Seeing Jesus as in a mirror

Abraham, your father, rejoiced in that he would see My Day! He even saw it and was very thankful to have that grace favored upon him. John 8:56 XLP

Jesus says that Abraham saw His Day and was thankful for the favor and grace of that, which is what the Greek literally means here. Abraham was favored by grace; hence he was very thankful with observable joy. None of the typical translations really capture what was obvious in Greek, because readable translations only need to be good enough. Too literal can make them unreadable.

When did Abraham see Jesus in His Day? Genesis 22 is the answer. God tells Abraham to take Isaac to the future site of where the temple will be in Jerusalem and sacrifice him there. Now, if you have read any of the Jesus Pictures in Spiritual Knowledge, or 24:27, and so on, you already know that this episode in the Scriptures addresses the question of how God intends to bless the nations. How does the promised seed life in Isaac go out to bless the nations? The answer is that a father must sacrifice his only son, who quietly and willingly lays down his life in obedience to his father. Isaac even carries his own wood up the hill.

Moreover, the Jesus Pictures have noted that the ram caught in the thicket is essentially wearing a crown of thorns. The ram is in his full power and glory of strength. The ram’s horns are caught in a thicket, an entanglement of brush, which alludes back to the ground producing thorns and thistles in Genesis 3. God provided the substitute. God literally “saw to it,” which is what “provided” means in Hebrew. Thus, God provides Himself a lamb, which is so stated in Genesis 22 and can mean exactly what you are thinking: God provides Himself in the person of Jesus as the Lamb of God.

Genesis 22:3 says that on the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place afar off. In the story, it is literal. According to how we read the text (pro-graphe) by Galatians 3 and 4, it means that Abraham is seeing the future reality of God’s plan. The Spirit of Christ is within the prophets as Peter reminds us. Thus, all the Hebrew Scriptures are pointing to Jesus as rule number 1. No need to guess.

Yet this obvious reality is very beclouded today among Christians. It is as if we have been the objects of a sneak attack designed to allow anything except the seeing of Jesus “as He is” in the Hebrew Scriptures. Most of us understand that Genesis 22 points to Jesus in sort of a type and shadow reality, but I do not think we see how the Hebrew Scriptures came into existence out from Jesus showing Himself in some eternally true fashion through the very people who are designed to image and bear His likeness.

Capturing a glimpse of His eternal glory is inwardly transformative. This is Paul’s point at the end of 2 Corinthians 3. Yet, he is aware that the enemy fights to derail this seeing of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus, chapter 4 mentions how the “god of this world” blinds folks. Blinds us to what? The devil blinds people to the true nature of The Treasure within this jar of clay. It is carrying the nekrosis-death of Jesus in our body, which is His life manifested through the thorny flesh of people. Only Jesus knows how to be powerful through the thorns of the curse.

I think 2 Corinthians 3:18 came out from seeing Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures through many stories, but especially Genesis 22. Not only did Abraham see afar off in the sense of space and time, but he did see Jesus “as in a mirror.” I encourage you to read Genesis 22:10-13 in multiple translations. For a father to be in a state of mind to sacrifice the divine-given son of his old age, he must have overridden every self-preservation instinct possible. It is clear in earlier stories that we know how much he loved his sons, but obedience to God was more important.

So, in those few seconds that transpired between Genesis 22:10-13, Abraham’s hand was frozen before him, outstretched with the knife ready to execute his beloved son. Psychologically, you just do not instantly shift gears from overriding every self-preservation instinct in your mind. It takes a few moments to come out of the strange trance.

And so, we read in Genesis 22:13 that Abraham looked up and saw what?  Now this is where the unbelief of good people translating the Bible comes into play. Most popular translations ignore one of the Hebrew words in the text. The word is “behind.” To them, it clearly makes no sense how Abraham looked up and then saw the substitute ram behind him. Nor, are they thinking about Jesus as the reality of the Hebrew Bible stories. Nor are they connecting this knife suspended between heaven and earth with the sword of the angle suspended between heaven earth at the same place in 1 Chronicles 21:16, “And David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.” The language is even similar, which is evidence of narrative design. Yet, so many do not see.

The Hebrew Scriptures function in this manner of making links and connections through repeated phrases and pictures. (Thank you for making this better known.) For if we would simply just believe Peter or Jesus in Luke 24:26-27, we would be in a better situation. Seeing Jesus “as He is” always is the best scenario for life in dead places.

Not only would we link the stayed knife of Genesis 22 to the sword of 1 Chronicles 21:16, we would also start paying attention to any other story that elevates things between heaven and earth. Ezekiel 28 reminds us that Eden was a mountain place, which in the ancient mind are places overlapping heaven and earth. Noah’s ark was buoyantly suspended between heaven and earth covered in a ransom price (pitch). God torah-ed / showed Moses a tree at the bitter waters of Marah, a tree that changed bitter waters into sweet waters. Moses was the deliverer at a full rest in Exodus 17 with two men to either side set up on a hill; as long as he remained there at rest with hands of faith, Joshua-Jesus had the victory. Absalom was suspended between heaven and earth where he was pierced three times. Daniel was suspended between heaven and earth in that window when they finally caught him where they wanted him in order to kill him. Haman was suspended between heaven and earth on that tree, which is sadly paraphrased away as gallows. In fact, the tool of execution meant for Mordecai, actually ended up killing Haman.

That such realities of seeing Jesus in His victory – at rest on a tool of execution suspended between heaven and earth – are not widely seen or proclaimed today is to our shame. We might have 1 Corinthians 1:25 memorized, but the average Christians today does not personally know the reality of God’s weakness being the undoing of human strength. We are more interested in getting along with the world and resisting when it does not suit our patriotic pride, which was the downfall of Israel and Judah.

Abraham saw Jesus “as He is” simply by looking up and beholding as in a mirror the reflection off the knife in his outstretched hand. Yes, Abraham saw the ram caught in the thicket behind him reflected on the tool of execution suspended between heaven and earth. Abraham saw Jesus’s Day of reigning gloriously and rejoiced in such thankfulness that God had indeed given him back his son as if he were raised from the dead!

The ram was in its full glory of strength, and so was Jesus on the cross. Jesus was reigning in such magnificent glory that even the heavens dimmed in comparison. It is up to the average Christian to ferret out what was His glory. We can only do that by simply spending time with God and talking to Him about it. If our hearts truly turn to see Him, then the Spirit of God has amazing wonders to show you.

How to hear the Bible: Two beams, Four ends.

How I approached the Bible radically changed after my vision of the cross in 2011. I had been taught the common approach that is still widely declared in many areas, especially the United States. However, what the Holy Spirit kept showing me of the Crucified Living One from all corners of the Hebrew Scriptures did not fit. As a result, I really felt that leaders of the Christian world had been misinforming me. Beholding Jesus as crucified and ongoing living reality was hyper-literally the center of all!

After publishing The Jesus Pictures, I tried to trace it back. How long has this been a problem? There had to be echoes of the reality of beholding Christ “as He is,” which exposure clearly transforms inwardly. In the end, I discovered that the disconnect was manifesting during the time of the Apostles.

In Paul’s letters to various churches, he battled this tendency to slip away into the human default comfort zone. For instance, the letter to the Galatians addresses this issue of getting circumcised in addition to what Christ had already established at the cross. Likewise, Peter, John, and Jude were all concerned about lying prophets entering into the early church and spoiling the pure faith that Paul expresses as simply being focused solely into the Anointed One, Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). Whoever wrote the book of Hebrews also sternly warned other Christians not to drift away (Hebrews 2:1).

So, back to my vision of the cross – I know that was REAL. Looking back now over a decade, I didn’t make up the connections, alignments, templates, and trajectories. The opening with its directional flow is there! The trajectory is clearly one-way into death; and one-way out in life. And in between, in the burial, in that place of death, rest, cessation, and so on… something can be seen that flips the script on people’s lives. Even that reversal is evident all over the Hebrew Scriptures.

In my book, Spiritual Knowledge, I talk about this great tendency to disconnect from the Living Crucified One, because it makes no sense to the natural mind. It is easy to get going in the direction you think is right in life, only to find out spiritual reality is going perpendicular to every direction you turn your head. But unless you are staring this paradox of God being the slaughtered, yet risen and standing Christ, I can’t say you are seeing anything substantial at all. This paradox of the crucified life is the main course of the Bible as meditation literature.

Back around the year 400 AD/CE, John Cassian heard about a four-fold way of reading the Hebrew Scriptures. It was not common knowledge during the time the Roman Empire had seemingly become thoroughly Christian. In fact, as I read what Cassian wrote and understood about the four levels, the categories rang true to this new way I had been experiencing of seeing Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet, at the same time, how Cassian explained it seemed muddled.

Immediately, the Holy Spirit made clear that the four categories are really two related, yet distinct realms: “in Adam” or “in Christ” that overlap through the cross. The transition from one to the other is going with the Jesus’s trajectory of being on the cross. The cross is really a door out of Adam and into the kingdom life of Christ’s own ways. It is not a prayer said as “one and done,” but a continuing crucified life walk.

How one hears the Bible typically remains “in Adam”. Adopting Christianity as your religion does not change this. Getting a doctorate in religion, or being the head of religion doesn’t change this. It is easy to slip back in there – simply look at Peter in Galatians 2. The “first pope” slid back there. Even knowing in your heart of hearts that there is an “in Christ” way of hearing the Hebrew Scriptures doesn’t make you hear “in Christ”.

What I saw in my vision is what a person is supposed to hear in the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, the Holy Spirit has reiterated this countless times, and the books I’ve produced since 2011 are evidence. There are clear patterns of the simplest of design through which we can learn His Crucified Life – the heart giving how He operates as Who He is. It is all right there in the familiar Bible stories, yet hidden in plain sight from religious Christians and Jews filled with learning from other foci.

I know that as I briefly explain the four-fold ends as two distinct beams of “in Christ” or “in Adam”, that it will be received with misunderstanding. But I truly believe that I am obeying the reality of the Great Commission here: “having gone the way, make learners” of Jesus. Toss the word “disciples”; it has too much baggage. Be a learner of Jesus.

Learn His trajectory that is pictured in baptism. He is the Lone, Dying Seed (John 12:24). Learn this Life of Love shared amongst the Father, the Son, and in us by the Holy Spirit (1 John 1:3). Jesus is with us to effect even unto the end of our present times.

Here is a barometer to help you determine whether you will hear what I am saying.

And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. Revelation 5:6

What stands out? What is the picture of eternal governance? What does this “standing, as slaughtered” picture mean to you? Unless, you have heard Revelation 5:6 in such a new way to see it as the pinnacle of understanding that book, or even kingdom living in general, you might as well go back to grazing in your favorite religious field and forget this webpage. Knowing what I am about to write is dangerous to the human tendency to institutionalize what should always be vitally and spontaneously living.

“In Adam” hears the Bible as a historical or mythical story. To “in Adam”, the Bible is a library of literature genres, either explaining quite literally how God made the world in six, literal 24-hour days, or how it is a creation establishing universal functions that is in dialogue with other cultures of the ancient near east. Either way, as one thoughtfully ponders the Scriptures, they learn wise ways for living life on earth. You could say that the story has a moral to it, and by adopting these wisdom virtues, we stay in God’s good graces. Other traditions might say that the Bible is God’s handbook to life on earth. Either way the claim is to become more like, or be the image Christ in the world. This will either manifest through reaching the lost, or providing examples of social justice, or even being accepting of people expressing whatever popular personal identity society stamps on them.

The first two-ended beam hears a story from history with a moral to it. The specific terms are historical and tropological. Tropological simply means “how you turn to face situations”. It really is the moral to the story that you heard. What Jesus said and did in His earthly ministry is an appealing thing to imitate “in Adam”. And what 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 says to controvert that is puzzled over. Why?

Hearing the Hebrew Scriptures as story with a moral requires no spiritual input. The Holy Spirit is optional. Any random atheist off the street could read the Bible and see that there are morals to follow. Why do you think they are primarily atheists? It is certainly not because of lack of archeological evidence or lack of manuscript proof. Christianity has all this in abundance. Rather, it is a heart issue that cannot tolerate the logical outcome: the perceived limiting morals, especially in respect to sexuality.

The “in Christ” side of the equation follows a similar line, but is perpendicular to our natural view, meaning “always just out of sight, wherever we tend to look”. I know it is trite, but one easy way to remember the parallel is: “History as His-story” followed by “being caught up in His Story’s Trajectory”. The Apostle Paul addresses this in 2 Corinthians 3-4. One can read the Bible and only see Moses with a glowing face. But when ones’ heart turns to see the Lord, then the real transforming glory can be seen. Also in Galatians 3, after just declaring how he is dead with Christ on the cross, Paul reminds them of the source for this: the beforehand writings of the Scriptures that portray and depict Christ crucified in a perfect and ongoing way. The Spirit flows that way. Hear the Scriptures that way.

Another way to think about the “in Christ” way of hearing is how the Hebrews writer speaks of having come to a heavenly city and a great assembly. Sadly, the typical translation loses what everyone in the ancient near east understood about all-encompassing plaza (pan-agora) in verses 22 – 23 of chapter 12. Fortunately, you can still imagine it a little if you have ever been to a large plaza or open square of an older city. There are still plenty in Europe. These areas served as the daily marketplace where one would find all their needs met for life in their city. People hung out there, shopped there, got news there, and so on. The Greek term for this is agora.

When John Cassian reported what he discovered about understanding the Bible, the level typically hidden from sight involves shopping at the “other marketplace”. The Greek word for other is allos. In Luke 24, when Jesus explained the Scriptures, He set forth the reality of this “allos agora”.

What is found there, strangely matches that “slain, yet standing” picture we saw from Revelation 5:6. In Luke 24, Jesus uses the words “suffering and glory” to describe these two legs of the trajectory. In reading Philippians 2:5-11, you might recognize the same trajectory that is supposed to be our only regulating mindset. If the word allegory, (allos + agora), has too much baggage for you, switch to “other market”.

As Jesus said in Luke 24, what you see there is centered on His suffering and glory, which is not some random phrase to describe our modern idea of “types and shadows”, but expressive of a dying-living trajectory impregnated into the warp and woof of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is as if some Ancient Sower aforetime has seeded the field of history before we encounter it. So, it is.

Seeds are living, yet must die first. If you are united with the seed, the composition of its matrix sprouts up into a risen reality. This is why there is the fourth level, and why it is called anagocial. The meaning of anagogocial is simply this: “up in a completing sense” coupled with the idea of “being led or brought.” Every time you are exposed to the reality of Christ crucified as the Source for the Hebrew Scriptures, there is the very real possibility of enjoying your present union with the same Christ! This is why we are to set our hearts above where you have been raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1).

This is the reality of the New Covenant described in Jeremiah 31:31-34. You can learn His Torah-Instruction yourself from the heart. It is His anointing that directly teaches (1 John 2:27). There really is no need for me to teach you when you are properly aligned as a branch and plugged into Christ, the Living Sap. It is simple (2 Corinthians 11:3). He is the Source! Hear Him! Go and make learners of Him.