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January 15, 2019

Christian Media



Part V


In our last installment of The Great Exchange, we examined the concept of the Shadow and the Substance, in which the historical accounts affecting earthly Israel prophetically foreshadowed events affecting born again Israel in the Spiritual realm.

We concluded Part IV with the Apostle Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthians that the events which occurred to the Israelites – particularly when they were in the wilderness before they entered into the promised  land – were predictive of what was to occur to Israel at the end of the age.

A clear indicator of this pattern is seen in multiple verses in the New Testament, in which the text plainly indicates the linkage between the various sequences affecting the tribes, are predictive of the body of Christ during the New Covenant era. 

“Now these were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (I Corinthians 10:6). 

Paul went on to reassure the born again body at Corinth that God had exchanged their earthly, finite nature for an eternal existence in the heavenlies, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. In this regard, we see the formula we’ve dubbed the Shadow and the Substance is addressed as the Earthy (alternately spelled as earthly) and the Heavenly.

“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual [heavenly], but that which is natural [earthy]; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven(I Corinthians 15:46, 47).

The Apostle goes on to restate the sequential order of the LORD’s redemptive plan, but again states the “earthy” (that which we’ve shown is the Shadow), precedes the “heavenly” (that which our previous chapter established as the Substance).

“As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly(I Corinthians 15:48, 49).

The word that is used for image is eikon, where we get our word icon. It means a copy, or a representation of something else.

Thus Paul is saying we bear (or manifest) the image of the earthy in our flesh and blood bodies and, as Christians, we also bear (or manifest) the image of the heavenly.

With this last statement, Paul is stating that since it is obvious the Christians have “earthy” bodies, which are images (or copies) of the Shadow (conforming to the pattern of the Shadow) – it is a logical indicator  that the believers also “bear the image of the heavenly” – i.e. the Substance (I Corinthians 15:49).

“There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:44).

All of these things address the concept of the Great Exchange – in which the LORD calls those He has chosen to relinquish this Earthly life, and exchange it for the Heavenly life He offers. 

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

A rather subtle point is going to follow the previous statements, and Paul’s extensive explanation of the Earthy and the Heavenly (read the Shadow and the Substance), leads to his conclusion.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Corinthian 15:50).

This statement explicitly contradicts the idea that “flesh and blood” can directly inherit a place in the kingdom of God under the New Covenant. Further, statements of this nature are a bit confusing when compared with the following:

“To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

Thus, if we look at our existence as flesh and blood, how then can the Christian immediately move to the kingdom of God at our physical death?

To put it another way, as the redeemed in Christ, and the recipients of hundreds of promises of salvation made to Israel, we cannot be defined as exclusively “flesh and blood.“

Moreover, there are many proof texts which indicate believers in JESUS CHRIST are in a transitional state, recapitulating the position of ancient Israel, as they travelled through the wilderness awaiting their reward in the promised land.

For instance, as Israel was in the wilderness (which we’ve shown represents the Spiritual realm), they were no longer in bondage to Egypt, yet they wandered for many years before receiving the promise.  

“These…died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

This is a very precise description of the Spiritual Israelite – the Christians – who are no longer in bondage to the flesh – yet our journey through the wilderness continues throughout this earthly life before we reach the substance in the heavenlies.

As we noted in Part IV of the Great Exchange, the entrance into the wilderness did not guarantee salvation, as the Pharaoh also went into the wilderness – and we know what happened to him. Thus, just as flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we see there is a transitional arena where the decision is made as to which side of the multi-faceted man is going to prevail.

The Apostle Paul also addresses this conflict between the Spirit and the Flesh – which is essentially a war between life and death – as a determination is made concerning who we are going to obey.

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?(Romans 6:16).

It is significant the Scriptural admonitions repeatedly speak of a war – as individual battles are won or lost on multiple occasions -- whereas a war speaks of an enduring conflict.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [read fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4, 5).

Since we now recognize the composite state of the believer, in which we still occupy flesh and blood bodies which “have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:9, 10), we can no longer be referred to as “flesh and blood.”

Moreover, the Scriptures coherently tell us the redeemed person in Christ  is no longer reckoned to be an ordinary man or woman:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature(II Corinthians 5:17).

This helps to explain the various verses in which the believers are said to be Spiritual beings, or the sons (and daughters) of God, whose residency is in the heavenlies – as opposed to the earth.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2).

Another indicator of the status of the saved and the lost parallels these Spirit versus flesh and blood verses. The book of Revelation, for example, references “them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6) – and a superficial acknowledgement of such verses inaccurately perceives this to apply exclusively to angels, and the heavenly host.

However, in the Spiritual realm, our “new man” (Colossians 3:10), who is “a new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17) dwells in heaven, where we are seated in Christ. Because He is at the right hand of the Father, and we are seated in Him, it follows that our “new man” is among “them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6).

Conversely, those who are inhabited by the Spirit of Antichrist, and his hemispheric half, the Spirit of the False Prophet, are “them that dwell on the earth” (Revelation 14:16).

Thus, all “them that dwell on the earth” are those “whose names are not written in the book of life” (Revelation 17:8). This is the “flesh and blood [that] cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 15:50).

However, as we rejoice that God has chosen us to yield to His Spirit, as pilgrims we progress in our journey through the wilderness, for He has chosen us to dwell in heaven in Christ (John 15:19).

“And [He] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).


-- James Lloyd

To Be Continued



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