Wed, Oct 31st - 1:08PM
Today, we begin by looking at verse 14 which is a gospel witness:
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
That was the message that the Apostles were to give to everyone, and that is still the message that we have to give out. This is the purpose of our love, it shows when we take Christ to a lost world of sinners. Now, if any of you who stop to read any of these postings are not yet believers in Christ, then I pray that what appears on these pages encourages you to learn more about Jesus Christ and what He has done for you already. And my love shows here, for I take the message to the lost world.
To lost sinners this kind of love is extremely hard to understand. How can you forgive someone who has just knifed you in the stomach and caused your death? How can I not? What greater, more powerful witness can I provide in my dwindling life's moments than to voice forgiveness? Loving and ministering to people go hand in hand.
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God (4:15).
This is where sinners must begin with Him; do not say that the Virgin Birth is unimportant. My friends, if He is not who He said He was, His death and resurrection are absolutely meaningless. If He was not who He said He was then He was not raised from the dead. But all of the evidence falls on the side that He did indeed rise from the dead, for He was virgin born and He is who He claims to be. If you confess Christ is the Son of God you are then in the safety and security of God's presence for He dwells in you and you in Him. Why fear? God abides within you and none can stand against Him.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (4:16).
Here we have the declaration that God is love. Not simply that God loves us, but that He is actually love embodied. He is the definition of love. You cannot say that you are a child of God when you continue to hate, or argue, or hold grudges, with the brethren down here. A cute way to remember where in this book the above definition of love can be found is this: muliply four by two and you get eight---verse eight is where it occurs first; multiply eight by two and you get sixteen---verse sixteen is where the defintion occurs the second time.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world (4:17).
If we love our fellow saints unconditionally then our love is made perfect, or complete. In doing this we will not have any fear in the day of judgment for we shall know that we have lived according to God's will. We are just like Christ Jesus in that He was raised from the dead and He has newness of life. We have that life also, with Him at the right hand of God advocating for us. We are in Christ, and we are accepted in the Beloved.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love (4:18).
Nothing probably can compare to the feeling of fear in the human heart. Can you remember times when you have felt enough fear to get your heart beating wildly within your chest? It felt like your chest would explode. The child of God does not need to fear any judgment that is coming from God, does not need to fear anything that any person can do to them here on earth. All was settled when Christ died for you. If you are fearful, you cannot enjoy you salvation as God desires you to. Joy originates from love, so if you have love for Lord Jesus Christ, for God, and for all saints, then fear has been cast out of your being and you are able to experience joy no matter what your circumstance may happen to be.
We love him, because he first loved us (4:19).
Since He loved us when we, as yet, were unlovely, then we ought to love Him. God is worthy of our love. The Lamb is worthy of all of our love, all of our devotion, all of our service, which is reasonable.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (4:20).
I did not say this, God said this. If you say that you love God and yet you hate your brothr, you are a liar. If we look down our noses at those saints among us who do not have materially what we have, then we are liars before God. If we prefer to associate with people who dress a certain way, then we are liars before God. There is a great deal of hypocrisy going on within even the fundamentalist congregations today. It must stop, and it must stop now!
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (4:21).
You see beloved, it is not optional with God. He does not ask us if we feel like it, or if we want to. He commands it of us. Each and every day, all day and all night, in sight of others and out of sight. Are you dedicated to the Lord? Then demonstrate it in your life and in your service.
I shall stop right here for now, my friends. I do want to expand upon some of these verses and bring into our study some other related scriptures that I trust will encourage, challenge, and bless you as you study them out. Until then, remember that you have been told that there will be mockers in the last days, who would live according to their own ungodly lusts, and that they, being sensual, separate themselves from others, not having the Holy Spirit within them.
Mon, Oct 29th - 10:15PM
Beloved, today as we pick up our study in I John 4 I wish to remind you all that "love your brother" is not about backslapping, calling someone 'brother', or behaving so nicely in church. I ask each of you who read this: Do you have a concern for fellow believers? Do you have a concern to get out His Word? Do you have concern to serve Christ?
Consider the concern Christ had for all of us even upon the cross; "...Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..."(Luke 23:34). Stephen, the first martyr of the church said much the same thing. Are you able to forgive those who have hurt you and harmed you and yet claim to be children of Almighty God? If they cannot return your love, there is some question whether they are children of God or not. Hard words, but very true. This is the real test, the acid test, and it hurts---doesn't it? You do not hear this in those cozy little seminars preaching about ministries, and learning what your minstry is. Prosperity teaching does not teach this concept. If someone hurts us and they do not know what they are doing, then we must forgive them just as Christ forgave all of us.
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us (4:12).
I can see some hands up and waving already at this verse. You no doubt are saying that Moses saw God, and don't forget Adam and Eve! True, they did see God manifested in some form. But no one has seen God as He really is in all of His Glory. That is why Moses was placed in the cleft in the rock. Jesus was God in the flesh, His glory veiled by human flesh. Today we still cannot see God but He can manifest Himself through believers loving one another. Since the world is not seeing Jesus as He is represented in His Word, it must see His love played out through the lives of His saints who represent Him. Romans 5:5 says, "And...the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." And in Romans 5:8, "...God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is still true today that there is not one who seeks after God, so God as come down seeking us out. All I know about God is in the person of Christ Jesus. I do not know what God thinks about certain matters, and I do not know what He feels about certain matters. But when I listen and follow Christ I know what God is thinking about those particular matters. I know how He felt at a funeral, and at a Passover meal. I know how He feels about little children.
So, how does the world find out about God? Too many congregations seem to please the lost rather than to preach to the lost. We become too concerned about offending people and so we change how God wants us to approach them about their sins. Someone has said, "At the age of twenty, we do not care what the world thinks of us. At thirty we worry about what the world is thinking of us. At forty we discover that the world wasn't thinking of us at all." Isn't that the truth? So how do we witness to the world? By handing out God's Word? Yes, by all means available to us. But the world around us is so hungry for love; they do not know what real love is. Their defintion boils down to a three letter word, s-e-x. The only way for them to see real love is if we manifest it in our daily lives. His love will be perfected in us only if we love one another as Christ commanded us to. Christ is engrafted in us, He is to grow more and we are to grow less. Sort of like what John the Baptist said.
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit(4:13).
We love one another only by the Holy Spirit within us. That is why it is written by God in Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Love is at the top of this list. All other fruits stem from love; I Corinthians 13 supports this stance on love. There are a great many lost souls who need to be able to see this love in the lives of believers. How often do you hear this preached? Is it given as basic and all important?
When love is in a home there is no need for all of the little rules, there is no worrying about the wife's place and whether or not she obeys her husband, or whether the husband is the head of the house. For they are living out Ephesians 5:25. You see, each believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God and He can produce this love in your heart. I cannot produce it, you cannot produce it. Only God can do this. My natural instinct when someone hurts me is to lash back at them, to protect myself. That is the flesh reacting, instead of the Spirit of God moving me to forgive that person for they know not what they do.
We will stop there for today, my dear friends. We will pick up at verse 14 tomorrow. Until then, may God's love shine out from you and light the world around you, driving away the shadows and the darkness.
Sat, Oct 27th - 11:00AM
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (4:6).
Here in I John we are given a geiger counter to tell us who is in error and who is not. God's children will always respond to His Word when it is spoken or read. That ought to be the confidence of every pastor and teacher. That is my confidence as I endeavor to write these studies here on this site for all to read. God's own children will hear His voice. The most that I can expect from the other crowd is curiosity. Ministry does not depend upon the lost but upon the saved. Ministerial support always comes from God's children. All that I ask from you is to let me know if you are being encouraged, edified, or blessed from what is on this blog.
My friends, the ark of the testimony was carried upon the shoulders of the priests of Israel. The ark spoke of Christ, and if we are to take Him to the world we must carry Him upon our shoulders as well. John knew with certainty who Lord Jesus was. He said, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). John had "three i" evidence that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Indubitable, indestructable, and inevitable evidence. John knew Jesus, and that is something that we need to be a whole lot more sure of today.
Now, as we begin to look at these next 14 verses here in I John 4 we will be given knowledge. It is from this passage that I decided to begin calling all brothers and sisters in Christ "beloved." Do you see now why it is so vitally important to discern false believers from the true believers? If not, you will by the time we are finished with verse 21 of this chapter.
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God (4:7).
We must be very careful in knowing what John is talking about. He has issued a warning about false teachers who are not to be loved. I do not pray for them to be blessed, nor do I give any pious platitudes, saying, "Oh, I'll pray for them." I will pray that they come to a full knowledge of Christ Jesus since they may very well still be children of Satan. Children of disobedience. I pray for the true children of God. So John returns to the theme of believers loving one another.
The word used for love in this verse is not eros. John is not speaking about physical love or sex. All through this section of scripture the word used is agape love, unconditional love. This love is not sentimental, sexual, nor social. It is supernatural in nature. The Holy Spirit instills this type of love in our hearts and it does not come from any other source outside of ourselves. It is the love of God given to us, and only He can enable us to extend this type of love to those around us.
Unfortunately, this verse, like so many others, has been misused by many. I imagine that more than one college student has used this verse while courting a pretty girl. It sounds good, my friends, does it not? But this is not the intent John was talking to us about. Pure sexual desire is the foundational grounds for using it in this fashion.
Now, when you meet someone who says that they are a believer, and you discover over time that they love you and love other brethren, you can know that they are a born-again child of God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (4:8).
Here is another test of whether or not you are a child of the Living God. This is not a question of whether or not you love your mom and dad. Nor is it a question of whether or not you love your spouse or your children. Do you love other saints/believers? Some of you may say, "Well, I can definitely love some of them." That is nice, it is better than not loving any of them. Do I mean that we must physically embrace each believer? I think that is not expedient in all situations and that we rather need to be concerned for others to the extent that the result is that we help them when they are in need.
We are given another aspect of what God is: He is love. We have three awesome definitions of God in this little book of I John: (1)"God is light"(1:5), (2)"God is love"(4:8-16), and (3)"God is life"(chapt. 5). These are three great defintions of God and they are used as major divisions within I John. I will point out here that the only reason that any of us may know that God is love is because He revealed that from heaven and recorded it for all time within His Word, the Bible.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (4:9L.
How does God love us? You can't find it by looking at nature, only strife, bloody teeth and claws are to be found there. Love is found at Calvary. There His love is manifested in full. God has already proven His love. He laid down His life for us before we were loveable. In Romans Paul wrote, "For scarceely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die"(Romans 5:7). Would you be willing to die for someone else? Tough question, is it not? But God did it willingly for all of our sakes because He loves us. In Romans 5:8 he says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." That love is found in Him, not in us, because we are not lovely and some of us do not ever seem to become very lovely.
"God sent his only begotten Son into the world." This is a verse that the world uses to rob, to steal, the deity of Christ from us. They intimate, insinuate, that He was created. They will use that word, "begotten", to imply birth by natural means or even supernatural means. Their intent is to make us believe that Jesus was created for then He becomes less than God. When Christ is called the only begotten Son of God it is implying the unique relationship He has with the Father. God created the angels and called them His sons, and He says that those who trust in Jesus are sons of God, but He says that the Lord Jesus is "the only begotten Son." See the relationship? A similar thing was said of Isaac in Hebrews 11:17. Abraham already had a first-born son in Ishmael but Isaac was unique. His birth was miraculous, and he stood in a unique relationship that Ishmael did not possess. Jesus positon in the Godhead is that of the eternal Son of the eternal Father. Others may be sons by creation, or by new birth, but Jesus Christ alone is the unique Son of God.
How are we to live our lives? By living through Him. We are not to work under our own deeds trying to accomplish works that are acceptable to God. We might be tempted to boast under those circumstances. Rather, we need to lean not to our own understanding but rest in the wisdom and understanding of Christ. We need to allow God to order our steps and shed light upon our path through life.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (4:10).
This term, "propitiation" was used back in chapter 2 of this book. The word is quite remarkable. Two different forms of the Greek word are translated as such. I am not a great grammar expert but I can understand when it is said that the word meaning propitiation is a predicate accusative in apposition with huion, which means "the Son."
If any of you followed along in the study on the Tabernacle you will remember that "propitiation" means "mercy seat"; it is akin to the Old Testament word atonement, meaning "to cover." In the Tabernacle, once per year the high priest took blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the mercy seat with it, consecrating it. That is what make it the mercy seat and there was where nation Israel met with God in the person of the high priest.
Now here in the verse of scripture before us, Jesus is called "the propitiation for our sins" which means that He is the mercy seat for our sins. He is the mercy seat for our sins because He died down here for us. He has made atonement for our sins so that now you and I can come boldly to God's throne of grace. We do not need human priests to do that for us. Christ becoming the mercy seat for us demonstrates God's love for us.
We cannot say that God's love saves us. Since He is a holy and righteous God He will not, and cannot, simply open the doors of heaven and wave us all in. His love cannot override who He is. God had to do something about the reality of sin in the world. The wages of sin had to be paid otherwise no lasting redemption could be obtained. God gave up His Son to die upon the cross to pay what we could not. God didn't give His Son because we loved God first, nor because we were good or did good deeds. God created a way for us to approach Him, now all we need do is accept it. In John 14:6 Jesus says, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." My friends, we either come His way, or we do not come at all.
And now we come to the acid test for believers, so to speak:
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another(4:11).
Here is where many Christians stumble and fall. God demonstrated His eternal love for us, how are we going to respond? By shunning those who are not of our status, or class, or culture? Heaven forbid! By avoiding those who suffer from physical afflictions not of their own doing? Heaven forbid! By avoiding those who are doing things of which make us feel uncomfortable? Heaven forbid! How uncharitable of us if we fall prey to these snares of the devil. If we only love those who first love us there is little to no value in it. We could be accused of selfish motives in that case. Jesus said to us that if we only love those who love us what reward is there in that? With the word "ought" being used in this verse we are left with no room to shift about. If you still have doubts then let me direct you back to John 15:12, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." If there still is some question as to keeping commandments of God then remember John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." So, if I love Christ I will keep His commandments and if I do that then I must love other believers as God has loved me. My love must also extend to lost souls who do not believe in Christ or God otherwise why would they want to know about my hope? How would I be able to take the message to them unless motivated by love? Why would I even want to do so unless I loved them? "Love your enemy." How about beloved? Do you withhold your love from other believers? Even worse, do you actually hate some believers? I will say to you here and now that if you cannot demonstrate love for other believers there is a serious question whether you are a child of God or not.
We will stop here for today, my friends. Until next time, walk in the light as God is light. Love one one another as Christ loves us.
Fri, Oct 26th - 4:03PM
Beloved, today we move on to verse #2:
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.
The question always arises as to just how are we to distinguish between the true and the false teachers. John presents us with the way. It begins in Bethlehem, the virgin birth of Christ, born in a manger, the incarnation of deity in human flesh. If a person will not voice/confess that they do believe in this then they are false, not of Christ. If they refuse to confess what happened at Calvary, or in the Tomb, then they are not of Christ no matter how nice and sincere they are. They must believe in His deity from the moment of His birth straight through to His death and resurrection otherwise all is meaningless. Jesus was not just a prophet, teacher, miracle-worker, or all-aroound nice guy. Yes, He was all of these, but He was God in the flesh first and foremost. If they will not say that Christ was God made manifest in the flesh then they are not Christians and they are not of Christ at all.
John was speaking to Gnosticism, which said that Christ came upon Jesus at His baptism and left Him at Calvary. That is a nice notion created by men but it is not what the Word of God says. He "...was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification: (Rom. 4:25). Isaiah 9:6 says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given..."; notice that he says a child is born and a son is given unto us. The child may have come from out of Mary but the Son came from out of eternity. So, now we know how to figure out the false believers from the true. "Hereby ye know..." Let's now see what a person believes about Christ Jesus:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1:3).
John mentions this antichrist three times in his epistles, the only one who mentions him. In the second chapter of I John he mentions antichrist: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard tha antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time" (2:18). And again, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son: (2:22).
Now anti- can mean two things, it can mean "against" or "instead of". In Matthew 24:5 Jesus said, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Copies, imitations, knock-offs, my friends. Not the real McCoy or the real deal. So people can either deny Christ, imitate Him falsely, or attempt to rob Him of His deity.
As Dr. McGee used to preach, these first six verses of chapter four are a red light put up in front of all of us, a caution sign, a stop-look-and-listen sign. Our love must be exercised with ample judgment and knowledge. We are to love the believers, but we must be able to ascertain whether or not alleged believers actually are true believers rather than false teachers sent to mislead us. We must learn how to prove the spirits, to separate the false prophets from the true. In John's time there were two sects of Gnostics who denied the humanity of Christ and in so doing also denied His deity.
There are very many believers who fall victim to the current religious fads and gimmicks. Do not tell me that I can buy my relatives into heaven with indulgences. Scripture says that is works. Do not tell me that I must speak in tongues, for scripture does not teach that. Do not tell me that I must survive snake bites and the venom that said bites inject into my body for scripture does not teach that. All false teachings, and indicative of antichrist. See how much simpler life becomes with application of what John teaches in these few verses? We no longer need run to and fro with the current fad that is in vogue. Now we know that Satan is a liar, and a deceiver. How can we possibly withstand him?
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (4:4).
There is no reason for any of us to be taken in by satanic teaching or the denial of Christ's deity. Dr. McGee related a story of a man who belonged to a church, "I used to be in a certain church, and I was a high officer in the church. Then I got saved, and my eyes were opened. I knew then I was in the wrong place because they were denying the deity of Christ. So I got out." Why did he get out? They denied Jesus' deity. This man was indwelt by the Holy Spirit after accepting Christ and God revealed the truth to him. We have God's Spirit living within us and He is greater than Satan who is out in this world of ours. You must go to God in prayer and supplication and ask Him to lead you in this area of concern. If you are in fellowship with Him, His Spirit will make the issue very, very clear.
This my friends is the reason that none of us need an angel to appear to us tonight to tell us what we need to know. The Holy Spirit of God will reveal unto us all that we require to know, teaching us of the things of God through His Word. Staying away from reading God's Word will prevent His Spirit from leading and guiding you. We live, work, and play, in a big, bad world; we need warning signs concerning false believers/teachers.
God tells us that we can test the teachings of men. It is like a litmus test for pH. Generally, these false teachers/preachers are very attractive persons with charisma, and they make a fleshly appeal to people. But we can test them, my friends.
They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them (4:5).
People will follow such speakers like lemmings to a cliff. The occult is growing faster today than Christianity. Why? Because they appeal to the carnal nature of man, to the five senses. Our sin nature yearns to be fed such food, it caresses our egos, our addictions, our wants and desires. Any church which resorts to drawing in crowds through fleshly appeals is serving antichrist. Our methods need to be watched very carefully, reviewed periodically for errors. If our methods are improper God cannot bless them at all, no matter how many people we may attract to services. We have to ensure that the Word of God is always being adhered to and being given out. Several thousand people can attend your church and it could be dead spiritually. Numbers attending are not what is important, what the message given out is. Is the Word of God given out in the power of the Holy Spirit? If so, then His Spirit can take it and use in the hearts of the people who hear it. Are people coming to Christ? Are people making decisions to follow Christ? If not, perhaps your message needs to be corrected and come straight from out of the Word of God. Enough said.
In chapter three of I John Cain and Abel were used as illustrations. It was not said that Cain was not religious, rather, it was said that he was not righteoous and was not a child of God. See, Cain did bring an offering; it very well may have even been more attractive than Abel's offering. Cain's was of the fruit of the field, Abel's was bloody and would today nauseate many people's fine sensibilities. Abel's was the acceptable offering for it acknowledged the sin of man and his need of a saviour. Cain did not recognize any of that. Carnality of the flesh depends upon itself; it does not depend upon God.
John wrote very clearly to us that the important thing is that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, and that is the thing that we need to be very clear on in order to determine whether a teaching is true or not.
We will pick up with verse six next time, my friends. Until then, let us love one another as Christ loved us, for then all shall know that we are indeed of God.
Thu, Oct 25th - 5:31PM
I John 4 False Teaching and Love
I begin a new study today, my friends. I hope that it will be a blessing to some, and eye-opening to others. Let's turn to the book of I John chapter four. We will be studying right from the very first verse of this chapter with emphasis being placed upon verses 7-21. The theme of this chapter is two-fold, warnings given against false teachers and teaching about love and how believers will be known by the world. Now, I sincerely hope that I do not fall into the category of false teachers by what I post upon the internet at this or any other site, my friends, and that I would be known by the world at large to be a follower of Christ. That being said, let us delve into these deep waters and discover what God wants us to know.
This fourth chapter of I John is a rather difficult section of scripture. Some folk would shy away from reading it and would never try to understand it either. We ought to never shy away from reading any part of God's Word since He gave it all to us for our edification. This is a difficult section of scripture for it deals with the spirit world which none of us knows too much about first hand. We are also in the Devil's territory here since it can be very easy to go off the "deep end" and become very, very fanatical. We could become preoccupied with the occult which would be a dangerous thing, but we also need to know what the bible teaches us about it.
In the first six verses John gives us a warning against false teachers, false prophets. This warning is given, having first established the fact that we have been given the Spirit of God (3:24) and that we have been given an anointing to understand the things of God.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world(verse 1).
You see, we are dealing with the spirit world, and the Bible has a great deal to say about it. We can read in Psalm 104:4, "Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire." It is quoted again in Hebrews 1:7. A little further along in Hebrews we read, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:14). You see, we have angels ministering to us, even before we actually accept Christ as out Lord and Saviour! They watch over us while we find our way to God. How much ministering they do once we have the Holy Spirit indwelling within us is debatable. I feel that we ought to place much more emphasis upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit and less upon that of the angels today. The devil leads many a soul down that rabbit hole, beloved!
Now, there are good angels serving God and there are fallen angels who serve Lucifer, the Devil. They too are called spirits in scripture. The Gospel accounts speak a great deal abouot the fact that in Jesus' day there were "unclean spirits". That is what is called demonism; we call them demons since scripture calls them that.
As believers we are asked to put on the whole armour of God for we are engaged in a pitched battle with spiritual forces of which we cannot see with our naked eyes. Paul wrote about this battle in Ephesians 6:12. As you will see when you reference that verse, Satan has his demons rather well organized. He seemingly has various levels of order within his ranks of demons. I would venture to say that God most likely has His angels similarly organized for efficiency. This opening verse tells us to not blindly accept all that we see, hear, and feel for we could be misled by our senses. We must test what we are experiencing to make sure that it is what we think it to be in reality. We need to do this today because our culture has moved from a time where the supernatural was treated totally as fairy tale fodder to a time now where Satan is openly worshipped and talked about. He is fast becoming an acceptable social item of discussion.
Strange things have been occuring over the past few decades. For instance, the author of the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach, said that a voice dictated the book to him and that it was not his style of writing. This book teaches that birth and sin and sickness and death are not realities but only illusions, that what the biblical writers call sins are really virtues, and that freedom is freedom to do what one pleases. That is a concept that is as old as creation itself and comes from Satan's mind and not God's. This is all around us in our society and is ever growing more prevalent. So we must become better informed on how to unravel the deceptions presented to us each day. When I was in college during the mid-70's the supernatural and the paranormal were scoffed upon and frowned upon by the academicians. No matter what your IQ or scholastic test scores were, if you spoke about believing in these things then you were automatically considered less than intelligent. But not today, my friends. Generations of youth have not been taught what the bible gives us concerning the spirit world and thus they do not even consider what they are getting themselves involved in. They think that it is simply another lark, a passing fancy that they can merely drop to the way side like so many other fancies.
John tells all of us here, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits." If we hear of some person who seems to have supernatural gifts, to heal, or to impart power, we shouldn't get excited. We are told not to walk by sight, but by faith. Our eyes and other senses can deceive us.
John also tells us that many false teachers are gone out into the world. Paul used the same word in I Corinthians 14:3, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Prophesy here means to teach, to exhort, to instruct.
We all know that there are many "teachers" on television these days of whom we ought to be wary of. Prophesy is becoming more and more an interesting subject and rightly so. There are many who are saying more than the scriptures say and we must therefore be very careful. Although the person might carry a big bible under their arm they might very well not be teaching the Word of God. That goes for anyone who has gone to seminary or theological school. I am not saying that all of these folk are untrustworthy, I am saying that we cannot blindly believe that all of them are true Christians just because they have gone to theological school. Test the spirits.
Well, I think that I will stop here for now. We did not make it past the first verse but we need to take our time with this section of scripture for it impacts our daily lives. Until we meet here again, may you rest in Christ from your endeavors and serve Him with a loving heart.
Tue, Oct 23rd - 9:26PM
Since the time of Moses there had been nearly 1500 annual Passovers when Jewish people had gathered to remember God's deliverance and promises. The disciples of Jesus Christ had attended many Passovers throughout their lives. This was as familiar to them as Christmas or Thanksgiving is to us. Year in, year out as they had gathered in families or in groups of friends, they had heard the story of the Exodus retold, they had tasted the bitter herbs, the reminder of the afflictions in captivity, they had eaten the Passover lamb together, remembering how the Angel of Death had passed over the households with the blood applied to the door lintels.
Over the centuries, small changes had crept into the traditions. By the time of Jesus, people no longer stood to eat the meal as their forefathers had done since they had needed to be ready to travel. Instead, they reclined on couches---after the custom of their day. By the time of Jesus it had become tradition to sing some of the great psalms of David after the Passover meal, particularly psalms like Psalm 114 celebrating the Exodus. It was also usual to set aside one of the three pieces of unleavened bread and one of the four cups of wine on the table for "the Messiah" or for "Elijah" ---God's promised Anointed One, whose coming at a Passover would herald the redemption of God's people.
For centuries, at every Passov er, every year, in every household in Israel, one piece of bread and one cup of wine would remain untouched, waiting for the Promised One. At every Passover each of the disciples had ever attended, they had seen that bread and that wine reverently removed at the end of the meal, for the Messiah had not yet come. For hundreds of years, in hundreds of thousands of households, in millions of Passover gatherings, these elements had been left untouched.
Imagine then, the disciples consternation when, at this particular Passover, after supper, Jesus took the bread---the bread set aside for the Messiah of God---and then, He took the cup, Elijah's cup. For these Jewish men, hardly anything Jesus had said or done, in three and a half miraculous years they had spent with Him, could have made the point so dramatically, that the Messiah was now in their midst. After centuries of waiting, He was right there, showing Himself at a Passover meal---at the table that was prepared in anticipation of His coming. The bread and the cup of wine would not be reverently removed at the end of that meal!
No matter how long we have followed Jesus, when we catch a glimpse of who He truly is, it turns our comfortable world upside down and shatters our complacency. We live most of the time as though the world that we see, hear, and touch is the only reality. When Jesus breaks into it---we, like the disciples, are stunned. Such tiny glimpses of glory, which we sometimes get at communion, are not given to us simply to stir or entertain us. They are given to inspire and transform us. For once we see Jesus, we see everything else in its true perspective.
Mon, Oct 22nd - 6:57PM
We are now embarking upon the final leg of our jouney through the Tabernacle. It has been a rather long trek through God's Word, but I rather think that it has been edifying to one and all who have chosen to follow along this path.
Throughout this study we have been looking at the tent of meeting from the perspective of the furniture found within it. The tent and the coverings are without doubt interesting, but they primarily were to provide covering for the furniture. Quite easily, this entire discussion could be greatly enlarged to include other phases of the Tabernacle, but in all honesty very little elaboration could be added to the various doctrines that we have studied from examining the furniture.
Now there were two pieces of furniture within the Holy of Holies as we have already mentioned. Some people perhaps would say that they were really just one article of furniture. But inspite of appearances the ark was quite distinct from the mercy seat. Here are the instructions for it, given promptly after those for the ark:
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel (Exodus 25:17-22).
There we have it. The mercy seat was made separate from the ark and was placed upon it. It was made from pure gold, no wood being a part of it. This mercy seat was highly ornamental having the two cherubims upon the top of it facing each other. We can safely claim that this was the most important item of furniture since it was where God and man would meet and commune. It was where God handed out to mankind His statutes and commandments. It was supreme. On the Day of Atonement God issued warnings to Aaron not to come past the veil, "For I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat" (Leviticus 16:2). On the wilderness march it was from above the mercy seat between the cherubim that God directed Israel's progress:
And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him (Numbers 7:89).
In I Chronicles 28:11 the temple is defined as "the place of the mercy seat." The mercy seat therefore was very, very important. Here was where God was found. The gold of the seat sets forth the deity of Christ once again. The God-Man is sitting at the Father's right hand, waiting for the time when His enemies shall be made His footstool and when He shall receive the throne of David for all eternity. It is important for us to see what made it a mercy seat therefore. We need to look and consider the Day of Atonement. Only on this day did Aaron approach the mercy seat. At Yom Kippur, Aaron, after casting lots for the scapegoat offered the other on the the burnt altar. Upon offering a bullock for himself, Aaron brought the basin of blood within the veil and sprinked it upon the mercy seat. The blood made it a mercy seat. God did not look down upon the merits of Aaron, or upon the natural goodness of the people of Israel, but He did see the blood. The sinning nation brought close by the blood. Christ is in the mercy seat today:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (Romans 3:25).
The word used in the Greek for "propitiation" is the same word used for the mercy seat. Christ Jesus is the mercy seat today for the entire world. This entire phase of His ministry is expanded in Hebrews 9:24-28, where Christ is seen as the sacrifice which takes away the sins of the world.
God is propitious today towards us. He is "mercy seated" so to speak, towards all of us. It is wasteful of time and energy to attempt to do something to make a bridge in order to approach God. God has already done that work, and He does not have to be won over by the sinner. God's face is not turned away from this world in anger; His arms are outstretched toward a stiffnecked world, and His arms of salvation have been revealed. When the sin of man stood between God and man, He came and bore the penalty in full so that there would be nothing to shut man out from the heart of Jehovah. Because of the mercy seat God can save a sinner who does no more than to trust in Jesus. The question is,"Will ye be reconciled to God?" God is waiting, wanting, and yearning to save the last, the least, and the lost. The only thing today that will shut a sinner out of heaven is unbelief. Come to the mercy seat without delay, come and be released from all of your heavy burdens and cares. Come and dine with the Living God. He has knocked upon the door of your heart this very day, desiring for you to come and open the door of your heart and invite Him in. Don't be shut out of heaven, I beg you with all of my heart and soul. The mercy seat is before you.
Rising, He justifies
One day He's coming
O glorious day!
Living, He loved me;
Dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away.
Sun, Oct 21st - 7:55AM
Hussshhh! Keep your voices to a whisper for we are now inside of the veil, standing in the Holy of Holies! We are in the presence of the Living God, Jehovah, Elohim.
I am joking my friends, merely pulling your legs. For how can I whisper when I am typing these words to you? But we ought to actually think that way from time to time now, shouldn't we? Of course we should.
Now, as we work our way closer to the dwelling place of God, the emphasis changes from the work of Jesus Christ to the Person of Jesus Christ. There were only two items within the Holy of Holies: the ark and the mercy seat. As I said yesterday, we shall look first at the ark. Instructions for its construction are here:
And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee (Exodus 25:10-16).
Back then Israel was a theocracy, and Jehovah was their King. In this they were totally unlike any other nations around them. The ark was God's throne. He did not literally sit upon it in any physical way but He did dwell between the two cherubim:
The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims (Psalm 99:1).
By position alone the ark was the most important item within the Tabernacle. By it being the very first item spoken of by Holy God when He gave Moses instructions for constructing the Tabernacle it became the most important item. No Israelite ever saw it, so sacred was it. Only the High Priest was permitted to ever behold it. The ark's composition again speaks of Christ. His humanity represented by the wood, His deity represented by the pure gold inside and out. The ark required both materials, just as Christ's sacrifice for us required both His humanity and His deity in order for us to be completely redeemed. It was a picture of Christ coming as the God-Man. We cannot overlook this duality of nature of the Person of Christ. Without it we are utterly lost as sinners. And yet, we must admit that this is a great mystery to us. For how can we comprehend the manner in which God could live in the flesh as a man? And yet remain completely God? That is still the nature of Jesus Christ today. So we are given a simple wood box overlaid with pure gold inside and out, yet to what unfathomable things does it speak? As scripture tells us, God truly chooses the simple things of this world to confound the wisest man or woman. That lone, simple, box tells the entire story, so far as we can fathom it, of the unsearchable mysteries of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was God.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
Notice now, not just partially some of the Godhead but ALL of the Godhead. My friends, Jesus Christ was completely God, and He was completely human. How could He accomplish that? I do not know, I cannot explain it to you today. But there is coming a day when perhaps you and I will know exactly how He accomplished this feat. And that day is when we arrive in heaven. Jesus spoke as God.
Ye believe in God, believe also in me (John 14:1).
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 14:9).
In like manner, He was perfect man. He grew tired and needed rest, He grew hungry and needed food. He thirsted and required drink from the Samaritan woman at the well. He slept, He ate, He drank, He washed, He laughed, and He cried. Beyond all of this He also suffered horribly. All human characteristics that we share with Him.
The wood and the gold of the ark were required, but they were not mingled together, they remained distinct one from the other. Thus was Christ nature, God and man in the same form but never mingled together, always distinct one from the other. If we were to take the time we could find many verses that show this fact: Christ never functioned at the same time as both God and man. He acted as either perfectly human or perfectly divine. This is how He can be our Mediator between God and man.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5).
The ark was not an empty box sitting in the Tabernacle. It contained three items itself:
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4).
The tables of the covenant speak of His kingship. Christ was born a king, He lived as a king, He died a king. He rose from the dead as a king, and He is coming again as the King. God's plan is moving forward each day just as it has since the dawn of creation. This earth and the race of mankind needs a ruler, a king, and one day in the future He is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The pot of manna speaks of Christ as prophet. He spoke for God:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:32-35).
Christ not only spoke for God, He was God's message to man. He was the Logos, the Word of God, the very language of God. He was God's final message to man and since then heaven has been silent. The book of Revelation was the last of all that we need as believers to know. God told out His heart in Christ, as Dr. McGee has said many a time on the radio.
Aaron's rod speaks of Christ as our High Priest. The prophet spoke for God before men; the High Priest spoke for man before God Almighty. As a priest, Christ offered Himself. As a priest, He passed into heaven and even now sits at the righthand of God the Father. As Aaron's rod that budded(the authority of His priesthood) was in the Holy of Holies, also today there is in heaven at God's right hand the man Christ Jesus, who was raised from the dead.
These threefold functions describe Christ as Mediator. God requires one who can represent man before God and one to represent God before man. He must have authority to rule. Christ fulfills all this, for He was God before man, and today He is man before God. Because He is both man and God He is able to bring a holy God and sinful man together. Christ is the answer to Job's cry:
For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both (Job 9:32-33).
I will stop there for now, my friends. Tomorrow we shall finish our study of the Tabernacle when we look at the mercyseat of God. Until then, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits.
Sat, Oct 20th - 9:04PM
My friends, I write two times to you on this Sabbath Day. I hope that both will be a true blessing to you and can help you in your daily walk with Christ.
As we travel into the Holy of Holies we come to the veil. As we now know, the veil was the third curtain that separated a holy God from sinner man. It also separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. It was made of fine-twined byssus linen, in which were woven cherubim of gold. It was dyed blue, purple, and scarlet. On the wilderness journey it proveded a covering for the ark:
And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering veil, and cover the ark of testimony with it (Numbers 4:5).
"Veil" means literally to hide or to cover. It protected the holiness of God from the profanity of natural man. It protected both God and man.
The veil was a picture of the humanity of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews we read:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh (Hebrews 10:19-20).
For all of those decades the veil stood silent testimony, reminding sinful man that God one day would be manifest in human flesh.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16).
The veil was prophetic of Christ giving up His life willingly for sinners, and as a silent symbol of the Incarnation.
Now as long as the veil hung in its place, it separated man from God. The sinner could come no further than the gate of the outer court. From there to the Holy Place only priests could serve. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and that only once in a year upon the Day of Atonement. But not without blood to offer. This was intended to reveal to man how far his sin had separated him from God. Thus the veil acted as a wall of separation, it had to be rent. Likewise, as long as Christ walked the earth man and God were separated. His perfect life condemned man. His very life revealed the immense chasm that existed between how we approach living our lives and how God wants us to live our lives. If the humanity of Christ is the required humanity in which God can dwell, then all of mankind is doomed. If Christ's life is the only life that is acceptable to God, then we are all horribly lost. No man can measure up to Jesus Christ. If we must measure up to Christ in order to get to God then we are forever shut out of heaven. The life of Christ can never save us. His spotless humanity must be rent upon that rugged cross if we are to be saved. Someone once said, "I got into the heart of God through a spear wound." That is the meaning of the rent veil.
And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (Mark 15:37-38).
As He died, the Way unto God was opened up to us. In this way, the purpose of the incarnation was revealed, Christ did not come to act as an example, to teach us about God, or to teach a system of ethics. He did all of this, but the reason He came in human flesh was to offer that body as a sacrifice for the sin of the entire world/creation.
Next time we shall look into the ark of the testimony, or ark of the covenant as some call it. Until then, let us draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith, offering up our prayers and praise, knowing this, it will be as a sweet savour to our Living God.
Sat, Oct 20th - 8:32PM
My friends, the third and final article of furniture that stood in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle was the altar of incense or the altar of gold. There were two altars within the Tabernacle, the first was the brazen altar and now we find the golden altar. These two altars were characterized in a three-fold manner: the type of material composing them, their location, and the type of sacrifice/offerings made upon them. As we study the golden altar these three differentiations will be further explored. The blueprints for the golden altar are found here:
And thou shall make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. a cubit shall be the length thereof; and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. And thou shalt ov
erlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the Lord (Exodus 30:1-10).
That altar was the place where incense was to be burned. Sacrifice was forbidden, only incense could be offered. Made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold it speaks of Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches us that incense is a symbol of prayer and praise lifted up to God:
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints (Revelation 5:8).
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand (Revelation 8:3-4).
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense (Psalm 141:2).
Notice the presence of the golden altar in heaven, before the throne of God? It will be seen again by the children of God. David knew the relationship between his prayers and their affect on God. After the book of Malachi heaven was silent for around four hundred years. The day the silence was broken was not just any day, it was the appropriate day and more importantly it was the appropriate time of day:
Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was seving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. (Luke 1:8-10, 11a).
God began a new dispensation at the altar of incense on that day, even as the people prayed outside. The altar first of all is a picture of Christ as our great Intercessor. Here at this altar was where Aaron, the first great high priest, ministered. He was also a picture of Christ who ministers as our High Priest in heaven.
We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (Hebrews 8:1).
He is in heaven today praying for all of His own children. The 17th chapter of John gives us a fair impression of how He prays for each of us. He does not pray for the world, but for those whom the Father has given Him.
Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
Now is that reassuring or what! He saves to the uttermost! Not just a little, not halfway, not even mostly. God saves completely. He also intercedes on our behalf each and every day before the throne of grace. Two articles of furniture in the Tabernacle spoke of His work in heaven for us: the laver and this altar of gold. The laver speaks of His work in cleansing His own in preparation for worship, and the golden altar speaks of His interceding for us, to protect and perfect us in Him:
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Romans 8:34).
Let's contrast the two altars. The altar of gold is where God dealt with a saint; the altar of brass is where He dealt with a sinner. The altar of gold speaks of heaven; the altar of brass speaks of here on earth. The altar of gold has to do with holiness; the altar of brass has to do with sin. The altar of gold, as a picture, represented what Jesus Christ does for us in heaven; the altar of brass, as a picture, represented what He did here on earth for us.
The writer of Hebrews included the altar of gold with the contents of the Holy of Holies. I believe that this rather suggestive. Today the veil is removed, no longer a barrier to approaching God, and believers may come with boldness to the throne of grace because we are in Christ. Since He has a position in the very presence of God likewise so do we. The altar of gold fitly belongs in both places. In the Holy Place it suggests our part in worship, it suggests the place where we pray and praise our God. In the Holy of Holies it suggests the intercessory work of Jesus for us. We have no merit, in and of ourselves, that makes our prayers and praise acceptable to God. God does not hear and act upon our prayers because of who we are, but because Christ is who He is. The altar of gold was not a bloody altar of sacrifice. But it was consecrated with blood once a year, on the day of Atonement. Christ died to be our atonement, once for all for ever. Christ is the only one who pleases God, and God is pleased to hear the prayers of His own only in Christ. If we pray and do not do so in the name of Christ we pray in vain for God will not hear. To include Jesus Christ's name in our prayers is to present grounds for acceptance by God in heaven.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:15).
One last word about the golden altar. Aaron was commanded to offer a "perpetual incense" (Exodus 30:8) upon it. This brings to mind the injunction of Paul to the Thessalonians, "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17). This means to pray perpetually my friends. Strange incense was forbidden to be burned upon the altar and likewise strange prayers are offered in vain. A dead ritual and lifeless liturgy are abomination to God and produce spiritual deadening in man. Anything in worship service that is calculated to draw crowds and/or to give people the impression that they are worshipping God, when in fact they are not, are destined to kill true worship and appeal only to the natural man and not to the spiritual man.
That completes our study of the golden altar beloved. Next we shall study the veil which was rent by Christ. Until then, may never a critical word escape your lips and only words of edification land upon the ears of your listeners.
Thu, Oct 18th - 1:08PM
There were no measurements given for the lampstand made of pure gold. That which speaks of God's deity cannot be measured, He is almighty. His thoughts are above our thoughts. He is beyond our mortal computations and mental efforts. With Jesus we never see Him represented as just a man or just God. He is always shown as both man and God. In John 11:35 we see a perfectly human incident in His life. "Jesus wept." It is the shortest verse in the bible and it also shows one of the common characteristics of humanity, weeping. It is perfectly natural for one to weep, to shed tears of grief over the loss of a loved one. But the tears were not dry upon Christ's cheeks before He commmanded, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43). And, lo and behold, Lazarus came forth from his death chamber. That was perfectly divine---only Deity has the power over death.
Now, the lampstand was a lightholder. The olive oil lamps upon the lampstand supported flame which created light, but the light revealed the beauties of the golden lampstand. The oil lamp is a scriptural picture of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and reveals them to believers, just like a lampstand does with its light. Christ is the foundation, like the lampstand, and supports the work of the Holy Spirit, the light. The Holy Spirit also reveals the things of Christ, read John 16:12-15).
The lampstand gave the only natural light within the Holy Place---natural light could not penetrate there because of the tent. The priest therefore walked by divine light inside, and he had to go outside for natural light. True worship today is in spirit and truth; it is where the Spirit takes the things of Christ and reveals Him to the believers. If we walk by the light of reason, intellect, science, or the golden rule we will never be lead into the place of fellowship with God. These things are as natural light, and by virtue of their appeal to the natural man, they are truly dazzling to our eyes and mind. As the saying goes, the moths are attracted, and the light that draws them is also their destruction. True worshippers behold only Jesus Christ, and this puzzling point is undiscernable by the natural men without the aid of the Holy Spirit. The beauties of Christ are only revealed by the Holy Sprit to man.
Only as believers in this present age pass by the brazen altar, brazen laver, and come to Christ for light are they truly worshipping God. Christ is the lamp unto our feet, and the light unto our path; this from Psalm 119:105. Believers today have been sent out into the world as lights: "Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). We are reflectors of His holy light. As we walk in Him, only then can we be lights in the world. A relector must be where the light source is, in order to reflect that light effectively. "Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:5).
Tomorrow beloved, we shall turn our eyes to the altar of gold and examine how it fits into this doctrine of worship. Until then, sing a new song unto the Lord your God. Praise Him with hymns and psalms.
Sun, Oct 14th - 12:12PM
My friends, liberal religionists still direct their listeners to the life of Christ before the cross. Why is that? The life of Jesus is given as a pattern for man to live today. Yes, the consideration/study of the earthly life of Jesus will furnish food for the soul, according to these liberalists. I agree with the feelings of Dr. J. Vernon McGee, if you merely contemplate Jesus' earthly life as your only source of food and strength, then you will surely starve to death spiritually. His earthly life was wonderful and worthy of emulation, but I ask you, where is the power for Christians to follow in His footsteps? It comes from the life of Jesus after the cross. His resurrection life is the table for believers to partake from on a daily basis. It is not imitation of His life, but impartation of His life that builds us up spiritually. Paul stated boldly, "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20).
The table was the center of union and communion for the priestly family. In Leviticus 24:9 the Levites were instructed to remain in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle and eat at the table. Just as real unity was around that table, so today, our unity as believers is about Christ.
Differences between denominations today run as much along psychological as they do theological lines. And these differences have been enhanced by personalities. Still, true believers everywhere are one in Christ as stated in Matthew 18:20.
However, I need to say here that the efforts being put forth to bring about unity among the various denominations does not and cannot in and of itself bring about spiritual unity. They are futile attempts to accomplish a deed that is only possible in Christ. The works of man. Of a certainty, true believers ought to gather together. All of out denominations must gather at the communion table where the veil was originally rent by Christ, so that all could come freely into the presence of God. All would praise His blessed Person, all of the branches of the vine would come together. Anything man-made in attempting to unite professing believers on the basis of just goodwill we should should retreat from. That which is not focused on Him is satanic and will bring no goodwill. We ought to pray daily for all believers, whereever they may be found, that they might be made one in outward manifestation as well as unified in spirit.
Now, there were twelve loaves placed on the table, one for each of the twelve tribes. The smallest tribe had the same type of loaf as did the largest tribe. Outcast Reuben had the same type as did priestly Levi. They all stood upon the same ground of relationship and shared in same participation of heavenly food. Man is always equalized when Christ is exalted. We are ennobled and lifted up when we exalt Christ rather than ourselves.
For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread (I Corinthians 10:17).
Here is the final feature of the table that we shall take a look at. In chapter 22 of Leviticus, instructions were given that banned the following from eating at this table: strangers, sojourners, defiled, servants, lame, blind, or blemished. The meaning is evident, worship is the privilege of the believer and is foreign to all others. Literally, there is no public worship. Until one is brought near by the blood of Christ and made whole again there can be no true worship. It is sonship that brings us into the place of worship. We must come by way of the brazen altar to be acceptable. Sin keeps us from enjoying participation in the things of the Lord. Even believers must come by the brazen laver for cleansing. We must confess our sins, that we may be truly restored. If we do these things then we are privileged, and urged, to worship Him.
Now we shall begin studying the lampstand of gold. We might believe that the floor lamp is an invention by the modern, scientific, era. We would be wrong in that belief since the Tabernacle contained a floor lamp. We are using the term "lampstand" rather than the King James term "candlestick" so that we can picture how it looked much easier. The plans for it are given in Exodus 25:
And thou shalt make a candlestick[lampstand] of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and knop under two brances of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. And thou shalt make the seven lamps therof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
Notice that here we have a change in the material used in making the furniture located within the Holy Place, from that found in the outer court area. Brass was the choice by God for the outer court but now He has chosen gold to be used in the inner court. Gold was the only substance that could picture Christ's deity visibly. The lampstand was the perfect picture of Christ as the Son of God:
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9).
He is the Light. As the Son of God He "is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). The lampstand was handmade and was highly ornamental. The almond blossoms looked like wood but were golden, reminding all of Aaron's rod that budded. The almond rod, a dead branch, was made alive and bore fruit to give answer to the questions of Aaron's priestly prerogative. Likewise, Christ was established as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. It did not make Him the Son of God, it merely confirmed it to all. Aaron was the God-appointed high priest, likewise Christ is our God-appointed high priest. The high priest represented all Israelites before God, Christ as our high priest and represents all believers before God. His resurrection both declared Him as the Son of God and as our High Priest.
We will stop there for today, my friends. Next time we shall continue looking at the purpose of the lampstand in the Tabernacle. Until then, walk you in the light just as He is the Light.
Thu, Oct 11th - 1:15PM
THE TABLE OF SHEWBREAD: WORSHIP
My friends, as we saw last time, the Holy Place spoke of worship. Three articles of furniture were there: table of shewbread, golden lampstand, and altar of incense. All pertain/relate to worship and therefore must be studied and understood. Let's concider the table first.
Exodus 25:23-30 gives us the plans for the table of shewbread:
Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height therof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make therto a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.
This table spoke of many things. It spoke of provision, sustenance, and even supply of needs. First, it was a table of salvation. Jesus Christ gave us a parable in which a king gave a marriage supper for his son. The invited guests refused to come. This caused the king to deal with the rejectors, and having done so, he extended his invitation to include those in the highways and byways. These folk were bidden to come and eat. Likewise, an invitation has gone out today to the entire world to come and eat of the salvation as provided in Christ.
Secondly, it wss a table of providence. God provides all food for mankind and for all beasts inhabiting the earth. In the physical realm we all eat at God's table. How many of us truly recognize this fact and give Him thanks for His immeasureable bounty.
Thirdly, it was a table of the Lord. This suggestion comes from the memorial established by Christ at the conclusion of the Passover meal before His curicifixion. It truly is a "long table" that extends from heaven all the way to earth.
Rather importantly, the table was a picture of Christ as the sustainer of spiritual life for the believer. The incorruptible wood spoke of His humanity. As the wood was of the earth but not subject to the chemical actions of the earth, so too our Lord had a body made of earth. The gold spoke of His deity. Gold is not produced by the earth but is refined by man from ore found in the ground. The gold is separate from the earth and so it has inherent value. In the same way Christ was not of the earth in His deity, He was very God of very God. This picture is given to help us understand Christ's dual nature.
On this table were placed twelve loaves of bread, six in a row. All was considered as one. When either the table or the bread is mentioned so is the other. Paul spoke of coming together to eat the table of the Lord using the same terminology. The bread was changed each Sabbath Day, and the bread removed was eaten with wine by the priests in the Holy Place. There is a distinction between the earlier manna and this table concerning Christ. Both speak of Jesus, just not in the same way. Yes, Jesus is bread in both. The manna speaks of Jesus as the life giver. Here is His own interpretation of the manna:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world...I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst(John 6:32, 33, 35).
So the shewbread spoke of Jesus as the life sustainer. Eternal life is a gift. He/she who receives the manna receives eternal life. Eternal life requires a special food to sustain it in growing and strength. Another picture was given by Christ, the shewbread was made from grain; ground, unleavened, formed and baked:
And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake (Leviticus 24:5).
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit(John 12:27).
If Jesus remained uncrucified He would remain alone. In His death much fruit has resulted from the first-fruits of faith in Him. We are His fruit in death. The following verses in John 12 highlight this entire concept. Christ became the shewbread for today's believers to sustain themselves upon. We are to appropriate Him, we are to told that He is engrafted into us. In John 6:35 He says to us, "I am the bread of life." Jesus Christ does not intend to take away anything from believers, rather, He wishes to give us something; Himself. If He does remove something from our lives it is only to make room for something else of greater value that He desires us to have.
We will continue our study next time, beloved. Until then, peace and grace be with you all.
Tue, Oct 9th - 12:56PM
Now my friends we can turn our gaze upon the three entryways since we are about to pass from the outer court into the Holy Place, or inner court. As we move from the outer to the inner court we should expect a radical change in the articles of furniture found there. But before looking at that change it will be productive for us to consider the description of the three entryways of the Tabernacle.
The entryways provide a background for the articles within the Holy Place. These entryways were respectively, these: the gate of the court, the door of the Tabernacle, and the veil. The Way into the presence of God, for the Israelite, was through these three entryways. No other way existed for them. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me"(John 14:6). It is quite interesting to see that this threefold definition that Jesus made of Himself melds into the three entryways of the tent of meeting.
First of all, the gate of the court equates to Christ as "the way." The gate led into the outer court from the outside. It was the first boundary crossed, it separated the sinner out in the world from all within. Upon crossing through the gate, the sinner was confronted by the brazen altar with the brazen laver in the background. Our way to God today is by way of Calvary's cross. Christ is that way. It is not a freeway/highway on which one might travel by following mile markers or signposts, but it is a person who is to be trusted. Many may depend on some sort of highway sign (denomination) to keep them on the right track, to not get lost, and they end up being right proud of the fact that they are Methodist, Adventist, Baptist, Catholic, etc.. These may all be very good, but the reality of it all remains that the way to God is the person of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a church building/s, denomination, system of ethics/morals, rule of life, or some sort of ceremony or ritual. Christianity is Jesus Christ; the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And it is paramount that God be approached the right way. Yes, there is a right and a wrong way of doing this. The right way leads toward God, and the wrong way leads away from God. Sincerity will not overcome willful ignorance or error in this particular matter. If I am traveling from one state to another and I take a mistaken turn then I may end up going in the opposite direction from my intended goal. I may sincerely feel that I am on the right road, but I am still in all reality on the wrong road going in the wrong direction and I will never reach my intended goal unless I admit my mistake and make a change in direction. Practically speaking, the longer I travel the wrong way the longer it will take me to get to my intended goal even after admitting that I made a mistaken turn and must now turn around somehow. The only alternative for me is to get back onto the right way or else I will be going utterly the wrong way. In the same fashion we see that that is how our lives are lived out daily. If we walk down the wrong path for years, and years, then it can be a long jouney to get back onto the right path. Much simpler it is to choose the right path when we are young and then stick to it our entire lives. I often think back upon my younger years and desire that I had not been stiffnecked and relying upon my intelligence. So many years of wasted living! So many souls allowed to pass on by, untouched and allowed to continue traveling on the wrong path! I think that is why Jesus asks us to redeem the time. Take back as much as we possibly can by reaching out to everyone around us and riveting their attention whenever possible to the truth of Jesus Christ.
In making His tremendous claim that He was the way, He repudiated every other possible way thought up by man. To make it into the presence of God one must walk the way through Christ. In the Tabernacle it was essential for each priest to pass through the gate and by the altar. Sin had to be settled at the brazen altar then the priests could move to the laver to cleanse themselves. Today we must settle our sin issue at the cross/altar and then cleanse ourselves with God's Word/laver.
The door of the Tabernacle equated to Christ who is "the truth." The door led from the outer court into the Holy Place. It formed a separation of the one who had made the sacrifice from the area of worship. The priest had to pass through this door if he would worship God. In John 4:21 Jesus removed the concept of place when God was to be worshipped. Scripture confirmed that earthly worship was properly to be done only in Jersusalem. Jesus informed the Samaritan woman that the time was swiftly coming when worship would be in spirit and in truth for God would be seeking out those who would worship Him. The door of the Tabernacle led into the place of worship, and the manner of worship now is "in truth." God today is worshipped anywhere in spirit, but the way is not just any which way.
Thirdly, the veil represents Jesus Christ as "the life." The Holy of Holies was separated from the Holy Place by the veil. This veil was ripped asunder from top to bottom when Christ was crucified. The priests could not pass through this veil. It was forbidden to them. Today believers enter by faith in Christ into the Holy Place and immediately are also in the Holy of Holies. True worship brings the believer today into the very presence of God. It must be done in truth for the door was not rent in two, only the veil was. So those who wish to worship God truthfully must pay attention closely to what they are doing, thinking, and saying, for not all that presents itself as worship is in actuality true worship in God's eyes.
Let us stop here for today, my friends. Tomorrow we will begin studying the table of shewbread. Until then, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Mon, Oct 8th - 3:35PM
October 8th, 2007
The Holy Spirit indwells each believer, but sin keeps Him from having full sway in the lives of believers today. Sin in our lives retards and destroys His work of guiding and leading us in the light. The Holy Spirit desires that sin be reduced to an absolute minimum in our lives. He reveals the pathway of victory. He gives power to us when the conditons are met:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit(Romans 8:2-4).
The Holy Spirit is the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient leader for the children of God. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). It is declared that we are the sons of God, the daughters of God, the children of God. The Holy Spirit's ministry is in the sanctification of all believers. Now, it is painfully evident that today many children of God are not walking in the light, and there is no showing of power in their lives. They continue to walk a daily path that is littered with enough sin that it drains away any power that might be evident in their lives. The sin in our lives offends the holiness of God who abides inside of us, as well as it does in the unsaved.
So what can we do? What ought we to do? Assuredly we do not wish to offend our heavenly Father, and we do not want it to hinder our growth in Christ. What is the remedy then? The laver of the Tabernacle. When Christ our Lord ascended into heaven, He took His rightful place at the righthand of the throne of God as our High Priest:
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others(Hebrews 9:24-25).
Part of His ministry in heaven is the daily cleansing of His own saints who have sinned and who come to Him confessing our sin:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all righteousness(I John 1:9).
The heavenly work of Christ in cleansing those who are His was set forth by what happened at the Last Supper. Having laid aside His garments, He tied a towel around Himself, took a basin(laver), and washed the feet of the disciples.The cleansing was for those of His who are in this world, and He performed this ministry in the face of the fact of His returning back to heaven. He arose from the Passover (type of His death), and began the work of cleansing. A side study of Peter's feelings and responses to Christ's washing of his feet would be insightful but not necessary in this study.
This act of cleansing feet is also emblematic of the need for us to be servants one to another, forgiving one another, being our brothers/sisters keepers. And yet there is this thread of cleansing which runs throughout this entire scene in the upper room. Stop and think about it. What grace, Christ our Saviour is girded with a towel, and that with a laver in hand He keeps us clean if we place our feet into His hands by confessing our sins.
Summary: The altar was for a sinner; the laver was for sin. The altar was where the sinner needed punishment; the laver was where the child needed cleansing. The altar spoke of blood; the laver spoke of water. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins; without holiness no man shall ever see God.
There is another side to the teaching of the laver, and it grows out of what we have studied thus far. Let's consider the two articles of brass in the outer court. The brazen altar speaks of His death; the brazen laver speaks of His resurrection. At the altar is forgiveness of sins; at the laver is imputation of righteousness, "Christ was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification"(Romans 4:25). This suggests the relationship of the sin question to the sinner rather than to the child of God. Again, we can see a two-fold application of salvation to the sinner who believes on Christ. First of all, there is the work of Jesus in heaven. Secondly, there is the work of the Holy Spirit here on earth. Christ's work in heaven is described by the word "justification." The work of the Holy Spirit on eath is described by the word "regeneration." These are two distinct elements of salvation, yet one is complementary one to another. They never take place separately. Justification is an act; regeneration is a work. Justification is external, it does not change the sinners' condition, but it does change his positon. Regeneration is internal and does change the condition of the sinner, but it does not change the sinners position. Justification is a judicial act by God that takes a guilty and condemned sinner out from under condemnation, and stands him firmly in the presence of God, closthed in righteousness that, instead of deserving punishment from the court, gives him its commendation. And not only are his sins forgiven, but righteousness added makes him accepted. Praise the Lord! Such grace is imponderable! Such grace is undeserved! And yet, God freely gives it to each sinner who believes on Christ. Regeneration is the Holy Spirit's work in the heart of the sinner that changes him/her forever into a child of obedience rather than remaining a child of rebellion.
The death and resurrection of Christ do not themselves save an individual sinner; they merely make a ground for God to place His hands about a lost sinner. They give freedom and power to God in working this miracle of salvation. We can see further evidence of the interplay of blood and water in the salvation and regeneration of sinners. John recorded an incident at the cross, one of the soldiers thrust his spear into the side of Christ. As a result there came forth blood and water. John was very careful to mention this in his Gospel and later in his first epistle:
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth(I John 5:6).
Blood speaks of salvation's ground; it made God's power available in salvation. Water speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Now, my friends, comes a challenging statement of faith! If, the Paraclete had not come on the Day of Pentecost and begun His work of regeneration in the hearts of all those present, no soul would ever have been saved. There, it is said. There came forth both blood and water from the side of Christ because it takes both to save a sinner. Jesus was adamant about going so that the Comforter could come, Jesus commanded the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the Comforter came.
The laver therefore, suggests the resurrection of Jesus as the altar suggest His death. Both of these articles of furniture dealt with the sin question. Now, the laver was succeeded by a sea in the Temple that held 24,000 gallons of water. In the temple in heaven, as seen by the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos, there is a sea not of water but of glass---a figure of the fact that the sin question has been forever solved? Perhaps the redeemed have been glorified and need no more cleansing, and the Holy Spirit has ceased His work of regeneration?
And that completes our study of the laver of brass Next time my friends we shall begin looking at the three entrances in the Tabernacle since they do pertain to this study. Until then, lay up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life.
Mon, Oct 8th - 1:01PM
October 7th, 2007
Beloved, the cleansing by the Word is for the child of God. The unrepentent sinner is shut out from earning favor by doing something, and is forced to come face to face with just one thing: the cross of Christ. There is found no word of exhortation or injunction for lost sinners except "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"(Acts 16:31). Cleansing is confined to believers, and the Word corrects our lives. The brass laver stood between the altar (cross) and the Holy Place (service). Cleansing by the Word is for those who have come to the cross and who then desire to serve and walk in the light. In the Lord's prayer found in John 17 Christ prays for His own and specifically mentions that He does not pray for world:
I pray for them; I pray not for the world(John 17:9).
He also makes this enlightening request of God the Father:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth(John 17:17).
The very Word of God is a sanctifying agent for the children of God. The Holy Spirit is to the Word of God what the water was to the laver in the Tabernacle. The cross is where the sin of sinners is settled. The Word of God is the means by which a child of God learns how to walk anew. As the priests spent more and more time at the laver than at any other article of furniture within the Tabernacle so too the child of God should spend more time in the Word of God than in any other service to God. Daily bathing in the Word of God is priceless in the new life of a Christian.
We note that no measurements were given for the laver. This gives further evidence that the laver was a fugure of the Holy Spirit for Deity cannot be measured. The Word of God cannot be separated form its Divine Author and Illuminator of it. The Word is sealed to the unsaved, and the saved need the Comforter to open up our comprehension of its truth. Consider I Corinthians 2:10-14 for revelation about this point.
The water in the laver provides a figure of the Holy Spirit. Throughout scripture water is used as a symbol of the true baptism, which of course is by the Spirit of God:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit(I Corinthians 12:13).
The laver had no cleansing power in itself. It contained, held, water that did the cleansing. Thus, the Word of God cleanses us because it is applied to us by the Holy Spirit, who is the power of the written Word. Christ sent His Spirit to do this miraculous work within each believer. It could not be done until after He was crucified, resurrected, and ascended. John 16:7 records what Christ said would happen. The Book of Acts frequently is referred to as the "Acts of the Apostles" when in actual fact it is the record of the Acts of the Holy Spirit through them.
The laver was used for the cleansing of the priests, those belonging to God and His royal service. When each priest was ordained, they were washed all over (Leviticus 8:6). That washing was forever, never repeated again, but the daily cleansing was continual. The blood of Christ cleanses the believer from all sin, but in our daily walk and service we become defiled/soiled and need cleansing.
That is all for today, my friends. Nest time we shall continue this train of thought concerning the laver. Until then, greet one another with a holy kiss, peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus.
Wed, Oct 3rd - 1:23PM
October 3rd, 2007
Today we begin studying what the brass laver was for, and how it applies to us today. The instructions for the construction of the laver can be found in Exodus 30:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations(Exodus 30:17-21).
This laver was the only other article of furniture that stood in the outer court. Constructed of brass, as was the altar, it was filled with water. Obviously it had a top part that held water for washing of the hands and a lower part, called its foot, for the washing of the feet. All service within the Tabernacle required the server to wash at the laver. Once past the brazen altar, the teaching of the Tabernacle is directly to the sons of God. There is a two-fold application of the laver's meaning of cleansing, one being an earthly and the other being a heavenly application. It applies, first of all, to Jesus Christ's current resurrection ministry with sinners. He continues cleansing His own children until He presents us "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy"(Jude 24). Jesus continues this cleansing of us from heaven. Secondly, it applies to one part of the Holy Spirit's work in His present minstry here on earth. The written Word, the audible voice of the Spirit, reveals the pathway of light for God's children that will keep us from defilement along our journey, and it also reveals new paths of service. The indwelling Spirit confirms and makes real the minstry of the written Word. The wonder of it all is this: these are not separate operations but one, for the Spirit never directs apart from or contrary to the Word. This is the earthly meaning of the laver.
Let's look more closely at this earthly meaning. This meaning grows out of and is derived from the heavenly meaning. Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to include this ministry in His mission during this, the church age. The laver was made of brass which, as we have already studied, speaks of judgment of sin. But, the laver was made of particular kinds of brass: the brazen mirrors of the women.
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (Exodus 38;8).
They used highly polished brass for mirrors back in that day, and here were slave women in possession of luxury items! How could it be? Perhaps some had secreted a mirror away for those rare times when they had opportunity to look in one to fix their hair for a special occasion. I do not imagine that there were too many of those occasions available to slaves working for Pharaoh. I do think that the vast majority of these mirrors came from the Egyptians themselves when they gave liberally to the Hebrews prior to the beginning of their exodus. At any rate, they offered their mirrors for the making of this laver. Of course, we find in the Word that the Holy Spirit has used this object metaphorically as the Word of God:
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was(James 1:23-24).
Obviously, it was no accident that God chose a brass laver made out of mirrors of the women, and a mirror is what the Word of God is likened to. This figure of the Word of God being a cleansing agent is further developed by the Spirit when He speaks of the cleansing power of the Word:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word(Ephesians 5:25-26).
Beloved, the Word of God is likened unto the laver itself and unto the water that is in the laver. Both are symbols of God's Word. The laver's primary purpose was to cleanse. Similarly, the Word of God is for cleansing. Did not Christ say, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you"(John 15:3). The laver was full of water and the priests were commanded to wash repeatedly in the service of the Tabernacle. To wash in the Word is to apply the Word to our lives. It washes because it reveals as a mirror, and so it is used in cleansing and beautifying. One of the benefits coming from the Word of God is pronounced by Paul in II Timothy 3:16 as being "correction". The Word is profitable for correction; it cleanses by correcting the individual.
That is where we shall end for today my friends. Next time we shall continue studying the laver and discover what else it means. Until then, love the children of the Father of lights, love yourselves, and above all else love our Father in heaven!
Mon, Oct 1st - 12:58PM
October 1st, 2007
My apologies to you all. It was a busy weekend in my household! But we are back on track today in our study.
(3) The Altar, the Place of Sacrifice. What an amazing light this brass altar casts on the cross at Calvary, the place of God's sacrifice! That cross was more than a public place of execution of criminals. It was an altar where a high priest was offering a sacrifice to God the Father. It became the place where God Himself became both the offering and the offerer at the eternal brazen altar. Christ's death upon the cross is vividly told in Psalm 22 in accurate terms of how one died by crucifixion. Jesus' death was more than the completion of Roman legal procedures and of Jewish plotting and conniving. If we only see in Christ's death the movement of human efforts to eliminate Him then we have not read the scriptures correctly.
There are two dimensions to the death of Christ: the human and the divine aspects. God and man were both quite busy at Golgotha on that day. Man was doing his worst; God was doing His best. Man was acting in hate; God was acting in love. Man was destroying; God was restoring. Man was inflicting death; God was bestowing life.
Those people around the cross saw only the human element, and seeing only at face value they thought that they saw all. Today, from our vantage point, we can know that they did not accurately see all that took place on that day. Even we cannot know the depths of the death of Jesus Christ or comprehend all of its meaning. Simon Peter gathered both the divine and human elements together in his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain (Acts 2:23).
Those who killed Him were murderers, violaters of their own Law, but they were not beyond the control of God in their actions. Yes, they were moving in the same direction, but with different motives. Both were moving towards the climatic death of Christ. When Christ was arrested and brought to trial that night, it is recorded in scripture that He did not open His mouth to defend Himself. He was innocent, guiltless, and He refused to defend Himself. This wasn't weakness nor despair on His part:
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).
He was fulfilling prophecy, He was being true to His own character. John the Baptist pointed Him out to all of the people and said: "Behold the Lamb of God." This Christ was in His blessed Person the Lamb of God. John in another place pointed and declared. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Now a lamb was for sacrifice. The people had been schooled for generations to accept this fact through the ordinances of the Tabernacle.
He was on His way to the place of sacrifice, and He was going voluntarily. He desired to do His Father's will. Christ was not helpless. Christ was not being compelled by the Father to die. Man was not forcing Him up on the cross. Christ was in perfect accord with God's will. He was not ensnared by clever Jews. He was not caught between Jewish hatred and Roman cruelty. He was lovingly moving toward the cross to redeem those who were nailing Him to that cross. Very definitely and directly Christ had been moving towards the cross for six months. In Caesarea Phillipi, Jesus told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to die. From that time on He moved purposefully and unflinchingly toward Calvary. When He arrived in Jerusalem there was a plot afoot by the Sanhedrin to take Him but they had decided to be careful:
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people (Matthew 26:5).
Still, Jesus had told the disciples earlier that He would die during the feast:
Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified (Matthew 26:2).
Christ was the Lamb of God dying willingly upon God's altar for the sin of the world. It is recorded that He dismissed His spirit, He did not die as other men die. By divine command He dismissed His spirit. One can argue that this journey toward the cross began much, much earlier. "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). Did God the Father love His only begotten Son?
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again (John 10:17).
God was acting in it all, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (II Corinthians 5:19). The entrance of sin had created suffering for the creatures,God came forth to share that suffering and to bear the sin:
Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26).
Let us return to the death of Jesus Christ for an examination of the fact that His death was much more than man venting his hate. It was God displaying His unchanging love; Christ meeting the demands of a Holy God. Christ was nailed to the cross at the third hour (9:00 A.M.) and He expired at the ninth hour (3:00 P.M.). So He was on the cross for 6 hours At noon it is recorded that a darkness covered the whole land until 3 P.M., so for three hours Christ hung in darkness.
And it was now about the sixth hour, and a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, the sun's light failing (Luke 23:44, 45).
The darkness must be supernatural since this sort of thing does not naturally occur. No indication is given that this darkness covered more than Judea or perhaps Palestine. One of the plagues experienced by Egypt was darkness but in Goshen the people had light. God had kept His people in light while all of Egypt had darkness, but now when they allowed the crucifixion of their Messiah, that darkness came down upon them in their own land. This would seem to be the greater miracle of the two occurances since it is more difficult to produce darkness in the presence of light than to produce light in the presence of darkness. Light overcomes darkness, but darkness is the negation of light. It could not have been an eclipse for it was at the time of the Passover and there was a full moon. An eclipse lasts for only a few minutes, not for three hours. Naturalistically it cannot be explained, this was a supernatural event. It did happen though, both Celsus who was an enemy of the cross) and Tertullian (a reliable Christian recorder of facts) state that it did indeed take place.
So what is the explanation of the darkness? Men had tried their utmost to humiliate Christ, the Roman soldiers were performing just another day's task. The Sanhedrin and mob were jeering and tempting Him. For three hours man was driven by Satan to tempt Christ to save Himself and show that He was, in fact, the Messiah. At noontime, all of man's efforts ceased. There was utter darkness, no man could work, probably could not even move for lack of ability to see anything around them. The hearts of men were filled with a gripping fear. The Roman solkiers now stood in fear, the mob's cries were silenced. Horror hung upon the cross while the mighty mechanism of nature rolled inexorably on, but the Creator had stepped in and intervened in His creation.
First three hours were man's moment; the last three were God's moment. The cross ceased to be part of Roman justice and became His altar. In that period of darkness Christ was made sin for us (see II Corinthians 5:21), and thus He fulfilled the prophecy of the slain Lamb in Isaiah 53. Christ's suffering is unrecorded for it was veiled in the darkness of Calvary. After the darkness disappeared there came the piercing and anguished cry from the slain Lamb, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27;46). During those three hours of darkness Christ endured all of the sufferings of hell multiplied by all of us. He bore all of the sin of the entire world. It was God the Father who buried the sword of jsutice in the heart of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now God is free to accept sinners who do no more than receive Christ. That cross become an altar of eternal sacrifice where God displayed His eternal love by paying the penalty for sin Himself.
The concluding feature about the brazen altar was the measurements. It was foursquare(Exodus 27:1). It suggests the equality of everyone at the altar. We all come as sinners on the same plane. This does not ignore the fact that there are big sins and little sins, or that some have sinned more/less than others. But all have sinned by nature, "for all have sinned, and come short of the Golory of God" (Romans 3:23).
The altar was three cubits high. It was the tallest object in the Tabernacle. The substitutionary death of Christ towers above all else. It is the foundation of all of God's dealings with man and it is above all His actions with us. The cross reveals that God did His best for us there, and that all good things must come from there also.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
And there we have it my friends! The altar of brass was a picture of the coming redemptive work of Christ at Calvary. Next time we shall look at the laver of brass which was the very next object one saw when moving through the Tabernacle and we shall see how it relates to us today in our lives. Until then, study to show yourself approved, a good steward of God's Word.
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