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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Jesus' Seventh Sign." To view all parts, click the link below.
The law of devotion in Leviticus 27, like the rest of the law, was applied in a limited manner under the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant manifestation of the law was largely limited to types and shadows, awaiting a greater manifestation under the New Covenant. Although Leviticus 27:28 shows that men might devote (cherem) a man to God, the law comes with little explanation. It is only when Jesus applies it to His disciples that we become aware of the spiritual law under the New Covenant.
Jesus’ prayer, as we will see shortly, shows that when the disciples were devoted to God, they became part of another world, no longer belonging to the earthly order but transferred to the heavenly order. So also Paul tells us, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
Two Kingdoms at War
Jesus continued praying in John 17:13-16,
13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have even given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jesus Christ, the Logos, spoke the word (logos) “in the world” in order to bring the heavenly order into the earth and thereby manifest His glory in this realm. Specifically, He deposited His logos into the hearts of the disciples, so that they, in turn, might deposit the same word into the hearts of others, spreading the heavenly order throughout the earth.
But the pall of death and darkness had passed from Adam into all men (Romans 5:12). From the perspective of those dwelling in such darkness, light is the great enemy to feared and hated above all else. So “the world has hated them” since the light first shined in the earth. John tells us that the light can never be overpowered or extinguished by the darkness (John 1:5).
Darkness fears the light as men fear an army greater than themselves. The children of darkness try, nonetheless, to maintain their dark status and lash out in hatred against the children of light. The sovereign act of God in shining light into the world has created a great war between two kingdoms. Light has declared war on darkness, and darkness desperately tries to defend itself.
The conflict comes because God has no intention of removing the children of light from the darkness of this world. His intent, after all, has always been to change the world by manifesting the light of His glory in the world, to redeem the earth, and to restore it to the paradise that it was created to be at the beginning. So God is not snatching a few out of this world; He is invading the earth with the intent to take it over, to reclaim it as His own by right of creation.
He does not do this all at once, but incrementally. As devoted men, the disciples belonged to God. So Jesus prayed in a lawful manner “to keep them from the evil one,” that is, to keep the devoted ones from being reclaimed unlawfully by the evil one. Leviticus 27:28, 29 makes it clear that anyone devoted to God may not be reclaimed or “ransomed” (NASB) back under the authority of anyone on earth. Anyone attempting to do so would be classed as an “evil one.”
Darkness does not recognize God’s ownership that was established in Genesis 1:1, for it has usurped power and treats the earth as its own domain. Darkness does not recognize the sovereignty of God but treats their own authority as if it were sovereignty. Adam’s sin gave authority to that which was “evil,” but God never relinquished His ultimate claim by right of creation. The law never sets forth men’s unlimited power, not even over those who have been enslaved on account of their sin. Slavery ends with the Jubilee, and there is no sin-debt so great that the Jubilee is powerless to cancel it.
Hence, darkness and slavery was given authority over men through Adam’s sin, as illustrated in Matthew 18:24, 25, but that authority was limited. God has been sending His light into the world to redeem a few at a time. The Great White Throne judgment will be the moment when He reclaims all things and summons the living and the dead to appear before His throne. That is the moment when all of humanity is devoted to God. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will profess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10, 11).
At that point, God will use His overcoming agents to train these new believers in the ways of righteousness (Isaiah 26:9). The few that He had trained earlier will train the many in that final Age of judgment, according to the promise of God to Abraham. In fact, ironically, the children of darkness, who hated and persecuted the children of light, are being used to train God’s devoted ones in the art of love, patience, and faith.
We see this in the example of Joseph, David, and all of the prophets in Scripture, for hardship and persecution was the fire that forged them into useful vessels, filled them with the logos, and imprinted the name of their heavenly Father in their foreheads.
Unity in Christ
Jesus continued His prayer in John 17:19, saying,
19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
To be “sanctified” means to be set apart for divine service. Sanctification distinguishes such people from the ordinary or common world. When Jesus said, “I sanctify Myself,” He was not asserting some sort of self-consecration, but was referring to His return to the Father, by which He was to be set apart for divine service as the faithful High Priest of Melchizedek.
By ascending to heaven, He was able to send the Holy Spirit to sanctify the disciples, setting them apart, renaming them apostles, who were to be sent out as ambassadors of the Kingdom. Their consecration to the priesthood would come through Pentecost, whereby the Spirit of Truth would sanctify them “in truth,” that is, in the logos that Jesus had spoken to their hearts.
Jesus prayed further in John 17:20, 21,
20 I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
In other words, all who believe “their word” in future generations were to join this body of sanctified ones, each in their own time, “that they may all be one.”
In Moses’ tabernacle, ordinary people had access to the outer court. These represented the body of believers who came to sacrifice, acknowledging Christ by faith. This outer court typified the feast of Passover and was thus the first step in approaching God.
To approach God further, one had to be a priest, for only priests were allowed to enter the sanctuary itself. This “holy place” typified the feast of Pentecost, which was a closer walk with God, separated only by a single veil. This teaches us that one must be filled with the Holy Spirit to be a priest of God. The old Protestant view of “the priesthood of the believer” thus needs some modification. Those who have faith in the blood of the Lamb are still limited to the outer court until they are filled with the Spirit.
Priesthood is another step in one’s approach toward God’s full presence. So also it is one thing to have faith in Christ through the experience of Passover; it is another thing to be filled with the Spirit through the experience of Pentecost. This is again illustrated in Israel’s journey, for they left Egypt at Passover but became sanctified as a holy nation at Mount Sinai at Pentecost.
Israel was led by the Spirit in the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night from the day that they left Egypt (Exodus 13:20-22), but they were not consecrated as “a kingdom of priests” until they came to Mount Horeb for Pentecost (Exodus 19:6). Hence, these feasts were given for different purposes. They were not the same, nor was their experience the same.
The Most Holy Place, then, typifies the feast of Tabernacles, by which feast we come fully into the presence of God as part of the body of the great High Priest. So we see that Passover makes people believers, Pentecost consecrates priests, and Tabernacles creates a unified body of the great High Priest.
The progression of the feasts portray a journey. Being justified by faith is the start of this journey. Being sanctified by the Spirit of Truth is, properly, the journey itself. The goal, the Promised Land, is to become one body with Joshua-Yeshua, in full unity and agreement with our great High Priest.
The Path to Unity
There are three levels of fulfillment insofar as timing is concerned. The personal level focuses upon each individual walk with God in one’s progressive experiences through the feasts. The second is the body of people known as the remnant, or the overcomers, who are the few called to bless the many. These are the inheritors of the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5, 6).
The third level is the largest body of people, all of creation, all who have ever lived. Any who did not bow to Christ during their life time will bow to Him at the Great White Throne. They will then profess (exomologeo, “acknowledge openly and joyfully”) Christ as believers (Philippians 3:11). Such a profession of faith will be their Passover experience (i.e., justification by faith).
They will also declare Him as “Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” Hence, when every tongue professes Jesus Christ as Lord, it indicates that they will also be filled with the Spirit. Such Spirit-filled believers will still require much training in righteousness, of course, in order that the logos might be instilled in their hearts. The Spirit of Truth will indeed write the law upon their hearts, changing their nature to conform to the image of Christ.
Some may think it strange that a Spirit-filled believer will be assigned to the “lake of fire” in that final Age. However, John said the Holy Spirit’s baptism of fire was designed to burn chaff (Matthew 3:11, 12). Every true Pentecostal knows about this work of the Holy Spirit. Being Spirit-filled does not mean that one is suddenly perfected; it means that the Holy Spirit is beginning the work of perfection. So also will it be in the lives of those in the “lake of fire.”
That age of divine judgment will end at the great Creation Jubilee, the appointed time when all sin-debt is cancelled, and every man returns to his lost inheritance. This is the great promise of God, when all of creation is unified in agreement, having one heart and one mind with “the only true God” (John 17:3) and Jesus Christ, who is “the only-begotten God” John 1:18).
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Jesus' Seventh Sign." To view all parts, click the link below.