WE STOOD AT the bottom of an empty cistern. I had asked the teacher to show me as I had never seen one before. We were now ready to leave.
“Look,” said the teacher, “right now that’s our only hope.”
He was pointing to a wooden ladder, the same ladder we had climbed down to get to where we were. “Without that ladder,” he said, “we’d be stuck here at the bottom. And what if it only went halfway up to the top?”
“If it didn’t reach the top, it wouldn’t do us any good.”
“And if the ladder started from the top but only went halfway down?”“If it didn’t reach the bottom, it wouldn’t do us any good either. We’d be stuck here either way.”
“What about getting into heaven?” he asked. “How high is heaven above the earth? How great is the distance that separates man from God, and sin from the Most Holy? How long would that ladder have to be . . . to get you into heaven?”
“As high and as long as the distance that separates man from God, a ladder between heaven and earth.”
“It was that ladder that Jacob saw in his dream, a ladder from heaven to earth. It was the shadow of Messiah, that which joins heaven to earth, and God to man. It can only work if the ladder touches both ends, the highest height with the lowest depth. So the Most High had to descend to the most low of depths so that those in the lowest depths could ascend to the highest heights.
The Most Heavenly had to become earthly so that those who were earthly could become heavenly. And the Most Holy had to join Himself to the most unholy, the Holy One joined to the lowest of sins, the Most Sacred to the most profane . . . So God descended to the deepest depths of darkness, to the lowest rung of degradation and judgment.”
“The bottom of Jacob’s ladder,” I said, “that which joins earth to heaven . . .”
“Therefore,” said the teacher, “no matter how low you find yourself, no matter how lost you are, no matter how sinful, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far from God you are . . . no matter how deep the pit you find yourself in . . . look for the ladder . . . and it will be there to take you out. The ladder will be there with its one end touching the bottom of your lowest depths, and the other end touching the Most High.”
The Mission: Wherever you are there is a ladder connecting you to the Most High. Find the first rung of heaven’s ladder and take it.
Genesis 28:10–17; John 1:51
The Heaven and Earth Continuum
Amos 5:14-15 “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”
As I read this scripture I am brought into a new light that brings to my attention the meaning of life. I am brought into a light that promotes good works and faith, doing away with evil. The entire Bible speaks about doing away with evil thoughts and works, as we are to be seeking to establish each and every day…If we seek God through Christ then we will be rewarded with the calm peaceful nature of the Holy Spirit.
Of all the challenges that we face as humans, overcoming the evil of this world is possibly the greatest challenge of all. By dwelling upon peaceful resolution we are able to establish ways of living that direct us away from violence and anger. I see that violence and anger are so predominant in our world that sometimes it is hard to cope. The love of God overcomes both and is to be at the center of our heart.
When we face challenging situations in life we are brought into new understanding. My new understanding has come from events that I have experienced and will experience over the course of my life. I have learned how to not make the same mistakes twice and to live a life of love and promise. Love and promise are so great to instill the hope and reassurance that we need to make it through life.
My entire life now revolves around family and close friends. Life is about relationships and by making relationships loving and positive we are doing what God would have us to do. The more relationships that we can have that are true and loyal, the more promise we may attain.
Life is not perfect, but by relating to one another we begin to find peace in life.
ZICHARYAH, ELISHEVAH, AND YOCHANAN
THERE HAD BEEN centuries of silence,” said the teacher, “in between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. To many, it seemed as if God had forgotten His promises to Israel. Do you know what ended that silence? The first earthly event recorded in the New Testament?”
“The birth of Messiah?”
“No,” he said. “It was an event concerning a priest named Zachariah. When Zachariah was young, he married a woman named Elizabeth. Undoubtedly they had dreamed of having a child, but were never able to. They were both now old. Time had taken away their youth and their dream. But while Zachariah was performing his priestly service in the Temple of Jerusalem, an angel of God appeared to him and told him that Elizabeth would, in her old age, give birth to a child. So God would fulfill the ancient hopes of Israel through the fulfilling of an old couple’s long lost hopes for a baby. But behind it was a mystery. Zachariah’s real name was Zicharyah. Zicharyah means God has remembered. Elizabeth’s real name was Elishevah. Elishevah means the oath of God. Zicharyah and Elishevah were joined together in marriage. So God has remembered was joined to the oath of God.
The very joining of the two lives created a prophetic message, God has remembered the oath of God. A sign to Israel that God had not forgotten His promise, but was about to fulfill it. And when God remembers His oath, then the oath bears life. So Elishevah will bear a child who will be known as John the Baptist. But his real name was Yochanan.”
“And what does Yochanan mean?”
“The grace of God. God’s remembrance of His oath causes to be born the grace of God.”
“The grace of salvation, the very thing that would come forth out of God’s fulfilling of His oath.”
“And when Zicharyah gave praise to God, he would declare that God had performed the miracle ‘to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham.’ Never forget this,” said the teacher. “No matter how long it takes, whether centuries or moments, God will never forget His promise and never break His Word. And out of the broken, the barren, and the impossible, the grace of God will be born.”
The Mission: The Scriptures are filled with promises for His people. Take one today. Hold to it. Live in light of it.
Leviticus 26:40–42; Luke 1:4–17, 72–73
The Angel and the Priest