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4. The Altar of Incense

The passage into the Blood Covenant with God is the Veil before the Holy of Holies. It is by the Altar of Incense that we pass through that Veil into all the presence of God. It is God's intention for us to enter into the Holiest of All by the Blood of Jesus and there to become the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat upon it, full union with God in a binding Covenant of equality with everything that is God's, personal and of His heart, now utterly ours, and everything of ours, personal and of our heart, now utterly His.


 

4. The Altar of Incense

© Daniel Yordy - 2012

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane . . . and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again - And He knelt down and prayed - the third time - saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 


Matthew 26:36-43 and Luke 22:41-44 combined

A contract is a binding agreement between two parties who, together, intend to achieve some aim or goal. Each party to the contract brings certain skills or resources to the agreement, and, by working together as agreed, the two parties reach the goal in a manner satisfactory to both.

A covenant contains all the elements of a contract, but then goes way beyond a contract. First, a contract is limited to one goal and carefully describes those several limited skills or resources each party must add. A covenant, however, is for all of life and it encircles all the skills and resources of both parties. A covenant is not limited to some specific goal, but includes all goals ever sought by either party. It is a binding commitment of the heart that melds two different individuals into one.

Thus entering into a covenant is a BIG deal. Neither party belongs to themselves but to the other and to this new entity of us. Marriage is just such a covenant.

We can see the difference in scale between a young man agreeing to mow his neighbor's yard for a sum of money versus a marriage between a husband and wife, sanctioned and blessed by the Lord, in which children grow up into maturity and strength. We then take that same difference in scale from a marriage covenant to the Covenant between God and Jesus Christ, which Covenant reaches out and by our agreement draws us into its embrace, into its terms and goals. The Covenant is as much a bigger deal than the marriage covenant as the marriage covenant is a bigger deal than the agreement to mow a lawn.

In olden times, two men would enter into a covenant with one another, to commit their lives and resources to each other for whatever need might arise. I'm reading a book in which two young men on the American frontier just before the revolution made such an agreement. That kind of covenant is always sealed with blood, and so they cut their hands and mixed their blood. Then, one of them went with the British and Indians in the conflict and the other with the American settlers. However, even though both fought ferociously for the side they had chosen, yet they risked their lives and place to help the other escape when captured. Their commitment to one another was greater than their commitment to any other issue.

In Abraham's time, the establishment of a covenant between two men was a big deal. Such a covenant was always made with blood and the cutting open of animals. Thus comes the term, "cutting the covenant." Entering into a covenant with another was a bloody, bloody affair. They made a big deal out of entering such a covenant so that the binding commitment the two men shared with each other would be a big deal in each one's heart and mind.

Why would two men enter into such a covenant? First, the deepest love and respect for one another was the foundation of entering that covenant. Second, a life with a blood brother always watching your back, always being there for you no matter what, was a greatly strengthened and ennobled life. Two moving as one was always better than facing any situation by one's self. And facing any situation by one's self was preferable to facing that situation with another who was sort of with you, but not really. Two who are NOT one usually never pans out.

"I've got your back" is one of the key purposes of a blood covenant. You know that at no point will your blood brother ever let you down or betray you in any way. You know that he will gladly die for you without hesitation - and you will do the same for him.

Now, by nature, a blood covenant is an agreement between two equals, who equally commit all to the other and who equally look out for the other as for themselves. One man could be wealthy and powerful, the other poor and insignificant. That difference is erased utterly the moment they enter into a blood covenant together. Passing through that covenant makes them equals in every possible way.

No one enters into a blood covenant lightly.

A blood covenant is absolute, it is total, it is forever and ever. I suspect those two young men who made that blood covenant on the American frontier are as bonded together now in Hades as they were on the earth. I suspect they are still looking out for one another's backs as they are able in the shadows.

Entering into a Blood Covenant with God is a BIG DEAL, both to Him and to us and to Jesus who is the Bond, the Surety, the Cutting Open, the Blood, of that Covenant.

Once we complete the Blood Covenant with God, we are forever bound to Him and He is forever bound to us. We are equals in every way; we keep each other's backs. We are absolutely and totally committed to one another's person, honor, well-being, hopes, dreams, and wishes. We of God's and God of ours. Once I have completed the Blood Covenant with God, I am as much concerned about His interests and honor as He is concerned about mine. He depends upon me as much as I depend upon Him.

You can see how entering into a Blood Covenant with one another is a BIG, BIG DEAL to God as much as it is a BIG, BIG DEAL to us. It is no light or flippant thing.

We have not completed the Blood Covenant with God.

Entering into a Blood Covenant with God and God with us, bound to one another in all ways as equals and forever is a three-step process. There are not three covenants, rather the one Covenant applies at three ever deeper levels of knowing God. 

No human who is not born again can even contemplate entering into a Blood Covenant with God. God does not bind Himself as an equal to dead and beastly humans. The beastliness of the human must pass through the cross and we must be born again, alive unto God, before we can even see the possibility of entering into a Blood Covenant with God. Once a human is born again, the first step of the Covenant stands before them - baptism in water.

Baptism in water is the first step in entering into this Covenant with God and God with us. It is an agreement to contemplate that Covenant. Yes, baptism in water has a binding element to it, but for the one who is baptized it is a time of probation, when the reality of entering into such a Covenant with God can be seen and worked out.

It would be absolutely unfair, that is, unjust, on God's part to force a binding Covenant on someone who has just been born again and baptized in water. They have no idea who God is or what He is or what He is about. To force them into an absolute and total commitment to His Person and honor when they have no idea, even, what the realms of spirit are, let alone God Himself, would simply be wrong. God does not do wrong.

More than that, God just doesn't trust you. And He doesn't trust me, either. This is a BIG, BIG DEAL for God; He surrenders everything of Himself, everything. He gives it all up, every hidden secret, every inner room, every particle of wealth and power - even Himself, His very Person, and, most especially, His very heart. All of it is committed absolutely as an equal to His covenant partner. And quite frankly, He just does not trust us. We are as likely to kick Him where it hurts the most as the next guy, and to betray His trust of us in the moment of dire need.

The second step of entering into this Blood Covenant between God and us is baptism in the Spirit. God is Spirit who dwells in the realms of Spirit, heaven. How can we know what entering into Covenant with God means unless we surrender ourselves to the realms of Spirit in which God lives? The Baptism of the Spirit is a surrender of trust. Those who refuse the Baptism of the Spirit do so entirely because they DO NOT trust God. They think He's up to no good, that He will give them a demon, make them do stupid things, and lead them into deception, if they surrender themselves to immersion into the Holy Spirit.

Baptism in water is a contract, not a covenant. God will honor His side of that contract regardless. But baptism in water is not the binding commitment of equality that the Blood Covenant is. Those who enter into a contract with God through baptism in water - and remember, no one can begin any agreement with God until they are first made alive - will enjoy the benefits and blessings of that contract, which include peace with God. But it is a contract only and thus limited.

Baptism into the Spirit is like a marriage covenant. It is not the fullness of the Blood Covenant, but it is far more than a contract. Once someone allows Jesus to immerse them into the Spirit, they now live in the Spirit, that is, they are fully in heaven. We don't see heaven all around us because we are blind; God has not yet removed the cataracts from our eyes. But Paul said that if we live in the Spirit, we should also walk in the Spirit. Spirit and Heaven are the same thing. We live in heaven - we should also walk in heaven. But since we are yet blind, that is, our spirit-eyes, which are a literal and substantial organ of our spirits, are yet covered by cataracts, we must walk in heaven by faith.

People who say, "Oh, when we 'get to heaven,'" are walking in ignorance and just a little disobedience - Paul said, "Do not say 'go to heaven.'" He had a solid reason for saying that. We live and walk in heaven fully all the time, we do so by faith until such time as God removes the cataracts from our spirit-eyes. Once He does that, we will see clearly heaven all around us without ever "leaving the earth."

The purpose of entering into full immersion of the Spirit is that we might grow up into Christ so that we might be capable of entering into the Blood Covenant with God. All born-again Christians are welcome to enter freely into that Blood Covenant, few choose to do so.

Most of those who are immersed into the Holy Spirit, who now live and walk in heaven, are simply uninterested in entering into the full Blood Covenant with God. Why they are uninterested, I have not yet completely worked out, not having entered, fully, into that Covenant myself. Nevertheless, they are now in a marriage agreement with God and God will show Himself faithful to all provisions and terms of that marriage.

I am not interested in a contract with God to be happy forever - only. I am not interested in a marriage agreement with the Lamb and all the glory and wonder that means - only. God has offered to me a Blood Covenant with Himself and I am very interested. There my face has always been set, though I knew it not. And Jesus has agreed, not just to take me to Himself as His Bride, but to take me to the Father and to be the surety of a Blood Covenant between myself and God.

Every Christian on this planet should know fully every part and particle of the Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness and what it means in the Christian life and walk, what each part means in the New Testament. The fact that they do not fills me with great sorrow.

Let me give, here, a quick run-through. We enter the gate of the outer court by asking Jesus into our hearts, surrendering ourselves to God by an act of our will through the speaking of our voice. Then, we immediately see the brass altar, the sacrifice of Jesus AS God's judgment against sin. We progress, then to the brass wash-basin, which represents baptism in water, God's judgment on the old man - dead in Christ - and which represents the washing of the water of the word, as we allow the things God says in the Bible to clean us up outwardly.

But the brass wash-basin is right in front of the TENT, and it is God's intention for us immediately to proceed to the door of the tent. We enter the door of the tent by asking Jesus to immerse us into the Holy Spirit, surrendering ourselves on a new and higher level to God by an act of our will through the speaking of our voice. Then, immediately, we see the table of show-bread with seven loaves of bread and the lamp-stand with seven lamps of fire. We no longer see by the natural light of the sun, of our natural minds, but we see by the light of the Holy Spirit and the Bible becomes a new book to us, a living word. The enablement and power of God runs all through us.

It IS God's intention for us to spend some time eating of a Spirit Word and learning the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit. This is a place of sanctification and of growth, from glory to glory, into the image of Christ. But after awhile, we notice a third piece of furniture in the Holy Place, the Altar of Incense. Once we notice the Altar of Incense, it is God's intention for us to move into that altar, using the light of the Spirit and the Spirit of the word for their real purpose.

The passage into the Blood Covenant with God is the Veil before the Holy of Holies. It is by the Altar of Incense that we pass through that Veil into all the presence of God. It is God's intention for us to enter into the Holiest of All by the Blood of Jesus and there to become the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat upon it, full union with God in a binding Covenant of equality with everything that is God's, personal and of His heart, now utterly ours, and everything of ours, personal and of our heart, now utterly His.

It is not God's intention for believers to set up camp just inside the gate of the outer court, but many do. It is not God's intention for believers to set up camp at the brass altar or the brass wash-basin, but many do. It is not God's intention for believers to set up camp just inside the door of the Holy Place, but many do. It is not God's intention for believers to set up camp at the Lamb-Stand or the Table of Show-bread, but many do. It is not God's intention for believers to set up camp in the Altar of Incense, but many do.

Yet all are free to find the place that pleases them and to dwell wherever they wish forever.

God placed the tree of life in the garden, and He indicated to Adam that it was there, but He never commanded Adam to eat of it, nor made a big deal out of its existence. Adam could have lived for ten million years on this earth in total happiness without ever eating of the tree of knowledge - and without ever eating of the tree of life.  

In the same way, God just doesn't make a big deal over the Blood Covenant, this binding union as equals between God and us, but it's there. It is there for anyone who wants it.

Most do not. Most are happy with some other place in God's house, and God is happy for them. They will rejoice forever in the goodness of God without ever really knowing there is something in God they chose not to pursue. 

But there are a few who are never satisfied. They go poking into corners that others stay out of. They see an opening and they can't rest until they know what's beyond that door. Then they see something more, and the groaning just continues inside - and they push in where angels fear to tread. That is the nature of man, God's image, a heart of daring boldness, to go where no man or angel has ever gone before.

The first step of the Covenant is the brass wash-basin, baptism in water. In a sense, it is part of entering into the gate into the court of God's house, but God made it a distinct act of a fully alive and cognizant human, a surrender of one's life to God. We have to be alive before we can bind ourselves to God, yet becoming alive is part of that initial contract.

The second step of the Covenant is the door into the Holy Place, the baptism or immersion into the Holy Spirit.

The third step of the Covenant is the Veil into the Holy of Holies and the Altar of Incense that alone takes us through.

We enter into the Holy of Holies with all boldness by the Blood of Jesus, the Blood of the Covenant, but God never forces us to do so. And most do not believe such a thing is for them.

We cannot even begin to know the Blood Covenant God would enter into with us without first knowing the Altar of Incense. God does not show that Blood Covenant to anyone who is not first committed to the Altar of Incense, it's just too personal to Him and far too risky.

Normally, when two parties discuss the terms of a contract, they always begin with the end purpose of that contract fully in view. In a sense, God does that with us as well, but in another sense, He does not open to anyone a Spirit-knowledge of the full meaning and reality of the Blood Covenant until they first know the Altar of Incense. It just would not be fair to them.

You see, God has a problem. He wants to enter into union with us, with all His heart. But God is Fire. And to live with God is to dwell with devouring fire, it is to live inside of everlasting burnings. (Isaiah 33)

It is the Altar of Incense that shows us who God really is and what living with Him in a binding Covenant of full equality really means. Then, and especially then, God does not force Himself upon us. It is entirely by our own desire. It is our thirst alone that turns us into the smoke of the incense that alone enters into full union with God.

It is an absolute with God. He never forces Himself nor any part of Himself onto any created being. But for us, the door is always open, and even though we are blind and cannot see it, yet if we will but follow the unquenched desire of our heart, we will surely find our way all the way through.

Do not ever lose your heart nor any of its unquenched desire.

Every single believer who sets up camp somewhere along the path, happy with what they have found, do so because they have lost Desire.

How many, many times I have awoken in a start of horror, all the days of my life, KNOWING that God is doing something in the earth that I do not know. How many, many times, I have stumbled to my feet, blind and bloody and hurting, but rushing out the door, running after the call of my Beloved, longing, longing, if by any means, to KNOW Him and Him alone.

I see ever the picture, down by the Jordan river, a hoary prophet putting his hands on the shoulders of two teenage boys, pointing across the river and saying to them, "Boys, do you see that man over there? Follow him." And they run after him, and he turns, and in their naivety the only thing they can think to say is, "Master, where are you staying?" And they hear the most precious, the most glorious words ever heard by man. Listen they are just sixteen years old, as I ever am, and they hear, - "Come and see."

Those words are as alive in me today as they ever were. I see everywhere dear believers in Jesus who are happy in the place they have found in God. I know fully where they dwell, often better than they do. But I simply cannot comprehend them; they make absolutely no sense to me. I walk in the rest and peace of God like I have never known in 48 years of walking with God, but I am never satisfied, and my dissatisfaction is far larger today than it has ever been. I cannot be at rest, I cannot sit down until I KNOW God in the fulness of the Covenant. I will not sit down, I will not rest anywhere short of His throne, the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies - manifest and complete.

That I might know Him, in the power of His resurrection, and in the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if, by any means, I might ATTAIN unto the resurrection of the dead, - which is the goal of the voice of God's heart calling, calling to us. (Philippians 3)Let's look, now, at the Altar of Incense, as we have never known it before. I showed it to you at the beginning of this letter, let's look at it again, here.

But wait just a moment. We are brought up short. There is an invisible barrier before the Altar of Incense, that's why most Christians in the Holy Place don't even know it's there. The barrier is not in God's pattern, it is in their own minds. You cannot see the Altar of Incense, not really, until that barrier is broken in your own mind and heart. Let's break it now.

You see, entering into a Blood Covenant is a Bloody, Bloody, deal. There is a lot of cutting open going on, a lot of gore, a lot of blood on the hillside. But there's worse than that, much worse. A Blood Covenant with God is not for the squeamish; it's not for the timid or fearful. Only those who trust absolutely in God, who throw themselves utterly upon Him, can know this Altar of Incense.

Will you enter in? Will you stride through the blood and the cutting-open, and the gore, and whatever else comes your way in all boldness?

Let's shatter heaven first. Heaven is not your goal. God never says any such thing. Heaven is blighted and cursed. Heaven is the origin of evil; it is unclean in the sight of God. Part of the task of the Covenant is that God and us will clean up heaven as we will clean up earth, that is, we birth a new heaven and a new earth out of the river of God flowing out of our bellies.

Heaven as it is right now is shattered, all who "go to heaven" are waiting with great longing and tears for the salvation of God. They are in Jesus, yes, but they are not complete. Heaven as it is right now is passing away - and we are the ones bringing it to an end. Paul said that it is heaven right now that is at war with us, much more than earth, because we are bringing it to an end. I have no desire to "go to" heaven, such a thing is not a possible reality; I live already in heaven right now as fully as I ever will. And as God is in me, He and I will shatter heaven together.

The heavens that will be come entirely out of our belly, ours and God's. That heaven - that does not yet exist except as a seed inside of us because the Covenant has not yet been completed - that heaven, that kingdom, cannot ever be shaken.

But there is something else that must be shattered inside of you. It is a veil of darkness that sits upon the hearts of most believers. It is found in these words,"Not here, not now, not me."

Do you see how I went out on a limb and sawed it off, just above. God says in Hebrews 12 that He will shatter heaven. I say that God will shatter heaven here, that God will shatter heaven now, that God will shatter heaven through me, that God and I do all things together. Do I "see" that? No I do not. I do not walk by sight - I am blind; I walk by faith. I saw the limbs off behind me. I expect God to catch me up into all that He speaks.

Can you say the following words? If you can say them with a heart of faith, longing to know the living God, trusting utterly in Him, then He will show you the Altar of Incense. If you cannot say them, you are utterly blessed and happy. God has a wonderful future in store for you, joy of which you've never dreamed. Be blessed in all that you have found.

Put your own full name in the blank.

"I, _______ _________, will be just like Jesus. I will walk just as He walked, right here on this earth, in this age, and in this life. I will walk without sin, just as Jesus walked. I will walk revealing the Father just as Jesus walked. I will walk in open ministry as a manifest son of God, just as Jesus walked. The Spirit will move through me without measure, just as the Spirit moved through Jesus without measure. I will know and reveal God, just as Jesus knew and revealed God, right here on this earth, right now in this life, me, as a human being BEFORE the resurrection, just as Jesus walked in all these things before His resurrection."

Understand, this is a declaration of faith, speaking what God does say in the New Testament, calling those things that "be not" as though they ARE. And to die while speaking this declaration and not see it in your time is called "dying in faith." You join a noble company. 

You had to trust utterly in God, speaking, "Jesus, forgive me of my sins and come into my heart," before you could enter the court of God and begin to see the salvation of God. You had to trust utterly in God, casting yourself fully upon Him, speaking, "Jesus, I surrender all of me to you, immerse me into Your Holy Spirit," before you could enter the Holy Place and begin to see the revelation of the Spirit.

The third part of the Covenant is the same.

If you are able to speak the words of the Covenant, placing your own full name in the blank, casting yourself utterly in full trust upon God, knowing that it is God alone who fulfills these words inside of you, then let the cutting begin.

A sword shall pierce through your own heart also, that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed. Luke 2

We are NOT talking about "dealing with sin," or "getting right with God." All that is full and complete. Those who do not know that Christ is their life, that ALL sin is gone forever cannot even see this thing in God. We are talking about entering into a Blood Covenant with God during which your heart will be cut wide open, exposed for all to see.

Let's look, now, at the Altar of Incense.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane . . . and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again - And He knelt down and prayed - the third time - saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 

Let me bring the Altar of Incense into the words of the gospel. That Altar is found here and there throughout the New Testament, but we will use the two verses in Romans 8 that reference its reality in our lives.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Yes, many Christians read and talk about these verses, but they cannot see the Altar of Incense because they have not spoken the words, that is, confessed the Lord Jesus, that allow God to show them the reality of the Covenant. They still claim that God is speaking hokey in the gospel. They are convinced that whatever God means is not now, not here, and not me, that it's all for "heaven" after death takes us out. 

But, in grappling with the reality and meaning of that Altar, first, we must grapple with the reality of God.

I am part of a Facebook discussion in which a dear sister recently raised a critical issue. We say that all of God's ways concerning us are perfect, that He allows nothing into our lives except that which He intends for our glory, that God and we work together to make all things good. But what about perverse child abuse. How could such a thing ever be allowed by God? How could we possibly see God turning such a thing into something "good." (I have put her questions into my own words.)

Now, this question is right and of God. In fact, it is God Himself, living in this sister, who is asking of Himself this very question. She is just expressing God's own consternation. I want to share here what I shared in that discussion, modified to fit this letter. I must write my next letter, which I will title, "Gethsemane," to look more closely at Jesus' part of the Altar of Incense, the signing of the Blood Covenant between us and God.

Bonnie Morris, who shares the dyordy website with me, and I have been going back and forth on this issue for five years now. And it's not that we are in disagreement, it's that God contradicts Himself big time. That is, God says two opposing things and He says those opposing things in the heart of the gospel. When we try to teach one side of the issue, there is a feeling that we are contradicting what God says in opposition. But when we write to justify the other thing God says, we hear the first things He says that seem to oppose this new stance we take.

The issue is sovereignty versus justice. Out of that issue comes assurance versus jeopardy. And, yes, this is the greatest split-issue in church history. Very few people are able to believe what God says as He says it - both sides. We have to set aside human reason to believe both words that God speaks.

But, reading the talk about sufferings - and specifically the viciousness of demonic attack, here is what I thought.

I do not see myself as being separate from God; if I am being attacked, He is being attacked. So, I see it quite differently from "God is teaching me something." No, we are utterly in this thing together. What I am learning is to know Him more deeply as He shares all things with me. But whatever it is that is happening to me is happening to God equally. In fact, I suspect God takes the heavier side of the blows.

As I'm writing on the Altar of Incense and Gethsemane, I find the most shocking thing in the Bible. We read right over things without realizing their import. I have posited that Jesus, walking the path of the atonement, is the one clear, real, literal showing of God Himself as He really is to all creation. Everything else "about" God, though true, is figurative, as Jesus said. And that God was in Christ through every single step of the way, just as we were and just as He is in us. God was being Himself in Jesus, that is, God was reconciling the world to Himself. Not for us, but as Himself. That is, God did not "do" the acts of salvation; He showed His inner and true Being by the path of salvation.

Yet what do we find when we read the accounts in the gospels? There has never been a demonic assault against any individual on this planet that approaches the horrific, vicious, piranha-attack against Jesus from the moment He entered Gethsemane to the moment He left His body. I want to try to create a view of that in my letter on Gethsemane. It was bigger and more awful than we imagine. Yet, this is God, showing Himself as He really is. Does God need a demonic assault against Himself and against the man who reveals God in order to show Himself as He really is?

Now that is the first thing I have seen on this path that is to all appearances ridiculous and absurd - yet there it is. And I do NOT understand it, but neither can I dismiss it.

Then we look again and discover that Adam could not eat of the tree of life without passing by demonic assault. Abraham could not enter into the proto-New Covenant with God without driving away the fowls of the air (Gen. 15) that came to tear apart the cut-open and bloody flesh of the Covenant. The manchild coming out of the womb - the first thing he sees is the face of the dragon, jaws open wide to devour him. These are the four key points in the revelation of God through man. What on earth is vicious, evil, unrestrained demonic assault against God and against the man who reveals Him, doing at the center of those four key places. How is it that God needs an enemy to be revealed?

Yet we would not know salvation if the Pharisees had not murdered Jesus.

And this issue of the perverse abuse of beloved and precious children IS the center core of this issue, for God and for us. It is the same picture Fyodor Dostoevsky uses in his writing of the most powerful accusation against God ever penned in human history - the key chapter in The Brother's Karamazov, "The Grand Inquisitor." Dostoevsky places two children before the reader, one, a little girl, who is locked into an outhouse, a privy, to spend the night in winter weather as punishment by an abusive father. The other, a little boy, who is torn to pieces by a pack of dogs at the command of their master and his, just because the master feels like it, while the impotent father watches in agony.  

Dostoevsky raises his voice in the same accusation against God that fills all human history.

"God, if you were good, you would NOT let this happen. God, if you exist, you are an evil bastard!"

But God is in that child more than the child is in him or herself and it is God who is being abused and whipped and mocked and torn to pieces. It is God sitting there, shivering through the long hours of the night, scared out of her wits. The one abusing the child is literally and really doing it to God Himself.

The whole book of Job is written around this issue - the whole Bible is written around this issue. The whole purpose and revelation of God is centered on this issue. It is right that we wrestle with this issue for it is here, in the center of this horrific and unjustifiable issue that God reveals Himself.

You see, we cannot "take sides" on this issue. We can only take our place utterly inside of God - that's the only side we can be inside of. Job wrestled all through this issue - his comforters said God is "doing this to you" because you are bad. (That's what I was taught for many years.) God said, "Justify Me." Job said, "I shall see God in my flesh." The result of demonic assault is God revealed, the path is to find God right in all things. All of His ways concerning me are perfect. I will say that and believe that against every moment of my life regardless of reason.

The thing is, Jesus was in incredible pain and agony by the demonic assault against Him in the garden. He said so. That pain was worse than the physical pain about to come. But, you see, what Jesus did not do is almost as important as what He did do.  

#1. Jesus did not flail against the demons. He simply endured their pain, knowing that God was in Him in that pain, reconciling the world to Himself.  #2. Jesus did not identify with either the pain or the assault or the demons. "The Prince of this world comes and has nothing in Me."  

We do not read it in the text but I know that the one thing Jesus did do was give thanks. I know He gave thanks - and the issue is not for all things versus in all things - we give thanks INSIDE of God - that's the only place we are.

I know He gave thanks every step of that path because that is the depth of the same Spirit in me that was in Jesus. The greater the pain the more I give thanks.

AND Jesus knew with all certainty that through every step, God was in Him reconciling all things to Himself AND we were in Him, literally and absolutely, walking the path to all the knowledge and revelation of God. And third, Jesus expected resurrection life billowing up from beneath of Him every step, every tear, every lash, catching Him up into life and to the throne of God.

Why does God need murder to save us? Yet the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the ages, before any creature was formed in heaven or earth, before any commandment was given, before any creature sinned. The murdered Lamb, His blood poured out, His flesh ripped, His side pierced by wicked hands is there in the eternal nature and being of God.

No, we cannot explain such a thing or justify it or reason it out or convince anyone including ourselves that it is right. All we can do is fall on our face and cry, "Holy, holy, holy." For just as surely as the murdered Lamb stands in the core and center of God utterly separate from all creation, so also - there are you and me. We are as much inside that Lamb inside of God separate from creation as the Lamb Himself. We cannot reason this out either nor explain it to anyone. All we can do is worship.

When Jesus said, "In that day you shall know that I am in the Father and you in Me and I in you." He was not talking about something that would happen some day. Our knowing would happen some day, yes, but not the IN part of things. What we would discover is something absolutely true inside the eternal nature of God. We are there, separate from all created beings. And He is utterly inside of us.

David was rejected by Israel. They didn't want him. Then he was rejected by the Philistines, they didn't want him. Then he came home and found his city plundered, his people murdered, his wives and children kidnapped and all his possessions stolen. Then his men said, "What a jerk this David is."

So what did David do? He placed himself right in the middle of God and he justified God. He found God right and true. He encouraged himself in the Lord.

Jeremiah knew pain like few people ever have known pain. And what did he say. "Therefore I hope in Him; His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness."

Why? How? What is the purpose?

We are already totally saved from all the fall of Adam. Yet, though we are already saved utterly from Adam, yet we find before us the pathway into all the revelation of God lies through pearls, twelve pearls, our response to the pain that God and we share together.

If I am afflicted it is God's affliction, not mine. He causes me to know Him as He really is by sharing with me just a bit His affliction. But we don't ever feel sorry for God. He is laughing uproariously in all expectation of goodness and pleasure at the same time

He's a funny guy, this God we reveal. You can't pin Him down, you can't box Him in, yet He is always so very close, our breath, our life, His Person inside of our person.

Maybe we should say it this way, God allows pain to come upon Himself, and then He allows us to know Him just a bit in the fellowship of His sufferings.

The demons didn't attack Jesus because He was bad, they assaulted Him with unfathomable pain because He was the Christ of God, the Savior of the world, because He was God revealed.

It was John Eldredge who, after I had endured 30 years of unexplainable pain, most caused by precious people, brothers and sisters in the Lord, but some caused by Asperger's and some caused by demonic assault, no question about that. Jesus said we would find life in this world no different than He found it, that if they attacked Him, they would also attack us. But it was John Eldredge who showed me that it wasn't my fault. That I was attacked because my heart was good, because I belonged to Jesus, because the demons were terrified of me.

Yet we must stop in our tracks to laugh with joy. Affliction in and of itself is a complete waste of time. Everyone endures affliction. Most gain nothing at all from it. We, on the other hand, count it all joy; we get excited when everything that can go wrong does go wrong; we despise the shame of our weakness, giving it no thought. Our eyes, our heart, our face, is set on glory with all joy.  

You see, the Altar of Incense is not suffering, it is a place inside of God inside of suffering. 

AND - we must close with the flip side of this issue of suffering. There is always a flip side. A sister posted on her public page on Facebook. "I attended the funeral today of a woman whose life was blighted by mental illness. This is just the work of the enemy to kill, steal and destroy human life on any level he can. I hate it and I hate the devil."

I agree with this sister completely and say much the same thing in previous articles. You see, I do not "impose" on others my knowing of God in the fellowship of His sufferings. "Suffer, brother, it's good for you," is one of the most reprehensible practices I have seen or heard in Christianity. It is so perverse, coming in so many different forms.

No evil practice or evil doing is "of God."  

When our brother or sister hurts, we never ever say "It's good for you." Father help us. No, on the one hand we break the power of evil, whatever is required - without any shadow of accusation against their dear hearts, and on the other we give a cup of cold water as we are able, whatever that might mean. The greatest gift I have to give is the comfort I myself have received from Jesus. As I have known His care, so I care for you.   

Let everyone else do what everyone else does. And let us know Him as He is filling us in all fullness just as we are and transforming us through light affliction into His glory.

Knowing God inside this light affliction is the Altar of Incense, and by it we enter into the Covenant.