Welcome to Part 6‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the freewill offering of ram skins dyed red. As the LORD leads us, we will add daily free-will offerings to the bottom of this post.
Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: tanned ram skins Exodus 35:5,7
Then they made for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red. Exodus 36:19a NIV
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
The ram’s skin dyed red was used to make the very inner lining of the tent housing the tabernacle of God. Wherever the presence of God traveled with the Israelites, God was prophesying the gift of His Son’s eternal and forever offerings over them. Offerings of substitution, reconciliation, identification and consecration, once provided for by the sacrificial ram.
Every step through the desert, as their broken bodies and hearts struggled to let go of their past trauma and pain, God was declaring them His by the blood of Jesus shed for them. And in the same way, when we look and see our own and our loved ones’ broken bodies and hearts today, God is still declaring us His by the blood of Jesus shed for us.
No! Our Heavenly Father is not ashamed of us in our weakness and sin, but in fact welcomes and celebrates our every turning toward Him for mercy. For, His heart is overflowing in compassion toward us. A compassion – a suffering with us – declared through His very own body being sacrificed at the Cross for us. There, He took upon Him not just our sin, but our every affliction – all our pain, wounding and trauma – too. He humbled Himself to identify with us in our weakness and need.
Today, our High Priest is Jesus Christ – our advocate, who is ever interceding for us before the throne of God, declaring us His. Why?
- So that He might free us from sin and death by His blood (old substitutionary offering of the ram).
- So that He might reconcile us to Himself and to each other through Him (old reconciliation offering of the ram).
- So that He might lead us, His Body, to identify with each other in prayer and through experiences He leads us into that we might comfort others with the comfort He has given us (old identification offering of the ram).
- So that He might consecrate us unto Himself, that we might become His prayers, hands and feet of love and mercy in the world (old consecration offering of the ram).
Did you know that “to confess” or “acknowledge” Jesus Christ as LORD with our mouth, that which we know in our hearts to be true, can also mean: “to celebrate” Him? Maybe like me, that reminds you of the story of the prophet Nehemiah, who, through the Spirit of God at work in Him, called the people of Israel to repentance.
When the Israelites listened to the pure and unadulterated Word of God being read aloud to them for the first time in years, they wept in such deep conviction and grief. For, they began to recognize all the ways they had gone astray. And yet God commanded them to stop weeping and to instead glorify Him in celebration – in an extended time of feasting.
He turned them away from the temptation of indulging in self and shame. He commanded them to build each other up in union with Him and each other, by celebrating His love and kindness toward them. He took away their sin and pain, exchanging it for a confidence rooted in His steadfast mercy toward them, communicated through the living and breathing Word of God in their midst – the prophet Nehemiah.
And today also, God calls us to celebrate Him in our every turning toward Him in repentance, to awaken to His ram skins dyed red – His righteousness- clothing us. Oh how I remember that joy of celebration bubbling up in me, as the Holy Spirit led me to repentance as a child. But somewhere along the way, I buried that Spirit joy in idolatry-fed shame.
I began to believe more in my filth and unworthiness than in the purity and worthiness of my Savior inside of me. I began to replace the Holy Spirit’s sweet direction with a man and self-made religion, keeping me chained to fear and shame.
And yet that beautiful ram skins dyed red – the very righteousness of Christ- covering me, a Temple of the Holy Spirit, never ever disappeared. Just because I and others couldn’t see it, as I hid myself behind layers upon layers of pride, self-righteousness, self-condemnation and shame, didn’t mean that Christ had taken that covering away from me. For, the righteousness of Christ remained hidden beneath and the seal of His Holy Spirit remained ever upon me, declaring me His throughout my Prodigal journey home.
Until, in God’s perfect timing, the Holy Spirit’s breath began to blow upon me that Christ’s righteousness might be unveiled in me and unleashed through me into this world. When God breathed upon me in power all those years later, it was He who turned my eyes toward His face to awaken me to a born again faith in Him.
Now, what I saw reflected in His face left me stunned: compassion, kindness and love. One by one I confessed each sin before Him and His Body, undone by His mercy for me, as He revealed His righteousness covering me.
And yet, God wasn’t done with me yet. He went for the roots strangling me in filth and unworthiness. As I once again began bowing before my idols of self, church and man, He commanded me to boast in my weakness and confess my sins freely. He commanded me to testify to His relentless love and mercy toward us and to speak His unadulterated Word boldly and unashamedly.
In so doing, He stripped me of my idols and man’s love and approval to shower me in His love and mercy. He opened my eyes to see that ram skins dyed red covering me and my loved ones. He took me into the Holy of Holies, bowing my knees before Him.
It’s there I no longer saw my filth and unworthiness reflected in my heart and face, nor my unbelieving family as the burden of my past sin. No, I saw Christ and His love reflected not just in my own heart and face, but in my husband and children, whom His Word declares sanctified in the faith He has gifted me – for them. As I returned to my stronghold of faith, I became Christ’s prisoner of hope, receiving in faith the double portion promised to me, as I clothed myself in the authority of God’s Word and awakened to His eternal Promises to me.
He invited me to give Him my own body as a living sacrifice – to surrender my control for His, my desires for His. And right there in that willing and joyful surrender He wrought in me, He took me and broke my body and heart in intercession for His Body.
It’s there He began a much deeper cleansing work in me, as He led me to forsake my thinking and desires to arise in His love and heart for others, by the power of His Spirit at work in me. Since then, He has given me the repeated honor and privilege of identifying with Him and His Body in their suffering, filling me with such deep compassion I can barely grasp it.
His groaning and His weeping has repeatedly become my own, as I have communed with Him in prayer. It’s there I’ve found His heart and Word arising in and through me in unfathomable and unmistakable ways.
He has begun to turn my life into a living testimony of His ram skins dyed free will offering in Christ. For, every time I now face my own inability to love others as He loves me, I know to be Christ’s precious gift to me. It is but yet another invitation into His death and resurrection, into His free will offerings for me and His Body.
Every time I have confessed my inability – and taken Him up on His invitation to become my ability for me – has left me floored. A love rises in me that just cannot be my own. For this love has led me into surrenders I would never ever have chosen of my own accord. Surrenders that are now birthing my freedom in the breath of heaven, as I see now what I never could before.
It truly is no longer me perpetually striving in this body to obey Jesus and love Him from my own ever waning strength. It is now Jesus leading me to lay down my body daily, that His Body might awaken in me, becoming those free will offerings of substitution, reconciliation, identification and consecration.
For, it is HE who is turning my hate into love. My bitterness into overflowing compassion. My unforgiveness into neverending mercy. My pride into humility. My control into surrender. My despair into hope. My grief into joy.
In and through my weakness, His desires are becoming my desires by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me. I am awakening daily to the peace that is mine in Christ Jesus. A peace transforming my fears into faith, as Jesus is revealing His Word to me and persuading me to put my trust and confidence in Him alone.
Do you long to join Bettie and I in this continuing and daily journey of dying unto ourselves to live unto Him by the power of His holy breath in us? Then, we’d love for you to join us, as we share our daily free will offerings of ram skins dyed red with you here. Oh may the grace of our LORD Jesus flow so richly in our midst as His holy breath pours out upon us, as we gather together here in His Name alone.