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Now That Jesus Is Risen April 18, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Confession, Covenant, Discipleship, Exodus, First Peter, Holiness, Leviticus, Sanctification.
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NOW THAT JESUS IS RISEN
Exodus 19:1-8

I want to address an important question. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Now that he is risen, what now? The answer is found in Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Salvation we understand. We are saved from sin, death, hell, and the devil. What, however, does it mean to believe unto righteousness? This is one of the great themes of the Bible. We through faith in the resurrected Christ become a holy people, that is, we become saints.

A. To be a holy people means we must keep the covenant of the Lord (Exodus 19:3-6). The children of Israel are a good example of what we are talking about. God saved them from slavery in Egypt. God saved them from certain death by parting the Red Sea. God saved them from Pharaoh and his mighty army.

In verse 4 God says, “You have seen what I did to Pharaoh. You have seen that you are the apple of my eye. I have born you on eagle’s wings. All the world is mine but I have made a covenant with you. Keep that covenant.” Put another way, this is your reality, now obey me.

B. To be a holy people means we must honor the salvation of the Lord (Leviticus 11:44-47). These verses indicate how that we keep the covenant of the Lord. At the end of a chapter of rules concerning what is kosher to eat, God says that the reason for these rules is not because bacon is sinful and hamburger is not. It is also not necessarily because oysters are unhealthy and chicken is not. God tells us why he gave them such strict rules. He says that my works prove that I am different from all other gods so you must be different from all other peoples (verse 44-45).

Now we know that these rules don’t apply anymore. Jesus made that clear to Peter in a dream in Acts 10. Since bacon and jumbo shrimp are allowable to us to eat, how do we honor the salvation of the Lord? Ephesians 4:1-3 tells us, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The world for the most part does not live with this type of attitude. Billy Martin tells how that he and Mickey Mantle went hunting in Texas. Mantle had a friend, who had given them permission to hunt. When they arrived, Mantle went inside and Martin stayed in the car. The friend had a pet mule in the barn, that was going blind, and he didn’t have the heart to put the animal out of his misery; so he asked Mantle to shoot it for him. Mantle came back to the car pretending to be mad and said to Martin, that permission to hunt had been denied and that he was so mad he was going to shoot one of the friend’s mules. Martin said, “We can’t do that!” Mantle said, “Just watch me!” Mantle rushed to the barn and shot the mule. As he was leaving the barn, he heard two shots. He saw Martin with his gun. “What are you doing?” Mantle said. Martin, himself now truly angry, said, “We’ll show him! I just killed two of his cows.” That is the way of the world. Are you longsuffering as a citizen of God’s holy people or do you get even, as is done in the world?

C. To be a holy people means we must pledge our loyalty to the Lord (Leviticus 20:6-8). To be holy means more than being nice. It also means that our loyalty is pledged to the Lord. God uses strong language here. To depend on a medium or someone who communicates with the spirit world is unfaithfulness to God our husband.

Now most of us do not try to communicate with the spirit world, not because we don’t believe in its existence or in the possibility but rather we have understood that God has forbidden it. There is, however, another way in which we can show unfaithfulness to our groom, Jesus the Christ. It is found in James 4:1-4, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? …You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever there wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

D. To be a holy people means we will not follow the world (Leviticus 20:25-27). God says, “I have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (verse 26). He is not talking about isolation here. Israel was never isolated from the nations. In fact, Israel was intended to be a witness of God’s power to the nations. Rahab, Ruth, Namaan, the city of Nineveh, the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius are all examples of how Israel as the nation of God drew individuals from within the nations to God. If we are not to isolate ourselves from the world, what does it mean not to follow the world?

First John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

E. To be a holy people means we will hope in the coming of the Lord (1 Peter 1:13-21). Peter is saying, because the world will not last and our salvation is eternal, you need to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance… ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

To hope in the coming of the Lord implies being very careful in this world. Max Lucado tells about an Indian walking up a mountain when he met snake who wanted to be carried up the mountain. The Indian said, “No, you’ll bite me.” “No, I won’t,” said the snake, “I just need a little help.” The Indian picked up the snake and carried him to the top of the mountain. At the top the snake bit him. The Indian fell and the snake began to slither away. “You lied!” he gasped, “You said you wouldn’t bite me!” The snake stopped and looked back and said, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

F. To be a holy people means we proclaim the praises of the Lord to the world (1 Peter 2:8b-10). We have been delivered. We are now a holy people. Let’s proclaim his praises, let’s shout from the housetops that there is mercy to be found in Jesus Christ.

This is one of the reasons I believe in eternal security. How can I preach the mercy of God when I am not sure that His mercy is sufficient to forgive me not only of what I have done but also of anything I might do. There is a warning here though. Paul put it this way in Romans 11:20-22, “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches (ethnic Israel), He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” If I say I am in the faith and I do not live accordingly, then, like Israel, I prove am not in faith and that I am doomed to destruction.”

Next Week’s Sermon: Does God Hate Some People?

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A Thanksgiving Sermon (Why Three Jewish Thanksgiving Festivals) October 26, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Leviticus, Religion, Sermons, Thanksgiving.
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WHY A THIRD THANKSGIVING EACH YEAR (Leviticus 23:15-22)?

Although I have not been able to verify this with 100% certainty, it appears that the Jewish culture that was established by Moses in the wilderness is the only culture to have multiple harvest festivals within the year. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was held in early spring in conjunction with the Passover and celebrated among other things the barley harvest. Then fifty days later in late spring the wheat harvest was celebrated by the Feast of Weeks (the Feast on which we are focusing this morning). Finally, at the end of the fall the Feast of Tabernacles was held to celebrate the final harvest before the winter begins.

I want us to understand this morning why God through Moses established three thanksgiving feasts. As far as we are concerned, a thanksgiving festival at the end of the year, like our American Thanksgiving seems to be sufficient. There is not a clamor for another time to give thanks among us, irregardless of our religiosity. Certainly, here in Vermont it would be possible to have a thanksgiving feast in late winter when the sugaring season starts. We could also have one, say in July when the various berries are being harvested. But we do not. One thanksgiving feast is enough for us, even for us Christians.

It was not, however, enough for God. Today we want to understand of the thanksgiving feasts and also focus on understanding what God demands from us as believers in Jesus Christ, as illustrated by these thanksgiving feasts.

God wanted the heads of the households to present themselves before him three times a year (Compare verses 18-21 with Exodus 34:22-27). These three times had several things in common. They were intended to celebrate a harvest. They were also intended as a time of free will offering to God based on how God had blessed them.

Psalm 84 illustrates for us the attitude that these people were to have when they came before God.

1 ¶ To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts!

2 My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young––Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah

5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.

7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.

8 ¶ O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

9 O God, behold our shield, And look upon the face of Your anointed.

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.

12 O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

As you can see, these three times of presentation before the Lord were intended to be times to be anticipated and intended to be times when faith in God was expressed in a special way. Remember, these men were not allowed to enter the tabernacle or the temple. The reason that these times were exciting, was because they had the opportunity to sacrifice together to their God. The particular feast that we are looking at this morning is the Feast of Weeks. There are three types of animal sacrifices that were associated with this feast that help us to understand what it means to present yourself before God.

The first offering mentioned is the burnt offering (verse 18) with which they would consecrate themselves before God. This is a general sacrifice for the purpose of dedicating yourself or something to God. It was most often offered with a grain offering and a drink offering. It was intended to be a sweet aroma to the LORD. This offering reminds us that true thanksgiving goes hand in hand with dedication to God, with submission to His will. Psalm 116:16-17 says, “O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD.” It is one thing to be grateful, it is quite another to submit yourself to the one who has shown you kindness. When someone shows a kindness toward me, I appreciate it. I say, “Thank you.” Perhaps I will even seek a way to return the favor. This goes much deeper though. This is someone who recognizes God’s kindness toward them as well as His Lordship over them and they submit themselves to God. If your thanksgiving to God is not characterized by submission and dedication to God, then you are not thankful in the way that God demands.

Then there is the sin offering, given to make atonement for sin (verse 19a). There is a sense in which that all the sacrifices were a recognition of one’s own sin and provision for forgiveness but the sin offerings were sacrifices specifically offered so that one might have forgiveness of sin. This is the primary picture that we have in the New Testament, that of the sacrifice that Christ paid for our sin on the cross. He died as the sacrifice for my sin. He is my sin offering. Ps 107:17-22, “(17) Fools, because of their transgressions and because of their iniquities were afflicted. (19) Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble and He saved them out of their distresses. (22) Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing.” Someone who refuses to acknowledge their sinfulness and God’s provision of forgiveness cannot be thankful because they have not received God’s blessing. They may have a good harvest. They may have the blessings of the earth. All that does is condemn them because, according to Romans 1, they take from the one who created them and then worship another, descending into all manners of sin and evildoing. It is essential, for a man to truly be thankful, to deal with his sin problem, otherwise, he cannot present himself before God. Otherwise, God will refuse him and cast him out.

Finally, there is the peace offering, give in order to thank God for His blessings (two loaves of leavened bread with a peace offering, verses 19b-20). The peace offering in the Old Testament was not for forgiveness of sin, nor was it as a sacrifice of commitment to God, but rather a sacrifice that signified a close relationship with God that is going well. It was often given in answer to prayer or as a payment of a special vow that had been given to God. The emphasis of the peace offering was thanksgiving to God. God wants us to come before Him, not only as submissive servants and not only as sinners in need of forgiveness but also as His friends, His children, His body, His people and the sheep of His pasture. That is the peace offering. All three of these offerings were demanded of the one who would present himself before God.

God continually wants to be the priority in the lives of His people (Leviticus 23:15-17, 22). God could have said, “Once a year is enough. I know your heart. I know if you are truly consecrated, truly forgiven, and truly thankful.” Instead God says, “I know you. I know how easily you get distracted from your devotion to me. I know how quickly you fall into sin. I understand how easily you come to depend upon yourselves. Come to me and let me remind you of the priority I should have in your life. This is illustrated in a number of ways but I want to mention just two.

Both the special (unleavened) and the commonplace (leaven) of our lives belongs to God (Compare verse 17 with verse 6). There is the mistaken idea that leaven in the Bible always speaks of sin. Obviously, from this verse, that is not true. During the time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, leaven was taken out of the houses in order to remind the people how that God had delivered them in haste from the land of Egypt. At the Feast of Weeks, God orders something quite different. He says, this time celebrate with leaven. The special unique things in our lives come from God and the ordinary, mundane things do also. Those things to which we hold great significance and which mean much to us belong to God as well as those little things that everyone has and we put little value on, God has given them to us also and those things belong to Him. There is nothing in your life that does not belong to God. We should live that way.

When God is a priority in our lives, others will be blessed as a result (verse 22). When everything we have belongs to God, then we will have no problem sharing with others because what we have belongs to Him. That is the purpose of the gleaning of the fields by the orphans and the widows and the stranger. This applies though to much more than what we own and earn. It applies to our strength. My strength belongs to God for me to do His will. My time belongs to God to invest in Him and in His work. My children, both earthly and spiritual, belong to God for me to bring them in fellowship with Him. Tonight we will remind ourselves again that children are a blessing from the Lord and that we, not just as parents, but as a church have a responsibility to give our best to the children in our church and in our community and around the world. Why have none of our men volunteered to pray for our Awana program? I hope it is because I have not communicated it well. I trust that it is not because God is not a priority in our lives. If you regularly attend this church, you should be here tonight, if for no other, to remind yourself that you show the priority of God in your life by how much of your time and money and strength and interest you invest in those for whom Christ died.

INVITATION: Let us present ourselves before God this morning. Are you thankful for His blessings great and small? Are you thankful for answered prayer? Are you thankful for the promises that God has kept on your behalf? Have you given Him your life as His submissive servant? Are you consecrated, dedicated, committed to making God a priority in your life no matter what the cost may be? If not, present yourself before Him now, confess your sin, and make the changes that He is demanding in your heart at this moment.

There are some of you who cannot present yourself before God because your sins have not been paid for. God demands payment for sin and Jesus Christ died to provide that payment. Someone has to pay. For you there are only two choices: Jesus Christ on the cross or yourself in hell. Which will it be? Will you trust Christ for salvation. There is no other way. You cannot be good enough. You cannot be perfect and that is God’s standard. Jesus Christ lived perfect and died perfect so that He could be the perfect sin offering for you. Will you accept Him in faith today?

 

The Practical Purposes of the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:1-3 and other passages) October 19, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Leviticus, Religion, Sabbath, Sermons.
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THE PRACTICAL PURPOSES OF THE SABBATH

Leviticus 23:1-3

There is no quicker way to evoke controversy than to talk about the Sabbath. This is not a new problem. Two thousand years ago in Romans 14:5-6b, Paul refers to this same controversy, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it…” Now rather than deal with this passage, I would like to point out that Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit does not give his opinion but rather commands each believer to study it out for himself and live accordingly.

There were some who probably said, “The Old Testament says remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. We should observe Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath as a holy day.” There were others who said, “O no, we are a new creation, the body of the resurrected Christ. We are a people of the new covenat. We should observe Sunday, resurrection day, as a holy day.” Still others no doubt said, “All days are holy to the Lord. Let’s not set up one day higher than another but rather serve God every day with our heart and mind and soul.”

Paul would have said, “As long as you are not looking down on each other and puffing yourself up based on your own opinion and you have studied the Word and thought this matter through before forming your opinion, do whatever you like.”

Now Paul is helpful in showing us how to deal with the controversial side of this issue but what we want to look at is the practical purposes of the Sabbath and how that we can practice those purposes in our lives.

The Sabbath defined (Leviticus 23:3).

It is a day of rest from work. This is what we think of first. It is a day to take a break from work. God ordained work in the garden of Eden, giving Adam and Eve the responsibility to care for the garden. Work is an honorable and a good thing. There is certainly nothing wrong with work but God wanted the Israelites to take a break every seven days from their work, from their business, from their occupations. That is the negative aspect of the command to keep the Sabbath. No work. Not by the father, nor by the mother or children or servants or slaves or animals or even by hired hands. No work.

The Sabbath, however, was more than a day of no work but it was a holy convocation, that is, a day of assembly, a day when the assembly is called together for the purpose of delighting in God (Isaiah 58:13-14). Eleven times this phrase is used in Leviticus 23. God established all of these feasts for the specific purpose of calling His people together to honor Him and to glorify His name.

It was observed by every family. Not everyone could go to the Tabernacle or the Temple every Sabbath day. Some would live too far away. Others would be sick or otherwise unable to come to the great assembly at the Tabernacle or the Temple. God said, that does not matter. You observe this in your home. If you cannot come to where my name is, to the Tabernacle or to the Temple, you gather in your home, abstaining from work and meeting together before God in your homes. This then is the Sabbath. A stoppage of work to gather before God.

What purpose did the Sabbath serve?

It served as refreshment, a time to take a breath. Exodus 23:12 uses three different words to describe this purpose.

First, they were to rest, that is, stop work. To cease and desist. That does not necessarily mean relaxation but simply a work stoppage.

Secondly, their animals were also to rest but the idea here implies that the animals were at their leisure to lay down and relax.

The final word though is refreshment, a time to stop and take a breath. I think it is significant that he uses this word to refer to the son of the slave woman and to the stranger who is hired to work by the Israelite. Those on the lowest of the totem pole of Hebrew society were to profit, to be refreshed by the Sabbath. This is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus about the Sabbath. In Mark 2:27 we find Jesus replying to those who were accusing His disciples of breaking the Sabbath that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. You see, God’s intention was that the Sabbath be both a physical and a spiritual refreshment to those who needed it.

It served as a sign of their God (Exodus 31:13). God wanted His people to know Him and one of the ways in which He revealed Himself to them was through the setting aside of the Sabbath as a constant reminder of who God is and of His sanctifying relationship to His people.

This sign of the Sabbath was a reminder of God’s mighty works.

These works began with creation (Compare Exodus 31:17 with Hebrews 4:3-5). Now God does not get tired but we do and so we understand that the need for refreshment but why does God stop to take a breath? The writer of Hebrews tells us why God stopped to take a breath. He had finished His work. Nothing else needed to added. Nothing else needed to be done. God had created the perfect world for mankind but mankind through sin destroyed that perfection but God through the revealing of Himself to His people and through the revealing of Jesus Christ to this world made it possible for us to enter into that perfect work, that rest provided for us from the foundation of the world and has again made available through Jesus Christ.

These works continued with deliverance (Deuteronomy 5:15). The second generation who received the Ten Commandments in the book of Deuteronomy were told, “Do not forget that you were slaves but I brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of that helpless condition and made you mine. For that reason, so that you will not forget where you have come from and who you now are, God’s chosen people, I have set aside the Sabbath to remind you of my work on your behalf.

This sign of the Sabbath was also a reminder that they were a sanctified people (Ezekiel 20:12). We saw this in Exodus but this is repeated in Exekiel. God wanted them to remember His mighty works, His creation and His deliverance but more than that, He wanted them to remember that they were His. They were sanctified. They were set apart. They were God’s chosen people. Ezekiel tells this in a most beautiful way. He tells how that God was walking along the road and saw this baby on the side of the road, abandoned, gasping for breath, trembling from the cold, on the verge of death. But God “who is rich in mercy”, God picked up this baby, the nation of Israel, and washed her and clothed her and fed her and then said, she is mine. That is what God means when He sanctifies.

Finally, this sign of the Sabbath was a reminder the LORD was their God (Ezekiel 20:20 with Mathew 12:5-8, this account is more extensive than Mark’s or Luke’s accounts of this event). Remember when Jesus told the accusers of His disciples that Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. He proclaims, in a way that with hindsight clearly identifies Him as God, He proclaims, “The priests work in the Temple on the Sabbath. There is one before you who is greater than the Temple. If you really know God, you would know that what God wants is not sacrifice or the keeping of the Sabbath but what God wants is mercy shown to those who need it. Therefore the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” The Sabbath was given to know God. Jesus points out that if they were really keeping the Sabbath, they would know Him and recognize Him as the Messiah sent from God.

This brings us actually to the third purpose of the Sabbath. It served as a shadow of the Christ to come (Colossians 2:16-17 and Galatians 4:8-11). There are a lot of people here today who are scared to death of legalism. You start setting up standards of behavior and they start screaming legalism. That is not legalism. Standards of behavior are necessary. Like Paul, we need to be gracious to those who disagree with our standards of behavior but we need to be careful about throwing around the label of legalism. It is slander when you refer to your brother in Christ as a legalist because he holds to some standard that is stricter than yours. Legalism according to these Scriptures is this, forsaking the substance for the shadow. Turning from Christ and demanding that one holds to the shadow for salvation. If someone says you have to keep the Sabbath (whether they call it Saturday or Sunday does not matter) in order to be saved, they have forsaken the substance for the shadow. When someone says that you have to participate in Mass or Communion in order to go to heaven, they have forsaken the substance for the shadow. When one says that you have to be baptized in water for salvation, they have forsaken the substance for the shadow.

The Sabbath points us to the Lord of the Sabbath. It reveals to us that Jesus Christ is the creator who rested from His work. He is the one who delivered Israel from the slavery of Egypt and delivers us from the slavery of sin and death. He is the one the sanctifies us as His bride. He is the one who is the LORD our God. Are you going to eat the living bread or the shadow of the bread? Only the living bread will satisfy.

Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement October 5, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Leviticus, Religion, Sermons.
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THE DAY OF ATONEMENT – FOUR MEN (Leviticus 16:1-34)

There are four men mentioned in this chapter. Through these four men, I would like to illustrate and explain the importance of the day of atonement as well as the importance of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. The word atonement literally means “to cover up”, specifically the covering up of sin, a way in which forgiveness of sins is made possible.

The first of the men that I want you to meet is named at the beginning of the chapter. His name is Aaron (verses 1-2). He was the high priest at the time. God gives him in Leviticus 16 the responsibility to go once a year before God and through an animal sacrifice make atonement possible. In a real way, the high priest makes atonement (verses 32-34). This atonement involves cleansing from sin (Compare with Hebrews 9:13-14). Jesus makes atonement for us as both high priest and sacrifice.

As high priest, Jesus is both…

…anointed… (verse 32), that is, He is the chosen one for this office. You see, Jesus is the Christ. Christ is not Jesus surname but rather His title: Jesus the Chosen One. Jesus, the High Priest chosen by God to accomplish the task of cleansing us from our sin.

…and consecrated (verse 32), that is, confirmed for the work for which He was chosen. The years in which Jesus walked on this earth showed that Jesus was truly the Christ. His pure manner of life, His miraculous work, His testimony of the truth of God, all of these things confirm that Jesus really is the Christ.

As the atoning sacrifice, Jesus makes it possible…

…for us to come to God… (compare verse 33a with verses 15-19). Before the sins of men could be atoned for, it was necessary for the priest, first, to make atonement for the place at which God met His people. In some sense, it seems that the sinfulness of man is so great, that it somehow pollutes the Holy of Holies. Perhaps this was a reference to the sin of Aaron’s two sons who God burned up with fire because they did not obey God’s Word. We need to understand how corrupting the influence of sin is in our lives.

Jesus, however, did much more than just purify a place as Aaron did. Jesus made it possible for us to come to God (Hebrews 9:8 with 10:19-20).

…and for God to deal justly with our sin (verses 33b-34). Now there were other sin offerings that were regularly offered, both national offerings and personal. It is also true that the Day of Atonement involved more than the forgiveness of specific sins in that it was also to cleanse the Tabernacle of God from any taint of sin. On the other hand, it was part of God’s provision at the time, dealing with the sins of the people. Hebrews 9:7 refers to them as the sins committed in ignorance. This had to be done every year.

However, when Jesus died, He went before God, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood and He only had to do it once (Hebrews 9:12, 25-26 with Romans 3:24-26).

The man with the scapegoat (verses 20-22). This involves the imputation of sin (Compare with Isaiah 53:6, 11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Jesus accepted the charge of sin that actually belonged to us. Psalm 32:1-5 explains that blessedness is found, not just in having our sin forgiven but rather also imputed to another. When my sins are simply forgiven, then there is the possibility of those sins being brought up again but when my sins are imputed, they are longer my sins. They belong to another. Sometimes we talk about Christ being our substitute. What that means is this: Something happened to Christ and because it happened to Him, it need not happen to me.

Imputation involves confession. Remember, confession is more than the listing of sins. It is agreeing with someone else about a matter that you deeply believe to be so. The same word in the Old Testament used for thanksgiving is also used for confession. We see in this act of confession a glimpse into what faith in Christ really means. I come before God realizing that I am a sinner. I can do nothing about my sin problem. If nothing is done about it, I am a condemned man. I ask God in mercy to forgive me but God cannot just say it is done. Something must be done about my sin problem. God takes my sin problem which I have consciously brought to Him and transfers it to Jesus Christ. It is no longer my problem but rather that of Jesus Christ. It is imputed to Him. It is no longer mine to deal with.

The man who burns the sin offering (verses 27-28). This involves the sanctification of the sinner (Compare with Hebrews 13:11-14). Jesus makes us a holy people through His blood. More than cleansing, more than forgiveness, more than the bearing of our sin by Christ is involved in the atonement. A relationship is established and maintained through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This burning of the bones was unique to the sin offering. Most other offerings like burnt offerings and peace or thanksgiving offerings were reserved to feed the priest. But they had no portion in the sin offering. That was for God alone. In the same way, that the sin offering made the carcass of the sacrificed animal holy and reserved to God, the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes those, who put their faith in Christ, holy, a peculiar people before God (1 Peter 2:4-10).

The man who afflicts himself (verses 29-30). This passage does not tell us exactly what is involved in afflicting one’s self but there are other passages that help us to understand what is meant. Isaiah 58:1-10 describes the day of affliction as a day of fasting accompanied by a forsaking of sin.

This involves repentance from sin (Compare with Luke 18:9-14). It is only as we humble ourselves before a merciful God that we can be forgiven. True, the high priest confessed the national sins of his people but there was also the opportunity for the Israelite to apply that forgiveness personally. That is the significance of afflicting one’s self. It is personal application, personal appropriation. Christ died for my sins and I need not die for them if I accept His sacrifice for me but I will not accept His sacrifice until I realize my own inability, my own sinfulness, my own need.

Conclusion: We have met four men. The tasks of the first three are accomplished by Jesus Christ. You can be the fourth man. The first three tasks result in forgiveness of sin. The fourth applies that forgiveness to himself. Leviticus 23:29 tells us that the one, who refuses to afflict his soul, that is humble himself on the Day of Atonement, is to be cut off, killed. Yes, Christ died for the church but if you do not personally trust Christ alone for salvation, one day you will also be cut off, to die eternally in the lake of fire. Will you not accept Christ today as your only hope of forgiveness of sins, as the one who bore you sins in His body to take them away, as the one who makes you holy through His blood?

Next Week: Exodus 13:3-10 – The Feast of Unleavened Bread: How Best to Declare the Glorious Works of God

 

 

The Feast of First Fruits (Sermon during a special youth service) September 21, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Discipleship, Leviticus, Religion, Sermons.
1 comment so far

FIRST FRUITS

Leviticus 23:9-14

The Israelite festival year began with the Passover which was on the fifteenth of the first month. Passover was also the beginning of eight days of celebration known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This was one of three times during the year in which all of the men of Israel were required to gather at Jerusalem to worship their God.

As we have learned, the purpose of Passover was to teach Israel the great deeds which He did for them in the past. The day after Passover was also a special day, the Feast of First Fruits. On this day, the focus was not on the great deeds of the past but the blessings of the present. It was the first of three feasts celebrating harvest, in this case, the barley harvest.

God blesses His people (“the giving of the land,” verse 10a). This command was given while Israel was still at Mount Sinai. They had left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, camped at Mount Sinai in the middle of the desert where they received the Ten Commandments, and had built the Tabernacle according to God’s specifications. God is now telling them about their future, they are going to receive the Promised Land as a gift of God. He wants them to remember, when they get into the promised land, that it is God who gave them that land.

We tend to forget the benefits which the Lord has given us. Psalm 103:2 reminds us to “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…” This psalm begins by naming spiritual benefits but it does not stop there but continues to name a number of physical benefits which Israel should also expect to receive.

Certainly, we have also been blessed of God. To many of these spiritual benefits, we can also lay claim. Yet the Lord has blessed us also. We are a rich people. Rich financially, rich intellectually, rich in time, rich in talent, rich in opportunity. We need to be thankful for both the spiritual and physical riches. In this passage, we find out how that we can be thankful as well as how we can acknowledge God’s great benefits for us.

When He blesses us, we have the opportunity to give to Him the first fruits (verse 10b). This was symbolic of the priority of God in our lives. The giving of the first fruits was not dependent on the abundance of the harvest but on the fact that whatever was harvested, it came from God.

During the time of Christ, this is how the Feast of First Fruits was celebrated: “The barley being sooner ripe than the other grains, the reaping of it formed the commencement of the general harvest season. The offering described in this passage was made on the sixteenth of the first month, the day following the first Passover Sabbath, which was on the fifteenth (corresponding to the beginning of our April); but it was reaped after sunset on the previous evening by persons deputed to go with sickles and obtain samples from different fields. These, being laid together in a sheaf or loose bundle, were brought to the court of the temple, where the grain was winnowed, parched, and bruised in a mortar. Then, after some incense had been sprinkled on it, the priest waved the sheaf aloft before the Lord towards the four different points of the compass, took a part of it and threw it into the fire of the altar—all the rest being reserved to himself. It was a proper and beautiful act, expressive of dependence on the God of nature and providence—common among all people, but more especially becoming the Israelites, who owed their land itself as well as all it produced to the divine bounty” (from JFB).

The giving of the first fruits was a reminder that everything we have is His. The giving of first fruits do not mean: this is God’s and the rest is mine. The giving of the first fruits means that I give to others to be used for God and the rest that I have is meant for a lifestyle that glorifies Him.

It was also a reminder that of their commitment to God. “God is wise and knows us deeply. He knows that there is something wrong with the husband who answers his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t give her any time by saying, “What do you mean, I don’t give you my time? ALL my time is yours. I work all day long for you and the children.” That has a very hollow ring to it if he doesn’t give her any “especially time.” Giving her some evenings together and some dates does not deny that all his time is for her, it proves it. This is why God declares one day in seven especially God’s. They are all his, and making one special proves it” (adapted from John Piper).

As a church, God has blessed us richly. Today we are emphasizing the gift of young people to our church. Our teens have led us in worship today. They have led us in submitting ourselves to God. I trust that you were following. I hope you were focused on God and not on the young people.

Since God has given us such a wonderful gift, we need to ask ourselves what we as a church should do with this gift. We need to give it to God. In a sense, this service is nothing more than a waving of the sheaf before God with the expectation that he would accept it from us. It is a reminder of the great gift that God has given us, a gift for which we are responsible. It is wonderful to see these young people serving God publicly and we want to use them to the fullest extent possible in this service. What, however, are we going to do with this gift of young people the other 364 days of this year?

Parents, how are you going to guarantee, as best that can be done humanly, that your children are going to serve God? Are you going to pray with your children? Are you going to teach them the Word at home? Are you going to involve them in more than just Sunday School and youth or children’s ministries? Are you going to live before them a life that is pleasing to God? What bad habit are you going to get under control so that your children and grandchildren will see that you are a man or a woman of God? What bad attitude are you going to purge from your life?

Church, we are also responsible. We are responsible to teach them how to be saved. That is why we have Awana. We are responsible to teach these children the truth. That’s why our Sunday School program is geared the way it is. We are responsible to teach them the importance of baptism as a testimony to saving faith in Christ. We are responsible to teach them the responsibility of church membership, which is why we allow and encourage them to join the church. We are responsible to teach them to serve God and others and help them find opportunities to do so. We are responsible to teach them to pray, which is why we encourage our young people to participate in the prayer group. We have been given a great gift and we want to remind ourselves of that gift through this youth service but the reminder is only as good as the follow-up which we practice the rest of the year.

This is my commitment, this is the commitment of our church, to give our young people to God for His honor and His glory and for His service.

Making God a priority in our life pleases Him, it fills Him with pleasure, it is His delight and desire, it is God’s will to make Him a priority in our life, that is what is meant by “accepted on your behalf” (verses 11-13).

God goes to great lengths to describe the offering that is to be given. The purpose for this offering is that it would be acceptable to God on behalf of the nation.

There are two parts to being acceptable before God. The first involves the perfect sacrifice of Christ. He was obedient in all things, even to the death of the cross. Through His death, He made it possible for us to become acceptable to God in that through His death we receive His righteousness when we put our trust in Christ as the only way of salvation. In that way, we become heirs of righteousness with Christ Jesus. We acceptable before God in Him, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

The second part of being acceptable before God involves living consistent with the commitment that is made through the sacrifice. This was true in the Old Testament. Obedience in this offering and other ritual offerings was demanded and commanded but not just in the ritual of the offering but in all areas of life obedience was demanded. There was only one thing necessary in the Old Testament for an offering to be acceptable to God, obedience. That is why in Jeremiah 6:20 and Malachi 2:13, God refused the offering of the people because they were disobedient before God. They apparently thought that they somehow by obeying the ritual law, would be able to get God to look the other way during their every day lives.

We find this concept in the New Testament also. Paul begged the Roman believers on the basis of the mercy of God shown to them through the death of Christ that they would “…present (their) bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which (was their) reasonable service, and (not to) be… conformed to this world but (to) be transformed by the renewing of (their) mind, that (they might) prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 14:17-19 describes more exactly the type of life that is acceptable to God. It is not arguing over what we should eat and drink but rather righteousness and peace and joy, specifically, Paul is emphasizing peace between believers in Christ.

We saw a few weeks ago in Philippians 4:18, that our financial gifts to the work of God is included in what is acceptable before God. Colossians 3:20 teaches us that when children obey their parents, it is acceptable before God. Titus 2:9 teaches us the same about the obedience of slaves to their masters.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 teaches that whether our service is acceptable before God is the basis whereby believers will be judged.

The symbol was individualized through the denying of one’s self (verse 14). The giving of the first fruits served as a reminder against idolatry of the heart. Many of the things that we do or should do serve as a guard against the ungodliness that is constantly lurking around our hearts.

In verses 9-14, in the Feast of First Fruits, these people have been laboring since the end of October or beginning of November when they first planted their barley. They have watched it sprout up out of the ground, grow tall, fill out with grain. But they may not eat it until the first fruits are given to God.

Part of giving to God involves the understanding that you must deny yourself. To deny yourself does not mean to deny your existence. That would be foolishness. Nor does it mean that you give up some pleasure or sin for the sake of Christ. It is simply, which was symbolized by not eating the bread. Your needs, your wants, your desires take a back seat to what God commands.

Again, the message is both to the community and to the individual. Obedience does not mean giving God something so that you can enjoy the rest without fear of punishment. Obedience means a denial of your importance in relation to the things of Christ.

Will you deny yourself and follow Christ? Will you make Him the priority, not a priority, but the priority in your life?

 

 

Three Types of Sacrifices in the Bible November 4, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Amos, Atonement, Forgiveness, Leviticus, Praise, Religion, Second Chronicles, Sermons, Thanksgiving.
10 comments

WE BRING THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE – THREE TYPES OF SACRIFICES

2 Chronicles 29

 

There are certain sections of the Bible that are difficult reading. When I was in the first grade and first began to read, my mother thought that it would be a good idea for me to start reading a chapter a day in the Bible. This was in the days before Dobson was everywhere telling us how to rear our children. Now I was the oldest child and my mother knew practicing reading was important and that reading the Bible was important, so she combined the two and got me started reading Genesis. I enjoyed Genesis and I enjoyed Exodus, reading the stories exactly as they were first told by God rather than in the pared down version that is usually given to children. But then I got to Leviticus. The first five chapters were okay with descriptions of the burnt offering and the meal offering and the peace offering and the sin offering and the trespass offering but then I got to Leviticus 6 and the multitude of rules describing the sacrifices and the priests and the laws concerning cleanliness and eventually just lost interest. It was too great for my elementary school aged mind to handle.

How then can we in the short time we have today understand all the detail of the sacrifices of the Old Testament and how they might apply to us today? Simply said, there are three general categories of sacrifices found in the Bible and all three of them are found in their spiritual order in 2 Chronicles 29.

THE SIN OFFERING

The first type of sacrifice we find in this passage is the sin offering (verses 20-24). We have already read how that Hezekiah became king at the age of twenty-five. His father before him was Ahaz. If you look in the previous chapter, we find an account of the sins of Ahaz. This was a man who was described as continually unfaithful (28:19) and in times of distress increasingly unfaithful (28:22). He worshiped other gods and treated the temple of God as his property. He gave some of the temple items to the king of Assyria in an attempt to appease their king but it did not work. Then he turned to the gods of Damascus, shutting the temple down, destroying some of the temple items, and setting up gods all through Jerusalem for worship. His son, Hezekiah though was a different sort of man. He immediately determined to change the direction of his kingdom and commanded that the temple be cleaned and prepared again for use and committed himself to a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel. He recognized that their problem was a sin problem and that they as a people needed forgiveness of sin.

Of course, this is what we most often think about as Christians when we think of a blood sacrifice and it is the primary picture that we have of the sacrifice that Christ paid for us on the cross. He died as the sacrifice for my sin. That is what we celebrated today during the Lord’s Table. Christ paying the penalty for my sin. That is what the word “atonement” means. Forgiveness of sin through a sacrifice does not mean that God is ignoring the sin but that the sacrifice is bearing that sin. That is the significance of the laying on of hands on the animal. It was a symbolic transfer of the sins from the people to the animal. We know that animal sacrifices could not take care of all sin because it had to repeated over and over and over but there came a day when the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, was nailed to the cross to bear our sins in His own body, to suffer the penalty for sin once and for all.

That is what was necessary for us to be reconciled to God. Sin is what separates us from God. That is the common trait of each person born and that is why Jesus had to die and that is why without faith in Jesus Christ alone there is no forgiveness of sin.

THE BURNT OFFERING (AN OFFERING OF CONSECRATION) 

Hezekiah, however, did not stop with the sin offering but then had a special burnt offering sacrificed (verses 27-31a). A burnt offering was for the purpose of dedicating yourself or something to God. Through it one says, “I am consecrating myself to God.” Now this word “consecration” is an important word and we need to explain what it means. The Hebrews had a unique phrase for this word, “filling the hands”, i.e., making your hands complete. This is discipleship. This is dedication. This is saying that God has all of my life. This is worship in that I am submitting my life to His will and control. We find in this passage that music accompanies worship but music is not worship. Worship is a sacrifice of dedication and submission.

We find this concept in the New Testament also. Paul begged the Romans to “…present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

To Timothy he wrote that when we pray we are to life up holy hands, hands that are consecrated, hands that are made perfect before God. In the sin offering I am putting my hands on Christ’s head so that He can pay the penalty for my sin but with the burnt offering I am lifting my hands to heaven and dedicating myself to Him and Him alone.

CONDITIONS FOR CONSECRATION

Not just anybody however can give offer a burnt sacrifice. Not everyone can dedicate themselves to God. You have to be holy. You have to be clean. You have to be blameless.

Now what did it mean to be holy. Two things were necessary to be holy. You had to have a relationship to God and you had to live in such a way that showed your holiness. Look at Leviticus 22:31-33.

 

    31 “Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the LORD.

    32 “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,

    33 “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.”

     

    What happened is that God established a relationship with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt and through bringing them out of Egypt, He made them holy. He made them clean. He made them blameless. He filled their hands. He completed their hands and He expected them to live like the special people that they were. He commanded them, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”

       

    We no doubt have a number of people here who have believed God, who have trusted His Son, Jesus Christ as Savior but have gone back on the commitments that they have made to God. They have accepted the sacrifice that Christ made for them on the cross of Calvary but they need to make again that sacrifice of commitment that God demands from them. That is the emphasis of Hezekiah. They were already God’s people but they had forsaken Him and forsaken His ways and forsaken His temple and Hezekiah determined that it was a time to recommitment themselves to the covenant that God had made to them under Moses. The sin offering is sufficient for forgiveness of sins, the cross of Christ is sufficient enough to bring you to heaven but Christ demands commitment with that faith.

    THE PEACE OFFERING (A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING)

    The third category of sacrifices that follows the sin offering and the burnt offering is the peace offering (verses 29-36). These offerings are those of praise and thanksgiving. Hebrews 13 calls this type of offering the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips in thanksgiving to God. This sacrifice was not for forgiveness of sin, neither was it was a sacrifice of commitment to God, but rather a sacrifice that signified a close relationship with God that is going well. Now it is possible to have a close relationship and it not be healthy or it being one sided but a true relationship with God is a relationship in which things are going well.

    This third type of sacrifice is best exhibited through a song that we used to sing. “Everything’s all right in my Father’s house. In my Father’s house. In my Father’s house. Everything’s all right in my Father’s house. There is joy, joy, joy!” This is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

    IT’S KINDA LIKE GETTIN’ MARRIED!

    It’s relationship to the other types of sacrifices is the same as that of the wedding anniversary to the marriage contract and to ceremony. The contract, the piece of paper that you sign is like the death of Christ for our sins and our acceptance by faith of that sacrifice. The wedding ceremony and other times of public and private commitment that you make to your spouse are like the offering of consecration. It is a time where you are taking ownership of your part in the relationship. The sacrifice of praise, though is like the anniversary date. The party that you throw for your spouse after five, ten, or twenty years of marriage. All of these are important to a strong relationship but they are different from each other in purpose.

    In the same way, God will not accept your commitment until your sin problem is taken care of, there is not true thanksgiving if you are not holy before God both in relationship and in life. One of the prophets, Amos, in the fourth chapter of the book (Amos 4:1-13, page 618 in the pew Bible) that bears his name writes about those who offered thanksgiving offerings that God found unacceptable. Rather than read all the verses, let us look at just a few.

     

    1 ¶ Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”

    2 The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: “Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks.

    3 You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon,” Says the LORD.

    4 “Come to Bethel and transgress, At Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days. {Or years (compare #De 14:28)}

    5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, You children of Israel!” Says the Lord GOD.

    6 ¶ “Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

    12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

     

These people were offering the proper sacrifices but they had strayed from their relationship to God. They were celebrating Thanksgiving but they were living in a way that was displeasing to God. God says, your sacrifices of thanksgiving are unacceptable. Prepare to meet your God!

 

Now we use that phrase sometimes to talk about death and that is partially in view here but the fuller view is prepare to meet your judge. God is going to judge you. If you do not have that holy relationship that He provided for you through Jesus Christ or you have that relationship and are not committed to that relationship, you will be judged. If you do have that holy relationship with God through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for your sin and you live committed to that relationship, then your praise and your thanksgiving will be pleasing and acceptable to God.

 

No doubt it is due to our evil human nature that we forget God and break our commitments to Him who has helped us the most and instead of committing ourselves to Him, we focus on ourselves. According to thecatholicpriest.com, “The post office official in charge of the Dead Letter Box in Washington, DC, reported that he had received hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to “Santa Claus” asking him to bring many things, but after Christmas, only one letter came to the box thanking Santa Claus for bringing the toys.” Obviously, that one letter came from someone who really believed, who was really committed to Santa Claus.

THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE IS NOT A SMALL THING.

 

There is a sense that all of these sacrifices are given from a willing heart but what makes the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving so great and wonderful is that it can only be given willingly. The highest obedience is the obedience that is given at suggestion and not at command.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Spurgeon “knew a youth who had wished to be baptized, but his friends kept him back. When he fell ill, he fretted because he had not confessed his Lord according to the Scripture. “But Isaac,” said his mother, “you know baptism will not save you.” “No, mother,” he replied, “of course it will not, for I am saved. But when I see Jesus in heaven I should not like Him to say, ‘Isaac, it was a very little thing I asked of you; did you not love Me enough to do it?’ ”

 

Concentrating on being thankful to God may seem like a little thing. Praising Christ in word and deed may not seem significant. What makes it significant is because it is an indication that “everything’s alright in my Father’s house.”