Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Deuteronomy 4

This selection comes from Deuteronomy 4, as you read through it, insert events from your life when you have experienced God in undeniable ways. For example, in verse 33, the text references the Israelites hearing God's voice speaking from fire...think of a time when you know God was speaking to you at a critical time in your life. Each time the text references a reason the Israelites should be faithful to God, insert something of your own personal experience...

32 “Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before? 33 Has any nation ever heard the voice of God speaking from fire—as you did—and survived?34 Has any other god dared to take a nation for himself out of another nation by means of trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, a powerful arm, and terrifying acts? Yet that is what the LORD your God did for you in Egypt, right before your eyes.

35 “He showed you these things so you would know that the LORD is God and there is no other. 36 He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it.37 Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power. 38 He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today.

39 “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. 40If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”

Now, may we also ask ourselves this vital question, In light of all the encounters I have had personally with God, in light of all that I have witnessed Him do in people that I know, in light of everything that I believe about God from Scripture...does my life reflect all that I believe and know to be true...or is my life a contradiction? Just as He promised the Israelites in verse 40, so to with us, He longs for us to enjoy a long life, one where all is well for us and our children...a life that is only possibly when we abandon ourselves to Him!

Live True!

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Old Testament Offerings

As we are reading through the Bible, I want to share a quick guide to the ceremonial offerings prescribed by the Lord to Moses. This information comes from New Unger's Bible Dictionary.

There are 7 types of offerings: sin, guilt, burnt, peace, grain/drink, heave/wave, and red heifer. While each one has a distinctive, they all share in the same ultimate lesson, we are incapable of dealing with our own pervasive sinful nature. As Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned fall short of the glory of God." And if we were to keep reading, we find why there is no longer a need for a sacrificial system..."They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood..." Reading Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 also give great insight to Jesus being the final sacrifice for all sin for those who embrace Him as their Savior.

We must note that NONE of the seven offerings could atone for sins of defiance. Willful, defiant, or as the Hebrew idiom states, "sins with a high hand" meaning in complete arrogance against God's divinity, for these people death was the consequence.

The sin offerings were general offerings to address the sins of a person that were committed in the course of living, unintentionally. Even if the sin was the result of a moment of weakness, the sin offering was still efficacious. While a sin offering could be made by a person, they were also made on behalf of the entire nation of Israel at certain times of the year.

The guilt offerings differed from the sin offering in that the guilt offering addresses, atones for a certain act. The sin offering atoned for the person while the guilt offering was ransom for a particular offense. It many cases, it involved restitution for the person wronged.

The burnt offering was unique in that the whole animal was consumed in the offering (except the skin) compared to the other sacrifices where the animal was only partially consumed. This distinction gives insight into the meaning of this offering, we are to offer ourselves wholly to God. The burnt offering symbolized the entire surrender to God of the individual or the congregation.

The peace offering had three kinds: thank offering, votive offering, and freewill offering. The thank offering was in response to specific times of prosperity and success, offered in an effort to acknowledge God as the source of that success and a plea for that prosperity to continue. The votive offering was in connection with a vow or promise made. The freewill offering was more general, offered as a praise to God for His goodness and bountiful blessings.

The grain/drink offering "...is analogous to that of of the offering of the tithes and appears to be expressed in the words of David in 1 Chronicles 29:10-14 (...all things come from Thee, and from Thy hand we have given Thee..."). It recognized the sovereignty of Jehovah and His bounty in the bestowal of earthly blessings by dedicating to Him the best of His gifts--flour, as the main support of life; oil, the symbol of richness; wine, as the symbol of vigor and refreshment (see Psalm 104:15)." They were also offered with a dual meaning of acknowledging God was the only true source of spiritual sustenance, that nourishment that the eternal part of who we are is desperate to receive, only from His hand.

The heave/wave offering took their names from the manner in which they were offered. "When this offering was presented, the offering was placed upon the hands of the offerer then the priest placed his hands under those of the offerer and would move the offering back and forth in a horizontal motion. Heave literally means to lift up and wave is self-explanatory. These offerings were used when special offering were called for various religious purposes, often in support or repair of the temple and too for the care of the priests and their families.

The red heifer offering was used as a ceremonially cleansing for someone who had been made unclean according to the Law, for example, if the person had come in contact with a dead person. People who were considered unclean were often limited in their ability to participate in various religious ceremonies. They would need to follow the prescribed process of being made clean hence the purpose of this offering.

Don't just skim through the Old Testament, take time to read and research the enormous wealth of meaning and symbolism that God as placed there for us to discover!

Pastor Fred