Some people have a hard time with an apparent duplicity in the Bible. Many Old Testament patriarchs practiced polygamy but New Testament men elected to the office of a bishop (one a little lower than a pastor or evangelist) had to be monogamous.
I Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach…
Peter considered Lot a righteous man (II Peter 2:7 8), but his level of righteousness (offering his virgin daughters to a sex-crazed mob while he entertained strangers in his house) would not get very far today. Nor would the subject of slavery. How could Paul be so complacent about it1 and yet Christians today be so outspoken against it (e.g. the Civil War)?
So what’s going on here? Why is something condoned in one part of the Bible and censured in another? And by what reasoning can we explain some things being overlooked at one time but rebuked several centuries later? And why should we expect the whole world to be judged at the end of time by their stand on a single commandment2 when no such experience has ever been recorded in Holy Writ before?
Never can there be a circumstance of life, a crisis in human experience, which has not been anticipated in His teaching, and for which its principles have not a lesson. Ed 81
I found that these questions are all answered by the bones’ ossification timetable. This chapter is our final venture into counterpart learning, and a powerful one at that. Before beginning this section I had no idea that law “developed” or “matured.” And then to see the progression was mind boggling!
THE STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT
Ossification is the process by which bones harden. All true bones go through this. And it is only when the bones have finished this developmental stage can they perform with optimum efficiency, bear their greatest weight, or endure the most extreme tensions.
Ossification has a time when it begins and when it ends. Many professionals are concerned when the process begins. We will focus on when it ends, when the bones in certain areas have fully developed. If bones have a developmental period and represent laws in the spiritual body, then we can assume laws also have a developmental period. And if they do then there must be a time when a law is primitive and of little influence and a later time when it is fully developed and strongly enters into our daily life. This would explain some of the apparent inconsistencies in Scriptures as well as give us a timetable for moral accountability.
God has determined to have our bones harden at different periods and in a certain order. Earlier we studied that the hardening process is the activity of special bone cells depositing mineral salts into collagenous fibers. Prior to the completion of this process bone is more flexible and not so easily broken. The calcium and phosphorous salts give rigidity and hardness to the bone.
We also learned that the collagen corresponds to God’s supportive love and the salts to an experimental knowledge of truth. Both love and truth compose the divine character, of which the moral law is an expression. So where love is the foundation or basis of law, the application of truth is its strength. And it is this acquaintance with truth that determines our degree of guilt.
James 4:17 To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
We are told that the love and mercy of God bears long with our ignorance and He “winks” at our innocence,3 but a time will come when the world will be judged according to God’s standard of what is right.4
PROGRESSION OF TRUTH
The order the bones harden in our body suggests a divine schedule in the unfolding of law to God’s church. If the Lord does something we don’t expect, we can be sure He has revealed it to us beforehand through His servants. So it is our duty to go to His servants (teachers) and listen.
Amos 3:7 Surely the LORD God will do nothing but He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets (teachers).
In this case our “prophet” or teacher is our body, and specifically the skeletal system.
That which He required from His people in ages past is not necessarily the degree which He requires from His people today. As truth is progressive and developmental so is our increased responsibility to it. But the greater the knowledge the more capable we are to endure pressures5 and do good6. Eventually the church will have all that God is pleased to give on His law, and those who possess it and live it will become a spectacle to men and angels.7
Using the power of counterparts we will first lay a foundation in the spiritual realm. If we were teaching this in an anatomy class we would challenge the students to tell us what would be the first set of laws to ossify and when we could expect them to do so… from using only our Bibles!
Obedience, perfect conformity to the law, will not (by itself) please God, for Paul observes that faith must be mixed with it. So something must come before obedience.
Hebrews 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please [God].
Faith is not a part of law, but rather an action on it. But before faith can function in respect to law, the word of God must first make itself heard, or known. How does the Bible say faith comes to us?
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
This is true with accountability to any law, moral or civic. Man must first be made aware of it. Then he is made accountable to it. It would appear, then, that the very first function of divine law is to make itself “heard”. This development is not dependent on age, at least as we count from birth onward. John the Baptist, while still a fetus six months in the womb, responded to Mary’s voice when she greeted John’s mother, Elizabeth.8 Samuel, while still a small child, heard and responded to the voice of God.9 And whenever Jesus had a message of great spiritual import, He would add the counsel,
Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
We can conclude, then, in the spiritual realm at least, that we might have every advantage possible, the Creator purposed that hearing be the first function of law to develop, and that it should do so before we are born physically or spiritually.
So it should not surprise us that the skeleton’s maturing schedule would first start with the hearing bones, the ossicles. These bones finish ossification and growth before birth; consequently hearing is the first sense to finish developing by — guess what month? Yes, the exact month John the Baptist first heard Mary’s voice (six months in the womb). Research today is finding that the fetus is audibly aware of its surroundings, and suggests that care be taken that what the baby hears in the womb be positive and uplifting. Hearing is also the last sense to leave. It is reported that comatose people oftentimes can hear! These are the only bones in the body that remain the same size from birth to old age.
Once the word of God is heard, a judgment (conclusion, determination, interpretation, opinion) must be given as to its reliability and adaptability. This must precede any other action.
Where in our body do we make decisions or judgment? In our brain. And where did the master Designer place our brains? On the highest part of our body. AMOS 5:24 states that judgment is to flow downward as water, to nourish and refresh the body. To judge means to decide with authority, the right to command and enforce obedience. Who only can do that but the One who is Lord of lords, the head of the church?10
Psalm 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth.
His word is the divine measuring rod by which all else is judged.11 This includes man’s thoughts and opinions, his feelings, and impulses, and emotions.
Not once should feeling be allowed to get the mastery over judgment. SM 18
Once let impulse and emotion get the mastery over calm judgment, and there may be altogether too much speed, even in traveling a right road. He who travels too fast will find it perilous in more ways than one. 2 SM 17
While education, training, and the counsel of those of experience are all essential, the workers are to be taught that they are not to rely wholly upon any man’s judgment. As God’s free agents, all should ask wisdom of Him. When the learner depends wholly upon another’s thoughts, accepting his plans and going no further, he sees only through that man’s eyes and is, so far, only an echo of another. 9T 284
It would follow, then, that the bones to ossify next are the highest bones in the body, the ones that protect the judgment center, the brain. It is not a coincidence that the cranial bones are the first to finish ossification after birth. By the fourth year they are fully developed. This does not include the facial bones, however. These are scheduled for a later period.
It is with Abraham that the word judgment is first recorded. We are told he first listened to God’s voice12 then submitted his judgment to God’s will13. By so doing he became the father of the nations, the beginning of God’s church on earth. Sin began when Adam and Eve listened but failed to let God’s will be their judgment. Sin will continue until a people return to the Lord and submit to His word as Abraham did.
Once a person is able to hear God’s voice and make a judgment on what he hears, what does God expect of him next? What will He hold the person first accountable for? Let’s look at our bodies and see what bones God designed to ossify next.
From childhood to the early teen years the body is very busy with many things. Though ossification is progressing rapidly in many parts of the skeleton, no new area is completed until at least 17 years of age. Somewhere between 17 and 20 the bones of the upper extremities are considered ready to bear the full weight and pressures of life. By this time the arms, hands, and scapulae are ready for full duty. [The clavicles are left for a later period.]
Whenever Scriptures mention this area of the anatomy (arms and hands) it is for some purpose of service or ministry, whether it be for protecting and helping14, or for blessing and healing15. “Can you give me a hand?” is an expression we use to solicit help from another.
Hospitality or benevolence is the highest fruit of service, making people feel welcomed, wanted, cared for. This is the first action of judgment, the first tangible effect of God’s law ordering the life.
HOSPITABLE: behaving in a kind and generous manner toward visitors, guests, etc.; affording or expressing welcome and generosity.
BENEVOLENCE: an unselfish disposition to do good. An inclination to do kind or charitable acts
I could never understand why hospitality was emphasized so much in the Old Testament, even at the apparent disregard of family. Several times one’s destiny depended upon how the stranger or visitor or outcast was treated… even though family relations were not all that great.
A classic example was that of Lot (Genesis 19). Two strangers came to town. Lot knew how wicked the citizens were, so he quickly invited them to his home. This hospitable gesture soon proved to be heroic for the men of the city, perverted by years of lust and passion, demanded the strangers be released for their enjoyment. Lot refused. Yet in the process of showing kindness to the strangers he offered his own daughters for the pleasures of the impassioned mob! And Lot was called a righteous man! Even the ungodly of today would consider such an act base, corrupt, sordid, and mean.
Years later Elijah met a widow gathering sticks to make her last meal for her son and herself. After that she expected they would starve to death. This man of God made a request of this poor, unfortunate woman: Make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, after make for thee and for thy son. (I Kings 17:13) The woman’s hospitality towards the stranger was stronger than providing for her own blood. This, too, won great rewards of heaven! I just couldn’t understand it… until I went into the sanctuary of my body and studied the ossification timetable!
This divine schedule teaches us that God has an agenda or calendar for the development of His law; that we are held accountable only for those things that He has revealed; and that while other areas are yet undeveloped, the immature body must make adjustments and wait.
The order of ossification is not without logic. God in His wisdom knows what is needed before the next step can be taken. The benefits of the kingdom of God are for all, rich or poor, free or bond, and how we treat those within our borders gives evidence of our understanding this principle.
One of the first elements of growth is being faithful in that which is not our own. We are often tested by how we treat public property or strangers or animals or maybe even plants before God entrusts us with what shall be our own.
Luke 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
Hospitality to the stranger fits in this category.
The next section follows quickly on the ossification program. By 18-23 years of age the bones of the lower extremities, the hips, legs, and feet, become completely ossified. These are among the body’s largest and strongest bones.
The lower parts relate to family matters: their protective, supportive, and directive natures. Let’s look at those for a moment.
The os coxae [hip bones] are the only two bones of the extremities that share the protective nature of the axial skeleton. They encircle delicate organs in a similar way the cranium, rib cage, or vertebrae do. The sacrum from the axial division completes the circle (its name means “sacred”). Thus we have a combination of bones, both axial and appendicular, that form a “sacred” circle around the part of our anatomy we consider the most personal and private.
Sacred circles should be in all families.16 These protective walls guard the delicate yet vital relationships of which families are made. We will consider some of these special circles.
Personal identity. One of the first relationships needing special protection is that which we have within our own body, our personal identity. We are counseled to love others as we do ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). Within the pelvic circle is determined the sexual role we shall have in society. The anatomical features define our sex while the organs within produce hormones that influence our form, function, and behavior. To live within these perimeters is God’s design for us—one He chose us to have. To live outside of these margins is Satan’s intent. God prepared the body we have just as carefully as He prepared the one for His Son for the incarnation17. Jesus paid an infinite price for us while we were still in these decrepit forms18. And God has promised to reside within us and be our personal God19. We must be very important to Him the way we are. What need have we of being anything else?
There are numerous accounts of children born without limbs or without eyes. Instead of feeling sorry for them their parents focused their child’s attention to make a positive impact in the world by using what they had. Helen Keller is a classic example, being both deaf and blind as a young child, she still learned to communicate and became a much sought after speaker and inspiration to many.
Marriage. Another relationship we find within this circle is marriage. The Creator has placed in the pelvic area the provisions for joining two lives into one20. And He designed that that union be accompanied by some of the body’s most sublime and deepest pleasures. This He did to help us understand the joy of union with Him as His bride.
Isaiah 54:5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name.
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Allowing anyone or anything else into this sacred circle is damaging to the delicate relationships needed for happiness, security, and harmonious action, and is called adultery, self-abuse, fornication, or sexual perversion. The guilty one risks loss of earthly and eternal happiness21.
Parenthood. The third relationship protected by this sacred circle is parenthood. Intercourse alone does not make one a parent. Conception and birth must occur as well. These all take place in the pelvic circle. This area is the creative center for the physical body. This is the area we will study at a later time to learn about the new birth, the forming of God’s image in us. But parenthood goes beyond the creation and delivery of new humans. It also includes faithfulness in providing for them22. God does not bring us into the world and then leave us on our own!
Isaiah 43:1-3 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have called thee by thy name; thou are mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.
Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
The protective nature of the pelvis, then, teaches us that there are delicate relationships we must carefully guard, relationships vital to a healthy family, a healthy church, and a healthy nation.
Solomon’s Song 5:15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.
Judges 16:29-30 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell…
The legs are the pillars of the body, those that undergird and support our frame. These include the largest and strongest bones.
A “pillar” in the church is one who is dependable, supportive, and principled23. The Bible also refers to truths as pillars24. Whether pillars are pilings, people, or principles, they perform the same way. They undergird and support that which is above. And it is in the family where these foundations of social behavior are first laid.
Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
If religion is to influence society, it must first influence the home circle…. In the home the foundations is laid for the prosperity of the church. The influences that rule in the home life are carried into the church life; therefore church duties should first begin in the home. AH 318
The location of the legs has a lesson for us too. In figurative language vertical position denotes degree of honor or authority25. To show God’s supreme rulership He is described as the Most High. The Oriental custom of showing respect for one’s elders is to bow. The higher up one is the lower the other bows. The legs are in the lower part of the body. The emphasis here is subservience.
It is part of the divine plan that we should learn how to faithfully support leadership, how to cheerfully serve those under whom we are placed. What gives God’s commands the most power and strength is our recognizing this master/servant, parent/child relationship. When Abraham wanted his trusted servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, he had the servant place his hand under his master’s thigh and take an oath—much the same way we do in court today with the Bible. When Jacob wanted his son Joseph to make a very important promise he had him do the same thing26.
The kind of relationships that undergird, support, give strength and uprightness to the body are those of humility, service, ministry. And I find it interesting that the lower half of the body is used often to denote this special type of intimate relationship, whether it be husband/wife, parent/child, or master/servant. The idea of servanthood is always present.
Matthew 20:25-28 Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
The feet introduce the body to the earth. They are the first to arrive and the last to leave. As the feet go, so goes the body.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings.
Psalm 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
Isaiah 59:7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood.
The feet tell us that God’s Word, His law, directs us — besides protecting and supporting us. If we have any question on where to go, what to do, how to act, if we have any perplexity on family, business, social, educational, health, emotional, or spiritual matters, we can confidently go to God’s Word and get help.
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
Feet are the only part of our body designed for constant contact with the earth. Its specially shaped bones, joints, and arches help us to move over the earth with elasticity and balance. This suggests that the directive nature of God’s laws are very practical. Their counsel is “down to earth”.
Where is the best place to get this instruction? God placed the feet in the lower appendages, among those bones associated with family matters. Our best instructors should be those within our own family, whether it be paternal, church, or educational. The Apostle Paul knew where to look for the earthly source of Timothy’s faith.
II Timothy 1:5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
What is done to the feet has an effect on the whole body. When Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet, Peter at first refused then later urged Christ to wash him all over. To this suggestion the Saviour said, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but he is clean every whit.“ (John 13:10) Then He added, “Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.“ (verse 14).
Washing is an act of cleansing, correcting, instructing, restoring. And such action is not limited to the work of heavenly beings. It is a family duty.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
The bones of the feet, legs, and hips tell us much about the role of the family in the government of God. And their position in the ossification timetable reveals that toward the end of time a day of reckoning will come for the family, a day when we shall no more be ignorant of God’s purposes for the family. When is that to be? The answer is in the last book, the last chapter, the last 2 verses in the Old Testament.
Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Just before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” God promises to focus His messages on the family. What is happening now? ABORTION, DIVORCE, PROMUSCUITY, CHILD ABUSE, HOMOSEXUALISM Are these not current issues that affect the family? These (the ossification timetable says) are last day issues!
By the time a person is about 23 years old, the bones of the extremities (except the clavicles) are completely ossified. We can expect much of the development process to finish up fairly quickly now—generally two to seven more years—but still in a specific order: outside to inside, top to bottom. But before we move on to the axial division, let’s consider those clavicals.
We learned that the clavicals are among the Yoking Bones. These upper extremity bones are necessary for us to use our arms unhindered. So, when God is considering young men to enter the priesthood, He is expecting them to be able to serve in the care of the sanctuary as well as in the service of mankind. Do you think it would be well to have those clavicals ready for service? When bones are not completely ossified they are susceptible to becoming deformed or broken when great stress is placed upon them. And the clavicals will be very busy as these young men get involved in their priestly duties. Well, as God considers all this He comes upon a time that He knows would be safe for His children and would not hurt them. If you want to know the EARLIEST age for priests go to Numbers 8:24. Here is what it says in the God’s Word translation:
These are the instructions for the Levites: Men 25 years old or older are eligible to serve at the tent of meeting.
So, tell me please, what age would you expect the clavicals to complete ossification? 26 maybe?
“Oh no! That would be too late!” you say. “Those young men could still hurt themselves in service! They are young and full of energy and eager to please. And, besides, they may try outdoing one another in their show of ‘manhood.’ It would have to be no later than 25 for certain!
Guess what? You are right on! That is the very latest for the clavicals to ossify. Aren’t counterparts fun?
THE AXIAL DIVISION
Now that the bones of the extremities are finished, as far as the ossification schedule is concerned, the attention of the body turns back to the trunk, the axial division. You recall that this part of the skeleton relates to the first part of the Decalogue, our expression of love to God. The timetable predicts that right on the heels of a “Focus on the Family” will come a new issue, a “Return to God or we die!” emphasis. Topics about our relationship to God will become the news of the day. And the interest will not be casual!
Since this is yet ahead of us we are entering into the “prophetic” part of the ossification timetable. Hold on and let’s see where this takes us.
THE SPINAL COLUMN
The Scriptures do not have a whole lot to say about the backbone. In fact, the only reference to it is in Leviticus 3:9, in a discussion about a peace offering made to the LORD. But this singular use is enough to learn its equivalence in the spiritual body. It comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to make firm”. This idea of the spine giving firmness to the body is used even today in expressions like, “She had real backbone to stand up to those thieves!” We equate the backbone with solidity of character, courage, firmness.
The path that Christ marks out is a narrow, self denying path. To enter that path and press on through difficulties and discouragements, requires men who are more than weaklings…. Some have no firmness of character. Their plans and purposes have no definite form and consistency. They are of but little practical use in the world. This weakness, indecision, and inefficiency should be overcome. There is in true Christian character an indomitableness that cannot be molded or subdued by adverse circumstances. We must have moral backbone, an integrity that cannot be flattered, bribed, or terrified. Evangelism 479-480
But that which strengthens our spiritual or moral backbone is test and trial.
This world is God’s workshop, where He fashions us for the courts of heaven. He uses the planing knife upon our quivering hearts until the roughness and irregularities are removed and we are fitted for our proper places in the heavenly building. Through tribulation and distress the Christian becomes purified and strengthened, and develops a character after the model that Christ has given. 4T 143
These particular bones compose the only set that protects the delicate spinal cord, the main channel of communication of the head to the body and the body to the head. Consequently, the principles or laws that test the character are those that are directly associated with the Word of the Lord, not some set of family rules or school laws. So the hardening up process of the spiritual backbone of Christ’s church will involve test and trial in divine things even to the time of the end, the ossification of the sacrum and tailbone!
It’s a curious fact that of all the 206 bones in our body, only one bone is called the “sacred” bone. Sacrum means “sacred” and sacred means to be made holy, related to deity, set apart or dedicated to religious use.
The sacrum in the infant starts out as a group of five bones, but in the years to follow, these bones fuse into one (a triangular shaped axial bone near the base of the spinal column). It is this bone that the whole axial skeleton and upper extremities bear down upon and rest on. The sacrum is also used as a landmark in pelvic exams of women during pregnancy for it stands as a sentinel over the creative center of the body, the region that houses the reproductive organs. And the spinal nerves that pass through its protective walls communicate with large leg muscles that help transport the body.
With this information we look for a law that is the “backbone law” of the 10 Commandments, the one associated with test and trial, rest, creation, and eventually is involved in transporting God’s people into the future. There is only one that fits these criteria, the 4th commandment, known as the Sabbath command27.
That it is used as a test for His people is unmistakable.
Exodus 16:4,26-28 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
That it is associated with rest and creation is also undeniable.
Genesis 2: 2-3 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
And that the Sabbath command is also coupled with the transporting of God’s people into high places is assured in such Scriptures as:
Isaiah 58:13,14 If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Note in the above text that we are to call the day of the 4th commandment “the holy of the LORD” (holy is another word for “sacred”). This is the law that becomes a sign between God and us.
Ezekiel 20:12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.
The ossification timetable says that in the end of time there will come a test to all who claim to be God’s people worldwide; and it tells us just what that test will be on, the last of the “Love to God” commands, the Sabbath of the 4th commandment – the divinely assigned representative of all truth. Before this is over all the truth on the subject will be given, all that we need to know will be made plain. Just as the bone that was of many parts has been fused into one, so our decision on this law will be as our decision on the whole law. It will be a solemn day.
When I came to this part of my study I was thrilled to see how clearly God has made His will known through His creation, even His prophetic will. I closed my anatomy book and gave a deep sigh of accomplishment. But as I was starting to put the book on the shelf something spoke to me.
“You are not finished yet.”
“What?” I countered. “I just read that the Sabbath would become the final test for the world, didn’t I?”
“Yes you did.”
“So why did you say I wasn’t finished yet?”
“Because there are still bones below the sacrum–bones considered part of the spinal column. Better get your book out again and finish your study. The schedule in our bones says that there is yet one final test, though not for the world.“
This final segment of the vertebral column, and the last to finish ossification (if, in some people, it ever does), is a group of four fused vertebrae attached by ligaments to the lower end of the sacrum. We call it the tailbone. This is the only part of the spine that does not protect some portion of the spinal cord. The last of the brain’s communication line exits the spinal column just before the coccyx. Many who have studied human anatomy can find no functional purpose for the tailbone. They assume it is just an evolutionary tail in its most elementary form.
So what are we to make of it? Since it is part of the spine it must indicate some type of test. But which?
TAILS IN THE BIBLE
The first time “tail” is mentioned in Scriptures is in Exodus 4:4, when Moses was instructed by God to grasp his rod/snake by its tail and it would become a rod again. The Egyptian magicians duplicated this miracle. So our introduction to tails has to do with displays of supernatural powers as well as illusions and trickery.
Later, however, the tail was associated with dishonor28, falsehood29, and power to hurt30. We are further told that it was with its tail that the great red dragon of Revelation 12:4 drew a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.
So the Scriptures associate tails with powers at high spiritual levels, and illusion, falsehood, and deception.
A SPECIAL TIME OF TESTING
The last part of the skeleton to ossify, to finish the hardening process, to prepare for the work for which it was made, tells us that a final test is coming to all people, one of the hardest tests man has ever faced.
II Thessalonians 2:11,12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
It will be a time of terrible testing for all mankind, a time when each person must stand alone, a time when evil spirits will be working with all deceivableness. During this time there will be no word from the Lord, just as there is no message from the brain to the coccyx. It has ceased just before this test.
Those who had not prized God’s Word were hurrying to and fro, wandering from sea to sea, and from the north to the east, to seek the Word of the Lord. Said the angel, “They shall not find it. There is a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the Lord….” EW 281
The deception? To the unrighteous what they have trusted in will fail them. This test is not for them, for the “tail” was not designed to describe a falsehood for that would mean God was using lies to accomplish His ends. He has nothing to do with unrighteousness!
“But didn’t you just say that tails were associated with deception, falsehoods, etc.?”
Yes. I did. But the serpent Moses saw was not a deception. The ones the Egyptian magicians saw when they threw down their rods were. How do we know? Moses’ serpent had power over the magicians’ serpents, swallowing them up. When Moses (or Aaron) picked up his serpent, he got his rod back. The magicians did not have a rod to pick up! So how does all this translate into our subject?
The tailbone portrays a time of testing for God’s people, a terrible time of testing. What makes it so hard is that there is no “Word of the Lord” coming to succor and comfort them, just as there isn’t for the unrighteous. To the righteous it will appear that God has abandoned His own, that He for some unknown reason has forsaken His chosen. Every sense, every sign, every indication will say they are deserted of God, as Jesus felt on the cross.They will experience the same horror of abandonment of One they had trusted in as Christ did on the cross.
Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Christ endured this test of faith as He had the test of obedience31. When hanging on the cross His Father’s presence was hidden from Him. Though the Son was not forsaken, the thick darkness surrounding Christ at that time apparently was interpreted as such. But it had other purposes.
In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.
In the thick darkness, God veiled the last human agony of His Son. All who had seen Christ in His suffering had been convicted of His divinity. That face, once beheld by humanity, was never forgotten. As the face of Cain expressed his guilt as a murderer, so the face of Christ revealed innocence, serenity, benevolence,–the image of God. But His accusers would not give heed to the signet of heaven. Through long hours of agony Christ had been gazed upon by the jeering multitude. Now He was mercifully hidden by the mantle of God. DA 753-4
The tailbone says, as with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane when the angels were forbidden to relieve His anguish, so it will be at this time. They must drink the cup, as their Master did for them. This is not a redemptive act, however. Their salvation had already been purchased and atoned for millennia ago. I personally believe these will be the 144,000, called “the firstfruits,” going through this to be able to sympathize with their Redeemer in a way no one else has ever been able to before, for these are the ones whom the Bible says will “follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.” (Revelation 14:3-4)
Soon I saw the saints suffering great mental anguish. They seemed to be surrounded by the wicked inhabitants of the earth. Every appearance was against them. Some began to fear that God had at last left them to perish by the hand of the wicked. But if their eyes could have been opened, they would have seen themselves surrounded by angels of God. Next came the multitude of the angry wicked, and next a mass of evil angels, hurrying on the wicked to slay the saints. But before they could approach God’s people, the wicked must first pass this company of mighty, holy angels. This was impossible. The angels of God were causing them to recede and also causing the evil angels who were pressing around them to fall back.
It was an hour of fearful, terrible agony to the saints. Day and night they cried unto God for deliverance. To outward appearance, there was no possibility of their escape. The wicked had already begun to triumph, crying out, “Why doesn’t your God deliver you out of our hands? Why don’t you go up and save your lives?” But the saints heeded them not, Like Jacob, they were wrestling with God. The angels longed to deliver them, but they must wait a little longer; the people of God must drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism. EW 283-4
There are three camps in the religious world. Some believe obedience to all God’s commandments and injunctions is the core of salvation. Others believe it is faith in Christ’s atonement alone that saves us. And a third group believes that faith in Christ’s atoning merits and obedience to His will are both necessary (though the obedience is also empowered by the Spirit of God within).
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit [faith] and in truth [obedience].
Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God [the sacrum or truth test], and the faith of Jesus [the tailbone or spirit test].
The end has come. The law has been fully revealed, tested, and proven and the gospel proclaimed. God’s words and works have fulfilled their purpose. They have taught us not only about the goodness and power of God’s love, grace and mercy, but also how closely these are associated with His law and life itself. We have also seen how intimately truth is dependent on Christ’s atoning blood and how the firming of our character is accomplished by a close affiliation with truth. Those who have learned to love Him through His law have also learned to express God’s love and compassion for all mankind through God-inspired and assisted selfless deeds for others, yet they have also heeded the warning about lightly esteeming His helps.
The universe is now safe to let redeemed sinners be placed in responsible positions throughout its vast expanses of time and space, and God’s church is now ready for the wedding. The corridors of eternity burst forth with singing as Jesus, with outstretched arms, says,
Matthew 25:34,21 Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
But the skeletal system is only one part of a great body of counterparts designed to teach us about the government and personhood of God on this earth. Have you noticed how God likes to use 12 when it comes to operating a nation (12 sons of Jacob) or a church (12 disciples/apostles)? Well, it shouldn’t surprise us, then to discover the Creator using 12 systems upon which He operates our body that is intended to house His Spirit.
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
2 Revelation 14:9 10
3 Acts 17:31
4 verse 32
5 5T 486
6 John 14:12
7 I Corinthians 4:19
8 Luke 1:41
9 I Samuel 3:1 4
10 Ephesians 5:23
11 Isaiah 8:20
12 Genesis 12:1 3
13 verse 4
14 Psalm 44:1 3, Ezekiel 20:33 34
15 Mark 10:16; 6:5
16 AH 177 180
17 Hebrews 10:5
18 John 3:16
19 II Corinthians 6:16
20 Genesis 2:24
21 Proverbs 5
22 I Timothy 5:8
23 Galatians 2:9
24 I Timothy 3:15; PK 625
25 Luke 14:7 11
26 Genesis 24:2 3; 47:29 31
27 Exodus 20:8 11
28 Deuteronomy 28:13
29 Isaiah 9:15
30 Revelation 9:10,18
31 John 15:10