01 April 2008

"Blessed Be"--He who comes in the name of the LORD (part 3)

Many people think Jesus is just kinda there, and that when you get in trouble—just holler and He’ll come bail you out. Others think that He was just a really good role model. We know Him as so much more than that. And these last couple weeks we’ve seen glimpses of how He fulfilled certain aspects of the Old Testament Law—those 613 commandments given to Moses to give to the Israelites in Exodus and Leviticus. We saw last week how He fulfills the role of our High Priest—that we don’t have to have someone go into a building and sprinkle blood on an ark every year. That Jesus made one offering for sins by shedding his blood on the cross and that he has offered one sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 7:27, 10:14).

We’ve been looking at some of the Old Testament offerings and how they were a picture of Christ. Keep in mind, these pictures are not exact, they are not perfect. We saw that the grain offering pictured Christ. Now, it was not a loaf of bread that was nailed to the Cross. And bread doesn’t bleed. But these offerings were actually teachers to show us what to expect when the Christ—the Mashiach, Messiah—arrived. Think about it this way: If I’m a social studies teacher, and the school is planning a trip to Japan in the summer. I am going to teach you as much as I can about Japan. I will teach you while our money is called dollars, they call their money yen. I will introduce you to certain words and phrases, such as "konichiwa," which means "Hello." We will probably study maps of the country, and learn about the weather.

But although I’m teaching you all these things, they are just a shadow of what is to come. I am teaching you about Japan, but we are not IN Japan. However, when we do land at the airport in Tokyo, we will see what we have been taught. We will look around and say, “Hey, there’s Mt. Fuji! Mt. Fuji is bigger than I thought!” We will not need the picture anymore because we are experiencing the real thing. Hebrews 10:1For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. The Jews had the Law of Moses for some 1400 years. All this time they were being taught what to expect when Mashiach would come. And now that He has arrived, we don’t look forward with expectation—we look upon the real thing! We do not need to learn more about what to expect when Messiah comes because He has already been here!

Galatians 3:24-25Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. The word “tutor” is not really the best translation of that word, neither is “schoolmaster” in the KJV. We really don’t have an equivalent today. It describes a servant whose sole responsibility was to make sure the children received the proper instruction. For one thing, he would make sure the child got to school—and back—safely. The closest I found was a fellow named Albert Barnes. He said, “…his main duty was not instruction, but it was to watch over the boys; to restrain them from evil and temptation; and to conduct them to the schools, where they might receive instruction.” The “pedagogue” was a servant who was responsible for bringing the child to their teacher. The Law of Moses was a servant that was responsible for bringing us to Christ.

Last week, we went over the three voluntary offerings that are outlined in the first 3 chapters of Leviticus. This week we’re going to look at the other two “offerings” and also the Day of Atonement, the most important day of the year in the Old Testament. If you have a Bible with you please join me in turning to Leviticus 4. Chapters 4 and 5 outline the two mandatory offerings in the Old Testament Law. These were offerings you had to make. First the SIN OFFERING. Leviticus 4:1-31 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, 3 if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. Then it goes on to describe how the bull was to be sacrificed. It says to do the same thing whether the anointed priest, the whole congregation, kings and princes, anytime the people sinned unintentionally. What do you think it means to “sin unintentionally?” One, ignorance of the Law. Another thing it means—to sin unintentionally—is to injure someone by accident, or to take something when you did not know it belonged to someone else. “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that.” And at the end of each of these paragraphs, it says, So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

These “unintentional sins” were covered by the SIN OFFERING. Now, notice something. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “sin” literally means “to miss the mark.” Romans 3:23all have missed the mark and fallen short of the glory of God. In other words, we have all done something—whether we meant to or not—that would have required us to bring a SIN OFFERING to God. A SIN OFFERING that would have included the shedding of blood. Hebrews 9:22without the shedding of blood there is not remission [payment] of sin. Unless the guilty party brought their bull or their goat or their lamb, that person’s sin could not be atoned, or covered. Without the shed blood of Jesus Christ upon the altar of the cross, as our sin offering, your sins, my sins would never be atoned, covered, cancelled out. Hebrews 10:4, 12, 14For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins...But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. 1st Peter 1:18-19you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. In other words, God the Father offered His Son as our SIN OFFERING before He even created the world. And He has now been made known to the world.

Next we have the TRESPASS OFFERING. Flip on over to Leviticus 5:1-61 If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter [If you get called as a witness and you don’t say anything]—if he does not tell it, he bears guilt. 2 Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty. 3 Or if he touches human uncleanness—whatever uncleanness with which a man may be defiled, and he is unaware of it—[If you touch something that touched something that was unclean] when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty. 4 Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it [If someone says, “Can you ride with me? I gotta go pick up a car I just bought,” but really they're stealing it and you're helping them]—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. 5 And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; 6 and he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed…

Notice a pattern? “When he realizes it.” There are many passages in the New Testament that talk about realizing that something is a sin. Romans 7:7I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 14:14, 20—I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. Or, with a guilty conscience. In other words, Paul is saying that if you're not quite sure whether what you are about to do is sin or not, but your conscience is telling you that you shouldn’t do it and you still do it—it’s a sin. That’s what the trespass offering was for. If you touched something or said something or did something and then you realized later on that you had promised to sin or you had become unclean, you were to take your bull or goat and go to the priest who would make atonement for him concerning his sin.

There were “unintentional” sins, and then there were “intentional” sins. These were sins that were committed deliberately, with the full knowledge of the Law of God. There was no sacrifice for these sins. Numbers 15:30-3130 …the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him. If you sinned deliberately, and with your eyes wide open to the fact that what you were doing was a sin, there was no sacrifice that you could offer. You were completely cut off from the rest of your people.

That said, some of the offerings for “unintentional” sins were to be made by the whole assembly, once they knew the truth. If you were not there, and you knew the truth, you were to be cut off, and that sacrifice was not applied to you and your sin was still with you. Hebrews 10:24-26 says, 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth [in other words, if we ignore the gospel after hearing the truth that faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is the only way to be declared righteous before God], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. If I had time, I’d go deeper into what this passage in Hebrews is saying. But one thing it does NOT say is that we can ever “lose” our salvation. In the case of the Old Testament offerings, they gathered together to kill goats and bulls. Today we are gathered together to worship the Lamb.

Which brings me to the DAY OF ATONEMENT. Leviticus 16:2, 3, 52 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. 3 “Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering...5 And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering. This only happened one day out of the year. The people were to fast from sundown the night before till sundown that day. In fact, they normally fasted for 25 hours, just to be on the safe side. Now, notice something here. First, Aaron had to first make atonement for himself. Verse 6Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. Have you ever flown? When they're going through the instructions for what to do JUST IN CASE you need to use the oxygen masks, what do they tell you to do? Put yours on first, and then assist others. It's not an encouragement to be selfish, but if someone is unconscious, you can't help them if you can't breathe. It’s the same thing here. Aaron could not make atonement for others if he still had his sins with him.

Also, what one verse is taken out of context more than almost any other? Matthew 7:1--"Judge not lest ye be judged yourself." Of course, they forget what comes after that. Matthew 7:3-5“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ and a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” That’s right straight out of the Law! You take care of your sins, you get your own house in order before you try to help somebody else. Of course, once you do get your house in order, then you are to help your brother remove the speck from his eye, before it grows into a plank.

The high priest had to atone for his sins first. Verses 7-107 He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness. Some people think casting lots was kinda like shooting dice. Not quite.

I found a good description of it from a man named Adam Clarke—…there were two lots made either of wood, stone, or any kind of metal. On one was written לשם Lashshem, for the Name, i. e., יהוה Jehovah…on the other was written Laazazel, for the Scape-Goat: then they put the two lots into a vessel (kalpey)…Then the priest came, and the goats stood before him, one on the right hand and the other on the left; the kalpey was then shaken, and the priest put in both his hands and brought out a lot in each: that which was in his right hand he laid on the goat that was on his right, and that in his left hand he laid on the goat that was on his left; and according to what was written on the lots, the scape-goat and the goat for sacrifice were [determined].

Now, watch what happened to the scapegoat. Verses 21-22 give us such a clear picture of Christ as our scapegoat, taking the wrath for our sins upon His own head, dying alone. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness. Some scholars believe that to keep the scapegoat from coming back, they would take it to the edge of a cliff and kick it over. Maybe, I ain't gonna take a bullet for it.

In the Old Testament, goats represented sin. 2nd Corinthians 5:21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Who was with Christ when He gave up the ghost? This time it wasn’t a goat, but a Lamb that was to bear on itself all of our iniquities. Isaiah 53:3-53 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We saw Him as being stricken smitten by God and afflicted. But He was stricken smitten by God, and afflicted—because of us! He was our “scapegoat.” Now, I want to point out something real quick. Here we really have two pictures in one. What does it say at the end of verse 21; it shall be led into the wilderness by whom? A suitable man. How did Jesus get from the cross to the tomb? Listen to Luke 23:50, 51Now behold there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man…who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. The body of Jesus was led to the wilderness of the grave by the hand of Joseph of Arimathea--a suitable man. But all that stuff in Leviticus is so boring!

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