Nov 242017

Grain offeringThe grain offering (Minkhah) has various names in the bible such as; meal offering, gift offering or food offering. It was a voluntary offering brought by the person who simply wanted to draw near to God and express his worship to Him.

It consisted of high quality fine flour, oil and frankincense. It was baked into unleavened bread and spread with oil. Half was eaten by the priests and the other half was burnt on the altar with the frankincense and offered to God.

If you have any knowledge of the bible, you may well have heard quite a bit about Baal worship which was practised by the Canaanites and surrounding nations. Baal represented the god of fertility and agriculture and they felt that he had to be appeased by various sacrifices (including human ones). They believed he determined all aspects of agriculture such as giving of rain (or draught), harvest, fertility etc.

Yahweh wanted to remind His people that it was He who was responsible for blessing and providing for His people.

This offering foreshadowed Jesus as ‘the bread of life’

I am the bread of life. (John 6:48)

Jesus also compared himself to the grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies.

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:23-25)

Jesus was crushed on the cross, just like fine flour. He was buried on Good Friday just like the grain of wheat and sprang to life in resurrection power on Easter Sunday.

Other aspects of this sacrifice are:-

  • The offering was accompanied by oil (Leviticus 2:1-2) which represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:34)

  • The offering required salt (Leviticus 2:13) which represents the purity and preserving power of Jesus.
  • The grain offering was unleavened (Leviticus 2:11). Leaven was associated with evil: he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1) Jesus had no sin in Him.
  • God loves a sweet smelling offering

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. (Genesis 8:21)

The life that Jesus lived was a sweet smelling sacrifice to God

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

Because of what Jesus has done, our lives can now be a sweet smelling offering which pleases God.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15)

I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18)

 November 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Nov 172017

The burnt offeringLast week we looked at the bronze altar in the tabernacle courtyard where sacrifices were made.

Sacrifices are a central theme in the bible and I want to look at them in a little more depth, especially as they point towards Jesus and the sacrifice that he made.

Sacrifices were a central theme of the tabernacle. Every member of the Israelite community was involved. They would individually purify themselves and bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle. The sacrifices would typically be; bulls, rams or birds. They would lay their hand on the forehead of the animal signifying the transference of sin. This was probably where the phrase “laying on of hands” originated. It was the person themselves who killed the animal and prepared the sacrifice and it was only after this was done that the priest would then come in and perform the rest of the ritual.

The sacrifice was consumed completely (except for the skin which was given to the priest). This was a central theme of the burnt offering because it signified a complete consecration before God. It was sometimes referred to as “the whole burnt offering”

They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. (Deuteronomy 33:10)

then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51:19)

And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:33)

This perfectly shadows Jesus because although his body wasn’t burned on the cross, He was completely consumed by suffering and the full barbarity of the cross. You only have to read the accounts in the gospels to get an understanding of the physical, emotional and psychological effects of this sacrifice. Jesus gave every ounce and completely submitted himself.

He prayed to the father “not my will, but yours, be done” ( Luke 22:42)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)

All of these animal sacrifices pointed towards the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. Since the cross, there has been no need for a single animal to be sacrificed. Jesus completed the picture

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 (Hebrews 10:11-12)

Sitting down signifies that the task has been completed and there is no more to be done.

Next week we will look at another sacrifice and how it shadowed Jesus.

 November 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Nov 102017

Brazen-AltarIf you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that for a long time now I have been looking at the way that Jesus Christ is shadowed in the Old Testament. On further investigation we have realised that His shadow is cast everywhere. One place in particular is the tabernacle.

We started looking at the various objects in the innermost part of the tabernacle, called the Holy of holies and then moving out we looked at the various objects in the holy place. This week we go out even further to the temple courtyard. The centrepiece there was the bronze altar, also called : the brazen altar or the altar of sacrifice.

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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar.6 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7 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.8 You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made. (Exodus 27:1-8)

The Hebrew for the word altar (mizbeach) means “to slay” or “slaughter”. The Latin word alta means “high” so putting these two words together, it is a high place for sacrifice or slaughter. This altar was indeed the central point of the court and it was raised up above all the other objects on a mound of earth. On this altar was a lot of killing and a lot of blood, which can be very unpleasant to our cosseted, sensitised, 21st century minds. There was a lot of killing and a lot of blood, but this was very necessary:

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

I think if we saw these sacrifices in operation right now we would be extremely traumatized at the utter carnage of it all. That is the whole point! The necessity of the altar was to show the people the utter seriousness of their sin. It was supposed to shock, it was to be a jolt to wake them up.

The altar was raised up high so that everyone could see it. This is a picture of Jesus being lifted high on the cross. He was our sacrifice that was raised up and slaughtered on our behalf

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)

The bronze altar was made of Acacia wood and overlaid with bronze, which was symbolic in the bible of judgement of sin. Jesus was judged on our behalf;

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

The altar was the place where an innocent animal was sacrificed on sinful man’s behalf so that access could be made to a holy God. This was only a temporary solution though and many animals had to die. This whole process foreshadowed the ultimate ‘once for all’ sacrifice that Jesus, the purest sacrificial lamb of all, would make.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Thank God that you now have free and complete access to the father through Jesus Christ. No need to kill an animal on the altar anymore.

 November 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus 2 Responses »
Nov 032017

The Altar of incense“You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. 2 A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. 3 You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a molding of gold around it. 4 And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. 5 You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6 And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. 7 And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, 8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:1-8)

The last article in the holy place in the tabernacle is the altar of incense. It was placed just in front of the curtain which separated the holy place from the holy of holies.

Aaron was to burn incense on this altar continuously, day and night.

Incense in the bible signifies prayer, so this altar is a shadow of the intercessory ministry of Jesus. Just as the incense was burned day and night, so the bible reveals that Jesus is constantly praying for us;

he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

What a wonderful thought that Jesus is before the father continually praying for you. He will never let you down.

The incense used was to be a unique blend, only used for God himself (Exodus 30:34-38). In fact anyone trying to replicate it and use it for themselves was to be cut off from the rest of the people. For someone to take and use this fragrance upon themselves would be like them saying that they are acceptable to God in and of themselves. The uniqueness of this fragrant blend speaks to me of the uniqueness of Jesus. No-one else’s prayers or sacrifices were acceptable before God. Jesus has the only fragrance that God finds acceptable;

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

We are to follow Jesus’ example of intercession, to offer prayers, requests and intercessions that are acceptable to God. They are acceptable because we are ‘in’ Christ and part of Him. I will leave you this week with a few verses on the theme of prayer and how it is an acceptable fragrance to God;

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psalm 141:2)

these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7)

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. (Revelation 8:3-4)

Let this inspire you to follow Jesus’ example and..pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

 November 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »