Dec 082017
 

sin offeringOver the last 3 weeks we have looked at the various regular sacrifices and offerings that were established at the time of the tabernacle. Each one of these has foreshadowed Jesus and covered an aspect of His life and ministry.

The first three offerings were all about man coming before God a s a worshipper, but this week (and next) we see sacrifices that men made before God because of their sin.

The sin offering is recorded in many places in the bible but mainly in Leviticus and specifically chapters; 4,5,8 & 16.

The sin offering was a mandatory offering for specific unintentional sins or sins committed out of weakness or waywardness. It wasn’t for sins of open defiance or rebellion towards God.

The animal sacrificed depended on the status of the individual, which is typical of God’s grace and mercy towards the poor. The high priest and people who were well off sacrificed a bull, a leader would bring a male goat and a common person would bring a female goat or a lamb. The poor brought a dove or pigeon and the very poor a portion of fine flour.

These sacrifices were not meant to permanently take away sin, which was not even possible;

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)

God was looking forward to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for sin, on the cross.

The sacrifices were not burned on the brazen altar in the courtyard but were taken and burned outside the camp. This is a shadow of Jesus taking our sin outside the city where He was crucified.

For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (Hebrews 13:11-13)

Jesus substituted himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

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)

He was sinless but paid the pardon on our behalf

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18)

It is important to note that Jesus death is not universal. In other words it doesn’t automatically cover everyone. It is our responsibility to take this sacrifice and appropriate it to ourselves. We need to accept it, repent of our sins and trust in Jesus alone and not any of our own efforts. It is his gift to you, but you have to accept it.

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. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

There are two great biblical words which relate to this:

Propitiation – Which is God’s wrath towards sin being satisfied and turned back by Jesus’ death. (Romans 5:25, 1 John 2:2, Romans 3:23)

Expiation – Jesus covers all our sins and restores the relationship between us and God. He removes our sins through His own sacrifice that then satisfies God’s righteous demands.

What a wonderful saviour!

 December 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Dec 012017
 

peace-offeringThe peace offering (zebach) was also called the fellowship offering.

It was not an offering to obtain peace but a celebration of the peace that was already in place between the worshipper and God.

The peace in this context is not really referring to an absence of war and strife or a time of silence and reflection, but more about reconciliation. The peace offering was a fellowship offering and was all about communion with God. We are at peace with God and in harmony with Him. The Israelites understood this through animal sacrifices but that was just a shadow. The reality and fullness of that peace and reconciliation is realised only through Jesus Christ.

As we consider the forthcoming Christmas season, a verse that is well used at this time is:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The New Testament is full of references to Jesus being our peace. It was announced when He was born:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

He made peace between man and God

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

He has bridged the huge chasm that separated us

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:13-14)

The word for peace in this passage comes from the Greek verb ‘eiro’ which means to join together. Jesus’ blood has joined together that which was previously separated. He was actually the only one who could do the ‘joining’

He has made peace available to everyone through the cross.

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:17)

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

If you are lacking peace as you prepare for Christmas, why not meditate on these verses and the truth of what peace Jesus has given us.

 December 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
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 »
Oct 272017
 

The golden lampstandHe also made the lampstand of pure gold. He made the lampstand of hammered work. Its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers were of one piece with it. 18 And there were six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 19 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand.20 And on the lampstand itself were four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 21 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out of it. 22 Their calyxes and their branches were of one piece with it. The whole of it was a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 23 And he made its seven lamps and its tongs and its trays of pure gold. 24 He made it and all its utensils out of a talent of pure gold. (Exodus 37:17-24)

The Hebrew word for the lampstand was Menorah and it is a very distinctive shape, full of meaning as we shall see. It was a single upright shaft with 6 branches coming out of it making 7 lamps in all. It was to represent a tree or a vine. It denotes our unity with Jesus and our being part of him. He is the central stem but we have been grafted into Him and receive our sustenance from him.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The lamps were filled daily with oil and they were never allowed to go out but were maintained continually. It was the only light source in the holy place, suggesting that God alone is the only source of light, of revelation of clarity and enlightenment.

Every object we have seen so far has been made of wood overlaid with Gold but the lampstand was made of pure gold. It is not just ‘solid’ gold but ‘pure’ gold with no imperfections. This also points to God being perfect and without blemish;

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

The theme of light clearly points towards Jesus who proclaimed himself to be the light of the world;

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The choice in the decoration of the lampstand was also significant. It represented an almond in the 3 stages of its development; flower, bud and fruit. The almond tree is a type of resurrection. It is the first tree to ‘come to life’ after the winter. This is a shadow of Christ who was the first to be resurrected;

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. (Revelation 1:5)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

As I mentioned when we looked at the contents of the ark, Aaron’s rod was an almond branch and it too came to life and budded when it was obviously dead. The theme of resurrection is clear from the almond and it points to Jesus who died and rose again.

So the lampstand shadows Jesus in its; light, purity and resurrection.

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 202017
 

Table of showbreadAs we move through the veil from the Holy of holies, we enter the Holy place where the priests ministered. In this place were a number of objects which were highly symbolic and shadowed the life and ministry of Jesus.

This week we will be looking at the table of showbread.

“You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. (Exodus 25:23-30)

A meal table is a great place for fellowship. Some of the best times we can have with our family and friends is around a meal table. It’s the place where a family comes together, breaking bread and sharing life together. A place where we can communicate, deepen our relationships and bond strongly together. This was of course God’s idea all along. He loves relationship and where better to do it than a place where good food is being served and fine wine is flowing. In fact, it seems we will be feasting round a table a long time into the future;

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)

The table of Showbread was where the priests would eat the bread in God’s presence. This meal shadowed the last supper where Jesus broke bread around a table with His 12 disciples. In fact on the table of showbread were 12 loaves of unleavened bread. The number 12 is a very significant number in the bible. It is a number of completeness. There were of course 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples.

The table was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. As we saw before with the ark, these two materials represent Jesus’ humanity (acacia wood) and divinity (gold).

The table had two crowns on it, one representing a king and the other a priest. Both of these offices perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.

The bread on the table, as we have seen previously on many occasions, represents the body of Jesus. ‘show’ means to tell forth or declare. This bread declares the presence of Jesus. The bread, after it was baked, remained on the table until it was eaten. Jesus the ‘bread of life’ is forever and constantly in the presence of God the father.

God also instructed Moses to create various golden objects to be placed on the table alongside the bread. There were: dishes to place the bread on, Bowls containing Frankincense and spoons to sprinkle the Frankincense. These objects mirrored everyday household items found at that time in middle-eastern homes. Significant because God was demonstrating that the people were to regard the Tabernacle as his house.

Frankincense was placed on each row of bread

And you shall put pure frankincense on each row…” (Leviticus 24:7)

Incense always speaks of prayer and intercession, so frankincense sprinkled over the Showbread speaks of Jesus’ life of prayer and Intercession.

Next week we will look at another item in the holy place.

 October 20, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 132017
 

The veilWe have recently been focussing on the tabernacle which travelled with the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness for 40 years. The tabernacle signified and indeed held the presence of God.

Over the last few weeks we have looked at the ark of the covenant and then the lid of the ark called “The mercy seat”. These were both housed in the innermost part of the tabernacle called “The holy of holies” and as we have seen, this is where God dwelt and where only the high priest could enter just once a year.

As we move outwards from the holy of holies we will encounter various objects which all, in some way, shadow Jesus.

This week we will look at the veil which separated the Holy of holies from the rest of the tabernacle.

The veil was quite an impressive screen for the Holy of holies. The exact measurements are not recorded in the bible, but there are details elsewhere, such as from the Jewish historian, Josephus. He stated that the curtain was roughly 60 feet high and it was an impressive 4 inches thick. According to tradition, horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart.

It was woven together with various colours, which represent different aspects of Jesus; there was blue for heaven, purple for royalty and scarlet for blood. It was all bound together with white linen which represented purity.

The veil was purposefully thick and impenetrable because it represented the unapproachability of God, he is Holy and glorious and sinful man cannot approach him safely, we would immediately die. The high priest only survived because he sprinkled sacrificial blood.

Jesus’ earthly body was a ‘veil’ that hid the inner glory of His deity. Only on very few occasions was this veil drawn back, such as on the mount of transfiguration. The apostle Peter was an eyewitness of this event;

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 peter 1:16-18)

Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became bright as light (Matthew 17:1-13).

His body (veil) was torn at the cross which mirrored the physical veil in the temple being torn at the same time;

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37-38)

The veil was too high and thick to be torn by any man. No priest would have the audacity to break with tradition even if he had the enormous strength to tear it. In any case a man would rip the veil from the bottom, It was ripped from the top. The only explanation was that God did it. It was a hugely momentous act, signifying the access that is now available through Jesus. We can now enter in to the Holy of holies, to have an intimate relationship with our heavenly father. Through Jesus the ultimate and unending sacrifice has now been made.

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. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

 October 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Oct 062017
 

The mercy seatLast week we looked at the ark of the covenant and this week we will look at what was effectively its lid, which was called ‘The mercy seat’. This mercy seat has huge significance because it was the place where God’s anger for sin was satisfied and where mercy and justice meet.

At the time of the tabernacle, the blood which was sprinkled over the mercy seat would only satisfy God’s wrath for one calendar year and then the process had to be repeated. This of course is a shadow which points towards the sacrifice that Jesus made to satisfy God’s wrath for all time.

The word for this situation in the bible is called ‘Propitiation’ which is not a word we use in everyday conversation today. It is a word rich in meaning in the bible, but can be a little bit complicated, so I will try and simplify it.

In ancient times, especially the Ancient Greek culture, they believed in numerous gods who would quite often get angry if the people were disobedient. If for instance, there had been a bad crop one year, the people would assume they had angered the gods and would offer various sacrifices to appease or propitiate the Gods. Propitiation was therefore the attempt to avert or satisfy the anger of the gods.

Take this concept to the bible. God has revealed that His just and righteous anger is directed at mankind’s sin. The bible is quite clear that we are unable, in our own strength, to satisfy this anger. The bible reveals that Jesus was the one who would take our place, stand in front of us if you like, and divert God’s anger onto himself. This is where the mercy part of propitiation comes in. Jesus did it even when we didn’t deserve it.

Hopefully now the following verses make a bit more sense

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

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. (Romans 3:23-25)

Just to finish on another interesting observation. The word for ‘ark’ in the Hebrew language was ‘arown, which was another word for coffin. Here is a verse with an example;

So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:26)

In the ark, as we saw last week, was placed symbols of man’s rebellion or inability to reach God; the tablets of stone, the manna and Aaron’s rod. These items were buried in the coffin and then covered by the mercy seat. Another fantastic picture of what Jesus achieved for us.

The example of the mercy seat is shown in various places in the bible. Let me finish with one example.

The original mercy seat had two cherubim (angels) on either end of the mercy seat. Now notice the significance of what Mary saw at the tomb of Jesus;

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. (John 20:11-12)

This is a wonderful picture of the mercy seat with the two angels sitting at either end. But only the grave clothes were there! Jesus’ missing body was key. It meant he had risen, confirming that God’s anger had been fully satisfied.

 October 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »