January 2017


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?

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Introduction

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

Now let us consider his second mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a chinese Idiom that illustrate this attitude perfectly.

(gū xī yǎng jiān)

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

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

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

4th Mistake : He Denies Responsibility, Refuses To Confess 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nipping Sin In The Bud

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

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

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

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

Turning Sin Into A Miracle

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Conclusion So Far

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

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