When you go to God in prayer do you see yourself as a holy, sanctified priest? We are to “put on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation.” [1Thess 5:8] Aaron was to be clothed in garments including the breastplate holding the Urim and Thummin over his heart. He was to “bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of decision over his heart when he “went” into the most Holy Place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.” [Ex 28:29] Do we bear the believers in our community over our heart?
Aaron and his sons were “chosen” from the nation to be holy priests to bring the iniquities of the people before God. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that [we] may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1Pet 2:9] Aaron was the conduit to speak to God for the people but now, in Christ, who tore down the veil, we are free to come before the Lord just as Aaron did. Aaron was to seek God’s forgiveness for his sin and the sins of the community. Because of what Jesus did we are now a holy, sanctified people and we can pray for the forgiveness of our own sins. Therefore, we are to be a holy sanctified people as we come before the Lord for ourselves and others.
May we take this to our heart today as we pray for others in the believer’s community.
Exodus 22 to 24 God has set down the laws for a perfect society, and He starts with laws that men are to keep and the consequences for breaking those laws. The people had just said they would obey all that God has said, but that will be short-lived, and so this is why God wrote these. His attention to detail is so that they people have a benchmark to follow. Next, God institutes the three feasts that are to be held with directions for all males to be in attendance.
Two chapters entailed these directions that men may know how God will determine their integrity. Now God moves from the social justice theme to the promise of the angelic messenger to go before them in their travels. “Take heed and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my Names is in him.” [Exodus 23:20] Why is this important? It is because they had lived ‘under’ slave masters who determined all their rules and regulations. Now God will show them the difference between what is holy and unholy, what is sanctified, and what is impure. The purpose is to set them apart from the nations around them and be the guiding light of the gospel to the pagans they will encounter.
God has given us His “rule” book that ensures we will be blessed if we obey. How do you feel about God’s Rules and will you obey them?
Exodus 10 to 12 The plagues sent by God awaken the Egyptian court, and they plead with Pharaoh. “Release the people so they may serve the LORD their God.” The weak magicians had said to Pharaoh, “It is the finger of God” yet Pharaoh continued in his stubbornness. Pharaoh’s words will haunt him later: “Who is the LORD that I should obey him…” But now God will show Pharaoh that He is the LORD and that He alone is the God of the universe. Pharaoh had taken the male children, and now God will take his firstborn. Pharaoh’s gods cannot save him or his people because they are only idols. Pharaoh thinks he is God but this last plague will challenge his belief system.
In preparation, the Lord gives his children, the Israelites, the plan for the Passover. The shed blood of the unblemished lamb sprinkled upon the doorposts and top frame pictured the cross to come. It covered and separated the “believers” (Israelites) from the “nonbelievers” (Egyptians).
Christ as our Passover separates us and sanctifies us that we too may be holy to the Lord. The lamb was slain just as Christ was slain for us. When the Destroyer came, those covered were protected, and it is Christ’s shed blood that protects each believer. Like the Passover, the Lord’s Supper was established BEFORE the deliverance was accomplished, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Chapter 12 closes with these words: “So all the Israelites did exactly as the LORD commanded…”
1Cor 1-4 Romans gave us a theological discussion on salvation, unity, and service. Today we begin the walkthrough 1Corinthians. “This book provides a glimpse of life inside a first-century church.
Of all the churches that Paul birthed, loved, and tended, the Corinthian church had by far the most eye to eye contact and teaching than any other. He challenges them in three areas: their calling, contentions, and commitment.
The Corinthians were called of God, enriched in Jesus Christ, and did not lack any spiritual gift. They should boast in the Lord for the work He has done. However, Paul noted that there were divisions in the church, with some leaning towards following Paul, others Apollos, and others Cephas. He reminded them they should seek unity, not divisions; unity is key to a prosperous and functioning church. Thirdly, Paul reminded them that they were not a stumbling block to either the Jew or the Greek seeking. Always Christ should be pre-eminent in all they do and how they live for the world is watching.
To be called is a great honor. As God calls you, may you live as men/women of Christ; the world sees and desires His calling. May our testimony reveal that we live and work in our churches with a unified spirit. Lastly, may we present Christ that others may desire Him and Him alone.
Hosea 5 to 7 Hosea reminds the Israelites that God sees their unfaithfulness just like the morning mist which disappears with the sun. He reminded them that instead of seeking God they sought Assyria. Their sacrifices lay upon the altars but are not consumed because of their broken relationship. God is calling them, and us, to delight in Him alone! He delights in our faithfulness to Him that He might sanctify us. He is not interested in sacrifices. Instead He delights in our acknowledgment of Him.
The world is saying: God is archaic! God’s words do not bring hope! Hebrews reminds us that because God is omniscient we should be careful not to “be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.” Instead, cling to this truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Heb 13] because even if “Heaven and earth pass away, His words will never pass away.” [Mark 13]
Beloved, where have you fallen for the mantra of the idols of wood, stone, and that which perishes? God is saying I delight in faithfulness, not simply sacrifice. God says “return to me, and I will return to you.” [Mal 3]
Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle, but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.
Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?
Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.
Deut 18: “You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” Blameless means we are innocent or free of blame or one whose life exhibits integrity. Some Synonyms are irreproachable, unimpeachable, irreprehensible, inculpable, faultless, guiltless, unblemished, unspotted, unsullied, undefiled, spotless, stainless, and innocent. So when God says we are to be blameless before the Lord, we could insert any of these synonyms and examine our character.
To help us further, we can turn to the letter to the Romans to learn how to bring about this character quality in our life: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”[Rom 12:2]
But along the way, we may encounter our past sins, which Satan chooses to rehash. But, that is the marvel of 1John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” It is then that God looks at us as blameless because the blood of Jesus has covered over those sins, and we can walk in newness of life—blameless or innocent before the Father. “In both Old and New Testament times, God justifies the ungodly, sanctifies the faithful, and rewards their new Spirit-wrought righteousness.” [John Piper]
So where are you in your walk? Are you listening to Satan or the Lord?
Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.
Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]
So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.
Numbers 36 Zelophehad had been a devoted father but his dear wife, who is not mentioned, bore him only daughters and no sons. In fact, she gave birth to five daughters! We know he was faithful because the daughters eulogized him in chapter 27 ““Our father died in the wilderness, although he was not part of the company of those that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.” Because the tribal lineage and legacy went through the male line, these daughters learned that their father’s name would be lost from among his family because of this rule of law. So they asked Moses to rule that they would be given them Zelophehad’s inheritance. God agreed with them. Fast forward to chapter 36 and we find that the heads of their tribe came to Moses with a “stickey-wicket” problem of marriage. If these daughters married out of the tribe then their inheritance would be given to the new husband and the new tribe and the land to the new husband. What to do!
Moses concurred with the men that these girls should only marry in their tribe so that in the year of the Jubilee there would not be a problem with the land inheritance. The girls agreed and they went on to marry men of their tribe.
God placed this long tale to remind us of how to honor our leaders. These daughters are a role model for obedience, decisions, and choices. They are mentioned in 3 chapters of Numbers and in Joshua—and always named in their birth order.
Numbers 6: The word blessing has the idea of pronouncing a wish of happiness given by one to another for the divine favor upon them from God. Dr. Constable notes that it is a benediction to the priests to offer for the sanctification for the people. It is often used in our liturgical blessings for people as they prepare to leave a religious service. Within it, the word “you” is noted six times, making it personal and applicable.
God desires to bless His people for their provision but also their protection. God knew they would need this as they traveled on towards the Promised Land. God also desires that His countenance would reflect His care in their lives, as well as His grace. Lastly, God desired that His peace would be upon them as they faced foes within and without. God desired all of this for His people then and now.
As you listen to it this blessing, stop and ponder the words. What is the meaning for me personally? Is there a part of that blessing I can appropriate for me now? How can I share this with another?
May the Lord Bless you and keep you as you read and meditate upon it.