New Testament baptism or immersion is an allusion to the Exodus crossing of the Red (or Reed) Sea. But it is so in a much more fiducially articulated sense than usually interpreted. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ placed Christianity beyond the pale of Judaism. Through this demonstration of Covenant justice/righteousness God shattered the old paradigm of the Law of Moses, and all things became new. Even as the older generation that had refused to enter the promised land perished in the wilderness over a 40 year span, likewise those Jews who remained stubborn to Jesus Christ perished during the 40 years between his Resurrection and the divine wrathful conclusion of the Old Covenant when its curses were poured out wholesale on Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
The Book of Revelation unpacks the fuller meaning of this concluding period of Old Covenant history. God pours out his indignation upon this earthly Jerusalem that had persecuted the prophets, crucified their Messiah and Lord, and continued to persecute the people of the Prince–Christians. God’s flaming indignation beat them to the punch, destroying them instead before they were able to totally destroy His faithful people (1 Th. 2:14-16, 2 Th. 1-2).
Thus Christianity universalized all that was truly essential in Judaism while stripping off the mere culturally relative form and dispelling the shadows. The Old Testament cannot ever again bind the consciences of those who believe the New Testament and are immersed into the New Creation in Christ: he, the Explanation of God, is our law. [7/28/95]
At the Cross, Jesus’ entire Jewish flesh was stripped off him. That man was circumcised! He was circumcised with a circumcision “not made with hands.” He was circumcised enough for the whole human race! Such a “circumcision” flaunted the racism that Judaistic circumcision had become by Jesus’ time. There on the Cross, the Son of God was circumcised by his own Father in heaven, at the unknowing hands of the wicked, under the inspiration of Satan, yet under the transvaluing supervision of the Almighty. (Phil. 3, Heb. 8-10, Eph. 2, Col. 2:8-3:17, Gal., Rom 6-8) [08/04/95]
The Crucifixion of Jesus by the Judaeans of his generation was a heinous crime in God’s eyes inasmuch as Jesus was God’s Chosen and Anointed Son and Israel’s King…yet it was overwhelmingly reversed by God’s display of heaven’s justice in raising him from the dead. By reversing the consequences of their crime, God in effect reversed the crime, justifying Him in giving Jesus all the blessings of the Old Covenant–and more!–but also by transferring or imputing them to anyone else who trusted him, and that gratuitously!
However, what remained unforgivable was their continued stubbornness and distrust of Jesus, the Christened of God, now so evidently and graciously confirmed as Israel’s true King. Their rejection of their resurrected Messiah is supremely the “Transgression” (Dan. 9:24, Mt. 23:29-38) that won for their viciousness “the abomination of desolation”–the total destruction of their temple and city in 70 A.D. For mercy had been proclaimed in the Gospel for some forty years following the “anointing of the Holy One,” his suffering, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. But that wicked generation was stubborn, “stiff-necked,” and callous as to the voice of God in His Son and the wideness of His mercy, especially in view of their great Sin of executing their own King.
What they meant for evil, however, God meant for good, if only they would trust Him and His Son as His authorized representative. Yet that generation refused to enter into the “promised land” through the Father’s appointed portal, but like thieves and robbers (Jn 10), sought another way to establish their own “righteousness” (Rom 9:14-10:21) and even prevent others from entering (Mt. 23:13-15, Lk. 11:52) the Kingdom of the heavens, by taking away the key of knowledge, which is trust in Christ via credible testimony (Jn 5:39-40, 17:3), and forbidding the proclamation of Christ lest the nations may be saved (1 Thess. 2:14-16), all because of envy (Mt. 27:18, Mk. 15:10) and misplaced zeal (Rom. 9:2), that is, jealousy (Gal. 4:17) that would lockout anyone who was not jealous of them, their vaunted “knowledge” (which puffed them up, 1 Cor. 8:1-3) and status. Yet God even used their jealousy to try to win them back (Rom 10:19-11:15), thus locking up everyone together in stubbornness that He might be merciful to all (Rom. 11:28-32). [10/22/95]
Yet throughout the history of the early church, it was the jealousy of the Judaeans/Jews that fired persecution and affliction of those who followed Jesus as the Messiah/Christ (Acts 5:17-19, [7:9], 13:45, 17:5+, 21:20, 22:3, Gal. 1:13, Phil. 3:6). This is why God forcibly and decisively, even with the proofs of signs, wonders, dreams, visions, and angelic visitations, cleared the deck of Jewish customs–so that all nations might enter the Covenant with Abraham and, on a par with Jews “after the flesh,” and might enjoy the inheritance of his blessings in God’s Kingdom of justice/righteousness. Indeed, it was precisely because Stephen so eloquently demonstrated the Jewish stubbornness to change customs that he was stoned to death (Acts 6:11-ch. 7). [10/26/95]
In the New Testament, “the Cross” refers not to the literal beam(s) of wood (except in the Gospels) but to the event of Christ’s Crucifixion (although bear in mind that such a noun form, built on the verb, does not occur in the N.T.). This means it is connected diachronically, in other words, to the whole of Christ’s unjust condemnation, abuse, burial, but especially Resurrection and Ascension, i.e., to his entire Exaltation! A gross literalism leads to the manufacture of crucifixes, the collection (and invention) of relics, pilgrimages, the adoration of crosses, and to other corruptions. Much rather, according to the apostolic testimony of Scripture, it was the Events surrounding the Crucifixion/Cross that spotlighted the justice/righteousness and power of God. And it is the heralding of this “Explanation of the Cross” that supremely has power to save. [10/24/95]