Why Was Israel to Eat and Touch Only Clean Animals?

TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 11-13

Leviticus 11 gives a detailed list of animals that are clean and unclean. There are three components to creation – the earth, the sea, and the sky. The chapter details the animals in each part of creation that are clean and unclean. The clean animals can be eaten and touched, but the unclean animals are not to be eaten and not to be touched.

The whole chapter is summarized in the last two verses. Leviticus 11:46-47 says, “This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.”

WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING

Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

So, everything written in Leviticus is for our instruction. Through endurance and the encouragement of what is written in Leviticus 11 we are to get hope.

How do the laws regarding what animals are okay to eat (the clean animals) and what are animals are not okay to eat (the unclean animals) give me hope? I’m supposed to draw endurance and encouragement through these seemingly arbitrary laws?

Paul says they were written for our learning. What am I supposed to learn?

Am I supposed to learn that God gave Israel these commands so that they would be healthier than the nations around them? Even though they did not have the science to understand these things, God supernaturally gave them these laws so they would be without disease? Is that what I am supposed to learn? Because I have actually heard that preached as the point of Leviticus 11. How does that give me hope today?

Am I supposed to learn to follow a very strict diet? Certain foods are okay for me and others are not? Many religions to still practice exactly these kinds of diets. How does that help me endure and encourage me?

WHAT IS WRITTEN BEARS WITNESS TO JESUS

In John 5, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and even called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. For this reason the Jews wanted to kill him. So, Jesus goes on a long teaching about his authority and the witnesses to who he is.

In John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

The Jews searched the scriptures. They poured through Leviticus 11. They fastidiously held to the laws about which animals were clean and which were unclean, what was okay to eat and what was not okay to eat. By searching the scriptures and obeying the commands of which animals they could eat and touch and which animals they could not eat and touch, the Jews thought they would have eternal life.

Jesus said no to that way of thinking and reading the scripture.

Let me repeat that.

Jesus said no to that way of thinking and reading the scripture.

However, Jesus did say that the scriptures, what was written, Leviticus 11, bear witness to him. Leviticus 11 teaches us about Jesus. But, only if what we read causes us to go to Jesus. Jesus says come to me for eternal life. Leviticus 11 is to point us to Jesus so that we go to him and receive eternal life. If we refuse to let the scriptures, Leviticus 11, point us to Jesus and we refuse to go to him, then we will not have eternal life. We will be stuck in dead letters written in stone that have the ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3).

SET YOUR MINDS ON JESUS

Leviticus 11 was written so that we would learn to set our minds on Jesus.

How so?

Leviticus 11 talks about foods that make us clean and unclean. There are foods that defile and foods that do not defile us.

Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 15:10-11, 16-20.

“And he called the people to him and said to them, ‘Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.’…And he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Jesus says what you eat and what you touch doesn’t make you clean or unclean. The Jews and the disciples did not understand this because they knew Leviticus 11 and the rules for what foods were clean and unclean and they thought following those rules would give them eternal life. They were trying to get life from dead letters.

Jesus says it is not the external that defiles you but the internal. “For what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts.”

This is precisely Jesus’ teaching in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. You have heard it said do not murder. But, Jesus says do not hate. You have heard it said do not commit adultery. But, Jesus says do not lust.

How do these evil thoughts get into our hearts and minds?

Through our eyes and ears. The eyes and ears are the gateway to our hearts and minds. The eyes and ears take in thoughts and ideas. But, unlike food, which enters the stomach and passes through the body, thoughts and ideas enter our hearts and minds and get stuck there. As unclean thoughts and ideas build up in our minds they come out of our mouth and defile us, make us unclean. The buildup of these unclean thoughts produce murder, theft, adultery, sexual immorality, covetousness, etc.

This is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 6:22-23. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

The eye is the gateway to our mind. Jesus says we want our eye to be healthy so that our body will be full of light. The Greek word for healthy actually means single. Jesus is saying if our eye has a single focus then our whole body will be full of light. But, our eye can also be bad. In context, we understand this to mean that our eye can wander or roam. It’s possible for our way not to have a single focus but take in all sorts of things. If our eye is bad, then our whole body will be full of darkness. And how great is that darkness!

Jesus goes on to tell us not to worry about food and clothing – the things of this world. We are not to be anxious about them. We are not to think about food and clothing – the things of this world. We are to trust that God will provide us what we need.

However, in Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The Greek word first doesn’t mean do this first and this second and this third. The Greek word first here means make seeking the kingdom the principle thing you do. It should be what your life is about. In other words, your eye should have a single focus of seeking the kingdom of God. Then your whole body will be full of light.

Therefore our whole focus should be on Jesus. He is clean. Everything else is unclean. Jesus is righteous. No one else, not one, is righteous.

GUARD YOUR HEARTS

Because it is what comes out of our hearts that makes us unclean, scripture tells us to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We have to be vigilant in guarding our hearts. We can’t be haphazard in this. We must be focused intently on guarding our hearts.

How do we do this?

By guarding our eyes and ears.

Psalm 119:37 says, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Look at clean things not unclean things.

Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” There’s that single focus of the eye again.

Job 31:1 says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” Be strict with yourself in what you are allowed to look at.

Proverbs 2:1-2 says, “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.”

Proverbs 4:20 says, “My son, be attentive to my words, and incline your ear to my sayings.”

Proverbs 5:1 says, “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding.”

Proverbs 22:17 says, “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge.”

Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply your heart to instruction and you ear to words of knowledge.”

God says, “This is my beloved son. Listen to him.” Jesus says that his sheep know his voice. Sheep only respond to the voice of their shepherd.

What we look at and what we listen to is very, very important. This cannot be stressed enough. What we look at and listen to gets stored in our hearts and minds. What we look at and what we listen to will either make us clean or unclean, pure or defiled, holy or unholy.

THINK ON THE THINGS ABOVE

Leviticus 11:41-45 says, “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming things that swarm on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

Notice what is not to be eaten, what makes you unclean. Anything that moves on the ground. Eating earthly things will make you unclean. Eating earthly things will make you detestable. Eating earthly things will defile you. If we let into our eyes and ears earthly thoughts and ideas, then we will become unclean, full of darkness, detestable, unholy.

Instead of thinking on earthly things we are to think about the things above.

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Eat things that are above, things that are clean. Don’t eat things that move on the ground, things that are unclean and detestable.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” There is only one thing, rather one person, that fits the description Paul gives – Jesus Christ! We are to think about at all times. We are to meditate on him day and night. We are to feed on him. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Jesus is the true bread from heaven.

The clean and unclean things are not foods, animals, or people. When read scripture through the lens of Jesus, we understand that the clean and unclean things of Leviticus 11 are thoughts, ideas, arguments, opinions. Therefore, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when you obedience is complete.” The war is internal not external. The war is against ideas and thoughts and strongholds in the mind, not flesh and blood.

So, what do we learn from Leviticus 11?

Eat what is clean. Eat Jesus. Set your mind on him and him alone.

Then your whole body will be full of light.

Then you will be holy as God is holy.

Now we see the hope that Leviticus 11 gives – Jesus Christ.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” – 1 Timothy 1:1

 

Who Killed Nadab and Abihu? Jesus or Satan?

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 8-10

Leviticus 10:1-7 records the unusual story of Nadab and Abihu. It struck me this morning that this story is very similar to the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.

In the story of Nadab and Abihu, it appeared that it was the Lord that killed them. In the story of Ananias and Sapphira, we presume that it was the Holy Spirit that killed them. But, does the account in Acts ever say that the Holy Spirit struck them down? Or, do we just read that into the story because we project our violence onto God? And, if the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, did not kill Ananias and Sapphira, then who did? And, if we know who killed Ananias and Sapphira does that teach us anything about who killed Nadab and Abihu?

THE DETAILS OF NADAB AND ABIHU

I think it is always important to know the meaning of names in the Bible. I have found that this provides context and clarity to what the Bible is trying to teach me.

Nadab means to impel or stir; to make a voluntary decision or contribution.

Abihu is comprised of two Hebrew words. The first means father. The second means he, it; this, that; this same; the same. One source says that the name means “the father of him”. But, by the end of this post, I think you might agree with me that the name might mean something like “the same as his father”.

Nadab and Abihu took their own censers and put fire in them and laid incense on the fire. The censers were their own and carried in their hands. It is quite possible that they took the fire and the incense from the altar in front of the most holy place inside the tabernacle.

The offering Nadab and Abihu made was said to be unauthorized or strange fire before the Lord. The Hebrew word for unauthorized here means to turn aside or estrange. In other words, it means to be a stranger. But, God did not command them to make this offering. Nadab and Abihu did it voluntarily. They were stirred or impelled to make this offering.

Leviticus 10:2 says, “And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” Based on this alone, it sure looks like the Lord killed them, burned them up with fire.

So, two nephews of Aaron carried Nadab and Abihu away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp. They carried them out in their coats.

So, Nadab and Abihu made a voluntary decision to make this offering. I believe they were stirred or impelled by the spirit that was the same as their father. The question is – who was their father?

I think looking at the story of Ananias and Sapphira will provide some clarity.

THE DETAILS OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA

Like we did with Nadab and Abihu, let’s start with the meaning of the names Ananias and Sapphira.

Ananias is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Hananiah. Hananiah, and therefore Ananias, means Yahweh has been gracious or graciously given of the Lord.

Sapphira is related to the word for sapphire. Several times in the Bible sapphire is mentioned as the foundation of God’s throne or kingdom. And, it is sometimes related to wisdom. While, I don’t have an exact meaning of the name, I think we have a sense of its connotation.

So, in a sense, Ananias and Sapphira had graciously been given the foundation of the kingdom from the Lord. To me, this says that they had received Jesus and his fellowship.

In Acts 4, the disciples sold their properties and shared everything in common. What God had put into their hands they did not consider their own, but they brought the proceeds of what they sold, gave it to the apostles, and had it distributed to meet the needs of their fellow disciples.

Like the other disciples had done, Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property. They brought the proceeds to the apostles. Except the two of them conspired to keep some of the proceeds for themselves. They wanted to have the appearance of giving all the proceeds for the use of everyone else, sharing all things in common, but in reality they wanted to keep some of what they had graciously been given by God for themselves instead of using it for the kingdom of God.

In Acts 5:3-4, Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

What happened to Ananias as a result? Acts 5:5 says, “When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.” Now, right here almost all of us have assumed that the Holy Spirit killed Ananias. But, the text does not say that at all. Ananias heard what he had done and he fell down dead.

God is life. He is not a murderer. Satan is the murderer and has been from the beginning. It was Satan that had filled Ananias’ heart to voluntarily give part of the proceeds from the sale of his property. And, I would say that it was the overwhelming grief from serving Satan and lying to God that killed Ananias. It was not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, like God, gives life.

So, after Ananias died, young men arose, wrapped him up, and carried him away from the apostles’ feet where he had laid his offering.

A short time later Sapphira came in before the apostles. Peter asked her if she knew how much the land had been sold for. She said she did and gave the same amount as her husband. When she was confronted by Peter with her testing of the Spirit of the Lord “immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.” (Acts 5:10) Again, the text does not say that the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus, killed Sapphira. Rather, she was overcome with the grief of serving Satan and lying to God. Satan murdered her. Satan is the author of death. But, Jesus is “the author of life,” according to Acts 3:15.

PARALLELS BETWEEN THE STORIES

Do you see the parallels between the stories?

  • Nadab and Abihu had censers with fire and incense in their hands and Ananias and Sapphira had the proceeds from the sale of their property in their hands.
  • Nadab and Abihu brought their offering before the Lord and Ananias and Sapphira laid their offering at the apostles’ feet.
  • Nadab and Abihu made an offering that was not commanded by God (it was voluntary) and Ananias and Sapphira had control of the property and the proceeds of the sale at their disposal at all times (in other words, their offering was voluntary).
  • Nadab and Abihu’s offering was unauthorized, making them strangers before God, which is to say it broke their fellowship with him, and Ananias and Sapphira’s offering was the product of their lie to the Holy Spirit, separating them from the God, which is to say it broke their fellowship with him.
  • Nadab and Abihu were impelled or stirred up to make this voluntary offering to the Lord by the spirit that was the same as their father and Ananias and Sapphira were filled by Satan in their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit about their offering.
  • Nadab and Abihu were carried in their coats from the front of the sanctuary out of the camp by the nephews of Aaron and Ananias and Sapphira were wrapped up and carried out from the apostles’ feet by young men.

In John 8:44, speaking to the Jews who said they were of Abraham, Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Ananias and Sapphira had their hearts filled by Satan with a lie and were murdered by him. Satan is the murderer. God is the giver of life. The purpose of Jesus coming was to clearly show us this. In fact, Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan, which were lying and murdering. If Jesus came to destroy Satan’s work of murder, then how could Jesus be a murderer himself?

So, when we know the meaning of the names of Nadab and Abihu, we understand that they were stirred up to give this strange offering by the spirit that was the same as their father. Like Jesus said, their father was Satan, not God.

WHO KILLED NADAB AND ABIHU?

Jesus is the exact image of God. He is our clearest picture of who God is. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to bear witness of Jesus. That is the Holy Spirit’s sole function. Therefore, he doesn’t do anything that Jesus would not do.

God is life, according to 1 John 5. Jesus is the author of life, according to Acts 3:15. The Holy Spirit is the breath of life, according to Genesis 2:7. In every possible way, with no exceptions, with no change, with no shadow of turning, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are life.

In John 14:30, Jesus said that the ruler of this world was coming, but he had nothing in Jesus. The ruler of this world is Satan. He has nothing in Jesus. Jesus is life and Satan is death. John 10:10 says that the thief, Satan, “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Jesus came to destroy those works of Satan not to kill us.

Given that Jesus is the express imprint of God, the image of the invisible God, we need to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus and not interpret Jesus, and therefore God, through the lens of the Old Testament.

Leviticus 10:2 says, “And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”

So, knowing what we know about Jesus, knowing what we know about God, knowing what we know about who killed Ananias and Sapphira (that would be Satan), who really killed Nadab and Abihu?

Not God. Not Jesus. Not the Holy Spirit.

Satan!

Sure, the death of Nadab and Abihu was attributed to God. But, God got the credit for their death unjustly and incorrectly. That’s not who God is as Jesus has shown.

We need to continually grow in our understanding of who God is so that we can rightly discern what God did and what God did not do in the Old Testament. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3, there was a veil over the Old Testament that was removed by Christ but for those that are perishing that veil remains to this day. When we have the veil removed by Jesus, then we can see clearly. It is only through Jesus and the teaching of the Holy Spirit that we can rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). It’s Jesus and the Holy Spirit that renew our minds so that we can test and discern what is, and is not, the will of God in the Old Testament.

Jesus Bears the Iniquity of Our False Witness

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 5-7

Leviticus 5:1 says, “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity.”

“A public adjuration to testify” is one word in the Hebrew, alah. Basically, it means to swear or take an oath with punishment for swearing falsely. Leviticus 5:1 says that it is a sin to be put under an oath to testify and not speak even though you are a witness and know the truth.

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament common in Jesus’ day, says, “And if someone sins and hears a swearing of an oath, and this witness either has seen or is aware of it, if he does not speak out, he will incur guilt.”

In this verse, the Greek word for oath is horkismos, which basically means an oath taking. So, “swearing of an oath” is to call someone to take an oath or put someone under an oath to testify.

What’s so interesting about this is that there is only one place in the New Testament where someone is literally put under an oath.

JESUS IS PUT UNDER AN OATH

In Matthew 26:57-68, Jesus is seized and brought before Caiaphas the high priest for a trial. The scribes and elders were also gathered. Importantly, Matthew says that Peter was following at a distance and went inside to sit with the guards to see what would happen to Jesus.

The chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus so they could put him to death. But, they couldn’t find any false testimony against Jesus even though many false witnesses came before them. The chief priests and council were looking for a specific “false” testimony – that Jesus claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God.

At last, two witnesses came forward, since it takes two witnesses to corroborate a matter, and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'” The high priest stood up and asked Jesus if he had an answer to this charge, “but Jesus remained silent.”

Because Jesus wouldn’t answer, in Matthew 26:63, the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” The Greek word for adjure is exorkizo. It comes from the same root word, orkos, as horkismos. Orkos means an oath. Exorkizo means to put under an oath. This is the only time in the New Testament that exorkizo is used. Jesus is the only one to be put under an oath. Jesus is the only that the law of Leviticus 5:1 is applied to.

Jesus was his own witness to everything that had happened. Jesus stated this in John 8:14, 17-18, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going…In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent bears witness about me.” Therefore, in order to be sinless, Jesus now needed to speak and the answer the chief priest’s question.

Jesus said to him, “You have said so.” The same incident is recorded in Mark 14. In verse 62, Jesus answered, “I am.” Jesus answered with the name of God given to Moses, the man who brought the law that the Jews revered, at the burning bush. In Luke 22:70, Jesus answered, “You say that I am.” Not only did Jesus say “I am”, declaring himself to be God, but Jesus said that even the priests and the whole council called him “I am”.

In Matthew 26:65, the high priest said, “He has uttered blasphemy.” So, the whole council declared that “he deserves death.” Even though he was a put under an oath, was a witness, and testified to the truth, Jesus was put to death. Therefore, Jesus bore the iniquity of one (all of us actually) who sinned in the matter where he did not.

PETER TAKES AN OATH

Earlier in Matthew 26, just before Jesus is arrested, he tells the disciples, “You will all fall away because of me this night.” But, Peter says, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus then tells Peter that he will indeed deny him three times. Peter, and all the disciples, responded, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

After his adamant declaration that he would never deny Jesus, Peter saw Jesus put under an oath, testify to the truth, and wrongfully given the punishment of death. Recall, that earlier Peter had correctly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Peter had witnessed and acknowledged the truth. According to Leviticus 5:1, Peter had come to see and know the matter.

However, in Matthew’s gospel, the very next incident after Jesus is put under an oath and given the penalty of death despite his true witness is Peter’s denial of Jesus. Matthew is purposefully contrasting Jesus being put under an oath and Peter taking an oath unto himself. Jesus was a witness and gives true testimony. Peter was a witness and refuses to speak.

Peter’s denial of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 26:69-75. A servant girl comes up to Peter and accuses him of being with Jesus. In response to this first accusation, Peter simply denies the charge. Matthew 26:70 says, “But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you mean.'”

A second servant girl comes up to Peter, and she too accuses him of being with Jesus. But, this time Peter doesn’t just simply deny the charge. Matthew 26:72 says, “And again he denied it with an oath: ‘I do not know the man.'” Oath here is the Greek word horkos. Unlike Jesus, who was put under an oath, Peter took the oath upon himself. Peter escalated the matter by taking an oath.

After some time, the bystanders come up to Peter and accuse him of being with Jesus based on his accent. Matthew 26:74 says, “Then he [Peter] began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.'” Peter has gone from an oath to invoking a curse on himself. This is fascinating because the Hebrew word for oath, alah, also means to utter a curse, to put a curse on someone. Peter had escalated the matter again.

Peter was given three chances and refused to speak even though he had seen Jesus as the Christ and come to know the matter. It was at this moment that Peter heard the rooster crow. Matthew 26:75 says, “And he went out and wept bitterly.” Peter recognized his guilt. And, according to Leviticus 5, Peter needed to make an offering to cleanse himself from this sin.

But, that’s not how the story ends.

JESUS REDEEMS PETER

Instead of Peter giving an offering as compensation for the sin he committed, Jesus redeems Peter. We read the account of this in John 21:15-19.

Peter denied Jesus three times. So, three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. The first two times Jesus asks Peter if he agapao’s Jesus. That is, does Peter love Jesus like the Father loves Jesus and Jesus loves Peter. But, Peter says that Jesus knows he phileo’s Jesus. Peter says I love you like a brother. So, the third time Jesus meets Peter where he is. The third time Jesus asks Peter if he phileo’s Jesus. Peter can now bear witness truthfully. In John 21:17, Peter answers, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love [phileo] you.”

Peter was a witness to Jesus for three years. Yet, he did not speak up to the truth of what he heard and saw even though he took an oath to himself. Peter sinned and should have borne his iniquity. But, Jesus bore Peter’s iniquity for him. And, Jesus does the same for us. For like Peter, we have all denied Jesus and refused to speak what we have seen and come to know about him.

The Offerings: A Picture of Jesus’ Obedience to the Father

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 1-4

Today’s reading contains detailed descriptions of a variety of offerings: the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sacrifice of peace offering, and the unintentional sin offering. There is a fifth offering, the guilt offering, that is described in chapter five.

Have you noticed that not one of these offerings was to be given by Israel at the command from God?

God never commanded these offerings. God never said, “You must offer…”

Leviticus 1:2 says, “When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord…” In just these four chapters the word “when” occurs six times. Further, in Leviticus 1:3, God said to Israel, “If his offering…” In just these four chapters, the word “if” occurs 16 times. These are not commands.

What is going on here?

Let’s go back to the very first offering recorded in the Bible in Genesis 4. These were the offerings made by Cain and Abel. There was no command from God for Cain and Abel to make an offering. There were no instructions on why, how, or what they should offer. Cain and Abel voluntarily made offerings to the Lord. Offerings were something that man did. Man believed that offerings were how you served god.

So, when we come to Leviticus, God knows that Israel is going to make offerings to him. Therefore, instead of giving offerings any way they want, God tells Israel when you make an offering, if you make an offering, then this is how I want you to do it.

If the offerings weren’t a command from God, then why does God direct Israel on how to make offerings?

Because each of these offerings, every particular detail of these offerings, was a picture of Jesus, specifically his obedience to the voice of God. God knew that Israel would make these offerings every day for thousands of years. By seeing these offerings enacted every day, God wanted Israel to be ready for Jesus voluntarily giving his life for them. God wanted Israel to have seen these offerings so many times that when Jesus offered his life for them then Israel would know exactly what had happened.

Psalm 40:6 says, “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” Sacrifice and offering involved death. But, God is life (see 1 John 5). God is life, and, therefore, there is no death in him. Hence, God does not delight in sacrifices and offerings. God does not require burnt offerings or sin offerings. God did not demand, ask, beg, or wish that Israel would give him burnt offerings and sin offerings.

But, David writes that God had “given me an open ear.” What was God asking from Israel throughout the book of Exodus? He wanted Israel to hear his voice. He wanted Israel to diligently obey his voice. But, Israel refused. Israel told Moses to hear from God and then Moses could tell them what God said. Israel did not want to hear God’s voice. So, God said, “When any one of you brings an offering…” and “If his offering…”

Psalm 40:6 is not the only instance where the Bible records that God did not require, demand, or command offerings be given to him.

Psalm 51:16 says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.” When we read the psalms as the prayers of Jesus, we understand that Jesus knew that burnt offerings did not please God. Jesus knew it was obedience to the Father’s voice that the Father wanted.

Isaiah 1:11-13 says, “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me.”

How about Isaiah 66:3-4? “He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Here God equates offerings and sacrifices with idolatry. Israel did what was evil in God’s eyes and chose to do that which he did not delight in. But, they didn’t do what God wanted. He wanted Israel to obey his voice. When God called, no one answered. When God spoke, no one listened.

Jeremiah 6:20 says, “Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.”

In response to Saul’s sin, in 1 Samuel 15:22, Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

In Jeremiah 7:22-24, God directly says he did not command offerings. Plus, God says exactly what he commanded Israel to do. “For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.”

Could God be any clearer?!?

God doesn’t want offerings. God wants obedience to his voice.

This is exactly what Jesus Christ did. There is no record of Jesus presenting an offering in the gospels, even though he attended numerous feasts where ?Israel presented offerings. Rather, Jesus obeyed God’s voice. Look at what Jesus said he did in his own words.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” – John 5:19

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:38

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own authority, but speak as the Father taught me.” – John 8:28

“For I have not spoken on my authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” – John 12:49-50

Jesus heard the voice of God and obeyed him.

Which brings us back to Psalm 40:6. The writer of Hebrews quotes this verse in Hebrew 10:5-7, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘”

Jesus came to do God’s will as it was written of him. Part of what was written about Jesus was how he would offer his life for us. And, that is what is captured in the offerings in Leviticus. The offerings in Leviticus are a picture of Jesus offering his life for us. They are a picture of his perfect obedience to the Father.

Notice that all of the animal offerings were to be without blemish and the grain offering was to be without leaven. Jesus was an offering without sin. We were ransomed “with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:19) “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22)

Notice that it was the one who offered or the sons of Aaron that killed the offerings. Peter, in the first sermon preached after the Holy Spirit was poured out, said in Acts 2:23, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

Notice that God’s description of the guilt offering beings with “If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done…” As he was being crucified, Jesus said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus said we didn’t know what we were doing. It was unintentional. Further, Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:13, “I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.”

These are just three rather obvious places where the instructions for offerings bear witness to Jesus. But, every detail of every offering bears to witness to the work of Jesus. It is worth our time to search these details out so that we better know the person and the work of our Lord.

As Jesus obeyed the voice of God, we are to obey the voice of God too. We are to have the same mind as Jesus, to present ourselves as an offering as he did. Notice in Leviticus 1 that the burnt offering was about acceptance before the Lord. This is what Paul is speaking of in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Take note that bodies is plural but the sacrifice is singular. The believers are members of one body, Christ’s body. As he presented his physical body a burnt sacrifice out of obedience to God’s voice, so too are we to present our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual body of Christ on this earth today, a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.

The offerings are about the obedience of Jesus to the voice of the Father and shows us what our spiritual worship, our obedience to the Father’s voice, should look like.

Ever Wonder How Long It Took to Build the Tabernacle? Why Should You Care?

Today’s Reading: Exodus 38-40

The Bible bears witness to Jesus.

All of it, in one way, shape, or form, is used by the Holy Spirit to teach us about Jesus.

In Matthew 5:18, Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Jesus was saying that he would accomplish, or fulfill, every single part of the law. Every dotting of the “i” and every crossing of the “t”.

And, it never ceases to amaze me how true this is. In absolutely unbelievable detail, Jesus fulfilled the law, the whole Old Testament. Every time the Holy Spirit shows me some new, minute detail that Jesus fulfilled I come to a greater appreciation that the Bible indeed was inspired by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Jesus.

If you’ve been reading through the Bible with me, then you’ve been reading about the tabernacle and its construction for the last five days. God spent a lot of time giving us painstaking detail about the tabernacle – how it was made, what it was made of, and who made it. And, if you’ve been reading my posts, then you would know that the tabernacle is a picture of Jesus.

But, did you catch how long the tabernacle was under construction? Did you notice the subtle clues?

Nine plagues had been brought on Egypt. Then, in Exodus 12:1, God said to Moses and Aaron, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” God continued by telling Moses about the Passover that would take place during this first month. The Passover occurred on the 15th of the first month at the new moon.

It was exactly one month later that God rained down manna on Israel in the wilderness of Sin. Exodus 16:1 says, “They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.” Israel was now into the second month of the year at the second new moon of the year.

The next date that was recorded by Moses is found in Exodus 19:1, which says, “On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.” The third new moon was the 15th day of the third month. It was at this time that Israel camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

Also, it was at this time that Moses went up the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. Probably everyone knows that Moses received the 10 commandments while he was on the mountain. But, Moses also received something else while he was on the mountain just after the third new moon in the third month of the first year that Israel went out of Egypt.

What else did Moses receive while he was on the mountain? The answer is found in Exodus 25:1-9, which says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so shall you make it.’” In the third month of the year, Moses received the exact instructions from God on how and with what to build the tabernacle. You could say that is was in the third month that God conceived the tabernacle.

But, 15 chapters later, following detail after detail after detail on the making of the tabernacle, Exodus 40:1 says, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.’”

Do you see it? Do you see how the long the tabernacle was under construction? Do you see how long it was from the time the tabernacle was conceived to the time it was erected, or birthed?

Exodus 40:1 was the start of the second year since Israel left Egypt. The tabernacle was erected, or birthed, nine months after it was conceived. The tabernacle is a picture of Jesus. Luke 1 and 2 give the timing of Jesus’ birth. Of course we know that it was nine months from conception to birth as Jesus was a man just like us. Also, John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacle] among us.” The Word of God, Jesus, that tabernacled among his people was birthed a man nine months after he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how the Holy Spirit built the tabernacle of Jesus.

And, in Psalm 139:13-15, David writes about Jesus, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Did you notice all the talk of embroidery, needlework, and weaving when the tabernacle was being made? And, David, speaking of Jesus, says God knitted him together?

Isn’t the Bible amazing in its accuracy in bearing witness to Jesus?

But, it gets even better.

Once the tabernacle was erected, Exodus 40:34-35 says, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” When the tabernacle was erected, or birthed, it was filled with the glory of the Lord. And Moses, who represents the law, was not able to enter the tent of meeting, or tabernacle, because of the glory of Lord that filled the tabernacle.

What is this teaching us?

John 1:14, 16-17 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

John is describing the birth of Jesus, the Word of God coming into the world, with the same language as the erection of the tabernacle. When Jesus came into the world, he was full of the glory of God just like the tabernacle. This glory was full of grace and truth. The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus. In other words, just as Moses could not enter the tabernacle because of the glory of the Lord, the law did not come through Jesus. The law did not fill, or control, Jesus. Jesus was filled with the glory of the Lord, which was full of grace and truth. The law was not what motivated Jesus to obey the Father. It was not his connection to the Father. Jesus was moved by the grace and truth of God. Jesus was directly connected to the life of God. Jesus moved by the Holy Spirit to glorify his father.

John 1:18 concludes by saying, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Moses, the law, did not make God known. But, Jesus, the tabernacle, filled with the glory of the Lord, who is the only God and at the Father’s side, he has revealed God. We see God through Jesus, not the law.

Every detail, and I mean every detail, reveals Jesus.

The Tabernacle of Jesus: Built by the Holy Spirit

Today’s Reading: Exodus 35-37

Exodus 25-40 is all about the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the items used in the service of the tabernacle. A couple of days ago, I wrote about the two natures of Jesus, he is fully God and fully man, and how the tabernacle and the priestly garments reveal those two natures to us. In today’s reading, we are told about the construction of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the items used in the service of the tabernacle.

There were two individuals primarily responsible for the construction of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the items used in the service of the tabernacle. They were Bezalel and Oholiab. Under them was every craftsman who would work in the construction. So, the builders of all these things were Bezalel, Oholiab, and every craftsman.

I want to quote portions of Exodus 35:30-36:2 so we can see who these individuals were and their calling.

“Then Moses said to the people of Israel, ‘See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftmanship…And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work…Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord commanded.’ And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.”

BEZALEL

Let’s start with Bezalel. His name is derived from several Hebrew names that, when combined, mean in the shadow, or protection, of God. Bezalel was the son of Uri. Uri means firelight, fire; to dawn or become light; to shine, illuminate, or ignite. Uri was the son of Hur. There is no clear meaning of the name Hur, but some of the possibilities are to be or become free; to be or grow white; hot, charred, burned; to burn or ignite.

It’s interesting that each of the names of these men has a reference to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is pictured as a cloud, which puts us in the shadow, or protection, of God. The Holy Spirit is pictured as fire. He causes people to shine or be ignited with the light of God. The Holy Spirit makes one free and causes one to be white or righteous.

To get a sense of who Bezalel was, we can combine these names into a sentence. As I meditated on this, I started with Hur, then Uri, then Bezalel. Bezalel is the one who became free to shine in the shadow of God. Bezalel burned with fire in the shadow of God.

Bezalel was from the tribe of Judah. The sentence spoken over Judah when he was born was, “I will praise the Lord.”

Bezalel was one of only a very few people in the Old Testament that were said to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was filled with skill, intelligence, knowledge, and craftmanship. The word skill is better thought of as wisdom. The Hebrew root word means to be or become wise and to act wisely. The word craftsmanship comes from a root word meaning to send. All of these things that describe Bezalel are used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible.

As we saw a few days ago, the tabernacle was a picture of Jesus as fully God. And, it was the Holy Spirit that connected Jesus to the Father. Therefore, I believe that Bezalel is a picture of the Holy Spirit working to “build” the nature of Jesus as fully God to praise the Lord.

OHOLIAB

Now, let’s look at Oholiab. His name comes from two Hebrew words that, when combined, mean the tent of his father or people living in a tent of his father. Oholiab was the son of Ahisamach. Ahisamach means brother of support.

Like Bezalel, I think when we combine the meanings of the names of Ahisamach and Oholiab into a sentence we get an idea of who Oholiab was. As I mediated on this, I believe that Oholiab is the brother of support who made the tent of his father. Or, Oholiab is the brother of support who made the people living in a tent of his father.

Oholiab was of the tribe of Dan. The sentence spoken over Dan when he was born was, “God has judge me and heard my voice.”

Oholiab was described in a similar way as Bezalel, but the Bible does not directly say that he was filled with the Spirit of God. However, when we see the meaning of his name and his lineage, Oholiab seems to be a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit too.

But, Oholiab’s work is a little different than Bezalel’s. As we saw a couple of days ago, the priestly garments were a picture of Jesus’ nature as fully man. Therefore, I believe that Oholiab is a picture of the Holy Spirit working to “build” the nature of Jesus as fully man, and further all believers who come to live in the tent of Jesus, who was able to say that God has judged me and heard my voice.

INSPIRED TO TEACH

Both Bezalel and Oholiab were inspired to teach every other craftsman in the construction of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the other items used in the service of the tabernacle. This is exactly why the Holy Spirit was sent to us. Jesus told us this in John 15:26-16:15. Paul writes about this frequently, especially in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. In each of these chapters Paul is writing about the Holy Spirit giving gifts, or skills, which are to be used for the building of the church, the body of Jesus.

EVERY CRAFTSMAN

Bezalel and Oholiab were to teach every craftsman how to do the work of building. The word craftsman comes from three Hebrew words. When put together, the three words mean a man who has become wise in his heart. It is in this man that the Lord has put skill and intelligence in how to build. God does this through the Holy Spirit as Paul writes about many times. Moses writes that the Lord puts skill, or wisdom, in the mind of every craftsman. And, the craftsmen that do the work are those whose hearts have been stirred to do so.

While I believe that Bezalel and Oholiab are a picture of the Holy Spirit working in Jesus his two natures as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” I believe that every craftsman is a picture of all the men and women whom God has gifted to “build” the body, the church, of Jesus now that he has ascended to heaven. The Holy Spirit gives to each believer skill, wisdom, and gifts as he chooses for the building up of us together as the temple of the Lord.

So, in Exodus 35-37 we see a beautiful picture of Jesus, the man, built by the Holy Spirit. Further, we see a picture of each us taught and gifted by the Holy Spirit to build the body of Jesus that each of us is a member of so that the life of Jesus can be continually be expressed everywhere in the earth.

Jesus: The True Bread from Heaven

Israel ate the manna in the wilderness, but they died. However, the manna, the bread that God rained down from heaven, was a picture of Jesus, the true bread from heaven. In this week’s CUMO mid-week Bible, we look at how the manna was a type of Jesus and how Israel’s relation to the manna pictures our relationship to Jesus.

Jesus: The True Bread from Heaven

Having been brought through the Red Sea, or baptized, by God, Israel was led through the wilderness by the pillar of fire and the cloud. Israel’s first stop was at Marah where the bitter water was made sweet by a tree that Moses threw in the water. This pictured the death of Christ on the tree, or the cross, that turned our bitter life sweet, giving us abundant life.

From Marah, Israel made its way to Elim. At Elim, there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. The number 12 speaks of power, authority, and government in the Bible, and water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit of the life of God. So, the 12 springs represented the power and authority of God’s life or the government of the Holy Spirit. The number 70 has appeared two other times in the Bible prior to this. The first was the 70 nations that dispersed from Noah’s sons to cover the earth in Genesis 10 and 11. The second was the 70 people that were in Egypt with Jacob. So, 70 represents a complete number of nations or people. Therefore, Elim was the place where the life of God was the power and authority of God’s government over all his people.

THE WILDERNESS OF SIN

In Exodus 16, Israel left Elim and came to the wilderness of Sin. The name Sin is not the Hebrew word for sin. The name Sin is the Hebrew word shin, which means teeth, press, or sharp. So, having left the place of God’s life and government, Israel came to the wilderness where they would be pressed. Indeed, speaking of what he is about to do, God says he will do it “that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” (Exodus 16:4)

Perhaps somewhat ironically, the picture for this Hebrew word or letter is that of the two front teeth. But, in the wilderness of Sin, God was going to provide Israel with food, manna, that it would not need teeth to it. This is appropriate since the wilderness is a place of spiritual immaturity. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, Paul says that is the spiritually mature person that can eat solid food. Those that are spiritually immature or carnal would choke on the solid food. So, they get manna.

THE 15TH DAY OF THE SECOND MONTH

Exodus 16:1 says that Israel came to the wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month. Now, Israel was led out of Egypt after the Passover on the 15th day of the first month. Therefore, Israel arrived at the wilderness of Sin exactly one month after they left Egypt. God had brought Israel out of Egypt, or the world. But, now he needed to deliver them from their own flesh. On the journey through the wilderness, God would take Israel from a people of carnal men and women to a people of spiritual men and women ready to enter the promised land.

This is significant for two reasons. First, the number 15 often alludes to man’s deliverance from the flesh. In Genesis 7:20, we are told that the waters of the flood covered the tops of the mountains by 15 cubits. Verse 21 says that all flesh died on the earth because of the flood. God’s creation and the eight people aboard the ark were delivered from the flesh by the flood. In Hosea 3:2-3, Hosea bought his wife, who had become a prostitute and was given over to the flesh, for 15 shekels. It was at this time that Hosea told his wife that she would not play the whore anymore. And, Paul says that if we walk by the Spirit, then we will not gratify the desires, or lusts, of the flesh for the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other. In Galatians 5:19, Paul lists 15 works of the flesh that are evident:

  1. Sexual immorality
  2. Impurity
  3. Sensuality
  4. Idolatry
  5. Sorcery
  6. Enmity
  7. Strife
  8. Jealousy
  9. Fits of anger
  10. Rivalries
  11. Dissensions
  12. Divisions
  13. Envy
  14. Drunkenness
  15. Orgies

Paul says in Galatians 5:24 that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Second, the 15th of the month was a full moon. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. Therefore, it is based on the cycles of the moon. On the first day of the month, the moon is a small crescent. By the 15th, halfway through the month, the moon is full. The period from when Israel left Egypt to the time it was given the manna in the wilderness of Sin was exactly one month. The one month and the full moon represent a new thing beginning. In fact, in the Passover and manna accounts in Exodus, the Hebrew word for month means to make anew or to restore.

So, while the Passover was the beginning of God bringing his people out of the world and making anew or restoring his chosen people, the initiation of the manna was God making the individual believer anew, delivering him from a carnal life to a spiritual life.

THE PEOPLE GRUMBLED

Exodus 16:2 says that the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. In verse 3, the people said, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Despite the fact that Israel saw how God delivered them with a mighty hand from Egypt, after just one month of freedom from their bondage they wished that God would have killed them in Egypt. At least there they had meat pots and bread to the full. But, is that what Israel really had Egypt? Given that Israel cried out to God in its oppression and slavery, it is hard to imagine they had the luxuries of meat pots and bread to the full. Plus, when Israel did recall what they had to eat in Egypt, it wasn’t meat pots and bread to the full. In Numbers 11:5, Israel said, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” For the fish to cost nothing, Israel must have caught it themselves every day. And, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic don’t make much of a meal. How easily Israel, and we, forgot what God did for them. In addition to delivering them from Egypt, God had just made bitter water sweet for them to drink.

BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO TEST YOU

In response to their grumbling that they would die from hunger in the wilderness, God told Moses to tell Israel, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” (Exodus 16:4)

Just like God tested Abraham, he was testing Israel. He tested them at Marah where he made the bitter water sweet. Exodus 15:25 says, “There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them.” There was no specific statute or rule given that we are aware of. The test was simply would Israel diligently listen to the voice of God and do what is right in his eyes. Importantly, God had not given the law from Mt. Sinai through Moses yet. This statute and rule, this test, was to be a continual listening to the voice of God.

So, in Exodus 16:4, when God says that he will test Israel to see if they will walk according to his law, it is the same test – will Israel continually and diligently listen to the voice of God to do what is right in his eyes.

Interestingly, there was a third test in Exodus 17. However, the table is turned in that chapter because Israel tested God about not having any water to drink.

Israel failed these tests at Mt. Sinai when they saw the thunder and flashes of lightning and heard the trumpet. They feared and trembled and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:19) It was because Israel did not want to listen diligently to the voice of God but the voice of Moses that God gave Israel the law written on tablets of stone. So, the people stood afar off while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

FEEDING THE 5,000 AND A GRUMBLING CROWD

If you are familiar with the Bible, then the story leading up to the manna should remind you of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-36, Mark 6:30-56, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6. Like Exodus 16, Matthew and Mark both tell us that this miracle took place in the desert or wilderness. But, John gives us the most extensive treatment of this miracle and links it to the manna. So, we will focus on John’s account.

After teaching this large group of people, Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” John tells us that Jesus said this to test Philip, even though Jesus already knew what he was going to do. Therefore, like Exodus 16 a test was involved. But, Jesus wasn’t testing the crowd. He testing his disciples to see if they believed him. Philip said it would cost a lot of money and didn’t know where they would get that money from. Andrew said there was a boy with five loaves and two fishes, but what good was that with so many people?

So, Jesus told them to have the people sit down. Jesus gave thanks and distributed the loaves and the fish, and everyone ate as much as they wanted. Even though everyone ate to they were full, there was bread left over that filled up 12 baskets. This is somewhat like the story in Exodus 16 in that the fish were like the quail the people had one time the evening before the manna came. But the manna that came every day for 40 years was like the leftovers from the five loaves that filled the 12 baskets. There was always enough manna for everyone to eat, which Jesus demonstrated by having the disciples collect more bread than they gave out. This certainly seemed to be the case since the leftovers from the five loaves filled 12 baskets.

Seeing the sign, the people exclaimed, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” They knew that Moses had prophesied about a prophet to come after him. Having been miraculously fed with bread by Jesus, the crowd believed that he was that prophet.

But, the next day Jesus and the crowd got into a discussion about the miraculous feeding from the day before. Jesus said they were seeking him only because he had filled their stomachs. Instead of that kind of bread, Jesus said they should be seeking the food that endures to eternal life.

In response to seeking the food that endures to eternal life, the crowd asked what they must do to be doing the works of God. Jesus said to believe in him. In order that they might believe in him, the crowd asked what kind of sign or work Jesus would perform. It sounded like the crowd was beginning to grumble like in Exodus 16.

In John 6:31, the crowd said, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Basically, they were saying, “Moses gave our fathers bread from heaven to eat for 40 years. Jesus, you fed us for one day. If you are a greater prophet than moses, then what are you going to do to prove it?”

Jesus responded in verses 32-33, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

The crowd asked for this bread always. Jesus then gave a long answer, saying that he was the bread of life and whoever came to him shall not hunger anymore. Jesus talked about believing in him because the Father sent him and because he came down to do the will of the one who sent him. Jesus said he wouldn’t lose any that the Father gave him because everyone who looked on the Son and believed would have eternal life. “So the Jews grumbled about him.” (John 6:41)

Jesus responded to their grumbling by saying, “Do not grumble among yourselves…It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’” Remember in Exodus, God was testing the people to see if they would listen to his voice. But, when the people heard and saw the thunder and the lightning on the mountain, they told Moses to speak to them so they wouldn’t have to hear God’s voice. But, Jesus quoted the prophets, saying, “And they all will be taught by God.” Jesus was talking about hearing God’s voice. Jesus said, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” We can’t see God, but we can hear his voice. Those that have heard it will come to Jesus.

In verses 48-51, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

So, the crowd grumbled some more and left Jesus. They were afar off just like Israel at Mt. Sinai. Eventually, even the disciples began to grumble. Jesus asked the disciples if they would go away like the crowd. But, Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” The disciples heard the words of Jesus. They heard the voice of God and believed. They passed the test.

JESUS: THE TRUE BREAD FROM HEAVEN

The Jews in Jesus’ day equated the manna that their fathers ate with the bread of heaven. But, even Moses said in Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did you fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Moses knew that the manna was physical symbol of the true bread from God which was the Word of God. The manna was to show Israel that they would live by the words from God’s mouth, Jesus.

Jesus was familiar with Deuteronomy 8:3 as he quoted it when the devil tried to tempt him in the wilderness to turn stones into bread. Further, in John 6:32-33, Jesus said to the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus told the Jews that he was the true bread from heaven.

The Greek word “true” in John 6:32 is alethinos. It literally means not hidden. It is that which is not concealed, can be seen, or may be expressed as it really is. Something is true when it is unveiled or when a hidden reality becomes explicit. The manna was bread from heaven, but it was a concealment of the full reality of the true bread from heaven. The manna was bread from heaven, but it was a veiled look at the true bread from heaven. But, Jesus is the true bread from heaven. He is the full reality of what that the manna represented. Therefore, we can study the manna to get a picture of who Jesus is.

WHAT IS IT?

The word manna literally means what is it. Israel had never seen anything like it before and therefore did not know what it was. Moses told them that it was the bread that the Lord had given them to eat to the full.

When it comes to the characteristics of the manna, the various English Bible translations are all over the place. And, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was common in Jesus’ day, differs as well. So, I will try to look at what seems to be the common characteristics of the manna to see how they picture Jesus.

FINE LIKE FROST

The first Hebrew word used to describe the manna means fine, thin, scarce, small, soft. It comes from a root word meaning to become fine through grinding. In the Septuagint, it is translated fine and small, but the word can also mean powdered. I think the idea here is that the manna was fine like grain or powder.

Jesus said he was the grain of wheat. When wheat is ground, it can be ground in different grades – from coarse to fine. The more the ground wheat is sifted, the finer the flour that results. Fine flour has no lumps in it. It is perfectly even. Therefore, we could say that Jesus possessed all the fruit of the spirit equally. He did not have one quality more than another. But, it is different with man. Moses was known as the meekest man on the face of the earth. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. Abraham had faith like no other. But, Jesus did not have any one trait out of proportion to another.

ROUND LIKE CORIANDER

Coriander seeds are small and round. So, the manna was also round. Something that is round has no beginning and no end. In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus declared himself to be the self-existent one. He declared himself to be eternal, without beginning or end. Also, something that is round has the beginning and end in the same place. In Revelation 1:8, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Jesus is the beginning and the end. And, in Revelation 1:17, Jesus said, “I am the first and the last.”

WHITE

The manna was white. The color white in the Bible often symbolizes either righteousness or purity. When Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:2 says, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Peter, John, and James saw Jesus glorified in all his righteousness.

TASTED LIKE WAFERS MADE WITH HONEY

The manna was meant to picture that man did not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeded from God’s mouth. And, we know from John 1 that Jesus was the Word of God. Therefore, to eat the manna was to eat Jesus, the Word of God. And, he was sweet to the taste, like honey.

Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” And, Proverbs 24:13-14 says, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” God’s words are sweet like honey.

APPEARANCE LIKE BDELLIUM

Numbers 11:7 says that the manna had an appearance like bdellium. The only other time bdellium is mentioned is in Genesis 2:12, which says that bdellium is a precious stone. Bdellium was thought to be somewhat transparent or white. Some think of it as the sap of a tree that hardens when the has been cut. The sap hardens and becomes like a pearl, one produced by a tree instead of an animal. After the fall and before the new heavens and new earth, bdellium, or pearl, is replaced with silver. Silver speaks of redemption throughout the Bible. This gives an interesting picture of Jesus when we consider that Revelation 21:21 says that the 12 gates of the new Jerusalem were 12 pearls. The gates that were entered to receive redemption were made from the sap, or life blood, of the tree that hardened into a pearl.

FELL WITH THE DEW

There are a number of passages in the Bible that say the dew comes down from the heavens – Genesis 27:28, Deuteronomy 33:28, Proverbs 3:20, and Zechariah 8:12. In Hosea 14:5, God says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily.” Jesus picked up on Hosea 14:5 when he said in Matthew 6:28-29, “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” For Israel, God was like the dew that caused Israel to grow. It was the dew that clothed the lilies which caused their growth.

Christians are born of the Spirit. Therefore, they grow by the Spirit. Jesus told us not to worry how we are clothed since God will clothe us. Jesus told us not to worry how we would grow. Also in Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The Holy Spirit clothes us with the power of God like the dew does the lilies of the field. And, throughout the New Testament, to put on the new man, to put on Christ, is to put on the Holy Spirit, like a change of clothes. Again, this is like the dew clothing the lilies of the field, which causes them to grow.

So, the Holy Spirit is pictured as dew in the Bible. And, the manna fell with the dew. Jesus was connected to the Father and received power to do the work his Father sent him to do through the Holy Spirit. This was also why Jesus regularly got away early in the morning to pray. That’s when dew falls and when Jesus maintained his connection with his Father through the Holy Spirit.

HOW THE MANNA PICTURES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

We have looked at the characteristics of the manna that speak to the person of Jesus. But, the manner in which Israel was to collect and use the manna speaks to our relationship with Jesus. And, we must remember that the manna was given in the wilderness. The manna is for those that have not entered into the promised land yet.

God rained the manna down from heaven. The Bible says that God pours out his rain on the just and the unjust. Jesus, the true bread from heaven, is for all people. However, Israel had to go out and gather a day’s portion of the manna every day. Jesus can only profit a man when the man goes to Jesus. A man can only abide in Jesus if he goes out and gathers his portion of Jesus every day.

Each Israelite was to gather as much of the manna as he could eat. Similarly, we are to gather as much of Christ as we can every day. Some gathered more and some gathered less manna, but whoever gathered had no lack. The hungrier you are for Jesus the more you will gather. If you are not as hungry, then you will not need to gather as much of Jesus. In this way, every who goes out to gather from Jesus to satisfy their hunger will gather exactly what they need without lack.

The manna was on the ground like frost and was left there after the dew evaporated. To gather manna, one had to stoop down. To get what we need from Jesus we need to stoop down or humble ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 1:28, Paul says, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

The manna melted when the sun grew hot. Israel had to gather the manna early in the morning. Likewise, we need to go to Jesus first thing in the morning. This is the time to set our minds on Christ and prepare ourselves for the day ahead.

The manna was not to be kept until the next morning. If it was, then it would breed worms and stink. Jesus gives us what we need for each day. We are not to store things up or hoard things for the future. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The manna is daily bread. But, Jesus is the true bread from heaven that we need every day for apart from him we can do nothing. If we try to hold onto to what Jesus gives us today, then it will be worth nothing tomorrow.

The manna was only to be gathered the first six days. God was testing Israel to see if they would obey him. But, on the sixth day, each person would gather twice as much as they did every other day. Israel was not to gather the seventh day because it was a Sabbath, a day of solemn rest.

The first six days picture our time as sojourners in the earth. It’s as if we are in the wilderness. Therefore, we need to gather like the Israelites did. And, day after day, we need to eat the same thing over and over. It’s a test. Are you hungry? Will you keep coming to Jesus even if you get the same thing from every day, over and over?

While it was not the true rest, the final rest, Joshua and Israel entering the promised land is a picture of us entering the Sabbath rest, the true rest, that Christ brings. The manna ceased when Israel entered Canaan. Joshua 5:12 says, “And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land.” Instead of eating manna as they had for 40 years, Israel now ate from the fruit of the land, which they did not work for. When we enter the rest of Christ, we have access to his spiritual riches.

Israel gathered double portion on the sixth day. So, too for us when we pass the test. Then, we enter the Sabbath, the solemn day of rest, having collected a double portion on the sixth day. Jesus taught from Isaiah 61 at the beginning of his ministry to declare that the kingdom of God was here. The time for rest was here, although it won’t be fully here until Christ returns. But, Isaiah 61:7 says, “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in the land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” When we at last enter that rest, we will have our double portion of Jesus.

Jesus, indeed, is the true bread from heaven.

At the Word of Jesus 3,000 Lived

Today’s Reading: Exodus 31-34

I’m sure we have all heard someone say, “God said…” Many times throughout history, leaders of countries, nations, and peoples have said, “God said…” God is always on their side. I still see leaders doing this all the time today.

So, have you heard someone say “God said…” and wondered to yourself, “I don’t think God really said that. That doesn’t sound like God to me.”

Perhaps some of us are even bold enough to admit that we have said, “God said…” But, at some point later in our life, we came to know God in a deeper way and realized God didn’t really say what we thought he said.

Why do people wrongly attribute things to God? Because they want to believe that whatever they are doing and saying is right. We are always right in our own eyes. So, in order to justify our own words and actions, we attribute those words and actions to God.

If people do that today, if leaders of people do that today, then is it possible that people and leaders of people did this in the Bible? Is it possible that God recorded people wrongly saying “God said…” in the Bible for our learning? If this is a common phenomenon among people, to attribute some words or activity that we want to be true to God, which I believe it is, then why wouldn’t God record events like this in the Bible?

I have to come to believe that God did indeed record people wrongly attributing words and actions to God in the Bible. He did this for our learning. In Romans 15:4, Paul says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” And, Paul, speaking of the nation of Israel, says in 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.”

Everything in the Bible is written for our learning. That doesn’t mean that everything written in the Bible is an example that we should put into practice. People learn the most from their failures. So, why shouldn’t we expect failures to be recorded in the Bible so that we can learn from them?

Any temptation we suffer has been common to all people throughout all history. If we today wrongly attribute words and actions to God, then shouldn’t we expect that to be recorded in the Bible too? Why wouldn’t God record these failings for our learning and instruction?

I only began to read the Bible this way when I truly allowed the Holy Spirit to be my teacher. I only began to separate what was truly God from what people professed to be God in the Bible when I let Jesus be my translator (see Luke 24). Jesus is the clearest, simplest view of God ever. If we have seen Jesus, then we have seen the Father. So, when I began to focus on Jesus first and let him show me where he was and was not in the Old Testament, then the Scriptures began to take on an entirely new meaning. My learning took a dramatic increase.

Many people don’t want to read the Bible this way. It’s too scary. They want a flat Bible where everything written is equally true, equally valid, and equally worthy of us doing. But, that doesn’t require any discernment at all. It’s equivalent to asking God for a set of rules to follow. That’s not life though. God wants us to depend on us voice. He wants us to discern his still, small voice in the tempest that is going on around us.

Therefore, I believe that God has written the Bible in such a way that it is not flat. There are multiple voices speaking in the Bible. And, we need the Holy Spirit to teach us which voice is God’s. The Holy Spirit teaches us this way through the Bible so that he can lead us in exactly the same way in our every day life. Every day we have multiple voices speaking to us. And, not all of them are God. We need to be able to discern which voice is God’s and which voice is not.

I believe the clearest evidence of the need to read the Bible with this sort of discernment is Romans 12:1-2, which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

See, all of us, myself included, like to quote the part about not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our mind. However, almost all of us leave off the last part, which is the most important and explains why we are to be transformed and have our minds renewed. Why our are we transformed and our minds to be continually renewed? “So that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Holy Spirit gives us discernment so that we can test the Bible. What in this book is really God? What in this book is just someone professing something to be God but really isn’t?

Perhaps, you’ve read this far and think I have lost it. Perhaps, you think I’m trying to make the Bible say whatever I want it to say. Perhaps you think I am denying the truth of the Bible. But, that is not so. I want to clearly see Jesus in it. i want to discern what is God and what is not.

So, with that long introduction, let me give you an example to show what I mean.

MOSES SPEAKS AND 3,000 DIE

Moses was the leader of the nation of Israel. Therefore, I believe there were times when he was just like every other leader of every other nation throughout history – sometimes he wrongly attributed words and actions to God. I think Exodus 32 is an example of Moses doing this.

At the beginning of the chapter, Moses is on the mountain with God. He’s gone a long time and the people don’t know what happened to him. So, Aaron tells the people to take off their earrings so he can make a golden calf for them to worship.

Now, Moses obviously didn’t write about this in real time. He wrote about this event some period of time after it happened. So, while all scripture is inspired by God, we can also see Moses’ personality and perception coming through. This is Moses’ retelling of what happened, but a retelling inspired by the Holy Spirit for our learning.

In Exodus 32:7, Moses writes that God said to him, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” It’s always bothered me that God said this to Moses. It never made sense to me. God called Israel Moses’ people? God said Moses brought them out of Egypt? Everywhere else in scripture Israel is God’s chosen people. Everywhere else in scripture it is God that brought Israel out of Egypt by his mighty hand. I don’t think God just had a slip of the tongue here or was blaming Moses for what the people were doing while he wasn’t with them. No, I think we are seeing evidence of Moses’ pride coming through. He is taking credit for things that God did.

Then, Moses has a conversation about God’s wrath burning against Israel. Was it really God’s wrath that was “burning hot” against Israel? Or, was it Moses’ wrath? Was there some of that old spirit that killed an Egyptian rearing its ugly head again in Moses?

When Moses comes down the mountain, he sees the golden calf. Verse 19 says, “Moses’ anger burned hot.” Why doesn’t it say that God’s angered burned hot? Is it important that it was Moses’ anger that burned hot? Was Moses putting his anger onto God to justify his own actions?

So, Moses asked Aaron what could the people have done to cause you to make a golden calf for them to worship. In verse 22, Aaron replied, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot.” Aaron sees the burning hot anger coming from Moses. And, Moses doesn’t correct him on that. Moses doesn’t say, “It’s not me you have to worry about. It’s God wrath and burning hot anger that you better worry about.”

In verse 26, Moses responded to everything he saw, saying, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” That’s interesting. If Moses wanted to know who was on the Lord’s side, why didn’t he say, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to him.” In Joshua 5, when Joshua meets the commander of the Lord’s army, Joshua asks whose side is he on – Israel’s or the Canaanites? The commander of the Lord’s army says neither. He’s on God’s side. That’s not what Moses seems to ask or answer though. Moses wanted to know who was on his side, which he believed to be God’s side.

So, all the sons of Levi gather around Moses. Verse 27 says, “And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kills his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'” Many, many times in the Old Testament we read, “God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel…'” God would say something to Moses and tell Moses to say it to Israel. But, that doesn’t happen here. Moses says something without any instruction from God, but Moses attributes it to God as if God told him to say it. And, it isn’t interesting that Moses standing in the gate, the place of man’s government, when he said this.

Now, Jesus told us over and over to love our enemies, to love our neighbor, to love those that persecute us, etc. Therefore, does it really seem like God would have told Moses to tell one of the tribes of his people to kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor? Or, was Moses tired of having the people grumble and complain to him about God leading them out of Egypt? Was Moses looking for support? Is it possible that when the tribe of Levi came to his side, Moses said let’s get rid of all those who are complaining against me?

Verse 28 says, “And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.” Levi did according to what Moses said. Why doesn’t the Bible say Levi did according the word of God? Could it be because that’s not what God said to do?

Now, I’m sure there are many of you thinking I’m just twisting scripture. You’re thinking I’m reading way too much into this. But, their is a contrasting event in the New Testament that makes believe everything I have written so far. And, i believe what Moses did and wrote was given to us to directly contrast with the event this particular event in the New Testament.

JESUS SPEAKS AND 3,000 LIVE

In Acts 1:6, the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” Even after living with Jesus for three years and being taught by the resurrected Jesus for 40 days, the disciples still want to overthrow the Roman empire and have the kingdom restored through some sort of revolution with the sword. But, Jesus responded it was not for them to know times and seasons. Jesus says in verse 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Interestingly, the Greek word witnesses is martys. It is where we get our word martyr. Jesus told the disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit so they would be ready to die, just like he did, to bring about the kingdom instead of being ready to kill.

In Acts 2, the 120 disciples locked themselves in the upper room. They were all praying in one accord. And, the Holy Spirit comes rushing upon them, giving them the power to speak words in other known languages. The 120 disciples spoke about the mighty works of God, they spoke the words of Jesus, to Jews gathered from all over the world. The power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, came to strengthen the disciples so they would be willing to die in order that God could gather his people through them.

Peter goes on to explain what happened. They weren’t drunk as some thought. Rather, this was the beginning of the Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh. The Spirit of God is life and freedom. Peter powerfully preaches through the Holy Spirit the words of Jesus.

Acts 2:41 says, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

How interesting! Peter preaches Christ and him crucified, the word of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit and 3,000 people came to life.

At the word of Moses, the tribe of Levi killed 3,000 of their own brothers by the sword.

Jesus said that those who live by the sword would die by the sword. Jesus told Peter to put away the sword. Jesus is the image of God, the exact imprint of his nature. Did God tell Moses to tell the sons of Levi to put the sword on their side and kill 3,000 of their brothers? Or did Moses say that and wrongly attribute it to God?

Is it just a coincidence that the when Jesus, the Word of God, was preached that 3,000 souls were saved? That 3,000 souls lived instead of dying?

Or, should the fact that 3,000 lived by the word of Jesus and 3,000 died by the word of Moses, a man, a leader of a nation, tell us that we are to purposefully contrast these events so that we can learn from Israel’s example? Should we not take heed lest we fall to the temptation that is common to all men?

I think this is precisely why these contrasting events are recorded in the Bible.

We need to see Jesus. We need to know Jesus intimately. We need to be transformed by him, having our minds continually renewed, so that by testing we can discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

God is life! Let us follow Jesus!

The Tabernacle and the Priest’s Garments: The Two Natures of Jesus

Today’s Reading: Exodus 28-30

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as having two natures. He is both fully God and fully man. He was not one or the other.  Neither was he sometimes one or the other, switching back and forth between the two. Jesus was both, full and complete.

John 1 reveals both of these natures. John 1:1-4 reveals Jesus as fully God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus, the Word, was God. Jesus created all things, which is the first thing the Bible teaches about God in Genesis 1. Jesus had life in him. God is life.

We see Jesus as fully God in other parts of the New Testament as well, Philippians 2:6 says that “he was in the form of God.” Romans 9:5 calls Jesus, “the Christ, who is God over all.” Titus 2:3 says that we are waiting for “our blessed hope, the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” And, there are many more declarations of Jesus as fully God.

But, John 1 also reveals Jesus as fully man. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh.” This wasn’t just God taking the form of man while still only having the one nature of God. No, this was God becoming a man, fully man, yet retaining his nature as fully God.

Like we see Jesus as fully God throughout the New Testament, so too do we see Jesus as fully man throughout the New Testament. While Philippians 2:6 says Jesus was God, Philippians 2:7 says Jesus was “born in the likeness of men.” Galatians 4:4 says, “God sent forth his son, born of woman.” And, Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.” Jesus was not like a man. He was a man, flesh and blood, partaking of the same things, or the same nature, as each of us. And, there are many more scriptures that speak to Jesus as fully man.

So, what does this have to do with today’d reading – Exodus 28-30?

John 1:14, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” gives the answer. Here we see the combination of Jesus’ two natures – the Word, or God, and flesh, or man. This one who was fully God and fully man dwelt among us. Dwelt is the key word here. It is the Greek word skenoo, which means to live, to take up residence, to pitch tents. The noun form of the word, skene, means a tent or a tabernacle.

To pitch tents? A tabernacle? This one who was fully God and fully man pitched a tent, or tabernacled, among us?

In today’ reading, we read about a man, Aaron, who served in the tabernacle. Whenever he served in the tabernacle, this man wore priestly garments. He put the garments on. These garments were made by skillful workers, the same skillful workers that made the tabernacle. And, the priestly garments were made of the same materials that the tabernacle was made of. In fact, the priestly garments were made in a way that they reflected the nature of the tabernacle. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus, as a man, was the image of the invisible God. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus as man “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” In Exodus 28:2, God told Moses, “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and beauty.” That sounds just like Hebrews 1:3. So, Jesus, as did Aaron when he wore the priestly garments, imaged, or reflected, God. Aaron is a picture of Jesus as fully man.

Aaron served in a sanctuary, which we first read about in Exodus 25. In verses 8-9, God told Moses, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” God instructed Moses to make the tabernacle in a very specific way. It had to follow exactly the pattern that God show Moses. Hebrews 8:2, 5 says, “We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man…They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.'” The tabernacle that Moses built on earth was an exact replica of the tabernacle in heaven. The earthly tabernacle was a copy or shadow of the heavenly tabernacle. Everything about the tabernacle revealed something about the true tabernacle in heaven. The tabernacle is a picture of Jesus as fully God.

So, we see the two natures of Jesus, fully God and fully man, revealed in the tabernacle and the priestly garments. This is why so many chapters in Exodus are devoted to every detail of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and every other thing necessary for Aaron and his sons to serve in the tabernacle. Therefore, it is very important to do an depth study of both so that we can receive revelation from the Holy Spirit about who Jesus really is.