Now let’s talk about animal sacrifices, or what I like to call God’s barbecue. Animal sacrifices were never, ever, intended to save anyone. There is no mention anywhere in the Word of eternal life given through the blood of an animal. The best that an animal sacrifice could ever do was show obedience.
By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. (Proverbs 16:6 NASB95)
If a person’s sacrifice was accepted, then the person was accepted. Accepted does not mean eternal life. It just means that God hears and approves, and/or forgives a sin. This was because the sacrifice was accepted based on a person’s heart, as well as his or her actions. A person who loves God and wants to do what He says will try to present a sacrifice the way God wants. The person who is sloppy shows how little they care. Just like Cain (Genesis 4:3-5).
Animal sacrifice is a shared experience with God and with others in the community. Most sacrifices are parceled out to the people involved (Leviticus 7). Some sacrifices are all God’s, and are burned completely. Parts of the other sacrifices are God’s (the part that is burned up) part is for the priests (for the work of prep and cooking) and part is for the person doing the offering (and family and friends). That’s why I call it God’s barbecue.
The sacrifices were also a reminder of Jesus. They were stand-ins, so to speak, for what would eventually happen with Him. We can think of them as memorials, because that’s how God thought of them. The blood and the burning were like a constant prayer, asking God to treat the people with mercy and grace on the basis of the Ultimate Sacrifice (Jesus).
This one’s for Maggie, and anyone else who likes rap music. I’m not a big fan, but some songs/acts are pretty decent. From the movie The Fighting Temptations, presenting T-Bone, lil’ Zane, Montell Jordan, The O’Jays, etc. Some of their other stuff (like Montell and lil’ Zane) is not so great, but they manage to put it together here. People change, but Youtube videos stick around for a long time reminding you of who you were.
This version has some lyrics below it, but not all the words are correct. One place there’s a mess up is the names T-Bone uses for God. Probably because the post-er didn’t know them.
Some struggle to see the Word or parts of the Word as relevant in their lives. The center of this struggle is not the Word, but the self. Confusion is caused when we refuse His plain teaching. All of His Word is relevant to our lives in every way. Every word He speaks is as relevant as a heartbeat. If relevance is hard to find, it’s more likely due to church dogma or the condition of a person’s heart.
His word does not age or fade away; it does not change or fall apart. People, on the other hand, easily change, fade, age and harden. We move away from the Word but the Word, like bedrock, never moves. Circumstances change; people die, but the Word of the Lord and its relevance lives forever (Matthew 24:35).
The Word is one complete book of living oracles (one faith) given to all people by our one God and Savior Jesus the Christ. It is not ‘old’ and ‘new’ in the sense of outdated and updated, nor is any part of it irrelevant. It contains a great deal of wisdom, but it is not a book of disconnected wise sayings. It is full of many practical life instructions, but it is not a book of suggestions. It is a puzzle book to the lawless (1 Corinthians 1:18) yet plain and easy to understand for the humble and obedient heart.
Some object to the permanency of the second death. They worry about the demise of a loved one who did not seem to live life for God or ‘accept Jesus as Lord and savior.’ They prefer a Catholic-like ‘purgatory’ which will hopefully end someday. But I cannot find this concept in the Word…
I’ll let you in on a little secret. This life IS purgatory. We are between heaven and hell, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. We have to decide now whom we will serve, and where we will end up living forever. Even if we don’t decide, we still have made a decision.
I’ve got some news for you. We never were ‘under the law.’ Humans have always been ‘under grace.’ Certain people try to get ‘under the law’ like Adam and Eve got under fig leaves. But that doesn’t mean law has gone away. The law has always been with us, just as grace always has. Grace and law go together. They are both from the same living and loving God. Law is supposed to be in our hearts, not over our heads.
There is no church in the Bible. Yep, I know, I’m going to get some heat for this, but it’s true. Not a single one of the denominations, organizations, or clubs, Catholic or Protestant, that exist now, are mentioned anywhere. Every group calling itself a ‘church’ (or synagogue) uses the name trying to get biblical recognition and authority. The truth is that any group of people doing what God says is part of His One Body. Those who don’t are not.
It’s important to get your mind around this idea, because many churches (and synagogues) have usurped God’s authority, and have led people down a primrose path to a destination different than what He wants. Most churches are not living the new covenant, though they represent themselves as if they are. Some good has been done in the churches, but the main claim to fame for most churches is making more churches. “We’re important because there are a lot of us” seems to be the sentiment. Understand, I am not speaking of the many individuals who manage to find and teach God, who behave in many ways as He would want. But when people get together in a group, frequently the focus changes from the Bible to “the church.” We have to decide – are we going to defend our club, or cling to God?
Answer to the riddle asked a few days ago, “Why is the Law called ‘the gospel’ in Hebrews 4:2?”
The ‘good news’ at Sinai was that God was going to live with His people, and the Law was part of it. In other words, the church at Sinai had the good news of ‘God with us’ preached to them just as we have.
The Law was to facilitate ‘God with us,’ a.k.a. the gospel. God, in His grace, was taking up residence, and following the Law was (and is) a loving response (faith) to His presence. Jesus is the good news or gospel because He is ‘God with us.’ The Law, His Word, facilitates His dwelling amongst us. His sacrifice makes it possible for God to dwell within us forever, and the Law helps us learn to live accordingly. So the living oracles are part and parcel of the gospel – God with us.
From the book manuscript presently titled ‘Whole Bible Christianity.’
Like the New Covenant, most ‘New Testament’ or part-Bible Christians cannot tell you what the gospel is either. We tend to think of it as a feel-good message about Jesus being our buddy and saving us from bad stuff. Then He allows us to do whatever we want.
The gospel, which means ‘good news,’ however, might really make us feel good, and it should, but the message is not about feelings. It is about ‘God with us,’ which is the meaning of one of the names of Jesus (Immanuel, Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23).
Did you know that the gospel was preached to Israel at Mount Sinai by God through Moses? So says the writer of Hebrews.
2For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. (Hebrews 4:2 NASB95)
Stephen calls the group at Sinai the “congregation in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38) and that they received “living oracles” to pass on to their kids. These living oracles were none other than the Law. So this is another way of saying the gospel was preached to the church at Mount Sinai.
Here’s a riddle for you. Why is the Law called ‘the gospel’ in Hebrews 4:2?
Today is the last day of Tabernacles, and it’s a Sabbath. One of the things that is clear about observing God’s holidays – we are so out of sync with the rest of the world. We wake to a day of resting, while we listen to the traffic going to work like any other day. We spend time with the Lord while others buy and sell, marry and give in marriage completely oblivious to His will and ways. From a certain perspective we are different, weird, offensive, and intolerant. Though Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Nations (because of the 70 bulls that used to be offered for the nations at this time) the nations ignore it. Just like they ignore the Feast that is partly for their sakes, ignored the bulls, and just like they ignore the greatest sacrifice, the only begotten son of God, Jesus the Christ. It’s no wonder being in sync with God causes us to be out of sync with the world.
Sleeping outdoors during Tabernacles, with the sounds of traffic, sprinklers hitting plastic fences, small animals running around on secret business, air leaking out of the air mattress, aching muscles from odd sleeping positions, cold air seeping into the sleeping bag through a zipper gap, emergency vehicles honking and wailing just as you start to finally drift off, makes us wonder, “Why do we do this again?”
The simple answer is that we love God. We want to do everything He says as best we can. As we work our way through some light difficulties in obedience we are constantly reminded that we don’t ‘have’ to do this, we get to. It’s not Law, it’s the living Word of God. It’s not legalism, it’s love. We discover that the real difficulty is in our flesh, in our attitudes about God and His Word, and not in a few minor discomforts.
We re-learn that with the discomfort jiggling us out of our complacency also comes blessing. The full moon shining through the clear panes of our tent top. Delightfully crisp fall air after a hot day of work. Increasing silence as the crickets fall asleep for the winter and the frogs dig in for their three-month nap. The rustle of dry leaves in the pumpkin patch and corn stalks of our garden as a light breeze stirs them gently. Giggling grand kids jockey for position next to Grandma. The funny way six year-old Keira tells Grandma to “scoot over” as she tries to get in her sleeping bag.
The quietly joyful conversation with our Father as He joins us in our tent for His ‘camping trip.’
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