Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Veil of the Sanctuary--Exodus 26.31
The daily offices of the tabernacle represent the daily life of sanctification which prepared the sinner by cleansing him from his sin.  And the annual entrance of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies represented justification, without which no man can stand before God's presence.

  The veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies is the veil that tore at the moment Jesus died on the cross.  This tearing ended the need for a Levitical priesthood as mediator between God and us--
  Matt. 27.51--And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom,
                       and the earth did quake and the rocks rent...
The veil represents the body of Jesus.  It is only by passing through this veil that access is gained to the Most Holy Place of Judgment.  You can see the relevance of communion, taking the body and blood of Christ into oneself to have access to God.

  The veil's tearing is the death of the Lamb of God, so that the believer might come in.

  The Levitical priesthood has brought us this far, now with Jesus as our High Priest we no longer have need of the sacrifices and the veil.

The Ark of the Testimony--Exodus 25.10-22
The ark was made of acacia wood, covered with gold.  Inside the ark were placed two tablets of stone upon which the 10 Commandments had been etched.  Later Aaron's rod and a pot of manna were put in with the stone tablets.  The lid of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat, Ex. 25.17.  Above the Mercy Seat, between two covering cherubs, the glory of God dwelled.

  The Mercy Seat represented Jesus as mediator just as the seat was between the commandments inside the ark and God's glory above it.

  1 Timothy 2.5--For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
  Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place to be in the presence of the ark and Mercy Seat.  And that was only one day of the year, the Day of Atonement.

  When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, the ark had already been removed.  In 70AD when the armies of the Roman emperor Titus sacked Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies was empty.  The ark has never been found publicly to this day (except by Indiana Jones).

  In Revelation 11.19 the ark is described.  This was written about 95AD, after the Roman army left Jerusalem.  John sees the ark of God in heaven, not the ark of the tabernacle.

  The ark is revealed in Revelation in these passages:
Golden Candlestick--Rev. 1.12, 4.5
Table of Showbread--Rev. 4.2-5
Pre-advent Judgment begins--Rev. 4.6
Brazen Altar of Burnt Offerings--Rev. 6.9
Golden Altar of Incense--Rev. 8.3-5
Ark of the Testtimony--Rev. 11.19
The Sanctuary as the City of God--Rev. 21.22

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

After God gave Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 25.8, He says--
  Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.
With these few words God tells Israel He wants to be with them.  The plan of the tabernacle was a simplified version of the heavenly kingdom.  Its' purpose was to reveal that Jesus of Nazareth is our high priest, our mediator, our sacrifice.  As He was Lord of heaven, so He is high priest on earth.
  The tabernacle will enable us to be with God in four stages:
    Sacrifice for sins
    Declaration of cleanness through the Brazen Altar, Laver, and Menorah
    Daily Offices of the priests through the Veil and Ark
    Judgment and Blessing in the Holy of Holies.

  First, the Sacrifice for sins.
  All of this took place outside the tabernacle.
  The sinner brings the sacrifice to the tabernacle east door to cover sins.  The sinner places his hands on the animal's head, making his confession.  Then he slays the animal, collecting the animal's blood.
  The Brazen Altar
  At this point the priest takes certain portions of the animal to the Brazen Altar to be consumed by flames.  The altar was acacia wood covered by bronze.  The wood symbolized humanity, the brass symbolized suffering.  When the animal was burned, this means Jesus protects the sinner from the fires of God, as they go on the animal.  The altar was square, with four horns at the corners.  According to Psalm 118.27 the animal pieces were tied to the horns, with the blood poured out below.  Leviticus 9.24 says the fire came down from heaven.
  The Laver
  Before the priest burns the animal pieces he must come to this Laver to wash.  This was a basin of water, made from the mirrors of the women.  The priest washes his hands and feet, symbolizing baptism, the mirrors represent our sins, cleansing our souls and receiving righteousness.  If the priest does not cleanse himself enough, he is struck dead, Exodus 30.21.  This is because to reject the righteousness of Christ means the sinner and the priest die in their sins.
  With this done properly, the sinner and the priest are clean before God.

  Second, Declaration of Cleansing
  Now we are just inside the tabernacle.  This rectangular area is the Holy Place.  We have the Table of Showbread, the Golden Candelabra, and the Golden Altar of Incense.
  The Candelabra or Menorah used pure olive oil.  The priest trimmed and refilled it.  The wick was made of old priestly garments.  It was always lit.  It represents Jesus, the light of the world, John 1.9
  The Table of Showbread was a small table made of acacia wood, covered in gold.  It had 12 loaves of unleavened bread, representing Jesus, the bread of life, John 6.35 and the 12 tribes of Israel.  Wine was also kept on the Table, so the Lord's Supper was present.
  The Altar of Incense was before the veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies inside.  On it was a brass pot with coals from the Brazen Altar.  A special blend of incense was burned here, which filled the tabernacle with a sweet cloud.  This cloud obscured the glory of God over the Holy of Holies, preserving the high priest's life on the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16.13.
  The Menorah is always lit, the Table always shows bread and wine, and the altar always shows the incense and the cloud.  This is the eternal nature of cleansing from sin, once declared it is always so.


Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Middle Ages the Jewish rabbi Moses Maimonides wrote the guidelines of who the messiah would be for Israel. Usually 18 OT verses are used to apply proof to his text:  Some of them are:
The messiah will restore justice, Isaiah 1.26
The messiah becomes king so the nations look to him for guidance, Isaiah 2.4.
The world will worship the God if Israel, Isaiah 2.11-17.
He will descend from David, Isaiah 1.11.
The Spirit of the Lord will be upon him, Isaiah 11.2.
Evil and tyranny cannot stand before Him, Isaiah 11.4.
Knowledge of God fills the earth, Isaiah 11.9.
He will attract people from other cultures, Isaiah 11.10.
All Jews will return to Israel, Isaiah 11.12.
Death is swallowed up, Isaiah 25.8.
All Jewish people will have joy and peace, Isaiah 51.11.
He will be a messenger of peace, Isaiah 52.7.
Nations will recognize the wrong they did Israel, Isaiah 52.13--53.5
The world will turn to Israel, Zechariah 8.23.
War is destroyed, Ezekiel 39.9.
  These are the particular points Maimonides emphasized.  According to these texts, the messiah is a future king from the line of David who will be anointed and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic age. He will rebuild the temple, reinstitute the Sanhedrin and animal sacrifices.  All Jews will return to Israel.  And the messiah will lead the Jewish people in what one website calls, 'full Torah observance.'  Modern Jewish commentators say the messiah will be born of human parents, he will have no supernatural qualities, he will not be God.

  While many of the OT passages Jewish and Christian scholars use concerning the messiah are the same, the different interpretations remain apart.

  Jesus said--I am the Father are one, John 10.30.  He said--I am the way, the truth, the life, no man comes to the Father but through Me, John 14.6.  Jesus created the way to the Father--by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, Hebrews 10.20.  The Jews of His day believed they already had a connection to God.

  Jewish scholars say Jesus did not rebuild the temple, institute animal sacrifices or install strict Torah observance.  They say there was no prophet, that all Jews must return to Israel.  Some Jewish scholars say Jesus was not a prophet, did not descend from David, that He did not lead Jews in Torah observance.  
  Christian scholars say Jesus ended the sacrifices as He was the last sacrifice, the Lamb of God, John 1.36.  The Holy Spirit at Pentecost has made every believing soul the temple of God, 1 Peter 2.5, 6.  Jesus said in Matthew 11.9 that John was a prophet and that the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  In John 4.19 the Samaritan woman at the well says--Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  In Matt. 21.11 the people say Jesus is a prophet.

  But really these are secondary matters which might not change a person's mind.  The significant issue is whether Jesus is God and whether Jews will return to full Torah observance.
  Jesus said He was God, He came to fulfill the Law, that the Law will not pass away until all is accomplished, Matt. 5.18.  What is to be accomplished?  He said---All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age, Matt. 28.18-20.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Several times in the gospels Jesus of Nazareth is called, Son of David.  The Jews knew that was the preliminary form of the title, messiah, because the sign of the messiah is that he would take the throne of David.  Some Jews accepted Jesus as the messiah, many did not.
  A blind man in Luke 18.39 is told Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.  The blind man immediately calls Him, Son of David.  How did he know Jesus was the Son of David?

  Joseph, the husband of Mary, descended from David through Solomon, Matt. 1.6.  In fact, an angel calls Joseph--son of David, in Matt. 1.20.  Six more times in the gospel of Matthew Jesus is called or known as the Son of David, the one who will take the throne of David.--
    Matt. 9.27, 12.23, 15.22, 21.9, 21.15, 22.42.
But calling Jesus the son of David was not true biologically since Joseph was not His true father.  So why was Jesus called the Son of David?

  The identity of the messiah was a well-known theme but not a specific one.  In Psalm 2.6 the psalmist of this song says--
    I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.
In 2.12 he says--
    Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry
    and you perish in the way,
    for His wrath may soon be kindled.
    How blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.
  Here we see the psalmist, who is not named, say the messiah is the Son, His wrath will be kindled, and those who take refuge in Him are blessed.

  The messiah is the one who fulfills the covenant with God by which the works of the devil are ended, ushering in a reign of peace and prosperity for Israel under God.  This path of the messiah from Genesis 3 through the OT is shown by Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and the prophets.

  So the messiah--
  must be born a man to be the seed of Eve, Gen. 3.
  will be a preacher of righteousness like Noah, Gen. 6.7.
  will be a man of faith like Abraham, through whom all the nations of the world will be blessed, Gen. 12.
  will come through Judah as Jacob announced, Gen. 49.
  will suffer in order to be exalted like Joseph, Gen. 37-48.
  will be a prophet and savior like Moses, Exodus 2-16.

  This is the wider application of the messiah through the OT to Israel.  But there is in the OT a closer portrait of the messiah--
  the psalms say he will be Son and King, Psalm 2.
  Isaiah says he will be born of a virgin, 7.14, son of David, 9.1, the branch who will bring redemption and blessing, ch. 11, and the bringer of joy, 61.1.
  Micah said the messiah will shepherd his people, Micah 5.1.
  Amos said the messiah will be for all peoples, Amos 9.11.
  Jeremiah said the messiah will be the king of righteousness, Jer. 23.5.

  Now the NT writers know of these prophecies and fulfillments.  Matthew says Jesus was born of Abrahamic and Davidic lineage, Matt. 1.2-16.  Luke says the same thing in Luke 2.4-15.  John the Baptist refers to the saving role of Jesus in John 1.29 when he calls Him, the Lamb of God.  Matthew says Jesus will bring judgment as well as life, Matt. 3.1-12.  Luke 1.51-55 says the same thing, that Jesus will bring down the rulers and bless Israel.  Luke and John say Jesus was anointed as messiah at His baptism, Luke 4.16-22, John 4.24-25.

  Then, what does all this mean?

  For us it means the role of messiah was a royal one, taking the throne of David and more than that.  The messiah takes a priestly role in Hebrews 10.19-22--
    Since therefore brethren we have confident to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near...

  He takes a kingly role so that the Magi say when Jesus is born in Matt. 2.2--
    where is He who is born King of the Jews...
and Pilate wrote when Jesus died on the cross--
    Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews, John 19.19.

  And He takes the role of a prophet, as the crowd said in Matt. 21.11--
    This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee..

  All of this is to inaugurate the kingdom of God.  That kingdom came then and through the church as the body of Christ the same kingdom is here now.  Praise the Lord.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A lady I know says she has trouble with the birth of Christ.  Well, so did Herod!  But my friend's trouble is with the understanding that the birth of Jesus was as God and as a baby.  The poet John Milton called Jesus the 'infant God.'  My friend can understand the human side of birth with Mary being pregnant; she can find a way to relate to God as coming to earth, but to put the two together she simply cannot fathom it.

  I appreciate how she has come to terms with her own faith and limitations.  She is like the woman in John 4, she has told the truth.  And I think she represents millions of us who have trouble with Jesus being---both Lord and Christ, Acts 2.36.

  Some of us stay on the side of Jesus as a man.  We search for the historical Jesus, the man of fingerprints and sweat and sandals.  Several attempts have been made in my lifetime to say Jesus never went to the cross, He never died and rose---He just went away with Mary to have a mundane life.  This was D.H. Lawrence's The Man Who Died, Nikos Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ, the Passover Plot, and the DaVinci Code.  All of these say Jesus was not God.  Jewish intellectuals have always claimed Jesus was just another rabbi.

  Some of us stay on the spiritual side, claiming Jesus was God but not a man.  This was an original heresy in the early centuries of the church.  Jesus merely seemed to be a man, but like one of the gods in Homer, merely appeared to be human when He never really was.

  So now, to believe that Jesus was God and He was human, that has taken the church a few centuries to understand.

  We certainly can't wrap our minds around it; but we can believe it.  If Jesus were no more than divinity like the Greek gods, the world would have forgotten about Him.  He would be off in someone's imagination, someone's memory, but no more.  If He were only a man he would be in history books as a failed deliverer, one among many.  As a man he might proved some axiom but that wouldn't convince anyone.

  Jesus rose from the dead.  There are many accounts of the risen Christ by His adversaries among the Romans and the Jews.  God doesn't die; humans don't come back to life.

  It is beyond us all that He was both Lord and Christ.  Today we have no mechanism by which to combine humanity and divinity that compliments our own minds, so we don't believe it.  Some of us go toward the divinity side of Jesus by pursuing signs, miracles and wonders, or some form of religion which denies the human.  Some of us go toward the human side, saying if we can't prove Jesus was God He must not have been.  So several writers have taken it as their task to prove Jesus lived.  This can be done, but does it change the heart and soul of a person?  Maybe not.

  We could look at our century, our own times and see one one side the human rationalists saying if something can't be understood by rational processes, it doesn't exist.  I am reminded of one of Shakespeare's lines--
    there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
    than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
And we can look at our century, our own time and see those who only believe in strange spiritualities which have no ground of being.  People who lock themselves in a cell until a wild dream comes through the iron bars, people who have rapturous fits, who don't et for days and abuse their bodies, 1 Timothy 4.3-5.

  Only in Jesus Christ do we have someone who is the ground of being and the fulfillment of truth.

  So how do we believe this?  We do not stand back from Him, trying to hold in one hand His divinity and in the other hand His humanity as if we could balance the two.  One does not neutralize the other.  But if we ask Him to reveal Himself to us, He will give us all of Himself we can receive.

  And we can receive what He will reveal, after all we are made in His image.  The positive aspect of this is that we have all eternity to work it out.