Saturday, September 30, 2023

Jesus Cup (2) Psalm 22

When he was on the cross, Jesus called out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. This was not a theological statement about God because he could not forsake Jesus, as they were always one. Jesus was referring to Psalm 22. In his time, the psalms did not have numbers, so people referred to a Psalm by quoting the first line. So Jesus was really saying, “Psalm 22 is being fulfilled in me right now”. He was using the psalm to describe the spiritual attack that he was experiencing.

The psalm refers to attacks by wild animals, but Jesus was describing the attacks by the spiritual powers of evil against him.

  • Bulls encircled him.
  • Young lions were tearing at his flesh.
  • Dogs surrounded him.
  • A pack of villains encircled him.
  • Wild oxen were attacking.
Jesus used these images to describe the vicious spirits that were attacking him. They were tormenting his mind with accusations, flooding his imagination with fear and dread, torturing his flesh with terrible pain, and sapping his physical strength with emotional torment. Jesus did not just suffer physical pain.

The cup he drank was emotional and spiritual torment at the hands of the spiritual powers of evil. This happened because he loved us and took our sins on himself, which gave the spiritual powers of evil permission to go after him.

Last Supper
At the Last Supper, Jesus did two things. He broke bread and shared it with his disciples. He also shared a cup with the disciples. These actions are often interpreted as pointing forward to his sharing with us in the Lord’s Supper. But it had another, more sombre meaning.

The broken bread represented his physical body, which he was offering to his disciples to suffer on their behalf. By sharing a cup with his disciples, Jesus agreed to be one with them. They would share his life, and he would share their lives. He would share their sins with them. This was the first step in drinking the terrible cup of suffering that he would agree to drink at Gethsemane.

At the Last Supper, Jesus agreed to become the sin of his twelve disciples. He became sin for them. This opened the way for the spiritual powers of evil to attack him. They gained authority to stir up Judas to betray Jesus. He left the meal and made a deal with Jewish leaders for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus’ suffering in the hands of the spiritual powers of evil began.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Jesus’ Cup (1)

Jesus coming to live on earth as a human was a huge risk, as Adam and Eve had surrendered their authority over the earth to the spiritual powers of evil. Becoming a human made him vulnerable to spiritual attack. The only thing that kept him safe was his perfect life. If he had sinned, even just once, they would have been able to get at him, just like they attack every other human on earth.

However, Jesus didn’t sin, so the powers of evil had to leave him alone. They had stirred up Herod to try and murder Jesus when he was an infant, but they did not have authority, to touch him, so the Holy Spirit kept him safe. Everything changed when Jesus agreed to drink the cup that he had come to drink. Jesus agonised over this in Gethsemane Garden, but he submitted to his Father’s will and agreed to drink this terrible cup.

Taking on Sin
The cup that Jesus agreed to drink was not just obeying the Father, as is often suggested. The cup he drank was the wrath of the spiritual powers of evil, which came on him because he agreed to carry all the sins of all the people in the past, present and future who will put their trust in him. Paul explained,

He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us (2 Cor 5:21).
In the garden, Jesus agreed to complete his work by taking on the sins of everyone who would put their trust in him. This committed him to drinking the cup of wrath that the spiritual powers of evil would inflict on him.

Taking on the sins of other people changed everything. Once he had taken our sin on himself and became sin, his spiritual protection was gone, and the spiritual powers of evil had authority to attack him. They hated him and were scared of him, so they attacked him with vengeance. This is why the events leading up to the cross were so terrible.

The New Testament describes the physical side of his experience, but the spiritual side was probably far more vile. Thousands of spirits had fallen from grace, but a few had become really vicious, violent and destructive. I presume that the most ferocious and hideous spirits attacked Jesus when he agreed to take on our sins. He drank the cup of their wrath. When the Jewish leaders accused him and beat him, the spiritual powers of evil were there, stirring them along. When the crowd called for him to be crucified, the spiritual powers of evil were winding them up. When Pilate surrendered him to the soldier to be beaten and crucified, the spiritual powers of evil were encouraging them to be brutal and aggressive.

The Holy Spirit was powerless to protect Jesus because he had become a sinner for us, and the spiritual powers of evil had authority on earth to attack sinners. Thousands of people in Jerusalem and Galilee had been healed and blessed by Jesus. If they had gathered in Jerusalem around Caiaphas’s house and then Pilate’s palace and called for Jesus to be released, Pilate would have been scared and intervened to calm the situation, as was done when Paul was arrested (Acts 22:23-25). Roman governors did not want to be embarrassed by riots. However, the Holy Spirit did not gather Jews supporting Jesus or legions of angels to protect him because he had agreed to drink the cup of human sin.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Hebrews Promises

I have gone through Hebrews and identified every verse that promises something that Jesus has done or will do. I put them in a spreadsheet and sorted them into themes. The following table shows the results.


Phrase Promised

Rescued from Sin


purged our sin


taste death for everyone


bring many sons to glory


pay ransom for sin


eternal redemption


redemption of trespasses


do away with sin





great salvation




delivers from a life of bondage to death


eternal salvation




save to the utmost



merciful high priest


sympathise with our weaknesses


mercy at the throne of grace in time of need


mercy, forget sins


appear in God's presence for us

Made Holy


sanctified from sin


sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus


suffered outside the camp to sanctify

Clean Conscience


purge conscience, so we can serve the living God


full assurance of clear conscience

Established New Covenant


we are partakers in Christ


better covenant, better promises


better covenant, better promises


mediate new covenant

Future Looking

Law on our hearts


law on hearts


law on our hearts



rest ceased from work


eternal inheritance

Intercession and Help


make intercession


aid those being tempted

King with a Kingdom


destroy the devil by taking the power of death


throne forever, king


waiting for enemies to be made a footstool


all things subject to him


receive a kingdom

The writer to the Hebrews has a strong emphasis on rescuing us from sin. He died outside the camp, shedding his blood to pay the ransom price demanded by the spiritual powers of evil.

Sanctification is mentioned several times, not in the sense of being perfected over time, but in the sense of being cleansed by Jesus' death. A couple of verses speak about our consciences being cleansed. This is important because the accusation of the enemy about our guilt can be an obstacle to following Jesus.

Salvation is a big theme in Hebrews. The problem is that this has become a word with religious meaning, so we have lost sight of what the Greek word "sozo" actually means. It refers to being rescued or delivered from peril/harm. God has delivered us from our slavery to the spiritual powers of evil, which put us in terrible peril. It also means healing from disease.

The main feature of Jesus' character is that he is merciful. He has lived on earth, so he understands how difficult it is to escape from the stronghold that the powers of evil have over us. He gladly sets us free, and continues to intercede with God for us if we fail. He sends the Holy Spirit and his angels to help us in our struggles to serve him. Our ultimate goal is rest with him. In the interim, he puts his laws on our hearts so we can serve him and establish his Kingdom on earth.

The writer to the Hebrews refers to the offerings described in Leviticus throughout the letter. He describes how Jesus defeated the devil, but he never says that a blood offering was needed to appease God or to allow him to interact with his people. The idea that this is their purpose has to be read into the letter from elsewhere.

Friday, September 22, 2023

L&O (11) Not to Appease God

A common belief among Christians is that the tabernacle sacrifices were necessary to allow God to be in relationship with his people. They assume that God is so holy that he cannot interact with sinful people in any way, so sacrifices were essential to appease his anger so he could come near the people he had chosen.

Reading the Old Testament, it is clear that God has never had a problem interacting with sinful people. The initiative was always with God.

  • God spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden after they fell and blessed them with garments.

  • God called Abraham even though he continued to make serious mistakes.

  • He called Jacob and watched over him, even though he was a liar and a cheater.

  • He protected Joseph and spoke through him, even though he was proud.

  • Even when he sent his people into exile from the promised land, it was because he cared about them and wanted to restore them, and in exile, he continued to speak to them and keep them safe.

  • He prepared Moses and sent him to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt before they offered sacrifices to him.

  • God revealed himself to Paul while he was intent on killing followers of Jesus.

All these events took place without any human acknowledgment of sin or blood offerings for transgressions. (He was active in my life while I was still hostile to him.)

We are sometimes taught that God hates sin and can't have anything to do with sinful people, but that is only half true. He does hate sin, but it is because of the harm it allows the spiritual powers of evil to do to people. But it is not true that he cannot have any contact with sinful people. He did it all the time throughout the scriptures. God rescued the children of Israel from Egypt and brought them to the promised land before any offerings had been made. He did not need sacrifices to allow him to intervene, even though the people continued to be obstructive and rebellious the entire way.

The tabernacle offerings were not needed to start or sustain a relationship with God. Rather, they were needed to keep the people safe from the spiritual powers of evil who had dominated them as slaves in Egypt and wanted to get them back under control again. The offerings specified in Leviticus did that effectively.

From Part 3: Leviticus and Offerings.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

L&O (10) God Does Not Need Blood

God does not need blood. Why would he want it? He wants to rescue us so we can live our lives for him, as Jesus lived for him.

If God was unable to rescue us from the spiritual powers of evil because we refuse to be rescued, he could just disappear us (unless he wanted to torture us for our unwillingness to be rescued, but that would make him an ugly God). God created the universe and sustains all existence and life by his power, so if he became frustrated with me, he could remove me at any time, simply by stopping sustaining my life and letting me disappear from existence. If I have become so bad that God does not think that I am worthy of existence, he does not need to kill me. He can simply discontinue my existence. He does not need my blood.

On the other hand, the spiritual powers of evil are vicious haters who love destroying life. They like blood because it means death. That is why they demand blood as the ransom price for setting us free from our bondage to them. They are the ones who demanded blood because they assumed that no one would be willing to give it, especially for others. They were surprised because Jesus willingly died on the cross and shed his blood to meet their demand, so we could be set free to become the people of God. When he had risen again and ascended into the presence of God and offered his life to him.

Paul explains the nature of Jesus' offering to God in Eph 5:2.

Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Jesus offered his life of obedient love to God. This was a sweet-smelling aroma, equivalent to the effect of the incense offered on the golden altar in the tabernacle.

From Part 3:Leviticus and Offerings.

Monday, September 18, 2023

L&O (9) Blood Ransom

The key to understanding why blood cleanses is recognising the human situation. When Adam and Eve sinned and trusted the deceiver, they placed themselves under his authority. Because God had given them authority over everything on earth, this was a huge disaster, because it gave the spiritual powers of evil authority over the earth. This meant that God could not rescue humans from their situation without getting their permission.

The spiritual powers of evil demanded the lives of all humans in their power. This was clever, because if they could wipe humans out, they would have free rein on earth. They demanded the shedding of blood as a ransom payment for setting humans free. As the ones with ownership authority over humans, they had the right to decide what the ransom payment should be. It seems that they accepted the animal blood offered in the Tabernacle as a down payment for the blood of his Son that God would eventually offer them.

The blood offered on the bronze altar was a partial ransom payment to the spiritual powers of evil, so the tabernacle offering set the people free from the immediate consequences of their sins. However, the people could not be completely transformed until the Holy Spirit was poured out, so during Old Testament times, they kept falling back into sin. This is why the Tabernacle offering had to be repeated again and again.

The people urgently needed the full and final ransom that Jesus would pay when he died on the cross. His death and the blood that he shed satisfied the demands of the spiritual powers of evil, so they had to give up their authority over humans and over the earth. His death was a terrible defeat for them.

From Part 3: Leviticus and Offerings.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

L&O (8) Why Blood

When I have spilt blood from a cut on my hand or face, it stains the garment it drips on.  The stain is very hard to get out.   Therefore, I have always been puzzled by the way blood is used to cleanse things in the Old Testament, particularly in Leviticus, which I have studied in detail in an attempt to get an understanding of how cleaning with blood works.

I describe what I have discovered in Part 3 of Leviticus and Offerings.

The full three-part series can be found at Leviticus and Offerings.

Monday, September 11, 2023

L&O (7) No Penal Substitution

Penal substitution is missing from Levitical offerings and from the Day of Cleansing. The animals brought by the people are not punished for their sins. Their blood is used for appeasing the spiritual powers of evil and for cleansing objects that are unclean. Their meat is food for the priests. Their fat is burnt to produce a sweet aroma for Yahweh. The animals are offered as an act of worship, so having to cover the cost of losing a valuable animal is not a punishment, but an act of thanksgiving and worship.

Leviticus required that all animals offered should be without blemish (Lev 22:17-22). This means that an animal cannot be hurt or mutilated in any way before it dies. If it was punished, it would have blemishes and not be an acceptable offering. Leviticus never says that the animal is an object of God’s wrath. It never says that it is being punished. If it was abused or suffered unnecessarily, God would be offended.

The animals do not die as a substitute for the people who offer them. They placed their hand on the animal even when it was being given as a Gift Offering or an Ascent Offering, which was not for sin, so it is not an indicator of substitution. The animals are not killed in the place of the people offering them because the unintentional sins they had committed did not require a death penalty.

The priest confessed the most serious transgression and depravities over the goat for Azazel. These were the worst sins, but the goat was sent into the wilderness. It was not punished. It was not killed, and its blood was not offered to God. The wilderness goat was not a substitute for the people who had sinned. It was a carrier. The people were forgiven their transgressions without paying any penalty.

From Leviticus and Offerings: Part 2.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

L&O (6) No Total Depravity

Leviticus does not assume that the people are totally depraved and cannot do anything to please God. The offerings specified are either acts of worship and thanksgiving or for dealing with unintentional sins or uncleanness picked up while going about life. This suggests that most of the time, the people would serve God and only sin by mistake. As they go through the events of life, they will accidentally pick up uncleanness that has to be dealt with. The first seven chapters of Leviticus deal with offerings for things that are not that serious. There are numerous chapters dealing with uncleanness picked during life events such as childbirth without any active sinning. Given this emphasis, it seems that God did not see his people as depraved and impossible to keep safe.

Serious transgressions and depravities would only be dealt with once a year on the Day of Cleansing. This suggests that they would be relatively rare. Otherwise, a more regular remedy would be needed. Since none was given, it seems that God did not expect transgression to be a serious issue.

The fact that the goat carrying the transgression and depravities was sent to a demonic ruler in the wilderness suggests that God considers him to be their cause. He sends them back to where they come from, because it was the manipulation of the spiritual powers of evil that led people to engage in these perverse behaviours. No sacrifice is made to God for these transgressions. He can have mercy without imposing any penalty because once the goat had gone, the people were forgiven and cleansed.

From Leviticus and Offerings: Part 2.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Leviticus and Offerings (5) Incense Enough

Incense Enough When the High Priest went into the holy of holies on the Day of Cleansing, he offered a cloud of incense to God. That kept him spiritually safe in the presence of God. The incense was all God needed from him to be acceptable. He did not need to appease God with blood or some other sacrifice to be acceptable.

From Leviticus and Offerings: Part 2.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Leviticus and Offerings (4) Day of Cleansing

In Part 1 of my study of Leviticus and Offerings, I focussed on the five different types of offering described in the first seven chapters. If you have not read it yet, you can find it at Part 1.

In Leviticus and Offerings: Part 2, I analyse the description of the Day of Cleansing, which is often mistakenly described as the day of atonement, due to a faulty translation of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.

I had been taught that on the Day of Cleansing, blood was offered to God to expiate/propitiate the sins of the people. However, when I studied the text of Leviticus, I found something quite different. The purpose of the offering was to cleanse/decontaminate the tabernacle and particularly the furnishing in the Holy of Holies. It was a spiritual spring-cleaning. That was why it was only done once a year.

Contrary to what is often taught, no blood was offered to God. The main offering to God on the Day of Cleansing was a sweet-smelling, burning incense. More at Leviticus and Offerings: Part 2 .

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Leviticus and Offerings (3)

Something that really surprised me about the offerings described in Leviticus was my discovery that “blood” was not offered to God. Fat was offered to God on the bronze altar in the tabernacle courtyard. It burned well and provided a pleasant smell for God. Meat was roasted alongside it to improve the smell going up. God does not require blood (I had always known this was the case, but I was surprised to find it in Leviticus.)

Most of the blood of the animal offered was poured out on the ground, which does not make sense, if it was required by God. So I had to think about who did require it. The obvious answer is the spiritual powers of evil. Understanding that they have demanded blood changes the role of the offerings. I have explained this in Part 1 of my study of Leviticus and Offerings.

Part 2 is now complete and will be published on Substack at the beginning of next week.