passage like the twenty-second Psalm or the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, we seem to be standing by the very cross of the Son of God. More and more as the days went by, the great spiritual leaders of Israel and of Judah began to outline and to depict the coming of a Redeemer who would save the people from their sins and bring to them the everlasting hope and righteousness of God in a promised Messiah. This Messianic hope became stronger and more gloriously received as the centuries passed.
Out of the Babylonian captivity, in 536 BC, Cyrus the Persian gave the people the right to return to their homeland in Judah and to build their holy Temple in Jerusalem. Thus the remnant of the captivity returned under Zerubbabel the political leader, and under Joshua the priestly leader, and under Ezra the scribe, and under Nehemiah the prime minister in the court of Shushan. This holy remnant, thus seeking to restore the worship of the true God in Jerusalem, and to recreate the political life of Judah, were encouraged by God's messengers Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Of the three great restoration prophets, Zechariah is far and away the greatest. Zechariah spoke much about Israel, about the end of time, and about the conversion of the people of the Lord. The last prophet, of course, is Malachi. He delivered his message from about 450 BC to about 425 BC.
The four hundred year period between the Old Testament and the New Testament marks the rise of the Hellenistic Empire, God used Alexander the Great to spread throughout the civilized world one culture and one language which made possible the preaching of Christ to all men everywhere.
In that inter-biblical period also arose the might of the Roman Empire. When Augustus Caesar was the Roman emperor, and when Rome had the entire world in her hand, the great prophecy of Isaiah, and the great prophecy of Micah, and the great prophecy of Nathan to David, and the great prophecy of Jacob to his son Judah, and the great promise of God Almighty to Eve in the Garden of Eden, came to pass. In the seed of the woman and through the seed of Abraham all the families of the earth are to be blessed -- and our Savior is thus born into the world. "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption" has led us to the birth of Him who has come to redeem the human race from their fallen estate.
In His ministry, Jesus early began to teach His disciples that He would suffer and die. When He was transfigured, there appeared Moses and Elijah talking to Him about His death which He should accomplish in Jerusalem. When He was anointed by Mary of Bethany, He said it was for His burial. When the Greeks came to see Him from afar He said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself" (John 12:32). At the last supper He said, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood". Before He went to the cross, He gave Himself in Gethsemane in travail of soul for our redemption (Is. 53:11). And when He bowed His head and died He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30).
When we preach the blood, when we preach the sacrificial death of Christ, we are preaching the meaning of His coming into the world. The sacrifice of Christ consummated the great redemptive plan and purpose of God in the earth. This is "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption".
After the resurrection of our Lord, after the giving of the Great Commission to the apostle, and after the ascension of our Savior into Heaven, the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit upon His Church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Thereafter, the disciples of Jesus and the preachers of the redemptive message of Christ began to make known throughout the earth the Good News of our hope and salvation.
The epistles of Paul are divided into four distinct groups:
The first group he wrote on his second missionary journey from Athens and Corinth. They are First and Second Thessalonians. The second group of letters were born in his third missionary journey. While he was is Ephesus, he wrote First Corinthians. In Macedonia, somewhere between Ephesus and Corinth, he wrote Second Corinthians.
Then, either in Antioch or on his way to Antioch, he wrote Galatians and Romans. First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, therefore, center around the city of Ephesus.
The third group of epistles Paul wrote from the prison in Rome, during his first Roman imprisonment. They are Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians.
The fourth and last group of his epistles, which were written after his first Roman imprisonment, were First Timothy, Titus, and Second Timothy, called the pastoral epistles.
In all Paul's letters there is the constant theme of redemptive love. It is a part of "The Scarlet Thread of Redemption".
VII. The Apocalypse and the Consummation of the Age
We come now to the conclusion of the Bible.
On the Isle of Patmos, a rocky little point in the sea several miles southwest from Ephesus, John is exiled to die of exposure and starvation. But even there does the Lord appear to John in an incomparable and glorious vision. The vision is called the Revelation, that is, the unveiling. The Apocalypse, the uncovering of Jesus Christ in His Glory, in His majesty, and in His kingdom, is the reward that God gave to Jesus for saving us from our sins.
After the vision of the exalted and glorified Christ in Revelation chapter one and after the prophetic words concerning the church age in chapters two and three, we have the rapture of John through an open door into heaven. While John, translated in the Spirit, is with the Savior in heaven, there is poured out upon the earth the judgments of Almighty God called The Great Tribulation. They are depicted in the opening of the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls. In those dark days John sees a vision in Revelation chapter seven, concerning the blood washed, blood-bought, redeemed of the Lord in glory. Announcement is made to him through one of the elders that these are they who have come out of The Great Tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is " The Scarlet Thread of Redemption" that began with the blood of covering in the Garden of Eden and finds its ultimate and final consummation in the blood-washed throng before the throne of God in glory.
After the seven seals and their judgments, the seven trumpets and their judgments, and the seven bowls and their judgments, we come to the final great Judgment Day of Almighty God. The antichrist who professes to be the leader of the nations of the world, is gathering the armies of the entire world together. They are converging from the north in Russia, from the east in China, from the south in Africa, and from the west in Europe and the islands of the sea. They are converging for that great Day of the Lord. That is the Battle of Armageddon, the last great war the whole world is going to fight. At Megiddo, the armies of the earth by millions and millions will converge to face that rendezvous with God. In the midst of unimaginable holocaust, Christ intervenes in human history. He comes with His saints. He delivers His people, shut up in the holy city, and takes Satan and binds him for a thousand years in the bottomless pit.
After the binding of Satan for a thousand years, which is called the glorious Millennium, Satan is released and thereafter goes out once again to lead men into rebellion against God. This is the final conflict which ends forever man's refusal to accept the will of God for their lives. At the end of time in the final resurrection of the wicked dead and the Great White Throne Judgment, the books are opened, and those whose names are not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life are cast out and rewarded according to their deeds. Into the abyss of hell are flung Satan and his way of life, plus death and the grave -- all are hurled into the fiery flames where the Beast and the False Prophet have already been for a thousand years.
After the purging of the earth of Satan and his minions, and after the judgment upon those who reject Christ and His grace, and after cleansing the earth of the heartache and tears of sickness, sin, death, and the grave, will come the renovation of this earth and this heaven. It is a new creation with a new heaven and a new earth, remade according to the fullness of the glory and wonder of God. In it is the new and holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, and in it is the presence of the dwelling place of God Himself. Tears, death, sorrow, pain and crying are all passed away. There are no graves on the hillsides of glory and no funeral wreaths on the doors of those mansions in the sky.
The Book closes with the incomparable message of the hope, salvation, and redemption we have in the personal coming and presence of the Lord Christ Himself.
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