In the series, we have explored quite a number of areas of the Old Testament

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9, Part 10 )
8. Offering Of Sacrifice (Part 11)

Since Part 7 we have been talking about 3 things that the priest need to do on a daily basis.

The 3 things are
1. Burning Incense
2. Lighting The Lamps
3. Offering Animals  

In our previous post, we have said that it is a good thing to offer sacrifice. But what is important is for the sacrifice to be acceptable before God. That is not about the quantity or the quality of the sacrifice. But rather it is about whether we offer our sacrifice in accordance to God.

That is why Priest ought to know the rules and regulations concerning sacrifice. All of Gods regulation regarding offering are recorded in Leviticus Chapter 1. We covered 3 of the rules. The animals must be without blemish, the offering must be done willingly and it had to be offered at the prescribed place of worship.

Now let us continue this study.

Pt 1:  To Lay Hands On The Head

“Then he shall put his hand on the
  head of the burnt offering, and it
  will be accepted on his behalf to
  make atonement for him.” – YHWH (Lev 1:4)

The 4th rule is that the one making the offering must put his hand on the head of the animal.When the hands are on the head, he is joined to his offering. It feels as though his sin was transferred onto the animal and the animal had to die on his behalf. 

In the New testament, Jesus is the lamb that was sacrificed. We must be joined together with Jesus. Only then can our sin be forgiven. For Jesus tell us that no one comes to the father except through him. Are we now joined to Jesus?

When we are baptised, we are baptised into Christ. We have put on Christ. It is at baptism when our his blood cleanse us of sin, and his life is in us. That is when we are joined to Jesus, and that is a blessing given to us by God. That is why we are forgiven and we can inherit eternal life. That is why Christians ought to be joined with the Lord and not be separated from Jesus.

Today we have Christians who are joined to the Lord at baptism, but over time they draw themselves away from God. Even though they claim they still have faith and they pray to God. But their lives are no longer joined with Christ. It is something we often neglect, have we joined our lives to the Lord?

How do we achieve that?

“And whatever you do in word or deed,
  do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
  giving thanks to God the Father
  through Him.” – Paul Col 3:17)

We must do all in the name of Jesus,that also serves as reminder that  we must never transgress the teaching of God. So have we went beyond the teaching of Jesus? Are our actions for ourselves or for the Lord? The many things that we love, are they contrary to the teaching of God?

If one actions do not please God, we need to control ourselves and not sin against him. Then we can receive the grace of God and the blessing to be joined with God. Eventually we will receive eternal glory with him, that is why we need to keep ourselves in Jesus and not depart from him.

Pt 1.1  The Person That Lays The Hand

Who is to lay hand on the sacrifice? It is the man making the offering.  The priest could only help the man to make his offering. But it is the person that must place his hand onto the head of the animal. This is an acknowledgement of sin and a submission to God’s method of forgiving sin.

Today there are many who believe that Jesus is God and he had the power to forgive sin. But are we truly willing to acknowledge our sins and repent before God? We all know the reality behind this.  There are many who are baptised into Christ, but not everyone had truly repented. Many opt for baptism because they have their own hidden agenda.

Those who are like that have missed the most important reason for baptism. The true purpose of baptism is obey the command of Jesus ,  believing that he had the power to forgive sin. We need to believe that his blood is present at the baptismal site. After baptism, one need to repent from his previous sin and make a resolve to be a new man.

This is similar to putting your hands on the head of the sacrifice. It is to acknowledge your sin as well as Gods method to forgive sin. Only by doing so can the sin of men be forgiven. Even though we know this, but a burning question is still within our minds.

Pt 1.2 If God Wants All to Be Saved, why cant he save everyone?

Sometimes we ask, if God wants to save the world, how come there are people who are not saved? It appears that there are people who can withstand the will of God. As the result, even though God wants everyone to be saved, he is not able to save everyone.

But is this the right perspective? Does that mean that God had no power to save everyone?

God had the power to save man, but not everyone is willing to admit his sin and repent from his sin. If a man continue to sin against God and not treat it as a problem. Is it the problem of God or the problem of man?

If one were to acknowledge his sin, and ask God to preserve him so that he will not sin against him instead. Then during the times when we sin against him in our weakness , as long as we are willing to come before God and acknowledge our sin and repent, he is willing to forgive us.

But if we insist our way and continue to sin, we will eventually be judged by God. That is why we need to offer sacrifice, we need to place our hands before the head of the sacrifice and to knowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness.

 Pt2 : To Kill The Offering Himself

“He shall kill the bull before the Lord;
  and the priests”- YHWH (Lev 1:5)

The man who brought the offering must kill the animal himself. This is an act not done by the priest. In the same way, we do not just pray to God and ask him to forgive us. We need to make the resolve to kill the sinner within us and not allow it to continue living

That is why Paul said

“What shall we say then?
  Shall we continue in sin
  that grace may abound?  
 
Certainly not! How shall
  we who died to sin live
  any longer in it?
 
Or do you not know that as
  many of us as were baptized
  into Christ Jesus were baptized
  into His death? 
  Therefore we were buried with
  Him through baptism into death,
   that just as Christ was raised from
  the dead by the glory of the Father,
  even so we also should walk in
  newness of life.” – Paul (Rom 6:1-4)

There are Christians who did not put to death their old and sinful self. They know that they need to lay their hands on the head of the sacrifice but they have forgotten to kill the offering. That is why Paul continue to tell them

“Likewise you also, reckon
  yourselves to be dead indeed
  to sin, but alive to God in
  Christ Jesus our Lord” –Paul (Rom 6:11)

We need to make a resolve to kill our sinful self and not allow it to come back to life. Baptism is a sacrament that allow us to be buried together with Christ. The moment we get out of the water, your old sinful self have died. We have risen together with Christ with the live of Christ within us.

Pt 2.1 Putting To death Our Sinful Self

We need to become a new man, and that is something Christians often forget. That is why we remain our old sinful self with no change in us. But if we are not buried, how can we be resurrected?

Since we are buried with Christ, can we allow our old self to continue living?  What do I mean by that? How often are we interested in the matter of sin? How often are we stirred to think about and to commit sin?

A person who is dead will have no interest in his surrounding, no amount of stimulation can move a dead man. For he is dead and he can feel nothing. So is our old sinful self dead or is he merely sleeping? Perhaps it only lose a bit of consciousness.

Should we continue to sin so that God grace can abound? We need to ask God to help us, we need to have a life of spiritual cultivation and nurture. We need to prevent our old self from coming back to life. We must no longer continue in the path of sin. We are not to draw near to places of sin, escape from youthful lust and draw near to those who call upon the Lord with a pure heart.

Only then can we be saved, it is a matter of our choice. The purpose of baptism is to bury our old sinful self with Christ. So that on the last day we will be resurrected and could join the Lord in heaven. If we truly believe, let us bury our old man. For Resurrection can only happen after burial. We need to remember this

 Pt3 : To Sprinkle The Blood Around The Altar

“and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall
  bring the blood and sprinkle the
  blood all around on the altar that
  is by the door of the tabernacle of
  meeting. “-YHWH (Lev 1:5)

Here it tell us that the priest have to sprinkle blood all around the altar. why is this necessary? Would that not make a mess? The sight of all these blood, will it not traumatise us and leave a deep and scary impression within us?

Why did God choose such a method? Why do we need to do it? Will God only be appeased when he see blood all over the altar? Is God so obsessed about seeing blood? Will blood give him satisfaction so that he will have the mood to forgive?

The blood is not for God to see, but it is for men to see it. It serve to remind us the reason why the altar in the sanctuary  is full of blood. If we had not sin, then there is no blood there. If we have not sin, does the animal have to die on our behalf? It is to remind us of sin and an acknowledgement of it. For one must make a resolve to repent from sin.

“For if we sin wilfully after we
  have received the knowledge
  of the truth, there no longer
   remains a sacrifice for sins, 
  but a certain fearful expectation
  of judgment, and fiery indignation
  which will devour the adversaries” –Author (Heb 10:26-27)

Here it tells us that if we sin wilfully, there will not be a sacrifice of sin. He went on to tell us of a greater sin

“Of how much worse punishment,
  do you suppose, will he be thought
   worthy who has trampled the Son
  of God underfoot, counted the blood
  of the covenant by which he was
   sanctified a common thing, and
  insulted the Spirit of grace?” – Author (Heb 10:29)

Can a person trample the son of God? He is in heaven and we are on earth. Perhaps we may not be able to do it physically, but in many aspect Christians often trample the Lord underfoot. We treat the blood of the Lord as common, we choose to sin against God again and again, then ask the Lord to forgive us. Is this not trampling the blood of Christ? Isn’t this the same as brining another lamb and allowing his blood to be spilled once again?

There are times we treat the blood of Christa s common, we think that it is a free past to sin. All we need is to bring a new lamb to be killed. Then our sin are cleanse once again. Those who do that are treating the blood of Christ as common, for we allow his blood to be spilled again and again, to be sprinkled around the altar again an again.

That is why we need to resolve not to sin, when we sin in the moment of weakness, let us come before God and ask his forgiveness.

 Pt 3.1 :The Misconception Of Grace

There are times we did not sin on purpose, we try to restraint ourselves and struggle within ourselves. Then we can come before God and ask for forgiveness. For we know that we have tried out best to prevent ourselves from sinning

But if we sin wilfully, if we take sinning as a habit, there is no struggle, no attempt to stop it. We think that we can just sin and ask God for forgiveness. Then we are like a child who simply say sorry whenever he commits a mistake.  They only say sorry because they are caught, there are no real apology.

But if we choose to punish them, even if they say sorry. Then they will not make the same mistake again.

This concept is similar to having plasters for our wound. We wrap our wounds in plaster when we are hurt. You will not go around hurting yourself just because you have plenty of plasters at your disposal. But in an unfortunate circumstances we hurt ourselves, we can use the plaster to bandage our wounds.

In the same way, Jesus had used his blood to forgive our sins. We cannot go around sinning without remorse. We need to be careful and be cautious. Just like when we are using knife and scissors. If we are hurt by accident, then we will use the plaster. 

But if we sin wilfully, treating the blood of Christ as common. We are trampling on the son of God who had sacrifice on the cross for us. Let us remember how he died for our sins, let us not crucify him again. Let us preserve ourselves and not sin, let us not allow his blood to be spilled once again.

Pt 4 : To remove The Skin Of The Offering

And he shall skin the burnt 
offering and cut it into its pieces.” – YHWH (LEv 1:6 )

God tell us to remove the skin of our offering. The skin represent our external appearance. It represent our self righteousness and our vain glory and reputation. At the same time, the animal is to be cut into pieces.  So that no one will be able to know what offering that was offered.

Pride, glory and reputation can clause our downfall. It can create a lot of unhappiness. Many a times we refuse to give way because we are unable to put down our dignity and self respect. There are also time we are unable to let go of our inferiority complex, and that affect our attitude.

For some are proud, while some are always feeling inferior. these are extremes that we must not have. We need to remove the skin of our sacrifice. 

Let us consider the example of Saul

“I have sinned; yet honor me now,
  please, before the elders of my
  people and before Israel, and return
  with me, that I may worship the
  Lord your God.”- Saul (1 Sam 15:30)

Saul confessed his sin before Samuel, for he had feared the people and followed their will. That is why he went against God and disobey the command of Samuel. But Saul wanted Samuel to go back with him to protect his reputation. He did not want the elder of Israel to see that God had not forgiven him.

On the surface it look like Saul had offered up a burnt offering, but he did not remove the skin of his sacrifice. He considered his dignity and honour above all else. Is that true repentance? Is that a true acknowledgement of sin? No, for he had said that it was the people that forced him to sin. As the result God had rejected Saul as king, for he did not remove the skin of his sacrifice.

We need to consider whenever we ask God for forgiveness. For our prayers are just like the offering of the Old Testament. Have we remove the skin from our sacrifice? If we do not God will not be pleased. Sadly today we consider our appearance more than anything and we failed in this aspect.

Removal of sin is painful, it can sometimes be a dangerous endeavour. When Jesus tore down the mask of the Pharisees and declared 7 woes on them, he peeled their skin layer by layer. But the Pharisees hated Jesus so much that they wanted to kill him.

Jesus is not being cruel, he wanted them to see their own hypocrisy. It is out of the love of God, to prevent them from perishing in their sin. For that is like cancer, it can only be removed by scrapping of all the cells and the good cells around. Only then can it be healed, can the body be whole again.

Pt 5 : To wash the animal with water

but he shall wash its entrails
  and its legs with water.” – YHWH (Lev 1:9 )

God tells us to wash the entrails and legs of the sacrifice with water. It had to be clean both externally and internally. Human being tend to focus on external appearance only. But Let us remember to cleanse the inside as well. We need to ensure that our sacrifice is holy and clean.

Let us not be double minded, a goody two shoes within the church and a wolf outside of church. For people like that are not true Christians. A True Christians knows his weakness and is willing to change himself.

He will change himself by relying on the word of God and the spirit. For he know he is far from perfect. He is a man who is diligent to watch his conduct. So that he will be a sacrifice acceptable to God.

Pt 6 :  Burn the offering completely

“And the priest shall burn all
  on the altar as a burnt sacrifice,
  an offering made by fire, a 
  sweet aroma to the Lord.” – YHWH (Lev 1:9 )

When a sacrifice is made, all must be laid on the altar. Verse 12 tell us that the head and the flesh must be on the altar. The head represent our ideas and thinking, the flesh represent our strengths. We are to offer everything to God, for God had give each of us different talents.

There are some well developed in the head, while some are strong with the limbs. We need to allow God to use every aspect of us. But more often than not we choose to offer them to the world. For we feel that the world appreciate our talents and strengths more than God.

We forget that we are all redeemed by God. We need to offer ourselves to serve him. There are many things we can do for the Lord. Let us not look down on ourselves. Even if we think we do not have any talents, we can at least continue to pray for the church. We are still able to offer up our offering before the Lord .

All it takes is a heart of sincerity and truth.  Let us continue to pray for the church and our house. Then we are all be a good and complete sacrifice for God.

Conclusion

Part 11-12 talks about the 9 rules  let us recap them quickly.

1. Offering must without blemish
2. Offering must be offered willingly
3. Offering must be made in a prescribed place of worship
4. One making the offering must lay hands on the head
5. The one making the offering must kill the animal
6. The blood of the animal must be sprinkled around the altar
7. The skin of the offering must be removed
8. The offering must be washed in water
9. The offering must be burnt completely.

Introduction

While Jesus is on earth, he is called the good teacher. The gospel records of many of his teachings. But we as Christians often forget the teaching of Jesus. In the gospel there were many things that Jesus had told us to do likewise.

Even though we often read of them  and hear them from our pulpit. We often find it difficult to practice what we have learn. That is mainly because we tend to focus and learn from the bad examples around us.

We know that there are good and bad people all around. They can be our friends, relatives, even church brothers and sisters. But who will we choose to follow? That is a choice we must make.

Let us be mindful that at the end of our lives. God will judge us for all that we do. That is why we need to listen to the word of God. Follow the good examples that are given. While Jesus was on earth, he gave us a few examples to follow and he encourage us to go and do likewise. Let us examine 2 of the stories today.

1. The Parable Of The Good Samaritan

(Extracted from Lk 10:36-37)

Jesus : “So which of these three do you think
                was neighbor to him who fell among 
                the thieves?”
Lawyer: “He who showed mercy on him.”
Jesus : “Go and do likewise”

This a parable that many Christians should be familiar with. it is the parable of the good Samaritan. In that story Jesus did not just praise the Samaritan for the good deed. He told each and everyone of us to go and do likewise.

In this post we will look at this parable. For Jesus was talking about 3 different type of people and three different attitudes in life.

The first group are the robbers. they are those who robbed the man and beat him up

The second group are the Levites and the Priests. They are the ones who know the word of God. They understood that it is their duty to help. They choose not to obey the truth, they went away, leaving the man injured on the road. 

The third group is the Samaritan. The Jews had little regard for the Samaritans. They viewed them as half Jews, unclean gentiles. But this man fear God and followed the word of God. He choose to help the man.

For he knew that if he were to fall among thieves. He would wish to get help from others. Since there is a man in need lying on the ground before him .Why not take the initiative and help him?

What will our choice be? who will we follow? Let us examine these 3 attitudes in life closer.

1.1 The Robbers Attitude.

The robber represented people who snatch and take things from others. Their motto in life is most likely “What is mine, is mine. What is yours, is mine as well”

They will do everything within their power to snatch from others. For they regarded those item as theirs. They felt that they have the right to take from others. They are without morals, using their fist as the truth. They build their happiness upon the sorrows of others. They built their achievement on the labour of others.

We often see such characters in our work place. They are the ones who does no work and seek recognition for the works of others. While everyone is celebrating their success, these are the ones who came to destroy that happiness.

Their behaviour are just like children. They are like children with toys and refuse to share them with others. But when they see others with better toys, they wanted to snatch it for themselves. When they did not get what they want, they make a scene and cry.

When they grow up, they develop the robbers mentality as they grow up. The only difference is that they no longer snatch toys. They ended up snatching up the jobs, wife , and possession of others.

1.1.1 Nipping The Problem At The Bud

These are the people who need to learn the words of God, they need to be lead into the right path. But today, many of us choose to remain silent, for we are afraid of troubles. As the result, we allow that evil to continue. Even though we feel sorry for the victim, we continue to insist that our children are right.

It is our choice that determines if our children becomes a preacher or a robber. Let us be mindful with what we teach and how we nurture our children.Perhaps today the things they are snatching are not valuable. But the consequences of allow that conduct is great.

For the bible tells us

“Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
  Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;
   For the Lord will plead their cause,
  And plunder the soul of those who
  plunder them.” – The Wise (Prov 22:22-23)

Sometimes we wonder, why would one rob the poor? Wouldn’t the rich be a better target? But the truth is that the rich is often too powerful to be robbed, they can take action against those who robbed them. That is why many pick on the poor who had no protection. For these people are weak and unable to fight back. At the most they could only curse you for what you have done.

Just as the famous song from Abba reads “The winner takes it all, The loser has to fall”

But here the wise reminds us, that God will plead the case of the poor, one day he will judge and plunder those who plunder the poor. Let us not have the attitude of the robber. For God will judge us one day.

1.2 The Priest And Levite Attitude

The Levites and the priest represented those with a selfish attitude in life. Their motto in life probably sound like this, “What is yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine”. They keep everyone separated, nothing it related. They will often say “That is not my business”.

Such attitude is predominately found in Eastern culture. Sometimes it can be seen in Chinese culture as well. Being an ethnic Chinese, sometimes we are harmed by our own proverbs. We have many of such idioms and sayings, even though they sound like good advice, but in fact they are lacking in morals.  Ironically those are the proverbs we tend to follow.

Today when we want to help others, we may hear this comment.  “自扫门前雪, 莫管他人瓦上霜” (zì​ sǎo​ mén ​qián​ xuě​, mò​ guǎn tā ​rén​ wǎ​ shàng​ shuāng​). This phrase when translated literally reads. “You sweep the snow outside your door, do not bother about the frost on the roof of  others .

To put it simply, it means “Mind your own business, do not poke your nose on the business of others.

This is the advice we often here from our elders. We often regard them as good advice. On the surface it seems fair, for it is not our problem. But on occasion when we are hurt, we wish that someone would come and help us. At the very least, at least call in the ambulance for us.

Today if our house was broken into, and we saw our neighbours refusing to help. We would question them why did they choose not to help. But that is only fair as well, for if we cannot have the love to help others, we have no right to demand others to love us.

Sometimes in our modern world, we become like Priest and Levites. We refuse to care or to help others. Let us learn not to be selfish, let us be willing to help one another. For we never know when we would be in trouble and we need the help of others.  If we refuse to help those in need today, one day they will choose to ignore us when we need help.

That is why Paul reminds us

“We then who are strong ought to bear
  with the scruples of the weak, and not
  to please ourselves.
  
Let each of us please his neighbor for his
 
good, leading to edification. 
   For even Christ did not please Himself;
  but as it is written, “The reproaches of those
  who reproached You fell on Me.”””- Paul (Rom 15:1-3)

God had made some strong and some weak, some rich and some poor. There are those who are smart while there are also some who are slow to learn. No matter who we are, there will come a time when we need help from others. Let us be willing to help them first.

In the same way, today if we are in the position to help others. Let us provide our help. For God did not bless us so that we can boast about the blessing we receive. While it is fair for us to enjoy the blessing of God, let us remember to help those who are needy around us. Let us share the grace of God with them.

1.3: The Attitude Of The Samaritan

The attitude of the good Samaritan is the attitude that Jesus liked. Their motto in life is “What is mine is yours”.  They are willing to share what they have and help those who are in need. They are willing to do so because they had received blessings from God.

As they enjoy their blessing, they did not forget to share them with others.  Jesus once said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. For one to keep receiving blessing, it would appear that he is blessed. For it look as if they have enough to last a life time.

There was a man who once asked his son, if he wants to give or to receive. The child replied, he wants to receive blessing from others. But the father reminded him,  only beggars receive from others all the time. We must learn to give for it is more blessed to give than to receive.

“There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
  And there is one who withholds more than is right,
  But it leads to poverty.
  The generous soul will be made rich,
  And he who waters will also be watered himself.” – Solomon (Prov 11:24-25)

Can we agree with this? Most says that if we give away, we will lose something. If we have 10 dollars, we give away 2 , we would only have 8 dollars left. This is true if we consider the things we have given away. 

But if we consider the blessings that we receive, the equation becomes not absolute. For God will see that we have given away and share his blessing. He will be willing to give us more.

For proverbs tell us

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
  And He will pay back what he has given.”-Solomon (Prov 19:17)

Indeed if we lend to the poor, it is like throwing cash into the sea. For we know that when we are in trouble, the poor cannot help us in the same way. That is only true if we expect to receive help from man, that is why we will become disappointed.

But the truth is that we ought to provide help without expecting anything in return. We provide help  because of our conscience. For we know that God had given us the ability to help. IF we know that the blessing came from God, we will be willing to share it with others. For we know that the grace of God will not stop.

We may have used up our cash, but the grace of God is ever flowing. The blessing of God is always enough.

1.3.1: The Child And The Beggar

There was a child who asked his dad for money to buy ice cream. On the way to the ice cream shop he saw an old beggar. The beggar said “Have pity on me, I have not eaten the whole day.”

The boy saw the beggar and have compassion. For he knew how hunger felt like. So he gave his only 2 dollar to the man, for he needs it more than him. When he return home, his father saw that he is without ice cream.

The father was curious so he asked the boy what happened. The boy told him about the beggar. The father was so happy, and he gave him 5 dollars. The boy was elated. he said “My teacher said that when you lend to the poor, God will pay you back. I did not expect God to pay up so quickly”

Let us learn to be like the Samaritan, let us take heed of the word of God. For Jesus tells us to go and do likewise.

2. Mary And Her Flask

“Let her alone. Why do you trouble her?
  She has done a good work for Me.
  For you have the poor with you always,
  and whenever you wish you may do them
   good; but Me you do not have always.
  She has done what she could. She has come
  beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 
   Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel
  is preached in the whole world, what this
  woman has done will also be told as a memorial
  to her.”- Jesus (Mk 14:6-9 )

Is Jesus telling us to praise Mary? No, even though Mary did a good work, she is not looking for the praises of man. Jesus wanted us to follow the example of Mary. What is this example?

There are many things we do that are good in the eyes of man. But which of these things are beautiful in the eyes of God? One thing we can be sure, the disciples did not regard the work of Mary as beautiful.

 But there were some who were indignant
  among themselves, and said, “Why was this
  fragrant oil wasted?”- Mark (Mk 14:4)

Many of them are upset as the perfume is worth 300 denarii. We often think only Judas was upset, but here it tell us that the other disciples are upset as well. For it is worth a lot of money and it is about a year wages. The flask would likely have looked like this.

(Source http://www.graceperfumes.net/)

 2.1. Seeing True Value

We often regard the monetary value of the gift we receive. Sometimes when we see one being elated over a simple gift, we become perplexed.  But the chinese too have an interesting saying that describes a simple gift.

“千里送鹅毛,礼轻情意重” (qiān​ lǐ ​sòng ​’é ​máo​, lǐ ​qīng ​qíng​ yì ​zhòng)

Translated. “To send a goose feathers over a thousand miles, its a light gift with heavy affection”

Indeed a gift may be simple and inexpensive. But let us remember the affection and love behind it. If we think from that perspective, than we would view the offering of Mary differently. ‘

2.2 Doing what Is Good From Gods Perspective

The disciples are upset, for they felt that it is a bad deed. For the perfume could be sold to help the poor. Jesus taught us to love the poor. It is the not something that is bad. But yet we see Jesus rebuking the disciples. He regarded the offering of Mary as good.

In a similar fashion, today we may try to do good, only to receive mockery and rebuke from those around us. But over here Jesus praised Mary for her work.  We need to consider, is our work good from the perspective of men or the perspective of God?

A good heart may produce a wrong action. Good intention doesn’t guarantees good action. A mother may love her child and accede to all their request. But such love bring harm to the child. For they will be spoilt.

We cannot say that just because we did something out of a good heart. It must be right before God. For our thoughts are limited, and our judgement is based on the standard of man. We cannot ignore the words of God and act out of a good intention. We need to ensure that the things we do are in accordance to the will of God.

 2.3 What Is So Beautiful About The  Action Of Mary?

We see that the offering of Mary is regarded as a bad deed by the disciples. The disciples felt that they are right and they attacked her openly. But Jesus defended her saying that it is a good work. What is so good about this work? Is there something wrong in helping the poor?

No, it is a good thing to help the poor, this is a teaching of Jesus . The important point lies in Verse 7

"For you have the poor with you always, 
and whenever you wish you may do them 
good; but Me you do not have always.”

Indeed there is not a lot of chance for God to appear in the form of man. Therefore one must seize the chance to serve him. Mary knew that Jesus is about to die as a  sacrifice for their sins. Even though she did no understand why Jesus had to die, but she believed him. That is why Jesus said “She did it to prepare for my burial”

This is a truth that the disciples were unable to understand at that point of time. The disciples only saw the poor and needy. They only saw their physical need and not their spiritual need.

Mary is able to tell for she had considered the words of Jesus. That is why she willingly broke her flask of ointment regardless of what others may say. She did not mind if they were mock her and make her life difficult.

For she is willing to break the flask and use the ointment to anoint Jesus. She could have keep back some of the ointment for herself, for the bottles had a small opening and she only need to poor a bit of it out. But Mary wanted to give it all to Jesus.  

Jesus understood the heart of Mary when she broke the flask. She had given all that she could offer. She could have kept some for herself, but she choose to give it all to Jesus.
That is why Jesus praised her and said it was a good deed.

Conclusion

Jesus said the same when he saw the widows offering her 2 copper mites. Her 2 mites were small compared to the generous amount of offering other gives, but Jesus valued her 2 copper mite just as he valued the 300 denarii perfume.

He valued them for he knew that they have given all they could for God. They are not here to prove their love of God before man. They wanted to give their all to God. Therefore God accepted their offering.

Today if we see the church in need, will we be willing to offer and to sacrifice? Today if the church requires someone to speak out and defend her when the truth is being challenge. Will we have the courage to speak out?

These are all things we ought to go and do likewise. May God give us this strength

Recently I came across a documentary called the way. On the documentary came a series of burning question. Here are the questions that were discussed 

If Jesus lived A Perfect Life
     1. Why do we keep a different day as Sabbath?
     2. Why don’t we celebrate the same Holidays
     3. Why don’t we eat the same foods? 
     4. Why don’t we keep the same Law?

Throughout the documentary, there was a lot of attacks of Pagan additions into Christianity, an attack on Easter, Sunday worship. It also had an emphasis on keeping the Sabbath, keeping the feast of the Old Testament as well as the keeping of the the Mosaic Diet Law

Where I Stand In The Matter?
Interestingly I was in the middle between the “churchianity” as described by the documentary and the views of “The Way International”

I admit that the Christianity of the modern day is a far cry from the Christianity that was practiced by the Apostles. Personally, I wanted to return to the Christianity taught by Jesus and the apostles. However, the conclusion that I draw is very far from what these people advocate.

My church and I are Sabbath keepers, but we choose to keep the Sabbath as taught by Jesus in the gospel. For the one we follow is the Lord of the Sabbath. We keep the Sabbath under the covenant of Christ. The method that it was kept is slightly different from the Mosaic Covenant. Here are some articles I have written previously regarding this 

Remembering the significance of the Sabbath

A Contrast Between Law And Grace (Part 2/2)

At the same time, we kept the Law that was kept by Christ. In particular I am referring to the ten commandments. The ten commandments are moral obligations that preceded mosaic law. They are narrated by God to Israel on Mount Sinai. These commandments form the basis and the Spirit of the law of Moses.

There is a recent trend in Christendom to go back to the original language.  Among these people, there were many who wanted to  “Return to the Hebrew roots”. The main proponents of this camp claims that since Jesus led a perfect life. There is a need to celebrate the same holidays as him, eat the same food as him.

Why don’t we celebrate the same Holidays As Christ?

But I view the matter very differently, unlike what the documentary suggests, I do not take my stand base on the writing of the church fathers. The conclusion I draw came from my own Hebrew Root and my understanding of how the Mosaic covenant works.

Luke once mentioned in his gospel. 

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets,
  He expounded to them in all the Scriptures
  the things concerning Himself.”- Luke (Lk 24:27)

From here we know that much that was written in the Mosaic Law are about Christ. When Jesus came on earth, he is not there to abolish the Law of Moses, in fact he came to earth to fulfil it. 

“These are the words which I spoke
  to you while I was still with you,
  that all things must be fulfilled
  which were written in the Law
  of Moses and the Prophets and
  the Psalms concerning Me.”- Jesus (Lk 24:46)

“Thus it is written, and thus it
  was necessary for the Christ to
  suffer and to rise[from the dead
  the third day, and that repentance
  and remission of sins should be
  preached in His name (Jesus)  to
  all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”- Luke (Lk 24:46-47)

All the statutes, feast days and sacrifices are concerning Christ. They are meant as prophecies about Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. When Christ died on the cross, he had fulfilled all the requirements in the Mosaic Covenant.

These feasts were  meant to teach the people concerning Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. When Christ came to die on the cross, he had fulfilled  all the requirements written under the Mosaic covenant

That is why when I read the Torah I do not approach it with an attitude that  that it was partially fulfilled. Rather, I would look hard and understand the purpose and the details of each of the feast to see how the sacrifice of Christ made them obsolete. I studied into the Torah to see what it says concerning Jesus.

While everyone in the documentary felt that the fall feast of the Lord are not fulfilled. I have discussed each and everyone of these feast and its fulfilment in these blog articles

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)

The Need For observing The Law Of food

In the same way, the law of food is given to the Israelites as a means of differentiating them from the gentiles. Base on the Torah, the purpose of the the separation of the clean and unclean animals are clear.

“I am the Lord your God, who
  has separated you from the peoples.
  You shall therefore distinguish
  between clean animals and unclean,
  between unclean birds and clean,
  and you shall not make yourselves
  abominable by beast or by bird, or by
  any kind of living thing that creeps
  on the ground, which I have separated
  from you as unclean.
  
And you shall be holy to Me, for I the
  Lord am holy, and have separated you 
  from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”- YHWH (Lev 20:24-26)

The Mosaic Covenant practice the separation of clean and unclean animals base on the fact that God had separated Israel from the people. That is the reason why they need to distinguish between clean and unclean animals.

But this separation had ended when the salvation of Christ comes upon the gentiles. Peter talked about this in the council of Jerusalem

“Men and brethren, you know
  that a good while ago God chose
  among us, that by my mouth
  the Gentiles should hear the word
  of the gospel and believe.
   So God, who knows the heart,
  acknowledged them by giving
  them the Holy Spirit, just as He
  did
to us, and made no distinction
  between us and them, purifying
  their hearts by faith.” – Peter (Acts 15:7-9)

This is why now in the Covenant of Christ, whoever who receives Christ had to accept Baptism for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). Baptism removes these separation

For as many of you as were
  baptized into Christ have put
  on Christ. There is neither Jew
  nor Greek, there is neither slave
  nor free, there is neither male nor
  female; for you are all one in Christ
   Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then
  you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs
  according to the promise.”- Paul (Gal 3:27-29)

So ask yourself in the spirit of the Covenant of Christ, is there still a need for these distinction? I have written on this topic extensively here.

The Shadow Of The Old Testament (Part 5 , Part 6)

The Need For A Better Covenant

In the past, those who transgress against the Law will be judged by God. For the Law of Moses offers no solution to sin. Animals are sacrificed continually before God. Feast after feast, year after year. The Tabernacle need to be purified with blood again and again for it was dwelling in the midst of unclean Israel.

To prevent Israel from sinning, God made it a point for the Law to be read to the people every 7 years, complete with the blessings to those who keep it and the curses to those who transgress against it.

Yet in the midst of all these, we read of the repeated failure to keep the Law of God by Israel. The problem did not lie in the law of God, but it lies in the weakness of Israel to keep the Law of God. That is why we read of the many times where God judge the people for their sin and cursed Israel for their unfaithfulness to keep the old covenant.

The only man close to perfect is King David. Even David transgressed against the commandment of God when he took the wife of Uriah the Hittite. As the result, he had to face the curse of God and be judged for his sin. He paid the consequences as he encountered the rebellion of Absalom. The sword never departed from his house.

Those who kept the Law did not have their sin forgiven. They died in their sins, they are able to prevent themselves from sinning if they remind themselves of the Law of God. But yet they will constantly find themselves transgressing against the Law of God facing the judgement from God.

That is why God promise to sign another Covenant with Israel. As he promised through Prophet Jeremiah

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
  when I will make a new covenant with the
  house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
  not according to the covenant that I made
  with their fathers in the day that I took them
  by the hand to lead them out of the land of
  Egypt, My covenant which they broke,
  though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.””" – Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-32)

In this new Covenant, everyone will know God personally, where God will forgive them of sins.

“I will put My law in their minds, and write
   it on their hearts; and I will be their God,
  and they shall be My people.

   No more shall every man teach his neighbor,
  and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the
  Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least
  of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.
   For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I 
  will remember no more.”

The Way

Interestingly, Christianity was not known as Christianity during the time of the Apostles. The term Christians was first use in Antioch (Acts 11:26) . The first Christians made a distinction between themselves and their Jewish counterparts who practice the Torah. Paul made this distinction in his speech before Felix the governor.

But this I confess to you, that
  according to the Way which they
  call a sect, so I worship the God
   of my fathers, believing all things
  which are written in the Law and in
  the Prophets. I have hope in God,
  which they themselves also accept,
  that there will be a resurrection of
  the dead,  both of the just and the unjust.”- Paul (Acts 24:14-15)

Paul called Christianity “The Way”. He acknowledge that he is worshiping the God of his fathers.  The way makes use of the same Torah that are used by the Jewish counterpart. The practitioners of The Way, emphasise on Baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin(Acts 19:5). It believes in the speaking of tongues as evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts19:6-7).  It believes that the Kingdom of God had already come. (Acts 19:8)

But many who were in the synagogue who read the Torah spoke evil of “The Way” (Acts 19:9). If Paul emphasised the following of feast , and the keeping of the diet law, why would fellow Jews who are Torah believing speak against it?

If the followers kept all of the Law of Moses, why would there be a Jerusalem decree? The matter of contention is very obvious

“But some of the sect of the Pharisees
  who believed rose up, saying, “It is
  necessary to circumcise them, and
  to command them to keep the law
  of Moses.” – Luke (Acts 15:5)

I do not deny the fact that it is recorded in the bible that the apostles kept the feast. The scriptures did record of them keeping the feast. (I Cor. 16:8-9). These occurrence happen after they believed in Jesus Christ. But did they keep it as a requirement of the way of Christ? or did they keep it simply because they were Jews? Most importantly, did they teach others to keep it? If it is so, why did the Christians not gather in Jerusalem for the feast?

The Promised Grace That Preceded The Law Of Moses

When God first appeared to Israel on Mount Sinai, he gave the 10 commandments to the children of Israel directly. However, the children of Israel was unable to draw near to God, they were terrified of God. Moses recorded their words in Deuteronomy 5.

“Surely the Lord our God has
  shown us His glory and His
  greatness, and we have heard
  His voice from the midst of the fire.
  We have seen this day that 
  God speaks with man; yet he still lives.

   Now therefore, why should we die?
  For this great fire will consume us;
   if we hear the voice of the Lord our
  God anymore, then we shall die. 
   For who is there of all flesh who has
  heard the voice of the living God
  speaking from the midst of the fire,
  as we have, and lived?

   You go near and hear all that the Lord
  our God may say, and tell us all that
   the Lord our God says to you, and
  we will hear and do it.” –Israel  (Deut 5:24-27)

The reaction of Israel saddened God. So he instructed Moses

“I have heard the voice of the words of
  this people which they have spoken to you.
  They are right in all that they have spoken.

   Oh, that they had such a heart in them
  that they would fear Me and always keep
  all My commandments, that it might be
  well with them and with their children forever!

   Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.

  But as for you, stand here by Me, and I will
  speak to you all the commandments,
  the statutes, and the judgments which you
  shall teach them, that they may observe
  them in the land which I am giving them
  to possess.’ ”- YHWH (Deut 5:28-32)

That is why the law was given to Moses, and Moses had to teach the children of Israel. Moses recalled the words of the Lord in this incident once again in Deut 18

“They are right in what they have spoken.
    
I will raise up for them a prophet like you
   from among their brothers. And I will put
   my words in his mouth, and he shall speak 
   to them all that I command him.
    And whoever will not listen to my words
   that he shall speak in my name, I myself 
   will require it of him.””- YHWH (Deut 18:17-19)

These words were spoken before Moses even penned a single line of the Law of Moses. For only after the promise of the Prophet is given then Moses went up mount Sinai and received the Law. That Law is what this documentary calls “The Law”

When you think about this suddenly the words of John comes alive.
“"For the law was given through Moses,
  but grace and truth came through
  Jesus Christ.” – John (Jn 1:17)

Before Moses recorded the commandments,  the statutes, and the judgments he received from God. God had already promise that he will raise another prophet like Moses. At that time, people are to obey the words of that Prophet. Whoever who disobey that prophet will be judged by God. These verse are one of the earliest prophecy of the coming of Christ.

They are also the reason why I would rather follow The Way as taught by Jesus. Which included the commandments given by God at Mount Sinai.

Conclusion

While I respect the dedication of the people in their effort to keep the words of God, as well as their passion to return to the Way which is prescribe by the Apostles. lets us understand that the Apostles attitude and view towards the Torah is very different from the Jews of their time.

Christ had taught his disciples personally before he ascended to Heaven, he taught them what  the Torah says about him and how he fulfilled the Torah. After Jesus was taken up to heaven, his disciples taught the teaching and Instruction of Jesus. They performed baptism, to pray for the Holy Spirit, to break bread(Holy Communion) on the daily basis. That is because those are the instructions of Jesus.

The disciples often gathered on Sabbath and they studied the word of God. In those days, they look hard at the Torah to find prophecies concerning Christ. They preached that Jesus Christ is the messiah  and it is through his name that everyone is saved. Just as what Peter said to the Sanhedrin

“Nor is there salvation in any other,
  for there is no other name under
  heaven given among men by which
  we must be saved.”-Peter (Acts 4:12)

If we indeed want to follow the way. Let us keep the words of Christ and understand from the Torah how Christ had fulfilled all of its requirements. Let us study the Torah in depth to find Christ from within the Torah.

May God help us to find “The Way”. May we all return to the way that God had intended.

In the series, we have explored quite a number of areas of the Old Testament

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9, Part 10 )

Introduction

In time past under the Mosaic Covenant, Priest had 3 duties to be done before the Lord Daily. So far we have discussed 2 of the duties. That is to burn incense and to light the lamp. Let us examine the third and final duty of Priest

“Now this is what you shall offer
  on the altar: two lambs of the
  first year, day by day continually.
 
One lamb you shall offer in the
  morning, and the other lamb you
  shall offer at twilight.

  This shall be a continual burnt
  offering  throughout your
  generations at the door of the
  tabernacle of meeting before the
  Lord, where I will meet you to
  speak with you. “ – YHWH (Ex 29:38-39,42)

The priest must offer sacrifices to the Lord every twilight and morning. Out of curiosity, I tabled out all the sacrifices mandatory in the Mosaic covenant. This would give you a rough idea of the number of animals that need to be sacrificed under the Mosaic Covenant in a typical Jewish year.

While it is a good thing to sacrifice, we need to ensure that our sacrifice is acceptable before God. If we read Genesis we will read of how Cain and Abel offered sacrifices before the Lord. But God esteem the sacrifice of Abel and rejected the offering of Cain.

But how do we make sure our offering is acceptable before the Lord? It is not about the quantity or the quality of the offering. But the offering must be done in accordance to the instruction of the Lord.

Every priest need to know the rules of the Lord regarding offering. The regulation of offering is recorded in details in the book of Leviticus 1. Let us look at the rules in details.

PT 1.1: Offering Must Be Without Blemish

“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice
  of the herd, let him offer a male
  without blemish; “-YHWH (Lev 1:3)

The first rule of offering is that the animal must be without blemish. A Burnt offering need not be bull and ram, the poor can offer the pigeon and the dove. But regardless of the animal, the offering must be good and without any physical defect. (blemish) . For if it is something we have rejected, how could we offer it to God?

We would never give something we do not like to our friends, all the more we need to respect and honour God, we need to offer the bet we have. Lets take a look at a practical example

Today there are some who claim they have no time for God. The fact is that they too have 24 hours just like every human.  We need to understand what they choose to spend their time on. For humans invest their time on things that matters. If God is unimportant, then they will not spend time on hm.

That is why on the other hand, we see people spending time in church despite their busy lives.. The reason behind their actions is because they treasure their time with God. They knew that time can only be found when they are alive.

Life is fragile and it can be lost, we need to consider the time given to us by God. While we live on earth God had given us time. Without life we will not have the time to enjoy the goodness and joy of life. We will not have the chance of meeting our friends or having a delightful conversation

Now God had given us 7 days a week, out of which for 6 days we could do what we want. Is it too much of God to ask us to spare 1 day on the Sabbath to worship him?  What is even more saddening is when we regard coming for worship as a waste of time. We do not know how to thank God for his gift of life, we have forgotten that life comes from God.

What Are Blemishes In A Christian Offering?

We need to learn to come before God and sacrifice to him. Our sacrifice must be one without defect. What do we mean by defect? Under the covenant of Christ, we no longer offer bulls and rams. What do we offer to God today?

The book of Hebrews tells us that we offer the fruit of our lips, and our worship to God. We offer up our prayer and praises, they are all offered up as we gather in service. How do we examine our sacrifice to see if it contains blemish?

“Draw near to God and He will
  draw near to you. Cleanse your
  hands, you sinners; and purify
  your hearts, you double-minded.” – James (Jas 4:8 )

There are Christians who tried to draw near to God often, they are zealous, but yet they cannot feel the presence of God. They felt that God did not help them, they start to murmur, they questioned why did God not draw near to them?

It appears as if the fault lies with God, but many a time the problems lies with men. We may have followed God instructions to come to church, but we have not forget to check if our offering is one with defects.

If we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. But if our sacrifice is with defect, how will God accept it?  James tell us to purify our hands as well as our heart. Perhaps we may not sin with our hands, but is our heart clean?  It is possible to spot unclean hands, but no one could see your heart.

That is why, if we are sinning, we ought to clean our hands . If our hearts is not pure, if we are double minded, we need to purify our heart as well.

There are also other blemishes we need to take note

If we come to make offering before the Lord, and there is a brother who sin against us and there is a conflict. Even though there may not be a fight, we need to reconcile with him.  WE need to make a resolve to destroy all hatred and grudge in your heart. Then our offering will be pleasing to the Lord.

Without a happy and sincere heart, it is difficult to worship God in spirit and truth. We often worship in the spirit, but do we worship God in truth? We need to keep the word of God, both in our hands and our hearts.

Pt 1.2: Willingness’ To Offer

“he shall offer it of his own free will” – YHWH (Lev 1:3)

There is another blemish that is often overlooked by Christians, that is our willingness to offer. Those who offer to the Lord must offer it willingly and not by compulsion. For we all like people to love us willingly and not out of compulsion.

If we ask our children to bring us a drink, and they do so with a sad and annoyed face. Can we drink it with gladness? But today if they give us a drink willingly out of love. Their action can warm our hearts.

God feels the same when he sees our worship. If we worship out of sincerity and willingness, he will be glad and happy. King David rejoice whenever someone tell him to go to the house of the Lord. Therefore we need to ask ourselves, is our offering made willingly and not out of compulsion?

Only a willing sacrifice can withstand the test of time. He will continue to offer even in the midst of opposition and failure.  He will not find excuses not to skip church. There are many who allow their emotion to stop them from coming to church. They find an excuse to skip church all the time.

But if we offer willingly, We will treat meeting with God like a date with our beloved. For if we are making a date with a bore and a nag, we would often find excuses to rain check the meeting.. That is a how worship by compulsion felt like.

That is why we need correct our attitude. For God do not  need our sacrifice. it is we who needed his blessing and his help. We did not come to church to patronise or to appease God. If our mind-set is correct, we will offer willingly to God.

PT 1.3: The Designated Place For Offering

“at the door of  the tabernacle
  of meeting before the Lord” –YHWH (Lev 1:3)

The offering must be done at the place defined by God. At that point of time it is at the tent of meeting. But this makes us wonder “Is it wrong to make offering at home? Did not Abraham offer at home in Genesis?”

Before the tabernacle is erected, Abraham built altars whoever he go. But now the tabernacle is erected. God had chosen for his name to dwell there. That is why Israelites from then on must follow God command and make offering at the door of the tabernacle. This is an important rule, something we tend to neglect its importance. 

“Take heed to yourself that you do
  not offer your burnt offerings in
  every place that you see;
 
but in the place which the Lord
  chooses, in one of your tribes,
  there you shall offer your burnt
  offerings, and there you shall do
  all that I command you.”-YHWH (Lev 17:8-9)

“But you shall seek the place
  where the Lord your God chooses,
  out of all your tribes, to put His
  name for His dwelling place;
   and there you shall go. “-Moses (Deut 12:5)

There are not the instruction of man, but the command of God. We are not to offer anywhere we deem convenient. Our offering must be done in the place where God had chosen.

But today Modern Christians may argue, isn’t your heart more important than the location of worship? But here it tell us that if one do not offer at the tent of meeting, he will be cut off from his people.  Is this so serious?

The bible records of an incident that happens somewhere in the history of Israel. There was a time where people built an altar in their own location. When the rest of Israel heard it, they gathered together and wanted to attack these people.

But why is there such a need to deal so severely with them? All they wanted is some convenience. Is there a need to gather your armies and kill them?

The Altar On The Other Side Of Jordan

“Now the children of Israel heard someone say,
   “Behold, the children of Reuben, the
     children of Gad, and half the tribe 
     of Manasseh have built an altar on the 
     frontier of the land of Canaan, in the
     region of the Jordan—on the children
     of Israel’s side.” – Joshua (Jos 22:11)

Here there records 2 and a half tribes come together and build an altar in a specific place. But the next verse tells us that the rest of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them. It makes us wonder why did they choose to go to war? Are there not more important things to do?

There are some sins that are personal that only affects individual.  If we punch a man in the eye, this will not affect others. But if one were to play with fire, he may set the house on fire. This act will create problems for our neighbours and the fire will spread. When that happen , everyone will be affected.  That is why everyone had the duty to stop the child form playing with fire.

Such is the sin committed by the children of Ruben

“but that you must turn away this
  day from following the Lord?
  And it shall be, if you rebel today
  against the Lord, that tomorrow
  He will be angry with the whole
  congregation of Israel. “-Joshua (Jos 22:18)

That is why Israel decided to stop them, for it is a serious matter. When the tribe of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh heard of this. They realise the seriousness of the misunderstanding. So they explain it to the rest of Israel

Jos 22: 24-28 : They explain it twice, that the altar is not built for sacrifice. They had not gone against God commandments and the conflict was resolved peacefully.

Resolving Conflicts Among Brethren

The story in the book of Joshua teaches us something about resolving differences . We need to listen well and allow the other party a chance to explain. Both parties that are involved must have the responsibility to explain himself.

Either parties cannot claim that their conscience is clear and there is no need to explain themselves. Nor can they say that God searches our heart, we just need to be accountable before God with a clear conscience.

If the sin is at an individual level, it is solely between us and God. There is no need to explain to anyone. There is no need for us to confess it before man. But if the sin effect the entire congregation, we may need to explain ourselves. For other may follow our examples and go against God. For not everyone had the same discernment as us. They may follow blindly and affect others in the church.

That is when we need to explain ourselves to others. This is to prevent misunderstanding and stop negative influence. The 2 and the half tribes saw the negative influence they had on Israel, so they took responsibility to explain themselves.  Anyone who is responsible will know that it is a moral responsibility that we need to do.

For our actions will lead affect the church. It may even affect churches across international boundaries. It will cost the faith of many, potentially affecting the next generation.

If we want our offering to be good, we need to abide by the regulation of the Lord. Then we need to make offering in the place where God had chosen. 

Is It Wrong To Observe Sabbath At Home and Not In Church?

Today there is no longer a need to offer animal sacrifice. The offering of the New testaments comes in the form of worship and hymn singing.  Must we only do it in church? Can we not do it at home? Are we allowed to choose a place of our own choice?

In the internet there were Jews who claim that Sabbath doesn’t centre around the Synagogue. The Synagogue should be use for Torah reading and other activities. they even advocate that Sabbath is about spending time with the family. It is not about coming to the Synagogue and listening to long boring sermon.

So they advocate the home as a place for Sabbath keeping, and Sabbath should begin at home. They went one step ahead and said that there is no need to come to church. They attack people who said that there is a need to come to church to keep the Sabbath.  Claiming that those who said this are advocating keeping the Law.

They went on to support their point by saying that true worship is not done in Jerusalem and Samaria, one must worship in Spirit in the truth.

Christian often focus on worshipping in the spirit, but we seldom focus on worshipping in truth. We need to worship in the truth, that is the word of God. Having a heart to offer doesn’t guaranty that our offering will be accepted.

Cain had the heart to offer, but why is his offering not accepted by God?

For he had offered against the command of the Lord, it is an offering that cannot redeem sin. It is good and right to keep the Sabbath. It is good to stop work and worship.

But Sabbath is also a time of convocation, for his believers to come together. It is not a mere gathering of friends, but it is Gods requirement for his people. They are suppose to gather before God and worship. They must perform the worship in the place where God choose.

Conclusion About Sabbath

The Sabbath begins at home, for it started when we are at home. But we need to come before God to worship. We need to keep our mood and our heart for service. We must never allow anything to affect our mood to service God.

Keeping it at home is against the word of God, for God said that during Sabbath you need to have assembly. If we choose not to go to church for service, we are going against God. That is what God commanded. If we fear God we ought to listen to God and offer according to his rules

We must gather in his house and worship together.

It is good to offer, but is our offering according to God word?

Introduction

In Part 1 and Part 2, we have talked about the first and second mistake of Aaron. He did not rebuke the Israelites when they wanted to build the golden calf. He had also built the golden calf for them.
We have also drawn lessons from his mistakes and talks about the potential golden calves that we have in our modern world.

Now let us consider his second mistakes

3rd Mistake  : He built an Altar And Declare A Feast To An Idol

“So when Aaron saw it, he built
  an altar before it. And Aaron
  made a proclamation and said,
  “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.”

  Then they rose early on the next
  day, offered burnt offerings, and
  brought peace offerings; and the
  people sat down to eat and drink, 
  and rose up to play.” – Moses (Ex 32:5-6)

Aaron built and altar and declared a feast. By doing so he had corrupted his service before the Lord. This corruption can be viewed from many aspect.

1. Aaron was the high priest of God, now he became a high priest of the calf
2. While God is creating priestly garment for him, he is busy building the calf
3. He lowered to Almighty God into a image of a calf

All these tell us his foolishness and his erroneous attitude. He was suppose to teach the truth of God but now he is teaching an impure truth. How can you equate the worshipping of the calf as keeping a feast to the Lord. He had went against God personally by declaring this feast.

He knelt down before a calf, and yet he think he is being zealous for God. He even went ahead and called the calf, the Lord who brought them out of Egypt. He is corrupt in his service and he is unaware of it. This is the worst form of corruption for one to be in.

For if Aaron is aware of his mistake he will have a chance to repent and turn back. But the worst form of corruption is when we are unaware of our mistake. That will turn us from bad to worst.  By building the altar and declaring the feast to the Lord. He had turn his  unintentional sin into a sinning wilfully against the Lord

Aaron did not initiate the work to build the golden calf, it was the children of Israel who wanted it. Aaron created the calf out of compulsion and in a moment of weakness. But by legalising the worship, Aaron had sin against God directly.

There is a chinese Idiom that illustrate this attitude perfectly.

(gū xī yǎng jiān)

There was a man who was born in the year of the rat. As the result, he  had intense love for rats. So he instructed his family not to kill the rats in the house at the same time he forbid them to drive the pest out of the house. As the result the rats started to do as they please, they stole rice and other food from the kitchen.

When the man saw this, he was worried that the rat had nothing to eat. So he deliberately left food all around the house. So more and more rats appeared in the neighbourhood. As the result everyone is affected by it. 

Aaron had allowed evil to continue and he had allowed it to grow even stronger.

4th Mistake : He Denies Responsibility, Refuses To Confess 

Aaron 3rd mistake is recorded in Ex 32:21-24

Moses: “What did this people do to you
                 that you have brought so great 
                 a sin upon them?”

Aaron  : “Do not let the anger of my lord 
                  become hot. You know the people,
                  that they are set on evil. 
                  For they said to me, ‘Make us gods 
                  that shall go before us; as for this
                  Moses, the man who brought us out
                 of the land of Egypt, we do not know
                 what has become of him.’

When Moses confronted Aaron, he denied the responsibility of his mistake. He refuse to admit his wrong and this could be seen clearly in this dialog. Aaron blame it on the people, and he pointed out the fact that they are evil. This is something Moses knew.

Moses had experienced many of their attack and their comment. But that doesn’t justify the creation of the calf. Aaron is trying to say that he is afraid of going against those who are bent on sinning. He is afraid that they might attack him so he did it to protect himself.

It appears as if Aaron was force to commit the sin out of fear. Moses rebuke him for he is a leader who lack the moral principle. He is just like a police officer who refuse to help the weak when they are bullied. He just stood in the corner and lament “There’s nothing I can do, he is evil, allow it to continue, better you get hurt instead of me”

Nipping Sin In The Bud

Isn’t it the work of Police Officers to maintain order in society? Isn’t it their duty to protect the citizens, uphold the law and preserve the peace? That is why Moses rebuked him. Aaron fault lies in the fact that he is the leader who did not correct the mistake of the people. Instead of stopping them, he took part in the sin and brought even more sin upon them.

When the people demanded the calf, that sin was in their mind, it has not became a reality. This is similar to us having the urge to punch a person. No one can be arrested for having the urge to punch someone. For the assault had not taken place, there is still a chance to correct our attitude.

At that point of time, if Aaron were to correct the thinking of the people, and rebuke them. He would have prevented  the sin . But here he chose to turn their fantast into reality. If Aaron were to take a stand against the people the outcome of that story would have changed greatly  

But Aaron  was afraid of offending the people, therefore he choose to offend God. His actions turn him into an unfaithful servant.

Turning Sin Into A Miracle

Aaron went one step ahead to defend himself that is illogical and funny . Let us compare 2 verses side by side

Actual Account Aaron Narrative
And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.(Ex 32:2) And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ “

So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.  (Ex 32:3) So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire,
And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. (Ex 32:4) and this calf came out. 
(Ex 32:24)

 

Aaron made the creation of the calf sound miraculous. In his story, he told the people to take off their earrings, threw them into the fire and a calf miraculously appear. Can gold rings turn into a golden calf?

If we compare the truth against Aarons Narrative, you would realise that the calf did not appear miraculously. Aaron had to cut a mould, pour the molten gold into it to cast out the basic shape. The there is a need to engrave and polish in order to make it shiny and pretty.

Aaron had taken part in the construction of the calf. He mystify the event to make it look like a miracle from God. This added to his sin . For he had now pushed the blame onto God, claiming that it was Gods will for the calf to appear. The fact that the calf so miraculously appear tell us the will of God is working . It becomes a sign that God had allowed it.

He may be able to lawyer his way out before Moses. But he cannot escape from that sin before God.

Conclusion So Far

We have look at the 3rd mistake of Aaron. How he brought sin upon himself by declaring the feast to the Lord and calling the calf the Lord. We learnt that Aaron ought to have stood up against Israel and prevented them from sinning.

The 4th mistake is a warning not to mystify our sins to justify it. Aaron turn the construction of the calf into a miraculous event. By doing so he had indicated that God had a had in allowing it to happen.

In the series, we have explored quite a number of areas of the Old Testament

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8)
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9)

As we are talking about the lighting of Lamp, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah is round the corner. One of the typical celebration of Hanukah is to light up the Menorah to commemorate the dedication of the altar. Some may confuse this with the lighting of lamp in Part 9.  For this section I would like to side track from the issue of lighting the lamp to discuss Hanukkah.

Year 2016 is special as it is one of the rare time where the festival is very close to Christmas. Therefore there are religious teachers who are advocating and encouraging the keeping of Hanukah. One of the biggest proponent is Mr Nehemia Gordon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BrNaj16_WU

He advocates that Christians ought to keep Hanukkah because of what it stood for. Though he did not say that that had something to do with Salvation. His lectures debunked many of the traditions i have heard about the festival. Lets take a quick look at the Festival.

Hanukah Festival Basics

Basically  Hanukah or the “Feast of the Dedication” (Jn 10:22) is a Jewish national holiday that is not founded in the Mosaic Covenant. The root of this feast began after the death of Alexander the great  before the arrival of the Romans in Judea. In those days, the land of Judea is ruled by the Seleucids.  One of the Seleucid king known as Antiochus IV started a policy to stamp out Jewish practices and religion

A group of priest known as the Maccabees rebelled against the King. They managed to defeat the Greeks against all odds, they recaptured the temple and Jerusalem. They rededicated the Altar in the temple as the Greeks had defiled it.

There were a myth regarding this that was added by Rabbis later. 
There was a miraculous story of a single vial of oil that burnt for 7 days to purify the temple. The Jews burnt the oil on the 7 branch lampstand (Menorah) and the fire purified the temple. That is why many Jews today burn candles for 8 days to remember this event. But this story is not a fact. It was added in around the second century CE after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem 

Mr Gordon’s Lectures had talked about this extensively and I would not waste my time to repeat it here.

Christians and Hanukah

Basically this is what I think

1. Hanukkah is a Jewish national holiday, there is no link between the festival and salvation  

While the events regarding this is prophesied in Daniel and recorded in the book of Maccabees, there is no instructions from God to keep the festival . There is no necessity for Christians to follow this. 

2. Jesus did attend the feast of Dedication in Jn 10 but he did it because he was Jewish

Jesus did not instruct his disciples to keep this festival. He had given other instructions regarding salvation that we ought to follow. That is why it really doesn’t matter if we keep the festival or not. Basically my stand over the matter is the same as Pauls

“One person esteems one
  day above another; another
  esteems every day alike. Let
  each be fully convinced in his
  own mind. He who observes the
  day, observes it to the Lord;
 
and he who does not observe the day, 
  to the Lord he does not observe it.” – Paul (Rom 14:5-6)

3. It is ok to have traditions, but be mindful of its risk.

There is no need for us to add to what is taught by Christ and the apostles. We may think that creating a tradition can help strengthen our faith. But Pharisees and the Talmud were not created overnight. Every little tradition created had a potential to be misunderstood and abused. Worst still when others follow it and were not moved in the same way as the creator of this tradition.

Let us not start the process of creating our own Talmud by creating unnecessary instruction beyond what is instructed in the bible

Understanding  Dedication

As we read the myth about Hanukah, let us be clear about what is written in the law of Moses. The lighting of the lamp by the priest is meant as a statute before God. The lamps are not related to the Altar in anyway. (Ex 27:20-21).

The law of Moses did not specifically talk about how he dedicate the altar. But Num 7 tell us that just the dedication offering required 12days (Num7:10-84)

The Jews most likely took the example of Solomon and the instruction of Ezekiel to dedicate the altar for 8 days (2 Chron 7:9,Eze 43:26-27) . They would have followed the instruction of God to Moses as well (Ex 40:9-10).

Understanding  Purification

During the lecture there was a mentioned of Purification rite. IT is a known fact that in the law of Moses anyone who is unclean will remain unclean for 7 days. In the law of Moses, there were a few records of purification. Let us take a look at what is said.

Under the law of Moses a person can be made unclean when he encounter Childbirth, Have discharge, Leprosy or encounter death. God requires offering to be made to him for all the above except for death.  If one encounters death, he will need to be washed with the blood ashes of the Red Heifer . We will discuss the significance of the Red heifer later on in this series.

All these purification here are different from the purification of the altar as mentioned in Hanukah We need to differentiate between them

 

Paul And His Purification Rite

During the lecture Mr Gordon briefly mentioned about the fact that Paul perform the a purification rite. This was Recorded in the book of Acts 23. Interestingly, the dedication mentioned there had no relations with the dedication of Hanukah in any way,

The disciples in Jerusalem advice Paul to perform the rite. For there had been Rumours about him among the Jews in the Roman world.

“You see, brother, how many
  myriads of Jews there are who
  have believed, and they are all
  zealous for the law; 
  but they have been informed
  about you that you teach all the
  Jews who are among the Gentiles
  to forsake Moses, saying that they
  ought not to circumcise their children
  nor to walk according to the customs” – Disciples (Acts 21:20-21)

Therefore to debunk their rumours, they advise Paul to take part in the purification ritual the next day. This purification ritual is not related to Hanukah. For these men had taken a vow. They have to shave their heads and Paul had to pay for their expenses. (Acts 21:24)

What is this vow? It is likely that these men were Nazirites. (Ref Num 6:9-12). If a Nazirite encounter death near him, he will be declared unclean for 7 days. After that they were to shave their heads, and make sacrifices to the Lord before they can resume their vow as Nazirites. Whenever a Nazirite completes his period of vow, he is to shave his head and make sacrifices as well.  That practice was still practiced among the Jews during the time of Paul.

So Paul is not exactly bowing down to the Talmud, but he was in fact doing what was prescribed in the law of Moses. Paul had to do it to show the Jews that he has not forsake Moses and he kept the law of Moses.

Interestingly, the disciples repeated their decision made about the Gentiles in Acts 15

“But concerning the Gentiles
  who believe, we have written
  and decided that they should
  observe no such thing,  except
   that they should keep themselves
   from things offered to idols, from
  blood, from things strangled, and
  from sexual immorality.” – Disciples (Acts 21:25)

They have reiterated their stand about the gentiles needing to observe the law of Moses. Sadly when Paul follow their advice, the move backfired and he was arrested at the temple (Act 21:26-29)

It seems that Gods plan is for Paul to be captured so that he will eventually go to Rome. But that story is out of the discussion today.

Jesus And The Feast Of The Dedication

During the lecture Mr Gordon mentioned that even Jesus celebrated Hanukah. He is not wrong to say that, but Christians need to differentiate between requirements of the Mosaic Covenant, the custom and tradition of the Jews and the content of the New Covenant with Christ.

When Jesus is on earth, he is born as a Jewish man, and he kept some of the traditions of the Jews in his days. For example, he only came into the temple at the age of 12 (Bar Mitzvah). (Lk 2:41-42), that is a tradition of the Jews.

Jesus was circumcised on the eight day and his parent made offering of turtledoves(Lk 2:22-24), that is a requirement of the Law Of Moses.

Just because Jesus did those things, it does not mean that Christians ought to follow the tradition to do Bar Mitzvah for our own children, nor do we forbid them from coming to church until 12.  In the new testament, Circumcision in the flesh is not necessary, but the heart must be circumcise to obey God. That is why just because Jesus attended the feast of dedication it does not mean Christians ought to do it.

If there is one thing we need to remember, Jesus declared himself to be God on that day. He said “I and My Father are one.” (Jn 10:30) By declaring this so, Jesus is telling the world that he is the God whom the Jews worship. As the result, the Jews wanted to kill him for blasphemy.

Instead of mindlessly keeping tradition Hanukah, we ought to remember that Jesus is LORD and especially this that he had spoken

“I told you, and you do not believe.
  The works that I do in My Father’s name,
  they bear witness of Me.  But you do
  not believe, because you are not of
  My sheep, as I said to you.
 
My sheep hear My voice, and I know 
  them, and they follow Me. And I give
  them eternal life, and they shall never
  perish; neither shall anyone snatch
  them out of My hand  “ – Jesus (Jn 10:25-29)

According to Mr Gordon experience of reading the Old testament in 16:17 in the lecture he said

“But Kingdom of heaven is an ancient concept. When John the Baptist travelled through the land of Israel speaking about the kingdom of heaven. People wouldn’t say that "We do not know what that is.  We are Jews and we do not know about the kingdom of heaven"

No, when they heard about the Kingdom of heaven they said “We are looking forward to that when Yehovah comes down to earth and rules as the King of the World. Zechariah talks about him standing with one leg on either side of the mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives splitting in the middle. and he is going to be King on that day over the entire Earth”

What does the other half of the prophecy says? Says on that day he will be one, his name will be one”

Nehemia Gordon as a Karite understood that when the Messiah is Yehovah coming on earth and ruling as the King of the earth. In his case, he did not think that Jesus is the Messiah, therefore it is not surprising that he would prefer to call on the name of Yehovah. 

But Christians understood that the messiah had already come. That Messiah is Yeshua (Jesus) . We know form the gospel that before his birth , he instructed Mary to name him Yeshua (Jesus) . Right here on the feast of Dedication, he declared that he and the father are one. He is telling us that he is indeed YHWH who came to dwell in the flesh.

In another location he said “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (Jn 8:58)

John tell us that the kingdom of God is at hand. When Jesus come he preach the same as well. He promised the disciples that the some of them will see the Kingdom of God present with power. He also promised his disciples that some will not taste death till the see the Kingdom of God. (Mk 9:1, Lk 9:27) . He himself tell us that his kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36), that kingdom is within us (Lk 17:20). This kingdom is establish by God when the Holy Spirit first came on Pentecost

While many like to say that Christians had no Jewish roots, they have forgotten the fact that the first group of Christians are all Torah believing Christians. They may not be a Hebrew Scholar like Mr Gordon. But they are well aware of all the prophecies about the Kingdom of God.

These people can read the scriptures, but but they are able to see that the Messiah is Yeshua (Jesus) and they started to call on his name and not YHWH.

Had the scriptures changed? Why is it that those Jews are so willing to accept it? They read the same prophecies mentioned by Mr Gordon, but they are able to see Jesus in the scriptures. They even have the gall to make this declaration before the Chief priest.

“Nor is there salvation in any other,
  for there is no other name under
  heaven given among men by
  which we must be saved.”

That is because they understood that the Messiah is God himself dwelling among them. That is why they have no fear to call on his name and keep the new covenant establish by him. When they saw God allowing the gentiles who do not keep the Law receiving  the Spirit of God just like them. They made the Jerusalem decree that the gentiles do not need to keep the Law of Moses or be circumcised.

Jesus declared himself as YHWH during the feast of Hanukah. He also told them that he had seen Abraham. Today Karites like Mr Gordon, are unable to accept it. They are still waiting for the Messiah.  Even they understood that the Messiah is God himself coming in the flesh. Their only issue is that they refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

But what about us today? Are we willing to accept that the Messiah is Jesus? Do we know that the Kingdom of the Messiah is already established? Can we accept that he is the one true God who had dwelt in the flesh? 

Conclusion

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival, it had special significance to the Jewish people. This article is not here to condemn Hanukah or downplay its significance to the Jews. In fact I want to take the chance to wish Jews a happy Hanukkah

As an Ethnic Chinese, we have our fair share of traditions about national struggle. Whenever we eat dumplings or row the dragon boat, we remember the Chinese Poet / Statesmen Qu Yuan. Whenever we eat moon cakes, we remember how the Chinese rebels use the moon cakes as a form of communication to stage an uprising against the Mongolian Empire. 

I think traditions by themselves are harmless and they serve as a good reminder of the stories of the past and the lessons learnt. But we need to be careful when it comes linking such tradition to our faith. We may choose to begin little traditions to build up our own faith. But when this tradition is passed down to the next generation. They will become mere ritual for these traditions may not move them in the same way as they have moved us.

Eventually when  everyone starts adding their own traditions, we create our very own version of Mishnah and Talmud. We end up creating countless of traditions that does not bring anyone closer to God.

Instead of fighting to create traditions, let us  choose to keep only the instructions of God and the commandments of God. Let us not add or subtract from it. Let us keep what God had entrusted to us purely and commit them to our next generation

In the series, we have explored quite a number of areas of the Old Testament

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8)

Introduction

The Priest Of the old testament are given 3 duties by God as part of the Mosaic Covenant. They are to perform these duties on a daily basis. Let us take a look at these duties, they are

1. To offer incense every morning and evening
2. To light the lamp before the Lord
3. To offer daily sacrifice every morning and evening.

In Part 7 & Part 8we have looked into the burning of incense. Let us look at the second duty of the priest. That is to light a lamp before the Lord.

“He put the lampstand in the
  tabernacle of meeting, across
  from the table, on the south
  side of the tabernacle; 
  and he lit the lamps before
  the Lord, as the Lord had
  commanded Moses.” – Moses (Ex 40:24-25)

God told the priest to light the lamb before the Lord. the purpose of that lamp is to light up the sanctuary. It is to allow the tabernacle to be the light in the midst of the darkness. 

Jesus once tells us about this

“You are the light of the world.
  A city that is set on a hill cannot
  be hidden. Nor do they light a
  lamp and put it under a basket,
  but on a lampstand, and it gives
  light to all who are in the house.
 
Let your light so shine before men,
  that they may see your good works
  and glorify your Father in heaven.”-Jesus (Ex 40:24-25)

Jesus talks about a city in the hill cannot be hidden.  It is something that people could see from afar. They can walk towards it in the dark. When the sun had set, there will be darkness everyone. Those who are outdoors cannot determine the right way to go home.

That is why families will light the lamp as long as one of the family is away from home. they did it so that they could find their way home. That is why Jesus tell us that the lighted lamp is not meant to be put under the basket. It is used to light up the entire house, so that those who had not return can find their way home.

If all the lights in Jerusalem are out, it will be pitch dark and no one can find it in the dark. They will be lost in darkness, but the temple will always be lit up.

Pt 1: The Priest Ensure The Lamp Is Burning Continually

“And you shall command the
  children of Israel that they
  bring you pure oil of pressed
  olives for the light, to cause
  the lamp to burn continually.

  In the tabernacle of meeting,
  outside the veil which is before
  the Testimony, Aaron and his
  sons shall tend it from evening
  until morning before the Lord.
  It shall be a statute forever to
  their generations on behalf of
  the children of Israel.””"-YHWH (Ex 27:20-21)

God had instructed the priest to keep the fire burning at night. The lamp must remain lit from night to morning. The lamp in the tabernacle is a oil lamp, as the lamp is burning, the oil will be burnt out. The light will be put out if the oil runs out. Therefore the priest had to pour oil into the lamp throughout the night.  The priest had to stay awake at night even as the others slept. Their work is to prevent the lamp from burning out.  So that the temple will remain lit. That would be the light that can guide others in the darkness.

In the same way Christians are called the light of the world. It is duty to illuminate the way. We need to be a light to our families and friends who cannot find God. For there are many who need to return to the house of the Lord. It is our duty to give light to them and bring them back

For there are many who used to believe but are no longer zealous to God. We need to lead them back to God as well. We need to use our action to move them, to bring glory to God. Our actions are meant to be the light for others to see. That is what Jesus meant by letting our light shine before men so that they will see you and give glory to God

Our actions are meant to be a form of light, so that others can see and glorify God. Perhaps they may know us in the past as bad, proud, selfish or easily angered. Perhaps we use to create problems and clause grief to those around us. But if they can see us change after we believe in Christ, that will come as a shock to others. They will know that it is the power of God that changed them. They may not believe in God immediately, but they will praise God when they see you.

On the contrary, if people do not see good conducts in us, we will bring shame to God. They will question, “What is so good about believing in Jesus?”. That is why Peter once encourage wives to be submissive to their husband even if they are unbelievers. For their husband may see their good conduct and they might be won over to Christ.

Christians are suppose to be the light of the world, they are meant as ambassadors of Christ to those who do not believe. ‘Paul remind us to be light in this dark era, (Php 2:14-16). We need to shine forth as light so that others could see the benefit of the gospel. So they will follow God.

Our world is a dark world, only Christians could light up this dark era. That is why we need to remain burning. For the night is long. As spiritual priest, let us not fall asleep but instead add oil to our lamp. Let us allow the light to continue shining and not be extinguished.

Pt 2: To Light Up The Temple And Not Ourselves

There is another note about lighting of lamps in the tabernacle that we must take note. The purpose of the light is to illuminate the sanctuary and not ourselves.  That is the spirit of the Psalms

“Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
  Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
  Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
  Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” – David (Ps 29:1-2)

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
  But to Your name give glory,
  Because of Your mercy,
  Because of Your truth.” – Psalmist (PS 115:1)

The Psalmist often remind themselves to give glory to God and not to themselves. They will even repeat to themselves “Not unto us, not unto us”We often need to be reminded to give glory onto God and not to ourselves. For many who appears to be giving glory to God are in fact glorifying themselves

The Example Of John The Baptist

Jesus gave us an example to follow, and his name is John the Baptist.

“He was the burning and shining lamp,
  and you were willing for a time to
  rejoice in his light.” – Jesus (Jn 5:35)

John the Baptist gave glory to God and not himself, he serve Christ and not himself. Once his disciples came to him and told him that Jesus is baptising people and all are going to him. John simply said

“A man can receive nothing unless
  it has been given to him from heaven.

  You yourselves bear me witness,
  that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but,
  ‘I have been sent before Him.’

  He who has the bride is the bridegroom;
  but the friend of the bridegroom, who
  stands and hears him, rejoices greatly
  because of the bridegroom’s voice.
  Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.

  He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John The Baptist (Jn 3:27-30)

John is a man who did not give glory to himself, but gave glory to Christ. When many of his disciples went to Jesus, people ridiculed John by saying that most will rather follow Christ. They have abandoned him. But John simply said “ He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John is indeed a lamp that illuminate Christ and not himself

In the same way Moses instructed Priest to light the lamp before God. The lamp is meant to give glory to God and not to themselves. This is something we often forget 

The Youth And The Shining Face Of Moses

There was a church camp and there were many youth praying. These youth will often fast, pray and spiritual nurture and the camp changed them. They are filled with joy, they felt powerful. So they testified with their peers saying

“Look at us, we are different, can you see the light on our face, and our joy?”

When the preacher heard it, he was not to happy, so he took the youth aside and spoke to them. He begin by asking “Have you heard of how the face of Moses shone after he met with God? Was Moses aware that his faith is shining?”

Moses only knew it when everyone was looking at him strangely. They were the one who saw the face of Moses, Moses was unaware of it. When he knew instead showing it to the whole world, he took a cloth to cover his face. This is a puzzling thing

Isn’t this the glory of God? Isn’t it a good testimony? why hid it as if it is shameful?

Moses did not hide his face because it is shameful. He understood what God had taught him. All glory should be given to God and not to us. The shining face of Moses will fade eventually, but the glory of God is forever. Moses wanted everyone to remember the glory of God and not his shining face.

That is why we need to remember the glory of God, not the glory of men. We must give all glory to God and not ourselves. That is very important, for if our lamps are only shining for ourselves, how long can it remain burning?  If we shine only for ourselves, we are  not lighting our lamps before the Lord. We are merely burning for ourselves.

Pt 3: The Need For Continuous  Supply Of Oil

For the lamp to burn continually, it need a constant supply of oil for the lamp. Jesus once talk about the parable of ten virgins. It is recorded in Matt 25:1-4. Jesus tell us that the kingdom of God is like 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom, in those days, their lamps had to be lighted as the virgins waited to meet the bridegroom.

If the lamp is extinguished, they cannot welcome the bridegroom.

“Give us some of your oil, 
  for our lamps are going 
  out.”- Foolish Virgin (Matt 25 : 8)

The foolish virgins tried to ask the wise virgins to spare time some oil. That is because their lamps are about to be extinguished and they are out of oil. If their lamp was out, they cannot receive the bridegroom, that is why they are afraid.  At the beginning there was no anxiousness for they thought the bridegroom will come on time. They were confident that the oil in their lamp is enough for the wait.

However the bridegroom was delayed, they fell asleep. Suddenly, the announcement was made, and they realise that their oil was running out, it was too late. Now why does the wise virgin refuse to help them?  It is not that they did not have love, but they had the need to keep their lamps burning. That is why they said that it would not be enough for the both of them. The foolish virgins have to go and buy oil, but the door was shut

“Afterward the other virgins came
  also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
 
But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly,
  I say to you, I do not know you.’”-Jesus (Matt 5:11-12 )

They pleaded with the Lord, but let us look the response of the Lord. It is just that they ran out of oil and ran out light. Why did the Lord says that he did not know them? Is running out of oil a big problem? Why is the Lord without love and judge them?

This seem like a fair argument, but the Lord had already told them to prepare oil in their lamp. the Lord had instructed them to keep their light burning, without the lamp, we are unable  to receive him. It is not that we are ignorant, but we did not follow  his instructors.

Will we become the 5 smart virgins or the 5 who thinks that they have enough? Very often Christianity regarded the oil of the lamp as the Holy spirit. It is interesting to note that the 5 foolish virgins had oil, but it is just that their oil run out.

How do we add oil into our lamp? It is about our heart. A heart that does not reply on the Holy spirit will eventually become weak. Just like those who follow God faithfully in the beginning, but they stop being zealous over time.

What Does It Mean To Be Filled With The Spirit?

Christian in such a stage will eventually be unable to pray and we would stop talking to Jesus. Finally their lamps will be extinguished. They will no longer rely or submit to God. That is when they grieve the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit will continue to move them, but they will no longer rely or submit to it.

Eventually the Holy Spirit will give up and leave, and the light is extinguished. That is why Christians ought to examine their faith to check if their fire is still burning. They need to continue to light their lamps, be watchful and pray.

What does it really mean to pray in Spirit? Is it a mere speaking of tongues? Speaking of tongues is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit, but just because one could speak in tongues does not mean that they are praying n the spirit.

A person may be able to speak in tongues, but he may be going against the word of God daily. While everyone thinks that the spirit of God is fill him, in fact he is grieving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is grieved or God know our hearts and our thinking. He knew that we have went against him and we have treated something wrong as right. When other tried to correct us, we remain stubborn and refuse to listen.

Misunderstanding God Grace As Free Pass

What is worst is that we think of ourselves like Samson. Samson remain strong even though he did many things that are sin before God. While everyone is saying that he is not pleasing before God. He continue to defeat his enemies again and again. He thought his strength as a proof that God is with him and God forgive him. When the actual fact i that God had not judge him, God allowed his power to be in him. That was a grace from God, God wanted him to change.

Samson did not consider that as grace but he viewed it as a guilt free pass given to him by God. He thinks that he will always have the strength to escape and defeat the enemies. But God had to judge him eventually.  The book of judges recorded the final moment of Samson like this

“And she said, “The Philistines
  are upon you, Samson!” So he
  awoke from his sleep, and said,
  “I will go out as before, at other
    times, and shake myself free!”
  But he did not know that the Lord 
  had departed from him.” – Author of Judges (Judg 16:20)

He though he had the strength to escape, but he did not know God left him. Eventually he was captured, his eyes gorged out, and he ended up in a sorry state. The bible talk of many of such stories.

They serve as a warning to Christians to be watchful and pray, not to grieve the Holy Spirit. If we continually quench the spirit again and again, God will be grieved and the Holy Spirit will leave you.  Just like a friend who tried to advice you in vain, giving up and leaving. He left not because he is hard hearted, but because we refuse to listen.

It is not that God had limits when it come to loving, but God is also the righteous judge. He had to execute his judgement for he is a just God. Today he had given us the opportunity to repent, if we remain unrepentant, his judgement will come upon us and that is when it is too late for regrets.

PT 4 : The High Priest Had The Ultimate Responsibility On the Lamp

“Outside the veil of the Testimony,
  in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron
  shall be in charge of it from evening
  until morning before the Lord continually;
  it shall be a statute forever in your generations.
 
He shall be in charge of the lamps on the
  pure gold lampstand before the Lord
   continually.”-YHWH (Lev 24:3-4)

God says that Aaron must take of the lamp and be in charge. Even though there are priest who serve in the temple and light the lamp. Aaron is the overall in charge of the entire temple. Even though the priest is the ones who keep the lamp burning. It is Aaron Job to ensure that they are working and they did not fall asleep.

Therefore the high priest must check and wake up any priest who fall asleep so that the lamp will be lighted.

The workers are important but the overseer is just as important. Aaron is a human and he too may fall asleep in his duty. That is why Hebrews tell us of the high priest in heaven. He is Jesus and he never sleep. He is without weakness, he will not die, he is living forever and he had became our high priest. He intercedes for us, he is in charge of the lamps within the church. This is an important teaching.

In Rev 1:17-20 : John saw the appearance of the Lord, the God who is alive and is watching over us. Today the people we trust may leave us. We will all die one day. But if we rely on the Lord, he lives forever. He is the God who holds the keys of hades and of death.

Many thought that hades and death are in control of the devil. But here God tell us that he holds the key of Hades and death. That is why we need not be afraid to die for Christ. For Christ had save us from death and had given us internal life.

What we must take note is Rev 1:20.  There were 7 stars, 7 lampstands and 7 angels. the 7 lampstands are the 7 churches. We need to know that God takes care of all his churches.

The Church Is The Responsibility of Christ

Today, if we focus only on the church leader we will be disappointed. For even if we elect a new leader, he may do things that sadden us. But we need to see that God is in charge of all the 7 churches. If we focus on him, we will be filled with hope and glory. We will stop looking at the darkness and focus on the light.

It is true that throughout history, dark forces had been trying to destroy the church. They persecute the church and wanted to destroy. There were leaders and strong Christians who became weak, some of them betrayed the Lord. they choose to leave the church and refuse to believe in God anymore. There are also those deceived, and those who love the world.

On the surface, it look as though the church is weak, full of internal problems and external threats. There are times she look like a bruised reed and smoking flax. It appear not to give up light, and give only a small amber of flame

Sometimes we feel sad when looking at it, and we wonder why the church is like this. But the churches in the book of revelations also look like a bruised reed and a smoking flax. It makes other feel sad and depress when seeing it. They doubt if this is the church of God.

But God told John to write down the details of the church and their corruption, and also write down the fact that there are 7 lampstands and 7 stars in the hand of God. He wanted us to know that he is in charge, he knows what is happening. He had already told us through prophet Isaiah. 

“A bruised reed He will not break,
  And smoking flax He will not quench;
  He will bring forth justice for truth.
  He will not fail nor be discouraged,
  Till He has established justice in the earth;
  And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”- Isaiah (Is 4:3-4)

The church is established by Jesus through his blood and the Holy Spirit. It can overcome hell and hades not because the living stones are strong. But it remain steadfast for his house is build upon the cornerstone that is Jesus. He is steadfast and unmovable.

Jesus is the high priest that will look after the church and help the church.  He is the head of the church and he will take care of it. He is the high priest that tend the lamp in the tabernacle.  He will never allow the lamp to go out.

He will wake up the priest so that they will continue to keep the lamp burning. If we understand this we will not be disappointed. Even if our friends and family depart from the church we will not leave. For we can see the Lord in his church and we will choose to follow him

Concluding Thoughts

If we build out faith on man, we will leave the church. But if faith is establish in the Lord, we will continue to stay. For we know that he rules over the church. We need to continue to keep our faith in Christ. We need to have the hope and endure to the end.  As long as we keep ourselves in his grace, we will never go wrong.

Others may choose to leave, it is their choice and we cannot stop them. But we can influence ourselves and follow Christ. WE can choose to listen to him and follow him.

if we do so we would have lighted the lamp before the Lord. It can illuminate us as well as the church. May God help us so that we will be good lamps.