27 March 2008

Blessed Be"--He who comes in the name of the LORD (part 2)

Romans 12:1--I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Matthew 5:17--"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
Ephesians 5:2--And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

So many people think that Easter is the anniversary of the first rabbit that laid an egg. Walk into Kroger’s, go down the candy aisle. What do you see? And the world is happy hanging on to these little customs and not knowing the truth. And it is so sad. They could come to know the One who died to blot out their sins. But they don’t want to think about that. Instead of joining in the marriage supper of the Lamb—where there’s gonna be steak and lobster and all kinds of wonderful food—they're happy eating the old, stale rolls this world is feeding them.

We saw last week how Jesus came to be the Lamb of God, our Savior from God’s wrath, our High Priest and our King. Over the next few weeks we’re going to look a little deeper at these titles of Christ. Today we’re going to look at how He fulfills the role of High Priest, and some of the ways He fulfilled the sacrifices listed in the Law of Moses. Now, what exactly is the “Law of Moses?” The first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—these together are called the “Book of the Law.” It is a collection of five “books” that makes up one “Book.”

The Law of Moses was given to the Israelites. Not so that they could see how “good” they were, but to show how sinful they were. Galatians 3:19What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions. 1st Timothy 1:8-9But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane… when many people think of “the Law of Moses” they usually just think of the Ten Commandments. They are only a part of the Law. In actuality, there are a total of—get this—613 commandments. And in order to be acceptable in God’s eyes, all you have to do is keep every single one of them from the time you are born until the day you die and never break even a single one of them—EVER!! Matthew 5:48“Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Piece of cake, right?

People say that in order to get to Heaven you have to live by the Ten Commandments. Well, yeah. And the other 603 also. How many people who have ever lived on the face of the earth have kept all 613 commandments? ONE. One Jesus of Nazareth. 1st Peter 2:21-22To this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” Not only did He never sin, He never wanted to! We may, sometime down the road, take each on of the Ten Commandments and see how Christ kept each one. If you notice, the first 4 dealt with man’s relationship with God. The last 6 dealt with man’s relationship with others.

Now, after the Ten Commandments, God gives Moses some commands about how to deal with situations where one person has wronged another. And He commands that whatever Person A did to Person B, that same thing is to be done to Person A—and no more. This concept is summed up in Exodus 21:23-24“…life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” In other words, the punishment was not to be more severe than the crime. By the time Jesus came to earth, there was a group of very religious, very self-righteous men who had added many more man-made regulations to the Law. They were called “Pharisees.” These were men who knew the Law of Moses—they knew every word from Genesis to Deuteronomy. From “In the beginning” to “There has not risen a prophet like Moses.” They even memorized every single one of those 631 commandments—they had them memorized inside out, backwards, forwards. But, they also added new regulations to the Law. They also had forgotten the spirit of the Law. Jesus had a little bit to say about that.

Whenever you're reading in Matthew 5, when you see Jesus say, “You have heard it said ____. But I say unto you _____,” those would be the times Jesus is correcting the Pharisees’ wrong interpretation of the Law. In fact, He told the people in Matthew 5:20—“...unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now, many people heard this and they probably thought “Nobody can be more righteous than they are!” But here’s the thing: The Pharisees’ righteousness came from themselves. It was self-righteousness.
Galatians 3:21--if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
Romans 10:2--For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Because in order to be truly righteous, you have to keep all 613 of those commandments perfectly, from the time you're born until the day you die and never ever break even one—ever! In other words, you have to be better at keeping the Law than these guys who had it memorized! “I can't do that!” You're right! But Jesus did!

So, how did He fulfill this Law? First, I want to finish up what I started last week talking about Jesus being our High Priest. To be priest, a man had to be of the tribe of Levi. But Jesus was of the house of Judah. Hebrews 7:13-14For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. Now, the skeptic sees that and says, "AHA!Contradiction!" Well, maybe not. In this same passage the writer talks about a man named Melchizedek.

We read out about this Melchizedek in Genesis 14. He was a priest before there was a priesthood. Hebrews 7:1-31 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God…first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also…“king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. We find out in Psalm 110 that he was in fact a type of Christ. Hebrews 7:21 quotes Psalm 110:4 by saying—The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. He had no descendants, no ancestors. He had not beginning of days nor end of life. Hmmm. Wonder who that’s like? Christ has to be an eternal high priest. Listen to Hebrews 7:23-2823 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

Next, there were 3 major feasts the Jews were to keep: The Feast of Passover, Feast of Harvest, and Feast of Ingathering. Watch this:

Passover (Unleavened Bread)

  • Exodus 23:15--You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover)...
  • 1st Corinthians 5:7For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
  • Exodus 34:25...nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning. (See Luke 23:53-54)
Harvest (Shavuot, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Firstfruits, Pentecost)
  • Exodus 23:16--and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field...
  • Matthew 27:52-53 (KJV)52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
  • Acts 2:1-41 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind…4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…
Ingathering (Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles, end of harvest)

  • Exodus 23:16--...and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
  • Revelation 14:18And another angel came out from the altar…saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”
But, all that Old Testament Law stuff is so boring…

We see in Exodus a picture of the Lord’s Supper. Exodus 24:5-85 Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who…sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins… 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people… 8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” And actually we see a couple of things here. If there is one book that I would love to go through verse-by-verse it would be Hebrews because it gives us such a clear picture of Christ from the Law. Hebrews 10:22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. But also, watch this. Remember, Moses said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” Matthew 26:27-2827 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” So, with that said, we’re going to go ahead and delve into what may be everybody’s favorite book of the Bible—Leviticus. You know, if you really study this book, it is a lot more interesting than many people would think. And don’t say it isn't important. It’s in here for a reason.

We’re gonna look at the offerings found in the first few chapters of Leviticus. First, there’s the BURNT OFFERING. Leviticus 1:3-53 ‘If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. 4 Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 5 He shall kill the bull before the LORD. The burnt offering was a voluntary offering a person would give. They would come to the tabernacle with a bull or goat or turtle dove—whatever they could afford—and the person would lay their hands on it and they themselves would slit its throat. Then the priests took it from there and did all kinds of things with it to make it acceptable to God.

One thing to keep in mind is this: a person could not just waltz into the tabernacle any old time they wanted, bring any old animal they wanted, plop it on the altar and put a Bic lighter to it and say, “Well, that’s good enough for me!” It had to be done in a certain way. Then, and only then, would it be an acceptable sacrifice to make atonement for that person. In much the same way, many people today think, “Well, I got saved when I was 8, said my little prayer, got baptized, got my baptismal certificate. I’m no different than my friends who like to go out drinking on the weekends, but at least I got that ‘Jesus thing’ out of the way.” Or they're like a song by Alan Jackson called “Where I Come From.” And in this song he sings,

Where I come from
Just tryin’ to make a livin’
And workin’ hard to get to Heaven.

These are people who are trying to walk into the Holy Place with any old offering, thinking they can enter into the presence of God on their own merits. But in order for our lives to be an acceptable sacrifice (Romans 12:1), that life has to be sanctified to God by our great High Priest.

Then there was the GRAIN OFFERING. There were different ways to do this. The most common way to offer this was to simply combine flour and oil, heat it in a skillet or a pan, and it would be burned on the altar. There were a couple of regulations concerning the grain offering. First, it could not be made with leaven, or yeast. Leviticus 2:11No grain offering which you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the LORD made by fire. What is yeast used for? The only thing yeast adds to bread is air. The reason yeast causes bread to rise is because it converts the sugars in the dough to carbon dioxide—a waste product of yeast. So if someone brought bread with leaven to offer to the LORD, they were bringing something which contained a waste product.

But one thing the grain offering did have to have was salt. Leviticus 2:13And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt. Now, why salt? Well, for one thing, salt is good for keeping things from rotting. Ever have country ham? “Yes and I’d like a gallon of water to go with it, please!” Call me Sam I Am because I do not like no country ham! Two things. First, Matthew 5:13"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." I found this in reference to salt. One writer, when he visited this huge salt deposit, said, “I broke a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain, sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, yet it had perfectly lost its savor. The inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained its [flavor].” Interesting, isn't it? When salt is exposed to the elements of this world, the world causes the salt to become useless. Causes it to lose its distinctiveness and usefulness. But when it stays close to the rock, it retains its flavor.

And it is pleasing to God. Another thing: every grain offering was to be seasoned with salt. In John 6:35, Jesus tells us, "I AM the Bread of Life." The grain offering of life, if you will. When He was on the Cross, He was our Grain Offering, and we—the salt of the earth—were offered up with Him. Galatians 2:20For I have been crucified with Christ… Romans 6:6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him. I was on the Cross with Christ; I was the salt that was offered up with that grain offering. Not only that, but we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). That includes every word we speak. Colossians 4:6Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. I could go on and on and on. And if I’m not careful I will.

He is our BURNT OFFERING. He is our GRAIN OFFERING. Then there was the PEACE OFFERING. This was offered as a way to show peace either between two people or—more often—between a person and God. When Christ was born in Bethlehem, the angels said in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” It was as if the angels were saying “God has brought an offering of peace between Himself and mankind.” See, the Old Testament peace offerings were only symbolic of the peace offering that God had already given to make peace between Himself and His people. Revelation 13:8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God made His peace offering before He even began creating this world. He made the covenant before the world began, and He finalized it on Calvary. Colossians 1:20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…

But Christ also brought peace between Jews and Gentiles. Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Gentile…for you are all one in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 2:11-12, Paul reminds us that at one time, Jews and Gentiles were two separate groups of people. 11 Therefore remember that you were once Gentiles in the flesh…you were…aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But God Himself came, bringing a peace offering between Himself and the world and between Jew and Gentile, to make us all of one flesh. And in Ephesians 2:14-18, Paul tells us that 14 He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity…that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Because He was our BURNT OFFERING, He was our GRAIN OFFERING, He was our PEACE OFFERING.

Next week we’re going to look at the other offerings—the SIN OFFERING and the TRESPASS OFFERING—that were a picture, a symbol of the coming Christ. And if you're not careful we just might one day go verse-by-verse through the whole book of Leviticus. There’s a reason it’s in there. Just like all the begets and begots in the first ten chapters of 1st Chronicles. There’s a reason they're in there. It’s to point us to the one who would fulfill all these things, and bring peace between us and God through the blood of His cross.

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