Six and a half years after the vision in The Lesson of the Sealing, I was at home one day, walking down the hallway, when God interrupted my thoughts. As I stepped into the living room, my eyes closed and I stepped into another vision. This time, though, I remained fully cognizant of my presence in both my physical surroundings and the vision, walking in two places at once.
In the vision, I was standing on a craggy precipice that appeared sketchy, as in an artist’s quick rendering. With nothing ahead of me but thin air, I was at a literal dead end, unable to take another step forward or upward. I had gone as far and as high as I could go.
Gazing out into the void, I saw another sketchy formation, quite a distance away. The front of the formation was gently sloping, resembling a coastal landing area. Standing back a bit from its front edge was a group of people, who I somehow understood were just a small number of countless others beyond the horizon. Motionless, the people appeared posed and cartoon-like, lacking detail.
Stymied by the open expanse, I was alone and stuck, having no way of getting to where the people were gathered. But when I again looked, I saw that a large cross, lying horizontally, had been positioned across the void to form a bridge.
The imagery of the Cross being a bridge between man and God is often used to portray the Gospel and is not unique to my vision. But I was unprepared for what I saw next.
The Bridge-Cross, contrary to its typical depiction, was not empty. Instead, Jesus was attached to the Cross. To cross the bridge, I would have to walk on Jesus. Horrified, I didn’t move.
Jesus, understanding both my thoughts and my dilemma, looked directly at me. With loving firmness, He said, “You must walk across Me. It’s the Only Way.”
Submitting, I began an obedient walk that was punctuated with emotional sobbing. Painfully aware of the suffering that Jesus was enduring for me, I inched my way forward, doubled over (both physically and in the vision) in grief. Every hesitant step that I took in the physical was duplicated with a similar step in the vision. As I slowly crossed my living room, I also crossed the Bridge that was Jesus, His Holiness alone sustaining me.
Arriving safely at the other side, I stepped onto the landing. Still doubled over, I asked, “Where am I?”
An authoritative Voice from an unseen Being responded, “In the Land of the Living.”
Confused, I questioned, “The Land of the Living?” But no explanation followed.
Straightening up and turning my attention to the people present, I was surprised to see my deceased maternal grandparents at the front of the crowd. Though they appeared stoic in a type of frozen animation, I was ecstatic to see them. Then, thinking of my dad and my stepdad, who are also both deceased, I asked if they too were present. Hearing only silence, I sensed that there were things that I was not yet to know.
Then another thought popped into my mind and out of my mouth. I asked the unseen Voice, “If this is the Land of the Living, why am I still sick?”
The Voice responded in a matter of fact manner, “You aren’t. You’re being restored.”
Now, even more confused by the answer’s apparent contradiction to my ailing body, I could only query, “Restored?”
“Yes,” the Voice replied. “Jesus took your sicknesses.”
More confused than ever, I sought further clarification, asking, “He took them?”
“Yes,” the Voice said, patiently. “Look.”
Looking over my shoulder at Jesus, who was still lying on the horizontal Bridge-Cross, I watched as He raised Himself part way up on His left arm to look at me. Nodding in agreement with the Voice, Jesus affirmed that, unbeknownst to me, He had taken sickness off me, as I had crossed over Him. With His right arm, He lifted a large sack-like satchel up in the air for me to see, offering it as proof that my sicknesses were in His possession, not mine.
With that knowledge, the vision ended. My tear laden, physical eyes opened to reveal that I was now standing on the far side of the living room from where my walk had begun. The walk had also taken me to a new position of faith, leaving me with validations, as well as with questions that only God could answer. Both would be used to draw me into an even deeper relationship of greater Truth with Him.
“The land of the living” is a Biblical phrase, occurring fifteen times in the Old Testament. According to various concordances, the Hebrew word translating as “living” means exactly that, nothing more. However, the Hebrew word translating as “land” has a variety of usages, referring at times to the whole earth, particular land areas, specific nations, the earthly realm and even the earth’s inhabitants.
Though the phrase does not appear in the New Testament, the word “living” does, ninety-four tines. Fourteen times it describes God as the “living God,” a phrase also appearing fifteen times in the Old Testament. The root of the Greek word that often translates as “living,” with variations occurring 141 times, is the origin of the English word “zoology.” The word encompasses all physical and spiritual existence emanating from a Self-Existent God, who is literally life itself.
The “land of the living,” incorporating both physical and spiritual life, is where the people of the living God abide with Him. It is where life flourishes in connection to God.
God’s Presence—life and its sustenance—has always been in and among the people of His Creation in various ways. Initially, after breathing His life into man, God walked the Garden with Adam and Eve, sharing an intimacy with them that He desired. But even after sin came between God and His Creation, God continued developing His relationship with men beyond the Garden’s gate. As men roamed, searching for fulfillment, God kept dropping by, openly engaging Himself with first one man, and then another, as men’s hearts and minds were made conducive by faith.
But God wanted more than a “drop-by” relationship. He wanted permanent togetherness that would allow Him to share the full measure of His Life. So God built a Family of His own, through the descendants of Abraham, a man of faith upon whom God bestowed His blessing. God would remain with Abraham’s descendants through thick and thin, with the Promise of God’s Presence sustaining them. Where they went, God went, selectively meeting with them in a portable Tabernacle of His design.
But God wanted yet more, and so did His people. So God gave them Israel, a land of their own, a land where God could dwell among them in a glorious Temple. He did, but behind a necessary, though unwanted, curtain—a cumbersome hindrance that separated a most Holy God from the unrighteousness of men.
So God sent His Righteous Son to tear the curtain down, once again enabling face-to-face intimacy between God and men. (See Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45) Injecting the world with His Righteousness, Jesus provided the antidote that men lacked to overcome the power of sin (See 1 Corinthians 15:56). In one overwhelming act of grace, Jesus turned the hearts of those who would accept Him into personal Holy Temples of the Lord God Almighty (See 1 Corinthians 6:19), making them “the land of the living.”
We, who are sons of the living God, are “living land.” By His grace alone, our bodies carry the life in Christ that has been given to us though faith, wherever we go. As instruments of God’s revitalization program, we extend His life that is in us to the spiritually dead, wherever they are, through our obedience to go wherever God leads us.
God always has sustained Creation by His grace, timing His Provision to fit every need. But His abundant grace has never been more apparent than in the eternal life of Jesus, freely shared with us. The moment when Jesus walked out of the Tomb, He resurrected a world that had been deadened by sin. Administering spiritual CPR, Jesus began pumping God’s Breath—the Breath of Life—back into the world’s breathlessness, resurrecting one person after another, in reclamation of His Father’s land.
In our rebirth into Christ’s life, God places a new spirit—one in tune with His Righteousness—within us, permanently setting us apart from sin for eternal fellowship with Him. (See 1 Corinthians 1:8, 9) In renewal and healing, God reveals His power that is at work in us (See Ephesians 3:20), as He restores us to the wholeness that is found only in Jesus.
Restoration is a process, sometimes slow and sometimes fast by our accounts, but a process, nonetheless. God’s endless grace—embodied in Jesus, displayed upon the Cross and released through the Tomb—restores righteousness within the confines of our reconciliation to our Righteous God. Initiating and empowering the restoration process, God alone dismantles deception and nullifies lies, rebuilding Creation upon the unshakable foundation of Truth in Jesus.
In Jesus’ willingness to bear the wrath of God due men (See 1 Thessalonians 1:10), Jesus “took” our sin upon Himself, bearing our guilt (See Isaiah 53:10b) and shame (See Hebrews 12:22b) upon His Body. “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressor” (Isaiah 53:12e), “and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b). For our sake, “he was cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8c).
In bearing our sin, Jesus also “took” our sicknesses that were a part of the curse attached to sin (See Deuteronomy 28:14-68). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” (Galatians 3:13; see also Deuteronomy 21:23b)
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” (Matthew 8:17; see also Isaiah 53:4) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds, you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
The curse was never a part of God’s will for man. God’s will always has been and remains one of blessing, never cursing. (See Deuteronomy 30:19) God is for us, not against us (See Romans 8:31), proving so through His Son.
In the glory of the perfect work of the Cross (See Hebrews 5:9 & 7:28), God’s will has been done. The work is complete… finished… assured… secure in Jesus. Set in place, it is achieving complete unity that becomes clearer to us only through revelation, a supernatural God-given understanding, emanating from our ongoing and deepening relationship with God over both time and eternity. (See 1 Corinthians 13:12)
To walk out the complete life that God has ordained for us, we must first step into the life of Christ, allowing Jesus to strip away our past, freeing us for a future with Him. As we continue walking with Him, taking one obedient step after another, we are propelled forward by God into deeper relationship with Him, by the faith that He develops in us. (See Ephesians 2:8)
Our questions may be many and confusion may linger, but in the knowledge of the Lord, we thrive, flourishing in Christ. Given eternity, we have unlimited opportunity in our quest for understanding. As we continue seeking God, He makes sure that we find Him, delighting both Him and us in the revealing of the glory of His mystery.
“It is to the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Proverbs 25:2)
Such is the glory of eternal life: the honor of living in the land of the living God, knowing Him. (See John 17:3)
In journeying with Jesus via the Cross and the empty Tomb—which isn’t empty after all, but teaming with the overflowing life of God, we transit the span created by sin, crossing from death into eternal life via the Body of Jesus.
During the crossing, Jesus transfuses His life into us, shedding His life-giving blood upon us, “and by his wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5d). Cleansed of both sin and its residue by the Lamb’s Blood (See Revelation 7:14), we are made well, restored to wholeness, for “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” (Romans 3:25)
Centuries earlier, God had explained the necessity of blood sacrifice, saying, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)
“[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) No one is an exception. Whoever and whatever we were prior to our crossing, Jesus is Jesus is Jesus, and we are all the same in Him: sons of the living God, alive in Christ, by faith in His blood.
Receiving life, all vestiges of death fall away, for God is “the God who gives life to the dead” (Romans 4:17b).
In the words of Jesus, recorded three times:
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32b);
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27);
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20:38a)!
The living! As sons of the living God, in this world temporarily, but no longer of it (See John 17:11 & 16), we walk in two places at once: one world seen by all, the other visible only to those within it.
Yet, only one true walk exists, revealing all others to be nothing more than shams—a variety of death crawls, sucking the breath out of mankind, draining life.
But with the Breath of Life that has been breathed into us, we praise the living Lord:
the One who enables us to walk in His Righteousness;
the One who has laid down His own life to be the Bridge;
the One who is the Only Way onward and upward;
the One who has restored His Creation unto Himself.
We praise the Living God in His “Land of the Living,” now and forever more.
“For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:8, 9)