Immanuel's Veins - Ted Dekker

An avid reader of Ted Dekker‘s works, I just about a month ago finished Immanuel’s Veins. It never fails that I walk away after finishing another of his books with new insight and new ways of looking at God and His love and mercy that He so longs for us to know.

The pages of this intricate and very passionate book explore how “the affairs between God and man aren’t about simple rites performed at an altar…” (page 271) — these affairs are about so much more.

How simple it is to get caught up in appearances. To believe in God, go to church, participate in communion, sing to God, pray, read the Bible… even to serve in your church or outside of it. And so often it’s genuine. We do these things because we honestly want to. We really want to live for God.

But..

Sometimes it becomes too simple to get caught up in the doing. To lose sight of the why behind it all. And I don’t mean the why as in wanting to praise and live for God.

What I mean is that sometimes we lose focus on the fact that life isn’t about these good things we do. It’s about God’s amazing love for us and what we choose to do with it.

If we don’t have God’s love, then none of the other stuff matters.

As the main character in this book, Toma, comes to realize, there is good and evil all around us in the world but it so frequently takes on different forms than we’re used to thinking about. We, again, are caught up in the appearance of those things that we have grown up considering “good” and “evil”. And this is not to say that they aren’t really good and evil. Reading your Bible and praying, going out of your way to show kindness to someone in need — these are truly good things. Lying, stealing, lusting — these truly are evil.

There is, however, so much more to it than this surface knowledge and even than acting on this knowledge.

Dekker says, “… good has little to do with the forms of religion, and evil has as little to do with so much behavior condemned by religion. Both good and evil vie for the passions of the heart. For love! For Solomon’s Song of romance and desire. Love is God’s gift to His creation. And evil contests this same love with bitter rage, to be loved as God is surely loved” (page 286).

Toma discovered why Christ bled on the cross. He discovered that it wasn’t for a religion — any religion. It was not for Christianity or orthodoxy or any religion. It wasn’t so we could go to church and read our Bibles and take communion and pray and sing and then go home and do it all again the next week. It wasn’t because He needed us to do good things for Him. I mean, He’s God.

Christ bled on that cross for us. “For the heart of man,” as Dekker puts it. He goes on to say, “Immanuel, God with us — that He would leave the spiritual realm and be present in flesh and blood in such an act of humility is a staggering notion. As it is, He willingly gave His blood, in the flesh, so that others might find life, for it is written: ‘He did not come by water only, but by blood’ (1 John 5:6), and ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22)” (page 287).

This is why blood is required for us to have life.

And how much did He give? Just enough to satisfy the requirement, to fulfill a covenant or agreement? No. He gave it all. He gave His life. For us. Because He loved us.

Isaiah 53:5-6 says, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

In Mr. Dekker’s words, “I tell you, He did not give only a small amount to satisfy the requirement. He was beaten and crushed and pierced until that blood flowed like a river for the sake of love. It was for love, not religion, that He died. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And those plunged beneath that watery grave to drink of His blood will never be the same” (page 287).

He bled on the cross, He died, He rose again… for love. Because He loved us and He wanted us to never ever be the same.

To take hold of that love and really run after it, seeking it with all our hearts, to go beyond appearances and let God’s love for us captivate us so fully… to let it captivate us to the point that we are no longer our own, and even further… to let it take root in our lives and completely turn upside down who we have been, making us into somebody new… to let it so transform us into that which God created us to be, creatures of great love for Him, creatures so loved by Him that we don’t know what to do… that truly is to never be the same.

The good things we do are side-effects. Very important, very good. But side-effects just the same, of knowing this deep love.

And if the title Immanuel’s Veins and some quotes from the book sound familiar, it may be because Dekker is quoting this well-known hymn:

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And any plunged beneath that flood
Will be purged of all that is bane.
William Cowper

Whether you are never seen without a book or have yet to pick up a piece of non-required reading ever in your life… whether you know where you stand with God or are questioning every step of the way… whether you’re just now discovering the depth of His amazing love for you, or whether you have grown up smiling in its light… I so encourage you to find yourself a copy of this book and read it. Now. And then come back here and just try to tell me that God didn’t teach you something from it.

I don’t believe you can read this book and still be the same afterwards.

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Thank you so much for all your prayers for Jon and his family. Please keep on praying, and if you’re not familiar or caught up with his story, I’ve tried to keep it up to date.

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