Introduction

Pneumatology is the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It is an important doctrine in Christianity. Many in Christendom wrote about it. But most of them would explain the Holy Spirit base on their own understanding. That is why today there are so many tongues speaking denominations. These denominations are build base on different understanding of the Holy Spirit.

But Jesus should be the person who is most familiar with the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Pneumatology of Christ is the one that is most accurate. For only Christ can explain how the Holy Spirit works the best.

Therefore Christians ought to check our understanding against the what Jesus taught. But in order to do so, we need to understand what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. The teaching of Christ regarding the Holy Spirit is found in the bible. If we want to understand it, we need to examine all the verse that was spoken about it.

that is the only way to achieve a complete understanding.

The truth is, there are not many verses but yet these verse are far reaching and deep. That is why many in Christendom can write volumes and volumes of books regarding it.  But does the thickness of their book guarantee complete understanding? That may not be so, for the ability of man is limited. That is why the Holy Spirit is sent to help us understand the word of God.

PT 1: The Holy Spirit Is Here To Guide And Lead Us Into All Truth

One of the most important work of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand the words of Jesus. If we want to understand the truth in Christ, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to understand. As Jesus once said to his disciples

“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 16:12-13 )

While many understand that the Holy Spirit is a seal and guarantee of our inheritance (Eph 1:13-14)  and the Holy Spirit is the proof that we are the sons of the heavenly father. (Rom 8:14-17).. This understanding is correct, but incomplete, for it is one of his many works.  These verses refers to our life to come in the kingdom of heaven.

But What happens between now till the end of the world? What is the role of the Holy Spirit now? From here we know he is here to lead and guide us into all truth. That is why we need to seek for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Infilling is not about how loud your tongue speaking is, but rather it is about how well we understand the truth and the scriptures.

One may be speaking in tongues, but the truth they hold on to may be incorrect. Some of their actions may even go against the truth in the bible.  They are unaware that their actions and thinking grieve the Holy Spirit.  For they no longer seek to understand the truth, but they want to hold on to what they think is right.

PT 1.1: How Does The Holy Spirit Help Us To Understand The Truth?

As Christian, we need to understand that only the truth from God can grant us salvation. That truth lies in the words of Jesus and we need to listen to him. The Holy Spirit primary purpose is to allow us to understand the words of Jesus.

It is not about just hearing the words of Christ, but we need to understand what he is talking about. While the function of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand and comprehend the words of God. Why is it that there are people who cannot understand even after listening to the scriptures?

In fact the bible is not mysterious writing, it is written plainly and are easy to read. The words spoken by Jesus and the stories in the gospel are easiest to understand. Some may find the Old Testament and the Torah difficult. Perhaps they can understand Genesis, Exodus but as they proceed to Leviticus they find it hard to follow. That is why many feel the new testament easy to read and the old testament too deep.  Now there are many scholars who publish lengthy exposition of the old testament. And swamps of people hero-worship their understanding.

But is the words of Jesus indeed so shallow?

Perhaps on the surface it is very easy to understand literally. but the Holy Spirit is here to lead us to understand the truth. It is not just a portion of it, but he is here to lead us deeper into all truth. So what does it mean to enter into all truth? How can one enter into truth?

Let us examine what it means to enter into the Truth. There are 2 aspects I can think of. But for this article we will look into one of these aspect.

PT 1.1.1: To Allow One to Have A Direct Relationship with the Truth.

The Holy Spirit is here to lead us into all truth, and that means to allow us to have a direct relation with the truth. This is not a mere superficial relationship where one merely listen to the words of God.

He is here to help us enter into the truth and achieve a deeper understanding. A deeper understanding is not about a mere academic or linguistic appreciation of the bible. But it refers to a deeper understanding. Whenever you read the passage again you will gain new perspective, new details. As the result you again new understanding, and that understanding will work in your heart. Exhorting you and strengthening your faith.

It will lead you in your resolve, and your heart to seek and follow the lesson you learn. There will be a change in you where others can see that you have entered into the truth.

Have you ever wonder why the same sermon produces different result?  There are some who are bored stiff while others are moved to tears. Some remain indifferent to the message while some repented and turn to the Lord. That is the result of the Holy Spirit moving within you, bringing you closer to God.

That is why the same message may be treated as pearls by some while other treat it like garbage.

The same observation can be seen when it comes to the understanding of the truth. The word of God can appear like dry grass to people. The more they hear it, the more frustrated they became. But to those who entered into the truth, they find it precious. The more they went deeper, the more treasure they found, they will say that the word of God is sweeter than honey.

It is at that point of time the truth had an impact and created a relationship between that man and God. As a result, that man will receive eternal life in the future. The truth will continue to cleanse his life of sin, give him strength to renew himself. It will bring him comfort and strength so that he can continue walking on that path to heaven. 

An Example From The Gospel

Why is it that the same words from a sermon when heard by 2 groups of people produces different result? There is one example in the gospel that fully illustrate this..

It is recorded in John 6:60-63

Jesus spoke a sermon where shared the truth with his followers. There are 2 different reaction that came from that sermon. Today we re able to know that when Jesus talks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood he is referring to the Holy communion which we now participate . By receiving the Holy Communion, we have eaten his flesh and drank his blood. As the result Christ will abide in us and we in him, and we will be raised in the last days.

We know that those who heard this teaching are not unbelievers, but disciples of Christ. They believed and followed him because they saw the authority and the power of Christ. But at this point of time, Jesus is no longer preforming his miracles but he is sharing a truth with them. Jesus wanted to lead them into the truth so they will have a relationship with him.

This relationship is not physical or superficial, but a spiritual relationship that is deep with God.  Jesus was sharing with them how to be joined to the life of Christ. Yet the disciples told Jesus

“This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”- Disciples (Jn 6:60)

What is the result of that sermon? They left Jesus. They followed him no more. (Jn 6:66)

Today if you follow Jesus for the sake of miracles, if you believe in him only because you see his power and miracles. Will you be able to follow Christ when he talk about the truth in the word of God? Will we be able to accept it, will we regard it as necessary and important?  Will we choose to leave Christ because we find it a hard saying?

But yet on the other hand we see another group, a minority. They took the effort to hear it, they ponder over the words of Christ. Even though they have not heard it before, but they understand that it concern eternal life. They open their hearts to it.

That is the point when the Holy Spirit moves them, and lead them into the truth. Even though they cannot fully or logically accept this truth. They are willing to obey and be moved by the Spirit of God.

When Jesus asked “Do you want to go away?”. What did they say?

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the 
  words of eternal life.  Also we have come to
  believe and know that You are the Christ,
  the Son of the living God.”- Peter (Jn 6:68-69)

Peter represented that minority who believed, who put in effort to listen to Christ. They paid attention to the truth and made a resolve to follow Christ.

Here is the difference between one guided by the Holy Spirit from one who is not lead by the Holy Spirit. The same sermon demonstrate these two different consequences.

PT 1.1.2: Is It The Holy Spirit Fault If we Fail To Enter Into Truth?

But this idea brings about a difficulty. Some will say they are unable to enter the truth for the Holy Spirit did not guide them. Does that mean that is is the Holy Spirit preventing them from understanding? So today if the words of God appear dry and boring, is it the Holy Spirit’s fault? 

If the Holy Spirit is not here, he cannot lead us into the truth. But now when he is here with us, why is it that not everyone understand the Truth?

The Holy Spirit may come and move you, but one can choose to close their heart to the Lord. It is not that the Holy Spirit is unwilling to lead, but our hearts are closed. We are unwilling to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.

That is why we need to open our hearts , to draw near and communicate with God. If we are unwilling to open our hearts, how can the Holy Spirit move you?

In my church we have a habit of praying in silence before the service In it, though none of us ever tell each other what we pray about, but I would often ask God to guide us in this service, for hearts to be open to the truth.  I will pray that everyone can understand the truth of God.

For speakers can only explain the words of the bible to their best ability. They can try to present their points logically and clearly. But they cannot open our hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can open the hearts of the listeners and he will not force his way into your heart.

Unless one is willing to open his heart to pursue and learn the truth, than the Holy Spirit will guide. That is also why we often hear that Jesus is knocking at the door of our hearts. On the sermon of the mount he said, “Blessed are those who thirst and are poor in spirit” . But are we poor in Spirit? Do we long for God like the deer pants for water?

The Importance Of Desiring The Truth

There are many things that we want, but do we desire the truth of God? If we only listen to the word of God, then our relationship with God will only be superficial. It will be difficult to enter into truth if we only use our ears and not our heart.

At best that understanding will only remain as an superficial academic knowledge. That is the reason why the word of God is unable to move our hearts. The Holy Spirit wanted to move us in our hearts, to lead us to think about the word of God and most importantly to enter into truth.

If we enter into the truth, our lives will be renewed and our faith will grow. Then we can understand the truth and enter into salvation. That is the important work of the Holy Spirit, and it is the aspect that we tend to neglect.

Christians often neglect the importance of entering into truth and being renewed in Spirit. Even though we serve in various ministry, and are zealous in our work. Even though we offered much to the church, but the truth of Christ did not change us in anyway.

We remain that same old self before we know Christ. We remain greedy, bad tempered, full of pride and the wrong concepts of God. We did not bear the fruit of the spirit nor did we change to be like Christ. If Christ were to come again, can our old unrepentant self be saved?

Perhaps we have served in many ministries within the church, but we failed in the most important duty, that is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth.  That is what Jesus really wants us to do

“This is the work of God, that
  you believe in Him whom He
  sent.” – Jesus (Jn 6:29)

We often define divine work as serving in the ministry, helping the poor, and preaching the gospel. But when the people asked Jesus “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus simply said that it is to believe in Jesus. If you truly believe in Christ, you will submit and follow Christ, you will emulate him. If we are able to do that, we have did the most basic of the will of God.

For God wants to save us, he want us to work with him to lead others to repentance. If we are able to do so, we have indeed done the work of God. 

Working Out Our Salvation

Paul once said

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have
  always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
  but now much more in my absence, work out
   your own salvation with fear and trembling; 1
 
for it is God who works in you both to will
  and to do for His good pleasure. “- Paul (Php 2:12-13)

Paul wanted us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We need to resolve to work out our salvation. Then God will work with us to do his good pleasure. The Holy Spirit is here to lead us into all truth.

It is not just to give us a mere understanding of the truth, but it can allow us to have a direct relationship with God through it. We need to obey the truth and allow it to sanctify our lives. Then we will slowly change and Christ will be form in us.

What It Means To Enter Into Truth?

The Holy Spirit is a guaranty and an evidence of our salvation This is seem clearly in Eph 1:13-14. But such knowledge is only superficial and mere touching the surface. We may have understood this, but have we entered into the truth of salvation?

When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians they have not fully entered into the truth. They have their spiritual life reborn, they have began their life of faith, but there was no change in their lives. Even though they spoke in tongues and preach the the truth of Christ, though they serve in various ministries but they are negligent in Spiritual Nurture. They have not entered into the truth, nor did they have a relationship with the truth.

That is why Paul reminded them
“But you have not so learned Christ,  if
  indeed you have heard Him and have
  been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
  
that you put off, concerning your former
  conduct, the old man which grows corrupt
  according to the deceitful lusts,”” –Paul (Eph 4:20-22)

Paul told them that they have no so learned Christ. If they truly hear the truth, they must enter and obey the truth. Allow it to change their life. They must no longer continue to do the things they used to do. If one truly enter the truth, people will see the change in us. We will become a new man, reflect the image of God.

To give us a practical example, Paul continue to give practical examples in Eph 4:25-29. And he gave us an important reminder.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit
  of God, by whom you were sealed
  for the day of redemption. “ – Paul (Eph 4:30)

Conclusion

The Holy Spirit is here to help us obey God, if we continue to remain in our old ways, we will grieve the Holy Spirit.  Eventually he will depart from us, and we will not be saved. That is why we must work out our salvation, believe in the truth, entered into truth and establish a relationship with it.

The truth is Christ, let us keep the Jesus and his teachings into our heart.  We must emulate him and follow him. This is the most important work. IT is one of the primary duty of the Holy Spirit from now till the end of times.

May God help all of us to understand this truth, may he continue to lead us. So that we will follow the truth and love it.

Introduction

In our pervious part of the series, we have looked into Sabbath from the Old Testament. Our topic is about Sabbath as described in the Mosaic Law. We understand that there are sabbaths from Festivals, sabbath year where planting is not allowed and the year of Jubilee that happen every 50 years (7 sabbatical cycle). These sabbaths are different from the Sabbath of the ten commandment

The Sabbath of the ten commandment is referring to the 7th day of the week. This is an institution that preceded the Mosaic Covenant and is given by God to his creation.

We went into the Torah and examine every verse about the Sabbath as mention in the Torah. The following is summary of what we learn

1. No work to be done on Sabbath (Men, animals, foreigner)
           a. But Priest must bake showbread, light the Lampstand in temple
           b. Soldiers can do their duty
           c. No burden is to be carried (most people carry burden to work)
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
          a. Refrain from doing your pleasure 
          b. Treat it as a delight and not a burden 
          c. Keep it out of reverence for God

Brief Lesson From History

But we know that Israel failed to keep it. As the result, the Kingdom of Israel and Judah were destroyed. Babylonian captivity came for 70 years.   When Israel return to rebuild Jerusalem, leaders like Nehemiah took active steps to set up rules to prevent Israel from breaking the Sabbath.

But by the time of Christ, the rules are piled up by generations and generations of Jews.  These rules started to be more and more ridiculous and impossible to follow. Here are some examples as listed in the gospel.
  
1. you can help a animal in the ditch but not save a human being (Matt 12:11)
2. You are not allowed to carry your bed  (Jn 5:10)
3. Not allowed to pluck head of grain to eat (Matt 12:1)
4. Not allowed to heal (Luke 14:3)
5. Not allowed to handle dead body (Lk 23:54-56)
6. Not allowed to walk a certain distance (Acts 1:12)

All these traditions are part of an Oral traditions kept by the Jews. These oral traditions are claimed to have descended from Moses. But yet these information are only known by the Pharisees. Strangely their Talmud get thicker and thicker over the years and today they even covered light blubs in fridges. Something that I am pretty sure Moses had no idea about.

The fact is, the Talmud is created by the Pharisees, the Pharisees was a group of Community Leaders that rose up during the Persian and Greek period after the Jews had return from Babylonian captivity.

They started as a innocent group of Jews who wanted to prevent themselves from breaking God commandments. But over time, their good intention lead them to create more and more rules and in each iteration, it got more and more ridiculous. These traditions are recorded and eventually codified into the Mishnah (1st and 2nd century CE) which evolves to the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud.

The Babylonian Talmud is often singled out by by anti Rabbanic Judaism practitioners for condemnation in all their studies. 

The Problem Of Traditions

Perhaps by now you may ask. “So what’s so wrong about taking precautions not to break the Law of God? Is it not my personal freedom to enact my personal rule to prevent myself from sinning? If my traditions manage to keep me close to God, what’s your problem with it?”

To be honest, I have no problems with your personal traditions and if it brings you closer to God. You are free to do whatever you want, whatever you like. .But to those who are very passionate about enacting your own traditions.  Allow me to bring you one caution from Moses, the angel (Messenger)  who brought your beloved Torah to you.

“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and
  the judgments which I teach you to observe,
  that you may live, and go in and possess the
  land which the Lord God of your fathers is
  giving you. 
   You shall not add to the word which I command
  you, nor take from it, that you may keep the
  commandments of the Lord your God which
  I command you” – Moses (Deut 4:1-2)

While today many people are careful not to subtract from the Mosaic Law. But many of those who desperately wanted to keep the Mosaic Law, keep it on their own term. But doing so they are guilty of adding their own tradition on top of the Law of God. Just like the Pharisees who created their tradition.

While it is bad to subtract from the Law of God, it is equally bad to add traditions on top of the words of Moses. To create Oral traditions and claiming that they came together with the Law o God spoken to Moses is in fact going against the law of God.

We need to remember that the traditions we create are only useful at one particular point in history. The time will come where the tradition will outlive its usefulness and lose its relevance. Then it will turn into a burden that future generation will have to bear without gaining its benefits.

A Tradition that had outlived its usefulness at best would become an inconvenience that serve no benefits. But in its worst form a tradition that is held on too tightly can supersede the actual commandment of God.

Let us study an example in the bible. 

An Example To Share

Mark 7 contains an example of  a tradition that clashes with the commandments of God. Let us examine this dispute. 

“For the Pharisees and all the Jews
  do not eat unless they wash their
  hands in a special way, holding the
  tradition of the elders.
  When they come from the marketplace,
  they do not eat unless they wash.
  And there are many other things
  which they have received and hold,
  like the washing of cups, pitchers,
  copper vessels, and couches.” – Mark (Mk 7:3-4)

So the Pharisees and scribes confronted Jesus asking.

“Why do Your disciples not walk according to
  the tradition of the elders, but eat bread
  with unwashed hands?”- Pharisees and Scribes (Mk 7:5)

Jesus replied quoting from the book of Isaiah

“‘This people honors Me with their lips,
   But their heart is far from Me.
   And in vain they worship Me,
  Teaching as doctrines the commandments
  of men”” – Jesus (Mk 7:6-7)

He went on to quote another example. Within the ten commandments God said, 

“‘Honor your father and your mother’;
 
and, ‘He who curses father or mother,
  let him be put to death.”

But yet these people enacted a tradition saying
“If a man says to his father or mother,
  “Whatever profit you might have
  received from me is Corban”—’
  (that is, a gift to God),”

And now the man who said this had no longer the need to to take care of his parents.

Jesus concluded saying

“making the word of God of no effect
  through your tradition which you
  have handed down. And many such
  things you do.” – Jesus (Mk 7:13)

The traditions we create today may have the risk of going against the commandments of God. Perhaps in the very beginning it was not enacted against Gods commandments. But what will happen after many generations of implementation? What if our future generation took these tradition to the extreme and went against the word of God? 

Instead of forming traditions and correcting them later. Why not do away with them and choose to follow the Words of God directly?

Jesus The Lord Of The Sabbath

Today there are many within Christendom that advocate that Sabbath is invention of the Mosaic Covenant. Those who advocate it say that Jesus had nailed the Sabbath to the cross and do away with it.  If this is so then do Christians had to keep the Sabbath?

Was the Sabbath indeed nailed on the cross?

Jesus once declared

“The Sabbath was made for man,
  and not man for the Sabbath.
  Therefore the Son of Man is also
  Lord of the Sabbath.” – Jesus (Mk 2:7)

If Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, how can the Sabbath be abolished?

The sacrifice of the Lord takes away the curse of the Law. Jesus had nailed the punishments for sin in the Mosaic Covenant to the cross. He had fulfilled the requirements of all feast and sacrifices.

Keeping The Spirit Of The Mosaic Covenant. 

When he died, he became the Passover lamb that was killed. His body was sinless. That is why he is the bread of life to Christians. That is why we as Christians need to keep the institutions that he had commanded us. For our Covenant is with Christ and that Covenant is not the same as the Covenant of Moses.

At baptism we received the blood of Christ, that is when sins are forgiven. That is why we keep the institution of Christ, instituted on that Last Passover in the world. We take the Holy Communion , eating the unleavened bread which is his body, and drinking the grape juice that is his blood. That is why we wash our feet after baptism to have a part with Christ. 

For Christ was the the first fruits of those who resurrect. When he died, the veil in the temple was torn to two. Under the Mosaic Covenant, the glory of God is separated and hidden away from man behind the veil. Men were not to pass the veil except on the day of atonement.

But now with the sacrifice of Christ the veil was torn into two ,for man can now come to God directly to ask for forgiveness instead of using the blood of animals to atone for their sin.

At the same time, those who are faithful to him under the Mosaic covenant were resurrected at the death of Christ. (Matt 27:51-53). It is these Old testament believers who are the Omers that ought to be counted. For they are redeemed by Christ. all the sacrifices they made in the feast, all the sins that are atone by the blood of animals are fulfilled by Christ.

Under the mosaic covenant, God could only dwell with Israel through the taberacle confined in the Holies of Holies which is cleanse yearly though the blood of animals. God had wanted to dwell with man but because of sin, man cannot draw near to God. That is why they could only appear before the Lord in 3 pilgrim festival. (AKA Feast of the Lord).

But now under the covenant of Christ, sins are forgiven and man are justified. As the result the Spirit of God can now dwell in the hearts of man, helping man to remember the words and commandments of God. Giving them comfort and strength to keep his commandments. That is why the spirit of God came to the people on Pentecost when the counting of Omer is completed and those who are part of the first harvest are complete.

The remaining work in a Christian perspective are all found in the fall feast. We no longer blow the trumpet to signal the start of the day of atonement. For the sacrifice of Christ is once and for all, Christ had entered into the Holies of Holies with his blood.   From then on, the presence of God is no longer confined in the Holies of Holies, he is dwelling the in hearts of every believer who are washed by the blood of Christ,  Jews and gentiles alike, they are all to be saved by the covenant of Jesus.

Today, as Christians, we ought to live a life of a sojourner dwelling in booths. This is no longer a 7 day affair, but a lifetime affair. For we are called out from the world just like how God called Israel out of Egypt. We are to dwell in tents, reminding ourselves that our final destination is the Kingdom of God.

Conclusion

Signing that Covenant with Christ  does not change the fact that God blessed the seventh day and hallowed the Sabbath. It does not change the fact that God had established the Sabbath at creation.

Christ had fulfilled the requirement of the Law of Moses, he had saved us from the curse of the Law nailing the writing that was against us to the cross. That is why  Christians are not stoned to death of failing to keep the Sabbath. Why we are no longer judged for lighting a fire. There is no longer the requirement to burn additional animal as offering on the Sabbath.

However as Christians we must keep the Spirit Of The Law as well as the ten commandments. We have need to observe the Sabbath. But our keeping of the Sabbath differs from the Jews in many ways.

Today Christian who keep the Sabbath in the following way.

1. No work to be done on Sabbath 
2. Hold a holy convocation (gathering for worship) 
3. Remember that there is an eternal rest for us in the Kingdom of Heaven  
4. Keep it Holy
          a. Refrain from doing your pleasure 
          b. Treat it as a delight and not a burden 
          c. To keep it out of a love for God

Besides that we are to observe  what Jesus taught us about keeping the Sabbath. What are they? We will read them together in the last blog entry of this series.

Recently I came across a series of video comparing the Christian Baptism with the Jewish Mikvah .  Calling the Christian baptism a Mikvah. He even went one step further saying that because John the Baptist was a Kohen (Priest) hence he was doing Mikvah and it is translated as baptism. He had this idea because some Jewish Rabbi explained that Baptism is equivalent to a Mikvah

https://youtu.be/vL90nL3n7fs
https://youtu.be/sRDaP65iUG8
https://youtu.be/3u3_4NApO48

He went on to quote Heb 6 and tell the believers to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection. And his idea of perfection is to share about the types of “"Baptism” in the bible which he said are baptism a Christian ought to go through

1. Baptism of Purification (OT Mikvah)
2. Baptism of Repentance (Johns Baptism)
3. Baptism of Identification (Perform by the apostles to identify themselves with Christ)
4. Baptism of Spirit (which he felt are languages and not tongues)
5. Baptism of fire (seem to be refer to temptation , trials)
6. Baptism of suffering (Suffering of Christ on the cross, suffering of Apostles while preaching)

Initial Reaction

Fact is, there are some similarities between the Law of Purification in the Mosaic Covenant with Christian baptism. The similarities that come to my mind immediately are these

1. Under the Mosaic Law, Running (Same word as Living) are used for some of the rites
             a. There are others which just require the candidate to be bath in water
2. Many of the purification rites involves full immersion into running water.

It would be incorrect to equate baptism with a Mikvah. for there are massive differences between the two.  Lets examine the differences in a nutshell

A Mikvah A Baptism (John & Jesus)
A Mikvah washing is usually done
alone, by the individual who is unclean
There is no one administering the washing.
(Exception : Red Heifer and Lepers)
Baptism of John (Repentence) is administered
by John the Baptist to his followers

Baptism of Christ is administered by the
disciples of Jesus on believers

A person goes through Mikvah when they
are unclean. They have to do it whenever
they became unclean. Here are some 
reasons for using a Mikvah
1. Cleanse of Leprosy (Lev 14)
2. Bodily discharge (Lev 15:2-3)
3. Sexual encounter (Lev 15:16-18)
4. Menstrual Period (Lev 15:19-23  )
5. Childbirth (not from Moses)
6. Priest  red Heifer ritual (Lev 16:26,28)
7. In contact with dead body (Lev 17:15)
8. Nazirite (Not from Moses)
    (CF : Num 19:1-21)
9. Conversion to Judaism (Not from
    Moses)
John did not baptise his disciples many times.

Those who are baptised by John need to
believe in Jesus and be re-baptised by the
Apostles again.

The purpose of baptism by the Apostles
is seen clearly in acts.

“Repent, and let every one of you be 
  baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
  for the remission of sins; and you shall
  receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

While the many of the purification
requires running water. Quite a number
just required the person to bath in water
John and the disciples of Christ always conduct
baptism in living water. Despite the fact
that numerous mikvahs existing. 
                       
Definition of Living waters: Rivers, Oasis, Sea

That is why I do not equate baptisms with the Jewish Mikvah. Even though the actions and the water used could be similar, it s purpose, frequency of use, are different. Those who read Lev 14-17 may have realised that the reasons for Mikvah is somewhat similar to the reasons why we take a shower today. Perhaps that is what the Torah actually meant. The fact is that we will all do it by ourselves in the modern era.

Interestingly, Apostle Peter made a distinction between baptism and mikvah telling us that Baptism is the one that can save.

“There is also an antitype which now saves us—
  baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh,
  but the answer of a good conscience toward God),
  through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” – Peter (1 Pet 3:21)

He tells us that Baptism is made effective through the resurrection of Christ.

Misconceptions #1 : The Book Of Hebrews Are Written To Messianic Jews

The Audience Of Hebrews Are Jewish Christians who need to understand the differences between their old faith following the Mosaic covenant and their new Covenant with Christ. It is written to help them appreciate the difference between the Mosaic Covenant and their faith in Christ

When the Author of Hebrew encourage the Christians to to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, on to perfection. He did not negate the need for Baptism, but rather he wanted them to go deeper, to have a perfect understanding of Christ.

As Jesus one ask ““But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”(Lk 6:46). How can one leave the elementary principles of Christ without even practicing it in the first place?

The process of perfecting faith starts with basic obedience, having their sin washed away, recieving the Spirit of God to counsel and guide them to the truth. Walking slowly but surely to put off their old conduct and to follow the commandments of God. With the blood of Jesus continuing to forgive them of their sins and transgression along the way.

Only then can one finish his journey to heaven.

Misconceptions #2 : Is John the Baptist Conducting Mikvah?

Personally I am surprised that Mr Rood just equated Mikvah with Baptism just because some Jewish Rabbis said so.  Even though I agree that John is a Kohen(Priest) as he descended from a family of Priest. I agree that he is well acquainted with the law of Moses with regard to cleanliness.

But the fact remains, that even though there are many Mikvahs all over Israel. John choose to perform his baptism in a river. When others question him behind his actions, he answered that God sent him to perform his baptism. He never said that what he was doing is according to the Law of Moses.

What is most interesting is that his actions puzzled the Pharisees

“Why then do you baptize if you are
  not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” – Pharisees

At that point of time he could have invoked his status as Kohen performing the law of Moses. But instead he answered 

“I baptize with water, but there stands One
  among you whom you do not know.  It is He
  who, coming after me, is preferred before me,
  whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” – John the Baptist (Jn 1:26-27)

Later on John bore testimony of Jesus saying

“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven
  like a dove, and He remained upon Him.
  I did not know Him, but He who sent
  me to baptize with water said to me,
  ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit
  descending, and remaining on Him,
  this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 
   And I have seen and testified that this is the
   Son of God.” – John the Baptist (Jn 1:32-33)

It seems that the entire purpose of the ministry of John had 2 purpose

Indeed, he was here to tell people to restore the faith of Israel and to turn them back to God. He is indeed the last prophet of the Mosaic Covenant. He is here to tell Israel to repent and return to God. For the Kingdom of God is coming. Meaning to say Christ is coming and he will be his Kingdom.

“For all the prophets and
  the law prophesied until John.”  – Jesus (Matt 11:13)

His second purpose is to perform baptism (as instructed by God) to identify the Messiah. He is waiting to see a baptismal candidate whom the Spirit of God would descend on him. The purpose of his baptism is NOT the same as a mikvah. For Mikvah is done for the sake of personal hygiene and not to identify the messiah.

Misconceptions #3 : Is The Baptism of Christ merely a Baptism of Identification?

Mr Rood merely describes baptism as a baptism of Identification. Indeed, when a person received Baptism, he is identified with Christ.

Just as Paul once mentioned to the Galatians

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put 
  on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
  slave nor free, there is neither male nor female;
  for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s,
  then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the
  promise.” – Paul (Gal 3:26-29)

This baptism also broke the wall of separation between Jews who practice the Mosaic covenant and gentiles. Allowing all to become the seed of Abraham and to inherit the promise of God.

But Baptism is more than just about identification. For the disciples repeatedly declare that Baptism is done for the forgiveness of sin.

“Repent, and let every one of you be 
  baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
  for the remission of sins; and you shall
  receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “- Peter (Acts 2:38)

“And now why are you waiting? Arise
  and be baptized, and wash away your sins,
  calling on the name of the Lord.’”- Ananias (Acts 22:16)

This is so important to the disciples that even when they encountered disciples of John the Baptist.  They will insist that they need to be baptised in the name of Jesus. (Acts 19:5)

“John indeed baptized with a baptism of
  repentance, saying to the people that they
  should believe on Him who would come
  after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”- Paul (Acts 19:4)

Why is baptism so important to them? what really happens when a person is dipped into the water at the point of Baptism.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were
  baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into
  His death? 
   Therefore we were buried with Him through
  baptism into death, that just as Christ was
  raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
  even so we also should walk in newness of life.” – Paul (Rom 6:3-4)

The truth is that when a person is baptised, he is crucified with Christ and died with him. When he get out from that river of living water, (John and Jesus disciples baptised in living water all along). That person is no longer a sinner, for he had died with Christ in the water.

It is no wonder that Peter tells us that the antitype that now save us is baptism (1 Pet 3:21). That baptism is no Mikvah, it is nothing about personal hygiene or the removal of filth from the flesh. It is about allowing the blood of Christ to forgive you of sin. 

How about Baptism Of Spirit, Fire and Suffering?

I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I talked about it here.  Though i am pretty much sure that my definition of tongues speaking wont be like how Mr Rood describes.

I believe that a Christian life will undergo temptation, trial, suffering (His Baptism of fire). Even though i usually do not call that a baptism. But in that aspect, I agree with Mr Rood that the baptism of fire and suffering will come. But remember, it is God who decide what we will encounter.

I have also encountered many Christians who had a smooth sailing life without much suffering and sometimes. I too make the same mistake like Peter when the Lord showed him how he will die and glorify the Lord

“Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, 
  “But Lord, what about this man?”
  Jesus said to him, “If I will that he
  remain till I come, what is that to
  you? You follow Me.” – John (Jn 21:21-22)

As Christians we are not to compare our suffering and see “Who got it worst".  We are also not to question God why some of us do not go through the same trials and suffering. For God had appointed what we can handle and had given them to us. Let us walk bravely in our lives of faith. 

So How Do We Moved From Elementary Principles of Christ, On to Perfection?

We need to grow in our faith. While growth is a large topic. Let me break down a few important points quickly. As this article had taken more effort than I expected.

1. Grow in the knowledge of the Word of God

While many Christian today focus only on the love of God and nothing else. Let us dig deep into the scriptures to understand that our covenant with Christ has its requirements on us. We must adhere to the Commandments of God

Let us not foolishly think that having the salvation of Christ  means there is no longer a need to adhere to the commandments and moral standards of the old testament (Matt 5:17-20)
””For I say to you, that unless your
  righteousness exceeds the righteousness
  of the scribes and Pharisees, you will
  by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus (Matt 5:20)

We are to adhere to the moral standards set by God since Sinai as well as to follow the instructions of Jesus. Then we would be saved. We need to be able to see Christ from Moses all the way to the new testament

2. Put To Death Our Old Sinful Nature, Put On Christ

It is true that many Christians are unable to go beyond the elementary principles of Christ. Their faith remained the same at the point of Baptism. There is no change in their lives, they allowed their old sinful self to continue living within them.

As Paul once told the Ephesian church

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord,
  that you should no longer walk as the rest of
 
the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 
   having their understanding darkened, being
  alienated from the life of God, because of the
  ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness
  of their heart;  who, being past feeling, have
   given themselves over to lewdness, to work all
  uncleanness with greediness

  But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you
  have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as
  the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning
  your former conduct, the old man which grows
  corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be
  renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you
  put on the new man which was created according
  to God, in true righteousness and holiness..” – Paul (Eph 4:17-24)

3. To Resolve To Live For Christ

Today when Christianity talks about love, it is almost 90% about how to love one another. In that aspect, the church had did very well. However a Christians love is not just about love between fellow man. It is about  love of God as well.

To love God is to follow his commands and not sin. To Love God is to rejoice in the truth. Paul taught the Corinthian something about living of Christ

“For the love of Christ compels us, because
  we judge thus: that if One died for all,
  then all died; 
   and He died for all, that those who live should
  live no longer for themselves, but for Him who
  died for them and rose again. “- Paul(2 Cor 5:13-15)

So what does it really mean to live for Christ?

It is indeed a broad topic and I hope I will be able to share them with you. For Parenting duties does take out a lot of time which is used for  blogging.

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.

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.  

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.