07 December 2011

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--Consecrating Aaron and His Sons (Part 3)

For the last two weeks we have been studying the various offerings that Aaron and his sons were to give before they could be consecrated into the priesthood. They had to make atonement for their own sins before they could offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. These offerings were symbolic; they were meant to paint a picture of the One who would come and not simply cover their sins, but take them completely away. Just to kinda review, they were to bring a bull, two rams and several types of bread. The bull was killed; the fat was burned on the altar. But the flesh, skin and dung were taken outside the camp and burned there, symbolizing Christ being crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem. This was a “sin offering” or a “purification offering.” Then the first ram was likewise killed, and all of it was burned on the altar. This being the second part of the “purification offering.” Then the second ram, that we saw so much of last week, was also killed, its blood was applied to the ear, thumb and big toe of Aaron and his sons to sanctify their ears, their hands and their feet for service to the Lord. Then they took the fat, along with one loaf of each kind of bread, waved it back and forth as a “Wave Offering,” and burned it. Then the brisket and the right hind quarter were tossed up into the air as a “Heave Offering,” signifying that they would love the LORD with all their heart, soul and strength. These two, together, painted a vivid picture of the cross.

Next, we see what they do with the rest of this second ram. Exodus 29:31-33“31 And you shall take the ram of the consecration and boil its flesh in the holy place. 32 Then Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 33 They shall eat those things with which the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them; but an outsider shall not eat them, because they are holy.” This same ram whose blood is on their ear, thumb and toe; the same ram whose fat was waved as a wave offering and whose breast and thigh were heaved as a heave offering. Now, they take this ram, boil what was left, and then eat that meat—along with the bread that was offered with the fat—at the door of the tabernacle. Just as the sons of Aaron were consecrated (sanctified, set apart) to the tabernacle priesthood by partaking of “those things by which atonement was made”—the bull, the two rams and the bread—we too are consecrated (sanctified, set apart) to God by partaking of “those things by which atonement was made”—only now, that which makes atonement for us is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the boiling and eating of this ram was done somewhere between the bronze laver and the door of the sanctuary; it was not done inside the tabernacle. These things were to be done once the tabernacle was constructed and all the furnishings (the lampstand, the altar of incense, the table of showbread and the Ark of the Covenant) were arranged inside it. But if you notice, not one drop of blood from any of these animals has been taken inside the tabernacle. In fact, at this point, the only things inside the tabernacle are the furnishings. There is a reason for this, and we will see that later on.

So once they boiled what was left of this ram, they were to gather around and eat. Together. This was a symbol of unity among those of the OT priesthood. Are we kings and priests to God? Are we a royal priesthood? Jesus repeats this same principle in His prayer the night before His crucifixion. John 17:20-23“20 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” Jesus’ prayer is that we who are now children of God would dwell together in unity, that we would give place to our fellow Christians and strive, above all else, for Christ to be glorified in us. And when Christ is glorified in us, the Father is glorified in us

We got to talking last week about Christian unity. We, as Christians, are joined together into one body. And what is that body called? 1 Corinthians 12:12-1412 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. Have you ever seen a foot, by itself, hopping down the street? What about an eyeball? A pancreas? Stomach? You're not going to see one body part going along, by itself, without the other parts of the body. Our body needs certain organs to function. 1st Corinthians 12:20-2520 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. Is a wealthy Christian more important than a poor Christian? And anybody who tells you that you're poor because you don’t have enough faith or you haven’t “sown the right seed” or you're under a generational curse or you have some sin you haven’t repented of—they're just showing their ignorance. Because that poor Christian was important enough to God that He sent His Son to die for them—if they're that important to God, shouldn’t they be important to us?

Let me give you an example from the human body. Without the brain, the whole body will die, true? If the brain isn't getting enough oxygen, the body will divert blood from the arms and legs to the brain. Because the arms and legs give up the blood that they need, the brain can get the blood it needs, and the whole body can survive—even for just a little while longer. Now, let’s apply this to the church. Without saying that one member of the church is more important than any other, what does this illustration mean for the church? That when one of us has a need, then another who can fill that need should supply it. 2nd Corinthians 11:9And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. Macedonia being the region in Greece containing the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. And this is the point James makes in James 2—not saying that we are saved BY works, but that we are saved in order to do good works. And if one does not do the works that faith demands, he says James 2:14 (NASB)What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? The KJV, the NKJV—they both leave out the word “that”. The NASB correctly translates it as “can that faith save him?” 1st John 3:17But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Matthew Henry— 
“It pleases God that some of the Christian brethren should be poor, for the exercise of the charity and love of those that are rich. And it pleases the same God to give to some of the Christian brethren this world's good, that they may exercise their grace in communicating to the poor saints. And those who have this world's good must love a good God more, and their good brethren more, and be ready to distribute it for their sakes.”
So, since we are one body, it is obvious that we should care for others in this body. Some NT verses to finish up. 1st Corinthians 12:26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Romans 12:15-1615 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Philippians 2:2-42 Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. If one member hurts, we should all hurt with them. If that member receives honor or blessing, we celebrate with them. Christian unity. Read Acts 2 for more on that. And it is this Christian unity that was to bind Aaron and his sons together in that Old Covenant priesthood. It was eating of this one sacrifice that bound them in unity. We—spiritually—eat of the one sacrifice of Christ, although we do not eat His literal flesh and drink His literal blood as they claim to do in the abominable Roman Catholic Mass.

Exodus 29:34“And if any of the flesh of the consecration offerings, or of the bread, remains until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy.” Once this ram was cooked and eaten, if there was anything left over it was to be burned. How much of it was to be given to anyone who was not at this table? None. Matthew 7:6“Do not give what is holy to the dogs.” This was a special table, an exclusive supper that only Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons were to take part in. No one else had any right to partake of this. Now, last week we read a verse from Hebrews that I think is probably rooted, at least in part, in this occasion. Hebrews 13:10We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. Are we kings and priests to God? Are we a chosen generation, a royal priesthood? BUT—we have been ordained, not by human hands, not by the laying on of hands by any human authority. We have been chosen, set apart by God Himself. Not because we somehow “deserved” it. But Titus 3:4-5 takes away any hope of earning God’s forgiveness. And being set apart by God as a royal priesthood, we have an altar that no one who is trying to establish their own righteousness can eat from. While they are trying to make themselves righteous—which they can never do—we have been made righteous by God, by Him taking our sins and laying them on the head of the Lamb that He provided, and giving us the righteousness of God in Christ. No one can ever earn that. You can “heave” all your sins up in the air all you want—but if you do not know Christ they will always come back to you. But we have a great High Priest who has taken away our sins forever, and they will never return to us.

Now, to finish up, Exodus 29:35-37“35 Thus you shall do to Aaron and his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Seven days you shall consecrate them. 36 And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement. You shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to sanctify it. 37 Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and sanctify it. And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar must be holy.” A lesson here about persevering to the end. How many days did Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons have to bring bulls and rams and bread, kill, cut up, burn, wave, heave, boil and eat? Seven days. How many days in a week? How many days did Joshua and the army of Israel march around the city of Jericho? How many days did Noah leave the door open on the ark before the rains came? How many days in the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Suppose Eleazar said, “You know, I've been eating boiled ram and oily bread for five days straight. I'm taking today off.” How well do you think that would fly with God? This was seven days they had to do this. If you do not complete the seven days, you do not pass “GO” you do not enter into the priesthood. There is a lesson in there for us.

Many people think of Christianity as a “religion.” That’s all they think of it. They think that if they go to church on Sunday, they're somehow saved. But being saved, sanctified, set apart to God is not a one day a week thing. It’s not something you dabble in for a little while, leave it behind and say, “Well, I had some experience in the church, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to Heaven when I die.” But twice in the gospels, we find these words of Christ, Matthew 10:22 (and Matthew 24:13)—“He who endures to the end will be saved.” Not, “He who goes a little way, does a few good things, then returns to his old ways will be saved.” Too many times what some call “discipleship” is this: “Pray this prayer, ask Jesus into your heart and you'll be saved.” This produces more false converts and more spiritually dead “church people” than anything. You ask that same person, years down the road, and they’ll say “Yep, I got that straight a long time ago. Prayed the prayer, I'm saved. Now if you'll excuse me I'm late for happy hour.” Listen to 1st Corinthians 9:24-2724 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Paul is telling us what God commanded of the OT priests—that when you belong to God, you don’t just go to church for a little while, read your Bible for a little while, sing some hymns for a little while, etc. Paul is saying that every day, when he wakes up, he has to train his body, train his mind, train his spirit to persevere through trials and accusations and beatings and even against the more subtle devices of the enemy.

And one of the devices of the enemy is to make people think that Christianity is simply praying a prayer and showing up to church when you feel like it. And if you don’t like it, well, don’t worry, you'll be OK. But listen to this warning from Christ, Matthew 12:43-45“43 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first." The person who has heard the truth, understood the truth, then turned away from the truth is in danger of a far worse punishment than the one who never heard the truth. Now, keep in mind, those who never hear the name of Christ, who never call upon Him for forgiveness, who die in their sins—these will not escape eternal punishment. But they won’t be punished because they never “believed the right way” as some like to accuse us of saying. They die because of their own sins. That said, the one who does hear the gospel, who hears that the Law of God declares them sinners who need to be saved, and they either ignore it, or they “believe” for a little while and then go back to their old ways—these will receive a much harsher punishment than those who never hear. Listen to what the apostle Peter says about false teachers, in 1st Peter 2:18-2218 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." Salvation is not something that happens at a point in time and has no lasting effect on a person’s life afterward. The life Christ calls us to is for life. When the apostle Paul was nearing the end of his life; when he was, by some accounts, hours (if not minutes) away from his death at the hands of the Romans emperor Nero, he didn’t say “I struggled a little bit, I ran half the way, I had faith for a while.” He said Second Timothy 4:7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Exodus 29:36-37“36 And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement. You shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to sanctify it. 37 Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and sanctify it. And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar must be holy.” They had to make atonement for the altar. The altar of burnt offering was an inanimate object. What sins had the altar committed? But, in order for the sacrifices to be acceptable to God, the priest offering that sacrifice had to be set apart to God, and the altar it was offered on had to be consecrated to God. Because, let’s think about this. This altar was made of materials that were just as much under the curse of sin as we humans are. In much the same way that not just any man could be a priest, one could not simply slap some wood together, break out their Bedazzler® and stamp rhinestones into it, decorate it any way they wanted, and call it an altar to God. Everything involved in making atonement for people’s sins had to be holy. When the sinner brought their offering, everything from animal without spot or blemish, to the one preparing the sacrifice, to the altar it was sacrificed upon, to the fire on the altar that was started by God (see Leviticus 9:22-24), to the smoke that rose into the air as a “sweet aroma to the LORD,” everything in between the tips of the sinner’s fingers to God Himself had to be holy.

Likewise, in order for us to be forgiven of our sins, our Mediator must be holy, sinless, and separate from sin. Guess what? Hebrews 7:26-2726 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. 1st Peter 2:21-2221 Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “22 Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” Christ was not only the One who offered the sacrifice—He was the sacrifice. Just as the altar was anointed with oil to sanctify it for accepting offerings for sins, so Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit to sanctify His offering Himself for the sins of all who will believe. So that leaves us with two more weeks in chapter 29, next week the daily morning and evening sacrifices, then the following week we will get to verses 8-9 that we skipped, and talking about Christ being our High Priest even though He was not descended from Aaron or even Levi.

Jesus Christ is Lord.