Most of us have heard the statement, “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” which means we probably don’t know for what we are looking. Or, “If it had been a snake, it would have bitten you!”
And, how many pictures are there in your hallway or bedroom that you have passed by so often that now, you no longer actually see them? I had an uncle who was a police chief in his small town for a time, and he was describing to me how night patrols operate.
They look for the unusual actions of people as they cruise the streets. For instance, he related that he and his partner saw a man toss a bag of something under a car up ahead of them as the guy walked on the sidewalk, and their instincts were alerted to investigate. Moses had that experience when he saw the burning bush that did not burn up.
We are physical creatures who have five very physical senses—see, hear, taste, smell, feel—and another one not so physical—faith. For the believer in Christ, the Bible says “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
And in one sense, so do non-believers—their beliefs guide them much of the time. The problem comes from the reality of their source of belief. In this fast-moving, microwave society, the hand-held devices are out and faces are glued to them almost everywhere you look. So, taking time to think on some things that are ultimately going to impact our lives very much is not high priority on the daily list.
Major Things That Happened at Calvary
When Jesus uttered those last words on the cross, “Father, receive My spirit” and died, several gigantic things happened in Jerusalem:
From about the sixth hour to the ninth hour, heavy darkness covered the land.
The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, and the rocks were split.
Graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and appeared to many.
The soldiers guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and those things happening and fearing greatly, said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Those physical upheavals remind me of the entry He made into Jerusalem a few days earlier. The religious leaders had said to the disciples, “Quiet down these people,” for they were praising the Lord as He came by, and Jesus said, “If these people are silenced, even the rocks will cry out instead!”
The one event that had far-reaching impact was what happened in the temple. The veil in the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. No person did that, it was somewhat like the earthquake, only much more significant.
You can imagine, probably very accurately, that the attending priests ran like fearful rabbits, for they were at that time attending the Passover activities. Considering how closely God had timed all the events of the activities of Jesus during that week, it is quite possible that just as the priest in the temple put to death the Passover lamb, the Passover Lamb of God’s choice also died on the cross.
When the veil opened up to the whole world, that inner holy place where only the high priest could enter once a year, not without blood to sprinkle there, it was a gigantic departure from all that had preceded in temple activities. When the priests repaired the torn veil, as they no doubt did, was it again the Holy Place for the Spirit of God? No, that was in the past; there was a new era beginning, and this is a continuation of what we do not think about much, I suspect.
When Jesus died, He was three days and nights in the tomb, just as He had compared Himself with Jonah, who was in the belly of the great fish for that long, as well (Matthew 12:39-40). The Scripture says He was likewise in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. Peter says He preached to the “disobedient spirits in prison,” apparently during that time. (1 Peter 3:18-20; The total meaning and picture of this is not clearly stated.)
Then Jesus rose from the tomb and in several miraculous incidents, He identified Himself to the disciples and other followers and spent forty days with them. Remember, the Holy of Holies in the temple was empty; it had been opened by God to the whole world. Have you ever wondered what they talked about during those forty days, the times that are not told in the gospels or in Acts 1?
That first chapter of Acts tells us about His ascension and His directive to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them with power. Again, we wonder what happened during those ten days, how their prayers were worded and how their expectations were shared. This sort of thing had never happened before. No such reality of a resurrection like this had ever happened!
Then, on the day of the Feast of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after the resurrection that had occurred on the day of the Feast of First Fruits, the Holy Spirit came upon and into the believers as tongues of flames leaped among them. The power of the indwelling Spirit of God that was promised them propelled them out to “turn the world upside down,” as one scared and angry citizen later described it (Acts 17:6).
But let’s recap. The last place we noted that God’s presence was known in the earth was in the Holy of Holies in the temple and now, that inner place of extreme sanctity had been opened to the world.
Three days and three nights later, the physical presence of the resurrected Christ was with those who believed in Him for forty days; then, ten days with no physical evidence of God among them. What happened, then at Pentecost, has had an astounding impact upon every believer since that time—even to you and me!
The apostle Paul writes of this in bold, clarifying terms:
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
And again in 1 Corinthians 6:19:
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who isin you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
Believers, then, have become the temple of the living God, and Paul told the Colossians:
“For in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10).
But the old temple had a Holy of Holies in it; where is it in this new temple where God’s presence abides? Again, Paul tells us of that in 1 Corinthians 6:17:
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
In that context near the end of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul declares, “…You are not your own? For you were bought at a price,” and then, again, he writes to the Colossians:
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
God does not “short-change” anyone who comes to Him for His mercy and unmerited favor of everlasting life. This then, leads us to other not often thought of things that we can explore in Part 2.