Tag Archives: Sacrifice

Merry 2023 Christmas

I have to marvel at the simplicity of it all.  A simple manger, a simple couple, simple shepherds.  It was not a spectacle at all. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came in simple fashion.  No big procession, no great attendance, no important parents, no caring staff to swaddle the child.  Simply a baby being born.

I have to wonder at the grandeur.  A grand angelic host, a grand and glorious star, grand kings from afar.  This was not a normal birth, by any mean.  Even though it was simple by all means, it was grand in the sight of angels, kings, and even the heavens above.,

I have to marvel at the humility it took.  A humble father in Joseph, a humble mother in Mary, a humble Son of God coming in such fashion.  Joseph said not a word about the magnitude of His child, although He knew this baby would be the Messiah.  Mary only pondered these things in her heart when the shepherds came.  She did not speak of the confirmation they brought about her child.  Jesus could have come in a brilliant flash of light, with the angelic hots singing so loud in the heavens that all would hear.  But, He did not.  He came simply, but in grand fashion, with all the humility of a human baby boy.

The historical significance of His birth cannot be overstated.  Time stood still for a minute, and then changed direction.  No longer were years counting down, but they were counting up.  No longer would the calendar say BC, but it would say AD.  A mere mortal can do nothing to change time, but this child, this simple baby boy, completely changed the course of history.  His story is the very bedrock of history.

Today we celebrate His birth.  It was not on this day that he was actually born, for no one knows that exact day.  His birth is a mystery even to all of us who follow Him.  It is a mystery of the greatest magnitude.  Why would He leave His throne in heaven to come and save a wretch like me?  Why would He leave His throne to come into a lost and drying world, only to be crucified?  Why would the creator of the universe come in such a lowly fashion?  It is a mystery to all of us, yet it is a mystery revealed in His word if we look carefully.  It is a mystery that the Holy Spirit can help us to understand when we ask for that kind of wisdom.

We overlook all these things to merely give each other presents and gifts, and to have a feast of the food He has provided on this earth. We gather our families together, perhaps even praying over this food.  We overlook what He gave up and the sacrifice He became for our sins to have a party.  What are we doing?  What a I doing on this greatest day in history.

More importantly we forget why He came on the day He came.  He did not come so we would have these fasts, give these gifts and gather as a family. He came to show us the Father, to be beaten and bruised, and to die for our sins.   He came to fulfill the law.  That does not mean He came to cancel out the Ten Commandments.  Those commandments are as true today as ever.  He came to fulfill the sacrificial law.  No more would trespass offerings, sin offerings, burnt offerings, meat offerings and peace offerings be necessary.  He was our offering for all our sins.  He took away the sins of everyone who believes in Him. Yet He strengthened the Ten Commandments.  He said one who lusts commits adultery and that one who calls another a fool is the same as a murderer.

How will you honor His birth this Christmas.  Will you go abut things as you always have on Christmas Day?  Will you ignore the sacrifice He became for your sins, and only celebrate His birth?  If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, make today that day.  Perhaps He is your Savior, but you have not made Him Lord!  Give your life over to Him today.  Perhaps you are following Him with all your heart.  Give Him more today by rededicating your life to Him and setting forth on a new journey. 

On this Christmas Day, give a present to Jesus.  Give yourself to Him.  It is the least we can do.  Paul says, in Romans 12:1, that we should present ourselves a s living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.  I don’t know about you, but do not live as holy as I should.  I do not always give myself completely to Him. I do not always present myself to Him, but keep back parts of myself for my own foolish desires.  He has a better plan for me.  Paul says this is our reasonable service.  This is not the service of only those who minister the word, but for all of us, Present yourself to Him!  We look at Jesus as a present to us, but we forget to give the present of our lives to Him.  Make today that day!

Let us pray.

Jesus, I am a sinner.  I need your grace. Today, I turn from my sin and turn toward you.  I accept the sacrifice you became for my sin, and believe you rose from the dead.  I ask you to be my Savior. And, Lord, I also give my life to you.  You gave your life for me, and now I give my life back to you.  You have a better plan.  Be my Lord today.  I submit to your authority in my life. I give my days to you. I ask you t reveal your word to me and show me what I should do.  Give me wisdom each day, Lord, to fulfill your plan for my life. I praise you for this day.  Thank you, Lord.

Merry Christmas to you!

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He Appeared to Put Away Sin

Hebrews 9:18-24

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

It’s time for a reality check.  The question of the day is “Are you a sinner?”.  I am asking this using the definition of sin, which is disobedience to God.  It is not doing something wrong, or saying something wrong, or acting foolishly and harming others.  Sin is not an action that occurs between people, but it occurs between people and God.  When we do do wrong, it is sin against God, not against the other person, or dog, or tree.

But sin is more than just doing wrong.  Sin is indwelling in every man, woman and child.  We are born with it, and we will die with it.  It cannot leave us.  When Adam sinned in the garden, his seed became infected with sin, in a way. That sin seed travels down through time every time a person is born, and is transmitted by the seed of a man.  It is inescapable.  You and I will always be sinners.  There is no way to avoid having that seed within us.  There was only one who was ever born who did not have this seed of sin, because His seed came from the Holy Ghost.  That is Jesus, who was born of a virgin.  Therefore, He is the only one who can ever claim He is sinless, and He did walk a sinless life while on this earth.  The rest of us will be cursed with this sin seed the rest of our years.

The nation of Israel was no different.  They were sinners, and needed someone to make atonement for them to cover their sin before God.  Every year, only once a year, there was a solemn day called the day of atonement.  We have spoken of this before during this study on Hebrews.  The High priest would take two goats and let one go (the scapegoat) a symbol of sin leaving the camp.  The other goat would be sacrificed on the altar and the blood would be taken and sprinkled on the mercy seat, which covered the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.  It was the only time anyone entered the Holy of Holies all year.  This ceremony took place every year to make atonement for the sins of the people.  Every year.  For centuries it had been this way.  The pattern was set (see my last post on the Pattern of Things).

Then came Jesus.  He was a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  He was sinless, not having the seed of sin within His body due to the virgin birth. He was the only one who lived, or ever will live, a sinless life.  He was offered up on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin.  When He died, the veil of the temple rent from top to bottom, signifying the Holy of Holies was now available for all to enter.  The mercy of God, the law and the power were now all available to us on a personal basis.  No longer a need for anyone to stand between us and God.  The confessional in a Catholic church is so different than this picture.  I’m sorry, but I can go straight to Jesus with my confession, and he forgives me without the need of Hail Mary.  In fact, Mary can do nothing to cleanse me of the sin that so easily besets me.

Jesus is our mediator, as we looed at before.  He is the one who stands before God and makes supplication for us.  He is the one we go to for cleansing, for sanctification, for deliverance, for all things God has for us.  There is no one else in heaven or earth who comes close to the power and authority that Jesus has.  The promises of God are delivered to us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  There are thousands of these promises throughout the scriptures, all for us.  The only thing we have to do is accept this offering that has been made for us, the offering of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

Paul said that he died daily.  What exactly was he talking about?  He was saying that each day he must get up and die to the sin that still is in his body, that seed of sin that causes us to have wayward thoughts, or do unholy things, or say words that can hurt and make others turn away from Christ.  Christ is our strength, and we can do all things through Him.  But in order to trust Him completely, we must give ourselves completely to Him.  When we start to trust in ourselves, that is when we will fall.  WE have no power against sin.  It is Christ who is the overcomer, and we must allow Him the authority in our lives to help us overcome also.  The only way we can do this is to die to ourselves, so that Christ might live in us.  A John the Baptists said “He must increase, I must decrease.”

The seed of sin has not left my body.  It is still real, and it is still affecting my daily actions.  After all, I am living in a fleshly body while on this earth.  As long as I do, sin will be in my being.  Jesus has eradicated my sin, but it is my obligation to make sure I confess that sin each day to God, and ask for His forgiveness. I also must ask forgiveness from others if I sin against them. Jesus places a high score on forgiveness.   It was one of the last things He said from the cross.  Jesus said if I don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us.  Unforgiveness is sin, and we must steer clear of this.  Sin will knock on our door constantly, trying to make us turn from God.  But God promises that no temptation will come into our lives that we are not strong enough to handle.

We have an appointment with God.  We have an appointed time with death, and none of us knows what day that will be.  Only God knows where this falls on the calendar.  He only opportunity we have to make things right with God is before this death appointment takes place.  Here is no purgatory where we shall be, and where God will give us another chance to accept His offering after our death.  There is only heaven or hell.  It is time you made your choice on where you will go.  Hell is reserved for sinners, for those who are disobedient to God.  We are all sinners until we accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on that Cross.  Have you confessed your sin to Him and turned away from it?  Have you trusted in Him as your Lord and Savior?  If your answer is yes, Praise the Lord!  If it is no, please do so right now, and Jesus will meet with you right where you are.  Be saved by His grace today!

The First Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:1-6

 

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.

I think the book of Leviticus is one of the hardest books to read in the Bible.  Many would say First Chronicles, with the listing of name after name after name, is the most difficult.  Leviticus is blood, blood, blood.  Who wants to read that?  Consider that the first chapter explains the burnt offering; the second brings the meat offering; the third, the peace offering; the fourth, the offerings for sins of ignorance: the fifth and sixth, the trespass offering.  Then the offerings are made to consecrate Aaron and his sons in 6-8.  Blood, blood, blood.  Every day, every hour, blood was offered on the altar.

Before this, in Exodus, Moses is given the instruction on how to build the tabernacle where these sacrifices would be made.  God is very specific with Moses.  He gives him a verbal picture of exactly how this tabernacle must be constructed, all the way down to the type of fabric and wood to be used and the number of holders for the curtains.  God is very specific and tells Moses several times to make sure he builds it according to the pattern he was given – no deviation.  Moses collected all the materials from the people, God gave the skills to certain men to accomplish the task, and the tabernacle was built.  His all happened immediately after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and that tabernacle would serve the people all 40 years in the wilderness and many more years in the Promised Land.  Hey were even given very specific instruction on who would carry the materials from place to place (the Levites), and how to take it down and put it up.

There were three parts to the tabernacle.  There was the general tabernacle, where all the people would bring their sacrifices.  This part of the tabernacle contained the altar and the Laver, where the priests would wash the blood from their hands before administering the next offering.  Hi was more like a slaughterhouse than a place of worship it would seem to us.  The next part was the Holy place, where the able of shewbread, the candlesticks and the alter of incense were placed.  And finally, behind a thick veil, was the ark of the covenant, which represented the very presence of God.  He pattern was clear to Moses, and everything was done according to the pattern.  Once the tabernacle was complete, Moses was given the ordinances in Leviticus.  Blood, blood, blood.

There are some denominations today who say we should just pay attention to the New Testament. After all, this is where Jesus walked the earth, taught, performed miracle, was buried and rose again.  This is where Paul writes so many letters explaining biblical principles we should live by.  His is where Peter, James and John all wrote to us and told us the disciplines that we should practice to become disciples of Jesus.  And also tucked in there is the book we are now studying, Hebrews.  No one needed a deeper understanding of the price Jesus paid than the Jews.  The Gentiles were easy to preach to because they only had false gods they believed in, and none of those false gods could stand up to the power of the Gospel message.  But the Jews served the same God as Paul was preaching.  Hey already knew this God of all Gods and had to be convinced even more that Jesus was truly the Messiah and that their system of sacrifices was no longer necessary.  This was extremely hard for them to accept.

Leviticus is essential to each one of us understanding the price that Christ paid, not just for the Jews, but for all of us. We could take days, weeks, even months explaining the significance of each offering and each part of the tabernacle, and all the feasts and the ordinances that had to be followed.  It is well worth the study to do this, but I am not going to go that deep here in this blog.  I will save that for you to do.  But I highly recommend you do, or you will never know the extent of what Jesus has done for you.  Always remember that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11).  Always remember that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  There is none righteous, no not one (Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3).  These words are not for just the Jews, but for all of mankind.  We all need a blood sacrifice to atone for our sins, and Paul here is pointing us to that blood sacrifice, Jesus himself.

The priests on a regular basis went into the first part of the tabernacle to make perform the ordinances of all the sacrifices., Day after day, they slaughtered rams, lambs, cattle and doves making atonement for the sins of themselves and the people.  Day after day, smoke rose up from the tabernacle and the aroma wafted through the air.  Like a giant bar-b-que, the smell drifted throughout the camp of Israel, reminding them constantly of their need for atonement.  This was ongoing.  This was continual. This was commanded as part of the covenant between God and the Hebrew people.

It is essential for our understanding of why Jesus had to die to understand these things.  We need a good understanding of the necessity of a blood sacrifice and what it represents.  Without this, we merely can accept Jesus as our Savior, but will never recognize Him as Lord, because we never will recognize fully what he has done for us.  When Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), this is exactly what he was talking about.  He was saying that He came to fulfill all the sacrificial requirements of the law, He became our burnt offering, our meat offering, our sin offering, our peace offering and our trespass offering.  Jesus Christ is our Redeemer!

This is the service of the priests on the first part of the tabernacle.  It was done as a service to God and a service for the people. Once the tabernacle was complete it went on every day for every soul in the camp.  Ongoing slaughter, ongoing fire, ongoing smoke, ongoing aroma, ongoing blood.  Not a pretty picture in all actuality, but a horrifying scene for most.  This is why Jesus had to pay a horrifying price.  Oh, the depths and the riches of Christ’s love for us. 

Jesus paid it all. 

All to Him I owe. 

Sin had left a crimson stain. 

He washed it white as snow.

A Name Like No Other

Philippians 2:9

” Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,

and given him a name which is above every name:”

Jesus death on the cross was the most humiliating, horrific thing that could happen to any human being.  It is true that the Romans crucified thousands of people on crosses, but rarely did they beat them 39 times, as they did with Jesus.  I doubt any of the others wore a crown of thorns, which pierced deeply into His skull.  His garment was gambled for by soldiers.  All of this to an innocent man who had done no crime at all.

And Jesus just let it happen.  He could have called legions of angels to His rescue, but he did not (Matt 26:53).  He was quiet before the Herod (Luke 23:9) and before Pilate (Matt 27:12-14), the two men who could have let Him go free.  He knew He had to go through all this, and He knew exactly what He would have to go through. The putting aside of self this displayed was monumental.  He gave all of himself for our redemption.  To fully understand the depth of His sacrifice, you must read Leviticus and see what the law required as a sacrifice for sin.  Jesus paid it all.

Imagine you have one son, and that son has become extremely successful in life.  He is at the top of his field, and everyone looks up to him.  I imagine you would be very proud of that son, and your hopes and dreams for him would be amazing.  Then one day, he is running his usual morning run, and he comes upon a house on fire.  He hears the sirens in the distance, and he sees two adults running out of the house, screaming that they can’t find their 4-year-old girl anywhere.  Your son goes running into the burning house and soon the young girls comes running out the front door, but your son does not. He has been consumed in the fire.

The loss you would feel would be astronomical, but there would also be a huge sense of pride at the way he gave his life for someone else. I imagine God felt some sense of pride that His Son, His only Son, did all this.  I can’t help but think of the smile that must have been on God’s face when he greeted Jesus once again in heaven. What a glorious day that must have been.

So for the mighty work that Jesus had done on the cross, God highly exalted Jesus.  This is exactly what God wants us today for His son, highly exalt Him.  We need to lift Him up in all we say and do.  This is our duty, and it’s the least we can do for the one who gave His life for ours.

And God has exalted His name above every other name.  I remember before I got saved, His name was a curse word in my mouth.  It still is a curse word for a majority of our population.  Have you ever thought about the fact that they don’t use Mohammed, or Buddha, or any other God as a curse word – it’s always Jesus.  I can’t really explain that, but I now know that power of His name as I never have before.  The enemy tries to tear His name down, but that name is above all other names.  That will not change.  Ever.

 

Lord, help me to always exalt your name in everything I say and do.  Help me never to tarnish the name of my Savior and Lord.  I owe my all to Him.

Can I Give Up?

Philippians 2:6

” Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

To fully understand verses 7 and 8, Paul first tells us that Jesus was equal to God.  This in itself would get the Jews al riled up, and we see many times in his journeys Paul is run out of town by the Jews, or is kicked out of the synagogue.  When this happened, Paul would then preach to thee Gentiles.  The thought that anyone was equal to God was blasphemy to the Jews.  Only the Messiah could make that claim, and they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

The problem is that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  He fulfilled every scripture from the Old Testament that pointed to the Messiah, among them Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, which both have specific things about Messiah that Jesus went through.  He even quoted from Psalm 22 on the cross when He cried out “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1, Matt 27:46).

Jesus Himself said He was equal to the Father on several occasions. John 10:30 He said “I and my Father are one”.  In John 5:18 it says that the scribes and Pharisees were angry with Him because He said God was His Father, and they thought that implied He was equal with God.  He said He always did what the Father told Him to do (John 5:19).

Jesus is seated in heaven, at the right hand of God (Mark 6:19).  He is the Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8), He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29).  Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16).  His name is high above any other name (Phil 2:9).  There should be no doubt in our minds that Jesus was universal royalty, high above anything or anyone who ever lived or ever will live.

He was also the Word of God (John 1:14).  The Word that created all things (John 1:1-3).  The Word that pierces my soul and spirit (Heb 4:12).  The Word of God has all authority in heaven and earth. (Matt 28:18).

All of this is who Jesus is.  All of this is what He lived with throughout eternity, and will live with for the rest of time.  But for 33 years, He gave it all up.  Come back tomorrow and find out more about that.  My question to myself is -what am I willing to give up for Him?  How much can I put aside my pride and my place in society to follow Him.  He gave it all up for me!

 

Lord, help me to give my all to you. After all, you have given me everything I have – why am I so reluctant to give it away to serve you?  Why am I so reluctant talking to people about you and about their eternal destination?  Help me to look at your example and follow it.  You gave everything for me – Help me give everything for you.