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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Inspired by . . . upon pain of death

"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'You must not let the families of Kohath be wiped out and lost to the tribe of Levi.'" Num 4:17

When numbered, the list of Kohathites by family, men between the ages of thirty and fifty, were two thousand, seven hundred and fifty.

So why was God so concerned that this family might be lost forever?

The Kohathites had been put in charge of moving the sacred equipment connected with the Tent of Meeting. The Ark of the Testimony, the table of the Bread of Presence, the lampstand, etc. However, these articles were first covered by Aaron's sons, and then poles were used to move them. The Kohathites were not to touch them, on pain of death. Further,

"If they are to live and not die when they approach the most holy things, this is what you must do; let Aaron and his sons come and set each man to his appointed task and to his load, but the Kohathites themselves must not enter to cast even a passing glance at the sanctuary, on pain of death." Num 4:19-20

No wonder God was concerned! Not even a curious, passing glance could be made toward the holy things! How many of us would be able to resist... just a peek?

Curiosity isn't a sin. God gave us inquiring minds. Some more so than others. Let's not miss the deadly seriousness being taught here.

God is holy. So holy that we cannot even stand in the presence of, or touch those things that dwell in the same "house" where He dwells without being designated to do so. (Like Aaron's sons had been.)

God's holiness is not something to be curious about in the sense that we think we can fully understand or attain it. Rather, God is to be feared, with reverence and awe. He is to be worshipped and obeyed.

Yet, even these things, to be done correctly, must be done out of a deep sense of love for our Creator. Not to escape punishment or obtain a blessing.

I think we have all but lost this type of love for God. We have no concept of the power that lies just in His name. We think we can touch the stove and not get burned.

We think we can hide in our homes and closets, behind the high walls of our universities and our White House.

God will not be mocked. (Gal 6:7)

He sees and knows... everything. There is nowhere we can go to escape His presence. (Psalm 139) This truth is either comforting or terrifying.

You say that God is Love. And this is true.

It is because of the greatness of His love for us that He is determined that no sin, nothing blemished or unworthy, shall remain in us.

To the Israelites, He gave rules to follow and sacrifices to perform.

This side of the cross, we have a Savior to follow and commands to obey.

God knew that the Israelites would fail. And so will we. But we have something the Israelites didn't have. When we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we are given a Helper.

The Holy Spirit.

He comes to dwell within us. Somehow, supernaturally, in a way, I don't understand. But you will know He is there, within you. Because you will be changed.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor 5:17

The Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us as we grow in our relationship with the Lord.

If you've lost your fear and reverence for the holy things, if you've deceived yourself into believing that God does not see, ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

He can reignite your spirit to the holy things of God. Then you can know, as Curdie* did, what it is like to be purged and purified in the sweet-smelling fire of the Rose.


*Reference: George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Inspired by . . . what He was doing

Forty days is a long time when you're suffering or going without. But how quickly the time must have passed for the disciples those forty days after Jesus' resurrection!

"This was after His death, but He showed them that He was alive, proving it to them in many ways. The apostles saw Jesus many times during the 40 days after He was raised from death. He spoke to them about God's kingdom." (Act 1:3)

Have you ever wondered what Jesus did during these forty days? I think He did exactly what Luke tells us in Acts 1:2-3:
  • He instructed the disciples.
  • He provided ample proof that He was alive, and,
  • He spoke to them about God's kingdom.

Of course, He had been doing the third one all along. But this time they were able to receive it with full knowledge and understanding. The sun broke through, the Son had risen from the dead, and they could finally see the forest for the trees; the true meaning of the scriptures fulfilled.

John alludes to many other signs and wonders in his account in John 20:30: "There were indeed many other signs that Jesus performed in the presence of the His disciples, which are not recorded in this book."

The important thing to remember is that God's revelation to us in His Word is complete. "Those written here have been recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that through this faith you may have life by His name." (John 20:31)

God has given us everything we need to be wise for salvation.
"And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2Ti 3:15)

We may wish that we could walk and talk with Christ as His disciples did, but in truth, we have Him now more fully than they did when He walked the earth. in fact, Jesus, Himself said that it was to our advantage that He leave and send the Comforter/Helper (Holy Spirit):

"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7)

Why did Jesus say that it was better for us that He depart and the Spirit come? We can't imagine that such a thing could be true! And yet it is, because: "He [the Holy Spirit] will take what is Mine and make it known to you."

It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we come to fully know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It follows then, that being in touch with and listening to the Spirit is vital to deepening our relationship with Christ.

This isn't something to add to your To-Do list, Beloved.

Rather, it is an exciting, life-long journey to be enJOYed!


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Inspired by . . . the life is in the blood

I have an aversion to killing things. Most creatures found in my home are relocated to the out-of-doors. I do make exceptions for scorpions, centipedes, and... snakes. Inside or out. Although I've never gotten close enough to a snake to kill one and I'm not sure I could. Get close enough, that is.

I do swat flies, they carry disease, and spiders are usually dead before I can think about it because they have a way of startling me into action. I always think of Charlotte after killing one, though.

I've been working my way through Leviticus and it's all a bit overwhelming. The weight of the Law is heavy. The number of sacrifices required, staggering.

From what I can tell, between the offerings and sacrifices, there would have been one or the other happening almost none stop in front of the Tent of Meeting.

Either the priest or the person making the offering would have had to place their hand on the head of the sacrifice (i.e. head of the lamb, goat, bull, etc) and then slit its throat. Blood would have to be thrown or sprinkled. Fat removed from entrails, the body kept whole or in some cases cut up, and so on. Chapter after chapter we read the details for atonement for one sin after another. It's all rather disturbing.

Obviously, we live in a very different world than the Israelites did during the time of Moses. As I read, I wondered if the sacrificing of these animals was disturbing to the Israelites. I think the answer is, yes.

Sacrifices wouldn't have been new to them. The Egyptians made all manner of sacrifices to appease the gods. But, for the Israelites, sacrificing their animals, that they lived closely with, for the atonement of sin was completely different.

I thought about this in my own life and realized that, while I'm okay with killing an animal for food, the thought of an innocent animal dying to pay for my sin is an entirely different matter.

I have to believe the Israelites felt this way, as well.

Leviticus 17:11 tells us that the life is in the blood and that it is the life, which is the blood, that makes expiation for sin.

Expiation = Atonement, Restitution, Payment.

Romans 6:23 - the wages of sin is death

Despite what our culture may tell us, death is not natural. It is the payment for sin.

The payment for sin is death. Either our own or something sacrificed in our place.

We see this all the way back in Genesis 3. The first animals were killed to cover the shame of Adam and Eve. God's word is consistent from beginning to end. And that is why Leviticus is relevant, in all its disturbing bloody details, to us today.

It gives us context for the tragedy of the cross.

Throughout Leviticus, it says that the sacrifice brought must be "without blemish." This is the foreshadow of Christ, Who, "was innocent of sin, and yet for our sake God made Him one with human sinfulness, so that in Him we might be made one with the righteousness of God." 2 Cor 5:21

The trial and crucifixion of Jesus breaks our hearts. And so it should. He was innocent and yet He was beaten, flogged, cursed, and mocked. The brutality and senselessness are shocking. It's hard to imagine that any good at all came out of this event. And yet, as Paul said, "If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all people are most to be pitied." 1 Cor 15:19

There had to be something more. Some purpose. Some way to get beyond sacrifice after sacrifice. And there was.

Because Christ wasn't just another sacrifice. He was THE sacrifice. It was not His purpose to offer Himself again and again, as the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood not his own. Rather, He has appeared once for all to abolish sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

By dying, He paid the price of our sin and by rising again He conquered death and the grave. He is Victor over all! He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. For it is by grace we are saved through faith; it is not our own doing. It is God's gift to us, not a reward for work done. (Eph 2:8-9)

Faith is born when we believe the Truth of what God says about us and what He did for us. "If the confession, 'Jesus is Lord' is on your lips, and the faith that God raised Him from the dead is in your hearth, you will find salvation!" (Rom 10:9)

Leviticus stands as a reminder to us of the heavy demands of the Law, our inability to be righteous before God, and the blood that is required to wash away our sins.

But the heaviness of Law and the images of the blood-soaked alter fade away when the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead moves within us and we are reminded that we are God's children and He Is Alive!

Easter morning wasn't the end, Beloved. It was just the beginning.

Because He lives, sin is no longer our master.
Because He lives, we are free from the fear of death.
Because He lives, we have direct access to the throne of grace.
Because He lives, we receive new mercies every morning.
Because He lives, we have proof of God's great love for us.

Because He lives, we will never die.

Blessings on your Eastertide, friends.