Recently I saw a video that is posted on face book

https://www.facebook.com/thewaydocumentary/videos/1261129193979849/

In it was a person called Michael Rood and he was talking about the book of Galatians

Here is a transcript of what he had said

“The Torah say will come upon if you don’t obey this
  Everyone who is outside of the works of the law is under a curse
  That’s what it says in Deuteronomy and that what it say in Galatians

  It quotes Deuteronomy right there But they mistranslated it 
  All those of the works of the law, no one is …
  All who are outside the words of the works of the law are under the curse
  Just like what it says””"

So out of curiosity I went to look for the verse that he was talking about it is Gal 3:10

“For as many as are of the works of the
  law are under the curse; for it is written,
  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue
  in all things which are written in the book
  of the law, to do them.”- Paul (Gal 3:10)

This the verse in Deut 27 : 26 reads

“Cursed is the one who does not confirm all
  the words of this law by observing them.’ … “- Moses (Deut 27:26)

According to Mr Rood, that means that those who do not observe the Law are cursed.  But did Paul misquote the verse? If not, what did Paul meant by the curse of the Law? When you read the verse in Deuteronomy , is it a true misquote? Or was it a misunderstanding of the words of Paul?

Initial Reaction

Mr Rood is not the only person on earth who can read Hebrew. I am sure Paul ability to use the Hebrew language when quoting scripture is not in anyway inferior to Mr Rood. Both Mr Rood and Paul are looking at the verse from 2 different perspective

1. It is true that whoever who is outside the law, is cursed. (Non Torah keepers)
2. Israelites who knows the law and fail to keep it, it cursed in the same way

Paul is not misquoting or mistranslating the scriptures. Anyone who read Deut 27 knows that Moses was addressing the Israelites and talking to them about the Law of God. Deut 27 contain curses that would befall Israel should they fail to keep the Law.

Understanding The Law Of Moses And Its Contents

When God gave the Law through Moses. The law is perfect. It illustrates the concept of morality that is expected of the people of God. The ten commandments contains the moral code and the spirit of the entire Law.

In those days, the Law also contains prophecies concerning the messiah found within the ordinances and statutes concerning the feast and sacrifices. The Spring Feast illustrate Gods salvation plan from Gods perspective where he had to be the Passover lamb, the first fruit of resurrection and to come and live among his believers from Pentecost onwards

The fall feast illustrate the salvation plan from believers perspective. Today believers must blow the trumpet to announce Gods ‘redemption method of forgiving sin through his blood. It is through his blood we enter into Gods presence through the veil that is Jesus. From now on believers had entered into the Holies Of Holies together with Christ into the presence of God. From now on the Spirit of God resides in our hearts, which is sprinkled with the blood of Christ. It is because of that we now dwell in booths, living with an attitude that we are pilgrims and sojourners until we finally enter rest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Finally the law contains rules which is given by God as he  wanted his children to lead a life separate from the people of the world.  These law are given to separate Israel from the people of the world.

This is as spoken by God in the book of Leviticus 

“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)

What Is The Curse Of The Law?

The Law Of Moses is a collection of blessings & curses. An example is found in Deut 27 , 28. Those who successfully manage to keep the law of Moses completely, would be blessed by God. Those who fail to keep it would be judged by God. They are cursed. Most of often than not, those who fail to keep the slightest of commandments are judged by God quickly and death would follow.

Let us consider a few practical example of this curse 
1. At Sinai, when Israel worshipped the Golden Calf, 3000 men were killed
2. Nadab and Abihu were killed for offering profane fire  before God
3. Eli and his sons were judged for failing their duties as Priest before God
4. The man who profane Sabbath in numbers was stone to death
5. Achan was judged when he disobeyed God and took the spoil of Jericho
6. The Benjamites were killed by Israel in the incident of the Levite and his wife
7. Korah and his gang were killed when the land swallowed them up
8.  The Kingdom of Israel and Judah were destroyed for failing to keep God Law
9. The entire generation of Israelites died in the wilderness for their unbelief

Was the Law To Be Blamed For These Calamities ?

These curse and judgment happen not because there is a flaw in the Law of God. But the curse came upon these people for they have failed to uphold the standards of the Law. The fault lies in the keepers  and not the law of God. God is executing fair judgement to the transgressors of his law

While some may called these transgressors as those outside the Law. But the fact is that all the transgressors here were descendant of Abraham. They were the Israelites bounded under the Mosaic Covenant. Circumcised with the mark of the Mosaic Covenant.

Just as Gentiles were punished by God for sinning and falling short of the standard of God. The same punishment is reserved for the children of Israel who failed to keep the Law which was given to them by God.

That is why both Jews and Gentiles require the salvation of Christ.

What Is To Come?

Now we have a better understanding of what Paul meant by the curse of the Law. Let us now examine another verse in the New Testament

“For if that first covenant had been faultless,
  then no place would have been sought for a
  second” – Author Of Hebrews (Heb 8:7)

On the surface, it appear as if the Mosaic Covenant is full of flaws. But is that what the Author of Hebrews really talking about? The curse of the Law is an example of this fault in the First Covenant. But is this fault a problem of God? Or the fault really lies in the keepers of the Torah?

Let us examine this deeper for only by understanding this correctly can one really appreciate the salvation which God had accomplished through Christ.

Introduction

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, Part 12)

Today is Mar 9 2017. Those who are big fan of the Jewish festivals would know that today is the beginning of Ta’anit Ester. This is a commemoration of the 3 day fast requested by Queen Esther before taking the risk of going before the presence of the King

“Go, gather all the Jews who
  are present in Shushan, and
  fast for me; neither eat nor
  drink for three days, night or
  day. My maids and I will fast
  likewise. And so I will go to the 
  king, which is against the law;
  and if I perish, I perish!”- Esther (Esther 4:16)

This is interesting this year as we just commemorated International Woman’s day one day ago.

On the sunset of 11th Mar 2017 to 12 Mar 2017 marks the feast of Purim in the Jewish Calendar. In the Jewish calendar it is yearly on 14th day of Adar Month. It is a feast that is not found in the Mosaic Covenant. The origin of the feast is dated during the time of Persian rule and the defeat of the Babylonian empire. The story of Purim is recorded in details in the book  if Esther.

The Historical Esther

My interest for history and archaeology led me on a search for the historical Queen Esther. But the fact is that there are not a lot of archaeological proof for queen Esther. There have been traditions, sites that are identified as the tomb of Esther and Mordecai in Iran. But none of these traditions can be verified in anyway.

Those who attempted to link her to various known historical characters have problem identifying all the characters in the story. The king identified in the story is either Artaxerxes I (reigned 465 to 424 BCE) or Artaxerxes II (reigned 404 to 358 BCE).

However it is impossible to identify the rest of the characters in the story

I believe that is where we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to accept the fact that the biblical account of the story is real or not. But for me the fact that God had allowed the story to be part of the bible is enough.

While i hope that one day good evidence will be found. I will believe the words of God with my heart and believe that the story indeed happened.

A Quick Recap Of The Origins 

The story of Queen Esther is set in the Persian Citidel of Sushan . To a young Jewish girl whose name was Hadassah. She was an orphan living with her uncle Mordecai. In those days the king called for a feast and wanted her queen (Vashti)  to come to the feast so that all could see her beauty. But the queen refused the request. As the result Queen Vashti was dethroned and sent away.

That is when the king called for young maiden to come to the palace to be selected as the next queen. Hadassah went to the palace and kept her Jewish identity secret. She took on the name Esther.  By grace of God, she won the favour of the King and was crowned Queen Esther. During that time an assassination attempt was made to the king. It was stopped by Queen Esther and Mordecai her uncle.

Somewhere outside the palace, an Agagite (Some believed to be Amalekite) known as Haman was made into a powerful political figure. He wanted everyone to bow and pay homage to him. But Mordecai the Jew refuse to bow down to him. Out of Anger, he plotted to kill all the Jews living within the Persian empire. He convinced the King to write an edict to exterminate all Jews living within the Persian Empire. He also created a giant gallows to hang Mordecai on it.

Mordecai and the Jews read the edict. They were sad and distressed. At this point of time Mordecai decided to approach Queen Esther for help to save the Jews. Esther wanted to help, but Persian Law dictates that no one is to come close to the King when they are not being summoned. That is a rule punishable by death. The King however is allowed to extend his sceptre to that person and he/she will be spared of death.

Esther summoned up all the courage, urge all the Jews to pray for her. She fasted for 3 days before going before the king. By grace of God, when she appeared, the King extended his sceptre to Esther saving her from death. She invited Haman and the King to her banquet.

On the second night of the banquet. Esther fell before the King and begged the king for mercy. she told the king that Haman wanted to kill all the Jews. The king saw Haman falling down across the couch where Esther was, he ordered Haman to be captured. Later on Haman was hanged on the Gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. The King went on to write an edict allow the Jews to protect their lives and to take vengeance on their adversaries.

The Jews celebrated the festival with joy, for God turned the day of destruction for the Jews to a day of feasting and gladness. This is the origin of this festival.

Lessons From Esther

The name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther. But there are some who claim that the name YHWH appears in the conversations in the book (link here). However I am no expert in Hebrew. I would provide the link for those who are curious about it.

I believe there are many lessons we can learn from Esther

1. There are coincidences in life, some of them are orchestrated by God.

The book of Esther is full of Coincidences. Queen Vashti being dethroned, Esther becoming queen. Mordecai to chance upon the assassins and their plan.  The king being unable to sleep, requesting for the chronicles to be read to him. the chronicles chosen is the passage about Mordecai rescuing the king. While these events appear random, it is in fact the hand of God behind it.  IT all comes together so that the people of God will be saved.

2. The Courage Of Esther and her willingness to sacrifice herself 

Today when we read the book of Esther, it felt that her decision to come before the King is a simple choice to make. But those who had to make decisions that may lead to their death understands and appreciate the struggle Esther had to go through in order to save the Jews.

It is not easy for Esther to mutter these words “if I perish, I perish!”

Esther could have escaped the disaster herself as she had kept her Jewish identity secret. And in those days there are no DNA test. Yet Esther choose to stand with her kindred and race to save them. She did it with an understanding that she may be killed for doing it. Such decision requires a lot of courage and faith in God.

3. By trusting God, one could turn adversity into opportunity.

The story of Esther started out on a sad note. Esther was an orphan, but God made her the queen of Persia. Mordecai started out as a simple servant of the King almost killed by the office politics of his days. He rose to a position of greatness and respect in the Persian empire. The jews were almost exterminated by the edict of Haman. But they were protected by the edict of the King at the end.

Let us learn that no matter what difficulty we encounter in life. We all could rely on God and he will see us through our difficulty. He is able to turn adversity into opportunity. But we need to be willing to entrust our lives to him and to face our difficulty with faith.

Purim Today

The festival of Purim is not a festival mandated by God. But it is being kept by the Jews to commemorate the event and to remember the deliverance of God. But over time more and more man-made traditions are added.

1. People will greet each other happy Purim.

2. There will be lots of carnivals, masquerades and costume worn by children
     (Sometimes people call Purim “The Jewish Halloween”

3. Some will burn effigy representing Haman, eat a pastry known as Haman’s ears, Haman Pockets (reminded me of how Chinese fry dough sticks represented the killers of General Yue Fei).

4.  When Jews read the book of Esther, they will choose not to read the name if Haman, replacing it with noise.

5. Some will do charity and exchange gifts  on that day

Purim And Christians

Purim, like Hanukah are nationalistic holidays with some basic links to the Old Testament. So the question is, is there a need to Christians to celebrate it?

There are some who claim that Jesus celebrated Purim. Some claim that the feast recorded in Jn 5:1 is the feast of Purim. But if one were to read different commentaries of the verse, we will know that no one knows for certain if the feast in Jn 5:1 is Purim or not. So far some said that the feast is the day of Atonement, some called it the Passover.

That is why I would not attempt to speculate if the feast is Purim or not.  Jesus is a Jew by race. I will not be surprise that he kept Hanukah or Purim, or any of the Old Testament feast. There is nothing weird or wrong with that.

In the same way, I believe that Apostles Paul kept the feast of the Lord personally. I Cor. 16:8-9. Recorded of Paul plan to travel to Jerusalem on Pentecost. Paul talks about keeping feast in Acts 18:21

But we who read the bible need to differentiate between customs of the apostles and the teaching of the apostles. Have we ever wondered why did Paul travel back for the feast alone? Why did he not force the entire church to follow him to Jerusalem to keep the feast? 

Paul explains this when he wrote to the Romans

“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. He who eats, eats to the Lord,
  for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat,
  to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

   For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to
   himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord;
   and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore,
  whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” – Paul(Rom 14:5-8)

Conclusion

I do not deny the significance of Purim to the Jews, it is a nationalistic holiday that reminded the of God salvation of the Jews. For me as a Christians, i keep the story of Esther and the faith of Esther close to my heart. They are principles to how I would face my adversaries  in life. If i am able to do that, that it make no differences if I keep that feast or not.

Nonetheless I wish the Jews a happy Purim and may we all learn the lessons from the book of Esther.

Introduction

In our last post , we discussed 2 characters which are examples given by Jesus for Christian to follow

1. The Good Samaritan
2. Mary And Her Alabaster Flask Of Ointment

 
Let us consider other Characters that Jesus used as examples for us to follow.

The Complete Submission Of Abraham

“If you were Abraham’s children,
  you would do the works of Abraham.” Jesus (Jn 8:39)

Abraham is the forefathers of the Jews, and why is it important for us Christens?

Even though we are not Jews by descent, but we have all became part of the spiritual descendants of Abraham. Paul told us in Galatians.

For as many of you as were baptized 
  into Christ have put on Christ
  …… ……
  And if you are Christ’s, then you are
  Abraham’s seed, and heirs according
  to the promise” – Paul (Gal 3:27, 29)

Those who are joined to Christ through baptism had become the descendent of Abraham. Therefore we too must do the works of Abraham. In simple words, whatever works that Abraham did, we are told to go and do likewise.

Throughout the life of Abraham, he did 3 things that are special in the eyes of God. They are pleasing to the Lord. As the result he was blessed by God. Today if we want to receive the blessing of God we must do them as well.

Indeed there are any instructions from God we ought to follow, some of them are easy while some are hard. Many Christians today choose to keep it partially. For they know that those other instructions are difficult. But Abraham choose to do all that God instructed even if it is difficult to do .

That is true submission to God, for it is often easy for us to do simple instructions from God. But true submission requires us to submit even if the instruction are difficult. Abraham continued to obey all of Gods command.

There are 3 things that Abraham did that were extremely difficult. Let us consider these 3 for this blog post.

Pt 1: Abraham Undergo The Pain Of Circumcision

“As for you, you shall keep My covenant,
  you and your descendants after you
  throughout their generations.  
  
This is My covenant which you shall keep,
  between Me and you and your descendants
  after you: Every male child among you
  shall be circumcised; and you shall be
  circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins,
  and it shall be a sign of the covenant
  between Me and you.” – YHWH (Gen 17:9-11)

God made a covenant with Abraham, and it is a good covenant. But the sign of the covenant is one that bring physical pain. It is easy to perform circumcision on a baby, for even if he feels pain, he will not be able to run away. But what about doing it to an adult?

Those who underwent circumcision as adult knows the pain, and how it affect our work, our lives. If we need to do it in order to sign a covenant with God, will we be willing to do it?

Why Did God Choose Circumcision As the Sign Of The Covenant?

Why did God choose circumcision as a sign? Surely there are many other signs that could be chosen. Why must God make it so hard so that we will feel the pain? While many would love to make a covenant with God, they will find circumcision a difficult task.

Indeed Abraham had to go through pain , but yet he obeyed and submit to God. Even though he knew that circumcision will bring about suffering to him physically. Today if we are in Abraham shoes, will we regard the blessing of God and the covenant so important that it is worth all the pain we need to undergo?

Today many Christians have a to struggle with doubts and question over there faith. But we all know it is best to submit to the words of God.

Naaman Obedience

2 Kings 5  talks about Naaman who was trying to seek healing for his leprosy. He came humbly to Israel to seek Prophet Elisha for healing. But the method of Elisha angered him.

“Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely
  come out to me, and stand and call on
  the name of the Lord his God, and wave
  his hand over the place, and heal the
  leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the
  Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better
  than all the waters of Israel? Could I not
  wash in them and be clean?” – Naaman (2 King 5:11-12)

Elisha did not meet him personally, he was expecting Elisha to meet him, wave his hand before him. But Elisha sent his servant to tell him to go to river Jordan and to wash himself 7 times and he will be healed..

Naaman thought that the prophet was being difficult, why did he need to do this? All he needs to do is to pray and he will be healed. why did Elisha made him go to the river Jordan for a bath?

That is why he decided to turn his chariot and return home. But his servant girl reminded him.

“My father, if the prophet had told you to
  do
something great, would you not have
  done it? How much more then, when he
  says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”  – Servant Girl (2 King 5:13)

The fact is that it is not too hard to wash in river Jordan 7 times. It is just a minor inconvenience. For he need to bath in it 7 times . But since no one else could help, why not just follow the instruction and do it?

Man often accuse God of being difficult. That is why we find it hard to follow his instruction. But have we considered if there is a need for God to make life difficult for us? We who know God knew that God is not like that.

God made his instructions like this to see if we could submit to him. For if you truly believe, you will follow his words and obey.

The Case For Baptism

In the post entry,  “ “The Way” Misunderstood”. I shared that the apostolic church emphasise on Baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38, Mk 16:16). Once we had a professor in Greek who came to our church to teach the Greek language. We asked him if Acts 2:38 indicates that Baptism forgive sins textually. The professor answered yes, but he, being a theologian said he did not believe it. That is because it is hard to understand how dipping oneself into living water cleanses away sin.

Indeed it is far for us to have our questions out of curiosity. But if we indeed believe in Go, why are we unable to submit to his words?

We know by faith that God will not make a mistake, nor will he give the wrong order. That is why we are all willing to submit to him even if it meant suffering. So if the instruction to baptise ourselves is simple. Why are we unable to follow them?

Today, Christians are suppose to sign our covenant with Christ through Baptism. There is no longer a need for us to circumcise ourselves. We know that Baptism must be conducted in the name of Jesus (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 2:38). It is done in rivers and in full immersion or in Oasis where the flow of water is natural (John 3:22-26). Even though we are unable to understand how is sin forgiven this way. But we do so because we believe in the instructions of Jesus. We perform baptism out of faith and complete obedience to the word of god.

But yet today Churchtianity tells us that this is no longer necessary. One merely needs to believe and profess with their mouth that Jesus is their saviour. While receiving the sacrament of Baptism without faith is mere dipping in water, believing in the words of Jesus and not doing it is also failure to show complete faith.

The fact of the matter is that the instruction of God is absolute and crystal clear. It is men who in their wisdom added their thoughts into the word of God. We read in acts that the apostolic church  performed baptism and they do so in the same manner as Jesus had shown them.

Let us be like Naaman, to trust in the simple words of God. Let us not consider it a inconvenience, let us be willing to do it even if it is something that we cannot understand logically.

For true faith require full obedience. Abraham was willing to undergo pain for the sake of receiving Gods blessing. Today Christians do not need to undergo pain to complete the sacrament of Baptism. Let us receive the blessing of God by obeying his command. Let us not use our own thinking to twist and change the command of God. Let us be willing to follow it even if it bring about minor difficulty. Let us learn to do the works of Abraham.

Pt 2: Abraham Left The Land As Instructed

“Get out of your country,
  From your family
  And from your father’s house,
  To a land that I will show you.
   I will make you a great nation;
  I will bless you
  And make your name great;
  And you shall be a blessing.
  I will bless those who bless you,
  And I will curse him who curses you;
  And in you all the families of the
  earth shall be blessed.”- YHWH (Gen 12:1-4)

God told Abraham to leave his land and his kindred. Genesis 12 records the second time where God called him. This time God wanted Abraham to leave Haran. He was 75 years old when he left. The bible did not record his age when he departed from Ur Of the Chaldeans.

Stephen talks about this in Acts 7:2-4. It appears as if God told Abraham to leave Ur. It appear as if Abraham left Haran after Terah died. But I did a post tabling out the lives of Abraham and Terah and we know that Terah was still alive when Isaac is born. From here we know that Terah remained in Haran.

Some how Terah his father did not continue the journey. Initially they all believed in the promise of God to go to the land that God is giving them. But when they arrived at Haran, Terah stopped and did not go on. His action created a difficulty in Abraham. It appear as if Terah his father had stop believing.

Abraham Dilemma

Abraham must have thought hard for a win win situation. Perhaps he wanted to wait for his father to pass away before continuing. But if he did so, he would have waited 60 years. At that point of time, Abraham was restrained by his kinship and was unable to move on with his faith.

That is why God appeared to him and tell him to leave Haran and continue. For God will not want his children to be stagnant in faith. In the same way, we will encounter problems in our walk of faith, we need to rely on God to overcome them. If we do not our faith will remain stagnant.

Many a time it is relationship that hinders faith. Many were unable to overcome this problem and they choose to let go of faith. There are many Christians who choose this path when their family / partner did not believe in Christ. There are also some who let go of faith when their family object to their faith.

Often we will choose to leave the church because someone offends us. That is why relationship is a big obstacle to faith. That is also the reason why God wanted Abraham to leave it, so that it will no longer ensnare his faith.

In the same way, this instruction comes with a lot of problem and difficulty. It is something difficult to do, but Abraham left as God instructed. Was Abraham being cruel?  Did he abandoned his family?

At the beginning of the journey, his father left Ur together with him. They walked together in the journey of faith. But when they reached Haran, his father stopped believing and he did not continue. How can they continue to walk on the same path anymore?

The Case For Loving God

“For I have come to ‘set a man
  against his father, a daughter
  against her mother, and a
  daughter-in-law against her
   mother-in-law’; 
   and ‘a man’s enemies will be
  those of his own household.’
 
 He who loves father or mother
  more than Me is not worthy of
  Me. And he who loves son or
  daughter more than Me is not
  worthy of Me.” – Jesus (Matt 10:35-37)

These are hard words that modern church goers will not hear their pastors reading that anymore. It is something that is hard to do, and it goes against many things that we have heard and learn.

This is also the verse that stumbled many. For they regard the Gospel as a gospel of peace that teaches humility. We know as a fact from the Law of God that we must honour and love our parents.

But yet why is such a verse found in the bible? How can we understand this? Is this a contradiction?

Jesus is not telling us to go against our family, our parents and our relatives. He is not telling us not to love them anymore. But Jesus is referring to the matter of faith. Indeed we must keep the commandments of God and honour and respect our parents.

Sometimes in order to create peace at home, we choose to be on the losing end and give way to our family. For we know that if we fight on there will be no peace at home. That is why we choose to love and that is a Christian virtue.

But such love must not compel us to compromise our faith. We need to stand in our faith even if it makes us an enemy to our own family.  If someone compels us to give up our faith for the sake of relationship we must never give in.

We need to do what we can to please our family and make them happy. But we will never allow our faith to be compromise, nor will we do things that are against the words of God in order to please others. For our love for our family must not supersede our love for God.

We can respect the faith of others , but others must learn to respect our faith. There are certain things that we have to persist and not compromise. Let us not learn to give up our faith for the sake of peace.

That is the reason why Jesus said that he will set a man against his family. For there are times where we need to go against our household for the sake of faith. This is something unavoidable. Even though we try our best to live peacefully with others, there will be occasions where there will be strained relationship.

These occasions are also the time of trial to see if we are willing to submit to God and not give up on our faith. That is why Jesus reminds us that when we encounter situations where we must choose between our faith and relationships. We need to hold on to faith. For it is faith that will determine if we are saved ultimately.

Conclusion

We need to be faithful to our belief and hold fast to faith. Let us not allow it to change. Let us do the works of Abraham. How he willingly obey the words of God even if it meant pain and going against his family.

May we all have the strength to choose to follow Gods instruction. May God help us so that we can do all that is according to his will.

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?