wrote me the below questions, and below that is my attempt at an answer.
Thanks for your time! I decided to go on and try and ask via e-mail. There are really two lines of thought that I have read several references to in some of Norman's writings that I dont have the whole story on. The first is the difference in significance of the blood vs the body of Christ. The other thing that I have been curious about is regarding Norman's thoughts on us as in an intercessory role as a "royal priesthood". I really dont even have enough info to formulate the question more than that, but I thought maybe you could help me gain some insight on these thoughts.
Like I said before, you hit dead center, the central focal point of our lives, in looking into the blood & body of Jesus. So I'll attempt to give you some thoughts of my own regarding that. As far as explaining or interpreting Norman's books, that's a bit hard to do with total accuracy since he's not here to say yea or nea. So I don't claim either to explain or interpret Norman, but would just rather let him stand on his own. (He does that quite nicely.) But what I will do, is tell you in my own words in the way the Spirit gives it to me to say. Because that, in the end, is all any of us has -- what the Spirit says to US! So, I don't claim here to be any sort of authority on anything, just sharing my thoughts with you as I believe the Spirit has given me some touch of understanding. What is important to you of course is to hear what the Spirit says to you in this.
First I want to talk about the blood.
Why blood? Why would blood wash away sins? How could that be?
As a beginner in Jesus, those were questions I didn't ask, but just accepted the rote answers (usually scripture quotes) by faith as fact, and my understanding drilled no deeper in that direction. But at some point in time when our spiritual understanding grows a bit we are almost compelled to look deeper into these things. God draws us ever deeper into Himself both in love and understanding, and the blood of Christ is our portal into Him. So it's right, in order to move on, to ask hard questions, to question the validity of what we believe, in order to strengthen our faith even further.
So the first question I asked was, why is blood required? Hebrews 9:22 says: "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
I might've said at one time, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!" But now, I believe fully in the Spirit, I ask, "How can sins be purged with blood, how can blood remit sins, and why is it blood is required?"
As I mulled over these questions and looked through the scriptures for some hints, I was struck with the full force of the vastness that lay before me. It's a subject that has so many meanings and so many depths, I can't begin to even fathom them all, but I'll share some of what new meaning sprang to life for me.
So I'll start here. God told Adam & Eve that when they ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil they would die.
This was not an arbitrary punishment on the part of the Lord God. He hadn't just made up a rule about which tree you couldn't eat from, and if you ate from that tree you suffered the arbitrary penalty he had pre-decided, which was death. No, He merely spoke the Truth to Adam & Eve. "You can eat of any of the trees in this garden, except one .... " He simply told them what would happen if they ate of that tree.
What maybe is often overlooked in our descriptions of God is that as much as He is Truth and as much as He is Love, He is also at the basis of everything the REALITY of all that is. And since God is Reality, every form of God is also Reality, which means that whatever happens in the universe in whatever realm produces its own reality in its freedom. Stated more simply, "What you sow you shall reap." -- or -- "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure, with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." That is a law again, not because of some arbitrariness on God's part to decide what are laws and what are not, but because God is dynamic -- He Utters and His Utterance becomes the Act of Reality. And because that is the process of God to bring forth that which is Real, then that divine dynamic of creation is also the dynamic of the universe as it proceeds out from God into particulars, creation through sowing and reaping, through cause and effect. In other words, nothing is idle, nothing is meaningless, everything affects everything else, since all is the One God manifesting Himself through myriads of individual forms operating in freedom.
Adam's & Eve's "fall," therefore, was not simply a legal punishment handed down by a judge, but the real consequence of reaching out for and taking the forbidden fruit. With that act, succumbing to the wiles of the enemy, they plunged out of paradise into a broken land of their own creation. (When I say "own creation," I don't really mean Adam & Eve, by themselves, created their reality. I use "own creation" as a figure of speech, but the meaning behind it is that the enemy has hidden himself in the "own," so that the "broken land," desolation, is really the effect of the father of lies gaining some portion of man's being, not by conscious will to do evil on the part of the Adam and Eve, but through their having been tricked by deceit into a temptation which seemed "good" to them. So the effect did not produce the fulness of hell in man, though it is hell enough to be in a state in which we know what we should be and how we should be, but it's a carrot in front of a mule. [We'll look more into this when we get to the "body of Christ" later.])
And so death came upon Adam & Eve and all who came after them. What was the death?
Obviously they didn't die, physically, right there on the spot, though later they did. But that means that death is something more than the expiration of the physical body.
The first form of "death" that came over Adam & Eve was alienation, from themselves and from God, and thus alienation from everything else in the universe. The Unity in which they had lived had fractured into its particular parts as if they were separate and competing and chaotic. What had only moments before been unconscious Safety had become now a haunted house, with creaky boards and chains that rattle in the night and ghosts that whisper in the darkness. Safety now became a matter of survival, and since everything was a potential enemy the greatest safety was to retreat into a walled-up citadel of fortified selfhood, a false cloak provided by their new (but false) father, a bastion to which they were led to believe they could retreat and remain steadfast against the onslaughts now loose in the world. A last-ditch defensive stand, clung to out of fear, that hisses at anybody that gets too close.
As "death passed to all men" it grew in form. Men became dimmer in their remembrance of God, and retreated deeper into their false fortresses of "I, me, mine." "Cursed" was the ground for our sake, meaning that the effect of sin entering the world and the accumulated effects of sins affected our bodies and souls as well as the very molecules of the heavens and the earth, so that the world (both inner and outer) became an unfriendly place, where danger lurked around every corner, and man had to steal a living from the world as best as he could, being just one more competitor in a land where everything seeks ascendency over everything else, kill or be killed, eat or be eaten.
The point I'm trying to make here is that sin and sins had/have a real effect. We all know, engraved into our hearts and minds, the scripture, "the wages of sin is death." Again, this is no mere punishment separate from the crime. The crime itself produces the punishment, or the consequence, which is death -- alienation, fear, self-loathing.
I read a book a long time ago about a pastor in Bulgaria shortly after WW2, when the Communists took over. They arrested him and tortured him for his profession of Christ. One of the most vivid memories I have from the book, is how he described the effects that his torture had on his torturers. He said that in the beginning of the process, before they started abusing him, their countenance was human. But as the torture process started and gained momentum, the torturers began to look and act like animals. They almost took on a bestial quality in themselves, and sunk below the level of humanity.
That's what I'm talking about. The effects of sin. In an extreme case like the one above, the effects were almost instantaneous. Men became beasts as they gave themselves over to abusing another man. But the same is in all of us, whether our crimes are as heinous as those torturers or secret failures, hidden below the level of our conscious minds, tormenting us in our subconscious and producing a kingdom of fear in our inner selves that twists our minds and slowly kills our bodies.
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die," says Ezekiel. This is the truth. Adam broke it open for us, but we all ourselves have walked in his wake, and lived in the same death.
Still, God has from eternity known us, and has not intended that we should be left in that broken land. From eternity He has known that His Precious would go down into Egypt, serve a harsh taskmaster, and afterward come out a great nation which would cover the earth, led by the Deliverer.
But death has entered the world, by the trickery of Satan, and it can't simply be wiped away by magic. God is a God of Freedom and Reality. What is put into play must be allowed to play out. That's how Love operates, because He knows that in the end everything that has been put into play will play out into the reconciliation of the entire cosmos, all things brought back into Himself so that He is seen visibly All in all, where every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
But this is the beginning of the story. The man and woman that God has made (and all their descendants after them) have been taken and spoiled. What remedy can there be?
Just when it looks like all is lost, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is seen in the depths of the story. God's first earthly offspring are mesmerized and captured for a time by the serpent, but God's reaction, instead of rebuke and hot wrath, is simply to tell them what is going to happen now, and that they must leave the Garden. And before they leave the Garden, He clothes them in animal skins. Here is the first clear picture in this story of the law of life out of death, the giving of one life to benefit another, i.e., the deaths of the animals to make clothing for Adam and Eve. And implicit in their deaths is also their shed blood.
I've often heard it said that the "shed blood" of Christ satisfied God's "legal" requirements for the remission of sins, by putting the penalty on another. But the point I'm trying to make here is that something "real" happened in the fall, because something real (us) got really broken. When the human race was taken captive and defiled, just as it was no mere arbitrary punishment that we suffered from the disobedience in the Garden, even so is the remedy no arbitrary formula to fulfill a legal requirement, but rather something Real (Christ by His blood and body), that really fixes something real (us), which has been broken.
The hints of the remedy are seen all throughout Genesis, but beginning in Exodus and continuing in the other books of the Law, the blood sacrifice is laid out plainly. The message is, only a life can redeem a life, and blood is the life of the flesh. Therefore in order to undo the damage that sin has done, a life has to be given, for death is the wage of sin. Blood must be shed. But God has ordained in His economy a way in which one life can pay for another and unbind the chains and destroy the death that holds it.
11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
To comment sufficiently on this subject one would have to write books, but the summary is this. The blood sacrifices instituted in the Law of Moses did not, could not, provide the final remedy needed for the human race. But God set up a system in Israel under Moses that continued until the time of Jesus, whereby animal sacrifices with the sprinkling of blood in the Holy and Most Holy Places, temporarily provided relief from the inner effects of sin. Once a year the high priest, of the house of Aaron, would prepare himself specially with certain garments. Then he would sacrifice first a bullock for his own sins and his own purification, and then take the blood from that sacrifice within the veil into the Most Holy Place, and make an atonement first for his own sins, before he took care of the people. Then he would return from within the veil and next take two goats, one for a sin offering, and one for a scapegoat to bear away the sins of the people outside the camp (about which we will look into later), and the one for the sin offering he killed and took its blood back into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled its blood for the sins of the people. (Lev 16)
This went on every year, because, as Hebrews 10 points out:
1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Notice CLOSELY a couple of things this verse says:
First, it says that the old sacrifices, being but shadows of good things to come, could never make the partakers "perfect," implying in the statement, that that which should come after, WOULD make the partakers "perfect."
Secondly, it says that had the sacrifice been truly effective, it would have ceased, because the worshippers who had been PURGED would have NO MORE CONSCIENCE OF SINS. Which again, would imply, that those who partake of the NEW -- would NOW have NO MORE conscience of sins!
(It makes one wonder if the general church body as it is today is still sacrificing bulls and goats. Because consciousness of sins prevails. But we believe better things.)
As I said before, after this we'll look into the body of Christ in all this, because it is the body-death of Jesus that takes care of "sin," but it is the shed blood of Christ that takes care of the "sins," i.e., the effects of sin, the death which has held us in bondage all our lives. "And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Heb 2:15)
It is the blood of Christ that removes us from the curse on the land.
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:14)
Right here, we are right on the spot where Adam & Eve left God in their minds. In the conscience. They felt guilty, and ashamed. They knew they had sinned. They knew in a moment. "I heard thee in the garden, and I was afraid." From that moment they plummeted into death and all their offspring with them, for we are all guilty before God and know right well within ourselves. We need not anyone else to accuse us, for we accuse ourselves.
But here in the blood of Christ the way back is being offered. The way back through the flaming sword of the Cherubim, back into the original innocence of the Garden, but maybe a little wiser for the journey. Perhaps I have said, "My conscience, my guilt, my past, my SINS, my shortcomings, my faults, my quirks, my weaknesses -- yes, it is THESE who accuse me, THESE who keep me out of the kingdom! I would go in, but for them!" No, the offer is to be PURGED from all these. That they exist no longer as any reality whatsoever!
Were they "dead works?" Did my life before, even yesterday, even a few minutes ago, produce "dead works?" It doesn't matter, where, when or how. What matters is that we have had our consciences PURGED! CLEANSED! All things now belong to the Living God. NOW!
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Having "boldness" to enter into the "holiest" by the BLOOD OF JESUS!
How could we have such "boldness" in ourselves? It cannot be. We KNOW we are not worthy to go there. But by the Holy Blood, whereby our consciences have been WHOLLY CLEANSED from sins, we enter into the fulness of the depths of God in HIS Holiness, and not by some trumped-up idea of our own importance. The blood gives us the boldness to live in the innermost heaven in God, in the innermost place within ourselves, where we are ONE with God.
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Redemption is the first act of the blood. That which was marked for death has been redeemed, spared from death by the sacrifice of Another. The second act of the blood is cleansing, washing. What He redeems, that He also cleanses. The effects of sins were a stench on us. The blood of Christ, the "Perfect Sacrifice" completely cleanses us from ALL sin, from henceforth while we walk in the Light. (1 John 1:7). When it says our "robes" are washed and "made white" in His Blood, it means, once again, that our container-selves, the vessels which we are, have NOW been made FREE from sin, from sins, and from all its effects.
There need be no more conscience of sins, from now on, period. The blood has taken the destruction that the enemy has wrought in our psyches and our bodies, and purified it, redeemed it, made it whole, so that what was before wicked in the hands of the deceiver, now is become holy in the Lord. All the twists and turns in my psyche, all the quirks and mannerisms of my humanity, everything about me has been redeemed, cleansed and purified and made ready for a fit use by the Master.
Our humanity, which we have feared and suspected all our lives, because it was caught in the hold of death, has now been raised again in newness of life, by the Blood of our Redeemer, and we can now boldly affirm the rightness of our humanity, the rightness of the odd twists and turns in our psyche, boldly affirm the quirks and mannerisms of our humanity, because having been cleansed and made pure by His Blood, all that which was formerly fodder for the enemy's cannons, has now been made holy unto the Lord's use.
We have been brought with a price, and forever we are no longer our own, but redeemed by Another. Another now lives our lives, for we have forfeited them to Him in utter weakness, and in that forfeiture, a miracle occurs, because He hands back to us those lives we have forsaken, and behold, they are made new again, the same, yet wholly and completely new, because they've been swept and dusted clean, fit for the new master of the house.
The new master, who has come to live in the house, we'll look into in the Body of Christ.
So, that is the briefest of summaries of the blood of Jesus. It really only scratches the surface, but the main point, and I think we got to it, is that the blood redeems us out of death, and TOTALLY cleanses us in preparation for the New Life that is within us.
Hope this helps.
All my love,