In last week's letter, I mentioned Paul’s willingness to give up his life in Messiah for the sake of his brethren. It is hard to believe that anyone, after coming to faith and having revelation-knowledge of the “new creation” being, that we are in Yeshua, would be willing to lay it down for the sake of others. However, in the course of this week it dawned on me that Paul was willing to do that which was/is the kinsman redeemer's obligation, so that life could issue out of death.
The concept of “life out of death” is central to the redemption idea. Thus Paul became a witness, in his very being, to the traits which characterize the “new creation” person, brought forth in the image and likeness of his Redeemer, when he was willing to be cut off, or accursed, from Messiah “for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). In essence, when Yeshua’s life through the Holy Spirit, invaded Paul, it came with the Redeemer’s willingness to give up his life, so that others may be its recipients. Paul made this principle also an essential part of his teaching: “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Yeshua, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Yeshua's sake, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:10-12).
Moses, too, acted as a redeemer par excellence, on behalf of the Children of Israel, when he addressed YHVH after the Golden Calf episode, begging Him to “forgive their sin -- but if not, I pray, blot me out [in their place] of Your book which You have written" (Exodus 32:32).
Our father Abraham laid down his life for the sake of his nephew Lot. This is seen after the battle, in which the four kings defeated the five kings. One of those was the king of Sodom, and since Lot was residing in Sodom, he was taken captive with all his belongings. Abraham, not only rescued his dead brother’s son, but also retrieved all that was lost by the five kings (see Genesis 14).
"No greater love has any man than he lay down his life for his brother" (1John 3:16). The one who is willing to do so is indeed acting as a kinsman redeemer, in the true sense of the word. Yeshua came as a first-born prince, and a potential kinsman redeemer in the family of Jacob/Israel. Why "potential"? Because He had to qualify through obedience; Yeshua had to show himself worthy in all matters pertaining to righteousness, by obedience to the will of His Heavenly Father, even to the giving up of His life. And so He said, “I come to do Your will” (Hebrews 10:7), and "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15).
These are characteristics of those who have been called into the redemption process. We, who claim to be the "body of Messiah," through the indwelling of His Spirit, have received this very nature and therefore should be willing to lay down our lives so that others might have life. However, what does that "laying down of life" translate itself into, in our daily experience? We have to walk in the Spirit by putting away the works of the flesh, which are seen as the deadly fruit (see Galatians 5: 19-21) of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The "execution stake's" lesson ought to guide us, causing us to identify with Yeshua when He said: "Forgive them they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Paul also says "that we are no longer to look at man after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 5: 16). This is not an easy transition, as sin is still working in us (ref. Romans 7:20), insisting that we identify ourselves with it so as to continue to be a vessel of its nature. At the same time, we really have no excuse for not gaining victory, as the power of another kingdom, which has come to destroy all the works of the devil, resides in us. The Spirit of the Redeemer reveals to us our death, when by faith we are identified to Yeshua's death, so that the life of Yeshua may manifest in our mortal bodies, thus bringing resurrection-eternal life to the rest of the family of Man. Daily we are challenged by the Word of Elohim to resist to the point of shedding blood (life is in the blood) in our striving against sin (ref. Hebrews 12:4), and to overcome by the blood (life) of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, when we do not love our lives even to the point of death (ref. Revelation 12:11).
The messenger (the First and the Last, Who was dead, and is alive), reminds the congregation of Smyrna to be faithful even unto death, and that He will give to them the crown of life (ref. Revelation 2:8,10). Paul wept for those who did not press into death, in order to have the crown of life. He said of them that they were actually enemies of Messiah's stake. May we not be counted as the ones that he grieved over, but as those who join him in that pursuit of "life out of death". RIP