God's Priorities (Ch. 6, pages 73-89)
On a recent visit, Gabriel had me write down seven things he referred to as "God's Priorities." Seven is God's perfect number! I have reviewed these truths, fed on them, and mulled over them many times because they have been made so alive and real to me, and are in agreement with and supported completely by the Word of God.
First Priority: The Blood of Jesus
Every message the angel brought has pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus. His blood is important, because the demands of justice have been satisfied, the wrath of God appeased, and the records of iniquity erased through the shedding of that blood.
Why would God's wrath have to be appeased? He had to find an object to strike because the sin of this world violated his perfect righteousness. The shedding of the blood of Jesus diverted the stroke of God's hand from us, and Jesus paid the demands of God's judgment for our sins.
When Jesus went into heaven, he sprinkled his blood over all of the things which were there. The book which contained all of the records of our iniquities, our failings, and our faults, plus our inability to perform, was sprinkled.
The book of the old covenant listed God's demands, but in the new book he puts his laws into our hearts. It is no longer "Thou shalt not," but "I want to!" This beautiful truth Gabriel brought dealt with the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus, not our struggle with daily problems.
Many believers know that the record of the things between them and God is straightened out, but they worry about the things between man and man. Gabriel told me that God has even erased these from this book.
In the first covenant, he said he would remember all sin and iniquity. In the second covenant he said he would remember them no more because they have been blotted out by the blood of Jesus. He tasted death for every man and woman to liberate them from the bondage and penalty of sin (Hebrews 2:9).
The blood of Jesus has been considered insignificant by many people. Some have even made the statement that the blood was of no more effect when spilled during the crucifixion than when it was flowing through his body in daily life; but God said that the blood of Jesus was so important that not one drop was wasted. It is the only blood that has ever been referred to as incorruptible. This was God's plan. In Hebrews 12:24, the writer states, "There it is, the blood that covered sin!" Forever throughout eternity, the blood has a place!
Second Priority: Fellowship and Communion with God
He wants us to be able to have rich and wonderful communion with him. He is accomplishing this through his Word and by his Spirit. God wants to fellowship with you! He wants you to enjoy an awareness of his presence every day!
God not only wants believers to come closer to him; he wants those who are far away from him to come, too. He said that if you would call to him from wherever you are, from the very farthest point in all creation, he would remove all the distance between you and him.
God WANTS you! He is not looking for reasons to disown you, but he is looking for reasons to help you and to bring you closer to himself. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
Third Priority: Jesus Is Alive
Jesus is alive! Death has been conquered! Even though we may experience death as far as this physical life is concerned, this isn't the real death. The death of the soul, the real death, has been conquered!
When Christ tasted the second death, he actually experienced the judgment of God upon sin. He didn't taste physical death for us, because we still have to die, but he wants us to know that we don't have to worry about the second death because he has already taken care of that for all who are putting their trust in him.
The angel reminded me of how complete God's plan is, and gave the reference of Acts 2:24 where he referred to Jesus saying it was impossible for death to hold him. Why was it impossible? Because it was already recorded in heaven that he came out of death and hell. Because it was in God's plan, it was impossible that hell could hold him. Satan was defeated!
The beautiful story of what Jesus did is told in Hebrews 2:9-15 (TLB): "but we do see Jesus - who for awhile was a little lower than the angels - crowned now by God with glory and honor because he suffered death for us. Yes, because of God's great kindness, Jesus tasted death for everyone in all the world. And it was right and proper that God, who made everything for his own glory, should allow Jesus to suffer, for in doing this he was bringing vast multitudes of God's people to heaven; for his suffering made Jesus a perfect Leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation. We who have been made holy by Jesus, now have the same Father he has. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers. For he says in the book of Psalms, 'I will talk to my brothers about God my Father, and together we will sing his praises.' At another time he said, 'I will put my trust in God along with my brothers.' And at still another time, 'See, here am I and the children God gave me.' Since we, God's children, are human beings - made of flesh and blood - he became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could he die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could he deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread."
When the people who had put Jesus to death saw him living in those who belonged to him, instead of having only one Jesus to contend with, they had many! In fact, all of those who served him were reflecting his power and his life! The best way to let people know that he is alive today is to let them see you reflecting his life as he lives in you!
Fourth Priority: The Promise of the Holy Spirit
God plans ahead! He didn't suddenly stumble upon the idea of giving power to his children! This great promise was planned before the earth was created, and we were informed of it in his prophecy, the Bible, long before the day of Pentecost arrived. It was a priority part of his total plan for the redemption of his people.
He wanted to make each and every one of us conformed to the image of his Son, so that as we view him (God), we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory! In order to do what Jesus did on earth, we must have the same power he had! In order to be like Jesus, we must have God's Holy Spirit!
There are many people today who rule this out, and there are some who say, "If it is true that an angel gave this message to you, he wouldn't be talking about the Holy Spirit because that is a controversial subject, and an angel would certainly stay on neutral ground." Gabriel didn't even comment as to whether or not it was controversial. He just stated a fact that this was high priority with God today!
Fifth Priority: Go Tell The World
The fifth priority was enlarged upon one day when Gabriel was talking with me in my church office. He paced back and forth as he talked. It was the first time I had ever seen a severe look on his face. He said God was concerned that people would hear his message and be roused to the truth, and then go back to sleep. One of the top priorities of God is that we GO TELL THE WORLD! Jesus said, go ye into all the world and carry this Good News:
God says, "You can come to me now!" "The barriers are down!" "You have been reconciled by the death of my Son!"
This is the message of redemption we are to carry to all the world! He has given us his plan. He has filled us with his Holy Spirit. He says, "Go ye." Now he has sent forth special forces of angels to move men toward God! It is important to God that people hear and know that he is not letting any stone go unturned.
One day Gabriel said that these heavenly beings were on every hill, every tree, and even in the holes of the ground, searching out men and women who are trying to hide from God! They are out there doing what we cannot do! We are so limited, but they are not. God is saying by this, "I want them to know I care, and I want them to come to me."
There are many who have their eyes on sin instead of God - constantly reminding others of the terrible condition of the world and the blackness of sin. That is not on God's priority list at all. He wants men to know that there is a total escape from that horrible bondage of sin. People already know how evil sin is. When they are bound and entangled by it, they certainly don't want to hear it from others. God said that he did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to open the door of escape. He said his purpose is to make us "Son" conscious instead of "sin" conscious. He wants us to see Jesus lifted up so he can draw all men unto himself!
People have come to me who have had tremendous burdens on their heart and have felt the nudging, the drawing, the pulling of God's angels, as well as the Spirit of the Lord speaking to their heart. There was such a hunger for God that they have gone from church to church and instead of finding God, they have heard messages on how terrible things are. The wickedness of the world was pointed out to them, but they still left with an emptiness in their hearts and lives!
One man came into my office asking if there was help anywhere. He said, "This is the fifth church I have come to. I have to find God."
"You have come to the right spot here." I didn't even ask him what his sin was. I just said, "When you feel my hands on your head, I want you to say the name of Jesus just as loud as you can! He has been nudging you, he has been waiting for you to call." That man shouted one word, "JESUS!" and the Lord heard him and instantly life came into him!
Sixth Priority: Atonement of Jesus is Everlasting
People need to be reminded of this priority constantly. The work JESUS did for them IS AN EVERLASTING WORK! It isn't something that he did and then forgot about. It is something that is intended to help us, to carry us right through to heaven. It is the message of atonement, a message of new beginnings. Gabriel told me it was of high priority that people know and understand the sacrifice of Jesus, and that the blessings of atonement are a continuing thing. Every day that we live we can experience these blessings in our spirit, soul and body.
All of our needs are covered in the atonement. With this covering over us, God can see us and accept us. Without the atonement, Gabriel said, we could not be accepted. Because people are in bondage to fear, it is important to God that people know that before he made the earth, he planned that they would be covered by his atonement. This is why he said in Ephesians 1:4: "Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault - we who stand before him covered with his love" (TLB).
God talks about this in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth verse of Jude, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ..." The atonement covers, cleanses, and removes the guilt. We cannot please God or really serve him if we are constantly living in fear that God has some hidden sin to bring against us. He wants us to know that our lives are covered when our faith and our trust are in him!
The reason this is of such high priority with God is that people cannot really serve him without genuine assurance that their position in him is safe. Knowing this is REAL security!
God is letting people know that he will not let them go without a struggle, but he also wants us to know that there ARE two things which will pull us out from under the covering. One is rebellion and the other is idolatry. Outside of that rebellious spirit and idolatry, the things which happen in the normal course of life will not separate you from the love of God, or from the beautiful protection of this covering. You can live for him in relaxed happiness, knowing that he is on the job! When angels speak, they cannot speak for themselves, but they are echoing a message from God's heart that he wants you to know you are safe!
Seventh Priority: The Return of Jesus
God is telling us to prepare ourselves for that great day! For those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, it will be glory! For those whose names are not there, it will be doom forever. The choice is ours today, and that choice is simply to choose to serve Jesus or to follow Satan into his eternal damnation.
Look at the contrasting results of our choices:
"... suddenly two white-robed men (angels of God) were standing there among them, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!'" (Acts 1:10-11 TLB).
"And may the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love does toward you. This will result in your hearts being made strong, sinless and holy by God our Father, so that you may stand before him guiltless on that day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns with all those who belong to him" (I Thessalonians 3:12-13 TLB).
"And I saw a great white throne and the one who sat upon it, from whose face the earth and sky fled away, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, great and small, standing before God; and the Books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the Books, each according to the deed he had done. The oceans surrendered the bodies buried in them; and the earth and the underworld gave up the dead in them. Each was judged according to his deeds. And Death and Hell were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second Death - the Lake of Fire. And if anyone's name was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire" (Revelation 20:11-15 TLB).
"In a vision he took me to a towering mountain peek and from there I watched that wondrous city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of the skies from God. It was filled with the glory of God, and flashed and glowed like a precious gem, crystal clear like jasper" (Revelation 21:10-11 TLB).
"No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are worshiped in it everywhere. And the city has no need of sun or moon to light it, for the glory of God and of the Lamb illuminate it. Its light will light the nations of the earth, and the rulers of the world will come and bring their glory to it. Its gates never close; they stay open all day long - and there is no night! And the glory and honor of all the nations shall be brought into it. Nothing evil will be permitted in it - no one immoral or dishonest - but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Revelation 21:22-27 TLB).
For those who choose him, the return of Jesus is the priority God is looking forward to with such excitement that the angels of heaven are rejoicing with him about it.
When Gabriel had finished telling me this message of God's top priorities, he said that they are so much a part of God's plan that he had them all spelled out even before he made the world.
He directed me to the twenty-fifth chapter of Exodus, where God gave Moses plans for the tabernacle, a miniature model of his total plan. Then, to my amazement, he related every one of these priorities for us today, to the seven festivals God had given to Israel long ago (in Leviticus 23)!
I marveled at God's recorded plans in the Old Testament which direct us to his plans for this day in which we live.
1. Priority: The Blood of Jesus
Festival: The Passover of the Lord
This feast was a "type" of the death of Christ, his sacrifice, and the blood of Jesus that was so precious before God. It was written before God ever made the earth. The bloodline of God and his family is the blood of Jesus, the thread of God's redemption story throughout the entire Bible, his plan! The delivery of the children of Israel was made possible when blood was sprinkled on the lintel and the side panels for a covering so that the destroyer would pass over the homes and not kill the firstborn of each family. Our great Passover was provided when Jesus sprinkled his blood over the books in heaven to provide a covering for our sins so that we could be acceptable to God and be a part of his eternal family.
The first of God's priorities which Gabriel gave me was about the BLOOD OF JESUS, and the first on the list of the seven annual special days of the Lord was the PASSOVER OF THE LORD!
2. Priority: Fellowship and Communion with God
Festival: The Festival of Unleavened Bread
This festival was to be celebrated beginning the day following the Passover. When Jesus provided deliverance from sin by his blood, God immediately provided a covering for our sins; not a condoning of sin, but a provision so we could be accepted by him.
Leaven is a type of sin, and at the festival they were to eat unleavened bread, representing sin pardoned. Under the new covenant, leavened bread was used because God provided justification. Instead of SIN, FAULT and FAILURE, God sees, through the covering he provided, HOLINESS, BLAMELESSNESS and PERFECTION. Those who choose rebellion and idolatry voluntarily move out from under his covering. Those who choose obedience instead of rebellion voluntarily stay under his covering because they choose to love and serve God above self and above the desire to sin.
"For by that one offering he made forever perfect in the sight of God all those whom he is making holy. And the Holy Spirit testifies that this is so, for he has said, 'This is the agreement I will make with the people of Israel, though they broke their first agreement: I will write my laws into their minds so that they will always know my will, and I will put my laws in their hearts so that they will want to obey them.' And then he adds, 'I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds'" (Hebrews 10:14-17 TLB).
3. Priority: Jesus Is Alive!
Festival: The Festival of First Fruits
Gabriel said this festival represents the resurrection of Jesus and his life. Not only is he alive, but it is already written down in God's book that we who are his will follow after him in the great resurrection. It's in God's big heart!
4. Priority: The Promise of the Holy Spirit
Festival: The Festival of Pentecost
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is not something that was a little afterthought in God's mind. He had this all planned before he made the earth. The word "Pentecost" simply means fifty. It was fifty days after the Passover. When he told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem, it wasn't just a coincidence; it was God's plan unfolding, and exactly fifty days after the Passover, something new and powerful happened!
At the Feast of the Passover, they were as individual stalks of wheat before the Lord. When the disciples were all assembled together in one place in Jerusalem, they were individuals. There was no blend. It was not a church yet.
Concerning the feast of Pentecost, God was saying, "Take the grain, grind it into flour, and turn it into bread. Put some leaven in it because the church will never be without sin or evil in it." God has it covered, but on the underside of the covering where you live, sin often crops up.
He covers his church, even though sin (leaven) is present; by his Spirit and the power of the lifeblood of Jesus, he cleanses it! By this he was saying, "I want you to grind the wheat and turn it into flour and make some loaves of bread. Make a strong unit which is called my body of believers, instead of having individual, separate believers. My body is going to come together by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's going to be blended as one. It is not, as some people think, a perfect body; so put the leaven in because it has to represent the church as it is."
I'm not excusing sin; I'm just glad that God made provision for us in spite of it, because his plan was to take care of ALL things.
In God's great plan, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is available for all his children and is necessary to help us to be and do! God's Spirit must be in us, and it cannot be quenched; the flow of the Holy Spirit power must never be held back. "Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the (Holy) Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19 Amp). The baptism with the Holy Spirit endues us with power to be like Jesus! It is a vital part of God's plan. You cannot erase it! It's there! It is settled forever!
5. Priority: Go Tell The World
Festival: The Festival of Trumpets
After the day of Pentecost was the Festival of the Trumpets where the people met to herald the sound, and we too have the message to herald the Good News. Let's get out where people don't know Jesus, be the voice of the trumpet, and carry the Good News that Jesus saves! His work is done!
The news is good! You can come now! Christ has defeated the devil! The battle is over, and we can go out with the trumpets! That is what he meant when he said, "... ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
6. Priority: Atonement of Jesus is Everlasting
Festival: The Day of Atonement
The Festival of Atonement was a reminder that Israel's probation had expired and that their covering must be renewed. It was the time for the annual sacrifice for sin. It was a time when God reviewed all the charges against man each year and he stood hopeless and helpless before the all-seeing eye of God.
For this reason, man was given certain guidelines based on complete obedience so that he would earn a reprieve during this time of exposure. This annual offering for sin could never make people perfect, but would give them another year of probation (Leviticus 23:27 and Luke 1:8-12).
When we are born again and God's Holy Spirit gives us new life from heaven, our probation does not just expire, it is canceled; the covering is not just renewed, it is an everlasting covering through the sacrifice of Jesus.
What about those who sin, who remove themselves from under the covering of God's protection? Just as God provided a way under the old law, he has a way for them today - and that way is repentance and a return to fellowship since there is no other sacrifice, no other way!
"But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. (And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.)" (I John 1:9 TLB).
7. Priority: The Return of Jesus
Festival: The Festival of Tabernacles (Booths, Shelters or Ingathering)
The desire of God is that we live with him forever and forever. This festival was a totally joyous celebration. On the first day, the people were to build the shelters out of boughs of fruit trees laden with fruit, palm fronds, and the boughs of leafy trees, while rejoicing before the Lord their God. These were to be the shelters where God would dwell with them.
Long ago God said, "I want to take you where I am. I want to live with you by my Spirit, and then I want to take you to live with me forever." This wasn't something that happened or that was decided on by a committee of theologians. He told Moses to institute this feast, because "I want to tabernacle with you." You can't get away from the message of the return of Christ and God's taking us to live with him, because it is already established in heaven and it is going to unfold exactly the way God said it would!
We have the assurance that we are covered through God's grace and that he doesn't see our sin, our fault or failure, but sees us exactly like Jesus - holy, faultless and unreproveable (Colossians 1:22). We can rest in his finished work. Our confidence in the completeness of his perfect plan will get others ready for that great day when he returns to receive us unto himself.
This is the last of the seven festivals given to Moses and this priority will bring to completion God's great plan of redemption.
These festivals were so important to God that he had Israel rehearse them every year as a symbol of leaving this world for the seven years of Tribulation judgment. Hallelujah!
Next: He Tasted Death
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