The tabernacle is ready, the priests’ have been consecrated …
“And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded’ ” (9.7).
The next verse says …
“Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.”
As I mentioned yesterday, Aaron had to first deal with his own sin before God.
1 Peter 2.9 says about us:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
We, too, as God’s holy priesthood, must deal with our own sin before we can see clearly to help anyone else—including our husbands and our children. Matthew 7.5 says:
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Jesus knew how to draw a word picture.
My paraphrase is, “Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye and you’re worried about that speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”
We all know what happens when we get something in our eye – our eyes water and it’s hard to see anything. Jesus said we must first see the sin in our lives, up close and personal and deal with it, or we are never going to see clearly to minister truth to anyone else.
We’ve been reading about all the offerings under the Levitical system. Notice that a sin offering had to be made for Aaron and his sons just like all the rest of the people (8.14).
Even those God has placed in the ministry as leaders today are imperfect men and women. They are neither sinless nor infallible.
All of us must walk constantly in the truth of the Gospel. You might think, “Well, I accepted the Gospel once so that has nothing to do with me any longer.” It is true that when we accept the Gospel (the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, His forgiveness and cleansing, and are made His sons and daughters), it’s a one-time decision. But it is, also, true that until we get to heaven, we will have the pull of sin constantly at work in us (Rom. 7.13-25).
We need to run back to the cross and remember that it’s only by His grace that we are able to walk in obedience, rather than any inherent goodness in us. The Apostle Paul said:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Rom. 7.18).
When we realize we have sinned, we can run back to the cross. The same grace that saved us is available to help us live the Christian life. God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sin (1 Jn. 1.9).
Some have called this “preaching the Gospel to yourself.” We need to remind ourselves that He died for all of our sins: past, present, and future.
The more we contemplate that and understand His goodness, mercy, and grace, rather than giving us a license to sin, it should give us a greater desire to please Him in return.
For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk.7.47 NASB).
Verse 7, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.”
According to Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, this pictures Christ’s ascension into heaven after His death and resurrection, and the welcome He received there. He paid the price with His blood for entry, not just for Himself, but for us, also, so that we can enter in with Him! What good news!
Verse 12 says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”
We are constantly reminded in Scripture that we alone are responsible for our acceptance or rejection of truth (Ezek. 18.20; 2 Cor. 5.10). We can’t blame our pastors or our teachers or our family. The Word and the wisdom that goes with it are there for all to see and to accept or reject.
That, also, means we are responsible for our own spiritual growth and for whether or not we are hearing solid biblical teaching. No matter where we attend church or whose teaching we sit under, we must be good Bereans. Continue reading →
Hypocrites! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders with that accusation. Could we be guilty of hypocrisy, too? And what about our parenting? Is the goal to have well-behaved children and could we be in danger of raising little hypocrites? How does understanding the deeper issues help us point our children to Christ?
Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember that 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.
Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us, we can ask God to show us what He has for us. There are always nuggets if we are willing to dig for them.
The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).
Ask Him to help you see, “Is there a command here that I need to obey? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”
4 ‘Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.
Sometimes we sin, either by speaking harshly or in some other way, and the Holy Spirit convicts us. What we do at that point is so important. Do we harden our hearts and refuse to repent or are we quick to repent and seek forgiveness from God and others we’ve sinned against?
¹ And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor …
Anytime we sin, we’re not just sinning against people, we’re sinning against the Lord.
But I’d like to focus on 5.5 today:
“And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”
Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was not enough. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.
How does that verse speak to us today?
How many times have we been guilty of doing all the outward acts associated with Christian living and yet in our hearts we were filled with doubt instead of faith? Or gone to church and lifted our hands in worship while there was anger and bitterness in our hearts toward a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend?
Were we just “playing church,” as if that would make us right with God?
How many times have we insisted that our children say “I’m sorry” to a sibling when we knew it was not genuine?
True repentance involves “confession,” that is to agree with God that what we did was sin. It’s more than, merely, saying “I’m sorry,” because I was “caught” or as if it’s some form of penance. It’s about heart change. That is, a change in thinking which leads to a change of actions.
“Hypocrites” is an ugly word, but that’s what Jesus called those who did “religious things” outwardly without true worship from the heart. If that’s you today, go to God, seek His forgiveness and cleansing. Ask Him to make you a true worshiper.
And the next time you’re tempted to tell your child, “Say you’re sorry!” Think about it … are you teaching your child to be a hypocrite? You need to take the time to help him see that what he did was sin. Use the Word of God to share with your child, prayerfully asking God to convict his or her heart.
Saying “I’m sorry,” certainly isn’t the only way we teach our children to be hypocrites. We may inadvertently do so any time we address behavior without addressing the heart issue behind it.
How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Leviticus 3 & 4
In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.
What about you and me?
Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?
Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.
Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?
The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).
The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.
And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.
But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.
When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.
Well, here we are starting a new book. Leviticus is the third book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), also called the Books of Moses.
Three of the themes which run through this book are: God’s holiness, mankind’s sinfulness and the need for a sacrifice. Of course, the sacrifices offered here in Old Testament times were only temporary coverings for sin. They point to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ, the only sinless, perfect, once and for all, sacrifice.
What We Offer in Return
I noticed several things as I read these two chapters. First, twice in chapter one the Israelites were told to bring an animal “without blemish.” These were to be the best of the herd or flock. They were not to say, “Well, we might as well sacrifice this one, he’s probably not going to make it anyway.” They were to give Him their best.
What do you offer up to God? Is it the things you really don’t care about anyway? Or do you say everything I have is Yours, Lord? I’m willing to lay down anything You ask me to lay down?
Do you offer Him the best? The best of your time (often first thing in the morning)? The best of your resources or just what’s left over? The best of your talents?
What do your offer Him in the way of worship? Do you worship wholeheartedly in every area of life or are there rooms in your heart and life where you worship self or some other idol?
The next thing I thought about was in verse 14, “And if … his offering to the Lord is of birds …” This was the offering of a poor man. It was also the offering that Joseph and Mary brought on the eighth day after Jesus was born. In and of ourselves, none of us has anything worthwhile to give God, but His grace is already more than enough. He’s just asking us to give what we have out of our love for Him.
I was struck again by how much preparation went into the sacrificial system of worship.
Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
How much time do you take to prepare your heart for worship, to make sure the sacrifice you offer is clean by confessing any sin? How much time do you take to ask Him to open your heart to His truths, to convict you of sin, to show you where you need to change and grow?
A week or so ago we read about the sacrifice required before Aaron and his sons were ready to go into the Holy of Holies. It was messy and bloody.
Offering ourselves as living sacrifices can be messy and bloody, too, as we allow the Holy Spirit to wield that sharp two-edged sword on our hearts! Continue reading →
So what is love? Is it what greeting card writer’s want us to believe? Is it some
irresistible attraction? Is it something we fall into and out of? Are we just victims of Cupid’s arrows?
One definition of love is “a purposeful, sacrificial action for the benefit of another and the glory of God without expecting anything in return”. And one of the best passages to show us what that looks like is 1 Corinthians 13.4-7a. Among other things, it says:
Love is patient. It’s patient when tempted to be impatient.
Love is kind. It’s kind even when the other person doesn’t deserve kindness.
It’s not envious of others. It’s not envious of their material possessions, their success, or anything else.
Love is not boastful. It doesn’t show off or brag. It’s not puffed up with pride.
It’s not rude. Sometimes we’re kinder to strangers than we are to our own spouses and children. But if God’s love abides in us we will not be rude, either in our words or our actions.
Love is not selfish, constantly seeking to have it’s own way. It prefers others as more important than itself.
It is not irritable, no matter what the circumstances. It is not resentful.
Love bears all things. It bears up under hardship. The old King James Version says that love forbears. It puts up with. At times we just have to “put up with” the shortcomings and failings of others. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4.8).
It believes all things. It gives the other person the benefit of the doubt. It believes that God is working in the other person just as He is working in us.
Love hopes. Biblical hope is much stronger than our “wishing and hoping” kind of hope. It’s expectant.
It endures. It perseveres. Love never ends.
Based on this list, if you were to rate your love on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being very low and 10 supremely loving, how would you rate yourself? Take a minute and think about it. I’ll wait. Continue reading →
“Mirror, mirror …” How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?
Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.
But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage.
“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v. 38.8).
He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands.
We walk into our homes and there is a mirror in the entryway, a mirror in the bedroom, a mirror in the bathroom. We go to work or church and … more mirrors. Even in our cars, we flip down the mirror for a last minute look. But in the desert, if a woman had a brass hand mirror, I imagine that was really something … possibly a luxury … but they gave them up!
I have to ask myself, what would I be willing to give up for the glory of God? What is really more important to me, people seeing the beauty of Christ or how I look to others?
And I wonder, on what is my own gaze fixed? Is it more on myself or God and His Word? Am I focused on my life and wants or is my desire to use whatever I have to point others to Christ?
As I have said over and over in the last couple of commentaries, God is not withholding His wisdom. It is here in His Word, but we must look for it. It’s not about being smart … or memorizing half the Bible … or sitting in Bible studies week after week and filling our heads with knowledge. It’s about faithfully seeking to know Him better through His Word and time spent with Him. And it’s about having a heart to please Him by choosing to obey what we know to do.
Hebrew 5.14 says, “… solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
It is by knowing and obeying that we grow in wisdom and maturity. On the other hand, James 1.22 says if we are hearers, readers, or sitters in Bible study without applying it, we deceive ourselves. We may think we’re mature. We may even be able to quote a lot of Scripture, even stand up and teach a Bible study ourselves, but we are spiritual lightweights! Continue reading →
Previously, we’ve looked at an overview of marriage and have been discussing the three components of marriage God laid out in Genesis 2.24 and other places in Scripture: leaving, cleaving, and what we’re calling “weaving,” growing in a one-flesh relationship. Today we’ll focus on “weaving.”
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
The term “a marriage made in heaven,” may bring to mind different images, feelings, and expectations, but wherever you are, I believe this series has something for you.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Weaving”
Let’s look at our foundational Scripture once again:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2.24).
The three key components mentioned here are all critical to a God-honoring marriage.
Two weeks ago I focused on leaving. Briefly, it means we no longer depend on our parents emotionally, financially, or relationally. It means what they want or expect does not take priority over our spouse’s wishes and it means not running to them with every problem.
Last week, we talked about cleaving, including what it means when we say that marriage is a covenant relationship. God designed marriage to be a permanent relationship between one man and one woman for life.
Today we’ll talk about weaving, two becoming one.
This one-flesh relationship includes the sexual aspect of marriage, but it is much more. Wayne Mack in his book Strengthening Your Marriage says, “Marriage is a total commitment and a total sharing of the total person with another person until death.”
The marriage act should be a symbol of a more complete oneness. Weaving our lives together means becoming one-flesh relationally, socially, and financially, as well as, physically.
Couples should share everything, including: thoughts, ideas, dreams, abilities, problems, fears, concerns, successes, and failures. Ecclesiastes 4 says:
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
That’s not to say a person isn’t complete unless they’re married. If God has called you to singleness or a season of singleness, you are complete in Him. But when God said it was not good that man should be alone (Gen. 2.18), it referred to this idea of making up for what is lacking in each other.
Weaving our lives together is a picture of unity and deep intimacy, but it doesn’t mean we’re the same.
I’m always amazed at how God often brings together two people who are opposites in many ways. One will be a morning person and the other a night owl. One will be frugal and the other more spontaneous about spending. One may be outgoing and the other more of an introvert.
This can cause sparks as we’re learning to weave our lives together, but instead of expecting our spouses to be just like us, we should learn to appreciate each other’s differences. We should learn from and strengthen one another.
What Hinders Unity?
Genesis 2.25 says, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” But as soon as they sinned, they “realized they were naked” and they tried to hide themselves (Gen. 3.7). This was more than just physical nakedness. It was vulnerability. They saw themselves in their fallen state. As soon as they sinned they wanted to cover up from God and, ultimately, from each other.
Sin still keeps us from the transparency and intimacy God designed for marriage. In our sin nature, we are self-protective and prideful, rather than open and honest. But the walls we build to protect ourselves keeps us from the intimacy we desire. We end up cheating ourselves.
Other sins like bitterness and unforgiveness, harshness, selfishness, stubbornness, anger, impatience, and unwholesome speech prevent us from unity and intimacy, too. Continue reading →
Several things in these two chapters caught my attention. First in chapter 35:
22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.
And in chapter 36:
2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. 3 So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.
And the result:
4 Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, 5 and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much.
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting … And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses … So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle (33.7, 9, 11).
Like Moses, if we seek to meet God, He will meet with us. In this case, He not only met with Moses, but God spoke to him as a man speaks to his friend. We talk and sing about being “a friend of God,” but Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (Jn. 15.14).
If we belong to Him, our obedience doesn’t make God love us more. But obedience is the fruit of a genuine relationship with Him. The more we understand His love for us, the more we should want to respond with loving obedience.
¹ Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice? 2 She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, Beside the way, where the paths meet. 3 She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, At the entrance of the doors:
God does not try to keep His wisdom a secret. Lady Wisdom is shouting from the hill tops; she is standing at the crossroads; she is begging the unwise to listen. Those who disobey God and ignore His wisdom do so willingly and by choice.
The events of the incarnation are coming to a climax. Verses 1-2:
1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Imagine the confusion in His inner circle. Imagine the temptation to fear what would happen to them.
Things were coming to a climax in Judas Iscariot’s heart and mind, as well. Verses 14-16:
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
24 “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
It was His time. His life was His to lay down. Nothing would stop God’s plan, but Judas was still accountable for His choice. Continue reading →