And, behold, two of them went that same
day to a village called
Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass,that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near,and went with them.
But their eyes were holden that
they should not know Him.
And He said to them, "What manner of communications are these that you
have one to another,
as you walk and are sad?"
And one of them, whose name was
Cleopas, answering said to Him, "Are you only a stranger in
Jerusalem, and have not known the things
which are come to pass there in these days?"
And He said to them, "What things?"
And they said to Him,
"Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was
a prophet mighty in deed and
word before God and all the people: and
how the cheif priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned
to death, and have
crucified Him.
But we trusted that it had been He which
should have redeemed
Israel:and beside all this, today is
the third day since these things
were done.
Yes, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the
sepulchre:
And when they found not His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels which said He was alive.
And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre,
and found it even so as the women
had said:but they saw Him not."
Then He said to them,
"O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?"
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded
to them in all the Scriptures the
things concerning Himself.

The Road to Emmaus

There is a road mentioned in the Bible. We are not told the name of this road. We only know that it leads to a place called Emmaus. On this road traveled two men who were shortly joined by a third who had overheard their conversation. The two men had been discussing the various events regarding the death and burial of a man called Jesus.
     This Jesus had been considered to be a great prophet of God, a doer of miracles. He had been arrested and crucified, yet some had reported that his grave was now empty and seen visions of angels saying that he had risen from the dead.
      This road to Emmaus is one that has been well traveled over the ages. The same conversations and debates about the truth of these events have intrigued many. As we move toward the completion of this journey, as the city before us looms upon the horizon, the Stranger who has been listening all the while, interrupts the questioning and the arguments to gently upbraid us for our obvious lack of faith and knowledge.
      "Oh, fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken..." Luke 24:25.
      Which prophets? we wonder. Whose voice do we heed?
      The Stranger walking beside us whom we do not recognize, smiles at us as a father would to an inquiring child. "It has been ordained for this one called Christ, Messiah to suffer and enter into glory." Then the Stranger continues to speak, painting pictures with His words upon the canvas of our minds.
      He begins to recreate a portrait of Eden; the beginning as described originally through Moses' pen. A pristine wonderland of innocence emerges that is quickly plunged into ruin as sin enters disguised as something to be desired. The forbidden fruit is eaten. Then God's first children hide in terror and shame from the eyes of their Creator - or try to anyway. The All Knowing One doesn't have to ask them what has just transpired. He just wants to hear it in their own words.
      He listens to the excuses, as they pass the blame, which eventually falls to the demonic entity called satan. There his fate is sealed as God pronounces His judgments. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. It shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Genesis 3:15.
      Then this angry, loving God mercifully beholds the nakedness of His shivering children, and tenderly covers them with a sacrifice. "To Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." Verse 21.
      For the feeble covering of leaves that they had made with their own efforts, would only dry up and blow away.
      "So a sacrifice of mercy covered the naked as it does to this day," the Stranger stated.
      A journey has begun through time. The Stranger walking beside us on this long road of questions continues to weave His words through our beings as they have woven their way through history.
      He tells us of Cain and Abel, two brothers who bring their sacrifices to God. One brings a sacrifice of labor from ground that had been cursed. The other brings an offering from the flock; a spiritual representation of the sacrificial covering that first clothed their parents; Adam, then Eve. God accepts the Lamb and rejects the offering of self-effort. Genesis 4:3,4.
      Why is this important? we wonder, as we are shown this lamb in our minds. We are told to hold it, study it. It pleases God to slay it and we are confounded. Yet we must offer it to please Him. Why?
      The Stranger, it seems, has heard our thoughts and He continues with a twinkle in His eyes.
      He shows us a parent laying his son upon the altar of sacrifice. We see him raise the knife high above the child's breast. In the instant before he is about to plunge it down - a hand reaches out to stop him.
      "Look there," the angel says. And Abraham turns to see a ram tangled in the bushes. "God will provide a lamb for the sacrifice." And the child's life is spared. Genesis 22. The lamb cries and still we wonder why?
      The Stranger tells us of the Hebrew nation in bondage in a foreign land. They alone have knowledge of the One True God in a world that worships cats and frogs and demon gods. As the plague of God's judgments begins upon the idols of a pagan land, His own people are told to protect themselves by putting the blood of an unblemished, perfect lamb upon the doorposts of their houses. When the final plague of death passed by, God's own were spared for He said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you and the plague will not be upon you to destroy you." Exodus 12:13.
      We look into the eyes of the lamb in our minds and wonder why such an innocent thing should die?
      As we are wondering, we follow the Stranger as He leads us into the wilderness, a vast plain of trials and testing. So many of us fail, and the viper of sin bites. Out of fear of death we cry. Then we watch Moses, at God's instruction, make a brazen serpent and hang it on a pole; a work of art to behold. Numbers 21: 7-9.
      The Stranger tells us to look upon it in our suffering and we will not die. We behold sin impaled and the lamb cries. We still don't understand, but we are grateful that there is hope in this desert of serpents called life.
      The lamb we were beholding in our minds suddenly begins to squirm in our embrace. We let him down and he begins to run across the desert. We follow him at the Stranger's leading, through a mountainous, craggy terrain, then upward to a mountaintop, past a flaming bush to the place where Moses stood to receive the commandments of God. Exodus 20-40.
      The commandments are engraved upon two heavy stone tablets and we are compelled to carry them back down the mountain. They are too heavy to hold and we can barely manage under the weight of them. We hear the sound of raucous laughter. As we press through the bushes with our burden, we behold God's people dancing around a golden object of worship. The words of God we had worked so hard to bring them, now lay shattered at our feet.
      What do we do now? We cry out in this vision. There is no hope. The words are too holy for us to hold and keep.
      The Stranger with us only smiles. "There is always hope," He tells us. "It has been planned from the beginning."
      With these words He compels us back up the mountain. There we find the stone tablets have been made new. This time they are not alone. There is a plan laid out upon the stone. Out of the words of God, He speaks aloud a pattern and a design. We watch in awe as the tabernacle begins to rise out of the words. In the tabernacle we behold the lamb upon the altar of sacrifice. "For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11. said, - "There will arise a prophet like unto me -(a worker of miracles, an intercessor) so shall He sprinkle many nations with the blood He shall shed for thee." Deuteronomy 18:15, Exodus 24:8, Isaiah 52:15.
      Once again the Stranger's words turn our gaze to the past. We find ourselves beholding a procession of ancient ones. We recognize them, although we have never seen them before; David, Daniel, Isaiah, Zechariah and more - the king, the prophets of Israel speaking at different times, all at once, saying the same things in different ways. Their words plunge at us and we are propelled by this current of voices to consider the sound of their words.
      Isaiah is singing, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel, "God with us!" For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. . . " Isaiah 7:11
      "He shall be born in Bethlehem," Micah interjects with a twinkle in his eyes as Isaiah's song continues. Micah 5:2.
      "And the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6.
      "His form is like the Son of God," Daniel whispered. Daniel 3:25.
      "Kiss the Son," David is shouting, "lest He be angry and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." Psalm 2:12
      "In His name shall the Gentiles trust," Isaiah exclaims. Isaiah 42:1.
      "He shall enter through the gates of Jerusalem upon a donkey," Zechariah is looking at us directly, ("because the greatest kings are servants) and you shall look upon the One who was pierced, and mourn as if He was your only son. . . " Zechariah 12:10.
      Isaiah continues solemnly, "For He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him... Thou shall make His soul an offering for sin and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:5,6,10,12. Then his voice begins to rise excitedly, "And He will swallow up death in victory!" Isaiah 25:8.
      "For God will not allow His Holy One to see corruption," David said emphatically. Psalm 16:10.
      "He will ransom us from the power of the grave, He will redeem us from death!" Hosea shouted as the tears were streaming down his face. Hosea 13:14.
      Then Isaiah finished his song. Singing softly, the notes of his chorus caressed our souls. "And God will wipe away tears from all faces, and it will be said in that day, 'Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us. This is the Lord, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." Isaiah 25:8.
      We hear the voices from ages past, now shining in our eyes as if they are coming to us from the future, surrounding us like a joyful ring of children holding hands and dancing around us in an endless circle; singing words of peace to a world full of tantrums. It is almost too much to comprehend. We hear the words and a part of us yearns to join this joyful dance. But we are longing to feel, to touch something that can only be grasped by that elusive thing called faith.
      As we long to believe, the Stranger who has led us to this place, rolls back His sleeve.
      "See, they have pierced My hands and My feet. Psalm 22:16. Come now and let us reason together and your sins shall be white as snow. Isaiah 1:18. Pride can never enter into this place of protection. You must become as little children. The multitudes of prophecies have been fulfilled. It has all been done for you. God has become a lamb to purchase your entrance into heaven."
      The Stranger continues speaking and as He does, something in us begins to change.
      "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me. John 14:6. As you needed Moses to lead you into the Promised Land, I, Joshua take his place. In My Father's house are many mansions. If it were not true I would have told you. John 14:1-3. Come to Me, all you who labor to be good enough to enter heaven - I will give you rest. Take My yoke and learn of Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28.
      Suddenly we realize the long journey is coming to an end. Our destination looms before us, and we have been led there by a Lamb.
      We had been returning to our homes where our abodes had been steeped in questions and worry about life's end. We realize that we really don't have to live there anymore. He has something better for us. We realize that it is a worthy goal to become a child, and we can laugh again in our new freedom.
      The Stranger is leaving, and we want to go with Him now that we know who He really is. The lamb has become our own and we watch Him as He runs toward the hills. We don't really know what is waiting for us there, but we have learned to trust Him on this dusty road and at last, we are not afraid to follow.

A Bird in the Hand

The fourteenth chapter of Leviticus, verses one through seven, describes a ritual for the cleansing of a leper. The priest commands that two birds be taken. One is killed in an earthen vessel over running water. Then a cedar stick with a scarlet cloth and hyssop are dipped in the blood of the bird, and so is the living bird. Then the priest sprinkles the leper with the blood on the cedar scarlet hyssop pole seven times and releases the living bird to freedom. Then the leper is pronounced clean.
      I can picture a small child, the son of the priest, perhaps, watching this ceremony with a curious expression on his face. Afterwards, he asks his daddy, "Abba, what does it mean when you kill the bird and let the other one go free?"
      The priest doesn't really know what it means. He only knows that God has told them to do it that way. He might add in his explanation, that it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul and quote Leviticus 17:11. He doesn't know exactly why. It is the command of God and that is enough.
      He couldn't hope to understand what it all means back then. But now, the scenario is quite a bit different.
      A modern child has read these Scriptures and comes to his father, a pastor, perhaps. The child asks, "Daddy, what does this mean. Why is the one bird killed and the other goes free?"
      The father smiles. He knows the answer because the shadows of the past have been unveiled in the light of prophecies fulfilled.
      "The first bird is killed in an earthen vessel because someday The Spirit of God would be in a man, the Messiah to save His creation. He would enter an earthen vessel and be killed and the water of His Holy Spirit would flow. The scarlet hyssop pole is symbolic of the cross He died upon in order to sprinkle His blood upon many nations, cleansing them from the leprosy of their sin. And covered by the blood of the Messiah, the captive soul is set free and can rise into new eternal life because of the other's sacrifice. Do you understand?"
      The child smiles. He understands and repeats, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, because He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our sins." John 3:16, Isaiah 53:5. There is a flutter of wings outside the window and the child looks up in time to see a bird soaring out into the daylight, free.

copyright 2000 by H.D. Shively

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