Tag Archives: sin

The Story of Sin: Part XVI: Ancient Jewish Eschatology’s View of Salvation from Sin!

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part XVI:
Two Paths Greatly Diverging on the Meaning of the Messiah’s Deliverance from Sin.
By Joseph M. Cross
Introduction: A Line Drawn in the Sand…
So beginning with one of his very early miracles, Yah-Saves draws an unmistakable line in the sand: I am not just here to make a man walk again! That’s easy! I am here to do something vitally much more Spiritually and universally significant. As my name, Yah-Saves, states, I am here to save humans from their flawed natures! I AM Daniel 7:13’s “one like the son of man,” or the “one like a man,” whom the Ancient of Days (or God the Creator in his heaven’s eternal now) has given all authority over all things for all time. I AM THE SON OF MAN! I AM GOD IN THE FLESH! I have the divine right, authority and power to release a man, or a people, from their spiritual offenses…their sins against…their Creator and Redeemer, as well as, as a result of their sins, flaws or mistakes, their corresponding guilt, legal-righteous condemnation, eternal shame and endless judgment! I can make it ALL…ALL… go away! I can SAVE! I can save a man from SIN! I AM GOD! I AM ETERNAL GOD!
Now, do the religious leaders whom Yah-Saves directs his comments towards really get what Yah-Saves is saying–that he is declaring himself God? God in the flesh? God “like a man”?–I am not sure. They get something. Something is up because beginning here, and only escalating as his prophetic ministry continues, their reactions to him, his message and his miracles only intensifies…until the point that they seek his death and by any means possible! (John 5:16-18).
But why is Yah-Saves such a threat to his contemporaries? Why the disconnect? After all, if Yah-Saves is offering deliverance from man’s imperfection, why are they, or for that matter, all of mankind, NOT at least considering what Yah-Saves has to offer with an open mind? Is it that Yah-Saves claims to be God, which, if NOT true, would obviously be enough to raise concerns or cause problems? But if miracles really are occurring…if blind people are being given sight, the lame made to walk, the deaf to hear, the dead raised to life, the sick made well, the hungry fed, storms stilled and demons cast out…then why not listen to what Yah-Saves has to say, or at least open-mindedly investigate his miracles to begin with? And if they prove to be true, then listen to what he has to say? Check it out with the Scriptures? Does it match up? Could he be telling the truth? Bottom line: Seek the truth! Or is there something else also going on here? The answer is both. And in the end, both are crucial to our understanding of how the Story of Sin is still impacting billions more two thousand years later.
The Cause of the Great Disconnect…
To understand the immense disconnect between the incredible truth or deliverance from sin that first Yah-Saves’ Elijah–John the Baptist–and now Yah-Saves himself were both laying the groundwork for and the deliverance that the religious leaders, as well as, the people themselves perhaps, had in mind and were expecting, we must attempt to go back in time and recreate what was being taught and promulgated within the ancient Jewish synagogues during Yah-Saves’ day. For even if the religious leaders, or Rabbis (religious teachers) were willing to consider Yah-Saves’ claims to be Messiah, what does this mean to them? In other words, WHAT were they looking for in God’s promised Messiah (anointed one or Christ) and WHAT did they think that his deliverance (from Man’s sin) would look like?  
The answer is, from the very beginning, what the religious leaders where looking for in a Messiah and the Messiah’s deliverance was NOT what they were necessarily getting in Yah-Saves. In fact, when one attempts to reconstruct what the Jewish people were taught at that time, the role of Yah-Saves’ Elijah or Isaiah 40’s Comforter, John the Baptist, becomes CRYSTAL clear! John’s role as 1) Isaiah 40’s Comforter, 2) Malachi 3’s Messenger and 3) Malachi’s 4’s Elijah was to reprogram, or rather deprogram, the people, as well as, the religious establishment of hundreds of years of flawed prophetical misunderstanding and misapplication concerning Yahweh God’s soon-to-come offer of forgiveness and deliverance from sin or imperfection. What had started out as truth…OT scriptural prophecy…by John and Yah-Saves’ Day…had become a massive entangled knot of confusing and contradictory interpretations concerning Yahweh God’s ultimate deliverance of God’s people. Continue reading

Gen. 40:1ff Momentarily Forgotten

Ruins. Genesis Studies
© 1998-2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
Gen. 40:1ff
Momentarily Forgotten…

Intro… What kind of dreamer are you? Do you dream much? Did you dream last night? Or was it a nightmare perhaps? If you do dream, can you retrace the possible source of your dreams? Ever had a crazy or strange dream? Ever had a recurring dream? Do you like dreams or not? Do you think that God can speak to people in dreams?

Several years ago, I had two dreams separated by a short time space…I can’t recall how long of a time space, but perhaps within two weeks of each other. In my dream a good friend that was about to leave on a six-month missions trip was sitting in a certain seat in our church. Eventually, I told her about my dreams and wondered if she would remain and be a shot in the arm to our body? She did and served as my part-time assistant for a year. In the process she served as a much-needed sounding board for me. She knew how I thought. She was incredibly helpful. In addition, because she stayed around, she was able to explore a friendship with a guy whom she had just met—a relationship that no doubt would have gone by the way side had she left. Eventually their friendship, mutual respect and love for one another grew to the point that this past year I officiated their marriage. Was my dream God’s way of keeping her around so that she could get to know what turned out to be her future husband? I am not sure, but I am highly suspicious.

Also several years ago, I experienced what for me was somewhat of a traumatic ministry experience. Afterwards, I had several troubling nightmares. Though the dreams were very symbolic, it was easy to figure out their connection to my recent trauma. Even though I had really done nothing wrong, it was as if my mind was trying to work through what felt like a shared guilt in the matter. Someone died who was dying anyway…just a bit sooner. All I could have done was spoken up to possibly delay it a few hours, but I didn’t. And although I have been with quite a few dying souls in their last minutes, I had never been in that particular moment before when I knew what was about to happen—and it did happen much as I had feared. Even today, several years later, I can discuss that night and once again dream, and the dream will be symbolic, much like the dreams Joseph is about to interpret within this story, but I know exactly my dream’s interpretation. Exactly.

Things may get a bit wild or out there, but in order for your students to better connect with this story, I would risk some time discussing their dream experiences. One never knows what they will come up with. Bottom line…dreams are important, and they do have a function, even if that function is not always clear.

Recently, we began a new unit or section or person of study…the life of Joseph. Essentially, the story of Joseph, is for the most part, our story. Chosen by God for a special purpose, Joseph must first endure much suffering and injustice before arriving at his God-ordained purpose and calling, and what a purpose it will be.

As we read, I want you to continue pondering, your special identity in Christ, and that just because you may be going through difficult days, your suffering…your waiting is NOT in vain. As God’s child…as God’s children, just as with Joseph and his brothers, you…we…all have a purpose in Christ (Romans 8; Eph. 1; 1 Peter 1).  Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part XIII God’s Slaughtered Lamb Takes Away Man’s Imperfection…

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part XIII: God’s Slaughtered Lamb Takes Away Man’s Imperfection…
By Joseph M. Cross

Last time… It was clear from the synoptic gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke–that Isaiah 40’s Crying Voice or Malachi 4’s figurative Elijah was indeed the priest Zacharias’ son, John the Baptist. His role or purpose…to cut a path or road through the world’s harshest, hottest, most desolate, brutal desert wilderness…the wilderness of man’s imperfection–misunderstanding, ignorance, foolishness, thoughtlessness, immaturity, hurt, crime, poverty, injustice, immorality, fear, worry and rebellion…just to name a few… or everything that is less than perfect, which is… EVERYTHINGSIN and the effects of man’s deadly fall from the Creator’s supernatural protective grace, love, mercy, kindness, peace and presence …IMPERFECTION!

And how is Isaiah’s Crying Voice doing this? 1) By preparing the people to NOT miss out on the LORD’s appearing and his deliverance from their imperfection or sin, as well as, 2) identifying the LORD’s actual appearing. In other words, the Voice, much as a mediator attempts to reconcile two unreconciled parties, is cutting a path both ways through the wilderness of  man’s sins or imperfection…one way, which leads from man to God via man’s repentance from, confession of and symbolic cleansing of sin, and the other, leading from God to man, via John’s divinely-inspired identifying of Yah-Saves as God’s Son (as one who is the Son of God, or a the very least, represents the Father).

So now…what does the son of Zebedee, Yah-Saves’ beloved disciple and gospel writer, John, now add to the Voice’s song? Everything–the gospel in a nutshell…the good news in one sentence…one dramatic metaphor that says it all. Will John’s audience fully get it? Probably not, but with this one profound declaration by the Voice, the reader gains a huge, curious insight as to just how Yah-Saves will save or deliver the people from their sins.

Finally, the Fourth Gospel declares… Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part XII Elijah’s Voice Prepares a Path…

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part XII: Elijah’s Voice Prepares a Path for both Sinner and Savior to Meet…
By Joseph M. Cross

So if the son of a late first-century B.C.E. Jewish priest named Zacharias—that is, John the Baptist–was prophetically destined to become Isaiah 40’s Crying Voice, Malachi 3’s Messenger and Malachi 4’s figurative Elijah, then just how did John specifically clear the way for the LORD’s promised appearing and deliverance?

Remember John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, and his prophecy at John’s birth?

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways…

(And how will Zacharias’ son prepare the Lord’s ways or the Lord’s way? By…)

“…giving his people knowledge (or understanding) of salvation by the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 1:76-77).

And how did John the Baptist give God’s people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins? Well, lets’ look at how the Four Gospels (the stories of Yah-Save’s life…Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) described John’s prophetic ministry.

First, Mark’s account… Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part XI A Voice Arises in the Wilderness

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part XI: A Voice Arises in the Wilderness
By Joseph M. Cross

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways…to give people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 1:76-77).

In addition to prophesying Judah’s national forgiveness and salvation (as explained in “The Story of Sin: Parts IX and X), a late first century B.C.E Jewish priest named Zacharias was prophesying that his new-born son, John (who would later come to be known as John the Baptist) was in some manner, a fulfillment of the last words of the Old Covenant or Testament, found in Malachi 4:5-6 and spoken over four hundred years earlier:

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6.

Zacharias, inspired by God, was now prophesying that his son, John the Baptist, was indeed Malachi’s prophetic and “figurative” Elijah.

I say Malachi’s figurative “Elijah” because when some Jewish priests and Levites were sent to John later as he was preaching and baptizing at the River Jordan and asked him if was Elijah, he answered that he was NOT…meaning I am NOT THE Elijah, the 9th century Old Testament prophet (John 1:21), and John wasn’t.  Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part X A Bride’s Devastating Fall From Grace!

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Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part X…A Bride’s Devastating Fall From Grace!
By Joseph M. Cross


“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season.
But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame,
And they became as detestable as that which they loved.” Hosea 9:10.The Story of Sin Continues…

 We last left Sin’s story, suggesting that when the father of the John the Baptist, Zacharias, prophetically proclaims:
“…And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God…” Luke 1:76-78…
in essence, through one’s relationship with the Messiah, as will be made clear later, Zacharias is not only forecasting every human being’s invitation to be forgiven his sins and therefore, his eternal salvation, but there is also a strong hint of the forgiveness of Judah’s long term national sins, and therefore also, her deliverance from foreign domination–in this case, from the mighty Roman Empire.  
And once again, why is all this so important?
Because after having been so extravagantly rich in God for a millennium and a half, including:

Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part IX…The Joy Embedded in Zacharias’ Prophecy

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part IX…Why the Heavy Payment for Israel’s Sins, and thus the Joy and Expectation Embedded in Zacharias’ Prophecy?  
By Joseph M. Cross

Eventually Israel would divide and fall. 
After four hundred years of a very up and down loose-knit confederation of tribes, led at times by various righteous savior-leaders, such as Gideon, Samson and Deborah, will God rise up to rescue Israel from her enemies. Then, around 1000 B.C., Israel would finally ask for a king of her own. The irony of their request was that Israel had the greatest monarch any nation could ask for–God himself was her protector and Sovereign. But just as other nations had a real live flesh and blood king, Israel wanted one too–a flesh and blood representative of God to keep her in line.Reluctantly, and knowing that not even a real, live flesh and blood king would keep her faithful to her treaty obligations, God did give Israel a king—Saul. But when Saul disobeyed God, God had the prophet Samuel anoint a new king-in waiting, a man that, despite his many flaws, Scripture describes as being a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:4). After David’s son, the great King Solomon passes on, tragically Israel divides into two nations (around 900 B.C.). The ten northern tribes retain the name Israel, while the two southern tribes take the name of the larger tribe, Judah.In over two hundred years as a nation, Israel will not crown one righteous king…zero for twenty. Finally, in the late eighth century, God unleashes his curses and a great and fierce super-power from the region of the northeastern Fertile Crescent, Assyria, besieged and conquered Israel. Her inhabitants are carried off and mixed with other conquered peoples, and Israel is no more.

At the same time, as described in Isaiah 37-38, in one night, God miraculously delivers King Hezekiah and Judah from the massive Assyrian army. In fact, Assyria never recovers from her massive, mortal wounds suffered in her blind attempt to besiege God’s city, people and king. A century later, Assyria will be conquered by the next Middle Eastern super-power, the Babylonians. But it was during these days of both God’s divine judgment and deliverance (700+ B.C.) that Isaiah, as well as, other Old Covenant or Testament prophets, inspired by God, were uttering their now famous prophecies concerning not only both Israel and Judah’s future demise, but their future forgiveness and restoration.

Ultimately, unlike her sister nation, Israel, which crowned not one righteous king even over two hundred years of existence, Judah, on the other hand will crown more righteous kings than unrighteous kings. However, she will have both, and the unrighteous will truly be unrighteous, leading Judah into incredible depths of sin, including the acceptance of the sacrificing of her children to foreign gods (See Lev. 20:2-5; 18:21; Deut. 12:31; 18:10; 2 Kings 3:27; 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; Ps. 106:35ff; Is. 57:5; Jer. 7:31; 19:4-5; 32:35; Ezk. 16:20ff; 20:26, 31; Hos. 13:2), as well as, engaging in male-shrine prostitution in order to please her many gods (Lev. 18:22; Deut. 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46). And although she will outlast her sister nation Israel, by more than a century, she too, a Spiritual, legal and moral failure, will be besieged and conquered by the mighty Babylonians (@600 B.C).

Not all, but many of her most prominent families, including prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, will be carried off to Babylon as exiles. And for seventy years, a righteous and just God will take back what had been legally stolen from him. According to the Mosaic Law, every seven years, Israel was to rest her Land and thus allow God to provide for her in that year. These were to be called Sabbath years, or years of rest. For almost five hundred years, Israel and Judah had failed to honor the Sabbath year, thus seventy unobserved Sabbath years had accumulated on God’s divine books. In the end, God took back every one of them. Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part VIII The Covenant, Blessings and Curses

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Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part VIII…The Covenant…Blessings and Curses…
By Joseph M. Cross

In the previous chapters, I have alluded to the fact that I suspect there was something much more going on within: 1) Zacharias’ prophetic utterance of his son John’s future role in preparing the way for the LORD (Luke 1:77), 2) the angel’s command to Joseph to name the son his betrothed Mary is about to bear–YAH-Saves because he will save the people from their sins (Matt. 1:21), 3) thirty years afterwards, John’s preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4), 4) both gospel-writers Matthew and Mark’s explicit and implicit identification of John as both the OT prophets Malachi and Isaiah’s messenger, Elijah and voice (Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6; Is. 40:3ff) who will prepare the way for the LORD’s coming and deliverance via the people’s forgiveness of their sins and finally, 5) Isaiah’s future prophecy of comfort to Jerusalem to begin with…

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”
Isaiah 40:1-2.

So what do I think extra is going on here? What were Jerusalem’s sins, and why had she paid double for all her sins? Well to answer these questions and more, we have to go back further in time, further back than Jesus’ day 2,000 years ago and further back than Isaiah’s day, 2,700 plus years ago. In fact, we need to momentarily go back to the beginning…to the time of Israel’s early fathers or patriarchs, 4,000 years ago plus… Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part VII The Son Fulfills the Father’s Prophecy

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part VII: The Son Fulfills the Father’s Prophecy:
Preaching the Knowledge of Salvation by the Forgiveness of Sins…
By Joseph M. Cross

It’s been perhaps thirty years since the angel first told Joseph that Mary was pregnant with a child conceived by the Spirit of God and that when the child is born Joseph is to name the child YAH-Saves because he will save the people from their sins. Just weeks before this announcement, the angel Gabriel had told a priest named Zacharias that incredibly his elderly wife, Elizabeth, who happened to be an older cousin of Mary, was also pregnant and that the child she would bear would fulfill certain OT prophecies pertaining to the Lord’s deliverance and salvation (from sin). When Zacharias questioned Gabriel how this could be, Zacharias’ voice was stricken. Finally, when his son, John, was born, Zacharias’ silence was broken and, inspired by God, he uttered this prophecy concerning his son John:

“And you, child (John the Baptist), will be called the prophet of the Most High (God); For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS (Mal 3:1; Is. 40:3); to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”

Now thirty years later, Zacharias’ son, John, has grown up, and he is fulfilling the prophecy uttered by his father.

Here is the Gospel of Mark’s account:

Mark 1:1 (Also see Matt. 3:1ff) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:


(In setting up the opening scene of Mark’s gospel concerning the life, person and purpose of YAH-Saves, Mark quotes, just in more detail, the two OT passages that John’s father Zacharias’ was referencing in his prophecy concerning John’s birth thirty years earlier…Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Christ’s apostle, Matthew, quoting just Isaiah 40, goes further in his gospel of Christ’s life to tie the seven hundred year old plus prophecy to John the Baptist:

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’”

These two prophesies now set the stage for Mark’s narrative of Jesus’ life, beginning with the messenger who will prepare the way for the Lord …) Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part VI Zacharias’ Prophecy

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part VI: Zacharias’ Prophecy…
The Knowledge of Salvation by Forgiveness of Sins…
By Joseph M. Cross


While my previous gleanings were certainly rich, because I had not looked up every reference to sin and unrighteousness or hamartia and adikia in the New Testament myself, I was still curious. What would I find if I looked up every reference for sin and unrighteousness?

I couldn’t resist, but it was no small task. When one includes the verbs, adjectives, adverbs and other noun forms of each word group, there are well over three hundred references (250 references of the hamartia word group and around 75 references of the adikia word group) to examine, but despite the seemingly daunting task, I decided to plow through each and every reference in its context.

I should have seen it all to begin with, and perhaps, I had before, but nothing near to the extent of what I saw when I decided to examine the New Testament through these contextual lenses of hamartia and adikia. The results were astonishing, and once again, my curiosity was incredibly rewarded.

Zacharias’ Prophecy: The Knowledge of Salvation by the Forgiveness of Sins…

Allow me to walk you back through a portion of my journey so that you can see what I had NOT seen, but should have seen CLEARLY before.

Zacharias’ Prophecy…

My initial curiosity began with the angel’s command to Joseph concerning the child Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit in Matt. 1:21…You shall name him Jesus (Yah-Saves) for he shall save the people from their sins.

I really had not fully appreciated the next critical NT reference to Sin until I had first read the fruit of others’ labor, as well as, examined the over 300 references of Sin. For me, it was like rewatching a film’s introduction, after having seen the entire film. One sees the beginning of the film in an entirely different light…in the context of everything that is about to follow. That’s what happened for me, particularly with this next passage. I missed its significance the first time; I did not the second time. The next references to “sin” occurs in the sister passage to Matthew 1’s birth narrative–Luke 1.

The setting is – as he was serving in the Herodian Temple there in Jerusalem, John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was visited by the angel Gabriel and was told that his elderly wife, Elizabeth, was indeed pregnant with a son. When Zacharias questioned how this could be, Zacharias’ voice was divinely silenced for the entire length of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Then, when John was born, Zacharias’ tongue was finally loosened. Inspired by God’s Spirit, Zacharias utters the following doxology.  Continue reading