“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bronze Altar

Exodus 27:1-8 - "You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made."

After you enter the doorway into the outer courtyard -- the first thing you are faced with is a bloody, smoking, bronze altar. What a sight it must have been; gruesome, and staggering! To really get an insight into the sacrifices which were offered on this altar, I highly suggest that you read
"Shadows... Jesus Christ in Leviticus" by my friend Bugs.

This altar would have stood directly between the Israelite and the entrance to the Holy Place, and ultimately to the Holy of Holies. It was a plain, unadorned box, full of smoke, and blood, and the fat of animals. Not a pleasant picture, is it? But, it was necessary in order for the sins of the nation to be atoned for. When one got a good look at this monstrosity, they would be faced with the consequences of their sin, and the reality that an innocent would die for their sin.

The altar has not changed; it is still a brutal picture -- one which is bloody and horrific! The altar is the Cross of Christ. The word altar comes from the Latin altāre, meaning lifted up, or elevated. Jesus speaks of this in His discussion with Nicodemus in John 3:14, 15 - And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

I fear that modern Christianity has left the centrality of the Cross. We are much too spiritually 'squeamish', or refined or worse yet, 'seeker-sensitive' to bring up the incredible sacrifice that was paid for our sins. The truth is that Jesus Christ died on a rough wooden beam, in a horrific and bloody manner, taking upon Himself the sins of His people. Likewise, He gave to us, His righteousnesss!

Just as the Israelite could not go past the brazen altar to enter into the Holy Place, so too, we cannot skirt the Cross and enter into a relationship with God. Just as it took a substitutionary death to atone for the Priests and the nation in the Tabernacle, it takes the atoning death of our Messiah and Great High Priest, for us to enter into the Holy Place.

Hebrews 10:4-22 - For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

There is so much more that I could post about Christ and the Cross, but I am trying to keep these brief (for me), and to the point of Christ in the Tabernacle. The atonement is so staggering that anything I write about it seems so inadequate -- I can only say with Paul "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Courtyard - One Way

Exodus 27:9-18 - “You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side. Its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings a hundred cubits long, its pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. And for the breadth of the court on the west side there shall be hangings for fifty cubits, with ten pillars and ten bases. The breadth of the court on the front to the east shall be fifty cubits. The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. On the other side the hangings shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. It shall have four pillars and with them four bases. All the pillars around the court shall be filleted with silver. Their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze. The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twined linen and bases of bronze.

THE COURTYARD

The white linen hangings were 5 cubits tall, or about 7.5 feet. Considering that the average height in those days was around 5’6” or less, you can see that these hangings were fairly formidable walls to the average Israelite. In other words, one couldn’t ‘peek’ into the courtyard easily! This physically delineated the sacred and the profane in the life of the Israelite… To those outside the courtyard, it was impossible to see what took place within. These hangings illustrated, tangibly, the reality that God is holy and separate. The linens being white, also symbolize purity and righteousness; God was ‘fenced’ off from the Israelites by their unrighteousness.

As I thought about the courtyard this week, I began to envision the fence from the outside. It is all well and good to talk of the wondrous things inside the courtyard, but how many are outside, trying to climb over the fence using their own works, or knowledge? Ephesians 2:8,9 -- For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Bronze pillars supported the courtyard hangings. Bronze speaks of God’s judgment, and these bronze pillars are set into bronze sockets. The righteousness of God requires judgment for sin. Yet, God in His wisdom capped the pillars with silver, allowing those outside the wall to glimpse the beauty that lie within. This reminds me of the reality that the Lord has revealed His redemptive plan via His Word, this allows even the unbeliever to get a glimpse of His salvation offering. The blood (silver) caps the judgment, what a beautiful picture! 2nd Corinthians 5:21 -- For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

THE GATE

So the wall prevents anyone from coming in; however God has placed a single door in the midst of the hangings. Only one door, not many doors, there was only one approach to the Lord, and this door led straight to the brazen altar. This door pointed directly to the sacrifice that was required.

This gate, or door, was made of beautiful colors, scarlet, blue, purple, and linen. It is a beautiful picture of our Messiah. The red obviously speaks of the blood He shed for us -- Romans 5:8,9 -- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Blue speaks of the heavenly realm that He left to come to earth and die for us; John 6:38 -- "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me…” The purple speaks of His kingship; 1st Timothy 6:13–16 -- I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. And of course the white linen speaks of His righteousness; 1st Peter 1:17–19 -- And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

I can see my own redemption in this picture. I walked around this white wall, seeking to enter in through my own works; I pursued knowledge, ‘spiritualism’ and good acts, but none of these allowed me entrance into the place where God dwelt. Until the Holy Spirit regenerated me, I was unaware of the door that was there, when my eyes were opened to this door, it was every bit as beautiful as the gate in the Tabernacle. The Lord had spoken these words several millennia before I arrived at the door; John 10:9 – 11 -- "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…”

I wonder how many people are sitting in churches today that have never heard these words? I mean really heard them? Churches are as infected with the salvation by works syndrome as anybody in the world. We bring people in, and we get them involved in ‘things’ in the church, maybe it is Sunday School teacher, or maybe it is parking car attendant, but we have never ensured that they know who the door is. People will often tell me they have gone to church for years but never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel! May we never be so self-absorbed, that we rush people into ‘helping’ before they have come through that door. As long as people are outside the wall, we have a job to do!

May we never stop telling people this one truth: John 14:5,6 -- Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me..."

Many people are OK with Jesus saying that He is the Way, the truth and the Life, they rank Him with all of the other great sages of history, but the minute that we make the claim that no one comes to the Father except through Him, then we have stepped over the line. Sadly, many churches, for the sake of political correctness and a misguided concept of tolerance, have stopped proclaiming this great truth.

Just as the Tabernacle had but one door, which led directly to the altar of sacrifice, so too, there is but one way to the Father, and that is through the Messiah -- and this way leads directly to an altar of sacrifice!

FINALLY A CHALLENGE

So, my Christian friends, have we been sitting on our collective duffs smugly, and safely, ensconced in our C'Christian ghetto', while outside the doors of our churches live millions who are looking at the outside wall of God’s righteousness! You know the way to the door, are you sharing that information? We are not a secret organization, yet we sometimes act as though we are.

Have we been guilty of forgetting the beauty of the Gate? Have we taken our salvation lightly, have we forgotten what it was like outside the walls of the Tabernacle? God forbid that we ever become so callous as to watch the lost head to destruction without it breaking our heart! We know that there is but one way in, and yet, how often do we avoid discussing it? Is this knowledge really something we should keep to ourselves?

My friends let us listen anew to the words of Paul in Romans 10:13–15 -- For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Nerd Score

Just to appease Bugs -- Here you go...

I am nerdier than 25% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

SIlver Sockets - Part 2

My last post examined the fact that the silver sockets, used for the foundation of the Tabernacle, were cast out of the material used to redeem the Israelites. The foundation of our faith is the same -- it is based upon redemption; Christ's finished work at the cross.

In this post I will look at the incredible cost of this foundation.

RICHES
The Tabernacle was 45 feet by 15 feet. The size of a 675 square foot room! Yet, its foundation was 100 sockets of silver, each one weighing a talent. Exodus 38:27 -- The hundred talents of silver were for casting the bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base.

Each talent weighed 93.25 lbs! So, the base of this small room was worth (in today’s currency) ~$600,000 USD. Think about that: a small building ~600 square feet, whose foundation stones were going cost ~$600,000.00! The foundation gives a small indication of the worth of the foundation of our faith.

1st Peter 1:17 – 19 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

What is the worth of the foundation upon which our faith is grounded? You see how Paul compares the ‘perishable’ things, such as gold and silver, to the PRECIOUS blood of Christ!

Oh brothers and sisters, we spend far too much of our lives in pursuit of the perishable things! Let us cling to the precious blood of Christ -- this will never fail us!

Ephesians 1:1-10 -- Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual Blessings in Christ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

I pray that I will always be more conscious of the worth of salvation than I am of the things of this world! To the world, our salvation looks as silly as a half million-dollar foundation on a backyard shed.

1st Corinthians 1:18–25 -- For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Again in Ephesians we find this; Ephesians 2:4–9 -- But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I am guilty of taking for granted the incredible price paid for my salvation. Our temple, (our lives), is built upon a precious and priceless foundation; the blood of the Messiah!

We could never ‘buy’ this, and we could never earn it! Only through the free gift of the Father can we receive this. When we understand the price that was paid, it is easy for us to join Paul in Romans 12:1, 2, when he states -- I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

EQUAL

In Exodus 30:15, we read this -- The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the Lord's offering to make atonement for your lives.

When it came to the atonement money, everyone paid the same price. Romans 10:11-13 -- For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 3:22b–26 -- For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The Lord says there is no difference, but you will find men who will say that a certain color, or a certain nation is worthier of God’s blessing, and here we find that it is all nonsense. God made sure that His people understood that there was ONE PRICE for atonement, and it mattered not whether you were rich or poor.

In Acts 10:34, 35 we find Peter preaching to Cornelius and his family; mind you, these were those dirty, nasty Gentiles! -- So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

In Galatians 3:26–28 we find this statement -- for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Our foundation is precious beyond our understanding, and efficacious to save those who are called by His name!

Silver Sockets - The Foundation Part 1

Exodus 26:1-25 -- “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole. “You shall also make curtains of goats' hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams' skins and a covering of goatskins on top. “You shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. Ten cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together. So shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons; and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side twenty frames, and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame, and two bases under the next frame. And for the rear of the tabernacle westward you shall make six frames. And you shall make two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear; they shall be separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring. Thus shall it be with both of them; they shall form the two corners. And there shall be eight frames, with their bases of silver, sixteen bases; two bases under one frame, and two bases under another frame.

Exodus 30:11-16 -- The Lord said to Moses, “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give a ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel [2] according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), [3] half a shekel as an offering to the Lord. Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord's offering. 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the Lord's offering to make atonement for your lives. You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the Lord, so as to make atonement for your lives.”

I realize this is going to be a long post, and a lot of Scripture, but I really want to get as much context as possible into this series. I know this violates all of the rules of blogging, but here goes!

RANSOM

We will get to the outer court foundations, (which are bronze), in another installment of this series -- I wanted to start with the foundation of the Tabernacle itself.

Notice where the silver for the foundation came from: all the other materials for the construction of the tabernacle were free-will offerings from the people, however the silver was derived from the ransom (atonement) money paid by the Israelites. This symbolizes something very wonderful about the foundation of our faith. As we examine the ‘silver sockets’ today, I pray that we will see the beauty and incredible ways of our Lord and Sovereign.

Silver is Levitically recognized to symbolize blood; it was used to redeem one’s life, and both Joseph (Genesis 37) and the Messiah were sold for silver. The Israelites are told in the Exodus passage above that they are to give a ransom for their lives. This is the silver used for the foundation of the Tabernacle. The ransom money had to be paid by all of the Israelite men who were 20 years and above if they were to be a part of the people of God. It is so serious that the Lord warns of a plague if the ransom is not collected.

The foundation was cast out of a metal representing both blood and redemption/ransom! This so beautifully illustrates the reality of our foundation! The Messiah did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. The foundation of our faith is the blood of Christ, which redeems us! All other aspects of our faith rest upon this solid foundation!

The Hebrews were erecting the Tabernacle in places where solid ground would be difficult to find; they needed a foundation that would support the structure of the Tabernacle, against all the wind and weather that it would face in the wilderness. We, too, need something that will give us a solid foundation in all the conditinos this life throws at us! Where do we find our foundation? Only in Messiah!

1st Corinthians 3:11–17 -- For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

You are the Temple, and what is your foundation? It is the Messiah, perfectly reflected in the blood money that created the foundation for the Tabernacle!

Next post I will look at the value of this foundation.