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The Magnificence of the Cross

Introduction

Read: 1 Chronicles 29:21-22; 1 Kings 8:62-63; 2 Chronicles 4:1; 7:1, 4-5, 9; Ephesians 1:6-8; 3:17-19; 5:27.

I know that much of what I write is dismissed out-of-hand and that it goes unread because of the perceived negative nature of the content. There is another side of this coin and it is magnificently positive. Our salvation is a grand theme, and rightly so, but without the negative aspect of a changed life, dying to the flesh, the repentance from sin, and the travail and pain of a New Birth, our Salvation is at best an illusion. Admittedly, I have focused on the “alarming” facet of deception in regards to our being qualified for this gift. Discernment and deception will continue to be a primary focus in the future, but only because of the magnificence of The Cross. It is only because The Cross is paramount in the Divine plan that Satan is so diluting and trivializing its importance. It is only because of the magnificence of The Cross that the matter of discernment and deception must become crystal clear and that we remain vigilant to our readiness to be tricked.

The Cross is the subject I am dealing with at this present time. When we use the word “magnificence” the Cross stands at the center of the whole list of Divine Magnificence. On the one side we have the eternal, magnificent plan of God in association with His Son Jesus, to create, empower, and redeem a chosen race. On the other side we have power and enablement. The resurrection of Jesus was, and is, magnificent. It stands as the authoritative stamp of God on His truth and ability to perform all that He promised. This is the horizontal axis of The Cross: the eternal past linked to the eternal future, through the Son, for His Bride, the Church. And, at the vertical axis stands that magnificent marker that eternally connects the redeemed of this world to Heaven. It represents the doing of the impossible; the transforming of corruption into perfection; the metamorphosis of one species into another.

I neither have the time or ability to express the magnificence of God’s Glory exhibited through His Plan, His Son Jesus, The Cross, the Church, or His Word. There is not enough time or space, or knowledge in the universe, to tackle that subject, but bear with me as we look at one aspect of that magnificence.

The Magnificence of a Single Lamb

What I want you to see is the magnificence of what was accomplished, for us, on the Cross: the immensity of the Sacrifice, and the offensiveness of the Offering.

We can’t get away from what happened on that hill, it was gross, it was vulgar, it was obscene, it was foul, and it was our fault. The King of Creation was stripped of all His dignity by crude humanity and He spilled His life out, in degrees, while we watched and mocked His powerlessness, and were offended that we knew Him. How are we to understand this? By what picture can we capture the significance of that Sacrifice?

The Old Testament is not just history, it is the precise picture we need to begin to understand what Christ accomplished on our behalf.

God’s dealing with Solomon, in such a lavish way, is a picture of Christ in His Glory as King. God had in mind “one greater than Solomon” when He was trying to interpret to men by using Solomon as an illustration. In the record of Solomon’s reign we find also the idea of the magnificence and greatness of The Cross. The greatness of the altar in the Temple of Solomon points to the Cross. This altar accomplished two things: it exalted the king, and it consecrated the newly completed House of God. These two things point to the exaltation of Christ to the Right Hand of God and the consecration of the Temple of Christ, which is the Church. If we are not careful we will miss something. Did you catch the immensity of the sacrifices? This points to the greatness of Christ. I don’t want to minimize the greatness of Christ as the Son, or King, or to His possessions; all these ideas are illustrated in the life of Solomon. All of these are great in their particular detail, and should be studied, but let’s look at “the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world,” and its eternal greatness.

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How many cattle and sheep would it take to satisfy God’s appetite for justice? It is very impressive when we read of the sacrifice made by Solomon. When I was in Omaha Nebraska a few years ago I was amazed at the number of cattle I saw. As far as the eye could see, nothing but cattle, thousands upon thousands. When Solomon dedicated the Temple the area around the Temple must have been similar to the scene at Omaha. Our imagination can only wonder at the enormous quantity of animals killed during that seven day period, 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep and lambs. The blood from that number of animals could not be avoided, it must have been everywhere, like a river. Except for the implication of the spiritual value it must have been a terrible picture. All of this is indicative of the greatness of the Cross of the Lord Jesus. This should give us pause to think. If this was a reflection and type of the Cross, a type of Christ, an Offering for sin, and if a “type” is less than the actual thing it represents, then how great must the Offering of Christ have been? But, that is not all. Consider all the sacrifices that have gone before that, and after that, both of men and animals, even before Abel. Millions of sacrifices have not satisfied God’s appetite for justice. Not only that, but a million more would not have been enough. Nor could all those sacrifices clear our conscience of guilt. The immensity of the sacrifices was only to illustrate to us the greatness of the one sacrifice that did please God.

The Cross—-One Offering—-Forever

Visualize in your mind the immensity of Solomon’s offering. Think of the tremendous mountain of flesh and the grossness of continuously, day after day, for seven days, slaughtering 142,000 sheep, lambs, and oxen, then collect in your mind all the other generations! Then turn to Hebrews 9:26 and read “This is a symbol which points to the present time. It means that the offerings and animal sacrifices presented to God cannot make the worshiper’s heart perfect…” Without question, all those millions of sacrifices accomplished nothing. So, what is the ratio of animal sacrifices to the one sacrifice of Christ, 1,000,000 to 1, maybe, 1,000,000,000 to 1? Surely there is something we can offer? Then comes these marvelous passages, Heb 9:26 “…when all ages of time are nearing the end, he has appeared once and for all, to remove sin through the sacrifice of himself.” Heb 10:10 “Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all.” Nothing, there is nothing we can offer God that will please Him, nothing! Heb 10:12
“Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God.” Heb 10:14 “With one sacrifice, then, he has made perfect forever those who are purified from sin.” Just one offering and all those other things, and animals, and deeds, gone. Not only are they not necessary, but they are forbidden.

Why? Why just one, once for all? There must have been something in the “One” that was absent in all the others. What was it? Propitiation. God was satisfied! Perfection is what satisfies God. Those animals were perfect, weren’t they? Weren’t they perfect, without spot or blemish? They were selected from a special breed and pedigree, no inbreeding or mixture. But, it was only external, it only related to the flesh. They were all of this world. God is not satisfied with the things we produce, even for Him. But, Jesus, He was not just ceremonially clean or perfect, He was a perfect human being and He was God. Jesus was what God had intended when He first thought about man, and with that Offering God wanted nothing else, just one perfect human.

Rest

We have to look at all that has been done for our benefit, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. There is no more offerings to be made. No work to be accomplished. What happened on the Cross is basic to our salvation, our hope, our justification, our righteousness. It is now a matter of principle that we cease to look anywhere else for our perfection, in others, in ourselves, or in the business of our activities. Our only hope is to keep our eyes on the one thing that has satisfied God, the object of His great Love, Jesus.

The object of our rest is Jesus. In that Great Object we see the reason for God’s choosing Israel and separating it unto Himself. By means of God’s chosen people He reveals Himself to man. Through the sovereign will of God he called a people unto Himself. God’s revelation of Himself to the world was through His people. These people had a distinctiveness, they were a separated people. They were not to mix with the other nations. Not only were the animals, used for sacrifice, to be without spot or blemish, but so were His people. To fulfill God’s purpose they had to be separated, distinguished, isolated in their moral and spiritual life, a people possessed by God. It is a Divine principle of rest that God’s people remain separated. If you are going to be an instrument, a vessel of revelation and blessing, you must be consecrated, sanctified, and completely cut off and separated unto God. In this unique position, of rest and dependence, God provides and cares for all our needs. It is no different for the Church. We only kid ourselves, myself included, when we bolster our business dealings with the world and incorporate their programs and techniques into our lives and pretend to be blessed of God. Hence Satan’s persistent efforts to destroy Israel’s distinctiveness and manufacture a false rest. To be distinct today is to be a little weird. Israel was weird and they never liked that distinctiveness, they wanted to be like all the others. The history of the Old Testament is a constant reminder that being weird for God’s sake is a good place to be. But, like the Israelites, the Church has lost their distinctiveness and consequently has a delusive position of rest.

This notion of rest is a call to the elect. We find at the end of the Old Testament that Israel, as a nation, was in a very false position. We also find that God had commissioned His Prophets to not only foretell coming events but to call a people to faithfulness and trust in the One, the only One who could help them. What did Israel do with the Prophets who preached a return to the “rest” of God? They persecuted and killed them, and that is where we find Israel at the end of the Old Testament, that is where we find the Church at the end of the New Testament, and that is where we will find the Church at the end of the age, before Christ returns. The Church today is in this false position of rest and a call to return, to a position of real faith, is going unheeded by the general church population, and as it was in the past, so it is today; God is calling out the elect.

The Cross, and an understanding of the immensity of the sacrifice of Jesus, and what that means in regards to finding a solid foundation on which to rest, a living faith, is the end for us in a long struggle for peace.

God bless you all,

Steve B.

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