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1 John – Cycle 7

The seventh cycle deals with the saints in the court of God as a new Hierarchy. Unlike the Abrahamic demarcation, this is a division by Spirit rather than flesh, a court not of Jews by birth but of “Jews indeed,” those with hearts circumcised by the Gospel of Christ.

As the second cycle in the second major sequence, cycle seven corresponds to the confession of sin in the Covenantal order of worship. In this biblical order, corporate confession and mourning occurs after the Call to Worship, allowing the bread and wine later in the service to be a time of celebration, a true feast.

In his book, The Lord’s Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship, Jeff Meyers notes that, just like the Creation week, and indeed like any good music, the liturgy of worship “moves from tension to rest, from mourning to joy.” What began as “formless and void” becomes “formed and filled.” Our weekly worship is thus a celebration of the new creation established in the death, resurrection, ascension and enthronement of Christ. The action moves from sacrificial bloodshed on the earth to holy dominion over the nations. This pattern is called “Covenant Renewal Worship” because it follows the process of all biblical Covenants, from Creation to Glorification.

TRANSCENDENCE
God Calls Us – We Gather Together and Praise Him
HIERARCHY
God Cleanses Us – We Confess Our Sins
ETHICS
God Consecrates Us – We Respond in Prayer and Offering
OATH/SANCTIONS
God Communes With Us – We Eat God’s Food
SUCCESSION
God Commissions (Blesses) Us – We March Out to Serve God1Since each of these steps is two-fold — God’s action and our response, Covenant head and Covenant body — it should be no surprise that this fivefold construct is also found in the tenfold Ten Commandments. See God-In-A-Box.

So, the grave self-examination occurs at the second point in the sequence, and the requirement is not perfection but an absence of controversy with God concerning our sin. Circumcision of heart means that we recognise our nakedness before God, and we come to Him for covering, that is, for Atonement. This is exactly what the Lord required of Adam after he sinned. God called Adam to “cross the courtroom” and stand with God against himself, and thus also against Satan. Confession of sin is not only powerful because it puts us in agreement with God against the nature of sin, it also uncovers the works of the devil.

The biblical pattern of worship assumes that all participants are sinners. We fall on our faces (at least legally) so that God might lift us up. Those who mourn are the ones who are truly blessed. This should remind us of the cleansing of various biblical prophets in preparation for service, and indeed, this cycle symbolically slays and resurrects the worshipers, resulting in the service of the justified saints as lampstands shining brightly with the Spirit of God.2This is why the letters to the pastors of the seven churches in Asia, pictured as lampstands, appear at Hierarchy in the book of Revelation. See The Blessed Man.

TRANSCENDENCE (Creation – Initiation – Genesis)

And by this (Creation/Initiation)
we will know (Division/Delegation)
that of the truth (Ascension/Presentation)
we are, (Testing/Purification)
and before him (Maturity/Transformation)
will assure (Conquest/Vindication)
our heart, (Glorification/Representation)

  • “This” refers to loving in deed and truth, rather than merely in word. Its placement in line 1 of the stanza alludes to the fact that the source of such integrity is the Transcendent God.
  • The placement of the truth at Ascension aligns it with the giving of the Law on Sinai, and with the seven-sealed scroll in the Revelation. John says that believers are Covenant-keepers.
  • “Before him” at Maturity alludes to the accountability of Man before the arrival of God to judge him at Conquest. Here, however, the Adamic heart is assured by the blood of Christ.

HIERARCHY (Division – Delegation – Exodus)

TRANSCENDENCE
that if our heart (Creation/Sabbath)
HIERARCHY
should condemn us, (Division/Passover)
ETHICS
that greater than (Ascension/Firstfruits)
is God (Testing/Pentecost)
the heart of us, (Maturity/Trumpets)
OATH/SANCTIONS
and he knows (Conquest/Atonement)
SUCCESSION
all things. (Glorification/Booths)

  • The placement of God at the centre of this stanza alludes to the “seven eyes” of the Spirit, the lights of the lampstand-law which not only enlighten, but also see all.
  • The condemnation aligns with the Veil and circumcision in line 2 of the stanza. This is a sentence of death, the cutting of the sacrifice, the darkness of the Passover. Symmetrically, this is opposed by the opening of the Veil in line 6 at Atonement, when substitutionary blood is shed.
  • The stanza begins with the limited knowledge of Man in line 1 and ends with the omnipotence of God as the ultimate judge, who is also merciful, in line 7.

ETHICS: Priesthood (Ascension – Presentation – Leviticus)

Beloved, (Transcendence)
if our heart (Hierarchy)
should not condemn, (Ethics)
confidence we have (Oath/Sanctions)

toward God, (Succession)

  • The early chapters of Matthew’s Gospel work through the first seven books of the Bible, with Jesus’ baptism as Leviticus (Ascension). There, the Father refers to Jesus as beloved. Here, also at Ascension, John refers to the saints as beloved sons who, in Christ, can be lifted up before the Father as blameless “priestly” firstfruits.
  • The placement of confidence at Oath/Sanctions means that the saint does not live in fear of ultimate condemnation when Jesus appears in judgment. Beyond loving discipline, there is only blessing for the believer from God.
  • The stanza uses the fivefold pattern, which usually means it is a promise yet to be fulfilled or “opened” in history, where through obedience the Ethics becomes threefold in the triune office. We can observe this “opening” clearly in the next stanza.

ETHICS: Kingdom (Testing – Purification – Numbers)

and whatever (Transcendence)
we might ask, (Hierarchy)
we receive from him, (Ethics: Law given/Priesthood)
because the commandments of him (Ethics: Law opened/Kingdom)
we keep, (Ethics: Law received/Prophecy)
and the things pleasing before him, (Oath/Sanctions)
we practice. (Succession)

  • The “kingdom” stanza refers to the authority of the saints in God’s court. Priestly self-sacrifice and holiness is a source of power and authority. It was the same for Jesus, whose personal defeat of Satan in the wilderness led to power over demons in others.
  • The final line is the correspondence of two coordinates, a combination of the Ethics theme of the stanza with the legal representation of Succession. It thus refers to our good works as an integral part of our legal testimony to the world.

ETHICS: Prophecy (Maturity – Transformation – Deuteronomy)

TRANSCENDENCE
And this is his commandment, (Initiation: Ark of the Testimony)
HIERARCHY
that we should believe (Delegation: Veil)
ETHICS
in the name of his Son, (Presentation: Altar and Table)
Jesus Christ, (Purification: Lampstand)
and we should love one another, (Transformation: Incense Altar)
OATH/SANCTIONS
even as he gave (Vindication: Laver/Mediators)
SUCCESSION
the commandment to us. (Representation: Shekinah)

  • The Maturity stanza brings the “Tabernacle” matrix theme to the fore. This most often appears in the Division (Exodus) or Ascension (Leviticus) stanzas, so its appearance here is a reference to the Tabernacle of David, the “beloved” king. The relationship of Israel to the Church was prefigured in the relationship between the tent of Moses (a silent house of death) and the tent of David (a house of resurrection and celebration).
  • The stanza begins with God’s commandment to the saints, and end with the commission of the saints to the world as His legal representatives.
  • In the Bible Matrix, the Covenant Head (the one) appears at Ascension and the Covenant Body (the many) at Maturity. Here, Christ is the Head and the united saints are the Body.

OATH/SANCTIONS (Conquest – Vindication – Joshua)

And the one (Transcendence)
keeping (Hierarchy)
his commandments, (Ethics)
in him abides, (Oath/Sanctions)

and he in him. (Succession)

  • Once again, a fivefold stanza, referring again to the “raw law” of spoken commandments.

SUCCESSION (Glorification – Representation – Judges)

TRANSCENDENCE
And by this (Creation/Initiation)
HIERARCHY
we know (Division/Delegation)
ETHICS
that he abides (Ascension/Presentation)
in us, (Testing/Purification)
by the Spirit (Maturity/Transformation)
OATH/SANCTIONS
whom to us (Conquest/Vindication)
SUCCESSION
he gave. (Glorification/Representation)

  • The fivefold external law becomes sevenfold as the internal law of the Spirit at a better Pentecost.
  • Note the symmetry between “we know” at Delegation and “whom to us” at Vindication.
  • Stanza seven is about the New Covenant Shekinah, the saints as temples filled with the Spirit, lamps shining as a testimony to the holiness and goodness of God.

If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.

References   [ + ]

1. Since each of these steps is two-fold — God’s action and our response, Covenant head and Covenant body — it should be no surprise that this fivefold construct is also found in the tenfold Ten Commandments. See God-In-A-Box.
2. This is why the letters to the pastors of the seven churches in Asia, pictured as lampstands, appear at Hierarchy in the book of Revelation. See The Blessed Man.

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