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More than Three Days, More than One Tree

Okay, I apologize.  If you visited the site yesterday, the original entry, “More than Three Days,” could have taken that much time to read!  I’ll admit, it was probably three entries in one, so I’ll try to be more concise  as I rewrite this entry. 

I was torn between telling a great love story and revisiting the horrors of the Cross.  I had even contemplated a title “A Stake in The Skull” until by my wife discouraged me after my last and lightest entry about the joys of Saturday!

All this immerged after a Good Friday message by Dr. Russ Ritchell at the New Canaan Men’s Breakfast, where we experienced a powerful depiction of the crucifixion, and for me, a fresh and exciting revelation of just what the Father had been about for us all long, in fact since creation. 

I am a father and I know what I would do to save my child.  I was also led to the Father by my father (Thanks Dad), so that makes this love story even more precious to me.   When I reflect on God becoming flesh, doing away with death for me, himself bearing the horrific pain of the Roman Cross alone, I am simply overwhelmed by His love! 

This ancient journey toward the redemption of mankind has however, taken much longer than three days and began long before what Christians now call “Easter”:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Gen 1:27-281

Then came verses 3:4-5: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

I know, this Garden of Eden stuff may seem as little more than folklore to some, until one begins to visit the big picture. 

The Apostle John and then Peter pick up on the story early in the New Testament, almost as if placing bread crumbs along a winding path that could potentially be missed by many in our post modern if not pre-Christian, nation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.”  “ And the Word (Christ) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-2,14. 

Peter: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”  I Pet. 1:18-21

This love story might seem complex, foreshadowed for centuries by religious traditions, stories  and narratives, like that of Isaac, the firstborn son later to be offered by his father;  Abraham too, saved from the anguish for which he was fully prepared by a ram, a sacrifice hung on a bush, perhaps an immature tree

Yet, with mathematical accuracy the prophets foretold the story long before it happened, each meticulously acted out in such stories as the Roman soldiers who came that day to break the legs of the three crucified.  It seems they decided at the last moment to simply puncture the side of this one named Jesus, apparently he had already given up the ghost, but if he were not dead, he would surely bleed to death from this gaping spear driven wound…suffocation the normal passage once the legs were so brutally broken.  

The last thing they would have wanted from their decision was to fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah 13:6 and Isaiah 53:12, though I am sure they knew little of the scriptures.  However, that is exactly what they did, heightening the probability of spiritual Aha’s later as desperate men read the scriptures.  Was the sovereign God acting through these soldiers, protecting the sacrificial lamb, assuring the requirements of the law, no bone in the Passover offering could be broken?  Was God at Calvary tirelessly re-framing the scriptures, for those who would later study the Law with an open heart?

This long awaited Lamb of God, first “I.D.’ed” by John the Baptist, was for three years thoroughly inspected by the religious priesthood, as were all Passover lambs; later ushered into the city on a colt surrounded by the same Hosannas traditionally offered as the high priests annually prepared for the Passover or paraded their Kings into Jerusalem, yet this Lamb rode on the foal of a donkey, unlike any King before…just as Zechariah has prophesied!   

There in Jerusalem he would be flogged as a criminal, before being taken out side the city walls, like all “scapegoats” offered before under the law, then the final and most brutal act of death.  Can you get the picture?  This is just too much drama for mere coincidence.  Was God carefully assuring every detail of ancient prophecy, most now well over 400 years old?  

Yet by all observations, that day, even with Peter, He was no more than some deluded zealot, now deserted by his friends, fit only to be hung on another tree, the legal sentence for anyone cursed of God.  My sin, our sin, became His curse; soon nailed to a tree, He became our Savior. 

Was what appeared as blatant mockery on Maundy Thursday, actually sin and the serpent, nipping at the heels of the Son of God…the final manifestation of that post-creation promise: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15.

Yes, Calvary was the greatest of love stories, but as well, it would be the culmination of no idle threat made earlier in Eden, a stake in the skull of man’s archenemy, satan. Ironically the final blow to sin was even delivered on a Mt. named Golgotha…the place of the skull.

Even the serpent lifted up on a pole (a tree) in Moses’ day, was just another bread crumb in the Biblical journey prefacing a time when Eden’s serpent and our sins would be once and for all nailed to a tree in the person of Christ.  This would be the last stake in the ground of our redemption, piecing forever the power of sin.  Calvary was a death cry to sin, a heart cry for all mankind.

Is Eden’s garden story a myth, is Christianity a farce…what’s the probability?  Hugh Ross, Ph.D.2 says that based on prophecies fulfilled, one in 102000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)!

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.   And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” Gen. 3:8-9 

Trees were always a part of this love story and still today God calls from a tree, the pulp in the pages of His Word:  Adam, John, Jill, Sue…Where are you?

1 All scriptures KJV

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