In the fall of 1997, I participated in the Promise Keepers Day of Prayer held in Washington DC. Over a million men, from across the country stood in the gap for our nation, our families, and our churches. That day was filled with powerful experiences, but one in particular stands out in my mind. A buddy and I were coming back from the Lincoln Monument. We were both pretty sedated by all the real life history we had just witnessed up close. All of a sudden, from behind us, we hear this piercing blast. My instant reflex was to duck and run! As I turned around, I saw a fellow holding this strange looking curly horn. It was a shofar. I had never heard anything like it; the sound went through me like a hot knife through butter. It felt like something awakened within me when I heard the blast and at the same time, something was being shaken. Two years later, I received my own shofar and began to learn more about its spiritual significance and symbolism. There is no other natural instrument more suited to quicken the soul like the shofar. And no other instrument represents the voice of God like the shofar.
The shofar is made of the horn of a ram, antelope, gazelle, or goat. It?s commonly used in Jewish celebration to represent God?s presents and power among His people, Israel. When God led Israel out of Egypt, through Moses, He sought to commune with them on Mount Sinai. The mountain began to smoke and rumble and the sound of a rams horn was heard (Exodus 16:19) this is the first place in the bible the shofar is mentioned.
I think what fascinates me the most about this boned instrument is the metamorphous required to make it. First, an animal has to die. Then its horns have to be boiled in order to remove all the cartilage on the inside. After that, the tip is cut off and a hole is formed for air to pass through. Now, this horn that once set on top of an animal?s head, supplied by its blood, can only come alive through the air supply of another creature; man. What a picture of transformation. Though the horn is dead, yet it is made alive through the breath of a person. This is a powerful illustration of the Christian Life.
Paul writes to the church in Colosse: ?When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made youalive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.? Colossians 2:13-14 NIV
Like us today, the people of Colosse needed to be reminded of the new life they had been given in Christ. Just like us, they were accustomed to the ways of the flesh and the principles of the day; therefore, gaining mastery over the mind in the area of this new life in Christ would be crucial. In the King James Version, the word quickened is use to describe being made alive. I like that word because it brings with it such a picture of an awakening; one moment we were lifeless, and the next, we?re alive!
What?s even more remarkable and noteworthy is the area of our being Paul speaks of; he?s not talking about the flesh, bones, and body of man being dead; no, he talking about the spirit. This is why he elaborates to such degree about staying focused on what has taken place.
Man is a spirit (Genesis 1:26), created in the likeness of God. When man sinned in the garden, he died spiritually! At that point, he became ruled by his flesh. God established a temporary way for man to fellowship with Him through a blood covenant. He made this covenant with Abraham and gave him the mark of circumcision, giving evidence of the binding oath. Circumcision became the official custom God?s people, Israel. Circumcision of the flesh, however, was only the foreshadowing of what was to come because it could not quicken the heart of man.
When Christ came, he brought with Him spiritual circumcision, circumcision of the heart. He made it possible for all to live. Through His blood, poured out on Calvary, He satisfied the written code that sentence man to death, because of sin. Romans 5 presents a beautiful picture of how death reigned through the first man, Adam and yet how life now reins through the man, Jesus Christ.
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned? 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
The last part of verse 14 says, ?Adam was a pattern of the one to come?. Before Adam sinned, He communed with God as a living spirit. When He sinned, he brought spiritual death upon all who would come after him. No one born of his loins would ever be able to restore the fellowship between God and man because no one had the spiritual capabilities to do so; until Christ came. Christ did not come from Adam?s loins; he came by virtue of the Holy Spirit through the woman.
The gospel of Luke gives this account: 26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34″How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God.
Here we see that Christ was conceived supernaturally. Although He didn?t come from Adam, He had to come through Eve in order to reconcile man back to God. Throughout His ministry, Christ was referred to as the son of man; and indeed He was, because He came in flesh through the woman. This was the only way He could legally stand in the gap for man; He had to become one and yet remain like God in spirit.
Wow! When that soaks in, it?s overwhelming to think about. In Christ, all the fullness of God resided perfectly and yet He purposefully gave His whole Life so that this fullness could become ours. Colossians 2:9-10 says,? 9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
This is what it was all about for Christ! He came to bring the fullness of God back to man. Where sin and death kept us away from God, He brought Life. To those who would receive, He gives the gift of Life. Where the Law of Moses once stood against us, Jesus has satisfied its demands on Calvary with His precious, innocent blood.
Through Christ, we have been quickened! Sin is no longer our master. Now, we can put to death the deeds and desires of the old sinful nature, because we are alive, spiritually. The Word of God presents us with the characteristics becoming of the redeemed and the Holy Spirit is ever present to comfort. But at the end of the day, each one has to make the decision to clothe themselves in the ways of Christ, because they honor what he gave; His Life.
Colossians 3:9-10 says, ?9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator?. This is where the daily battle lies. The flesh is so accustomed to the way of sin, it will not yield gracefully; it has to be beaten on a daily basis. 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says about his flesh, ?27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize?.
I like the translation of this verse in the Amplified Bible, which says, ?27But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]?. Interesting enough, the word buffet has two meanings; one means to discipline, the other means to indulge. That is the reality you and I deal with as we pursue the way of the One who has made us alive.
Like the shofar, we can never go back to the way we once functioned; even if that?s what we know. It?s time to learn the new way. We are now sustained by the breath of God and it requires our complete attention. It is our source of Life. So let us buffet our flesh, indulge our spirit, and live as those made alive with Christ!