So far we have explored many aspect of Jewish Ceremonial laws in the Shadow Of The Old Testament Series

This is what we have discussed so far

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)
9. Esther and Purim ( Part 13)
10. The Spring Feast (Part 14)
11. Jesus , The True Passover Lamb (Part 15)
12. The Red Heifer (Part 16, Part 17)

I was supposed to share this on Pentacost day, but my blogging software ran into some issues.

Purpose Of Pentecost (Feast Of The Weeks , Shavuot)

The Purpose OF the Feast, as mentioned in the Torah is as follows

“You shall rejoice before the Lord your God,
  you and your son and your daughter, your
  male servant and your female servant, the
  Levite who is within your gates, the stranger
  and the fatherless and the widow who are
  among you, at the place where the Lord your
  God chooses to make His name abide. And
  you shall remember that you were a slave
   in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe
  these statutes.”- Moses (Deut 16:11)

The real reason behind the festival is to remember the grace of God that he had brought Israel into the land of Israel. Prior to that the Jews will be counting the Omer. Between Passover to Pentacost, there are about 49 days (7 Sabbaths)

On that day Israel is supposed to offer two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. (Num 28:27)

Christ And First Fruits

Many Christians said that Christ is the first fruit of resurrection. But those who think like this tend to forget about another significant event that happen at the point when Jesus died on the cross. Matthew wrote about it.

“Then, behold, the veil of the temple
  was torn in two from top to bottom;
  and the earth quaked, and the rocks
  were split, and the graves were opened;
  and many bodies of the saints who had
  fallen asleep were raised;  and coming
  out of the graves after His resurrection,
  they went into the holy city and
  appeared to many.” – Matthew (Matt 27:51-53)

When Christ is raised, he was not the only one that was raise. All the Saints of the Old Testament who kept the Mosaic covenant were raised alongside with him. It is at that point all the rituals and statutes of the Mosaic Covenant had the power to save. That is also the time when the Mosaic Covenant is fulfilled completely.

From that point onwards, both Jews and Gentiles had to sign the Covenant with Christ through baptism to be saved.  Unlike the Mosaic Covenant, they are not to enter into the land of Canaan, but they are suppose to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the city that all the Jewish forefather look forward to.

Those who kept the Mosaic Covenant and were save, were those who resurrected together with Christ. When Christ fulfil that Covenant by being the Passover lamb, he saved all of them and bring them into heaven.

Under the Covenant of Christ we are no longer going to inherit the physical land of Canaan but to inherit the Spiritual promise land.  Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we now look forward to the city where the maker is God.

That is why Christians today no longer celebrate Pentecost to celebrate their entry into the land of Canaan. We are not farmers, so we have no Omers to count, but we keep the spirit of these feast. Knowing that God had rescued us from being slaves to sin and made us the slaves of righteousness. We as Christians ought to celebrate the fact that through the Covenant of Christ we are now Abraham’s descendent. Today we are freed from sin and we are no longer slaves of sin but slaves to righteousness. 

The Establishment Of The Church Through His Spirit On Pentecost

That is why Christ chose the day of Pentecost to establish his church. In Acts 2 the first Christians are gathered in the upper house of John Mark in Jerusalem. It was the Pentecost, where many Pilgrims from the Jewish diaspora returned to Jerusalem to keep the feast.

Jesus had promised his disciples

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.
 
And I will pray the Father, and He will 
give you another Helper, that He may 
abide with you forever—
 
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
  receive, because it neither sees Him nor
   knows Him; but you know Him, for He
  dwells with you and will be in you. 
   I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”- Jesus (Jn 14:15-18)

Which later he spoke before he ascended to heaven he told his disciples

“you have heard from Me;  for John truly
  baptized with water, but you shall be 
  baptized with the Holy Spirit not many
  days from now … ….

  But you shall receive power when the
  Holy Spirit has come upon you; and
  you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem,
  and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
  end of the earth.”- Jesus (Acts 1:4-5, 8)

The disciples followed his instruction and continued to wait and pray. Acts 2 narrated the coming of the Holy Spirit

“And suddenly there came a
  sound from heaven, as of a
  rushing mighty wind, and it
  filled the whole house where
  they were sitting.
  
Then there appeared to them
  divided tongues, as of fire, and
  one sat upon each of them. 
  And they were all filled with
  the Holy Spirit and began to
  speak with other tongues, as
  the Spirit gave them utterance.” – Luke (Acts 2:2-4)

While today many in Christendom debate over what tongues sounded like. But we know that it is no normal language. it is a type of Utterance. It was very loud, and many of the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for Pentecost gathered near the upper room to witness what the din is all about.

But as they gathered. They saw a group of 120 disciples given utterance by the Holy Spirit, but yet they heard them speaking in their own languages. These are the location where they are from
1. Parthians
2. Medes
3. Elamites, 
4.  Mesopotamia,
5.  Judea and
6. Cappadocia,
7. Pontus 
8.  Asia,
9. Phrygia
10. Pamphylia,
11. Egypt and the
12. parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene,
13.  visitors from Rome,
14. Cretans
15. Arabs

Today many who are anti tongues speaking claim that the utterance was assortment of languages and not an unknown tongue. But I would like to encourage those who think so to try this simple experiment.

1. Get 15 different bibles in different language (tongues) turn to Matt 6:9-13)
2. Each of you recite the Lords prayer in your own language
3. See if you can hear distinctly 15 languages clearly.

In Acts 2 there are 2 miracles that happen. The first was that those 120 disciples spoke in an unknown tongue. One that cannot be understood clearly. The second being that some of those who gathered were moved by the spirit of God to interpreted the tongue. that is why they could hear it by their own language.

“we hear them speaking in
  our own tongues the wonderful
  works of God” – Crowd at the upper room (Acts 2:11)

While those who hear the tongues speaking at not the interpreting mocked “They are full of new wine.” . they felt that these disciples were drunk.

Today many claims that when one believe in Christ he received the Holy Spirit. But in Acts these two event are not related and separated. For when the gospel is preached to Samaria, the book of acts recorded

“Now when the apostles who were at
  Jerusalem heard that Samaria had
  received the word of God, they sent
  Peter and John to them,  who, when
  they had come down, prayed for them
  that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”- Luke (Acts 2:14-15)

In Acts 10 the method that the disciples used to determine if one recieved the Holy Spirit is clearly stated

“And those of the circumcision who
  believed were astonished, as many
  as came with Peter, because the gift
  of the Holy Spirit had been poured
  out on the Gentiles also.
   
For they heard them speak with
  tongues and magnify God.
’”- Luke (Acts 10:45-46)

Peter when recalling this event compared it to Acts 2 saying.

“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit
  fell upon them, as upon us at the
  beginning” – Peter (Acts 11:15)

This same standard was used by Paul when he was preaching in Ephesus

And when Paul had laid hands on
  them, the Holy Spirit came upon
  them, and they spoke with tongues
  and prophesied.”- Luke (Acts 19:6)

The Purpose Why God Poured His Spirit Onto Men

The purpose of Tongues Speaking is an evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is not here just as a sound that irritates people when we pray. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee and seal that indicate that we are the children of God.

As Paul once said

“In Him you also trusted, after you
  heard the word of truth, the gospel
  of your salvation; in whom also,
  having believed, you were sealed
  with the Holy Spirit of promise,
 
who is the guarantee of our inheritance
  until the redemption of the purchased 
  possession, to the praise of His glory.” – Paul (Eph 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit is sent to the world for 3 purpose

“And when He has come, He will convict
  the world of sin, and of righteousness,
  and of judgment: 
   of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
   of righteousness, because I go to My Father
   and you see Me no more; 
   of judgment, because the ruler of this
  world is judged.”- Jesus (Jn 16:8-10)

The Holy Spirit  is given to believers and it is God living within them. Jesus once describe what the Holy Spirit does

“I still have many things to say to you,
  but you cannot bear them now.
  
However, when He, the Spirit of truth,
  has come, He will guide you into all truth;
  for He will not speak on His own authority,
  but whatever He hears He will speak; and
  He will tell you things to come.” – Jesus (Jn 16:12-14)

He is here to help believers as a counsellor, to remind the believers the importance of keeping the word of God. To provide them comfort and strength in times of difficulty and to continually make supplication for believers before God as they pray.

We would go into this details in a separate series.

Conclusion

This article is mainly written to talk about Pentecost. In this study we have looked into the Mosaic Covenant and what Pentecost meant to the keepers of the Torah.

It is meant as a day of Thanksgiving where they remember the fact that they used to be slaves in Egypt. That is why they need to go up to Jerusalem for a sacrifice. It is one of the 3 festivals where the Israelites had to travel to Jerusalem to keep it.

We looked into the idea of first fruits. Knowing that along with Christ the saints of the old testament were raised  at the same time of Christ for Christ had finally redeem them with his blood.

When Christ sacrifice himself and offered the world the Covenant of Christ. He made use of the festival to establish the church. The Holy Spirit fell on the 120 believers , they spoke in tongues and the crowd gathered to see what was happening. Peter stood up, spoke to the Jews Pilgrim, telling them that Jesus is the Christ.

They performed Baptism on 3000 who believed. Upon Baptism their sins were forgiven and they form the first Church. It is the group of people redeemed by the blood of Christ and part of the kingdom of God.

As far as Christians are concern, there is no longer the need for us to keep this festival. For Christ had given us a better promise far better than what the Mosaic Covenant promised. Today we are pilgrims waiting to inherit the Kingdom of God, it is far better than receiving the land flowing with milk and honey.  That is why we ought to keep the Spirit of the festival and remember the fact that we used to be slaves to sin and now we serve God.

Most importantly, let us strive to pray for the Holy Spirit, which is evidence by tongues speaking. For the Holy Spirit is the seal that guarantees our inheritance in heaven. He is the Spirit of God living within us, teaching us and guiding us in our daily lives.

That is our true Pentecost.

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Introduction

In the previous section, we have diagrammed and detailed out the process of manufacturing the ashes used in the purification rite of the Mosaic covenant. We have also read the Torah and understood that the sprinkling of the water had nothing to do with Physical cleanliness.

Mosaic Covenant was very clear about this

“Then a man who is clean shall gather
  up the ashes of the heifer, and store
  them outside the camp in a clean place;
  and they shall be kept for the congregation
  of the children of Israel for the water of
  purification; it is for purifying from sin.”

This is use whenever anyone touches a dead body or carcass. It is also used on unclean tents. It would likely be used also when dealing with lepers and purifying lepers houses. Just before they enter the camp.

This is one of the methods of purifying sin under the Mosaic Covenant.

The Mosaic Rituals Were Prophecies Of Christ

The fact is that the tabernacle under the Mosaic covenant is not like the one that God intended. He had shown his true tabernacle to Moses and what Moses could create is a mere pattern that was modelled after it.

For YHWH said

“And see to it that you make them
  according to the pattern which
  was shown you on the mountain.”- YHWH (Ex 25:40)

God had also likely revealed the same thing to David. For David had given all the plans to his son Solomon (1 Chron 28:11-18) David gave this conclusion

 “All this,the Lord made me understand
   in writing, by His hand upon me, all
   the works of these plans.”-  David (1 Chron 28:19)

The design that they saw is likely recorded by Ezekiel in full details. The measurements are given to Israel to help them be ashamed of their iniquities (Eze 43:10-11).  The actual Tabernacle that God wants is a standard that they can never reach in the Old Testament.

For God wants to dwell together with his people, but he had to set up the Tabernacle as a separation, for the people he dwell among are unclean. All the sin offering, the water of purification is unable to allow God to dwell with his people. That is why he set up the Tabernacle to separate himself from the people. He encamped the Levites around him.

Out of the Levites he separated the family of Aaron and they are the only ones who could enter into his presence once a year on the day of Atonement. The purpose of the day of Atonement is to purify the tabernacle so that Gods presence can continue to dwell in the midst of their uncleanness.

The Fulfilment Of Christ

The Jews believe that the Messiah will be a warrior king that will re-establish the kingdom of David. They believe that the temple will be rebuilt according to the measurement seen by Ezekiel. they believe that God will establish this Davidic Kingdom and the entire nation will worship the one true God.

But Christians believe that the messiah is Jesus, he is to establish the kingdom of David, but the kingdom is not a physical kingdom. Christian believe that the church established by Christ is the Kingdom of the Messiah. Within the Church contains the new covenant   that is better the Mosaic covenant. For in the new Covenant, God can finally live in the hearts of the people. He can rule the hearts of man.

The Jerusalem of the Messiah is the church of God, out of Jerusalem comes water that can heal. It can purify the people and made them right with God that is why the Author of Hebrews, described this new tabernacle like this 

“Then indeed, even the first
  covenant had ordinances of
  divine service and the earthly
  sanctuary … …

  It was symbolic for the present
  time in which both gifts and sacrifices
  are offered which cannot make him
  who performed the service perfect
  in regard to the conscience—
 
concerned only with foods and drinks,
  various washings, and fleshly ordinances
  imposed until the time of reformation.

  But Christ came as High Priest of the
  good things to come, with the greater and
  more perfect tabernacle not made with
  hands, that is, not of this creation.” –Hebrews (9:1.9-11)

The covenant of Christ is one step higher than the covenant of Moses. For now those of the new covenant could enter deeper into the Sanctuary while those who are of the earthy service can only serve a the Holy Place. 

That is why he compared  the ritual of the red heifer and compare them to the sacrifice of Christ.  He drew this conclusion

For if the blood of bulls and
  goats and the ashes of a heifer,
  sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies
  for the purifying of the flesh, 
  how much more shall the blood of
  Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
  offered Himself without spot to God,
  cleanse your conscience from dead
  works to serve the living God?”- (Heb 9:13-14)

This is the basis why Christians compares the sacrifice of the Red Heifers as a prophecy of the Sacrifice of Christ. In those days, the ashes of the heifer is used to purify sin. Today Christians uses the blood of Christ, sprinkled onto us for forgiveness of sin.

Interesting Notes About The Ritual

The entire law of purification is full of the symbolism of the sacrifice of Christ. It is indeed an interesting prophecy of the coming sacrifice of Christ.

1. The Heifer is slaughtered outside the camp
2. The Heifer, High Priest, and the helpers must all go out of the camp
3. The blood is sprinkled 7 times on the entrance of the Tabernacle
4. Everyone involved in making the ash had to be unclean
5. Everyone who touches the water is made unclean 
6. The ash and water is used on both Israelites and strangers (Gentiles) (Num 19:10)
7. The purpose of the ash is to purify one from sin

Let us take sometimes to examine this.

Pt 1 and 2: The Heifer, The Priest, And the helpers must go outside the Camp

The Red Heifer is the only old testament rite that requires animals to be killed outside of camp. If we compare the red Heifer with the other animals sacrifices you will notice the following

1. All Burnt Offerings are killed at the north side of the altar (Lev 1:11)
2. Peace offering are killed before the door of tabernacle (West side) (Lev 3 : 8) 
3. Sin offering are killed before the door of tabernacle (West side) (Lev 4: 4)
           a. Hide, flesh , head, legs, entrails and offal taken outside of camp,  (Lev 4:11-12)
4. On Day of Atonement, the sacrifices are like 1,3 but one goat is released
5. Only in a case of unsolved murder, a heifer will be killed (Deut 21:3-4)

Only the red heifer is killed outside the camp. All other animals offering is not done in the same way. The sacrifice of the Red Heifer must be done outside the camp. In order to manufacture the ashes, everyone had to go outside of camp.

This trial kind of reminded me of how Jesus was led out from Jerusalem to Golgotha to be crucified. It is quite interesting for Jesus is the Heifer to be killed, and he is also the high priest of the new covenant. All of them had to go outside of camp to be sacrificed. The Heifer is killed outside the camp. Its blood is taken and sprinkled at the door of the Tabernacle.

This is the unique action that separates the sacrifice of the red heifer from all other sacrifices.

In the same way, Christians of today must be willing to follow the high priest and the red heifer to go all the way out of the camp in order to save souls. For before the ascension of Christ he instructed us”

Extracted from Acts 1:4-8
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father,

“Which you have heard from Me; 
   for John truly baptized with water,
  but you shall be baptized with the
  Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The disciples asked

“Lord, will You at this time restore
  the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus replied

“It is not for you to know times or seasons
  which the Father has put in His own authority.
 
But you shall receive power when the Holy
  Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
  witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all
  Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus wanted us to be his witness, in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the world. To do so, we must follow the example of the Priest to be willing to leave the camp for the sake of saving people from sin.

Pt 3 Location If The Blood Of The Heifer

When the red Heifer  is killed. The Priest had to collect the blood of the Heifer and bring it back to the Tabernacle. Sprinkle it at a front of the Tabernacle

“and Eleazar the priest shall take
  some of its blood with his finger,
  and sprinkle some of its blood seven
  times directly in front of the tabernacle
  of meeting”- Moses (Num 19:4)

Sprinkling of the blood in front of the tabernacle of meeting, indicate that the blood is sprinkled towards the entrance of the Tabernacle. The tabernacle is only accessible by the Priest and the high priest.

Interestingly, that means to enter the tabernacle, one have to enter through an entrance sprinkled with the blood of the Heifer. if we do a close search of the verse. The blood of the Heifer is the only blood sprinkled there.

In the same way, Jesus is the red Hiefer that was sacrifice outside of camp. It is through his blood the Christians of today could enter the heavenly Tabernacle.  Today we must be baptised in the blood of Christ through baptism in order to enter.

Once God gave elder John a reed to measure

“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod.
   And the angel stood,  saying, “Rise and measure
  the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship
  there. 
  
But leave out the court which is outside the temple,
  and do not measure it, for it has been given to the
  Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot
  for forty-two months.” – John (Rev 11:1-2)

John is suppose to measure the temple, the altar (Likely the Altar of Incense as it is in the temple) and the people who worship. Meaning to say measure those who step into the Tabernacle to worship. Through the blood of the Heifer. ‘

We need to receive the blood of Christ to enter into the temple. Only those in the temple are measured by God. 

Pt 4-5 Those who help in the ritual are unclean

In the sacrifice of the Red Hiefer. All those who are involved in the creation of the Ash must be unclean. The High Priest who witness the killing of the heifer and sprinkled the blood onto the tabernacle is unclean. The one who burned the heifer and collect the ashes are all unclean.

In order to purify the people those sprinkled the water of purification are unclean. This is a reminder of Christ sacrifice. How he became unclean and bore our iniquities. Just as what Prophet Isaiah said

“Surely He has borne our griefs
  And carried our sorrows;
  Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
  Smitten by God, and afflicted.
   But He was wounded for our transgressions,
  He was bruised for our iniquities;
  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
  And by His stripes we are healed.
   All we like sheep have gone astray;
  We have turned, every one, to his own way;
  And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah (Is 53:4-6)

In order to save Israel from sin, the High Priest must be unclean and cast out from the camp. In the same way, the helpers of the high priest were all made unclean in order to create the ashes necessary to create the water of purification.

In the same way we as Christians are suppose to help the high Priest to deal with sin. We have to be ambassadors in Christ telling people to be reconciled with God. In the process of doing this we may have to suffer together with the high priest. But we have to do it.

We must have the same spirit of those who took part in the ritual of the red heifer. To be willing to go out of the camp and be cast out so that others will be purified.

That is why Paul tells us

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ,
  as though God were pleading through us:
  we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled
  to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to
   be
sin for us, that we might become the
  righteousness of God in Him.”- Paul (2 Cor 5:20-21)

Pt 6-7  The Users Of The Water Of Purification From Sin

“And the one who gathers the ashes of the
  heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean
  until evening. It shall be a statute forever to
  the children of Israel and to the stranger who
  dwells among them.”- Moses (Num 19:10)

Strangers who dwell among them are gentiles and non Jews. While strangers were unable to participate in most of the Mosaic rituals. They can be sprinkled with the water of purification. Interestingly the water of purification is used for the purification from sin (Num 19:9)

This is one of the interestingly prophecy telling us that God had intended to save gentiles from sin. Just as once he spoke through Prophet Micah

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
  That the mountain of the Lord’s house
  Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
  And shall be exalted above the hills;
  And peoples shall flow to it.
   Many nations shall come and say,
  “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
  To the house of the God of Jacob;
  He will teach us His ways,
  And we shall walk in His paths.”
  For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
  And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”- Micah (Mic 4:1-2)

After Christ sacrifice and the blood was offered. The mountain of the Lord house will be established. Many will flow to it to learn the way of the Lord. This includes both Jews and gentiles alike. they will learn the Law of God taught by Jesus.

In the same way when Christ had raised up the fallen tent of David, when he established the church as the place of salvation. The gentiles will be able to called onto the name of God. As spoken by Amos

“On that day I will raise up
  The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
  And repair its damages;
  I will raise up its ruins,
  And rebuild it as in the days of old;
   That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
  And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
  Says the Lord who does this thing.””- Amos (Amos 9:11-12)

It is only though the blood of the Red hiefer where sin is being cleanse. This is done on both Jews and gentile alike. That is why the Author of Hebrew tells us

 And according to the law almost all
  things are purified with blood, and
  without shedding of blood there is no
  remission.” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 9:22)

“Christ was offered once to bear the
   sins of many. To those who eagerly
  wait for Him He will appear a second
  time, apart from sin, for salvation.” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 9:28)

In that passage, he sum up both the purification from the blood of the red heifer and the purification on the day of atonement together. As the blood of both sacrifices are meant to deal with sin.

Conclusion

Let us be able to see the prophecies concerning Christ through all these rituals from the Mosaic Covenant. Most importantly let us enter into the covenant with God through the blood of Christ.

The Law is meant to teach us about Christ. Christ had to come to earth to fulfil all these requirements as stipulated in the Mosaic Covenant. When his sacrifice is done he had fulfilled all of them. That is why Christians today do not need to follow the rituals of the Mosaic Covenant. They were all prophecies and lessons about Christ.

We need to see Christ in these ritual and more importantly follow Christ. Let us accept the cleansing form the blood of Christ through baptism, understanding that the sacrifice of the Red heifer is a prophecy concerning Christ.

Let us not be like the Jewish Rabbis who are unable to see Christ in their ritual and are still obsessed with breeding the ultimate Red Heifer. Let us instead follow Christ and be saved.

As it was my custom since 2010, I would specially post a hymn on the 3rd may of the year.  3rd may had always been a special day in my life.

So far I have shared the following hymns

What A Friend I have In Jesus” – May 3rd 2010
“Thanks to God” – May 3rd 2011
“Day By Day” – May 3rd 2012
“All The Way The Savior Leads Me” – May 3rd 2013
“Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer” – May 3rd 2014
”Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” – May 3rd 2015
”Hold Thou My hand” – May 3rd 2016

Today, with only one hour left in May 3rd. I decided to thank God for all the help he had rendered to me for the past year. I managed to move safely to Vietnam and settle down. Though life is far from perfect, but I was able to see all the grace he had given and how he had protected me from one difficulty to another. He had also entrusted one of his little heritage to my wife and I. We have been caring for him for 8 months now.

So I decided to share this particular hymn, for I know that God had watches over me and will continue to do so.

For God once spoke through Prophet Isaiah

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
  And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
  Surely they may forget,
  Yet I will not forget you. 
  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
  Your walls are continually before Me.” – YHWH (Is 49:15-16)

Therefore God will never forget, he will always be here watching me. Even though difficulties may abound and troubles will increase. God will continue to watch over me. He is ahead of me and he will see me through the difficulties.

My Father Watches Over Me

William C. Martin, pub.1910

  1. I trust in God wherever I may be,
    Upon the land, or on the rolling sea,
    For come what may, from day to day,
    My heav’nly Father watches over me.
    • Refrain:
      I trust in God, I know He cares for me;
      On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;
      Though billows roll, He keeps my soul;
      My heav’nly Father watches over me.
  2. He makes the rose an object of His care,
    He guides the eagle through the pathless air,
    And surely He remembers me;
    My heav’nly Father watches over me.
  3. I trust in God, for, in the lion’s den,
    On battlefield, or in the prison pen,
    Through praise or blame, through flood or flame,
    My heav’nly Father watches over me.
  4. The valley may be dark, the shadows deep,
    But, oh, the Shepherd guards His lonely sheep;
    And through the gloom He’ll lead me home,
    My heav’nly Father watches over me.

So far we have explored many aspect of Jewish Ceremonial laws in the Shadow Of The Old Testament Series

This is what we have discussed so far

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)
9. Esther and Purim ( Part 13)
10. The Spring Feast (Part 14)
11. Jesus , The True Passover Lamb (Part 15)

Introduction

Before the coming of Pentecost where this study will end. Let us take a look at a very special ritual that is unique to the Mosaic Covenant. It is one of the most mysterious and the most unique of all the ordinances found in the Mosaic Covenant.

I am referring to the Ordinances regarding the red Heifer.  It is difficult to understand how water mixed with blood and ashes from a dead heifer could maintain the purity and the cleanliness of the people.

That is why many Rabbis tried to supplement the word of God by adding to the word of God to make sense of the ritual. Their obsession to explain the ritual gave birth to volumes of books. One of it is documented in the temple institute.

Even today there is still an obsession about the red heifer. I once come across a funding project to breed the  pure red heifer. Those who supported this believe that that will help usher in the  era of the Messiah.

My Approach In Looking At This

Instead of inventing Oral traditions which are claimed to be spoken by Moses. I would look solely into the Law Of Moses to see what the Red Heifer Is truly about.  I will not attempt to supplement the word of God with endless researches and just look at the rite as it is.

After examining the rite , its uses and process. We would compare the against the backdrop of the New Testament. This is necessary for to Christians, the Messiah had already came. His sacrifices is complete and it fulfilled the requirement of purification which was what the red heifer is used for. ‘

That is why to Christians, there is no need to breed a pure red heifer to create the water of purification. For the blood of Christ is sufficient to cleanse us from all sin and uncleanliness. Therefore, We will examine the effect of the right, and compare the rite of the Red heifer  with the sacrifice of Jesus.

Demystifying The Use Of The Red Heifer

Throughout the Mosaic Covenant (Torah) the heifer is only used in 2 places. Num 19 (the Israelite purification rite) and the rite for unsolved murder (Deut 21:4-6) these are 2 separate issues. The record in Deut 21 talks about the use of a Heifer, there is no requirement for it to be red. It is meant to atone for the sin of unsolved murder. It had nothing to do with Purification,

Today our focus will be primary on Number 19. Numbers 19 explains the use of the ashes created in this rite, 

1. It is meant use for purifying from sin (Num 19:9)
2. It is use to purify one who touches dead body (Num 19:11-15)
        a. The person must be sprinkled with the water on 3rd day and 7th day
        b. Any tent where a man died in it is unclean and must be sprinkled 
        c. Anyone who touches someone dead is unclean 7 days
3. They are to add the ashes and running water into to a jar for use (Num 19:17)
4. A clean man is to use it, sprinkle on the unclean tent with hyssop (Num 19:18) 
          a. Those who touch a slain man, or dead animals is to be sprinkled clean
5. Failure to do so will result to the person to be cut off from the people (Num19:20 )
         a. For he had  defiled the sanctuary of God.
         b. He is deem unclean.

So is there a scientific reason for doing this? Perhaps some of my old testament expert or Torah fan boys  could provide some scientific evidence how ash containing blood can clean something Winking smile 

But as far as I read from the Narrative of the scripture, this uncleanness is more about d sin rather than personal hygiene   Num 19:9 is very clear that the purpose of the this rite is to cleanse one from sin rather than physical uncleanness.

This rite is meant for atoning (covering sin) As we have shared before that nothing in the Mosaic Covenant is meant to forgive sin. Sins are merely atoned (covered) not forgiven. 

Manufacturing Of The Ashes

The entire process of producing this mystical ashes is a prophecy. It is meant to teach us about the coming sacrifice of Jesus.  Let us take a quick look at the process

We will talk about how this relate to Christian in the New Testament on our next post.  

Recently a lot of my friends were talking about Indian references to Chinese music.  So I was looking for a few tunes in Chinese music. Among all the recent works there was a song that keep ringing to my mind.

That was because I only heard it as a kid and it kind of disappeared as I grew up.

So I decided to google the only few words of the Lyrics that I remembered. I stumbled across an old MTV. Apparently the singer is known as 張小英 . Apparently she was a Singaporean super star in the 1960s – 1970s.. That explains why her songs disappeared when I was  kid because I was born in the 80s.

After reading a bit more about her, apparently she could sing in Malay (Bahasa Indonesia) and Cantonese.  Singaporeans were known to be able to use multiple languages as Singapore is a melting pot of many cultures.

There are not a lot of resources about her. I came across 3 here that is nice to read

http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2009/06/chang-xiao-ying-chinese-60s_29.html
http://changsiaoying.blogspot.co.uk/
http://chrisroughan.webs.com/zhangxiaoying.htm

She quietly left singing to focus on other priorities so she disappeared quietly from showbiz.

I remembered the song very well because it carried an Indian Tune and it sound unique.  It felt as if they have took the tune and fitted Chinese lyrics into it. The song is sung in a way traditional Indian tune would sound. The same song was also covered by the famous Teresa Teng. I google search lead me to many other remakes of the song which seem to come from Taiwan. Somehow I believed this song must have originally be written in Singapore. As there are many migrants from India who were working in Singapore in the past.

It was a love song of a lover searching for his lover. As today is my wedding anniversary, I will like to dedicate this to my wife.

爱的你呀何处寻  

我爱的你呀我爱的你
你在哪里呀在哪里
我爱的你呀我爱的你
你在哪里呀在哪里

wǒ ài de nǐ ya wǒ ài de nǐ
nǐ zài nǎ lǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ
wǒ ài de nǐ ya wǒ ài de nǐ
nǐ zài nǎ lǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ

往日的甜蜜化为一丝丝
滴滴重复在睡梦里
我爱的你呀我爱的你
你在哪里呀在哪里

wǎng ​rì​ de​ tián ​mì​ huà ​wéi yī​ sī​ sī​
dī​ dī​ chóng ​fù​ zài​ shuì​ mèng​ lǐ
wǒ ài de nǐ ya wǒ ài de nǐ
nǐ zài nǎ lǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ

我爱的你呀我爱的你
你在哪里呀在哪里

wǒ ài de nǐ ya wǒ ài de nǐ
nǐ zài nǎ lǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ

(X)
我回想 啊 我叹息
啊 我盼望 啊 又着急
旧时的欢乐不再来
我爱的你呀在哪里

wǒ​ huí ​xiǎng​ ā wǒ​ tàn ​xī​
ā​ wǒ​ pàn ​wàng​ ā yòu​ zháo ​jí​
jiù ​shí​ de huān ​lè​ bù ​zài​ lái​
wǒ ài de nǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ

我爱的你呀我爱的你
你在哪里呀在哪里
我爱的你呀我爱的你
你在哪里呀在哪里

Repeat (X)

wǒ ài de nǐ ya wǒ ài de nǐ
nǐ zài nǎ lǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ
wǒ ài de nǐ ya wǒ ài de nǐ
nǐ zài nǎ lǐ ya zài nǎ lǐ

Song Translation
The one I love. Oh the one I love .
Where are you now? Oh where are you?
The one I love. Oh the one I love .
Where are you now? Oh where are you?

The sweetness of the past became little streams
Trickles repeatedly in my dreams.
The one I love. Oh the one I love .
Where are you now ? Oh where are you?

The one I love. Oh the one I love .
Where are you now ? Oh where are you?

(X)
I recollect but yet I sigh  
Ah I hope for, yet I’m anxious
The joys from the past wont return again
Where are you now? oh my love!

The one I love. Oh the one I love .
Where are you now ? Oh where are you?
The one I love. Oh the one I love .
Where are you now ? Oh where are you?

I decided to put up the original sang by 張小英. For she managed to sing it in a way that reminds me of how Indian ballads are sung.  This is a quality lacking in most of the Taiwanese remake of the song. that is why I believe this song must have been written in Singapore
  

Introduction

Recently saw a video from Mr Nehemia Gordon discussing about the importance of Sabbath keeping.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNCIiWk30Dw

So after the entire ten minutes. All that was concluded was simply.

Since Jesus once said

“Judge not, that you be not judged.
  For with what judgment you judge,
  you will be judged; and with the
   measure you use, it will be measured
  back to you.”-  Jesus (Matt 7:1-2)

Therefore, “Work it out yourself with fear and trembling and do not impose it on others, study it yourself, work it out yourself, when you figure out do not judge your neighbour who figured out something else”

The rest of the remaining video talks about how Jewish rabbi and their funny Takanot. how the Jewish Rabbis had create a mountain of rule hanging on a thread of a Torah.

Some Examples of Takanot shared in the video are as follows
1. One cannot tear Toilet papers on the Sabbath
2. Lighting a fire at home is not allowed
3. Yet moving sofa in the house is allowed and not considered work
4. Lighting is fire is not allowed, but you must light Shabbat Candles

Many of these Takanot affect the Jewish followers of Judaism. As far as Christians are concern, even those who keep the Sabbath are not affected by these. I am not sure how far the Seventh Day Adventist went to keep the Sabbath, but if there is one group of Churches who wanted to follow the Mosaic covenant,  believe they are the ones affected. Other than that i do not think any other Christians are affected by these Takanot. 

Interestingly in my life, here are a few Takanot that I am aware of
1. One cannot open the fridge door, unless the light bulb is screwed out
2. One had to take the Sabbath lift that opens on every floor to avoid pressing buttons
     a. Pressing a lift button lights it up, thus one is lighting a fire on Sabbath

Keeping of Sabbath in Israel had become so hard, that people shout for joy when Sabbath is over. My brother who went to Israel for a trip recorded the sound of Jews cheering every end of the Sabbath. The sound sounded as if it is the News Years Day.

My Interest About The Sabbath

But frankly, as a Christian who keep the Sabbath. I do not think I would by any chance follow a Takanot tradition written by some funny Rabbi. I do not agree that one need to keep traditions but they have to adhere to what the word of God said. But the problem with modern day Judaism is beyond the scope of my study. As far as I see it, Israel had failed to understand the true significance and the true way to keep the Sabbath. It is not surprising as they have failed to keep it even at the time of Moses. What is so surprising about them failing to keep the Sabbath now 3000 years later after Moses died?

For me i would rather be sharing what I know about the Sabbath as presented in to Old Testament and New Testament.  In fact I have shared this twice in my life.

Remembering the significance of the Sabbath

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

Despite what the Jewish Karite Scholar from Israel think, God had spoken much about the Sabbath. It doesn’t take more than ten minutes to examine all the Torah had to say about the Sabbath. 

My purpose of sharing is not to judge anyone, but merely to look at Sabbath from the Torah and the Old Testament and then later in the New Testament.

In this post we will be looking at it from the Old Testament Perspective.

Sabbath Pre-Date the Mosaic Covenant

Most people think that Sabbath was an institution in the Mosaic Covenant but the fact is that Sabbath pre-dated the Mosaic Covenant. It was instituted by God for his entire creation. In the Creation account it reads

And on the seventh day God ended
  His work which He had done, and He
  rested on the seventh day from all His
  work which He had done.  Then God
  blessed the seventh day and sanctified
  it, because in it He rested from all His
  work which God had created and made.” – Moses (Gen 2:2-3)

This is the origin of the Sabbath. It is created at creation. God created the world in 6 days, he rested on the seventh day. The truth is God is never tired (Is 40:28) . God do not need to rest. He did it as an example for man to follow.

When Israel first left Egypt, God taught them this concept of resting on the Sabbath. He did it by sending Manna for 6 days (Ex 16) .  Israel had to get up early in the morning before the sun is up to gather Manna which came with the morning dew. When the morning dew is dried up, they would find  small round substance that is white in colour. Israel had to gather it pound it and make cakes with it.

In a normal weekday, they are suppose to gather what they need. They are not allow to keep it over night, for the bread will be spoilt and will stink. The only exception is on the 6th day of the week. They are suppose to gather all they gather, bake all food. This portion can be kept overnight so they can eat it on the Sabbath. This went on all the way until  Israel went into Canaan.

Sabbath Under Mosaic Law

In the Video, Mr Gordon quoted the rabbis saying that Sabbath is a mountain hanging on a thread. He said that he want to examine the thread. But yet his point is that anyone is free to do whatever that he like as long as God inspires him.

But the Sabbath instituted under the Mosaic law is not so. There are only a few verses about it.

“‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy
  Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you
  will bake today, and boil what you
  will boil; and lay up for yourselves all
  that remains, to be kept until morning.’”-YHWH (Ex 16:23)

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep
  it holy. Six days you shall labor and do
  all your work,  but the seventh day is
 
the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it
  you shall do no work: you, nor your son,
  nor your daughter, nor your male servant,
  nor your female servant, nor your cattle,
  nor your stranger who is within your gates.” – YHWH (Ex 20:8-10)

You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore,
   for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes
  it shall surely be put to death; for whoever
  does any work on it, that person shall be cut
  off from among his people. Work shall be done
  for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of
  rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work
  on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.”- YHWH (Ex 31:14-15)

“These are the words which the
  Lord has commanded you to do:
 
Work shall be done for six days,
  but the seventh day shall be a
  holy day for you, a Sabbath of
  rest to the Lord. Whoever does
  any work on it shall be put to
  death.  You shall kindle no fire
  throughout your dwellings on
  the Sabbath day.” – Moses (Ex 35:1-3)

“Six days shall work be done, but
  the seventh day is a Sabbath of
  solemn rest, a holy convocation.
  You shall do no work on it; it is the
  Sabbath of the Lord in all your
  dwellings.” – YHWH (Lev 23:3)

“And on the Sabbath day two lambs
  in their first year, without blemish,
  and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour
  as a grain offering, mixed with oil,
  with its drink offering— this is the
  burnt offering for every Sabbath,
  besides the regular burnt offering
  with its drink offering.” – YHWH(Num 28:9-10)

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,
  as the Lord your God commanded you.
   Six days you shall labor and do all your
  work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath
  of the Lord your God.
  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son,
  nor your daughter, nor your male servant,
  nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor  
  your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor
  your stranger who is within your gates,
  that your male servant and your female
   servant may rest as well as you. 
   And remember that you were a slave in
  the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God
   brought you out from there by a mighty
  hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore
  the Lord your God commanded you to
  keep the Sabbath day.”-Moses (Deut 5:12-15)

Did you spend less than 5 minutes to read these verses? Basically that is all that is spoken about the Sabbath under the Mosaic Covenant. 

In simple words the Torah says the following.
1. No work to be done on Sabbath (Men, animals, foreigner)
2. Hold a holy convocation (gathering)
3. Do not light a fire
4. Offer an additional 2 lambs on top of the daily sacrifice
5. Remember that once you used to be slaves in Egypt and God saved you
6. Keep it Holy

Sabbath And sabbaths

There are many who read the New Testaments and are confused between Sabbath as a commandment and the other sabbaths. As the result when the read the works of Paul and saw Paul talking about sabbaths they tend to think that he is referring to Sabbath in the ten commandment. But those who read the Torah carefully will know the difference

7th Day Sabbath That Is In Commandment is Link to Creation (Ex 16:22-26, 20:8-11. 31:12-17, 35:1-3, Num 28:9-10, Deut 5:12-15) . This is the specific Sabbath featured in the ten commandments established on creation

Under the Mosaic Law there are other Sabbaths. These Sabbaths are unique to the Mosaic covenant. They differs from the Sabbath of the seventh day as they are linked to their specific festivals and they need not occur on a 7th day of the week.

1. The day of atonement sabbath (Lev 16:30-31)
2. sabbaths of 7th years, & Year of Jubilee (Lev 25)
3. sabbath of the feast of trumpets (Lev 23:24)
4. Day of atonement sabbath (Lev 23:32)
5. sabbath on the first and eight day of Tabernacle (Lev 23:39)

When Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of the Law with regards to the feast, he had fulfilled the requirement of all these Sabbaths

Sabbath Is Not Meant To Be Punishment

The rules of Sabbath is actually very simple. It was not meant to inconvenience anyone. For God simply wants man to rest and not work, to gather to worship. What God really desire is our hearts to obey him.

“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
  From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
  And call the Sabbath a delight,
  The holy day of the Lord honorable,
  And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
  Nor finding your own pleasure,
  Nor speaking your own words,
  Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; 
  And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
  And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
  The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”-Isaiah (Is 58:13-14)

God wanted us to obey him, to honour him. To worship him on that day. To make a choice to choose to worship God instead of choosing our pleasure. To not speak what we want but to listen to what God had to say.

God promise that he will bless whoever who will choose to keep the Sabbath

“Blessed is the man who does this,
  And the son of man who lays hold on it;
  Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
  And keeps his hand from doing any evil.” – YHWH (Is 56:2)

“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
  And choose what pleases Me,
  And hold fast My covenant,
  Even to them I will give in My house
  And within My walls a place and a name
  Better than that of sons and daughters;
  I will give them an everlasting name
  That shall not be cut off.””"– YHWH (Is 56:4-5)

 “Also the sons of the foreigner
   Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
  And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
  Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
  And holds fast My covenant—
  Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
  And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
  Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
  Will be accepted on My altar;
  For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” – YHWH (Is 56:6-7)

Old Testament Implementation Of Sabbath 

Those who violate the Sabbath will face the curse of the Law. God already said clearly in he Mosaic law that those who profane the Sabbath will be put to death. Interestingly, there are a few example of this in the Old Testament

1. A man was stoned to death for picking stick on Sabbath (Num 15:32-36)
2. The Shunammite woman will go to the prophet on Sabbath (2 King 4:23)
3. The army still functions on Sabbath (2 Kings 11:4-12,2 Chron 23:1-11)
4. Priest must continue to prepare showbread for the temple (1 Chron 9:32)
5. King Hezekiah allocate portion for offering on Sabbath (2 Chron 23:2-3)
6. Nehemiah forbade buying on Sabbath (Neh 10:31,13:15-21)

Despite all these effort to keep the Sabbath, Israel still failed to match up to God standard. Before God destroyed their kingdom. God sent Prophet Jeremiah to warn them.

“But if you will not heed Me to hallow
  the Sabbath day, such as not carrying
   a burden when entering the gates of
  Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I
  will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall
  devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it
  shall not be quenched.”- YHWH (Jer 17:27)

Eventually the Kingdom of Israel and Judah were all judged by God for not keep the Sabbath, despite God pleading with them again and again to keep their covenant.

Conclusion

We need to understand Sabbath as described in the Torah. We need to differentiate between the different type of Sabbaths. There is a difference between the Sabbath of the 7th day which is in the commandment and the sabbaths that came from the ceremonial ordinances of the Mosaic Covenant

We need to know that God specially blessed the 7th day. He wanted Israel to keep that Sabbath. Which is why he specially mentioned it in the 10 commandments. The commandment of Sabbath is something that is simple but yet men today had piled in thousand of traditions on it.

We understand that failure to keep the Sabbath is one of the reason why God judged Israel. As the result Israel had to face the curse of the Law of being unable to match up to God standard in the Torah.

Let us keep it in mind before we move the discussion into the New Testament

Introduction

In this series, we will be discussing 3 characters that Jesus had told us to follow their example.

In Part 1 we covered The good Samaritan and Mary
In Part 2 we covered 2 of the 3 things that Abraham did.

Abraham circumcised himself and he left his kindred and home. These are all difficult instructions from God and he obey. In Part 3 let us look at the 3rd thing that he did.

Pt 3: Abraham Built Altar Wherever He Goes

Abraham built altars to worship God wherever he went. The time of the patriarchs preceded the Mosaic Law.  In those days, there are 2 significance behind the offering of Sacrifice. One significance is to thank God, while the other is to seek help and forgiveness from God.

Abraham led a life of building altars. No matter where he goes, he will first build an altar to worship God.  This is something modern day Christians ought to learn. Wherever we go, we must learn to build an altar to worship God. 

Today there is no longer a need to build a physical altar to offer sacrifices to God. But yet the spirit of worshipping God, coming before God for help and forgiveness remains. Abraham must have built a lot of altars in his life.

But the book of Genesis recorded 5 of the altars that was built. These 5 altars contains significance and life lessons for Christians to learn. Let us look at these altars and what they signify.

Pt 3.1: The First Altar at Shechem

“Abram passed through the land to 
  the place of Shechem, as far as the
  terebinth tree of Moreh. And the
  Canaanites were then in the land.
  Then the Lord appeared to Abram
  and said, “To your descendants I
  will give this land.” And there he
  built an altar to the Lord, who had
  appeared to him.” – Moses (Gen 12:6-7)

The first altar built by Abraham when he arrived at Shechem. This altar is a testimony of the genuine faith of Abraham. Shechem is the first city when you enter the land of Canaan.

Canaan is a foreign place full of strangers.  Sometimes it makes one feel lonely and helpless. Even though Abraham had wealth and servants, but he is without a friend or a relative nearby. He had departed from Haran, leaving the familiar place for a place that is completely foreign.

In my life, I encountered this feeling twice. The first time was when I moved from Singapore to Brunei and now I moved from Brunei to Vietnam. Only those who had migrated for study and work can understand the feeling fully.

But yet in the midst of these God appeared to Abraham, it is a significant event to Abraham. It provided him immediate comfort. God is assuring that he is not alone. God’s appearance to him is a sign that he abides with Abraham Even though now there are no one he could rely on, but God is his reliance.

God drew near to him and assure him saying “I am with you”. Abraham must have felt thankful to God from the bottom of his heart. Even though he is in a foreign land and dwelling among strangers. The God whom he believed in abides with him.  That is why he built an altar to worship and thank him.

When Abraham worship God, he knows he is not talking to thin air. He knew that God abides with him and he is worshipping him directly. Abraham  may not hear God talking to him on a daily basis, but through his faith he can see the abidance of GOd with him.

Can We Feel The Presence of God?

Our faith needs to be as genuine as Abraham. Are we able to fee the presence of God on a daily basis? Do we only feel his presence only when we encounter a vision or when we hear God speak ?

The fact is that we do not see miracles and vision at every prayer. Does that affect the genuineness of our faith? When we sing hymn and pray, do we know who we are talking to? Can we feel God standing right before us as we pray? Do we believe that he is there?

Today many Christians feel that their worship is like talking to thin air. When we sing hymns, our mouths may be moving but our mind is afar off. We are suppose to be singing to God. It is a important and sacred work.

If we truly believe that God is listening, we would not mind if others find our singing horrendous. We may not be musically talents, we may go off key at times, but God will always be listening and he will not despise our offering of praises. But God will listern and see if we are truly praising him. He will be disappointed if he find us praising without sincerity and heart.

The same concept applies to our prayer. When we begin our prayers, we will be serious at the very first minute of our prayer. But what happens in the next minute? Have our minds wandered off?

We often say that God is far from us, we said that our prayers are routine and it feel as if we are talking to thin air. That is because our worship is no longer a true worship

Understanding True Worship

True worship only happens when you choose to kneel before God. For we are not to bow to to anyone but only to God. We need to remind ourselves that we are kneeling and bowing down before God. Even though we cannot see God with our eyes but we can see him in faith. This faith is not one based on imagination. It is based on the words of Jesus.

“Again I say to you that if two of
  you agree on earth concerning
   anything that they ask, it will
  be done for them by My Father in
  heaven.  For where two or three are
  gathered together in My name,
  I am there in the midst of them.”-Jesus (Matt 18:19-20)

If we truly believe in the words of Jesus, than our worship will become real. Today in church we often say “in the name of Jesus”. This is not a magic phrase, we who said it are holding on to the promise of Jesus , for Jesus had said those words where we read them.

That is why as long as we gather in his name to pray, Jesus will be in our midst. If we believe in the words of Jesus. He will be there with us. We need to readjust our thinking and we need to change our attitude when it comes to service. By doing so, our prayers and worship will not become a routine nor will we feel that God is not in our midst.

Learning From King David

King David once said

“I have set the Lord always before me;
  Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
  My flesh also will rest in hope.” – David (Ps 16:8-9)

Why is David glad and what did he rejoice in? He told us that his flesh is rest in hope. David was a man who faced many troubles.  But whenever he worship and pray, his heart is glad, for he know that the Lord is with him.

This is not just a theory, and a belief, for he had set the Lord before him. He set the Lord before him with his heart. That is not an easy work. For our hearts tend to wander away easily. There are many things that can distract our heart when worshipping God.

Today all it takes is a vibration from our smart phone to distract us. many things can take our attention way from God. We need to grab our heart back for the Lord is before us. Today when we sit in the church hall, our hearts may not be there in the hall. Even though the speaker may not know, but God knows. He know those who gathered in his name but had their hearts outside the church hall. That is why Jesus remind us to worship in Spirit and in Truth

We need to make it a point to set the Lord before us. We need to turn our hearts back at him. Only then can our faith be true. Only then can our worship and prayer be with effect. For Jesus is the true God and his words are true. Our worship of God must be true.

Pt 2: 2nd Altar At Bethel

“And he moved from there to the
  mountain east of Bethel, and he
   pitched his tent with Bethel on
  the west and Ai on the east;
  there he built an altar to the Lord
  and called on the name of the Lord.” – Moses (Gen 12: 8)

Abraham moved to Bethel from Shechem and he built an altar and called on the name of God. The altar is between Bethel and Ai. These are contrasting names.  Bethel means the house of God while Ai means rubble.

If we are Abraham where will we move towards? We will choose to be in the house of God, for we do not want to dwell among ruins. Even if Ai is a beautiful city, but its name already suggested that it is a pile of ruins.  Perhaps Bethel may not be as beautiful as Ai, but it is the house of God.  It is established forever.

The altar at Bethel is a declaration of faith. Abraham is saying “I want to draw near to God”. For the house of God will be his house. He is only a sojourner and a stranger. This world will one day become a ruin, the world will be destroyed.

Christians must remind themselves that one day all on earth will be destroyed. we need to know that Christ will come again some day. AT that time there will only be 2 choices to go. One is to head toward heaven while the other is to head towards hell.

Where we will go depend on our choices, depends on who we choose to draw near to. If you build your altar at Bethel. You will have a portion in the house of God. But if you choose not to declare your faith, if you choose to love the world, and draw towards Ai.

Then your faith will only bring you close to the world and not God. One may have faith in God but if he refuse to make changes to his life, then his faith is without works. For he refuse to be on the side of Bethel and he refuses to keep the command of God.  That faith cannot save you, for James tell us that the devils believe in God. They understood that the world will be destroyed. But that faith did not save them, for they will never repent and turn back to God.

Choosing The Side Of God

True faith is a faith that is back with actions. One with true faith will choose to remain in the house of God. A man with true faith will automatically draw near to God for their faith is genuine.

If A Christian believe in God and choose to be in the world. If they choose not to draw near to God. Then their faith is a mere lip service. It is not genuine faith. 

For Paul told the church in Ephesus

“For through Him we both have access
  by one Spirit to the Father.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers 
and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the 
saints and members of the household of God, 
having been built on the foundation of the 
apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
  being the chief cornerstone,”- Paul (Eph 2:18-19)

The important work of the Holy Spirit is to give us access to God. The foundation of the Church must be built on both the Apostles and the prophets. All of which must be built upon the teaching of Jesus, which is the chief cornerstone.

We need to hold on to this foundation and not allow it to be changed. For the teaching of the apostles were the instruction of Jesus.  Today there are many who want to change the words of God.  They downplay the new testament, cast doubts on its authenticity. They downplay the importance of baptism, foot washing, and the need to pray for the Holy Spirit.  Instead of following the teaching of Jesus regarding Holy communion. They choose to claim that one need to follow the old feasts under the mosaic covenant. They tell us that as long as one had faith and love, all other things are not important. Some even went one step ahead to say that the teaching of the apostles are distorted rules of churchianity and had no bearings to salvation.

The Need To Defend Gods Truth 

Today when we are faced with such people, we need to choose what we believe and whether we should join them. We need to take a stand so that we can protect the faith of those around us.  Today we do what we do base on the instruction of Christ. These are commands that are meant to be followed and not questioned.

Today if we think that these doesn’t matter, then we are shutting salvation away from those who need them. There will come a time where we need to defend the true faith. If one were to distort the truth,then souls will be lost. We know that if the Lord loses a single sheep, he will seek it out himself.

We need to take the side of God and not the side of man. While others have the right to change their heart and not belief. There is no need for us to contend or fight with him. We can only choose  to preserve our own faith and leave them be. For they have chosen to reject the grace of God.

But if they want to lead others into disbelief, we cannot allow him to do so. We have to make our stand and defend the word of God with all our might. For he can choose whether to believe or not, but he had no right to affect others.

Let us learn to be like Abraham who built his altar in Bethel. For he knows he is a member of Gods house and he wanted to be on the side of God. Let our faith be one that is true and with declaration.

Pt 3.  3rd Altar At Bethel

“Then Abram went up from Egypt,
  he and his wife and all that he had,
  and Lot with him, to the South.
 
 Abram was very rich in livestock,
  in silver, and in gold. 
  And he went on his journey from the
  South as far as Bethel, to the place
  where his tent had been at the
  beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 
  to the place of the altar which he had
  made there at first. And there Abram
  called on the name of the Lord.”-Moses (Gen 13:1-4)

The 3rd Altar is at the same location as the second. This altar is constructed at the same time after he return from Egypt. God instructed him to return to Bethel, to the altar that he had build.

The significance of the 3rd altar is different. It is talking about a renewal of faith. Abraham used to be a strong and faithful believer of God. But when the famine started, his faith collapse. That is why he chose to enter Egypt. He did not enquire of God , he proceeded to Egypt on his own accord. His action was against the will of God, for God wanted him to remain in Canaan.

Abraham can choose to live in Canaan in areas where the famine is not severe. He should not have left of Egypt, but he went down to Egypt anyway. When he felt threatened in Egypt, he did not rely on God, he chose to tell lies. He told them that Sarah was his sister. The pharaoh wanted her as his wife.

There are times when we choose to lie to protect ourselves. Those lies may have brought us some benefits and convenience. Perhaps it may resolve the problem that lies before us, but every lie will be exposed one day. What are we to do when it happens?

The journey to Egypt was a result of the weakness of faith in Abraham. But God continue to stretch out his hands and deliver Abraham from the pharaoh. He manage to leave Egypt and return to Bethel safely.

Abraham was told to rebuild that altar and re-establish his faith.  It must have been a complicated feeling. On one hand he was full of regret, he thought that his faith was good and strong. But yet when trials come before him, he was unable to rely on God.

On the other hand he felt comforted. For God did not reject him despite the fact that he had went against God. God did not abandon him but still helped and resolved his problem. He must have seen the love of God as well as his mercy and forgiveness. This strengthened his resolve to seek and obey God. Even though he had failed, he knew he must rebuild his faith.

A Single Failure Is Not A Permanent Failure

The Altar at Bethel tells us about Abraham rebuilding his faith. It also remind us an important lesson. Our past success doesn’t guarantee success in the future. We saw how strong and powerful the faith of Abraham was and how he became weak.

Let us be weary of our success, be it today or tomorrow. For if we are careless, our success will become failure tomorrow. Let us not indulge in the success of the past but be mindful of the future.

At the same time it remind us that failures in the past is not failure forever. Even though we have fallen, let us not dwell on our mistakes and continue in them. Let us admit our mistake and return to God.

Just like how Abraham rebound from his mistake and return to Bethel. He readjusted his direction in life and return to God.

Many a times Christians choose not to return because we are afraid of being mock and attacked by others. That is why we blame our failures on the lack of love from our fellow brethren. Perhaps it is true that your brethren have failed in their duties as fellow christens. But they are not expert, they love you and they spoke their minds for they did not want you to continue in your mistakes. They wanted you to repent and return, but they are unable to express it well enough. They hurt you so that you will admit your mistakes and to repent before God. Only by doing so can you experience the love and forgiveness of God.

Today we need to do the works of Abraham. Abraham is not the father of faith because he is infallible and without weakness. He is the father of faith for he is able to repent and return to God. He is willing to turn back and change himself to return to God. 

Pt 4: 4th Altar  At Hebron

“Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan,
  and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain
  and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
  
But the men of Sodom were exceedingly
  wicked and sinful against the Lord.

  And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot
  had separated from him: “Lift your eyes
  now and look from the place where you are
  —northward, southward, eastward, and
  westward; for all the land which you see
   I give to you and your descendants forever.

  Then Abram moved his tent, and went and
  dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre,
  
which are in Hebron, and built an altar there
  to the Lord.” – Moses (Gen 13:12-15,18 )

This 4th altar is built after Lot departed from Abraham. At that time God appeared to Abraham. Why did Lot leave? Have he stop believing? Have they not come to the promise land together?

There is a change that occurs in Lot, he no longer wants the promise land anymore. He is not able to see the promises of God, but he saw only the beauty of Sodom. Gen 13:10 tells us that the land of Sodom is like the garden of the Lord. That was so before God judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Eventually Lot pitch his tents closer and closer to Sodom. But Abraham remain unmoved, his faith towards God unshaken. Even though he faces difficulty in life, he insist on his faith and did not change.

Abraham can choose to enter Sodom and stop his life of wandering. He can choose not to stay in tents. While most of us think its fun to camp outdoors. But to stay in tent permanently is not something which we like.  Life in the city of Sodom is different from life in the wilderness.

Abraham choose to fear God, he look forward to the promises of God. He did not regret his decision nor did he change his faith. He chose not to move into the city of Sodom to stay.

Choosing To Walk In Gods Path

On the other hand you see Lot being unable to resist the temptation and he entered the city. Lot may have still believed in God, but he no longer walk in his way. He had chosen to walk the way of the world, he choose to live life within Sodom

Today there are many Christians who still believe in the Lord. But they have stop walking their life of faith.  But those who believe in God must choose to walk on his way and obey his truth.

Today in life we may encounter trials and tribulation, we will also see others changing their faith, choosing no longer to walk with God. These people may be our friends and even our relative. They can just be like Lot to Abraham.

Who will we choose to follow? Can we continue to stand firm in our faith or will we allow them to influence us? When Lot separated himself from Abraham, Abraham choose to let him go. Abraham will not follow him on the wrong path. It is not that he no longer love Lot, but it is just that their priorities and path are no longer the same.

Abraham survived that trial and stood firm in his faith. That is why when Lot left, God appeared to Abraham and declared his promise to him. Abraham is given the promise of God. That is when Abraham built an altar for God. This is the altar of victory in  his faith.

Today when the ones we love no longer walk the way of the Lord.We would be thrown into a struggle, we will need to decide for ourselves whether we should stay or follow? What will our choice be?

Jesus tell us to do the works of Abraham will we be able to remain faithful to the Lord in the mist of this?

Pt 5: 5th Altar At Mount Moriah

The 5th  altar is the Altar at Mount Moriah. I have described it in the post the Heroes of Faith (Part V) Abraham and Isaac. It is an Altar built by Abraham and his son Isaac. It is the altar that testify of the complete obedience and the complete faith of Abraham.

May we all reach this stage of faith and may we have complete faith in the words of God.