Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Talk Tuesday-The Jesus Series; The Cross, The Tabernacle and The Day of Atonement, Pt. I

The Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16, lay the groundwork for us to understand God's most astounding and profound act of love shown to humanity-Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross. Once a year, on this day, the High Priest was allowed to enter into the Most Holy Place to make a sweeping atonement for the sins of the people.

“30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary,  and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” Leviticus 16:30-34 (NKJV)

The High Priest faced death if he entered the Most Holy Place any other time. “2 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 'Tell Aaron your brother that he may not enter the sanctuary inside the curtain in front of the mercy-seat on the ark whenever he chooses, in case he incurs death, for I appear in a cloud on the mercy-seat,” Leviticus 16:2 (NJB). Behind the veil, in the Most Holy Place, stood the Ark of the Covenant. It was made of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold, covered by the Mercy Seat which had two cherubim on either side facing each other, their wings stretched out, their faces towards the Mercy seat (Exodus 25 & 37). Inside the Ark were the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the budded staff of Aaron and a jar of manna (Hebrews 9:4).

On that day five animals were sacrificially offered; a bull as a sin-offering to make atonement for Aaron (the High Priest) and his family, a goat as a sin-offering to make atonement for the people, a scapegoat (one which bore the sins of the people and carried them out of the camp), and two rams as burnt offerings for Aaron and the people. The blood of the bull and the goat (sin-offerings) made atonement for the people and cleansed the Tabernacle, the Most Holy Place, and the altar of the stain of sin.

The New Testament tells us that while on the Cross, Jesus cried out, “'Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” Matthew 27:46 (NJB). “50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom,” Matthew 27:50-51 (NIV). Join us next week as we delve deeper into significance of Jesus being forsaken and the veil being torn in two. We will continue to look at The Cross, The Tabernacle and The Day of Atonement. We leave you with the following scripture to ponder:

“11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining  eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:11-14 (NIV)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Talk Tuesday-The Jesus Series: The Presence of God and The Tabernacle

Last week we looked at the significance of blood and sacrifice. As we delve further into the Jesus series, consider this account of Jesus' death in the Gospel of Mark:

“33 When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' 35 When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, 'Listen, he is calling on Elijah.' 36 Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink saying, 'Wait! And see if Elijah will come to take him down.' 37 But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the veil of the Sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, 'In truth this man was Son of God.'” Mark 15:33-39 (NJB)

What is the significance of the veil of the Sanctuary being torn in two? Why does Jesus ask the Father why has He forsaken him? We will look at the Tabernacle and the Day of Atonement over the next few weeks to answer these questions. After the Ten Commandments were given on Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb), the LORD said to Moses, “8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you,” Exodus 25:8-9 (NIV).

The Tabernacle had an outer court and an inner court. In the outer court were the Bronze Altar where sacrifices were offered, and the Bronze Laver, which was a basin for washing. The inner court was divided into two sections; The Holy Place was sectioned off from The Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies) by a veil/curtain. In The Holy Place were the Altar of Incense, the Table of Shewbread and the Golden Candlestick. The Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) contained the Ark of the Covenant, where God's presence remained. “ 2 and the Lord said to Moses: 'Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat,'” Leviticus 16:2 (NKJV). The High Priest could only enter past the veil into the Presence of God in the Most Holy Place once a year, on the Day of Atonement.

Join us next week as we explore the significance of the Tabernacle and the Day of Atonement, and how it relates to the crucifixion of JESUS.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Talk Tuesday-The Jesus Series; Blood and Sacrifice, Pt. II

Last week we asked the question, 'How could a HOLY GOD exist with a SINFUL people?' The answer; blood and sacrifice. God's desire to be in relationship with humanity is both beautiful and profound.

In the Book of Leviticus (OT), we are introduced to all different kinds of sacrifices: burnt offerings, sin offerings, peace offerings, grain offerings and trespass offerings. The sacrificial system made a way for God's presence to dwell among a sinful people. It is based on the HOLINESS command and centred around the shedding of blood. “ 45 Yes, it is I, Yahweh, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God: you must therefore be holy because I am holy,” Leviticus 11:45 (NJB). “11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life,” Leviticus 17:11 (NIV).

This word 'atonement' appears several times in the OT. What does it mean? Atone means to make amends or reparation (Oxford Dictionary). The Hebrew word used in the OT is kapar which means 'to ransom, atone, expiate, propitiate' (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words). Expiation is, 'the act or means of making amends or reparation for sin,'; propitiation is, 'to cover, to appease the wrath of God so that His justice and holiness will be satisfied and He can forgive sin,' (The Zondervan Topical Bible). Kapar also means to purge, make reconciliation, pacify, pardon, appease, release (The Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).

Where does Jesus, the Lamb of God, fit into this? “25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith,” Romans 3:25 (NIV).

“17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19 (NKJV)

Join us next week as we begin to look at the Tabernacle, the Day of Atonement and Jesus' death on the cross. Remember, God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die so that you might live!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Talk Tuesday-The Jesus Series; Why Blood and Sacrifice?

At the beginning of the Jesus Series, we looked at the Fall of Mankind, then we examined the Bible to discover why Jesus was called 'the Lamb of God'. This week we ask, 'Why blood and sacrifice?' Let's start with a bit of history.

After the Fall, sin became rampant. “5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5 (NKJV). God destroyed the earth by a flood because of sin, yet He spared Noah and his family because, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God,” Genesis 6:9 (NIV). From the lineage of Noah's son Shem, Abraham was born. God promised Abraham, “I shall make you a great nation, I shall bless you and make your name famous; you are to be a blessing!” Genesis 12:2 (NJB). His son, Isaac, had Jacob. God renamed him Israel. Israel (Jacob) had 12 sons, from these came the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus is from the lineage of Judah, son of Israel. This shows us that despite our sin, God always desired to be in relationship with us.

We first saw how the blood of the lamb on the doorpost caused the Angel of Death to pass over the houses of the Israelites during the 10th plague (Exodus 11 & 12) in Egypt. As they began their journey in wilderness to the Promised Land, “21...the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night,” Exodus 13:21 (NKJV). How could a HOLY GOD exist with a SINFUL people? Through blood and sacrifice.

At Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with them (Exodus 19 to 24), giving them a set of laws to follow and promising to be their God. Sin cannot exist in the presence of God, therefore He made provision for atonement through blood. “11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life,” Leviticus 17:11 (NIV). Join us next week take as we take a deeper look into blood and sacrifice, and see how it applies to JESUS' death on the cross. In the meantime, we leave you with these two scriptures to ponder from the New Testament:

“5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin,” 1 John 1:5-7 (NKJV).

“1 My children, I am writing this to prevent you from sinning; but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the upright. 2 He is the sacrifice to expiate our sins, and not only ours, but also those of the whole world,” 1 John 2:1-2 (NJB).